July 22, 2006

Sometimes CBC and the NY Times get a hole in one

July 22 - Coming as the first item does from CBC, I suppose it is supposed to imply disapproval but I'm solidly on the side of the Israeli ambassador: Israeli ambassador says Louise Arbour doesn't get it:

Israel's ambassador to Canada has dismissed a warning from Canadian jurist Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, that war crimes charges may be warranted against Israel and Hezbollah if measures aren't taken to protect civilians.


Arbour issued a statement on Wednesday saying that indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians and that bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable.

She has the support of her boss, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has condemned both parties for killing civilians at an alarming rate.

The Israeli ambassador isn't apologizing for his country's strategy. He says Arbour fails to grasp the nature of the conflict.

"The Hezbollah are using schools and clinics and the back gardens of houses to put their missile placements there, and they are turning these civilian establishments and civilian areas into legitimate targets." (Emphasis added.)

The lower Israeli casualty figures can be attributed to the air raid sirens and bomb shelters left over from the 1967 war. I heard on the news that the bunkers sheltering Hezbollah leaders were provided by Iran, and I wish I was surprised that they didn't bother to provide similar protection for those civilians who are in danger in Lebanon but, although we have failed to teach Western values, we have managed to teach Western spin and PR and those marketing strategies are being used to the max in this and every engagement with the enemy. We regret civilian casualties and they glorify them. Which side is truly the more moral?

The only good thing about the movie Black Hawk Down was the number of documentaries it spawned. I remember one in which a Marine recounted his experience of being pinned down by an oh-so-brave insurgent firing from behind a woman and she was laughing at the Marine. He finally steeled himself, shot at the woman and then took down the sniper.

I'll never forgive these bastards for making decent men do things their upbringing and training has taught them they should never do. There are times when George Bush's injunction that "you're either with us or against us" springs out fully-grown as did Athena from Zeus's head with the horrible recognition that we must do the unthinkable for our own -- and our children's -- survival.

I steel myself and remember that it is our understanding of right and wrong that marks us as the morally superior element in this struggle but I regret the loss of innocence that accompanies asking our men and women to pursue this war and all that doing so against an unprincipled enemy brings with it.

One thing that is not unprincipled: the NY Times reports that the U.S. speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
The article then discusses Sec. of State Rice's leisurely finalization of her itinerary to the Mid-east and then (this is the NY Times, after all) discloses that the information about the weaspons delivery to Israel was made even though "[T]he new American arms shipment to Israel has not been announced publicly, and the officials who described the administration’s decision to rush the munitions to Israel would discuss it only after being promised anonymity." Right. Because the NY Times wouldn't print anything that wasn't potentially harmful to national security.

But there is a hint that the item may cause the bad guys some real concern:

Pentagon and military officials declined to describe in detail the size and contents of the shipment to Israel, and they would not say whether the munitions were being shipped by cargo aircraft or some other means. But an arms-sale package approved last year provides authority for Israel to purchase from the United States as many as 100 GBU-28’s, which are 5,000-pound laser-guided bombs intended to destroy concrete bunkers. The package also provides for selling satellite-guided munitions.

An announcement in 2005 that Israel was eligible to buy the “bunker buster” weapons described the GBU-28 as “a special weapon that was developed for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground.” The document added, “The Israeli Air Force will use these GBU-28’s on their F-15 aircraft.” (Emphasis added)

One bunker buster is worth a million words, even if it isn't as immediately gratifying as the U.S. doing a B-2 flyover of Damascus. I'll take what we can get, especially as both President Bush and Canadian PM Harper held out at the recent G-8 and remained solidly behind Israel's right to defend herself despite peer pressure (not to imply that Chirac or Putin can be considered to be peers of Bush, Harper or Blair. They aren't.)

One last thing: did anyone else find it hysterically funny that U.N. Secretary-General Annan's call to Syria weren't returned ?

I know, I'm evil. In case you forgot (or thought I'd gone soft.)

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July 16, 2006

Things that go without saying

(israeli flag small.jpg

July 16 - Sorry for the silence; it's been far more interesting to watch and read the news these days than to comment on it. Nevertheless, some things must be said.

Israel has the right to defend herself. Israel has an obligation to defend herself, her people, and her soldiers. Period.

The appropriateness of the term "axis of evil" has become increasing apparent these past weeks as has the uselessness of the U.N.

It is a better scenario in that region without Saddam than it might be with him. Remember that interrupted shipment of Scud missles from North Korea to Iraq? And the ease with which his weapons programs could be re-started?

