Archive for Occupation

The Obama Team Just Doesn’t Get It: US Violence and Occupation Spark Terrorism

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on May 4, 2012 by loonwatch

brennan

A bit of a long read, but well worth it (h/t: BA):

The Obama Team Just Doesn’t Get It: US Violence and Occupation Spark Terrorism

(Alternet.org)

John Brennan, President Obama’s chief adviser on counter-terrorism, has again put on public display two unfortunate facts: (1) that the White House has no clue as to how to counter terrorism; and (2) (in Brennan’s words) “the unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives we are sometimes obliged to take lives.”

In a speech on April 30, Brennan did share one profound insight: “Countries typically don’t want foreign soldiers in their cities and towns.” His answer to that? “The precision of targeted [drone] strikes.” Does he really mean to suggest that local populations are more accepting of unmanned drones buzzing overhead and firing missiles on the push of a button by a “pilot” halfway around the world?

Beneath Brennan’s Orwellian rhetoric lies the reality that he remains unable (or unwilling) to deal with, the $64 question former White House correspondent Helen Thomas asked him repeatedly on Jan. 8, 2010, about why terrorists do the things they do:

Brennan: “Al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”

Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”

Is it possible he still has no clue? To demonstrate how little progress Brennan has made in the way of understanding the challenge of “terrorism,” let’s look back at my commentary in early 2010 about Brennan’s vacuous non-answers to Helen Thomas. At the time, I wrote:

Thank God for Helen Thomas, the only person to show any courage at the White House press briefing after President Barack Obama gave a flaccid account of the intelligence screw-up that almost downed an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

After Obama briefly addressed L’Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote “must do better” on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas (now 91) to break through the vapid remarks about rechanneling “intelligence streams,” fixing “no-fly” lists, deploying “behavior detection officers,” and buying more body-imaging scanners.

Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.

She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did. Thomas: “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”

Brennan: “Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents. … They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”

Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”

Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”

Thomas: “Why?”

Brennan: “I think this is a — long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”

Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”

Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how al Qaeda evildoers are perverting a religion and exploiting impressionable young men. There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.

Obama’s Non-Answer

I had been hoping Obama would say something intelligent about what drove Abdulmutallab to do what he did, but the President uttered a few vacuous comments before sending in the clowns. This is what he said before he walked away from the podium:

“It is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations … to do their bidding. … And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death … while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress. … That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.”

But why it is so hard for Muslims to “get” that message? Why can’t they end their preoccupation with dodging U.S. missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza long enough to reflect on how we are only trying to save them from terrorists while simultaneously demonstrating our commitment to “justice and progress”?

Does a smart fellow like Obama expect us to believe that all we need to do is “communicate clearly to Muslims” that it is al Qaeda, not the U.S. and its allies, that brings “misery and death”? Does any informed person not know that the unprovoked U.S.-led invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced 4.5 million from their homes? How is that for “misery and death”?

Rather than a failure to communicate, U.S. officials are trying to rewrite recent history, which seems to be much easier to accomplish with the Washington press corps and large segments of the American population than with the Muslim world. But why isn’t there a frank discussion by America’s leaders and media about the real motivation of Muslim anger toward the United States? Why was Helen Thomas the only journalist to raise the touchy but central question of motive?

Peeking Behind the Screen

We witnessed a similar phenomenon when the 9/11 Commission Report tiptoed into a cautious discussion of possible motives behind the 9/11 attacks. To their credit, the drafters of that report apparently went as far as their masters would allow, in gingerly introducing a major elephant into the room: “America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.” (p. 376)

When asked later about the flabby way that last sentence ended, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, explained that there had been a Donnybrook over whether that paragraph could be included at all.

The drafters also squeezed in the reason given by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as to why he “masterminded” the attacks on 9/11: “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed … from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

Would you believe that former Vice President Dick Cheney has also pointed to U.S. support for Israel as one of the “true sources of resentment”? This unique piece of honesty crept into his speech to the American Enterprise Institute on May 21, 2009.

Sure, he also trotted out the bromide that the terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world.” But the Israel factor slipped into the speech, perhaps an inadvertent acknowledgement of the Israeli albatross adorning the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Very few pundits and academicians are willing to allude to this reality, presumably out of fear for their future career prospects.

Former senior CIA officer Paul R. Pillar, now a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the few willing to refer, in his typically understated way, to “all the other things … including policies and practices that affect the likelihood that people … will be radicalized, and will try to act out the anger against us.” One has to fill in the blanks regarding what those “other things” are.

But no worries. Secretary Napolitano has a fix for this unmentionable conundrum. It’s called “counter-radicalization,” which she describes thusly: “How do we identify someone before they become radicalized to the point where they’re ready to blow themselves up with others on a plane? And how do we communicate better American values and so forth … around the globe?”

Better communication. That’s the ticket.

Hypocrisy and Double Talk

But Napolitano doesn’t acknowledge the underlying problem, which is that many Muslims have watched Washington’s behavior closely for many years and view U.S. declarations about peace, justice, democracy and human rights as infuriating examples of hypocrisy and double talk. So, Washington’s sanitized discussion about motives for terrorism seems more intended for the U.S. domestic audience than the Muslim world.

