Most Disturbing Video: Who Killed Louis Maxwell?

Louis Maxwell graduated from Miami Central High School in 2000.  He was reportedly popular among his UN colleagues. During the most recent attack at the UN compound in Afghanistan, he fought heroically to defend it.

This report says that “One of the main questions investigators are examining is how Maxwell, who defended the compound from a rooftop, ended up being killed at street level when the attack was over. Afghan interior ministry spokesman Basharay said at least one of the attackers was wearing an Afghan uniform. “We have accepted that there was a bomber wearing a police uniform and he was shooting everyone that was coming in front of him. Perhaps he has shot the UN security guard. But before saying that, we need to investigate this,” Basharay said. But the former UN officials said senior Afghan officials were uncooperative in providing information after the attack. “We were completely stonewalled,” one former UN official told NBC News.”

A disappointing response from a ministry spokesman (did we train him, too?). The least they could have done, is be more cooperative in the investigation no matter where it leads instead of saying “Perhaps he has shot the UN security guard.” Perhaps?

I’m trying to get this straight in my head – if this is not a case of “perhaps,” as Mr. Basharay has indicated  and if Mr. Maxwell was indeed shot by “friendlies,” was he shot by one of those guys paid and trained with USG money in Afghanistan?   

Watch the video below and see if this does not disturb you.  I really am appalled and upset by this. This young man and his family needs more than a “Perhaps.”  Three days ago, Afghanistan has also officially denied the role of its police force in the death of the other four UN employees in the October attack. It seems to me that this one as well as the “abducted” election process were all perpetrated by foreigners. Anything else that happens in the future can also be blamed on the foreigners.  Will they ever own up to anything there?   I am terribly sick of this war.

 

 


A Rough Week in the Diplomatic World (assassination attempt, brainstorm gets a bad rap, a plumber as diplomat, invasion in NYC and Twitter, etc.)

This has been a rough and rocky week in the diplomatic universe. First off, one bad guy tried to blow up the British Ambassador to Yemen.

The Guardian reports that “Ambassador Tim Torlot was unhurt in the attack, which left the bomber dead and three others injured – two security guards escorting the motorcade and a bystander. An investigation was launched into how the bomber – identified as Ali as-Selwi, 22 – was able to identify the route of the convoy and come so close to his assumed target.” It also reports that Yemen’s interior ministry later announced that the bomber was from Taiz, a major city between Sana’a and the southern port of Aden, and that the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

It quotes Abdel Karim Aryani, a long-time adviser to President Ali Abdullah Saleh who said the bombing was “one of the most serious acts of terrorism to have happened in Yemen.” “To target an ambassador who was under the protection of the Yemeni government makes the damage to Yemen immeasurable. We didn’t need this attack to tell us that al-Qaida has not left Yemen and that we must continue in our effort to track and confront them.”

Still on the British Foreign Office and Whitehall, a memo leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, contained the “brainstorm” of British civil servants regarding the Pope’s upcoming visit to the UK:

“The ideas, included in a memo headed ‘The ideal visit would see …’, ridiculed the Catholic Church’s teachings including its opposition to abortion, homosexual behaviour and contraception. Many appeared to be deliberately provocative rather than a serious attempt to plan an itinerary for the September visit.” […] The proposals, which were then circulated among key officials in Downing Street and Whitehall, also include the Pope opening an abortion ward; spending the night in a council flat in Bradford; doing forward rolls with children to promote healthy living; and even performing a duet with the Queen.  In reference to the hugely sensitive issue of child abuse engulfing the Catholic Church, the Government document suggests that the Pope should take a “harder line on child abuse – announce sacking of dodgy bishops” and “launch helpline for abused children”. The document was apparently sent out by a junior Foreign Office civil servant with a covering note admitting that some of the plans were “far-fetched”.

