Archive for Yemen

The Young Turks: How Drone Strikes Help AlQaeda

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by loonwatch

Why_do_they_hate_us_Muslims

The drone strikes are killing civilians and causing anger and a thirst for vengeance. This has been quite obvious to anyone who has cared to pay attention.

We’ve been reporting on this for quite some time now, but with the recent reports on how the Obama administration fudge’s the facts about civilian deaths there is renewed discussion on the effectiveness of the drone attacks:

How drone strikes help AlQaeda:

Reuters Figures it Out: Yemenis “Deeply Resentful” of Drone Attacks which “Often” Kill Civilians

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by loonwatch

Why_do_they_hate_us_Muslims

It’s not rocket science, if you are going to employ tactics in which you kill 10s or 100s of more civilians for each terrorist then you are not going to be liked.

Reuters seems to have figured this out:

But many say U.S. drone attacks, which have often killed civilians and are deeply resented by Yemenis, may do more harm than good, potentially discrediting Hadi as a lackey of Washington and turning the wider population against him.

Now if we could only get the policy-makers and military strategists to realize this.

Declaring War on ‘Political Islamism’

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by loonwatch
William KristolWilliam Kristol

The neocons have been around for decades, first to mobilize support against Soviet-led communism, and then, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to wage a so-called “Global War on Terrorism.”

As the architects of the spectacularly disastrous Iraq War, the necons should have been thoroughly discredited and relegated to the political fringe. Yet it seems these foreign policy hawks have simply retooled their message, founded a new think tank, and are poised to wreak havoc once again.

By Robert Parry

Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has responded to his lack of foreign policy experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.”

In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan – and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end” – as foolish wishful thinking.

“It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war … will end’ — even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there — then the American people should know that.”

What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration – presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks – will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from.

“This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in — and had no choice but to engage in — a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front.

“There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.”

As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.”

In other words, Kristol and the neocons expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries.

One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare.

He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency?

Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his reelection.

But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.”

Romney’s foreign policy advisers include:

Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehmanand Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation.

Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world – except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.”

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists. …

“Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power — conceived in the broadest terms — that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies. …

“A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. …

“The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies

The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness.

“A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards that United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed.

“Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources.

“They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs.

“They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States.

“This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country. …

“Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combating global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy.

“The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A President who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future. … Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East

As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran:

“Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. …

“To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. … The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.

“With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunderstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner.

“President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring.

“But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure. …

“[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

“The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.”

Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes:

“Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders.

“Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege andNeck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

The Failure of the Arab “State” and Its Opposition

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by loonwatch
YemenTribal fighters loyal to Sadiq al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashed tribe, walk in front of a bullet-riddled building in Sanaa 10 April 2012. (Photo: REUTERS – Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

“If you want to live under sharia law, go back to the hellhole country you came from, or go to another hellhole country that lives under sharia law.”  ~ Mahfooz Kanwar, professor emeritus of sociology at Mount Royal University in Calgary, and a member of the Muslim [sic] Canadian Congress.

Ah yes, the “Islamic” hellhole meme. Islamophobes never tire of bashing Muslim-majority countries for their supposed backwardness.

Apparently they’ve never noticed that many Christian-majority nations savaged by Western colonialism aren’t faring any better. The centuries-long struggle with European colonialism–and neo-colonialism in the decades that followed–simply doesn’t factor into the dominant discourse.

Author and activist Hisham Bustani provides a fresh perspective, with a focus on  historical context and the popular uprising that began in late 2010, widely known as the Arab Spring.

The Failure of the Arab “State” and Its Opposition

By: Hisham BustaniAlakhbar

After one year of the Arab uprisings that initially exploded in Tunisia and swept like wildfire throughout the Arab world, it became very clear that the spark, which has resulted in the removal of three oppressors so far, was spontaneous. That does not mean that the explosion had no preludes. On the contrary, the people were squeezed with each passing day, but those uprisings clearly showed that even in the absence of an organized catalyzing formation (revolutionary party, revolutionary class), an explosion takes place when a certain threshold is reached, a critical mass.

Uprisings in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet-bloc states came about through the work of organized opposition groups and parties (like Solidarity in Poland), and by decades of calm covert undermining, infiltration, and propaganda undertaken by the West. By contrast, the Arab uprising was not led by an organized opposition. Instead, it came as a surprise to the imperialist circles that historically backed their client oppressor regimes.

The Failure of the Post-Colonial Arab “State”

Following the British-French-Italian colonialism of the Arab region, the Europeans left behind an area that they deliberately divided into “states”. These were designed so as to leave no possibility for their becoming truly independent and sovereign. They also left a watchdog and an easy solution to assuage their anti-Semitic-burdened consciousness: “Israel,” a colonial-settler state that would maintain the imperialist design in the wake of the physical withdrawal of its patrons.

The post-colonial states were subordinate by design, by their innate nature of being divided and incomplete, and by the ruling class that followed colonialism. The homogeneous collective of people that included many religions, sects, and ethnicities was also broken down. Colonialism fueled internal conflicts, and the subsequent Arab regimes maintained that tradition and kept in close alliance with the former colonizers. Alliance here is an overstatement. A subordinate structure cannot build alliances. It is always subordinate.

Thus, the post-colonial Arab “state” was everything but a state. Concepts like “the rule of law” or “governing institutions” or “citizenship rights” did not apply. Countries were run with a gangster mentality. There were no “traditions” or clear sets of rules that applied to all. Unlike the model of a bourgeois democracy where rules, laws, and traditions maintain and preserve the capitalist system and apply to all its components, this form was not present in the post-colonial Arab “state.” The ruling class were free to issue laws, revoke laws, not implement laws, not implement constitutions, amend constitutions, forge fraudulent elections, embezzle, torture, massacre, confiscate basic rights, indulge in blatant corruption, fabricate identities, and pass on the presidency from father to son.

