Afghanistan ‘not our war’ says mother of dead soldier

The mother of a South Yorkshire soldier who was killed in Afghanistan has said too many servicemen are dying in a conflict which is “not our war”.

The funeral of Sharon Leverett’s son, Trooper James Leverett, will take place at Sheffield Cathedral later.

Trooper Leverett, from Rawmarsh, died earlier this month while serving with The Royal Dragoon Guards, Viking Group, D (The Green Horse) Squadron.

He died just a couple of months ahead of the birth of his first child.

Remembering her son, Mrs Leverett said she did not feel she was qualified to make a fully informed judgment about the UK’s role in Afghanistan.

She said: “Obviously I don’t think they should be there, but that’s my personal opinion.

“I don’t think this was ever our war in the first place. But they’re out there. They’re doing their job.
‘Support them’

“They’re doing what they can. They’re doing their best and we’ve just got to support them in that.”

She added: “Obviously something does need to be sorted because we’re losing too many people out there.

“There’s too many families going through what I’m going through.

“I do think we shouldn’t be there, I do think this is not our war.”

Mrs Leverett, 37, said her son had joined the Army when he was 18, and knew he had made the right decision despite not looking forward to going to Afghanistan.

She described the Army as being one of his “three families”, saying: “He had us, he had his friends and he had the Army, so he was lucky.”

She said he had been “over the moon” when he had found out he was going to be a father.

His girlfriend Tiffany Lound discovered their baby was going to be a boy the day after the family received the news about Trooper Leverett’s death.

The baby is due in September.

She said: “Obviously I’m proud because he was doing what he wanted to do.

“Although I knew he didn’t want to go out there in the first place, he knew that that was what he joined for and he did it and that’s kept me strong really.”

Mrs Leverett said her son had been very close to his family and also loved his Staffordshire bull terrier, Bullseye.

He lived with his mother, stepfather Tony Weighell and his three brothers and had planned to get a house with his girlfriend next year.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Trooper Leverett left Miss Lound a letter to be opened only if he was killed in action.

It told her not to cry and to put all her energy into bringing up their baby.

Trooper Leverett was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a vehicle patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.

He was helping to secure a route under construction between Lashkar Gah and Gereshk.

After his death, Lt Col James Carr-Smith, the Commanding Officer of The Royal Dragoon Guards, said he had been “a model soldier”.

Maj Denis James, the officer commanding his squadron, described Trooper Leverett as a “man of the highest quality”.

The good of this world is…

حدثنا القاسم، قال: ثنا الـحسين، قال: ثنا عبـاد، عن هشام بن حسان، عن الـحسن

وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ رَبَّنا آتِنا فِـي الدُّنْـيا حَسَنَةً وفِـي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً } قال: الـحسنة فـي الدنـيا: العلـم والعبـادة، وفـي الآخرة: الـجنة.

Commenting on 2:201 of the Quran which states:

Our Lord! Give us the good of this world and the good of the hereafter…

Al-Hasan Al-Basrî – Allah have mercy on him – said:

The good of this world is knowledge and worship, and the good of the hereafter is Paradise.

Tafseer Tabari.

… like the one who shoots (an arrow) without a bow.”

قال وهب بن منبه : مثل الذي يدعو بغير عمل كمثل الذي يرمي بغير وتر

Wahb bin Munabbih said: “He who supplicated without( good) deeds, is like the one who shoots (an arrow) without a bow.”

Jaami’ al-Uloom wal Hikam

WikiLeaks posts video from Iraq

WikiLeaks posts video from Iraq

WikiLeaks has posted a video on its website which it claims shows the killing of civilians by the US military in Baghdad in 2007.

The website’s organisers say they were given the footage, which they say comes from cameras on US Apache helicopters.

They say they decrypted it, but would not reveal who gave it to them.

The WikiLeaks site campaigns for freedom of information and posts leaked documents online. So far there has been no official Pentagon response.

However, Reuters and the Associated Press have quoted unnamed US military officials as confirming the video was genuine.