The Telegrah in a separate article reports that “The memo, which also called for the Pope to bless a homosexual marriage, was emailed around Whitehall by Steven Mulvain, a 23-year-old Oxford graduate who describes his sexual orientation on a social networking website as “gay.”

Oy! And? 

On April 27, The Telegraph identified Anjoum Noorani as the diplomat who has been disciplined over a Foreign Office memo mocking the Pope. “Anjoum Noorani, 31, was the leader of the Papal Visit Team which drew up a document suggesting the Pope should launch his own range of “Benedict” condoms, open an abortion clinic and stay in a council flat in Bradford.”

The same article notes that “The most striking thing about the Foreign Office team has been how ineffectual they are. They have been disengaged and, frankly, clueless.”

I’m sorry — “disengaged” and “clueless” could just as well described the Vatican’s handling of the sex abused scandal. I’m siding with the civil servants here; I also think that “the Pope should take a “harder line on child abuse – announce sacking of dodgy bishops” and “launch helpline for abused children.” Never mind performing a duet with the Queen. I’d like to go to sleep without nightmares about that scene.

On April 28, An Indian diplomat was arrested by her government on charges of spying for Pakistan, officials said Tuesday, a development that could hurt relations between the wary nuclear neighbors and almost certainly leave New Delhi red-faced. According to LAT: “Madhuri Gupta, 53, a second secretary at the Indian Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, was reportedly lured back to India on the pretext that her help was needed to prepare for an upcoming regional meeting in Bhutan. She was detained as soon as she landed at the airport several days ago and was found to be in possession of seven sensitive documents, according to Indian news reports. “We have reason to believe that an official in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad had been passing information to Pakistani intelligence agencies,” said Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Ministry. “The official is cooperating with our investigation and inquiries.” Gupta has worked in the embassy’s press and information department for 2 1/2 years as an Urdu translator, Indian news reports said, citing police sources. She had been under suspicion for a few months.”

Over next door — the Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada called that country’s continued discussion of the treatment of Afghan detainees a waste of time.  “It’s a terrible waste of time, unfortunately,” Jawed Ludin said of the federal government’s months-old debate about whether Canada knowingly turned over detainees to torture at the hands of Afghanistan security forces. “I’m very, very upset that the Parliament in Ottawa is so focused on this. First of all, it talks about a long time ago. If there weren’t any problems in Afghanistan, if there wasn’t human-rights violations, if our police and prisons were perfect, why did we need your help? That’s why you’re there, helping us,” Ludin told the Edmonton Journal’s editorial board.

Ludin was previously Afghanistan’s ambassador in Norway and previously served as President Hamid Karzai’s chief of staff.

This I don’t understand. These were his countrymen! A long time ago? Ugh! 

Closer to home, the Eurasian Review reports that US Embassy Personnel In Kyrgyzstan Are On Hot Seat: “Top officials at the State Department in Washington are said to be “fuming” with US Embassy personnel in Bishkek for supposedly failing to maintain strong ties with erstwhile opposition politicians who now are leading figures in the Kyrgyz provisional government.”  The report cited Professor Eugene Huskey who reportedly claimed at a congressional hearing that “US Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller had rebuffed meetings with Almazbek Atambayev when he was a member of the opposition during the Bakiyev era. Atambayev is now deputy head of the provisional government. Huskey also claimed that US embassy personnel made Kyrgyz civil society activists feel as though they were “untouchables.”[…] In Washington, a “sense of unhappiness about perceived passivity” in the Bishkek embassy’s approach had been building for more than a year, the source added. Disapproval has now transformed into a profound sense of embarrassment at Foggy Bottom, as the sudden demise of Bakiyev’s administration exposed US policy flaws before they could be addressed.