The example closest to the modern post-colonial Arab state is the Free Congo State (1885-1908) which was the private property of the Belgian king Leopold II, along with all its people, resources, and 2.3 million square kilometers territory. The post-colonial Arab state is nothing but an expanded feudality. Its head answers to imperialist powers that pay certain amounts of “foreign aid” and finance and train armies and police, all to keep people beyond the explosion point using a composition of fear and the fulfillment of very basic needs that are portrayed as grants and the accomplishments of the ruler. The same imperialist powers that paid their bribes in “aid,” worked hard through IMF economic-restructuring schemes and World Bank loans to dismantle any possible internal independent growth, and worked hard to privatize the public sector.

The Arab regimes, reigning over a further subdivided space that is economically and politically destroyed, extracted their authority from external delegation and internal terror, and succeeded in transforming themselves into a buffer, a guarantor for all the divided segments. They succeeded in absorbing almost all opposition frameworks into their structure, and in producing coreless governing institutions, thus giving themselves much longer life spans than one would expect for such a system.

The failure of the Arab “organized” opposition

Just as the imperialist centers and Arab regimes failed to predict the time of the onset and the magnitude of the Arab uprisings, so did opposition organizations. The latter were not part of it. Nor did they work toward it. Nor did they add any value to it after its onset.

With a few exceptions (like the Kifaya movement in Egypt, the Islamic al-Nahda Party and The Workers’ Communist Party in Tunisia, and some intellectuals in Syria), the organized Arab opposition (political parties, unions and other organizations) seldom challenged the Arab regime and its system. While the interwar period saw the emergence of a number of ideological movements that sought to rectify the colonialist design for the region, many such groups were either tamed or became absorbed in the status quo. The opposition regularly sought acknowledgement and legitimacy from the Arab regimes. The opposition wanted to be “legal,” and it followed the “rules” set by the regimes and accepted their reign.

Thus, the organized Arab opposition was actually a factor of stability for the Arab regimes, adding to their longevity. It was not until people took things into their own hands, rejecting the legitimacy of the Arab regimes and acting autonomously, away from the established opposition via more creative forms, that things started to move.

A quick review of how the organized opposition behaviour following the uprisings can provide a clue as to how they acted during the uprisings and in the period that led up to them. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt never challenged the Mubarak regime. On the contrary, it periodically sent comforting signs showing that they wanted the Mubarak regime to continue. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt did not participate in the early days of the uprising, and after the uprising it backed the Military Council and its oppression of the demonstrations of January 2012. Many of the so-called leftist and nationalist organizations in Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon are currently backing the Bashar Assad regime and its massacre in Syria.

The organized opposition often dreamt of a moment when the people would rise up against their oppressors. Rightfully, they diagnosed the Arab regimes as tools of imperialist intervention and the main obstacles to any liberation project. Now they ally themselves against the people and with the regimes. They do so because they are empty. Over the years they failed to present any alternative, neither in theory or in practice. They are empty and they are afraid of a future outside they are unable to control, comprehend, or contribute to. Like Israel, they “know” the current regimes. What will happen next is something they don’t know, and they lack the capacity to influence it. So – just like Israel – they’re willing to stand against it.

The Unity of the Oppressed in the Arab World

Pan–Arabism often dreamed about a unified Arab homeland, but other than military coups that ultimately transformed into local oppressive regimes, it lacked any tools to fulfill that dream. Some independent Arab Marxists worked for some sort of “union of the oppressed.” The people of the Arab world are diverse and were fragmented by different factors along sectarian, religious, and ethnic divides. It is only when the oppressed realize that they are united by their own miserable status that people tend to mobilize en masse and achieve their common goals. This was what actually happened in 2011.

The mobilization in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen fulfilled that requirement, so it was partially successful. By contrast, the mobilization in Jordan was made along the local pathogenic divide (those of Palestinian origin vs. those of East Jordanian origin), so it was doomed to failure and can be understood as a movement within the regime rather than one from outside it.

Another key lesson was proven by the immediate contagion of the uprising phenomena throughout the Arab world. What started in Tunisia echoed with different volume levels from Morocco in the West to Bahrain in the East. There is a material integration of people’s interests. For example, continuity can be seen in the almost automatic demonstrations across the Arab world against Israel when it regularly and bloodily attacks Palestinians. This was further stressed by the same continuity when confronting the Arab regimes. The people of the Arab world find depth, support, and power in one other, and they tend to be inspired by each other, and they still think that their cause is one. No wonder, then, that the colonialist powers and their successor dependant Arab regimes fought hard to maintain the isolationist division of the post-colonial states.

It is no surprise then that Arab uprisings are finding it difficult to proceed beyond the conditions of colonially-fabricated states. The uprisings must seek solutions beyond the crippling designs in order to break from subordination and become a true revolution.

Hisham Bustani is a writer and activist from Jordan. He has published three volumes of short fiction in Arabic.

New and Improved Rules for Drone Warfare

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by loonwatch

Drone in Iran

This photo released, Dec. 8, 2011, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims to show US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which Tehran says its forces downed. (AP Photo)

Drone warfare has made killing people from afar easy and virtually risk free.

Now the Iranians claim that they’ve reverse engineered a captured US drone and cracked its secrets. This claim was met with skepticism, but even if it’s true and the technology proves useful, can anyone imagine Iranian drones in the skies over Western countries? Of course not!

In the real world, we kill and they die, not the other way around. If that sacred rule is broken, they are clearly engaging in “terrorism,” which merely gives us an excuse to unleash even more death and destruction. If the Iranians don’t grasp the rules, they can expect to be obliterated.

US drones prowl the skies of a growing list of countries, killing suspected terrorists and innocent civilians with mindless efficiency. Heavy with sarcasm, Hamilton Nolan describes new, relaxed (and frightening) rules that will allow the US to expand drone warfare, in Yemen and beyond.

New and Improved Rules for Drone Warfare

by Hamilton NolanThe Gawker

Good news for people who love freedom, hate terrorism, and people who do not live in Yemen and will never visit Yemen and do not appear to be from Yemen or its surrounding areas: the U.S. government is relaxing its rules for drone strikes in Yemen. When it comes to incinerating more or less inscrutable targets with unseen missile attacks like Zeus himself, why be encumbered by a bunch of bureaucratic rules?

