Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?

3673-1000Base in Southern Afghanistan

17 September 2012

Afghan forces are infested with Taliban suicide killers. Two more “green-on-blue” attacks have occurred in the last few days, killing six more troops.

Days ago, the Taliban executed an audacious attack on Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan where Prince Harry is stationed.  Under darkness without moon, at least fifteen attackers breached the wire, killed two U.S. Marines, and wounded numerous other people. 

They badly damaged two jets and destroyed six more Harriers with a reported price tag of about $30 million each.  The Harriers are no longer produced.  This is not the way our force should be downsized.  This loss is reportedly affecting ground operations.

The enemy also destroyed or damaged other facilities.  In addition to lives lost, the total destruction could easily tally $200 million.

Bastion-1000

Camp Bastion is remotely situated in the Dasht-e-Margo (Desert of Death).  The first time that I drove to Camp Bastion from Lashkar Gah, workers were barely scratching the base from the desert and there were no serious defenses.  No airplanes had yet landed at Bastion.  My friend Steve Shaulis was building the runway.  As we drove to Bastion, a suicide bomber blew himself up behind us at the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, too far back for us to hear.  We had just left the PRT.  That attack is noteworthy because it was the first reported suicide bombing in Lashkar Gah.  Poppies were growing just outside the walls of the PRT.

We drove from Lash through undisputed Taliban country.  We were not traveling with soldiers, who were getting hammered throughout the area.  Opium crops were growing everywhere.  Afghanistan was already a narco-state.

This was 2006 and most people believed that the Afghanistan war had been won, though clearly it was going badly.  Please see the dispatch Dasht-e-Margo.

More than six years later, the area remains hostile.  Open warfare continues, and we just permitted the Taliban to destroy about $200 million dollars’ worth of assets.  Short of digging an epic tunnel, there is no way to approach Bastion unseen.  The Taliban still managed to breach what should have been one of the most heavily guarded military facilities in the world.  Someone needs to be fired.

Many wonder how the enemy could have conducted reconnaissance for the airfield attack.  This war is mature and more than eleven years old.  The Afghan military is infested with Taliban, not to mention the Afghan workers on the bases.

As for current and granular imagery of Camp Bastion and other bases, commercial flights come in from various directions, including from Dubai.  Big-T Taliban has money.  If they want the latest imagery, they can send agents to land there, and have them snap away from the air, and while landing take a long panorama of the aircraft and the defenses on the aprons.  At Kandahar Airfield, commercial flights land, including 747s.  When you land and taxi on the runways, passengers snap away.  The same thing happens in Bagram, Kabul, and Jalalabad.  Pilots can photograph many bases at their leisure, and can provide near real-time imagery.

The Afghan military is loaded with turncoats, moles, infiltrators, and drug-addled lunatics.  They prove this practically weekly.  Last year, a long-time Afghan Air Force Colonel, a helicopter pilot, went berserk and killed nine Americans.

The Afghan Air Force might as well be the National Reconnaissance Office for the Taliban.  One crewmember with a camera can get all of the latest imagery from many bases in his area.  But aside from that, what if another rogue Afghan pilot decides to go lethal?  We have been training their M-17 helicopter pilots to fire rockets.

The MI-17V5 helicopters that we have been buying for the Afghans will hold about three dozen fully armed troops.  Nothing prevents a rogue pilot from diverting from a normal mission, landing quickly outside a base, picking up three dozen Taliban, and dropping them onto an airfield amidst a billion dollars’ worth of jets and helicopters. Such a pilot could literally drop Taliban commandos on top of Prince Harry’s bed.

Pakistan has MI-17 helicopters.  Remember the guys who harbored bin Laden?  Remember Mumbai?  Nothing is to stop Taliban commandos from training in Pakistan using life-sized mockups of Bastion targets.  Nothing would look more normal than an Afghan pilot parking amongst other Afghan Air Force aircraft.  He could land normally and Taliban wearing American uniforms could casually walk out the back.  The Taliban wore American uniforms in Friday’s attack.

If the rogue MI-17 is armed with rockets, the pilot has more options.  Once the attack has begun he could loiter over the base firing machine guns, and if he is not shot down, he could kamikaze his American-bought Russian helicopter into the HQ.  Or he could fly back out and pick up another three dozen commandos and drop them off on another part of base, and then crash into HQ.  If the enemy works hard and luck is on their side, they could take out dozens of aircraft.