High-quality video

The video, released on Monday, is of high quality and appears to be authentic, the BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says.

It is accompanied by a recording of the pilots’ radio transmissions and those of US troops on the ground.

The video shows a street in Baghdad and a group of about eight people, whom the helicopter pilots identify as armed insurgents.

The transmissions says of one of the individuals: “He’s got an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. I’m going to fire.”

After a voice on the transmission urges the pilot to “light ’em all up”, the individuals on the street are shot by the gunship’s cannon.

A few minutes later a van drives to the scene, and its occupants appear to start picking up a wounded person.

It, too, is fired upon. Altogether, around 12 people die.

‘Hostile force’

The transmission continues: “Looks like we’ve got some slight movement from the van that was engaged. Looks like a kid.”

US soldiers on the ground establish there are two child casualties and agree to take them to a hospital, according to the transmission.

“Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle,” says a voice.

Two journalists working for Reuters were killed on the day the incident took place in July 2007.

A spokeswoman for the news agency said they were not sure if the individuals in the footage included those two Reuters journalists.

WikiLeaks has published a statement from Reuters news editor-in-chief David Schlesinger saying that the video was “graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result”.

At the time, the US military said the helicopters were engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.

WikiLeaks said the video demonstrated that civilians had died in the incident, and that the US military’s rules of engagement were flawed.

The website’s organisers complained recently of coming under surveillance by the US government, and of harassment by other governments, ostensibly for their role in posting leaked documents on sensitive subjects.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Watch the Video here:

Nato probes reports raid killed 45 Afghan civilians

Destroyed house in Regey, Helmand province Dozens were said to be sheltering in the village from nearby fighting

International forces in Afghanistan say they are urgently investigating reports as many as 45 civilians died in an air strike in Helmand province on Friday.

Nato’s initial investigation found no evidence, but a BBC journalist visiting Regey village spoke to several people who said they had seen the incident.

At the time, dozens were sheltering in the village from nearby fighting.

A significant civilian loss of life would be rare this year as a new policy of restraint has reduced casualties.

‘Lying asleep’

Witnesses said the attack had come in daylight as dozens sheltered from fighting in nearby Joshani.

Mohammed Khan, a boy aged about 16, said helicopters had circled over the village before the incident. He said that he had warned other children to take cover.

But his mother told him not to worry them. He went further away and was shielded by a wall that saved his life when the attack started.

“I heard the sound of the rocket land on our house. I rushed in screaming with my father and saw bodies lying in the dust… I found I was even standing on a dead body.”

One of the bodies was his brother.

“He had been lying asleep in the afternoon when they were killed,” Mohammed said.

After the attack relatives and neighbours came to assist in digging out the dead and taking the injured to hospital.

Sher Mohammed said that the owner of the house had been his cousin. He said it had taken until late into the night to dig out the bodies. Rescuers buried 39 and believed six were left under the rubble, he added.

The bodies were buried at daylight. Haji Rahim could not contain his tears. He said that after a sleepless night, he and other villagers had gone to talk to a Nato patrol.

Man with torn clothing Rescuers said they had buried 39 victims from the attack

He said: “They can see something as small as an insect just four inches on the ground, so how were they not able to see all of those women and children when they bombed them?”

For several months there has been a significant reduction in civilian casualties and very few air strikes under a new policy of restraint ordered by Gen Stanley McChrystal.

He was forced from his post recently after talking too frankly to journalists.

A spokesman for the international forces, Lt Col Chris Hughes, said: “A preliminary investigation by [Nato’s] Isaf forces and the provincial governor, which included a meeting with local elders, gives no indication of a mass casualty incident caused by coalition forces in Sangin.”

But he added: “We take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously. We go to great measures to avoid civilian casualties in the course of operations. The safety of the Afghan people is very important to the International Security Assistance Forces.”


US May Unleash Microwave Weapon in Afghanistan


TAMPA, Fla. (June 17) — A controversial nonlethal weapon that uses microwave energy to create intense pain is being considered for use in Afghanistan, AOL News has learned.