It shouldn't need to be said that those calling for "calm" in the Mid-east are ignoring the fundamental fact that the destruction of Hezbollah would achieve calm far more effectively than standing down and allowing them to rebuild their arsenals and bases of operation in readiness for the next assault.

It shouldn't need to be said that the destruction of Hezbollah would at long last achieve justice for the 241 U.S. servicemen who died in 1983 when the Marine Barracks in Beirut was bombed. Those who think that was a long time ago and we should forget about it may not have noticed the roar accompanying the 2003 capture of the Abu Abbas who planned the assault on the Achille Lauro and the murder of one man - Leon Klinghoffer - because we.don't.forget.

It shouldn't need to be said that countries that harbour terrorists are legitimate targets. It shouldn't need to be said that those who live near rocket launchers or Hezbollah offices should move. It shouldn't need to be said that the callous manner in which Hezbollah and other terror organizations have placed those civilians in danger is the issue, and however regrettable it may be that they are being used as human shields their presence cannot serve to protect Hezbollah from justice.

There is a huge difference between peace and proxy wars. It's long been recognized that the material support by Syria and Iran for the insurgency in Iraq has been a proxy war, and now those countries have been forced out of the shadows by their stamp on the weapons that have been used on Israel.

It is tempting to apply the philosophies and stratgies from the Cold War to today's events, but that overlooks a fundamental difference: Israel's enemies (and ours) brazenly proclaim their intention to commit genocide. No stalemate much less detente is possible under such circumstances.

Those that fear that the U.S. military is somewhat handicapped by the presence of large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq might also reflect as to the extent to which those troops act as an effective deterrent to Syria and Iran. Syria may threaten and Iran may bluster but the steadfast support of U.S. officials for Israel's right to defend herself forces those countries to limit a more active involvement in Lebanon. Two words: air power. It is unlikely that we will see troop movements in Syria or Iran to escalate this war.

Lastly, it shouldn't need to be said that Israel is fighting a war which we must not only support but acknowledge to be in our interests as well as in the interests of all who truly seek a peaceful solution in the Mid-east. I only wish we were doing more to support them (even though I understand why our support is limited to words) but I pray that, should events force our hand, we stand up and do the right thing by our best ally in that region.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 AM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

July 06, 2006

Our Odessey

July 6 - Yes, I confess: I enjoyed the Canada Day/Indpendence Day weekend entirely too much and perhaps a bit too much past nominal tolerance levels and why not? I live astraddle two countries that celebrate freedom and respect for the individual and which, in defiance of the laughter in the great courts of Europe 230 years ago, are proof of the inherent stabilty of republican governments which respect personal freedoms.

History loves paradoxes, and our age contains a real beauty of a contradiction: we are assailed by a foe that would destroy our individual freedoms yet it is our reverence of and love for these freedoms that most binds our hands in our pursuit and destruction of this enemy.

Time to go back to the beginning, or perhaps more honestly, pick up the story in media res and re-examine the steps by which we began Putting the Pieces Together. It's a great read and cuts across the diversions to bring us back to our founding premises in this struggle.

Yes, there are suggestions of scandals within out armed forces. There are threats from Iran and N. Korea. There are many things that serve to distract us from the primary thrust of this struggle -- things that would weaken our resolve and committment to fight and defend our freedoms because we are a decent people who believe in God's mercy even though many doubt the existence of God.

But going back to those events that precipitated this war on terror, connecting the dots again, and acknowledging anew the implacable face of the enemy is to armour ourselves against dismay and lost idealism when we prove to be all too human -- yet also remind us we are still better than our foe.

If you don't believe me, research and email me about the inquiries into the barbarous attacks on civlians in Iraq and Afghanistan by the insurgents, Taliban and al Qaeda. We know we are human and can sin, but the enemy does not make such admissions.

And that the key difference. Being human is to be prone to error, and those who deny their human state and its necessary component to be capable of error in effect declare that they themselves are gods. I don't care how often they proclaim that there is only one God and his prophet is Mohammed, the proof lies in their deeds and how they persecute those they call infidel, apostate, Shia, or uppity female.

There is much clarity to be found in retracing the steps that brought us here. May it strengthen your hearts and hands.

[On Israel and the Hamas "government" there is little to say except "why can't we do stuff like that?" Sigh. I don't mind praising the audacity of the Israelis or, for that matter, the Australians, but I wish we could learn faster from them. Please.]

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June 23, 2006

Terror Watch

June 23 - CTV reports that Saudi Arabia shootout kills 6 'militants' (another was arrested) after security forces "stormed a suspected al Qaeda hide-out":

One policeman was also killed in the clashes, it said.