The MI-17V5 will carry about 10,000 pounds of cargo.  If they wanted to play it differently, the rogue MI-17 pilot could land and quickly have a 10,000 pound bomb loaded, something they might have practiced and perfected in Pakistan.  They could fly over the airport and wipe out a billion dollars worth of aircraft, Prince Harry, and some Generals.  Especially so if they had two rogue helicopters at once.  The first could be a giant bomb, and a minute later three dozen commandos dressed like Americans could pile out, and the surviving helicopter could continue to ferry in commandoes until he is shot down or out of gas.  Bastion is not impenetrable.

If a rogue used a helicopter bomb in Kabul, it could flatten our Embassy.

Anyone who does not know that the Taliban and the Pakistanis have the will, the intelligence, and the resources to pull off such an attack, or worse, is detached from realities.  Both natural and unnatural alliances can align for the worse.

Aside from the fact that six jets were just destroyed while parked on a remote base, and two more badly damaged, this wraps back to our most famous Apache pilot, Prince Harry.  When you land at Bastion, it is easy to see where the Harriers, the Apaches, and other aircraft are parked.  An Afghan pilot would know the area well.  With the intelligence network that the Taliban has developed, there is little doubt that they will, or already have, figured out where Harry lives and works.  The Taliban has no shortage of fighters who are ready to swap lives on a one-for-one exchange rate.  They are good at infiltrating sleepers.  Nobody should doubt that moles are on Bastion.

The chance that Harry could be killed is significant.  On a previous deployment, the threat was deemed so serious that the UK took pains to keep his presence in the country secret.  This deployment is even more dangerous. This time, UK authorities have publicized his presence.  Harry is an easy guy to identify. For an enemy that just killed two Marines and wiped out about $200 million dollars’ worth of assets, all within a short distance of the spot where Harry’s Apache is parked, it would be foolish to think that ISAF can protect such an easily recognizable target of such high value.  For the Taliban, killing Harry would be a bigger coup than us killing bin Laden after hunting him for ten years.  There is no doubt that they will do everything possible to make this happen.

The Afghan war is not make-believe, yet there seems to be some fairy tale surrounding Harry.  There is no doubt that our enemies are plotting.  They have the means and the motive.  Making Harry’s deployment into a media extravaganza could cost him his life.  That the Taliban will try is obvious.  But will they succeed?

Comments   

 
+2 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?robin yatess 2012-09-17 15:01
I am sure this Camp Bastion attack will get the attention of the Royals.Time will give us the answer but my bet is Harry stays where he is
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+5 # Protect the Pricesingadick 2012-09-17 15:11
Losing Prince Harry would have such an immense propaganda impact that the politicians of the UK, and of all coalition countries, would be driven by public opinion to evacuate ahead of schedule. That could leave the US fighting a rear-guard action alone. I'm loathe to leave an invaded country in worse shape than we found it (again), but it is time to bring the guys home.
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+7 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Pat 2012-09-17 15:22
The base commander and his security staff should be fired for complete negligence. The whole perimeter should have been heavily mined and defended. No damn excuses from anyone.
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+3 # RE: RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Steve Cooper 2012-09-17 17:39
Quoting Pat:
The whole perimeter should have been heavily mined and defended.


I don't think mines are very PC these days, for which we can thank Harry mother. Think of the irony should the worst happen and that was a factor. Pure speculation on my part. I've been out for years and have no idea whether or not we still use minefields.
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+2 # RE: RE: RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Pat 2012-09-17 20:45
Other than Korea, probably not. I think we took them out of Gitmo years ago. And unfortunately we no longer have napalm which would have been a real asset in fighting entrenched Taliban and in unreachable mountain locations. It's a kinder and gentler war for sure.
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?annie 2012-09-17 15:22
Seems we don't have any real security anywhere anymore....Not Libya, not Afghanistan and not in the USA. The buck stops at the top with our so called C&C. Fight a war with our mens hands tied behind their backs and arm the enemy....give our border patrol bean bags to shoot at the invaders (by the way...muzzie terrorists are at this very moment gathering on our southern border and nothing is being done about it...it barely made the news..Ha!) and blame muzzie attacks all over the world on a stupid home made film strip. How assinine. But I guess this will continue as long as We the People allow it to. Of course we have more foreigners, Obama thugs and illegals in the country now than we do citizens almost....sort of like our military in Afghanistan has been infiltrated with the enemy. I have a question for you Mike...a serious question. I noticed that all the places that muslims are rioting, Europe and such...the people are not armed. I think the only reason we are not seeing this in the USA is because citizens of the USA are armed..or should be. They know all heck will break loose here if they pull that stuff here...the people will take so much but they will fight to defend themselves...ev entually. What do you think? I hope we can hold out until next January and that we still have some military left by then. Thanks for a great blog. We remember your trip to Afghanistan and your friend Steve. Thanks Mike.
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+4 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Pat 2012-09-17 15:37
Also why weren't the Harriers revetted or inside hardened shelters? At least they would have had better protection.
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# Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?SHEILA SIMMONS 2012-09-17 15:53
Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it? Probably. The genius who decides to send the symbol of British colonialism to Islamic countries needs his head examined. Clearly the West STILL does not understand Islam. And someone needs to tell these "royals" to quit prancing around with their parts hanging out.
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?jeff 2012-09-24 18:12
Quoting SHEILA SIMMONS:
Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it? Probably. The genius who decides to send the symbol of British colonialism to Islamic countries needs his head examined. Clearly the West STILL does not understand Islam. And someone needs to tell these "royals" to quit prancing around with their parts hanging out.