On April 28, CBS News reports that Ben Ren Yu, a diplomat stationed at China’s consulate in Houston, Texas was arrested and injured Saturday night by Houston police who were unaware he was a diplomat when they cuffed him on consulate property. “According to information obtained by CBS News, Deputy Consular General Yu, 53,  was driving in Houston with another passenger, when a marked Houston Police car attempted to pull him over for a missing license plate. Yu did not slow down and kept driving to the Chinese Consulate, entering a garage via an automatic door with officers in pursuit. Multiple Houston PD officers chased Yu into the building and placed him in handcuffs. The officers were unaware the building Yu entered was the Chinese Consulate, according a source.” Houston blog, Spaced City quotes Houston Mayor Annise Parker saying that “The HPD [Houston Police Department] and the U.S. State Department are coordinating the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest.”

As if the week could not get any worse — a plumber was convicted of posing as a diplomat in Virginia!

WaPo reports that when Richard Earl Jaensch, 52, of Annandale, traveled through security checkpoints at airports and at the Fairfax County courthouse in 2008, he flashed his diplomatic credentials. Problem was Jaensch is a plumber and a federal jury in Alexandria on Thursday found him guilty of producing false diplomatic credentials after a trial in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. According to court documents and trial evidence, Jaensch, produced an identification card, a badge, and a credentials holder. He used a similar set of diplomatic credentials at TSA checkpoints at airports and at an April 2008 hearing in Fairfax County Circuit. WaPo reports that after court personnel confiscated the identification, Jaensch ordered another set.

Apparently, you can order those credentials anytime. Who would have thunk? And they are not cheap, mind you.  Of course, as a plumber, he is in a recession-resistant industry and probably can even afford spare credentials.  The report did not say if Mr. Jaensch was posing as a US diplomat or a foreign diplomat.  If he was posing as a US diplomat, well, heck TSA only need to see if he was holding a US diplomatic passport. If he was posing as a foreign diplomat, he should have an identity card issued by the State Department. TSA may not know what that card looks like but, but a badge? From a diplomat? Diplomats with no law enforcement roles do not carry badges, dude!  Now if Mr. Jaensch was following DSS news, he would have know that three guys in Missouri in 2009 were convicted of a similar offense. These guys aimed high — giving their clients no less than the title “Ambassador.”

If that news is not troubling enough — here comes Josh Rogin of The Cable reporting that an Ambassador nominee is still haunted by a 15-year old Cuban romance. “President Obama’s nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be the next U.S. ambassador to El Salvador still faces Republican opposition due to a relationship she had with a Cuban American more than 15 years ago. The objections surfaced again during today’s business meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which approved her nomination despite “no” votes by several GOP committee members. Led by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, the Republicans are demanding more information about Aponte’s long-ago romance with Roberto Tamayo, a Cuban-born insurance salesman who was alleged to have ties to both the FBI and Castro’s intelligence apparatus. Josh’s report notes that “The FBI later gave Aponte “a clean bill of health,” a National Security Council spokesman told the Washington Times in 1999.”

Good grief! No escape from a romance gone bad? Really? Wonder if our congress folks ever give male nominees the same third degree burn treatment over old romances. I’m betting that Mari Carmen Aponte’s nomination will be deminted shortly.

And just when I thought that’s it for this week, the international scene intrudes big time.  Mahmoud of Ahmadinejad is reportedly set to invade the Big Apple. Again. He has apparently applied for a US visa  to attend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the UN. No, you won’t get a chance to collect his fingerprints, this is an official trip of a foreign leader. But, for the sake of creative exercise — imagine if you have to collect his fingerprints in ten-print and interview him for that visit to NYC:

Q: You need to press your fingers harder on that scanner.
A: Why? So you can burn my digits?
Q: What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?
A:Where else to preach freedom of speech than in the belly of the beast?
Q:What US sites do you want to visit?
A: Do I really have to answer that in a free society such as yours?
Q:How much money are you taking with you?
A: I can buy you now if you don’t stop asking me these silly questions.

Tricky, eh?  If you want to catch up on your Persian in case you get to grill MofA when he comes for a private visit – check out the FSI courses here, including the Persian Basic Course: Units 1-12 (sorry 1963 edition).