After all, people in the Middle East already know how Palestinians have been mistreated for decades; how Washington has propped up Arab dictatorships; how Muslims have been locked away at Guantanamo without charges; how the U.S. military has killed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere; how U.S. mercenaries have escaped punishment for slaughtering innocents.

The purpose of U.S. “public diplomacy” appears more designed to shield Americans from this unpleasant reality, offering instead feel-good palliatives about the beneficence of U.S. actions. Most American journalists and politicians go along with the charade out of fear that otherwise they would be accused of lacking patriotism or sympathizing with “the enemy.”

Commentators who are neither naïve nor afraid are simply shut out of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM). Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald, for example, has complained loudly about “how our blind, endless enabling of Israeli actions fuels terrorism directed at the U.S.,” and how it is taboo to point this out.

Greenwald recently called attention to a little-noticed Associated Press report on the possible motives of the 23-year-old Nigerian Abdulmutallab. The report quoted his Yemeni friends to the effect that the he was “not overtly extremist.” But they noted that he was open about his sympathies toward the Palestinians and his anger over Israel’s actions in Gaza. (Emphasis added)

Former CIA specialist on al Qaeda, Michael Scheuer, has been still more outspoken on what he sees as Israel’s tying down the American Gulliver in the Middle East. Speaking Monday on C-SPAN, he complained bitterly that any debate on the issue of American support for Israel and its effects is normally squelched. Scheuer added that the Israel Lobby had just succeeded in getting him removed from his job at the Jamestown Foundation think tank for saying that Obama was “doing what I call the Tel Aviv Two Step.”

More to the point, Scheuer asserted: “For anyone to say that our support for Israel doesn’t hurt us in the Muslim world … is to just defy reality.”

Beyond loss of work, those who speak out can expect ugly accusations. The Israeli media network Arutz Sheva, which is considered the voice of the settler movement, weighed in strongly, citing Scheuer’s C-SPAN remarks and branding them “blatantly anti-Semitic.”

Read the rest here…

Glenn Greenwald: The real definition of Terrorism

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Salon)

The FBI yesterday announced it has secured an indictment against Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old citizen of Iraq currently in Canada, from which the U.S. is seeking his extradition. The headline on the FBI’s Press Release tells the basic story: “Alleged Terrorist Indicted in New York for the Murder of Five American Soldiers.” The criminal complaint previously filed under seal provides the details: ‘Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist.

Here is how the complaint, in the first paragraph, summarizes the Terrorism charge against ‘Isa:

By “outside of the United States,” the Government means: inside Iraq, ‘Isa’s country. The bulk of the complaint details conversations ‘Isa allegedly had over the Internet, while he was in Canada, with several Tunisians who wanted to engage in suicide attacks aimed at American troops in Iraq; he is not alleged to have organized the Mosul attack but merely to have provided political and religious encouragement (the network of which he was allegedly a part also carried out a suicide attack on an Iraqi police station, though ‘Isa’s alleged involvement is confined to the attack on the U.S. military base that killed the 5 soldiers along with several Iraqis, and the Terrorism indictment is based solely on the deaths of the U.S. soldiers).

In an effort to depict him as a crazed, Terrorist fanatic, the complaint includes this description of conversations he had while being monitored:

Is that not exactly the mindset that more or less anyone in the world would have: if a foreign army invades your country and proceeds to brutally occupy it for the next eight years, then it’s your solemn duty to fight them? Indeed, isn’t that exactly the mentality that caused some young Americans to enlist after the 9/11 attack and be hailed as heroes:they attacked us on our soil, and so now I want to fight them?

Yet when it’s the U.S. that is doing the invading and attacking, then we’re all supposed to look upon this very common reaction with mockery, horror, and disgust– look at these primitive religious fanatic Terrorists who have no regard for human life — because the only healthy, normal, civilized reaction someone should have to the U.S. invading, occupying, and destroying their country is gratitude, or at least passive acquiescence. Anything else, by definition, makes you a Terrorist. That’s because it is an inherent American right to invade or occupy whomever it wants and only a Terrorist would resist (to see one vivid (and darkly humorous) expression of this pathological, imperial entitlement, see this casual speculation from a neocon law professor at Cornell that Iran may have committed an “act of war” if it brought down the American drone that entered its airspace and hovered over its soil without permission: “if it is true, as the Iranians claim, that the drone did not fall by accident but was brought down by Iranian electronic means, then isn’t that already an act of war?”).

It’s one thing to condemn ‘Isa’s actions on moral or ethical grounds: one could argue, I suppose, that the solemn duty of every Iraqi was to respectfully treat the American invaders as honored (albeit uninvited) guests, or at least to cede to invading American troops the monopoly on violence. But it’s another thing entirely to label someone who does choose to fight back as a “Terrorist” and prosecute them as such under charges that entail life in prison (by contrast: an Israeli soldier yesterday killed a Palestinian protester in a small West Bank village that has had much of its land appropriated by Israeli settlers, by shooting him in the face at relatively close range with a tear gas cannister, while an Israeli plane attacked a civilian home in Gaza and killed a father and his young son while injuring several other children; acts like that, or the countless acts of reckless or even deliberate slaughter of civilians by Americans, must never be deemed Terrorism).

