Monthly Archives: December 2008

CIA sometimes uses Viagra to win over Afghan warlords

WASHINGTON – The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, reached in his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills: Viagra.

“Take one of these,” the officer said. “You’ll love it.”

The officer returned days later to an enthusiastic reception, he said. The chief offered information about Taliban movements – and asked for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are won. The growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining in some of the country’s roughest neighborhoods, according to officials involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency’s operatives have used a variety of personal touches. These include pocket knives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

“Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people – whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for the story, he spoke on condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations.

Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don’t offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and Iranian agents.

The usual bribes of choice – cash and weapons – aren’t always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.

“If you give an asset $1,000, he’ll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone,” said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive officer of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. “Even if he doesn’t get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it.”

The key, Mr. Smith said, is to meet the informant’s personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little trace.

“You’re trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century,” he said, “so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere.”

Among the world’s intelligence agencies, there’s a long tradition of using sex as a motivator. Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer and author of several books on intelligence, noted that the Soviet spy service was notorious for using attractive women as bait when seeking to turn foreign diplomats into informants.

“The KGB has always used ‘honey traps,’ and it works,” Mr. Baer said.

For American officers, a more common practice was to offer medical care for potential informants and their loved ones, he said. For some U.S. operatives in Afghanistan, Western drugs such as Viagra are just one of a long list of enticements available for use in special cases. Two veteran officers familiar with such practices said Viagra is offered rarely, and only to older tribal officials for whom the drug would hold special appeal.

While such sexual performance drugs are generally unavailable in the remote areas where the agency’s teams have operated, they have been sold in some Kabul street markets since at least 2003, and are known by reputation elsewhere.

“You didn’t hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones,” said one retired operative familiar with the drug’s use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often have four wives – the maximum number allowed by the Quran – and some village patriarchs are easily sold on the pill.

But not everyone in Afghanistan’s hinterlands has heard of the drug, leading to some awkward encounters when Americans try to explain its effects.

Such was the case with the 60-something chieftain who received the four pills from a U.S. operative. The operative, now retired, said he talked to the clan leader for a long time through an interpreter, looking for ways to secure loyalty.

A discussion of the man’s family and wives provided inspiration. Once it was established that the man was in good health, the pills were offered and accepted.

Four days later, when the Americans returned, the gift had worked its magic, the operative recalled.

“He came up to us beaming,” the official said. “He said, ‘You are a great man.’ ”

“And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.”

Joby Warrick,

The Washington Post

via CIA sometimes uses Viagra to win over Afghan warlords | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Headline | International News.

In the News 12-28-2008

Qatarisation plan must be put on hold: experts

THE Ministry of Labour should suspend its programme of Qatarisation of jobs until a well-trained cadre of young Qatari men and women is available, participants in a seminar have unanimously urged.

The seminar on ‘Nationalisation of Jobs’ was organised by the Institute for Administrative Development in Doha, local Arabic daily Arrayah reports.

The participants said that until such a cadre of national youth emerged in the job market the policy of Qatarisation of jobs was nothing but “deadwood employment” because the incumbents were not equipped for the positions to which they were appointed.

The whole issue had to be studied carefully and there was an urgent need to work from the grassroots so as to evolve courses of study from the school to the university level in keeping with requirements of the job market, said the experts and representatives from the government and private sectors who took part in the discussions.

The yawning gap between the number of expatriates and nationals employed in diverse fields would remain until a strategic plan was chalked out and implemented, they said.

As many as 20,000 expatriates are employed every year compared to only 2,000 nationals.

The participants called for the setting up of a national body for the development of human resources. This body should among other things address the problem of evolving courses of study required for the job market. It should provide vital inputs to the Qatar Foundation and the University of Qatar so as to help them in planning the academic curriculum accordingly.

Among the notable speakers at the seminar was Dr Hind Joulu, director of finance and administration at the university. She said: “In the employment of nationals the emphasis seems to be on quantity and not quality. We need to carry out in-depth studies to identify the reasons for the failure of the policy of nationalisation of jobs.”

l A committee report says the pattern of Qatar’s indigenous population growth during the last three decades points to two disturbing trends: a declining fertility rate among women and a rise in the average age at which Qataris marry.

Arrayah has published the report released by the technical team of the standing committee on population highlighting various aspects of population growth in Qatar.

The report says the fertility rate among Qatari women has fallen from 5.7 in 1990 to 4 in 2007; and the average age at which Qataris marry is 26.4 years for men and 23.6 for women.