An Air Force military officer and a civilian employee at the Air Force Research Laboratory told AOL News at an industry conference here that the Active Denial System, which heats the top layer of skin via millimeter waves, was in Afghanistan for testing. The sources were not able to offer details on how or whether the weapon was being used in combat.

The weapon is designed to shoot an invisible beam of energy at people, creating an intense burning sensation that forces them to flee. The Air Force has called it the “goodbye effect.” It has not been used before in military operations.

The Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate Active Denial System (ADS) is a counter-personnel, non-lethal, directed energy weapon.

U.S. Air Force
The Active Denial System, a nonlethal weapon being considered for use in Afghanistan, shoots at its target energy that causes a burning sensation on the skin. The heat quickly becomes intolerable and forces the target to move.

Defense Department representatives confirmed the weapon was being considered for use and did not deny it was in Afghanistan, but indicated it had not yet been used operationally.

“Consideration is under way for the appropriate employment of an Active Denial System,” Kelley Hughes, a representative for the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate, wrote in an e-mail to AOL News.

In 2008, the Pentagon considered deploying the Active Denial System in Iraq, but the effort was stymied over policy concerns. Whether it will become part of the U.S. arsenal is Afghanistan remains unclear.

“It is my understanding that there are discussions under way about deploying an ADS but no decision/approval yet,” Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to AOL News when asked whether the Pentagon’s civilian leadership had approved the weapon’s use in Afghanistan.

Lapan was unable to respond by deadline to requests for further clarification.

The technology used in the Active Denial System, which was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., has been adapted to several different configurations. Lab officials told AOL News that the weapon sent to Afghanistan is a Block 2, a more advanced version that is mounted on a military vehicle. The lab is also looking at a mounting it on an aircraft.

Michael Kleiman, a spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory, declined comment and referred calls to the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate. The directorate’s Hughes did not respond to additional e-mails or calls seeking confirmation of whether ADS is in Afghanistan.

An automated reply to an e-mail sent to Col. Tracy J. Tafolla, head of the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate, indicated he was out of the office until June 28.

The military’s history of disclosing details about the controversial weapon has been mixed. After years of secret work, the Pentagon disclosed the weapon’s existence in 2001, shortly before a news article was about to be published describing the device.

Though the Air Force says years of testing have proved its safety, in 2007 an airman acting as a test subject was severely burned. The Air Force later that year released a heavily redacted report describing the accident, which required the airman to be airlifted to a burn center. A copy of the full report later provided to revealed that the lack of proper operator training and missing safety equipment contributed to the accident.

The Air Force has since said the technical problems were related to the earlier Block 1 system, and the training problems have been resolved.

In a phone interview, John Alexander, former head of the nonlethal weapons program at Los Alamos National Laboratory, told AOL News that he was not aware of the weapon’s deployment, but that he thought it would be useful in Afghanistan for point defense, such as protecting a base. The barriers to deploying the weapon have been policy concerns, not technical problems, said Alexander, who has been a longtime supporter of the Active Denial System.

“Mostly the issues are the concern about publicity,” he said.

Filed under: Nation, World, Tech

Muslim woman wearing veil ‘refused bus ride’ in London

The women claim the driver said they were a “threat to him and his passengers”

Two Muslim women have claimed they were refused a bus ride because one had her face covered by a veil.

The students, both 22 and from Slough, Berkshire, boarded a Metroline bus from Russell Square to Paddington, London.

But they said when they presented their tickets on Tuesday, the driver told them they were a “threat” to passengers and ordered them off the bus.

The firm has started an “urgent” investigation. The Muslim Council of Britain said it was “deeply concerned”.

The pair, who have made a formal complaint to the bus company, have asked the BBC not to reveal their full names.