Few things better illustrate the utter meaninglessness of the word Terrorism than applying it to a citizen of an invaded country for fighting back against the invading army and aiming at purely military targets (this is far from the first time that Iraqis and others who accused of fighting back against the invading U.S. military have been formally deemed to be Terrorists for having done so). To the extent the word means anything operationally, it is: he who effectively opposes the will of the U.S. and its allies.

This topic is so vital because this meaningless, definition-free word — Terrorism — drives so many of our political debates and policies. Virtually every debate in which I ever participate quickly and prominently includes defenders of government policy invoking the word as some sort of debate-ending, magical elixir: of course President Obama has to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process: they’re Terrorists; of course we have to stay in Afghanistan: we have to stop The Terrorists; President Obama is not only right to kill people (including civilians) using drones, but is justified in boasting and even joking about it, because they’re Terrorists; of course some people should be held in prison without charges: they’re Terrorists, etc. etc. It’s a word that simultaneously means nothing and justifies everything.

(Continues here).

Nutjob Robert Spencer Suggests Barack Obama is an “Islamist Jihadist” with a “remarkable, unqualified and obvious affinity for Islam” who believes that 911 was “an act of God”

Posted in Feature, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer

Terrorist inspirer Robert Spencer’s proclivity to engage in anti-Muslim Islamophobic conspiracy theories is well known. Recently, he dallied once again in the nutty conspiracy that Barack Obama is a ‘radical undercover Mooslim’ hell bent on destroying America.

In a post titled, Obama reads Biblical passage at 9/11 ceremonies implying that 9/11 was an act of God Spencer writes,

Obama reads Psalm 46, including verse 8: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.”

The only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being wreaking desolations on the earth are…Islamic jihadists.

Robert Spencer, just like his comrade Pamela Geller believes Obama is a Muslim. They have repeated this claim numerous times, both implicitly and directly, though Spencer has reverted again to not saying it clearly.

Spencer, unlike his friend Geller knows that such a belief is bats*** loony so he attempts to couch his language in euphemism and hints.

It is interesting to note Spencer’s false claim that the “only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being are Islamic jihadists.” Spencer isn’t that stupid, just a week ago he was on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, the same loon pastor who “in the wake of 9/11, had a now (in-)famous exchange with the late Jerry Falwell in which the two religious leaders suggested that the United States ‘deserved’ the attacks for its tolerance of secularism, gays, abortion, feminists and pagans.”

Maybe Spencer thinks that Robertson is an Islamic Jihadist?

However, when have facts ever stopped Spencer in the past? So, with single-minded drive to prove Obama’s radical Islamic Jihadism he continues:

So why did Barack Obama pick this psalm out of 150 psalms, and out of innumerable appropriate Biblical passages, to read at the 9/11 ceremonies? 9/11, after all, was a day when there were indeed wrought desolations on the earth. Did Obama really mean to say that God did it, that it was an act of divine judgment, rather than a monstrous and unmitigated evil?

Or is this just another one of those funny coincidences, of which there are so very, very many when it comes to Barack Obama and his remarkable, unqualified and obvious affinity for Islam?

Robert Spencer long ago went off the rails when he solidified his alliance with Pamela Geller and the fascist anti-Muslim Right-wing network. Ever since then it has been downhill for the anti-Muslim polemicist. No longer does he care to present the facade of impartiality, scholarliness or truth. He has been savaged for it in the mainstream media, it only remains for the national security complex, which still allows him to instruct its employees to catch up to this soon to be bygone “counter-jihad” blogger.

Wallowing in his own self-righteousness, Spencer declares the President of the United States Barack Obama, a professed Christian, the commander-in-chief of forces occupying two Muslim nations and bombing the hell out of several more of being an “Islamist Jihadist.”

Is that called “chutzpah” or just plain right-wing anti-Muslim loonacy?

US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan Posed for Photos of Murdered Civilians

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Oh no but I thought they attacked us for our freedoms?

(hat tip: Saladin)

US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians

by Joe Boone (Guardian)

Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of “trophy” photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenceless Afghan civilians they killed.

Senior officials at Nato‘s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul have compared the pictures published by the German news weekly Der Spiegel to the images of US soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq which sparked waves of anti-US protests around the world.

They fear that the pictures could be even more damaging as they show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue US Stryker tank unit that operated in the southern province of Kandahar last year.

Some of the activities of the self-styled “kill team” are already public, with 12 men currently on trial in Seattle for their role in the killing of three civilians.

Five of the soldiers are on trial for pre-meditated murder, after they staged killings to make it look like they were defending themselves from Taliban attacks.

Other charges include the mutilation of corpses, the possession of images of human casualties and drug abuse.

All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

The case has already created shock around the world, particularly with the revelations that the men cut “trophies” from the bodies of the people they killed.

An investigation by Der Spiegel has unearthed approximately 4,000 photos and videos taken by the men.

The magazine, which is planning to publish only three images, said that in addition to the crimes the men were on trial for there are “also entire collections of pictures of other victims that some of the defendants were keeping”.