Oh course the west doesnt understand Islam, if it did them we should take off the gloves, like they do in every other country
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+2 # Guess Prince Harry is goneJohannes Graf 2012-09-17 16:00
Thank you, Michael, for a very interesting dispatch about the situation in Afghanistan.

My guess, however, is, that Prince Harry is not in Camp Bastion any more. Announcing his deployment to Camp Bastion looks very much like a publicity stunt to distract the public from his embarrassing behavior in Las Vegas. When he was deployed the first time with the Blues and Royals (2007/08), it was kept a secret. Prince Harry was immediately sent back as soon as it was known to the public where he was. The security has definitely not improved since then, so I see no reason why the British should tell everyone where he really is.

They will not risk losing a royal. It would be too big a propaganda victory for the Taliban or Al-Qaida or whoever would pull this off. If they did not figure that out right from the beginning, they certainly have after the attack.

I have of course no evidence to support my guess, I am just trying to use some common sense. :-)
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# RE: Guess Prince Harry is gonedoramin 2012-09-24 21:57
Think it over. It would be the best thing that could happen for the House of Windsor to have the "spare heir" die heroically on the battlefield for his country. Can't you just imagine the turnout and the good will they'd reap?

Remember what assassination did for Lord Louis Mountbatten, who, by 1980 was an old forgotten royal whose main claim to fame was as an utter military incompetent who got bounced from command to command during WWII and whose last act on the world stage was presiding over Britain's pell-mell departure from India.

After languishing on history's ash heap for thirty-plus years, getting blowed up real good by the IRA transformed him into a world historical figure overnight.

Falling on the field of honor would redeem Harry and save him from a dreary life as a wastrel playboy and royal embarrassment. T'would also take attention off Kate's boobies.
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+3 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Barbara 2012-09-17 16:07
Though he deserves to be sent into war just as any other trained soldier, I hate to think of the other innocent warriors who may be killed while the Taliban is trying to kill him. Just risks their lives more than necessary.
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+1 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Jay Price 2012-09-17 16:13
Good on Harry for his service, and for taking the risks, whether or not it has anything to do with distracting from what happened in Vegas not staying in Vegas. And certainly it would be a PR bonanza for the Taliban, but it's a bit over the top to put it on the same level with killing bin Laden.
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+9 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?ltcoldon 2012-09-17 17:36
Someone had better get serious.I see signs that even at the highest levels of military leadership(?)we have hacks more interested in gays and same sex marriage than the security of the nation.We are in real trouble due to national leadership rot from within.The current Chairman of The Joint Cheifs is a case in point.
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+1 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-17 17:36
If I were the U.S. President, I would order all of them off the military bases run by the USA and have one central training center set up for the Afghanis. Not to sound like a " meanie " but our troops need to have their own military bases so that we know who is who. That is the best security there is in addition to heavily armed UAVs and helicopters & military aircrafts patrolling US military bases & convoy routes to stop IEDs. The British need to do the same for their own military bases. Have one allied troop military bases for all nations then a seperate one for Afghanis and individual nations own military bases in Afghanistan. As for civilian airports, they need one far away from military bases for obvious safety reasons as right now reading the article that anyone can photograph military bases from the air is not good at all. The security situation needs to change ASAP for our US Troops & Allied Troops sake.
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# Mskate 2012-09-17 17:42
Well, the somewhat detailed accounts of "taliban could" operatives are a bit too detailed! Why make the suggestions so openly for our enemy to read about?
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+2 # Hang on a secMarinebri68 2012-09-17 21:16
Please don't think even for a second that they haven't thought about each and every one of these scenarios. Remember that these are the same people who thougt of the 9/11 attacks and that was pretty "outside the box" thinking on that one. These guys have been fighting "superior" forces for decades now and are no stranger to tactics. We need to give credit where it's due that these guys aren't the types of untrained forces that we dealt with in Iraq. They mean business and we either need to understand that and ramp up the protection of our bases or just say screw it and get the hell out.
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# RE: Hang on a secPat 2012-09-17 21:30
Amen. Semper fi!
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+1 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Leland64 2012-09-17 20:23
Anyone can be assassinated. With enough time, money, intelligence and trained personnel anything is possible. In this case, I suspect this operation was more about 9/11 and bin Laden than Prince Harry. It was well planned and executed and was likely in the planning and training stages for some time before the strike.
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+1 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Pat 2012-09-17 20:39
I think Leland64 is spot on in his analysis. Unless the Taliban are just that good, this operation was planned well in advance, especially to take out the Harriers. Sounds like RPGs were used since the usual 107mm rockets are innacurate. And if so the breach was very serious.
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+2 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Zail 2012-09-17 20:39
Bbasing it close to its operational area is one of the weaknesses of the Harrier model. I've heard the joke, "Five bombs, two miles or two bombs, five miles." too often to dismiss out of hand. The real problem isn't with the airplane or its performance, the costs of providing adequate and secure logistics close to the operational zone are the problem. Even the Chair Force understands VTOL isn't all its cracked up to be.
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# Killing Prince Harry: Real Possiblity If He Goes BackEmil 2012-09-17 20:50
Prince Harry should wise up. These Taliban will be dreaming about killing him and everyone around him, night and day. If they do not kill him, then a kidnapping and much more on the Net could take place. A kidnapping and video torture could go on for years...

