The Pakistani Connection

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Aug. 12 2006 7:04 AM

The Pakistani Connection

The New York Times leads with a unanimous U.N. Security Council decision to dispatch 15,000 soldiers to Southern Lebanon. The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times lead and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with updates on the continuing investigation into the liquid-bomb plot.

The Security Council resolution increased the number of U.N. peacekeepers by 13,000; they will supplement the 15,000 Lebanese troops that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora recently offered to send there. The resolution mandates that Hezbollah stop all attacks and that Israel withdraw and stop "offensive operations," meaning they can still engage in limited retaliation. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accepted the resolution but continued to expand the ground offensive into Lebanon, presumably holding off until the force—which will likely include Italian, Turkish, Australian, and French soldiers—arrives. The NYT plays up the resolution's call for disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon as a direct shot at Hezbollah while the WP indicates that the vague resolution leaves them a lot of political wiggle room. The Lebanese government—which includes Hezbollah cabinet members—has expressed support for the new resolution.

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The wires are reporting that Israeli soldiers reached a village seven miles into Lebanon, the deepest point so far, where they were ambushed by Hezbollah. Up to 20 people were killed by airstrikes throughout Lebanon. (The NYT ran an article before the ambush hit the wires pointing out that Hezbollah is pretty good at these types of things.)

All the papers go high with word from Pakistani officials that Rashid Rauf, the British-born militant whose Wednesday arrest in Pakistan directly precipitated the Thursday raids throughout England, was linked to al-Qaida. The WSJ is skeptical, notes that British officials are insisting that their American counterparts refrain from prematurely drawing a link from al-Qaida to the 24 British Muslims arrested for their involvement in a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights with liquid explosives, and points out that the organization's post-9/11 is murkier and more complex than before. Money quote from a counterterrorism analyst: "I am sure we are going to be going back and re-examining what we mean by al Qaeda and al Qaeda-linked terrorism." The LAT, which reports that Rauf admitted to meeting with al-Qaida's Pakistan chief of operations, is less dubious. The WPand NYT seem to take the al-Qaida connection at face value.

British police froze the bank accounts of 19 suspects while releasing one without charge and are clamping down on rumors that the plan to blow up as many as 10 jumbos jets was only "days away." Everyone notes that the suspects' neighbors thought they were nice guys, although the NYT focuses on Muslim outrage toward the suspects—and points out that one of them, a convert, was the son of a late British politician—while the WP highlights skepticism toward the British police. It seems that the raids were mainly set in action because of a fear that word of the Pakistan arrest would make the bombers suspicious. (Oh, by the way, Pakistan is still really dangerous).

The NYT runs smart pieces on the Department of Homeland Security's inability to imagine out-of-the-box terrorist threats (they're still trying to prevent Sept. 11), and the Bush administration's belief that recent events will increase support for Guantanamo and wiretapping. The WP reports that Democrats see the events as an opportunity to offset a traditional Republican advantage and put forward a strong national security agenda.

Everyone reports that, despite tighter carry-on restrictions and empty airport stores (and water bottles), air traffic is recovering.

The NYT quotes U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accusing Iran of encouraging Shiite militants to attack American troops in a response to U.S. support for the war in Lebanon. The LAT reports of a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed two, the discovery of six tortured bodies, and criticisms by Sunni and Shiite clerics of the suicide bomber that killed 35 two days ago at a Shiite shrine. Other than a short op-ed by an ex-Marine on how the U.S. could learn valuable lessons on how to practice "the art of militarized grass-roots politics" from Hezbollah, the WP has no articles about Iraq (TP is confused).

The WP reports that 5,000 South Korean veterans took to the streets of Seoul yesterday in support of U.S. command over the South Korean army.

Everyone mentions that TV talk-show host Mike Douglas died yesterday. He was 81.

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