The US military has strived to keep the pictures out of the public domain fearing it could inflame feelings at a time when anti-Americanism in Afghanistan is already running high.

In a statement, the army said it apologised for the distress caused by photographs “depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States“.

The lengthy Spiegel article that accompanies the photographs contains new details about the sadistic behaviour of the men.

In one incident in May last year, the article says, during a patrol, the team apprehended a mullah who was standing by the road and took him into a ditch where they made him kneel down.

The group’s leader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, then allegedly threw a grenade at the man while an order was given for him to be shot.

Afterwards, Gibbs is described cutting off one of the man’s little fingers and removing a tooth.

The patrol team later claimed to their superiors that the mullah had tried to threaten them with a grenade and that they had no choice but to shoot.

On Sunday night many organisations employing foreign staff, including the United Nations, ordered their staff into a “lockdown”, banning all movements around Kabul and requiring people to remain in their compounds.

In addition to the threat from the publication of the photographs, security has been heightened amid fears the Taliban may try to attack Persian new year celebrations.

There could also be attacks because Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is due to make a speech declaring which areas of the country should be transferred from international to Afghan control in the coming months.

One security manager for the US company DynCorp sent an email to clients warning that publication of the photos was likely “to incite the local population” as the “severity of the incidents to be revealed are graphic and extreme”.

Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2011 by loonwatch

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi lied about WMD’s. After millions of deaths and injuries and a fractured country he is still proud of what he did. He shows no remorse, but the fact is that if Rafid al-Janabi didn’t exist, Cheney and gang would find another Rafid. I wonder if Lieberman is still going to claim their were WMD’s in Iraq?

Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

(Guardian)

The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.

“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” he said. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”

The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.

The careers of both men were seriously damaged by their use of Janabi’s claims, which he now says could have been – and were – discredited well before Powell’s landmark speech to the UN on 5 February 2003.

The former CIA chief in Europe Tyler Drumheller describes Janabi’s admission as “fascinating”, and said the emergence of the truth “makes me feel better”. “I think there are still a number of people who still thought there was something in that. Even now,” said Drumheller.

In the only other at length interview Janabi has given he denied all knowledge of his supposed role in helping the US build a case for invading Saddam’s Iraq.

In a series of meetings with the Guardian in Germany where he has been granted asylum, he said he had told a German official, who he identified as Dr Paul, about mobile bioweapons trucks throughout 2000. He said the BND had identified him as a Baghdad-trained chemical engineer and approached him shortly after 13 March of that year, looking for inside information about Saddam’s Iraq.

“I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” he said. “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance.”

He portrays the BND as gullible and so eager to tease details from him that they gave him a Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook to help communicate. He still has the book in his small, rented flat in Karlsruhe, south-west Germany.

“They were asking me about pumps for filtration, how to make detergent after the reaction,” he said. “Any engineer who studied in this field can explain or answer any question they asked.”

Janabi claimed he was first exposed as a liar as early as mid-2000, when the BND travelled to a Gulf city, believed to be Dubai, to speak with his former boss at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, Dr Bassil Latif.

The Guardian has learned separately that British intelligence officials were at that meeting, investigating a claim made by Janabi that Latif’s son, who was studying in Britain, was procuring weapons for Saddam.

That claim was proven false, and Latif strongly denied Janabi’s claim of mobile bioweapons trucks and another allegation that 12 people had died during an accident at a secret bioweapons facility in south-east Baghdad.

The German officials returned to confront him with Latif’s version. “He says, ‘There are no trucks,’ and I say, ‘OK, when [Latif says] there no trucks then [there are none],’” Janabi recalled.

He said the BND did not contact him again until the end of May 2002. But he said it soon became clear that he was still being taken seriously.

He claimed the officials gave him an incentive to speak by implying that his then pregnant Moroccan-born wife may not be able to travel from Spain to join him in Germany if he did not co-operate with them. “He says, you work with us or your wife and child go to Morocco.”

The meetings continued throughout 2002 and it became apparent to Janabi that a case for war was being constructed. He said he was not asked again about the bioweapons trucks until a month before Powell’s speech.

After the speech, Janabi said he called his handler at the BND and accused the secret service of breaking an agreement that they would not share anything he had told them with another country. He said he was told not to speak and placed in confinement for around 90 days.

With the US now leaving Iraq, Janabi said he was comfortable with what he did, despite the chaos of the past eight years and the civilian death toll in Iraq, which stands at more than 100,000.

“I tell you something when I hear anybody – not just in Iraq but in any war – [is] killed, I am very sad. But give me another solution. Can you give me another solution?

“Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities.”

Egypt and Tunisia have just proven you wrong Rafid, there is another way, peaceful and sustained protests that break the fear barrier and overwhelm the dictators.

 

Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Islamophobia on the Rise

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by loonwatch

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar delivers a sky hook on Islamophobia.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar On Islam: ‘Islamophobia Is On The Rise’

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke over the phone with Katia Couric on Wednesday and told her that he believes Islamophobia is on the rise.