These trends do not augur well for a healthy growth of the indigenous population which is already low, the report says.

There has however been a significant increase in the indigenous population since the beginning of 2006 as a result of the grant of citizenship to a large number of expatriate men and women.

Giving statistics on deaths resulting from accidents, the report states that 81% of those who died in road accidents during the last year were Qatari nationals in the 15-24 age group. However, the number of expatriates who die in accidents at their workplace is very high in comparison to nationals.

The mortality rate among Qataris under 15 years is higher than for expatriates in that age group. The mortality rate for expatriates aged 25 to 59 is much higher than among Qatari nationals (64% and 26% respectively). However, at age 60 and above the rate is higher among Qataris than expatriates (48% and 14% respectively), the report says.

Highlighting the importance of the report, committee chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Jabor al-Thani said that it would help in working out strategic plans for the development of the population structure and in determining the country’s needs in the fields of health, education and social care.

via Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper – Qatar.

In the News 12-22-2008

Divorce bid for girl, 8, is rejected

via Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper – Gulf/Arab World.

RIYADH: A Saudi court has rejected a plea to divorce an eight-year-old girl married off by her father to a man who is 58, saying the case should wait until the girl reaches puberty, a lawyer involved said.

“The judge has dismissed the plea (filed by the mother) because she does not have the right to file such a case, and ordered that the plea should be filed by the girl herself when she reaches puberty,” lawyer Abdullah Jtili said in a telephone interview after Saturday’s court decision.

The divorce plea was filed in August by the girl’s divorced mother with a court at Unayzah, 220km north of Riyadh, just after the marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.

“She doesn’t know yet that she has been married,” Jtili said then of the girl who was about to begin her fourth year at primary school.

Relatives who did not wish to be named said the marriage had not yet been consummated, and that the girl continued to live with her mother. They said that the father had set a verbal condition by which the marriage is not consummated for another 10 years, when the girl turns 18.

The father had agreed to marry off his daughter for an advance dowry of 30,000 riyals ($8,000), as he was apparently facing financial problems, they said.

The father was in court and he remained adamant in favour of the marriage, they added.

Lawyer Jtili said he was going to appeal the verdict at the court of cassation, the supreme court. – AFP

Qatar National Day

Qatar ready to celebrate

By Arvind Nair

THE entire population, including nationals and expatriates, is awaiting today’s National Day celebrations with a lot of excitement and anticipation.

Never before in the country’s history so many people may have looked forward to the National Day with so much enthusiasm. It is not surprising either since the day is packed with activities of different nature, targeted at different segments of the population.

The programmes include not only those strictly designed to entertain and amuse people but also to evoke patriotism and pride in the country’s heritage and history.

The National Day is dedicated to the revered memory of the founder ruler, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani al-Thani, the tribal ruler who stood up against the big powers towards the end of the 19th century and achieved statehood for Qatar.

He led Qatari tribes and fought a decisive battle against Ottoman troops at Wajba on March 25, 1893. That was a turning point in the history of the region. The day is also in remembrance of the nation’s forefathers and the sacrifices they made.

On December 18, 1878, Sheikh Jassim took over the reins of leadership following the death of his father, Sheikh Mohamed bin Thani.

The Qatar National Day Organising Committee (QNOC) has striven this year to mount events that are rooted in the history and directly connected with the identity and special culture.

Among the important events that will be held along the Corniche is a military parade that will portray Qatari camel riders in their traditional uniforms, in addition to the cars and vehicles of the Qatari Armed Forces, Ministry of Interior, Internal Security Forces (Lekhwiya) and Emiri Guard. This parade will take place today at 9.30am and will depict Qatar’s military history during various periods.

An exciting light and water show and a giant fireworks extravaganza will take place at the Corniche at 5pm. Beautiful lightings illuminate buildings and trees along the Corniche and historic scenes of Qatar’s cultural past will be broadcast on 10 giant water screens positioned in Doha Bay.

At 9pm a pyro-musical extravaganza will light up the sky over the Corniche and Doha Bay.

In an effort to ensure the safety of the public, the organising committee has taken several steps including closing of the Corniche area today from the morning and until the end of the military parade.

There will be a parking ban on the Corniche to avoid traffic jams. Various designated parking lots for the public will be available in the surrounding areas of the Corniche.

Ten Karwa buses will be available to transport the public from designated parking lots to the Corniche area where events are held. Many bus stations and family buses will be provided.

