There are families at US Embassy Kabul?

Scientific classification of living things use...Image via Wikipedia


Secretary Clinton’s US Embassy Kabul meet and greet last week was labeled a “Meet and Greet at Embassy Kabul with Employees and Their Families.” This almost gave the impression of “normal” with dependent family members in the warzone.

Of course, family denotes the traditional basic unit consisting of two parents and children or spouse and children, or the not so traditional one parent/child/ren composition. As far as I know, the US Embassy in Kabul is still a fully unaccompanied post. Well, unaccompanied except for the ambassador’s wife, Ching Eikenberry and the spouse of the deputy ambassador, Dr. Marie Ricciardone. Both are reportedly working for the US mission in Kabul. Are there any other spouses, senior or otherwise, working at the mission there? Are there children in Kabul? Or is that post still, really for adults only and the title of the meet and greet was simply a “cut and paste” lapse?

I see that Liz of Nick and Liz Go Global will be joining Nick in Kabul in late November. But other than those couples, I don’t really know how many family members are on official orders in Kabul (local employees excepted).

There are six fully unaccompanied posts in the Foreign Service, according to the FSJ in March 2009: Baghdad, Kabul, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar. The adult family member is able to accompany the employee if he/she is authorized by the Under Secretary for Management. But this is on a case by case basis. I understand that the adult family member must secure employment at the mission before authorization is granted.

In any case, if you are a spouse and looking for a job in Kabul – there are about 170 jobs posted for Afghanistan right now. A bunch of the jobs are on Limited Noncareer Appointment (LNA), which is usually what you get when you work at any overseas mission, anyway. These positions are limited in time – usually for about one year. But your employee-spouse will most probably be on a one-year assignment to Afghanistan, too.

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Terror Charges: From Minneapolis to Somalia

Muslims in Mumbai protest against terrorismImage by Bird Eye via Flickr

Yesterday, terrorism charges were unsealed in the District of Minnesota against eight defendants. According to the charging documents, the offenses include providing financial support to those who traveled to Somalia to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization; attending terrorist training camps operated by al-Shabaab; and fighting on behalf of al-Shabaab.

The charges were announced November 23 by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; B. Todd Jones, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minneapolis; and Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The recruitment of young people from Minneapolis and other U.S. communities to fight for extremists in Somalia has been the focus of intense investigation for many months,” Assistant Attorney General Kris said. “While the charges unsealed today underscore our progress to date, this investigation is ongoing. Those who sign up to fight or recruit for al-Shabaab’s terror network should be aware that they may well end up as defendants in the United States or casualties of the Somali conflict.”

According to court documents, between September 2007 and October 2009, approximately 20 young men, all but one of Somali descent, left the Minneapolis area and traveled to Somalia, where they trained with al-Shabaab, a designated terrorist organization. Many of them ultimately fought with al-Shabaab against Ethiopian forces, African Union troops, and the internationally-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Court documents also state that the first group of six men traveled to Somalia in December 2007. Prior to their departure, the six men, as well as others in the Minneapolis area, raised money for the trips and held meetings in which they made phone calls to alleged co-conspirators in Somalia.

Upon arriving in Somalia, the men from Minneapolis allegedly stayed at safe-houses in Somalia and attended an al-Shabaab training camp. The al-Shabaab training camp included dozens of other young ethnic Somalis from Somalia, elsewhere in Africa, Europe and the United States. Purportedly, the trainees were trained by, among others, Somali, Arab and Western instructors in the use of small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and military-style tactics. Allegedly, the trainees also were indoctrinated with anti-Ethiopian, anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Western beliefs.

According to court documents, on Oct. 29, 2008, Shirwa Ahmed, one of the men who left Minnesota in December 2007 and attended the al-Shabaab training camp, took part in one of five simultaneous suicide attacks on targets in northern Somalia. The attacks appeared to have been coordinated. Shirwa Mohamud Ahmed, also known as “Shirwa,” drove an explosive-laden Toyota truck into an office of the Puntland Intelligence Service in Bossasso, Puntland. Other targets included a second Puntland Intelligence Service Office in Bossasso, the Presidential Palace, the United Nations Development Program office and the Ethiopian Trade Mission in Hargeisa. Including the suicide bombers, approximately twenty people were killed in the attacks.

Read the whole thing here.

Vice Consul James Hogan: 1,440 Hours Missing

Now that's what I call missing.Image by robpatrick via Flickr

US Vice Consul James Edward Hogan disappeared on the night of September 24. He was reported missing by his wife, the following day. As of today, he has been missing for 60 days with no new report on the development of the search in the Netherlands Antilles. He has now been missing for 1,440 hours.

It seems like the only site that still continues to track news of his disappearance is the Scared Monkeys Missing Persons Site.

The State Department addressed the disappearance of Mr. Hogan, from best I could tell, on three occasions during the Daily Press Brief in October.

Daily Press Briefing – October 1

Daily Press Briefing – October 2

Daily Press Briefing – October 5

An email inquiry sent to Timothy J. Dunn, the Chief of Mission/Consul General at the US Consulate General in Curacao has not been returned. Nothing on its website indicates that one of its three officers has gone missing or that there is a search going on.

In contrast, when US Defense Attaché, Thomas Mooney disappeared from the US Embassy in Cyprus on June 28, 2007, the U.S. Embassy there issued a public appeal for information on the whereabouts of Colonel Mooney. The NYT reported that “an announcement posted on the embassy’s Web site urged anyone with information “which might be helpful in locating him” to contact the police.”

And at the sad conclusion of LTC Thomas Mooney’s disappearance, then Ambassador Ronald Schlicher released an official statement also posted on its embassy’s website.