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SAYED KARAM MOSQUE OPENING 1. General. On 19 Oct 06, I attended the Sayed Karam Mosque Opening Ceremony in Paktya Province. The Ceremony included several speeches and an official ribbon cutting to open the mosque. On this visit, I accompanied three Members of the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs including the General Chief of Mosques, the Deputy Chief of Mosques and a Ministerial Reporter. Several Afghan National Media who had committed to participating unexpectedly did not show up at the airport and therefore did not go. 2. Aim. At the request of TF Spartan, central government reps and I attended the event IOT create the IO conditions to counter insurgent propaganda regarding the coalition being anti-Islamic and to highlight the Islamic nature of the IRoA. Further, the event created the conditions to promote a unified bond for reconstruction and development between the coalition forces and the IRoA. Additionally, we were seeking to promote the legitimacy of the central government by having appropriate representatives who were able to speak to their provincial counterparts and discuss applicable issues. 3. Ceremony. The following are points of interest: a. A simple yet effective event, there were approx 50 pers in attendance with minimal public participation due to security concerns. In addition to the central government reps, the event was well attended by numerous provincial and district officials, including the Acting Governor, the Provincial CoP, the District Commissioner, Religious leaders and elders from the area. b. Speeches were made by the Deputy Governor, the Provincial Director of Communications, the District Commissioner, the District Mullah, the Chief of Mosques from MoHRA, I and the PRT Com. The key messages and central themes of all of the speeches emphasized that: the people of Paktya want and aim to achieve peace and stability; the time is now to work together to move forward with reconstruction; and, Afghanistan has seen difficult days however the opening of mosques is a healthy sign of improvement, as children are being taught the true, proper teachings of Islam not war. c. Upon completion of the speeches, we all moved to the mosque and the ribbon was cut, officially opening the mosque. d. Despite the fact the intended Afghan National Media did not participate, the event was well attended by local and our PAO. e. A girls choir sang at the ceremony and were afterwards presented with gifts (school backpacks). f. Most importantly, this event was lead by Afghans. 5. Misc Points. The following points were noted in discussions with several people: a. In speaking with the PRT XO, his assessment is that the Provincial CoP, Gen Rahofi, should be rated as Red he is extremely corrupt, not respected by subordinates and since he is from outside the province, he has no strong ties with many communities. b. There are no solid indications of a new Governor being named. I asked the sub-governor when he would be confirmed in the governor post and he reply by saying that some members of the PC had recommended his name to the GOA. His answer was indicative that he was not confident to be the chosen one. This was confirmed by the PRT XO. The PRT XO also noted that through a UNAMA contact, he has heard that the list of potential Governors for Paktya held by the central government was at 3-4 pers and may now be cut down to one name (this is not corroborated). c. A new member of the provincial government is in place a provincial director of Economy who will hopefully kick start the PDC. The PRT XO indicated that the Deputy Governor does not fully understand the PDC process, making it more difficult to move forward. d. Some Mullahs are still afraid to publicly speak out against the assassination of Governor Taniwal several weeks ago due to fear of retaliation. e. Having observed the level of attention given to the CoP BG Rahofi by the Governor, I suspect that the governor may count very much on Rahofis support to do his job or he is manipulated by Rahofi for other reason. 7. Overall Assessment. This was a successful event and our aim was achieved. IO and PSYOPS will have to actively pursue options to exploit this event. TF Vanguard and the PRT did a fine job of providing security for this event. The Governor does not have the right level of respect and support to be effective. 8. Actions recommended. a. To engage the US Embassy IOT put pressure on the GOA to have the Paktya Governor named as soon as possible. b. IO, PSYOPS and PAO will produce products exploiting this event. c. Recognizing the importance of these events and the effects they can bring, we must continue to push the requirement to have such events submitted as CONOPs in a timely manner.