As if this news is not unsettling enough, Hugo the Gladiator who sees the bad, bad gringos behind every nook and shadow has invaded Twitter. So we went and checked (http://twitter.com/chavezcandanga).  And we were disappointed that Hugo has now been reduced to 140 characters. How hard is that when you’re used to doing hours-long speeches?   First tweets below, fresh from the oven, 130,438  followers as of this writing:

#    Hola mis queridos Candangueros y Candangueras. Esto ha sido una explosión inesperada. Gracias.Thanks. Ahora en Barinas con Evo. Venceremos!!    
about 4 hours ago  via UberTwitter  

(“This has been an unexpected explosion. Thanks. I’m here with Evo. We will conquer!!”)

#    Epa que tal? Aparecí como lo dije: a la medianoche. Pa Brasil me voy. Y muy contento a trabajar por Venezuela. Venceremos!!    
9:43 PM Apr 27th  via UberTwitter  

(“Hey how’s it going? I appeared like I said I would: at midnight. I’m going to Brazil. And very happy to work for Venezuela. We will be victorious!!”)

By the way, FSI also has seven Spanish lessons available online as public domain materials to help beef up your language skills; most helpful if you want to follow the candanga’s tweets.

I’m praying for a quiet weekend so I could bake pies, but don’t count on it.

 

A Collection of 2010 Crime and Safety Reports (Laos, Mexico, Indonesia, El Salvador, Sudan, Bahamas, Niger, Burkina Faso)

I think US Embassy Laos’ 2010 Crime and Safety Report deserves an award for Simple English and Straight-forward Reporting:

Laos 2010 Crime & Safety Report
East Asia / Pacific – Laos |23 Apr 2010

Crime Threats
Bag snatching, residential/guesthouse room thefts, and arrests by police to extort money are among the most common crimes in Laos.

Road Safety
Motorcycle riding is extremely dangerous.  Driving between cities at night is extremely dangerous due to night hazards (cars/animals, people in middle of road sleeping, blind turns and high cliffs in mountainous regions).

Industrial and Transportation Accidents
There are numerous reports of buses getting into accidents while transiting between cities. There have also been frequent (about once a year) plane crashes by Lao Airlines.  There is no railroad in Laos.

Civil Unrest
Civil unrest is illegal in Laos.

Kidnappings
The only kidnappings are by police to extort money

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
There is no concept of “Rule of Law” within Laos.  It would be better to say that there is an environment where the population is expected to pay for the police’s protection and involvement.  If the police detain you, refusing to negotiate a settlement will most likely only cause more police involvement, which will cost you more in the long run. 

I don’t know about you, but after somebody threw a dangerous device at US ConGen Nuevo Laredo, we are tempted to give the following report the Most Understated Reporting Award:

Mexico 2010 Crime & Safety Report: Nuevo LaredoAmericas – Mexico | 20 Apr 2010

The security situation along the U.S.-Mexican border remains fluid and unpredictable. In contrast to the violence seen in the border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo has continued to show a drop in violent crimes in recent years. However, this is due in large part to one cartel maintaining a firm grip on organized crime within the city. While reports of violent crimes and kidnappings have considerably decreased from years past, the threat of violence remains. Visitors traveling in this area have been victims of armed robberies, sexual assaults, auto thefts, and kidnappings. Although there is no indication that U.S. citizens are being specifically targeted, they too have been victims of such crimes.

US Embassy Jakarta’s 2010 report is Most Enlightening in terms of the size of the AmCit communities in the country and their security precautions:

Indonesia 2010 Crime & Safety Report
East Asia / Pacific – Indonesia |19 Apr 2010

Crime can be a problem in Indonesia, particularly in major urban centers like Jakarta and Surabaya, but it did not significantly affect the American community in 2009.  This may be a result of the continued security awareness of many official and private American citizens due to the ongoing terrorism threat in Indonesia.  Most American businesses have active security briefing programs with full-time professional security officers familiar with the latest criminal trends.  Considering the size of the official and private American communities (current consular data show 23,000 American residents in Indonesia), there were few reports of crimes against Americans in 2009.