“I think Islamophobia is on the rise,” the former Los Angeles Laker said. “I think the best way to counter it is just communication, to let people who we are and what we believe in. It’s no mystery and it’s certainly nothing that we have to be fearful of.”

He went on to say that when we’re dealing with radical people who “want to have a war with us, that gets thrown into the mix. A whole lot of confusion ensues.”

He said the best way in countering that is through education.

Scroll down to watch the video (The portion about Islamophobia starts at the 3:22 mark)

http://cnettv.cnet.com/av/video/cbsnews/atlantis2/cbsnews_player_embed.swf

 

Wikileaks: India Systematically Torturing Kashmiris

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by loonwatch

WikiLeaks has further exposed what was quite obvious but which many people were silent about: the systematic torture by the Indian Army of Kashmiri civilians.

Mike, a Loonwatch reader asked, “what if this had been Pakistan?” Well Mike, no doubt you would have been hearing cries from the Mooslim haters as well as reverb about how Islam is to blame.

Another interesting tid-bit in the article was the suggestion that the US use Bollywood stars to pacify Afghanistan. I guess Shahrukh Khan holds the key to ending the occupation?

(hat tip: Mike)

WikiLeaks: India ‘systematically torturing civilians in Kashmir’

(Telegraph)

By Nick Allen, Los Angeles 12:17AM GMT 17 Dec 2010

The US officials in Delhi were privately briefed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2005 that Indian security forces were using methods including electrocution, physical beatings and sexual interference against hundreds of detainees.

In a detailed report back to Washington they recorded the view of the ICRC that India “condones torture” and that the detainees were not Islamist insurgents or Pakistani-backed militants, who were “routinely killed.” Instead, they were civilians “connected to or believed to have information about the insurgency.”

According to the cables, which will prove a major embarrassment for the Indian government, the ICRC interviewed 1,296 detainees of whom 681 said they had been tortured.
Of those, 498 claimed to have been electrocuted, 381 said they were suspended from the ceiling, and 304 cases were described as “sexual.”

A total of 294 described a procedure in which guards crushed their legs by putting a bar across their thighs and sitting on it, while 181 said their legs had been pulled apart into the splits.

In one cable US officials reported that “terrorism investigations and court cases tend to rely upon confessions, many of which are obtained under duress if not beatings, threats, or in some cases torture.”

Other leaked cables from US officials in India revealed that the Dalai Lama believed environmental problems on the Tibetan plateau should take precedence over a political solution there for the next five to 10 years.

The exiled Buddhist spiritual leader told US diplomats that issues such as polluted water from mining, deforestation and melting glaciers “cannot wait.”

US officials also suggested to Washington that India be encouraged to send Bollywood stars to Afghanistan to help pacify the country.

A cable, obtained by the WikiLeaks website, said “We understand Bollywood movies are wildly popular in Afghanistan” but the plan never materialised.”

 

Robert Pape: What Drives Suicide Terrorists?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2010 by loonwatch

Robert Pape’s studies are starting to be taken more seriously in the government but the media and popular perception creators haven’t gotten the message yet.

What really drives suicide terrorists?

By Robert Pape / December 9, 2010

Chicago

From the 9/11 hijackers to the double agent whose suicide attack in Afghanistan killed seven CIA employees last December, many people want to know what drives some Muslims – many of whom are middle class and well educated – to kill themselves in attacks on Americans and others in the West.

After examining 2,200 suicide attacks around the world since 1980 – the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted – I’ve concluded that the answer is both simple and disturbing. What drives them is deep anger at the presence of Western combat forces in the Persian Gulf region and other predominately Muslim lands.

Popular accounts of these suicide terrorists give the impression that most of them are globe-trotting extremists radicalized by militant networks to strike outside their homeland for religious or other transnational causes. These accounts are false.

Five key members of Al Qaeda in Yemen (AQAP)

What the evidence shows

In the 2,200 suicide attacks since 1980, over 90 percent of the attackers carried out strikes in their home countries, often just miles from their homes, to resist foreign occupation of land they prize.

Hence, Lebanese carried out the suicide attacks against Israel’s occupation of Lebanon; Turkish Kurds carried out the suicide attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party against the Turkish military presence in their home areas; and Iraqis, Saudis, Syrians, Kuwaitis, and Jordanians carried out the suicide attacks against America’s military occupation of Iraq and the US threat to countries adjacent to Iraq.

Afghanistan is a prime example. We can identify 93 suicide attackers who have killed themselves to strike targets, mostly US and Western troops, in Afghanistan in recent years.

More than 90 percent are Afghan nationals and another 5 percent are from border regions of the country, while only 5 percent are from areas of the world beyond the immediate zone of conflict.

In other words, suicide terrorism in Afghanistan is not part of some global jihad looking for a place to land, but regional opposition to foreign military presence.

We’re missing the real threat

Transnational suicide terrorists do exist. But, they are exceptions to the rule. Understanding that transnational suicide attackers are “black swans” has important implications for explaining their existence. For years, many have sought to explain how an individual becomes a transnational terrorist by seeking to track points along a spectrum of radicalization.