If Prince Harry goes back to Afganistan he would not only put his life on the line, but many around him, his friends and more security troops, that are there to protect him. No one can catch all the infiltrators in this new Afgan Army. I think these crazy Muslim suicide bombers are already there, waiting for him to come back, to do their dirty deeds. Prince Harry is a brash guy, but I do not think he is stupid, and going back with the whole world knowing where he is, in a war zone, one infiltrated by the Taliban, Al-Queda, misfits, and others that want to be martyrs, would be insane to the British.
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+3 # Harriersdarren stewart 2012-09-17 22:54
Its a strength as well as a weakness. Harriers are close in, and near the front. Does this raise risk? You, war is risk. But its not absolute bomb load that matters, its getting it to the place its needed in as short a time as possible. The harrier fits this. Its not as lacking in robustness as some try to paint. Its not as robust as some might say. But its costs are actually low compared to many air types, and its been a Western mistake to cease making harriers. They have been in combat all their lives, and despite some limits, they have proved themselves again and again.

Their replacement costs and lack of capability will make you cry. Don't be too happy harrier bashing.

Britain made a poor judgement call in retiring its joint harrier force. The JSF is a poor project, the plane is a poor plane and its costs and eye watering. Oh and its years and years late.

I am honoured, and can't put into words with enough eloquence - that the Royal Family in Britain still have members who will go and fight for freedom. And I respect and honour all Coalition troops who likewise continue to do the same.
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+1 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Frank 2012-09-18 04:47
First. Prince Harry is doing what Princes do isn't he? I give him a lot of credit for his service. Also, remember that the media would like nothing better than to see him a casualty. Sorry, that's how they roll in the 21st Century.
Second, Are these Commanding Officers not reading up on history? The British Special Air service got it's start raiding German Airfields. There's no excuse for complacency that far forward and airfield security isn't exactly anything new.
Whoever was in charge of Bastion needs to go.
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?JAQUEBAUER 2012-09-18 07:55
The incompetence of the Command is the direct result of the incompetence of the Commander in Chief. The Commander in Chief is the direct result of incompetence of the American Voters. How can we expect stellar performance anywhere in our government when the IQ avg. of Americans ranges from 85 to 98, with Obama supporters at 85.
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# End GameDanRomania 2012-09-18 09:29
Michael,
Thanks for another most insightful article! My question for you please is about an end game. How do we get out of Af/Pk without getting slaughtered? Do you see us leaving a significant stay behind force? How much physical treasure do we leave behind i.e. hardware, vehicles, ect. ? And what happens to our enemies when we leave? Do you think they will have a party and stop attacking the West or will we see another 9.11.01 on possibly a larger scale? I know this is all speculation but thanks in advance for your opinions.
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-3 # !!Norm 2012-09-18 11:26
I do hope nobody from the Taliban reads this! It's very irresponsible to publish this and give them ideas on how to achieve this!
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-18 15:05
I think that too but there comes a time when you must count the enemy's strengths & weakness. I don't think Michael Yon would do that as a Quiet Professional unless our security standards were lax and needs to be raised back up to the right kind of security needed for the sake of our U.S. Troops. If they can get Prince Harry which I think the British is not going to let that happen but in the event if they get Prince Harry then that would be a concern for the U.S. Secret Service because important American people need to be protected. I am a Deaf person but I think how do you say it " Protect our assets at all costs " I hate to use the word assets as it applys to people, not just military goods parked on the tarmac. Both assets need to be protected. In my opinion, I think that is the goal of what Michael Yon is trying to achieve on the behalf of the U.S. Troops as well the American people on the home front. The British needs to do the same for their own people. I also think the Harriers need to still be made too as well. Keep our military strength in the air flexing it's muscles at all times.