Yasmin was wearing a hijab and Atoofa was dressed in a niqab – which covers the face.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It’s OK for you to cover your face on my recording but it not ok for my friend to cover her face out of choice”

End Quote Yasmin

Yasmin said at first she boarded the bus by mistake when it was not in service to ask where it was going, but was told by the driver to get off.

“About 10 minutes later… the passengers started getting on. When I went forward to show my ticket he said, ‘Get off the bus’. I presumed he was still angry because I got on the bus before.

“He said, ‘I am not going to take you on the bus because you two are a threat.’

“I realised it wasn’t due to me getting on the bus, this may be a racist attack.”

She asked for his contact details but when he refused she began to film him and he covered his face.

“I said, ‘It’s OK for you to cover your face on my recording but it’s not OK for my friend to cover her face out of choice?’

“There was no point arguing with him, we got off the bus and by then my anger turned into emotion.”

However Atoofa, who had her face covered by the veil, said she hoped the driver would be educated about why women wear the traditional Islamic dress, rather than face the sack.

“I would like him to understand why we wear it and I think I would like an apology,” she added.

“I want him to sit there and talk to me about why he felt the way he felt and maybe to understand where we are coming from.”

“Start Quote

Such incidents are sadly becoming more common”

End Quote Muslim Council of Britain

A spokesperson from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it could not comment on individual cases, but added it was “deeply concerned”.

“Such incidents are sadly becoming more common,” the spokesperson said.

“They have been fuelled against the climate of increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric and hostility, in particular on the part of sensationalised stories by the media, demonising Muslims in the eyes of the wider public.”

It advised all victims to report incidents to the police.

Bus operator Metroline said it was taking the matter “very seriously” and would conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations.

“However, Metroline can unequivocally state that such views would not be representative of the company in any way and that we are committed to respecting equality and diversity for all,” a spokesman added.

Metroline operates the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), which added that it was also investigating.

‘Un-British values’

Earlier this month French MPs voted to ban the wearing of full face veils in public.

Several other countries including Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium have debated regulating the use of face covering garments.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said trying to pass a law banning women wearing the Islamic full veil in public would be “un-British” and at odds with the UK’s “tolerant and mutually respectful society”.

The comments came after Tory MP Philip Hollobone introduced a private members’ bill which would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public.

Qadi ‘Iyad; How to respect the Ulema..

شَهِدَ اللّهُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَأُوْلُواْ الْعِلْمِ قَآئِمَاً بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

Allah bears witness that La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice. La ilah illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.

Surah Al-Imran: 18

One of the rights of the scholar is that you should not be persistent when question him, nor gruff when answering him. Neither be importune if he is tired, nor catch hold of his robe when he rises to depart. Do not point to him, or spread abroad some private information about him, or speak ill of anyone in his presence. Do not seek out his failings; when he slips, wait for him to recover and accept his his apology You must revere and esteem him, for the sake of Allah. Do not walk in front of him. if he needs anything, you should make haste serve him before the others. You should not find find his long company tedious, for he is like a date-palm that you sitting beneath, waiting for a windfall. When you arrive, greet him particular, and all who are present. All this should be for the sake of God; for a learned man receives more reward from Allah than someone who fasts, prays, and fights in Allah’s path, and when he dies, a hole appears in Islam which remains until the Day of Judgment, unless it be filled by a successor who is his like. The seeker of knowledge, moreover, is accompanied by the Angels of Heaven.

‘Iyad, Ilma, 48

Extracted from: Hadith literature. It’s origin, development and special features by

M. Zubayr Siddiqi

‘Religion does not come into it’

By Sanjiv Buttoo

BBC Asian Network

Muslim and Sikh recruits training in the British Army say their faith is not an issue, but at times it can present them with a few dilemmas.

“If I was out in Afghanistan in uniform I would be shot at right away, as the Taliban would not know who I was or my Muslim background,” says Akhtar Hussain.

“So for me, it’s who shoots first.”

The 19-year-old British Muslim from Brighton joined the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment seven weeks ago and is currently undergoing a 26-week training programme at Vimy Barracks in Catterick.