The basic idea is that there is a large pool of potential extremists who become progressively radicalized either through elite manipulation (religious leaders in mosques) or through social and economic alienation. Hence, policymakers embrace the idea of eavesdropping on many thousands of Muslims in the United States and Europe. This has done little to find terrorists, but a lot to scare many loyal citizens.

The fundamental problem with the “spectrum of radicalization” approach is that it is looking for many “white swans” that do not exist, while missing the rare black swans that might.

Consider the London suicide attacks in July 2005. Even if we restrict the pool of potential extremists to the 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain then, the spectrum of radicalization approach would expect more “homegrown” suicide attackers by orders of magnitude. After all, tens of thousands of British Muslims had met fundamentalist leaders in mosques, lost their jobs, or faced social difficulties that they might view as related to their ethnic or religious backgrounds. But just four men launched the attack.

Further, after a year-long investigation, MI5 found little evidence that any of the four London bombers were economically or socially alienated in significant ways. Mohammad Khan, the leader, was a mentor at a primary school with an exemplary employment record. Shezhad Tanweer drove his own red Mercedes to work in one of his father’s several businesses and was a trophy-winning cricket player. Another was known for going to night clubs and talking about girls and cars. None had a history of outbursts or violence, or other signs of significant opposition to British life.

What they did share was deep anger at Western occupation of kindred Muslim populations. Mr. Kahn and Mr. Tanweer left martyr videos to explain their motives.

“Your … governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world,” Khan said. “Until we feel security, you will be our targets.”

Recent so-called homegrown terrorists in the United States also reveal little social alienation, but deep anger at foreign occupation. Faisal Shahzad, who was sentenced to life in prison for planning the failed May 1 Times Square car bomb, cited US military activity in his family’s native Pakistan and the presence of US troops in various Muslim countries as reasons for his desire to kill American civilians.

While religion contributes in many cases to increased feelings of loyalty toward a kindred community that may be oceans away from an individual’s country of citizenship, the primary cause of these horrible phenomena is foreign occupation.

US approach is counterproductive

The US approach in countering this threat has done more harm than good. By simultaneously occupying two Muslim countries and cracking down on Muslim Americans, the US has angered elements of an entire population and made it more likely that they would feel more loyalty to their kindred communities abroad.

Further, aggressive surveillance missed the one behavior trait that the American and British transnational terrorists had in common: self-initiated efforts to communicate with representatives of Al Qaeda and other known terrorist groups to receive approval for their actions.

Counterterrorism operations should focus on what makes these rare events dangerous – that is, the point at which politically active groups seek detailed information and actual materials for lethal action, commonly from international terrorist organizations or their local representatives.

Top 5 attacks linked to Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

Law enforcement attempts to track large numbers of young Muslim men would incorrectly profile and target an entire community. Such manpower takes resources away from the most productive counterterrorism measure: the search for specific preparations for violent acts.

Robert A. Pape is professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of “Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It.”

 

Greenwald: FBI Thwarts its Own Terrorist Plot

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by loonwatch

Recently a case regarding a 19 year old Somali-American accused of attempting to blow up a Christmas event in Oregon has garnered national attention. The arrest fits a familiar pattern in which individuals are encouraged, supported and financed by the FBI to detonate bombs. Did the FBI stay within their limits when pursuing the Somali-American, or did they cross over the boundary into entrapment?

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece that questions this arrest and highlights for the umpteenth time the motive behind these “attacks,” a motive that is obfuscated quite often by politicians, the media and anti-Muslim activists.

These individuals aren’t, (as the Robert Spencer’s of the world proclaim) randomly convinced to blow up things because of some religious prescription/motivation, they are motivated by “occupations” and aggression against Muslims and Muslim countries! (Note to the FBI: Spencer is not going to tell you that when he is training your gumshoe detectives)

Time and time again the statements of these misguided individuals speak towards the reality that“It’s the occupation stupid!” but the Cassandra cries of Glenn Greenwald and those like him are willfully ignored and marginalized and so the fear-mongering, exploitation and violence against innocents continues unabated.

The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot

(Salon.com)

by Glenn Greenwald

The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who — with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI’s own undercover agents — allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon.  Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it.  Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What’s missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism.  All of the information about this episode — all of it — comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud.  As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims — as here — are uncorroborated and unexamined.  That’s why we have what we call “trials” before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened:  because the government doesn’t always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government’s claims to scrutiny.  The FBI affidavit — as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters — contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude.  And even the “facts” that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.

It may very well be that the FBI successfully and within legal limits arrested a dangerous criminal intent on carrying out a serious Terrorist plot that would have killed many innocent people, in which case they deserve praise.  Court-approved surveillance and use of undercover agents to infiltrate terrorist plots are legitimate tactics when used in accordance with the law.

But it may also just as easily be the case that the FBI – as they’ve done many times in the past — found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a “Terrorist plot” which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction.  Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts — and an uncritical media amplifies — its “success” to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance powers — current and future new ones — are necessary.

