Deeper and Deeper into War: Obama Authorizes More Military Force in Afghanistan
'15 years later, lives lost, billions spent...'
by Nika Knight June 10, 2016
U.S. soldiers near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, a few months after President Obama formally declared the war in Afghanistan over. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense/cc)
Despite a vow to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2017, President Barack Obama this week veered the opposite direction, widening the U.S. military's role in the entrenched, 15-years-long conflict.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday evening that the Obama administration's new measures "authorize U.S. troops, stationed in Afghanistan on a dual training and counterterrorism mission, to begin accompanying conventional local forces on the battlefield in a way that now occurs only with elite Afghan forces."
On Friday, AP noted that the new authorization will also "expand the military's authority to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban."
This week's expansion of the war in Afghanistan follows Obama's decision in September to send Special Forces back into combat in the war-torn nation to fight the re-emergence of the Taliban—less than a year after the president declared the war in Afghanistan over. (The United States also continues to unleash civilian-killing drone strikes on the beleaguered Afghan population.)
An anonymous senior Defense official attempted to defend the decision from critics in an interview with the Post, saying that Obama's authorizations will "maximize the use and effectiveness of our troops supporting the Afghan forces in those select instances in which their engagement can enable strategic effects on the battlefield."
"How widely commanders apply the 'strategic effect' measure will determine the extent to which the authorities thrust the United States back into operations like those it conducted before Obama ended formal combat operations at the close of 2014," the newspaper noted.
Moreover, "it's not clear what effect a small force in Afghanistan, even with new operational authorities, can have in the country's vast and complex battlefield," the Post wrote. "So far, 2016 has provided no sustained break, with heavy fighting in Helmand and a series of terrorist attacks in Kabul. Even after the United States conducted a strike that officials believe killed former Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in Pakistan, officials expect a punishing fighting season this summer."
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Omar Mateen, Terrorist Who Attacked Orlando Gay Club, Had Been Investigated by FBI
Mateen was a 'known quantity' to federal law enforcement before he killed at least 50 people in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Omar Mateen, of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, came to the attention of federal authorities twice prior to being identified as the gunman in the Orlando gay nightclub mass shooting, a senior law-enforcement source told The Daily Beast.
Mateen killed 50 people and shot more than 100 in total at the Pulse dance club early Sunday morning, in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
The senior law-enforcement source reports Mateen became a person of interest in 2013 and again in 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one point opened an investigation into Mateen, but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation.
"He's a known quantity," the source said. "He's been on the radar before."
The senior law-enforcement source told The Daily Beast that Mateen was born in New York and was married for a time to a woman from New Jersey.
That woman told The Washington Post that he repeatedly abused her during their marriage, which lasted from April 2009 to July 2011.
"He was not a stable person," the ex-wife said. "He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn't finished or something like that."
Mateen's parents are from Afghanistan [The US has decided to renew counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan including airstrikes in its profitable war against "terrorism." - AD] but he was not very religious, she said, adding that he "seemed like a normal human being."
Mateen's father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News that the sight of two men in Miami kissing angered his son.
"We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident," the father added. "We weren't aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country."
The attack, he said, "has nothing to do with religion."
But the father may not be the most credible of sources. He's a supporter of the Afghan Taliban, [What are the chances of this as the US possibly prepares to redeploy its military to Afghanistan to ostensibly continue its war against terrorism? - AD] according to The Washington Post.
Mir Seddique Mateen appears to reside in Florida, but is said to be presently running for office in Afghanistan.
Florida incorporation papers indicate that a Seddique Mateen heads a non-profit organization, The Durand Jirga, Inc. The non-profit was formed in 2010 and is registered at the Port St. Lucie, Florida address where both the father and Omar Mateen appear to reside.
An online posting by the father insists that what is now the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan should be returned to Afghanistan. [He did did he? - AD]
"Long live Afghanistan," a posting on Seddique Mateen's Facebook page declares. "To Pakistan death, death, death."
Two law-enforcement officials told The Daily Beast that immediately before starting his rampage, Mateen called 911 and pledged his allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. (A similar pledge was made online by the San Bernardino terrorists before they shot and killed 14 people last year.) [Yes, but can the public and investigative journalists gain access to these 911 recordings to make certain these alleged recordings in fact took place? - AD]
The first law-enforcement source told The Daily Beast there is no immediate indication that Mateen had any direct connection to ISIS. But ISIS recently called on Muslims across the world to attack targets in the West during the holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.
The message came in an audio recording from spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, released in May. Muslims around the world fast during Ramadan in honor of the first revelation from God to Muhammad. The terrorist group believes it to be a particularly opportune time for attacks.
"Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready... to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers... especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America," Adnani said.
The Amaq Agency, an ISIS media affiliate, later praised the attack and took credit for it. Yet there is no currently established link between Mateen and the terrorist outfit.
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Exclusive: Former coworker said Mateen 'unhinged and unstable'
Security company G4S released a statement saying that Orlando, Fla., nightclub gunman Omar Mateen had worked for them for several years