Category Archives: Taliban

Kidnapped UN Worker Freed In Pakistan

John Solecki was kidnapped more than two months ago near the Afghan border. He was freed Saturday according to a police official.
Solecki was found Saturday evening with his hands and feet bound pleading for help about 30 miles south of Quetta. The kidnappers are reported to have called a local news agency with directions to locate the man.

Solecki was found by Mohammed Anwar, an area restaurant owner.

Agence France-Presse reports:

“I’m very pleased that John Solecki … has been released today. I’m very happy,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon soon after the American, who headed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Quetta, was freed.

Ban expressed his “sincere appreciation” to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan head of state Hamid Karzai and “many other people” for “working tirelessly” to secure Solecki’s release.

Solecki will be reunited with his family as soon as possible. He headed the U.N. refugee agency’s operations in Quetta.

Solecki was taken on February 2. His driver was killed during his abduction. His kidnappers had demanded the release of hundreds of people from alleged detention by the Pakistani security agencies.

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Taliban leader makes threats against Washington

On March 31, 2009 Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, made a direct threat on Washington that in his words would “amaze everyone in the world.”
At the same time the militant leader claimed the responsibility for the raid at the police academy in Lahore where at least 20 were killed on Monday. He further bragged about a new regional militant alliance.

On Monday the Mehsud said that the raid in Lahore was retaliation for US drone attacks on tribal areas in northern Pakistan.

The boasts were made in a telephone interview. It is said that Mehsud called Western news organizations from an undisclosed location.

Times Online
reports:

“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world … The maximum they can do is martyr me. But we will exact our revenge on them from inside America.”

The threats appear to be a direct response to President Barack Obama’s “Afpak” strategy announced last Friday. The U.S. will be sending 21,000 more troops into Afghanistan and will spend $7.5 billion in Pakistan as to treat the two countries as a single military theater.

Mehsud said during the interview that he has set up a “Council of Mujahidin” by uniting different “to step up attacks on US and Nato forces in Afghanistan”.

The United States has offered an award of $5 million for the capture of Mehsud.


Will The Taliban Behead Canadian Journalist Beverly Giesbrecht?

A Canadian journalist is in fear of her life. The Taliban has threatened to behead her at month’s end if ransom is not paid. West Vancouver native Beverly Giesbrecht was taken four months ago in Pakistan at gunpoint by Taliban militants.

Ms. Giebrecht, also known as Khadeja Abdul Qahaar was kidnapped on November 11. Three others were with her when she was taken while traveling to record video.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression says that the latest video was sent on Wednesday to a media outlet in Pakistan. The video features the frail journalist asking for help so that she is not killed. The group is concerned that process is lacking on getting the journalist freed.

The 52-year-old journalist is seen on a video saying that her captors will kill her on March 30.

The National Post reports:

I’m going to be killed, as you can see,” Qahaar says on the video, pointing at a long knife hanging behind her.

“I’m going to be beheaded just like the Polish engineer, probably by the end of the month. The deadline is by the end of March.”

She was speaking of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak who was beheaded on February 7 this year by a Taliban group in Pakistan. During the video Ms. Giesbrecht said she wasn’t sure where she was being held. She believes that she is near the Afghan border in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Giebrecht converted to Islam after the terrorist attacks on the US of 9/11. She owns and published a pro-Islamic web magazine called Jihad Unspun. That magazine has been tagged as a “a Canadian pro-terrorist website” by he Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. She has claimed that the site provides information that is “devoid of the constraints of mainstream media.”

At the time of her kidnapping she was working on a documentary for the Al-Jazeera network. That is what was listed as well on her work visa.The kidnappers are demanding $2 million for her release along with the release of some prisoners jailed in Afghanistan.

It is believed that she was captured by the Taliban commander Gul Bahadur, who leads fighters in the volatile North Waziristan region. Residents of the area say the Taliban is in need of money and that is the motive for kidnapping.

The Globe and Mail reports:

They are in dire need of money. We are sure she will be released as they get the ransom. The demand of the money should be accepted and it is not an expensive deal to save her life,” said Muhammad Noor, sitting in a medical store in North Waziristan’s Miranshah hamlet.

Local residents could help rescue the journalist but the risk to go against the Taliban is too great. The Taliban is known for decapitating those they deem of being ‘spies for American forces’ in the area.

The Globe and Mail has been told by locals that cash would buy Giesbrecht’s life.

Friend Glen Cooper has viewed the latest video. He says that he is worried about her health and that she appears to be fragile.

The web magazine, Jihad Unspun, she founded was last updated she was taken.

Khadija Abdul Qahar is a devoted Muslim who created this web site.
Since 2002 she has operated a totally independent outlet for news about the Middle East.
With almost no resources, this tiny but remarkable woman raised the bar for courageous reporting.
She knew that her integrity would be attacked by both sides.
But Khadija appreciates the kind support from fellow Muslims world-wide.
Her primary goal is independent journalism that provides an alternate voice to Western media.
She was aware of the risks involved in her latest journey, but had faith in those who were supposed to protect her.
Pray to Allah that she will be allowed to continue her efforts.

This site will resume operation upon her release.

Giesbrecht is one of two journalists from Canada being held by kidnappers. Amanda Lindout, a freelance journalist, has been held for the past seven months in Sudan.

The National Post reports:

Lisa Monette, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, told Canwest News Service Thursday night that officials were “aware of this video, but we have no further comment.”