There are numerous claims here that merit further scrutiny and questioning. First, the FBI was monitoring the email communications of this American citizen on U.S. soil for months (at least) with what appears to be the flimsiest basis: namely, that he was in email communication with someone in Northwest Pakistan, “an area known to harbor terrorists” (para. 5 of the FBI Affidavit).  Is that enough to obtain court approval to eavesdrop on someone’s calls and emails?  I’m glad the FBI is only eavesdropping with court approval, if that’s true, but certainly more should be required for judicial authorization than that.  Communicating with someone in Northwest Pakistan is hardly reasonable grounds for suspicion.

Second, in order not to be found to have entrapped someone into committing a crime, law enforcement agents want to be able to prove that, in the 1992 words of the Supreme Court, the accused was “was independently predisposed to commit the crime for which he was arrested.”  To prove that, undercover agents are often careful to stress that the accused has multiple choices, and they then induce him into choosing with his own volition to commit the crime.  In this case, that was achieved by the undercover FBI agent’s allegedly advising Mohamud that there were at least five ways he could serve the cause of Islam (including by praying, studying engineering, raising funds to send overseas, or becoming “operational”), and Mohamud replied he wanted to “be operational” by using exploding a bomb (para. 35-37).

But strangely, while all other conversations with Mohamud which the FBI summarizes were (according to the affidavit) recorded by numerous recording devices, this conversation — the crucial one for negating Mohamud’s entrapment defense — was not.  That’s because, according to the FBI, the undercover agent ”was equipped with audio equipment to record the meeting.  However, due to technical problems, the meeting was not recorded“ (para. 37).

Thus, we have only the FBI’s word, and only its version, for what was said during this crucial — potentially dispositive — conversation.  Also strangely: the original New York Times article on this story described this conversation at some length and reported the fact that “that meeting was not recorded due to a technical difficulty,” but the final version omitted that, instead simply repeating the FBI’s story as though it were fact:  ”undercover agents in Mr. Mohamud’s case offered him several nonfatal ways to serve his cause, including mere prayer. But he told the agents he wanted to be ‘operational,’ and perhaps execute a car bombing.”

Third, there are ample facts that call into question whether Mohamud’s actions were driven by the FBI’s manipulation and pressure rather than his own predisposition to commit a crime.  In June, he attempted to fly to Alaska in order to work on a fishing job he obtained through a friend, but he was on the Government’s no-fly list.  That caused the FBI to question him at the airport and then bar him from flying to Alaska, and thus prevented him from earning income with this job (para. 25).  Having prevented him from working, the money the FBI then pumped him with — including almost $3,000 in cash for him to rent his own apartment (para. 61) — surely helped make him receptive to their suggestions and influence.  And every other step taken to perpetrate this plot — from planning its placement to assembling the materials to constructing the bomb — was all done at the FBI’s behest and with its indispensable support and direction.

It’s impossible to conceive of Mohamud having achieved anything on his own.  Before being ensnared by the FBI, the only tangible action he had taken was to write three articles on “fitness and jihad” for the online magazine Jihad Recollections.  At least based on what is known, he had no history of violence, no apparent criminal record, had never been to a training camp in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else, and — before meeting the FBI — had never taken a single step toward harming anyone.  Does that sound like some menacing sleeper Terrorist to you?

Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive.  There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy — even delight — at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children.  What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen — living in the U.S. since the age of 3 — to that level of sociopathic indifference?   He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and — if it weren’t for the virtual media blackout of this issue — this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):

Undercover FBI Agent:  You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud:  Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent:  For kids?

Mohamud:  No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.  And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know.  And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

And here’s what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists — that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts.  Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture:  that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world — invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries — torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death  — and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims — an amazingly small percentage — harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence.   And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse:  that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism — rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.

UPDATE:  A very similar thing happened last month when the FBI announced that it had arrested someone who was planning to bomb the DC Metro system when, in reality, “the only plotting he did was in response to instructions from federal agents he thought were accomplices.”  That concocted FBI plot then led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers’ bags.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the mosque sometimes attended by Mohamud wasvictimized today by arson.  So the FBI did not stop any actual Terrorist plots, but they may have helped inspire one.

 

Marwan Bishara: Israeli Religious Forces on the March

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by loonwatch

isgetty3565

Marwan Bishara is an interesting political analyst and host on AlJazeera. His program, Empire is a very insightful view into the modern political landscape and how the power brokers in that landscape are shaping the world. He has penned a penetrating piece on AlJazeera’s website about the rise in the IDF of Jewish religious-nationalists. A fact that will make the Israel-Palestine issue even harder to resolve, while also raising the spectre of an inevitable religious war. This piece was written at a favorable time considering our last piece on the ignorance of Bill Maher.

Israeli Religious Forces on the March by Marwan Bishara

As the Israeli Palestinian ‘peace process’ marches in place, religious-Zionism is marching into the leadership of the Israeli army, rendering an improbable peace mission impossible.

If as expected their number continues to increase at the same rate, no future Israeli leader will be able to evacuate Jewish settlements in the context of a peace agreement.

The radicalisation of Israeli society and polity is evident not only in the most right wing government in the country’s history, but also in the make up of its professional military.

Recent revelations in the Israeli media show how the Israeli military, which was once a bastion of ‘secular Zionism’, is slowly but surely falling under the influence of extreme religious Zionism with a wider role for radical rabbinical chiefs.

