RIP Lieutenant Boiteux, Pilot Down in Mali

The fight against jihadis is a worldwide effort. So, I must wish the family of French pilot Lieutenant Boiteux (from the 4th helicopter regiment special forces) peace and courage during this trying time. The brave helo pilot was killed in Mali today, during a hostage rescue attempt against an Islamist group there. . .

The Cunning Muslim Bro’s Candidate

Do you speak Arabic? If so, you would recognize that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Khairat el-Shater’s last name (el-Shater) translates as “the sly” or “the cunning.” Khairat, his middle name*, could be a derivative of the word “good” (khiar.) And what is the good, cunning one up to? He possibly may be the Muslim Bro’s presidential candidate:

Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Khairat el-Shater, خيرت الشاطر‎

Egyptian military judges dropped convictions against Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Khairat el-Shater, clearing the nominee of the nation’s dominant political party to run in the election, the group’s lawyer said.

“We have taken administrative, legal and judicial measures before the military judiciary and based on this, all convictions have been dropped,” Abdel Monem Abdel Maqsoud said in a phone interview in Cairo yesterday.

The Brotherhood said March 31 that el-Shater was its candidate for the presidential election that begins May 23 and May 24, making him one of the favorites to win and potentially increasing tensions between the once-banned group and the generals who currently rule the nation.

Nice Reebok shirt there, Shater. It is smart of be pictured in that sort of garb, it gives the appearance of moderation. And a toothy smile and a wave? Wow, we hit the trifecta: a smile, a wave, and a Reebok shirt!

Facts that make me more nervous about Shater:

-Khairat El-Shater joined the youth wing of the Nasserist Arab Socialist Union at age 16.

-Having become an Islamist dissident, he went into exile in England in 1981. After returning in the mid-1980s, he became an active member of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1995, he became head of the Brotherhood’s Greater Cairo branch.

Facts that make me less nervous about Shater:

-The Middle East researcher Avi Asher-Schapiro considers El-Shater to be a strong advocate of privatization and free market.

You and your boys have been the unofficial Egyptian opposition party for years, Shater. Now you may get your chance to rule. Good luck. I think you will find it a lot easier to make noise than to lead. . .

* Naming conventions differ between the Middle East and here. What we may consider a first, middle, and last name does not translate directly between cultures. Often a father takes his son’s name and adds Abu to it. As in Abu Ahmed or Father of Ahmed.

Me and a Pakistani Captain Chat

Pakistan. Are they our friends? Do we have the same goals in mind? Can we partner together? Can we trust them? Are they doing enough to combat their jihadi issue? An interesting write-up in Marine Times touches these questions: 

The wind was howling and the snow outside their bullet-pocked bunker lay knee-deep as the men of the 20th Lancer armored regiment bedded down for the night, nearly 8,000 feet up a mountain on one of the world’s most inhospitable borders.

They cheered themselves up by singing songs. Their commander gazed at photos of his 4-year-old daughter on his computer. But as the men chatted, it became clear that they were feeling a bit underappreciated.

Why did the West accuse Pakistan of not pulling its weight in the war on terror, they asked. Hadn’t large numbers of their comrades died at the hands of Islamist militants? Why else were they in this hellish place if not to keep them at bay?

Pakistani Army soldiers with the 20th Lancers Armored Regiment gather before a patrol atop the 8000-foot mountain near their outpost, Kalpani Base, in Pakistan’s Dir province on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

“They say we aren’t doing enough,” said their commander, Capt. Imran Tanvir. “What more can we do?”

Well Capt. Tanvir, let’s chat about Abbottabad, Osama bin Laden’s little summertime retreat. How unlikely is it that no one was aware of Osama in a town that is home to a major military academy, Pakistan’s Westpoint:

Pakistan Military Academy in Abbotswood

The Pakistan Military Academy (also known as PMA or PMA Kakul) is a two-year federal service military academy. It is located at Kakul near Abbottabad in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

The Pakistan Military Academy is similar in function to Sandhurst, Saint-Cyr, and West Point, and provides training to the officers of Pakistan Army. The academy has three training battalions, and 12 companies. Another 2,000 guests each year, from over 34 countries, receive some training at PMA.

Or that, before his little Abbottbad retreat, Osama lived in a house near Islamabad:

But eight years later a shocking question is emerging: Could Osama bin Laden have lived in the four-bedroom house in Haripur, a bustling town just over 20 miles north of the capital Islamabad.

Shall I continue, Captain? Shall we talk ISI? Pakistan’s “premier” intel agency:

Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (Urdu: بین الخدماتی مخابرات; more commonly known as Inter-Services Intelligence or simply by its initials ISI), is premier intelligence agency of the State of Pakistan, operationally responsible for providing critical national security and intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan.

LGen Zaheer ul Islam will take charge of next DG ISI on 19th March 2012, currently he is corps commander Karachi.

This little ISI tidbit leaps out at me. Read it and then ask me whose side Pakistanis are on:

Five Pakistanis who worked as informant for CIA to pass information leading to the Death of Osama bin Laden had been arrested by the ISI. In particular the US is trying to seek the release of Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani who worked for the CIA, passing intelligence leading to the death of Bin Laden.

ADM Mike Mullen and RADM Scott Van Buskirk, commander of CSG 9, talk with Pakistani Army Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of army staff, and Pakistani Army Major Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, ISI director general, aboard USS Abraham Lincoln.

In a semi-related note, during my travels through the Middle East, I came across a sign over a trash-can that inspired me. It read: Trash Bin. How easy would it have been to add a  Laden to the ending?

Trash Bin Laden?

But I did not. Deface the sign. I don’t practice graffiti. Nor break laws, foreign or domestic. And I am too young to die in a Turkish jail. (Nevermind that I was not in Turkey.) And I don’t like international incidents. And and and. . .