The new policy reportedly ”includes targeting fighters whose names aren’t known but who are deemed to be high-value terrorism targets or threats to the U.S.” No more pesky hours of intelligence-gathering before you can vaporize that jeep from above. But do these rules go far enough in eliminating those who Hate Our Freedoms and Familes and Children, and Our Children and Families’ Freedoms™? We think not. A few common sense edits for the future of warfare:

  • If someone is carrying a machine gun, RPG, or shoulder-fired missile that looks like an imminent threat to any Coalition soldiers, whether from the Western world or from the Muslim world, they may be killed.
  • If someone in an area known for militant activity appears to be transporting cargo with brown and grey markings consistent with databases of the graphic skin that covers the outside of missiles or rockets and moves with an intent to set up and fire those armaments at Coalition forces, they may be blown up.
  • If someone is determined through confirmed intelligence of a reliable nature to be forming a terrorist group with the intent and capability of causing mass casualties in America or in any territory of an American ally in the Middle East, and they cannot be apprehended without significant risk of loss of civilian life, they may be kabazongaed to bababooey with a f***ing Hellfire, bro.

A little common sense goes a long way.

**********

Yemen’s Child Marriages: 52% of Girls Married Before 18 and 14% Before the Age of 15

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamophobes often times confuse tribal custom and practice as a reflection of Islam. They cannot concede the view that marriage practices vary across the Islamic world, and that most Muslim countries have age limits on marriage.

The article below highlights quite a few salient points in regards to the high number of girls in Yemen, between the ages of 15-18 being married off, 38%, and girls under 15, 14%, for a total of 52%. It doesn’t say anything about the age of those whom the young girls are marrying, it’s safe to presume that many of them are young men as well. It is also safe to assume however that a significant portion are likely men who are quite older than them (see picture above).

The article reveals that it is Yemeni Muslims, many of them deeply committed to Islam: Imams, scholars, politicians and human rights activists who are attempting to reform this practice within their own culture and society.

Of course this won’t stop the Islam haters from trying to bash Islam and further the “Mo was a pedo” myth that they are so fond of.

See our article that deals with the topic of marriage age: Translating-Jihad’s Completely Fraudulent Translations.

Also see: Man Married his 10 year old niece and justified it through Biblical passages.

Yemen’s Child Marriages

By Catherine Shakdam (OnIslam)

SANAA – Yemenis are marrying off their daughters at a very early age, a practice seen by Muslim imams as rooted in tribal traditions, rather than in Islamic teachings.

“Much of child marriages are rooted in tribal tradition and not in Islam,” Sheikh Mohamed al- Iryani, an Imam in Aden, told OnIslam.net.

He blamed poverty and fear of stigma for the common practice in the Arab Peninsula country.

“Poor families see raising daughters as a heavy burden which they are happy to unload on someone else at the first opportunity,” he said.

“It is contrary to our teachings but as long as local Imams agree to perform the ceremonies it will continue.

Child marriages are widespread in Yemen.

Estimates show that 52 percent of Yemeni girls are married off before the age of 18 and 14 percent before the age of 15.

There are some cases in which young girls as little as 8 were being allowed to enter a marital union.

Well-remembered is the case of Nujud, a young Yemeni girl who challenged her family, demanding that a judge free her from her abusive husband by dissolving her marriage.

“We as a society need to tackle this issue and launch some sort of a national dialogue,” said Iryani.

Marriage in Islam is of utmost importance as it is upon the lawful union of a man and a woman that society grows strong and that moral is preserved.

In Islam it is not permissible for the guardian to compel the one under his guardianship to marry someone she does not desire to marry.

Rather, it is necessary to seek her consent and permission.

Marriage Age

Human rights activists have called for setting a minimum age limit to marriage to help uproot the phenomenon.

“Setting a minimum age limit to marriages will help prevent child abuse and young bride trafficking,” Nadya Khalife, a women’s rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, told OnIslam.net.

“Yemen’s political crisis has left issues such as child marriage at the bottom of the political priority list.

“But now is the time to move on this issue, setting the minimum age for marriage at 18, to ensure that girls and women who played a major role in Yemen’s protest movement will also contribute to shaping Yemen’s future.”

Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest religious body in the Sunni Muslim world, has recently issued a manual on the rights of Muslim children.

“Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married,” the manual said.

A recent HRW report said the repercussions of child marriages reverberate throughout Yemeni society as it prevents women from completing their education, keeping Yemen in a state of prolonged ignorance.

“Education is the key to progress,” said Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashour.

“If we are to build a strong Yemen, we need our people to push on their study, child marriages prevent that.”

Jeremy Scahill: Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by loonwatch

 

A great article from intrepid journalist Jeremy Scahill, questioning why the Obama administration is keeping a journalist in prison in Yemen:

Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?

by Jeremy Scahill (Nation Magazine)

On February 2, 2011, President Obama called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The two discussed counterterrorism cooperation and the battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. At the end of the call, according to a White House read-out, Obama “expressed concern” over the release of a man named Abdulelah Haider Shaye, whom Obama said “had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP.” It turned out that Shaye had not yet been released at the time of the call, but Saleh did have a pardon for him prepared and was ready to sign it. It would not have been unusual for the White House to express concern about Yemen’s allowing AQAP suspects to go free. Suspicious prison breaks of Islamist militants in Yemen had been a regular occurrence over the past decade, and Saleh has been known to exploit the threat of terrorism to leverage counterterrorism dollars from the United States. But this case was different. Abdulelah Haider Shaye is not an Islamist militant or an Al Qaeda operative. He is a journalist.

Unlike most journalists covering Al Qaeda, Shaye risked his life to travel to areas controlled by Al Qaeda and to interview its leaders. He also conducted several interviews with the radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki. Shaye did the last known interview with Awlaki just before it was revealed that Awlaki, a US citizen, was on a CIA/JSOC hit list. “We were only exposed to Western media and Arab media funded by the West, which depicts only one image of Al Qaeda,” recalls his best friend Kamal Sharaf, a well-known dissident Yemeni political cartoonist. “But Abdulelah brought a different viewpoint.”