The Most Graphic and Number Intensive report goes to US Embassy San Salvador’s 2010 Crime Report. See Jesus Flores: The Hidden El Salvador for the most extensive photo essays on crime and security in the country.  I understand that the photographer is an EFM who was assigned to El Salvador a couple years back.  Here is his blog; which does not mention any connection to the official community. 

El Salvador 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Americas – El Salvador | 20 Apr 2010

El Salvador is considered one of the most violent countries in the world. The threat of violent crime within San Salvador, including the neighborhoods in which many U.S. citizens live and work, increases isolation and impinges upon recreational activities. Crimes of every nature occur throughout the country; unfortunately, daylight is not a deterrent for criminals.

A country of roughly 5.8 million people, El Salvador has street gangs totaling more than 25,000 members.  Violent, well-armed,street gangs continue to grow in El Salvador. Los Angeles’ 18th Street and the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, are the largest gangs in the country. Gangs concentrate on extortion, narcotics, arms trafficking, murder for hire, car jacking, and violent street crime. Gang members and other criminal elements roam freely, day and night, targeting affluent areas for burglaries. Gang members are quick to engage in violence, even when resistance is offered. Many gangs are now comprised of unemployed youth who do not hesitate to use deadly force when perpetrating crimes. The U.S. government is working with the government of El Salvador to combat the country’s gang problem.

 Due to lax customs enforcement and porous borders, weapons are readily available and easily obtained by criminals, gangs, and anyone else who wishes to obtain them. The number of illegal weapons on the streets is estimated at 400,000; including AK-47s and M-16 assault rifles, various handguns, grenades, and military grade weaponry. The number of weapons caches, with non-decommissioned weapons that survived the civil war, is unknown. Crimes committed by criminals armed with automatic weapons are routine.

Generally, U.S. interests and citizens are not specifically targeted  by criminals, but they are not exempt from crimes either. Most members of the U.S. private sector are able to conduct their daily activities without security-related incidents by following basic security precautions.
[…]
The homicide rate in El Salvador for 2009 was 37 percent higher than 2008. The total number of homicides nationwide in 2009 was 4,365. This represents an average of 12 homicides per day. Other statistics are based on crimes reported by victims and those statistics vary widely among El Salvadorian government agencies. Nevertheless, the overall crime reports received by the police in 2009 were eight percent higher than 2008.

We are somewhat familiar with Sudan from Facts Are Strictly Optional but we did not realized that it is also a “must carry laminated card with you at all times detailing a request to take you to a hospital with higher standards” place.

Sudan 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Sub-Saharan Africa – Sudan | 21 Apr 2010

Sudan is a country of contrasts pertaining to crime. North and central Sudan, including Khartoum, experience relatively low crime rates compared to capital cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. Embassy has almost no crime reports against Americans in north and central Sudan.  However, in Darfur carjacking of non-governmental organizations (NGO) and UN vehicles by militia groups was reported almost daily until many organizations discontinued use of pick-up trucks and four-by-four sport utility vehicles in late 2008. Most organizations now rent secondhand, sub-compact sedans or minivans from private owners.  Such vehicles cannot be converted into technical vehicles (jeeps or pick-up trucks with mounted machine guns,) and do not have significant resale value for rebel groups seeking income.  In Darfur, there were 51 NGO, UN, and UN contracted vehicles carjacked and 30 NGO compound invasions by armed perpetrators reported to the African Union/UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2009.
[…]
The U.S. Embassy Khartoum suggests you carry a laminated card with you at all times detailing a request to take you to a hospital with higher standards, listing your blood type and any medical issues in Arabic.

