In Afghanistan, Man who Ran Suicide Bomb Squad and Kidnapped Foreign Journalists Appointed Kabul Governor. In US, 1000s of INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS are Refusing to get COVID Vaccine. Connecting the Dots!

In Afghanistan, Man who Ran Suicide Bomb Squad and Kidnapped Foreign Journalists Appointed Kabul Governor. In US, 1000s of INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS are Refusing to get COVID Vaccine. Connecting the Dots!

A Taliban commander with links to al-Qaeda, who was notorious for kidnapping foreign journalists and directing suicide attacks in the Afghan capital has been made governor of Kabul province.

Qari Baryal was appointed at the weekend at the Taliban regime announced 44 roles such as provincial governors and police chiefs three months after it took power.

Baryal was thought killed in a US air strike more than a decade ago when the international military coalition described him as an “al-Qaeda-associated Taliban leader” and “an active attack planner”.

Instead he rose to be the chief of the Taliban’s northern zone and was responsible for attacks in and around Kabul. He was also accused of kidnapping two French journalists and staging attacks on French troops in his home province of Kapisa.

His appointment is the latest in a string of promotions for vicious and hard line commanders which analysts suggest show the new Taliban regime has little desire to moderate or compromise. Read more

Thousands of federal intelligence officers refusing to get vaccine at risk of dismissal

Thousands of intelligence officers could soon face dismissal for failing to comply with the U.S. government’s vaccine mandate, leading some Republican lawmakers to raise concerns about removing employees from agencies critical to national security.

Several intelligence agencies had at least 20% of their workforce unvaccinated as of late October, said U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

CIA Director William Burns disclosed publicly last week that 97% of the agency’s officers have been vaccinated. The National Reconnaissance Office, which operates U.S. spy satellites, has more than 90% of its workforce vaccinated.

But Stewart said some agencies in the 18-member intelligence community had as much as 40% of their workforce unvaccinated. He cited information the administration has provided to the committee but not released publicly. He declined to identify the agencies because full information on vaccination rates was classified.

While many people will likely still get vaccinated before the administration’s Nov. 22 deadline for civilian workers, resistance to the mandate could leave major agencies responsible for national security without some personnel. Intelligence officers are particularly hard to replace due to the highly specialized work they do and the difficulties of completing security clearance checks. Read more

Intelligence perspective

The world rejoiced when ISIS' dream of establishing a caliphate in Syria in Iraq collapsed only to be caught by surprise by the Taliban takeover couple of weeks ago.  The Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan by US-led forces in 2001, but the group has seized control of the country once again following a rapid offensive.

The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan, including its capital and the presidential palace, suggests that U.S. military intelligence failed in its assessment of the situation, according to Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“This is an intelligence failure of the highest order,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday, adding that it’s the “biggest intelligence failure” since the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, a campaign of devastating surprise attacks on the U.S. and its allies in 1968.

Intelligence failure!

Away from Afghanistan, the US is figthing another war. War again a virus. COVID-19. While one of the reason why this was is still tough is because much is not know about the novel coronavirus, misinformation about the pandemic is as dangerous as the virus itself.

Unfortunately, some of those who are supposed to be at forefront of the fight against misinformation are well involved in spreading false information, especially against available COVID vaccines. Making matters even worse, some of these ANTI-VAXXERS are from the US INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY.

Citing information that he said had been provided to the House Intelligence Committee but not released publicly, Republican lawamaker Chris Stewart (Utah) said several intelligence agencies had at least 20% of their workforce unvaccinated as of late October.

"The anti-vax movement has, in short, become a magnet for people engaged in anti-truth and anti-science politics, and an open conduit to the extreme right," writes Paul Mason on the New Statesman.  "The new alliance between anti-vaxxers and the far right is a deadly threat. The claim that vaccines are being used to commit genocide is an echo of the white supremacist “Great Replacement Theory”, he added.

News about "anti-vaxxer spies" should definitely raise concerns, not just because it makes law enforcements officers are expected to supportive of the fight against misinformation regarding COVID-19 but also due to emerging evidence of deadly alliance between anti-vaxxers and far right groups.

New Normal?

As incomprehensible as it is to see a dangerous terrorist group like the Taliban becoming a legitimate government in Afghanistan, the fact that the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, to name but a few poweful nations, are now holding talks with the terrorist group, thereby legitimising it, make the whole thing seem like a new normal.

Taliban success in Afghanistan seen as boost for extremists across the world. “The success of the Taliban opens the way for radical groups to step up their recruitment operations globally. It is much easier for them now, and there is more receptivity,” said Hassan Abu Haniyeh, an expert on Islamic militants based in Amman, Jordan.

But the US as a global superpower, which has not fully recovered from a seemingly defeat in Afghanistan, largely attributed to intelligence failures, is in troubles of its own with some of its intelligence officers becoming anti-vaxxers. This is likely to have an impact on the effectiveness of the intelligence agencies in dealing with "legitimised terror groups," such as the Taliban, as "the new normal."