Shaye had no reverence for Al Qaeda, but viewed the group as an important story, according to Sharaf. Shaye was able to get access to Al Qaeda figures in part due to his relationship, through marriage, to the radical Islamic cleric Abdul Majid al Zindani, the founder of Iman University and a US Treasury Department–designated terrorist. While Sharaf acknowledged that Shaye used his connections to gain access to Al Qaeda, he adds that Shaye also “boldly” criticized Zindani and his supporters: “He said the truth with no fear.”

While Shaye, 35, had long been known as a brave, independent-minded journalist in Yemen, his collision course with the US government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, fourteen women and twenty-one children were killed. Whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested. After conducting his own investigation, Shaye determined that it was a US strike. The Pentagon would not comment on the strike and the Yemeni government repeatedly denied US involvement. But Shaye was later vindicated when Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable that featured Yemeni officials joking about how they lied to their own parliament about the US role, while President Saleh assured Gen. David Petraeus that his government would continue to lie and say “the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Seven months after the Majala bombing, in July 2010, Sharaf and Shaye were out running errands. Sharaf popped into a supermarket, while Shaye waited outside. When Sharaf came out of the store, he recalls, “I saw armed men grabbing him and taking him to a car.” The men, it turned out, were Yemeni intelligence agents. They snatched Shaye, hooded him and took him to an undisclosed location. The agents, according to Sharaf, threatened Shaye and warned him against making further statements on TV. Shaye’s reports on the Majala bombing and his criticism of the US and Yemeni governments, Sharaf said, “pushed the regime to kidnap him. One of the interrogators told him, ‘We will destroy your life if you keep on talking about this issue.’” Eventually, in the middle of the night, Shaye was dumped back onto a street and released. “Abdulelah was threatened many times over the phone by the Political Security and then he was kidnapped for the first time, beaten and investigated over his statements and analysis on the Majala bombing and the US war against terrorism in Yemen,” says Shaye’s lawyer, Abdulrahman Barman. “I believe he was arrested upon a request from the US.”

Shaye responded to his abduction by going back on al Jazeera and describing his own arrest. “Abdulelah continued to report facts, not for the sake of the Americans or Al Qaeda, but because he believed that what he was reporting was the truth and that it is a journalist’s role to uncover the truth,” says Sharaf. “He is a very professional journalist,” he adds. “He is rare in the journalistic environment in Yemen where 90 percent of journalists write extempore and lack credibility.” Shaye, he explains, is “very open-minded and rejects extremism. He was against violence and the killing of innocents in the name of Islam. He was also against killing innocent Muslims with pretext of fighting terrorism. In his opinion, the war on terror should have been fought culturally, not militarily. He believes using violence will create more violence and encourage the spread of more extremist currents in the region.”

In the meantime, Sharaf was encountering his own troubles with the Yemeni regime over his drawings of President Saleh and his criticism of the Yemeni government’s war against the minority Houthi population in the north of Yemen. He had also criticized conservative Salafis. And he was Shaye’s best friend.

On August 6, 2010, Sharaf and his family had just broken the Ramadan fast when he heard shouting from outside his home: “Come out, the house is surrounded.” Sharaf walked outside. “I saw soldiers I had never seen before. They were tall and heavy—they reminded me of American Marines. Then, I knew that they were from the counterterrorism unit. They had modern laser guns. They were wearing American Marine–type uniforms,” he recalls. They told Sharaf he was coming with them. “What is the accusation?” he asked. “They said, ‘You’ll find out.’ ”

As Sharaf was being arrested, Yemeni forces had surrounded Shaye’s home as well. “Abdulelah refused to come out, so they raided his house, took him by force, beat him and broke his tooth,” Sharaf says. “We were both taken blindfolded and handcuffed to the national security prison, which is supported by the Americans.” They were separated and thrown in dark, underground cells, says Sharaf. “We were kept for about thirty days during Ramadan in the national security prison where we were continuously interrogated.”

For that first month, Sharaf and Shaye did not see each other. Eventually, they were taken from the national security prison to Yemen’s Political Security prison, where they were put in a cell together. “We were transferred to the political security prison built by Saddam Hussein, his gift to Yemen,” he says. “We were moved from the American gift to the Iraqi gift.” (The Nation could not independently verify Sharaf’s claim of an Iraqi role in the building of the prison. And while the US trains and supports Yemen’s counterterrorism force, it is not clear if that aid has been used for the national security prison). Sharaf was eventually released, after he pledged to the authorities that he would not draw any more cartoons of President Saleh. Shaye would make no such deal.

Shaye was held in solitary confinement for thirty-four days with no access to a lawyer. His family did not even know where he had been taken or why. Eventually, his lawyers received a tip from a released prisoner that Shaye was in the Political Security prison and they were able to see him. “When Abdulelah was arrested, he was put in a narrow dirty and foul smelling bathroom for five days.I noticed that one of Abdulelah’s teeth was extracted and another one was broken, in addition to presence of some scars on his chest,” recalls Barman. “There were a lot scars on his chest. He was psychologically tortured. He had been told that all his friends and family members had left him and that no one had raised his case. He was tortured by false information.”=


This cartoon, drawn by Abdulelah Haider Shaye’s friend, Kamal Sharaf, portrays Shaye locked up while US Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein holds the key. The words above the cartoon read: Freedom for the Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye.

On September 22, Shaye was eventually hauled into a court. Prosecutors asked for more time to prepare a case against him. A month later, in late October, he was locked in a cage in Yemen’s state security court, which was established by presidential decree and has been roundly denounced as illegal and unfair, as a judge read out a list of charges against him. He was accused of being the “media man” for Al Qaeda, recruiting new operatives for the group and providing Al Qaeda with photos of Yemeni bases and foreign embassies for potential targeting. “The government filed many charges against him,” says Barman. “Some of these charges were: joining an armed group aiming to target the stability and security of the country, inciting Al Qaeda members to assassinate President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son, recruiting new Al Qaeda members, working as propagandist for Al Qaeda and Anwar Al-Awlaki in particular. Most of these charges carry the death sentence under Yemeni law.” As the charges against him were read, according to journalist Iona Craig, a longtime foreign correspondent based in Yemen who reports regularly for the Times of London, Shaye “paced slowly around the white cell, smiling and shaking his head in disbelief.”