The statement, carried by the official Saudi news agency, said security forces chased seven members with "deviant thoughts" who "belong to the astray bunch" to a house in Riyadh's al-Nakheel district. The Saudi government often refers to al Qaeda members as individuals with "deviant thoughts."

The house was "a hideout for crime, corruption, and a base for the plots of aggression and outrage," the statement said.

Why do the pronouncements from these guys always make me groan as much as did those incessant quotes from Chairman Mao's Red Book back in the day?

June 24 - 19:01 CTV reports that 17 were wounded in the attack and over 40 suspects have been arrested in sweeps after the raid.

Maybe the Saudis were feeling a bit left out what with all the arrests in Toronto, Britain, heavy action in Afghanistan and the recent U.S. arrests of 7 plotters:

Five of the suspects were arrested Thursday in Miami, after authorities swarmed a warehouse in Miami's poor Liberty City area, a federal law enforcement official said.

One person was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday, and another person was arrested before yesterday, according to CNN. (Bolding added)

(That last sentence made me giggle because I was expected a place, not a date, but it can't be that funny if I have to explain it.)

Most of the chatter on Fox is actually worth listening to because they are doing a great job of speculating about things that can only make wanna-be terrorists nervous -- like the rumour that the head of the terror cell was an FBI agent.

Our guys in Iraq continue to rack 'em up: on Monday a senior Al Qaeda operative and 3 others were detained (no names released.)

Sorry, I shouldn't be happy. I should be sombre, and Weighted With The Enormity Of It All, but I'm not. Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because we ducked another bullet, but more likely it's because Ace is hot on the story:

You will not be surprised that the "timing" of these "arrests" of "terrorists" is being "questioned."
His link to Allah is, as always, beyond funny.

Here's your CanCon and a return to seriousness: when I read the CNN headline (on the World page) "Rights boss: Stop terror abuse" I actually thought ... but no, alas, it was just

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, taking aim at the war on terrorism, reminded all states on Friday of their duty to ban torture and give all security detainees a fair trial.

In a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Arbour also voiced concern at the alleged existence of secret detention centres, saying they facilitate abusive treatment.

Although she mentioned no names, her remarks were clearly aimed at the United States and its allies in their "war on terror" launched after the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

"It is vital that at all times governments anchor in law their response to terrorism," Arbour told the 47-member state body ahead of the U.N.'s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, being observed next Monday. (bolding added)

Your timing sucks, bitch. Consider

The torture and murders of two soldiers who, by all legal definitions, qualified for protection under the Geneva Convention: Private Thomas Tucker and Private Kristian Menchaca.

A government worthy of condemnation: Sudanese militias kill hundreds in Chad
Car bomb in Philippine market place kill 5, wounds 10 in a probable attempt to kill the governor of the southern province;
Tamil Tigers Caught Laying Sea Mines:

A POWERFUL explosion occurred off the coast north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo today, with police saying it was probably a sea mine planted last week by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The explosion was heard about 15km from Colombo, near the site where police on Saturday arrested five Tigers in diving gear who were laying sea mines, Sri Lanka's police chief Chandra Fernando said.

"There are no reports of casualties. We are investigating," Fernando said.

"Last week we had information that there were eight sea mines. Seven were accounted for but we had not found one. The blast today is probably that mine."

Officials said sea mines were similar to limpet mines but magnetically attached to a ship's hull and could be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or by remote control.

One of the five arrested divers had swallowed cyanide and committed suicide to prevent being questioned, and another two who took cyanide were taken to hospital.

The terror attack links are in fact relevant to Arbour's admonition to "governments" as these terror attacks were undertaken by groups that intend to take state power. This one, howerver isn't because it relates to a man who, pre-Spider Hole, actually held state power and lied to the U.N.: Hundreds of WMDs found in Iraq.

And the NY Times continues their normal job of assisting the terrorists by revealing a clandestine program intended to follow the money:

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

I wonder if they are referring to Hambali. who provided the money, or to Canadian Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who paid the bombers directly for the Bali bombing. *
The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities," Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.
Maybe liberals are so shrill about the rights of terrorist because they also enable terrorists.

(Louise Arbour is a Canadian, if that needed clarification.)

*09:46 - FoxNews TV says it was probably Hambali.

12:23 - Newsbeat1 has a nice list of terrorists killed or captured since Zarqawi's death.

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June 21, 2006

Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca

June 21 - It was probably as well that I couldn't post this morning. I'm no less angry this evening, but the best steel is tempered and going white-hot in the moment diverts us from the aims of the war.

Anyone who, after Sept. 11, still believed we were dealing with a rational enemy, should have been disabused of that notion after the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl. The video-raped beheading of Nick Berg and the triumphant circulation of that vicious act on the internet was yet another blow to individuals who, and I say this with respect, wanted peace instead of war.