Bahamas is not so magical a place as paradise.  There have been reports of harassment and killings of persons based on sexual orientation:

Bahamas 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Americas – Bahamas |22 Apr 2010

The Bahamas is a renowned tourist destination with cruise line ports of call and numerous luxury resorts.  The over 700 Bahamian islands, which make up the archipelago, are roughly equivalent in size to California, and has a combined population of about 330,000. Only about 30 of the 700 islands have significant populations, and about two-thirds of all Bahamians live on the small island of New Providence, where the capital Nassau is located, and which is also the center of commerce.
[…]
There were 87 murders in the Bahamas in 2009, nearly all the victims were Bahamian. In late 2009, three separate groups of tourists were held at gunpoint and robbed at popular tourist sites in and near Nassau; each of these incidents occurred during daylight hours and involved groups of more than eight persons. Several other tourist groups were allegedly victims of armed robbery at more remote locations. U.S. Embassy Nassau has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as casinos, outside hotels, or cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged.

The Bahamas has the highest incidence of reported rape in the world according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime, violence, and development trends. Two American citizens were murdered in Nassau in 2009, both in residential areas.  Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island. The upsurge in criminal activity has also led to incidents which, while not directed at tourists, could place innocent bystanders at risk. An altercation at a major resort resulted in the shooting of two security officers, while several daytime robberies in Nassau led to exchanges of gunfire on busy streets.

The embassy has not received reports of harassment or hate crimes motivated by race, religion, or citizenship. However, the embassy does receive frequent reports about discrimination and harassment of Haitians. There have been reports of harassment and killings of persons based on sexual orientation. In addition, women have reported incidents of verbal harassment and unwanted attention.

Niger gets a double whammy… not only is it a high crime country, it is also a high threat country for political violence.

Niger 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Sub-Saharan Africa – Niger |21 Apr 2010

Niger is designated as a high crime threat country by the U.S. Department of State. As a land-locked country in West Africa, Niger shares borders with seven countries. These borders amount to over 1,000,000 miles, a distance that is nearly impossible to closely monitor. Niger’s central location in West Africa and the vast Sahara Desert in the north makes the country an ideal transit point for criminals, weapons, migrants, contraband, and illegal drugs.

Niger is also designated by the U.S. Department of State as a high threat country for political violence.  Niger is currently in the midst of a political crisis. There have been four coup d’états in the country’s history since its independence in 1960. Up until this current political situation, there was a very good relationship between the United States and Niger. Due to the sanctions imposed by the U.S. Government, the current bilateral relation is tepid.  However, this has not translated into an anti-American sentiment among the general population.

Burkina Faso is also a high crime threat country and a transit point for all sorts of bad stuff. But one of our readers previously informed us that he/she had a great time in Burkina Faso, except for the dust storm.


Burkina Faso 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Sub-Saharan Africa – Burkina Faso | 21 Apr 2010

Burkina Faso is a land-locked country in the center of West Africa and is designated a high crime threat country by the U.S. Department of State. Due to its geographic location it is a transit point for criminals, weapons and illegal drugs. Home invasions and street crimes such as pick pocketing, purse snatching, backpack theft, and cell phone theft are pervasive in Ouagadougou and other cities throughout the country. Although daytime robberies have been reported, most street crimes are committed after dark and are often perpetrated by one or two individuals on motorbikes. Criminals in urban areas will normally carry a knife or other edged weapon in order to cut the strap on bags, purses or backpacks. In general, thieves do not directly threaten victims with their weapons, although recent thefts and attempted thefts have involved the use of knives in an aggressive manner. Two recent thefts involved the victims being stabbed resulting in minor injuries. Home invasions and residential thefts normally occur after dark and are usually not confrontational in nature. Thieves utilize stealth when entering residences and confrontation with occupants is typically avoided.

That’s it from the OSAC collection for now. I probably need not mention this, but in addition to the Post Reports, the Real Post Reports, and Google, the OSC reports is a good stop when checking out posts in your next bid list.   

 


Diplopundit Blog Index | April 2010