When the judge finished reading the charges against him, Shaye stood behind the bars of the holding cell and addressed his fellow journalists. “When they hid murderers of children and women in Abyan, when I revealed the locations and camps of nomads and civilians in Abyan, Shabwa and Arhab when they were going to be hit by cruise missiles, it was on that day they decided to arrest me,” he declared. “You notice in the court how they have turned all of my journalistic contributions into accusations. All of my journalistic contributions and quotations to international reporters and news channels have been turned into accusations.” As security guards dragged him away, Shaye yelled, “Yemen, this is a place where, when a young journalist becomes successful, he is viewed with suspicion.”

In January 2011, Shaye was convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to five years in prison, followed by two years of restricted movement and government surveillance. Throughout his trial, Shaye refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court and refused to present a legal defense. Human Rights Watch said the specialized court where Shaye was tried “failed to meet international standards of due process,” while his lawyers argue that the little “evidence” that was presented against him relied overwhelmingly on fabricated documents. “What happened was a political not judicial decision. It has no legal basis,” says Barman, Shaye’s lawyer, who boycotted the trial. “Having witnessed his trial I can say it was a complete farce,” says Craig.

Several international human rights groups condemned the trial as a sham and an injustice. “There are strong indications that the charges against [Shaye] are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

There is no doubt that Shaye was reporting facts that both the Yemeni and US government wanted to suppress. He was also interviewing people Washington was hunting. While the US and Yemeni governments alleged that he was a facilitator for Al Qaeda propaganda, close observers of Yemen disagree. “It is difficult to overestimate the importance of his work,” says Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton University who had communicated regularly with Shaye since 2008. “Without Shaye’s reports and interviews we would know much less about Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula than we do, and if one believes, as I do, that knowledge of the enemy is important to constructing a strategy to defeat them, then his arrest and continued detention has left a hole in our knowledge that has yet to be filled.”

As the US ratcheted up its efforts to assassinate the radical cleric Anwar Awlaki, among the charges leveled against him was that he praised the actions of the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan. A key source for those statements was an interview with Awlaki conducted by Shaye broadcast on Al Jazeera in December 2009. Far from coming off as sympathetic, Shaye’s interview was objective and seemed aimed at actually getting answers. Among the questions he asked Awlaki: How can you agree with what Nidal did as he betrayed his American nation? Why did you bless the acts of Nidal Hasan? Do you have any connection with the incident directly? Shaye also confronted Awlaki with inconsistencies from Awlaki’s previous interviews. If anything, Shaye’s interviews with Awlaki provided the US intelligence community and the politicians and pro-assassination punditry with ammunition to support their campaign to kill Awlaki. (Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike on September 30, 2011.)

After Shaye was convicted and sentenced, tribal leaders intensified their pressure on President Saleh to issue a pardon. “Some prominent Yemenis and tribal sheikhs visited the president to mediate in the issue and the president agreed to release and pardon him,” recalls Barman. “We were waiting for the release of the pardon—it was printed out and prepared in a file for the president to sign and announce the next day.” Word of the impending pardon leaked in the Yemeni press. “That same day,” Barman says, “the president [Saleh] received a phone call from Obama expressing US concerns over the release of Abdulelah Haider.” Saleh rescinded the pardon.

“Certainly Shaye’s reports were an embarrassment for the US and Yemeni government, because at a time when both governments were seeking and failing to kill key leaders within AQAP, this single journalist with his camera and computer was able to locate these same leaders and interview them,” says Johnsen. “There is no publicly available evidence to suggest that Abdulelah was anything other than a journalist attempting to do his job, and it remains unclear why the US or Yemeni government refuse to present the evidence they claim to possess.”

In February, Shaye began a brief hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, ending it after his family expressed serious concerns about his deteriorating health. While international media organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, have called for Shaye’s release, his case has received scant attention in the United States. Yemeni journalists, human rights activists and lawyers have said he remains in jail at the request of the White House. Some had hoped that when President Saleh stepped down earlier this year, Shaye might be released.

That seems unlikely if the US government has any say in the matter. “We are standing by [President Obama’s] comments from last February,” State Department spokesperson Beth Gosselin told The Nation. “We remain concerned about Shaye’s potential release due to his association with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We stand by the president’s comments.” When asked whether the US government should present evidence to support its claims about Shaye’s association with AQAP, Gosselin said, “That is all we have to say about this case.”

When Craig recently questioned the US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, about Shaye’s case, she says Feierstein laughed at the question before answering. “Shaye is in jail because he was facilitating Al Qaeda and its planning for attacks on Americans and therefore we have a very direct interest in his case and his imprisonment,” he said. When Craig mentioned the shock waves it had sent through the journalism community in Yemen, Feierstein replied, “This isn’t anything to do with journalism, it is to do with the fact that he was assisting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and if they [Yemeni journalists] are not doing that they don’t have anything to worry about from us.”

For many journalists in Yemen, the publicly available “facts” about how Shaye was “assisting” AQAP indicate that simply interviewing Al Qaeda–associated figures, or reporting on civilian deaths caused by US strikes, is a crime in the view of the US government. “I think the worst thing about the whole case is that not only is an independent journalist being held in proxy detention by the US,” says Craig, “but that they’ve successfully put paid to other Yemeni journalists investigating air strikes against civilians and, most importantly, holding their own government to account. Shaye did both of those things.” She adds: “With the huge increase in government air strikes and US drone attacks recently, Yemen needs journalists like Shaye to report on what’s really going on.”

Yasir Qadhi: Anwar al-Awlaki’s Killing Illegal and Counterproductive

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Drone_Awlaki

An interesting perspective on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki from Yasir Qadhi.

(Hat tip: Ginger)

An Illegal and Counterproductive Assassination

by Yasir Qadhi (New York Times)

ANWAR AL-AWLAKI, the Yemeni-American cleric who was killed Friday in a C.I.A. drone attack in Yemen, appears to be the first United States citizen that our government has publicly targeted for assassination.

