Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bloodbath At Islamabad's Red Mosque

Finding that Muslim fundamentalists who had disrupted the life of Pakistan's capital for months, kidnapping prostitutes for "reeducation," holding women and children hostage, harassing music stores and demanding institution of an Islamic state, were unwilling to surrender, the regime of Pervez Musharraf early Tuesday used special Army forces to assault the Red Mosque. Twelve hours later, an unknown number of the terrorists were still holding out in the basement. Some hostages had been freed, but a reported 150 were still being held, and the death toll was rising.

A Pakistani military spokesman said at least eight soldiers had been killed and 50 of the terrorists. No casualty figures were given for the hostages, but there were reports of the hospitals in Islamabad treating dozens of people.

Later, the Pakistani military said the chief cleric in the terrorist mosque, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, had been shot to death when he was caught in a crossfire. Ghazi had boasted of becoming a martyr. Now, according to his dark agenda, he has succeeded. His cowardly brother, Mohammed Abdul Aziz, tried to escape by dressing himself as a completely veiled woman, but was arrested last week.

Did all this have to happen? There is every indication it did, if Pakistan, a state which holds nuclear weapons, was going to prevent a terrorist takeover. The question now in the wake of the crackdown is how it will affect the fortunes of Musharraf? Will it reduce some of the pressure against him, or will it engender more, from the extremists who dominate the border regions?

Already, major American and British newspapers have reported, elements loyal to Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been gaining sway in border areas of Pakistan next to Afghanistan, facilitating the insurgency in that country. In recent months, there have been clashes on Pakistani soil between tribal members and foreign terrorists, with scores of Arabs and Uzbeks killed. There have also been kidnapping and murders of Chinese workers in the border areas. But the growth of the numbers of terrorists in Islamabad itself posed an even more immediate threat.

The terrorists at the Red Mosque were well-armed. They were reported today to be using rocket-propelled grenades, landmines, booby traps and machine guns against the Pakistani army. Fire was coming from the mosque's minarets. Negotiations had broken down just hours before the army moved in.

There is a lesson to the U.S. and Europe in all this. Just as in Lebanon, where the extremists belonging to Fatah al-Islam have had to be crushed by the Lebanese Army, and Iraq, where every effort of American and British forces to contain the terrorists has been met by increasingly brutal attacks on innocent civilians -- such as the bombing in a village that killed up to 150 poverty-stricken Turkomen Shiites this week -- those who have said the insurgencies can be defeated by efforts to "win their hearts and minds," have been proven wrong.

No, the only way to defeat the Muslim fundamentalists is to capture or kill them. Nonviolent tactics won't suffice. This ends up, in many places, to be a war of extermination. The European Union can wring its hands, as it is doing again today, but what it should be doing is sending more troops to Afghanistan and other places in the war zone.

There are unquestionably many Muslims who fear and are ready to resist the terrorists. We see that now in Iraq's Anbar province, where many citizens have turned against Al Qaeda, only to be subjected to new suicide bombings and other kinds of murder.

The Lord knows what will happen if (1) the terrorists succeed in carrying their war against civilization to other places, such as Britain last month, or (2) Al Qaeda and its friends succeed in gaining nuclear or other exotic weapons, which they would do, should they take control of Pakistan.

In this case, I'd rather have President George W. Bush on my side, carrying on the War on Terror, than Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who wants to abandon it.

No, we have to cheer on, and provide military support, to the Pakistani and Lebanese armies, and help them to crush the terrorists, and carry on too against Al Qaeda in Iraq. To do less is to endanger ourselves and, ultimately, risk a loss of our freedoms.


Barry Bearak has long been an outstanding reporter, both for the Los Angeles and the New York Times. But the article he has today on Page 1 of the NYT on what happened at an Afghan school for girls, 40 miles outside Kabul, should be must reading for everyone who wonders what this war is all about.

The question posed by Bearak is a simple one? Are we going to be on the side of the girls who were shot with fatal results for some of them as they left school on June 12, or are we going to be on the side of the Taliban terrorists who commit such killings? As Bearak writes, "Shootings, beheadings, burnings and bombings, these are all tools of intimidation used by the Taliban..."

Meanwhile, let's remember Shukria, a 13-year-old girl who did not deserve being killed under these circumstances.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your vile form of fascism is once again on display as you call for a "war of extermination" against Islamic extremists. This kind of ugly talk establishes you as a moral leper with zero credibility to invoke the name of Martin Luther King and other pacifists in your pompous posts. I notice few comments. People know what you are and turn away in revulsion.

7/10/2007 2:51 PM  

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