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NightWatch 20091224


For the Night of 24 December 2009

North Korea: correction: Wonsan and Hamhung are on the east coast of North Korea. Senior moment! -- thought east but the fingers typed west. Caught by a brilliant, careful Reader! Thanks.

Pakistan: A top Pakistani Taliban commander said that he had sent thousands of fighters to neighboring Afghanistan to counter the influx of new U.S. troops. A top Afghan Taliban spokesman said the Afghans don't need help from Pakistanis.

Another suicide bomber detonated himself in Peshawar. This was the second day in two days.

Iran: The pro-reform website Rodadnews quoted a statement released by the task force to mourn Grand Ayatollah Montazeri as saying they intend to "go to the fight of the contemporary Yazid (Yazibn Mu'wiyata killed Imam Hoseyn.)"

The website quotes the statement as saying: "The seventh day memorial service for him who was Hoseyn-Ali and lived a life true to (Imam) Ali's code, and who fought with the resolve of Hoseyn, will be held nationwide on the day of Ashura as part of traditional morning processions."

The website contained references to Shiite beliefs and luminaries. The point is the opposition intends a nationwide procession on Ashura, the tenth day of the Muslim new year, estimated to be Sunday, 27 December. It is a day of mourning in Shiite observance in memory of the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Mohammed in the battle of Karbala in 680. Public mourning displays include the famous public, self-flagellation processions.

The opposition rather cleverly intends to merge the religious holiday with is day of mourning for Montazeri. The combination will make it difficult for the government to halt the processions or distinguish which are Ashura observances and which are in honor of the late Grand Ayatollah.

Yemen: Yemeni fighter jets launched an air attacks on a remote location in the province of Shabwa, Yemeni officials said. "The assault targeted a meeting of senior al Qaeda operatives, 403 miles southeast of Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. Preliminary reports suggest that the strike targeted scores of Yemeni and foreign al Qaeda operatives."

Some news services reported the attack targeted the imam who was the religious adviser to the shooter at Fort Hood, but no official sources have confirmed that rumor. All Middle Eastern news services characterized the attack as a joint US-Yemeni operation. The Yemenis flew the jets using US provided intelligence, apparently.

Thursday's attack brought the number of Al-Qaida suspects killed by US and Yemeni attacks in the past eight days to 68.

Note: In the Middle East and South Asia, 24 December was characterized by low level murders, protest rallies, bombings, assassinations, ambushes and public violence, slightly more than other days.

End of NightWatch for 24 December.

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