The accusations against him were very serious, but as a citizen, he deserved a fair trial and the chance to face his accusers in a court of law. Whether he deserved any punishment for his speech was a decision that a jury should have made, not the executive branch of our government. The killing of this American citizen is not only unconstitutional, but hypocritical and counterproductive.

The assassination is unconstitutional because the Fifth Amendment specifies that no person may “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” A group of policy makers unilaterally deciding that a particular citizen needs to be targeted is, by no stretch of the imagination, due process.

The assassination is hypocritical because America routinely criticizes (and justifiably so) such extrajudicial assassinations when they occur at the hands of another government. We most certainly don’t approve the regimes of Syria or Iran eliminating those whom they deem to be traitors. In fact, Al Qaeda’s own justifications for murder stem from the notion that its members are qualified to be the judge, jury and executioner of those whom they view as enemies. America’s moral authority is undermined if we criticize in others what we do ourselves. It only reinforces the stereotype that the United States has very little concern for its own principles. Even Nazi war criminals got their day in court, at Nuremburg.

It is ironic to note that those who have actually attempted terrorist attacks on American soil and been caught were read their Miranda rights and went to trial, even though some were not United States citizens. Yet Mr. Awlaki, who has never been accused of himself directly attempting an attack, was not given this chance.

Lastly, the assassination is counterproductive because it feeds into the martyr mythology that makes Al Qaeda’s narrative so different from that of most other terrorist groups.

If our policy makers studied history, they would realize that Sayyid Qutb, a founder of radical Islam, while popular in his life, only achieved his legendary status after the Nasser regime in Egypt had him executed, in 1966. Instantly, his books became (and remain) best sellers. Killing people doesn’t make their ideas go away.

Mr. Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971 while his father was pursuing graduate studies. Though his parents returned to Yemen when he was seven, he later returned to the United States to pursue degrees in engineering and education. Eventually, he became an imam, or leader, of a mosque in California and later in Virginia. During these years, it is alleged that he met multiple times with at least three of the 9/11 hijackers. But for many American Muslims, he was only known for one thing: the telling of stories from the Koran. He lectured about the lives of the prophets of God, drawing from traditional Islamic sources (and sometimes even Biblical ones).

His captivating lecture style and copious quotations from classical sources made him extremely popular, especially among American Muslim youth. During these pre-9/11 years, these lectures, still available online, became some of the hottest-selling items at some Islamic conferences across America. At this stage, he was not publicly associated with any radical views. However, after 9/11, he adopted a more adversarial and anti-American tone, eventually moving back to Yemen. He was jailed for two years (and rumored to have been tortured).

It was only after his release that he publicly began supporting Al Qaeda and issuing messages calling for attacks upon the United States. It was alleged that he came into contact with or inspired a number of people to attempt terrorist activities: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 killings in Fort Hood, Tex.; Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalib, accused of trying to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear on a 2009 flight to Detroit; and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up a car in Times Square last year.

Mr. Awlaki’s ideas were dangerous. His message that one cannot be a good Muslim and an American at the same time was insulting to nearly all American Muslims. His views about the permissibility of killing Americans indiscriminately were completely at odds with those of mainstream Muslim clerics around the world. He needed to be refuted. And that is why many people, myself included, were extremely vocal in doing just that.

Mr. Awlaki needed to be challenged, not assassinated. By killing him, America has once again blurred the lines between its own tactics and the tactics of its enemies. In silencing Mr. Awlaki’s voice, not only did America fail to live up to its ideals, but it gave Mr. Awlaki’s dangerous message a life and power of its own. And these two facts make the job of refuting that message now even more difficult.

President Obama: Judge, Jury and Executioner for Anwar al-Awlaki

Posted in Feature, Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by loonwatch

The title may offend some, but here at Loonwatch we do not believe in any sacred cows. By now we have all heard reports about the killing of accused terrorist and mastermind behind the “underwear bomber” and “Fort Hood shootings,” US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The fact that he was on a “hit list” that included other US citizens was reported back in January:

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.

After several unsuccessful attempts by the US government Anwar al-Awlaki is finally dead. The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald spells out the tendentious nature of the hunt for Awlaki and all the resultant shadiness:

No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

Awlaki once was a marginal figure, on the run in the mountains of Yemen, his operational role in AlQaeda was nill, now he has been transformed into a martyr with a little help from our brutal friend, the President of Yemen:

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

The implications for our civil liberties and checks and balances on the power of the Executive are clear:

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture.  It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process).  It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

Greenwald’s evaluation is dark because of the uncomfortable truth he relates: we are cheering the destruction of the very liberties that safeguard us from the abuses of power.

This is all being done under the guise of defending our “freedom” and “security.” In reality, as terror expert Professor Charles Kurzman points out, very few Muslims were interested in Awlaki’s message:

Given that Awlaki’s messages is sitting on the internet, easily accessible to millions of English speaking Muslims, it’s very interesting how few have taken him up on his demand that Muslims join the revolutionary movement.

It is time that US citizens stand up for their rights and say we will not allow the government to take the life of our citizens without due process. We are not going to buy the line that our civil liberties and freedoms must be bargained in the interest of “security,” especially from a threat that is overblown in the first place.

How to Make a Terrorist

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Here’s an eye-opening article from the indefatigable Glenn Greenwald, which underscores why the government/media establishment absolutely cannot tolerate honest answers to the question: “why do they hate us?”

The transformation of Anwar al-Awlaki

The Washington Post today has the latest leak-based boasting about how the U.S. is on the verge of “defeating” Al Qaeda, yet — lest you think this can allow a reduction of the National Security State and posture of Endless War on which it feeds — the article warns that “al­-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen is now seen as a greater counterterrorism challenge than the organization’s traditional base” and that this new threat, as Sen. Saxby Chambliss puts it, “is nowhere near defeat.”  Predictably, the Post‘s warnings about the danger from Yemen feature the U.S. Government’s due-process-free attempts to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, widely believed to be in Yemen and now routinely (and absurdlydepicted as The New Osama bin Laden.

