A look at some of the top stories on national security, terrorism and intelligence this afternoon:
Militants removed from watch list - The United Nations will remove Taliban militants not tied to al Qaeda from a terror blacklist in a "step-by-step" fashion, the Afghan president's office said on Tuesday. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 freezes the assets of individuals with links to the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, but at the recent peace jirga called by President Hamid Karzai there were calls for the blacklist to be revised. Several of those on the list are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament.
Karzai met a 15-member committee of the UN Security Council Tuesday and requested they "remove names of those Taliban who are not linked to Al-Qaeda", the president's office said. In another move toward reconciliation, Dr. Mohammad Zasim Hashimzai, Afghanistan's deputy minister of justice and legal affairs, said more than 25 prisoners have been freed in a move to get militants to lay down their arms.
TTP deemed ‚Äėterrorist organization‚Äô –– The U.S. State Department says it intends to designate the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) as a "foreign terrorist organization" after the suspect charged in the failed Times Square bombing admitted to being trained by the group, two senior officials tell CNN. Federal law allows groups to be added to the list following a decision by the secretary of state, in consultation with the attorney general and the secretary of the Treasury. It is unlawful for a person in the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. There are nearly fifty FTO‚Äôs already on the State Department‚Äôs list.
Senior Taliban figure detained – An Afghan-international security force detained a senior Taliban figure in an overnight raid in Helmand province, according to the International Security Assistance Force. The unnamed man was described as the Taliban's chief of finance for Baghlan Province. The Taliban finance chief is also an expert on improvised explosive devices (IEDs), ISAF said, and is former district commander of at least three insurgent cells.
ISAF has launched a campaign to track and detain midlevel Taliban operatives in southern Afghanistan as it prepares a ‚Äúrolling operation‚ÄĚ to reduce Taliban influence in and around Kandahar. But the Taliban has struck back with a series of assassinations of Afghan officials and tribal chiefs.
Congressman criticizes contractors- – U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-Massachusetts) has described the resupply of¬† U.S. troops in Afghanistan by contractors as a ‚Äúprotection racket that would make Tony Soprano proud.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThis arrangement has fueled a vast protection racket run by shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others,‚ÄĚ he said in a statement.
The House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday about the role of trucking companies and contractors resupplying U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Tierney said a six-month investigation had revealed the ‚Äúsystematic failure‚ÄĚ of supervision of the supply chain, and institutionalized reliance on contractors. ‚ÄúNot only does the system run afoul of the [Defense] Department's own rules and regulations mandated by Congress, it also appears to risk undermining the U.S. strategy for achieving its goals in Afghanistan‚ÄĚ Tierney said.