The disproportionately high numbers of religious-nationalists in elite units and the combat officer corps is transforming the Israeli military and its relationship to the occupation and illegal settlements.

Dramatic increase

In 1990, the year before the peace process started between Israel and its neighbours, two per cent of the cadets enrolled in the officers’ course for the infantry corps were religious; by 2007, that figure had shot up to 30 per cent.

Moreover, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz:

“This is how the intermediate generation of combat officers looks today: six out of seven lieutenant colonels in the Golani Brigade are religious and, beginning in the summer, the brigade commander will be as well. In the Kfir Brigade, three out of seven lieutenant colonels wear skullcaps, and in the Givati Brigade and the paratroopers, two out of six. In some of the infantry brigades, the number of religious company commanders has passed the 50 per cent mark – more than three times the percentage of the national religious community in the overall population.”

Worse still, according to the Israeli Peace Now organisation, the number of religious nationalists continues to grow at a worrying rate.

Its sources estimate that “more than 50 per cent of the elite combat units now are drawn from the religious nationalist sector of Israeli society”.

Professor Stuart Cohen of Bar Ilan University estimates that during the second intifada (2000-2002) the overall number of religious Zionist soldiers – as defined by those who wear knitted caps, or kippah seruga – in the infantry units may be roughly twice their proportion of the Jewish male population as a whole.

Many of these soldiers live in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Some live in so-called ‘illegal outposts’, which the International Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) insists on dismantling and which Israel considers ‘unlawful’ according to its own narrow standards.

And increasing numbers live in the so-called “illegal outposts”, or those new Jewish settlements considered illegal by the International Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) and according to Israel’s own narrow standards.

Despite Israel’s commitment under the 2003 ‘roadmap for peace’ to evacuate tens of these outposts, they remain standing and are even expanding.

A ‘higher authority’

Clearly, many of those who live in the settlements cannot be expected to help evacuate their own homes if such a time comes. And they are making it known.

Recently, soldiers in the infantry brigade waved placards with the slogan “we did not enlist in order to evacuate Jews” as they paraded in Jerusalem to mark the end of their training.

A number of rabbis have issued religious edicts against such evacuations.

Most of these religious Zionist settlers see settlement in the occupied West Bank (using their biblical names Judea and Samaria) or the overall “land of Israel”, which includes the territories occupied in 1967, as a religious duty.

Although Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister, succeeded in evacuating the marginal Gaza settlements in 2005, it is doubtful that any such evacuation from the tens of small scattered settlements in the West Bank is possible.

The nationalist religious camp is making it clear that the ‘word of God’ as they see it, takes precedence over the secular leadership.

Reportedly, the top military brass is quite fearful of such a scenario.

Soldiers and settlers

Lately, there have been reports about tensions between the Israeli military and some of the most violent settlers as the military tries to reign in some of their more extreme provocations.

In general, however, the military has been the settlers’ best friend and defender in the occupied territories.

And despite increased settler violence and vandalism against adjacent Palestinian towns and villages, the occupation army has been no less than complicit in the daily harassment of Palestinian residents and farmers.

Many settler-soldiers seem to deploy around their settlements, allowing them to man check points and harass and humiliate Palestinians at road blocks, turning the country’s military into their own private militias.

In the process, Palestinians find themselves held hostage by an Israeli government that has neither the will, nor increasingly the capacity, to deal with the settlement issue – the engine of violence and the terminator of the two state solution.

Eventually, they will march straight into a destructive religious war that is far harder to contain in or outside the ‘Holy Land’.

 

‘Jewish Settlers’ Desecrate West Bank Mosque

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by loonwatch
West Bank MosqueWest Bank Mosque

The ongoing attack by settlers on the Occupied West Bank continues. I am sure Pamela Geller would applaud these settlers.

‘Settlers’ desecrate West Bank Mosque

Palestinian security officials have said that Israeli settlers desecrated a mosque in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army confirmed that “anonymous suspects” scrawled graffiti, including a Jewish star of David alongside the name of the Prophet Mohammed written in Hebrew.

Palestinian and Israeli officials said on Wednesday that the suspects set fire to two cars outside the mosque in Huwara, near Nablus.

Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, the Israeli military commander for the West Bank,  “ordered an immediate investigation into the incident, condemned the acts and said that those responsible should be brought to justice.”

Israeli soldiers erased the graffiti after the attack.

In December, Israeli settlers vandalised another mosque in the northern West Bank village of Yasuf, torching Muslim holy books and spraying hate messages in Hebrew.

The incident triggered clashes between villagers and Israeli troops.

A 17-year-old Israeli from a nearby settlement was later detained.

Last month there were skirmishes between Palestinians and Israeli police who were on high alert in Jerusalem where they prevented men under the age of 50 from entering the al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.

The skirmishes intensified an already charged atmosphere there as a rebuilt 17th-century synagogue was opened in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, a few hundred metres from the al-Aqsa compound.

 

Many Palestinians view Israeli projects near the mosque compound – a site holy both to Jews and Muslims – as an assault on its status quo or a prelude to the building of a third Jewish temple there.