The Post says Awlaki is “known for his fiery sermons” (undoubtedly the prime — and blatantly unconstitutional — motive for his being targeted for killing).  But what is so bizarre about Awlaki’s now being cast in this role is that, for years, he was deemed by the very same U.S. Government to be the face of moderate Islam.  Indeed, shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon invited Awlaki to a “luncheon [] meant to ease tensions with Muslim-Americans.” But even more striking was something I accidentally found today while searching for something else.  In November, 2001, the very same Washington Post hosted one of those benign, non-controversial online chats about religion that it likes to organize; this one was intended to discuss “the meaning of Ramadan”. It was hosted by none other than . . . “Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki.”

More extraordinary than the fact that the Post hosted The New Osama bin Laden in such a banal role a mere ten years ago was what Imam Awlaki said during the Q-and-A exchange with readers.  He repudiated the 9/11 attackers.  He denounced the Taliban for putting women in burqas, explaining that the practice has no precedent in Islam and that “education is mandatory on every Muslim male and female.”  He chatted about the “inter-faith services held in our mosque and around the greater DC area and in all over the country” and proclaimed: “We definitely need more mutual understanding.” While explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, he proudly invoked what he thought (mistakenly, as it turns out) was his right of free speech as an American:  “Even though this is a dissenting view nowadays[,] as an American I do have the right to have a contrary opinion.”  And he announced that “the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul.”

Does that sound like the New Osama bin Laden to you?  One could call him the opposite of bin Laden.  And yet, a mere nine years later, there was Awlaki, in an Al Jazeera interview, pronouncing his opinion that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a civilian jet over Detroit was justified (while saying “it would have been better if the plane was a military one or if it was a US military target”), and urging “revenge for all Muslims across the globe” against the U.S.  What changed over the last decade that caused such a profound transformation in Awlaki? Does that question even need to be asked?  Awlaki unwittingly provided the answer ten years ago when explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan in his 2001 Post chat:

Also our government could have dealt with the terrorist attacks as a crime against America rather than a war against America. So the guilty would be tried and only them would be punished rather thanbombing an already destroyed country. I do not restrict myself to US media. I check out Aljazeerah and European media such as the BBC. I am seeing something that you are not seeing because of the one-sidedness of the US media. I see the carnage of Afghanistan. I see the innocent civilian deaths. That is why my opinion is different.

Keep in mind that I have no sympathy for whoever committed the crimes of Sep 11th. But that doesn’t mean that I would approve the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.

And in his Al Jazeera interview nine years later, he explained why he now endorses violence against Americans, especially American military targets:

I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than 60 years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, US missiles have killed 17 women and 23 children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.

A full decade of literally constant (and still-escalating) American killing of civilians in multiple Muslim countries has radically transformed Awlaki — and countless other Muslims — from a voice of pro-American moderation into supporters of violence against the U.S. and, in Awlaki’s case, the prime pretext for the continuation of the War on Terror.  As this blogger put it in response to my noting the 2001 Awlaki chat: ”it’s interesting to think about how many other people followed that same path, that we don’t know about it.”  In other words, the very U.S. policies justified in name of combating Terrorism have done more to spawn — and continue to spawn — anti-American Terrorism than anything bin Laden could have ever conceived.  The transformation of Awlaki, and many others like him, provides vivid insight into how that occurs.

* * * * *
It’s equally instructive to note that if the Post were to give Awlaki a venue to express his opinions now — or if the Pentagon were to invite him to a luncheon — those institutions would likely be guilty of the felony of providing material support to Terrorism as applied by the Obama DOJ and upheld by the Supreme Court.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by loonwatch

A Somali-born US citizen was tortured in Kuwait. Glenn Greenwald interviewed him through telephone, what he found out was quite disturbing. You can hear the whole interview by clicking on this link.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

(Salon.com)

(updated below)

Gulet Mohamed is an 18-year-old American citizen whose family is Somalian.  His parents moved with him to the U.S. when he was 2 or 3 years old, and he has lived in the U.S. ever since.  In March, 2009, he went to study Arabic and Islam in Yemen (in Sana’a, the nation’s capital), and, after several weeks, left (at his mother’s urging) and went to visit his mother’s family in Somalia, staying with his uncle there for several months.  Roughly one year ago, he left Somalia and traveled to Kuwait to stay with other family members who live there.  Like many teenagers who reach early adulthood, he was motivated in his travels by a desire to see the world, to study, and to get to know his family’s ancestral homeland and his faraway relatives.

At all times, Mohamed traveled on an American passport and had valid visas for all the countries he visited.  He has never been arrested nor — until two weeks ago — was he ever involved with law enforcement in any way, including the entire time he lived in the U.S.

Approximately two weeks ago (on December 20), Mohamed went to the airport in Kuwait to have his visa renewed, as he had done every three months without incident for the last year.  This time, however, he was told by the visa officer that his name had been marked in the computer, and after waiting five hours, he was taken into a room and interrogated by officials who refused to identify themselves.  They then handcuffed and blindfolded him and drove him to some other locale.  That was the start of a two-week-long, still ongoing nightmare during which he was imprisoned for a week in an unknown location by unknown captors, relentlessly interrogated, and severely beaten and threatened with even worse forms of torture.

Mohamed’s story was first reported this morning by Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times, who spoke with Mohamed by telephone, where he is currently being held in a deportation center in Kuwait.  I also spoke with Mohamed this morning, and my 50-minute conversation with him was recorded and can be heard on the recorder below.  Mazzetti did a good job of describing Mohamed’s version of events.  He writes that during his 90-minute conversation, “Mr. Mohamed was agitated as he recounted his captivity, tripping over his words and breaking into tears.”

That was very much my experience as well.  It may be difficult at times to understand all of what Mohamed recounts because he is emotionally distraught in the extreme, but it’s nonetheless very worth listening to what he has to say, at the very least to portions of it.  Mohamed says he was repeatedly beaten with a stick on the bottom of his feet and his palms, hit in the face, and hung from the ceiling.  He also says his captors threatened him with both the arrest of his mother and electric shock, and told him that he should forget his family.