He says his faith does not really affect his army training, and the attitude to British Muslims at the barracks is positive.

“They cater for my needs and if I want to pray or observe Ramadan I can,” says Private Hussain.

“Getting dirty and sleeping out in the cold and rain does not bother me, I love it. I can pray out there if I want and then fall back in and carry on with my training.”

He says he is provided with Halal food inside the barracks and given Halal food in his ration packs when out on exercise.

But when Pte Hussain finishes training, he might be posted on a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan – and he is aware British Muslims joining the army has become a contentious issue.

“Obviously coming from my background, it plays on my mind. I may end up in this situation but I don’t think religion comes into it, it’s more about terrorism.”


Pte Hussain says his family are proud of his decision to join the army.

“Its been a dream that I have worked so hard for. I am the eldest son in my family and my parents say what more could they ask for. Me being in the British army – they are so proud.

“All my friends are also pleased with my joining up and say how mature I have become in such a short space of time,” he adds.

Pte Hussain is part of a growing trend. According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Defence, 9.5% of a total of 106,460 soldiers are from a minority community, compared to 8% three years ago.

The number of recruits from Commonwealth countries – mainly India, Pakistan and Nepal – is also on the increase, with 244 going through the infantry training college last year.

One of these is Subeg Singh, 23, a Sikh from the city of Jammu in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Rifleman Singh is about to join his regiment, 1st Battalion The Rifles, and agrees that the British army has been supportive.

“The day I arrived they asked what special requirements I had and were keen to accommodate my religious requests,” he says.

One of the special requirements was met by providing transport to pray at the nearest Gurudwara.

Bulletproof turbans

But he says his turban – which the British army allows Sikhs to keep – initially caused some confusion amongst other soldiers.

“The recruits in my company asked what I was wearing on my head. Once I told them, they completely understood what a turban was and why it is worn.

“On some days I also wear a cloth to cover my beard – others just want to know what it is and why it is important to me.

“I also wear my patka [lighter weight cloth covering for the head] for some physical exercise as I cannot wear a turban during a 10-mile run,” he says.

During his training on the rifle ranges, Rifleman Singh has to take off his turban for safety and wear a hard helmet.

“I have just been told that the army are going to issue Sikhs with bulletproof turbans (LOL) which is great because I can then fight wearing a turban,” he says.

The British Sikh Police Association has also been campaigning for bulletproof turbans so Sikh officers can serve as firearms officers and deal with public order and still abide by religious traditions.

Lieutenant Colonel Neil Unsworth, the chief of staff at the army’s Vimy Barracks – part of the Infantry Training Centre within Catterick Garrison – says the army is “flexible wherever it can be”.

“We’ve looked at the traditional dress that British soldiers wear. The turban is not an issue, it’s in rifleman green and it matches the rest of the uniform including the regimental badge.

“Food is no longer an issue, neither is how you pray.

“The army has changed and become a very inclusive and fair place to live and work and it comes down to how good you are, not the background you come from,” he says.

Story from BBC NEWS:

So, save your heart…

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“Know that the greatest of losses is for you to be preoccupied with one who will bring you nothing but a loss in your time with Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and being cut off from Him, a wasting your time with the person, a weakening of your energy, and the dispersing of your resolve. So, if you are tested with this – and you must be tested with this – deal with him according to how Allah would wish, and be patient with him as much as possible. Get closer to Allah and His Pleasure by way of this person, and make your getting together with him something to benefit from, not something to incur a loss from. Be with him as if you are a man who is on a road who was stopped by another man, who then asks you to take him on your journey. Make sure that you are the one who gives him a ride, and that he is not the one giving you the ride. If he refuses, and there is nothing to gain from travelling with him, do not stop for him, bid him farewell, and do not even turn back to look at him, as he is a highway robber, regardless of who he really is.

So, save your heart, be wary of how you spend your days and nights, and do not let the Sun set before you arrive at your destination.

[‘al-Wabil as-Sayyib’; p. 45]

« Older entries