Five medical emergency and missing children sites will be set up during the events.

“We urge families and the public to be careful and to closely watch their children to make sure they stay away from equipment and tools used during the show,” the committee said.

Following the military parade, the public can watch the historic military car and vehicle parade near the Orry on the Corniche.

The city has already gone into a celebratory mode with hundreds of flags adding colour to the streets and buildings, and illumination lighting up public and private institutions.

The public has already joined in the mood with hundreds of them sporting miniature flags and stickers on their vehicles.

More information is available by accessing

n Qatar residents can expect a pleasant weather today though the forecast says the sky will be partly cloudy. The weatherman has forecast moderate temperature for the day with slight dust haze. There is a possibility of scattered rain.

The maximum temperature will be 19C while the minimum will be 13 degrees.

via Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper – First Page.

In the News

This one just doesn’t make sense to me.  There has to be more to this story.

Kiss lands pair in court

A MAN and a woman have appeared in a Doha court after being charged over a kiss on the cheek. They are facing charges of indecent behaviour in public. A third person from the group has been charged with drinking alcohol.
The incident occurred while the woman was celebrating her 21st birthday in May in a city  hotel along with her colleagues.
A source said: “One of her male colleagues, 25, greeted her and kissed her on the cheek in the presence of her father.
“The incident was witnessed by policemen present at the entrance of the hotel. They took note of it and registered a police case.”
The case has been adjourned to hear the witnesses.

In the News Dec 13, 2008

Here are some news stories from the past couple of days.

Woman’s complaint lands her in trouble

AN angry woman walked into a police station to file a complaint against a “lover” she feared had infected her with Aids – only to find herself charged with having illicit relations.
Police officers were shocked when the Filipina voluntarily came to the station to inform them she had been having an affair with her boss. It later transpired that the furious woman had no idea that such relations were illegal in Qatar.
The woman attempted to file a complaint against her boss, a Spanish national of Indian origin, on September 22.
The 23-year-old woman had been warned by a female compatriot – a housemaid in the man’s house – that she saw anti-Aids medication in his bedroom.
Shocked by the thought that she may have unwittingly contracted the disease, the young woman went to the police.
After taking her statement, the police referred the matter to the Public Prosecution and the 42-year-old boss was summoned to answer the allegations.
Realising her mistake, the “plaintiff” later tried to withdraw the complaint, but the police told her that it was no longer her decision to make.
When the boss spoke to investigators, he denied a relationship and said the medicines in his room belonged to his wife who suffered from urinary tract problems.
An Aids test later confirmed the man did not have the disease – nor did the “plaintiff.”
As a result of the Filipina’s report to the police, the two recently appeared in court where they pleaded not guilty.
The man’s lawyer claims his client is the victim of a malicious vendetta carried out by the Filipina after she was sacked from her job.
The trial has been adjourned to December 25.

Kissing lands couple in trouble

A ‘MARRIED’ couple was sentenced in absentia to a year in prison for kissing in public and conducting an illicit relationship.
The Muslim woman and her Christian ‘husband’, both from Lebanon, skipped the country before the trial concluded after being told the State did not recognise their marriage, which took place in Cyprus.
Despite their inter-faith union not being an issue in their home country, Doha authorities ruled it unlawful – even though the woman was apparently given a residence visa based on the sponsorship of her ‘husband’.
The couple landed in trouble after a Qatari family called the police to complain they were kissing on the Corniche in April.
The police officer who attended the call said he found the two in an “indecent position” and when he confronted them, the woman screamed that they were married.
The officer insisted that their marital status bore no relevance to the offence.
During interrogation, the arrested man, 27, claimed he had done nothing more than place his hand on the shoulder of his 24-year-old ‘wife’ who had arrived in Qatar 10 days earlier. She told the public prosecution that she did not realise that such an act was illegal in Qatar.
It was during their trial that the tricky subject of the pair’s marriage came up for debate.
The couple presented their marriage certificate to the court. However, it was ruled to be invalid in Qatar.
The court admitted that a residence visa had been issued based on the fact that the two were husband and wife, but the country had the right to cancel that at any time if information came to light requiring such action.
The court also admitted there was no evidence of malicious intent to hide the couple’s differing religions and that their documents were authentic. However, the court made it clear that Qatar could not accept the marriage within the constraints of its own laws.
The couple’s lawyer said there would be no appeal lodged against the verdict as his clients had left the country after a travel ban had been lifted.