He still does not know why he was detained and beaten, nor does he know what is happening to him now.  Indeed, although Mazzetti writes that he was detained and beaten by Kuwait captors, Mohamed actually has no idea who was responsible, and told me that at least some of the people interrogating him spoke English.  He has been told that he will be deported back to the U.S., but is now on a no-fly list and has no idea when he will be released.  American officials told Mazzetti that “Mr. Mohamed is on a no-fly list and, for now at least, cannot return to the United States.”  He’s been charged with no crime and presented with no evidence of any wrongdoing.

This event is significant for multiple reasons, many of them obvious.  The questions Mohamed was repeatedly asked — including two days ago by American embassy officials and FBI agents who visited him in the detention facility — focused on whether he knew Anwar al-Awlaki, the American cleric in Yemen who has become an obsession of the Obama administration, as well as why he went to Yemen and Somalia.  Kuwait is little more than a subservient American protectorate, and the idea that they would do this to an American citizen without the American government’s knowledge, if not its assent and participation, is implausible in the extreme.  That much of the information they sought from Mohamed is of particular interest to the U.S. Government only bolsters that likelihood.

Independent of all that, the U.S. Government has an obligation to protect its own citizens.  Mohamed described to me how both embassy officials and the FBI expressed zero interest in the torture to which he had been subjected during his detention.  The U.S. Government has said nothing about this matter, and refused to comment about Mohamed’s treatment to The New York Times.

All of this underscores the rapidly expanding powers the U.S. Government and law enforcement agents within the country are seizing without a shred of due process.  For the government to put an American citizen on the no-fly list while he’s traveling outside the U.S. is tantamount to barring him from entering his own country — a draconian punishment, involuntary exile, meted out without any due process.  In June, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of several citizens and legal residents who — like Gulet Mohammed — have been literally stranded abroad and barred from returning with no hearing, simply by being placed secretly on the no-fly list.  Add to that the growing seizures of the laptops and other electronic equipment of American citizens re-entering the country without any warrants — or even yesterday’s ruling from the California Supreme Court that police officers can search and seize someone’s cell phone without a warrant when arresting them — and (even leaving aside the administration’s ongoing due-process-free prison camps and assassination programs) these are pure police state tactics.

The Bush-era torture scandal was as much about its use of torture-administering allies as it was the torture regime which the U.S. itself created.  In the face of these credible allegations — just listen to this American teenager talk and assess how credible he is — the Obama administration, at the very least, has the obligation to inform the public about whether this is true, what its role was, if any, and what it’s doing to investigate and protest this abuse of its own citizen.

My discussion with Mohamed can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below.  I’m posting it in its entirety without edits, except for the last minute or so where we discussed how we came to speak, information I’m withholding at his request:

http://images.salon.com/flash/audio_player_mp3.swf

UPDATE:  Mohamed’s family has now secured a lawyer for him, Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who has written a letter to the DOJ raising all the right questions and demanding all the right assistance.  Nobody should have to ask the government to provide this form of assistance to an American citizen under these circumstances.

 

Spencer upset Muslims take on extremists

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer is miffed. There has just been too much good press for those pesky Moozlims. Writers of late have pointed out that the mainstream Muslim community is at the forefront of combating terrorism and extremism; such as the Muslims who prevented the recent Yemen mail bomb plot or Muslims who have prevented numerous other cases of terrorism. If Spencer’s goal was to prevent terrorism, one would think these news stories are cause for celebration. But if the goal is to tar all of Islam in a fear-for-profit holy war racket, eh, not so much.

For Spencer, highlighting anything positive Muslims do in the fight against violent extremism just doesn’t jive with his lop-sided cherry-picked contextless narrative that Islam is the root cause of all evil. He says,

There is a counterproductive aspect to this kind of publicity for the Muslim community in America: that these stories would be considered newsworthy at all is due to their unusual, man-bites-dog aspect.

It bewilders those of us not indoctrinated with prejudiced anti-Muslim hostility to see how stories about ordinary Muslims thwarting terrorist attacks are “counter-productive.” These stories are positive reminders that our fight is against violent extremism, not the religion of Islam or all Muslims. But Spencer’s transparent goal is not to prevent terrorism as much as it is to profit by demonizing all of Islam and its adherents. He continues,

If the teachings of Islam and the sentiments of the Muslim community in the U.S. really were the way they are ordinarily represented by the mainstream media and assumed to be by the U.S. Government, then there ought to be a concerted, organized, ongoing effort among Muslims in the U.S. not only to foil jihad terror plots, but also to eradicate the Islamic teachings that inspire and encourage such plots.

Here Spencer fumes with conspiracy-mongering indignation as he decries how the mainstream media and the U.S. government fail to smear the entire religion of Islam and its 1.5 billion followers. Then he demands that Muslims “eradicate the Islamic teachings” that inspire terrorists while he ignores the mountains of empirical research which demonstrate that military occupations are the root cause of terrorism, not the religion of Islam, or that alienation

from the mainstream Muslim community leads to terrorism, not engagement with it. But he continues,

Also, these writers and others generally assume that the Muslims who foiled these jihad plots did so out of Islamic conviction, and that they therefore represent an alternative perspective on Islamic teaching, one that opposes and counters that of the jihadists. Unfortunately, that is not established.

This sentence explicates Spencerian Islamophobic doctrine: when a Muslim commits a criminal act, that is “true Islam,” but when a Muslim does a good deed, he is somehow acting against the teachings of Islam. Of course, this non-terrorist “alternative perspective on Islamic teaching,” which those of us in the real world call “mainstream Islam” is in fact well-established not only in countless scholarly books, organizations, and websites, but also by scientific polling of global Muslim attitudes. Unsurprisingly, Spencer has been unable to publish any of his Muslim-bashing conspiracy theories in a single academic peer-reviewed journal. No need for balance, scholarship, or polling; mere speculation and “truthiness” are good enough for Spencer.

Mr. Spencer, your stubborn self-serving denial of reality obscures our country’s ability to tell the good guys from the bad guys. As Jon Stewart recently said, “…the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.”

Mr. Spencer, you are making us less safe, not more.