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-18 17:05
Keep in mind Michael Yon is a un-conventional soldier and his line of thinking might not be understood at first until put in the right perspective then things become more clear. He is a writer, writing in defense of our U.S. Troops with the pen or the keyboard and the more the American people know what is going on in Afghanistan then the American people can contact their congressmen & senators about this issue to make sure our U.S. Troops are heavily armed to the teeth, fighting the war in a way that minimumizes wartime injuries and death and delivers the maximum punch of death & destruction to the al Qaeda & Taliban etc. Michael Yon is really going out on a limb in defense of our U.S. Troops so that good things can finally turn around for the U.S. Troops.
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-2 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-18 17:22
One more thing that crossed my mind is the cost of fuel needs to stop being $3.99 to $5.99 per gallon and be $0.99 not just for the Americans here at home but also for our defense fuel costs that must be in the Pentagon budget or something like that for the Harriers & military aircrafts patrolling the skies. The Arabs need to stop ripping off the world and gas & pil prices need to go back to normal levels. Why has this not already been done ?
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+1 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-18 17:26
I think another countries are getting tired of Arab shieks ripping off the world's gas & oil prices. Why have we not gone after the House of Saudi Arabia for providing 19 hijackers on Sept. 11th as well funding terrorism. The House of Saudi Arabia's cup of wickedness needs to be answered.
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-3 # RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-18 18:05
The Arabs have a lot to be sorry about. Not the U.S.A. Or Britian or Australia or Israel. When the Arabs are messing with God's People. We should be standing with the Israelis and making sure the dollars are being funded for COUNTER-TERROR operations. The Arabs have no right to any of this gas & oil once they used the dollars to fund terrorism. That is how angry I am about the issue of gas & oil. Obama bowing to the Arabs was downright disgusting and apologizing to the Arab sheiks was very infuriating. The House of Saudi Arabia owes us an apology & the Saudis need to bow at American soldiers feet and we should be filling up & driving our cars & trucks in peace to work during the week & pleasure on the weekends and not worry about the cost of gas or oil. Remember the Saudis lost any right to oil & gas the mintune they funded terrorism on Sept. 11th, 2001.
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# RE: RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?doramin 2012-09-18 23:20
Heath, you're barking up the wrong tree here. OPEC cannot set oil prices the way they used to. Too many producing nations who refuse to be corralled. Our domestic gasoline prices owe far more to the ludicrous ethanol requirement, oil and gasoline taxes, and the equally ludicrous "boutique" fuel blends that certain states require.

Not to mention the all-out Obama war on fossil fuels. If America was fully exploiting its on and offshore resources AND if we dumped the whole stupid (and eco-destructive ) ethanol and biodiesel projects you'd see oil prices crater across the globe.
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-20 12:43
Doramin, you know nothing about shariah finance. Please read what petrodollars are doing ...

http://www.shariahfinancewatch.org/blog/about-shariah-finance/
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# RE: Killing Prince Harry: Could the Taliban do it?Heath 2012-09-20 12:54
I am voting Obama out of office this November to snatch an islamic victory out of these evil & wicked men's hands. There must never be another president with the heart of a muslim ever again. This has to be added to the US Constitution that a President elect must be a practicing Christian, not a Christian in name only and certainly not attending a church that says " God Damn America " The USA was founded for and by Christians. 8)
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# BlisterGismo Fly 2012-10-14 20:56
It's time the Israeli's joined the European Union for defence and fiscal strength. It would be mutually beneficial. It would also enrage the arab world of course but if we wait for them to get their act together we will all of shuffled off this mortal coil. Do we have any brave and original thinkers and movers out there? No bloody chance. politicians
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