Who the hell doesn’t prefer peace? But when the cost of peace means turning Iraqis and Afghans (and that's just for starters) over to the kind of monsters that murdered Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, and countless others, then excuse me for a second so I can grab my gun compose myself.

Bless today's uncompromising New York Post editorial (may require free registration) Barbarians

Thuggish, depraved butchers - that's what America is up against.
And John Podhoretz, who cautions that this latest barbarity may exploit our divisions and alter not only our strategy but also our principles:
But the kidnapping and apparent torture/murder of Privates Tucker and Menchaca may represent a new strategy. If similar kidnap efforts are successful, if this event was not a fluke but an ambitious new tactic to throw Coalition forces off-balance, then things are going to change in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq likely hopes to make service personnel believe themselves at risk of death by torture from any band of Iraqis they encounter - so that they'll act differently: cautious, suspicious, with the hypervigilance of someone in the midst of a battle. If it works, civilians who mean our armed forces no harm may find themselves shot or killed by mistake as a result of the hair-trigger posture our forces will have to assume to keep themselves safe.

Could anyone blame them?

The answer, of course, is yes. If this is a new strategy, it exists not only to terrorize American and Coalition forces but also to divide them from Iraqis - to sow fear and hostility that will go both ways, to cause an upsurge in resentment and anger toward U.S. forces.

Our soldiers already know this.

There is a further reason for cooler heads to prevail. I think it likely that this recent barbarity was an al Qaeda public relations stunt intended to shift focus from brutalizing Iraqis back to brutalizing coalition forces.

Al Qaeda's recruitment posters proclaim "Kill Americans, See the World." Their Iraq chapter has graphically demonstrated that they are returning to that basic theme in an effort to restore their reputations after Zarqawi's indiscriminate murder of Muslims revealed too much about the true nature of al Qaeda.

This isn't the first time we've been outrageously provoked (remember the bridge in Fallujah?) and it likely won't be the last, but we are not children, we are not to be diverted, and we will pursue this war to victory.

19:38 - Bombing an ice cream shop? Not exactly a high-value target, unless you are targeting kill civilians (or children.) The so-called insurgency is all about bloodletting, not politics. No matter their banner, all the anti-Iraqi forces have been unmasked and I think Zarqawi's legacy will be impossible for any of them to overcome.

20:00 - The Boston Herald drives home the point that the Silence deafening when U.S. is torture target (via Newsbeat1.)

Of course, torture is wrong yet if the inmates at Gitmo don't like rock music we can always alter our tactics. How about playing them some Gershwin? or Bernstein? Some Tiny Tim would be nice, but that's probably going too far.

Posted by Debbye at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

"Religion and politics are an explosive mixture" but ...

June 20 - I'm sick of double-talk. In the wake of the arrests of southern Ontario men alleged to be planning terror attacks here, Muslims condemn extremism:

The Muslim Canadian Congress gathered with the Bangladesh Association of Toronto to urge Muslims to be vigilant against the spread of extremist interpretations of Islam, which they said are spread by "misguided fanatic youth and their mentors."

"Imams and other clerics who peddle politics need to be told to take their politics to the electorate and not to the pulpit," said Tarek Fatah of the MCC.

"Religion and politics are an explosive mixture and invoking God on one's side in a political dispute is dishonest, callous and dangerous."

Fatah said Muslims shouldn't have to pay for the alleged crimes of the 17 terror suspects arrested this month.

"We want Muslims to know there is nothing to apologize for," Fatah said. "We can't run from this."

That last paragraph is a head-scratcher. I get the first sentence and I get the second sentence, but I have no idea what the two sentences taken together are supposed to mean.

The MCC urged the government to work toward finding a solution that will keep Muslim youth away from terrorist activity.

I'm not sure what they want the Canadian government to do, but somehow I suspect the Canadian taxpayer will be expected to foot the bill. Can't blame them for that - it's as Canadian as royal commissions. Or maybe it's supposed to be in exchange for no longer accepting foreign donations? (see next section)
They also called for an end of the occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and for a ban on foreign donations to places of worship.
Is it just me, or did the Muslim Canadian Congress, a religious organization, go on to make a political statement about Iraq and Afghanistan after saying that religion and politics should be separate?

It's far too easy to infer that they are connecting the Canadian presence in Afganistan (and the American presence in Iraq) to growing Islamic radicalism here, and there are bound to be some who will believe that it was an implicit threat that things could get worse if Canada does not withdraw from Afghanistan (although I think it more likely they were just doing a variation of "it was wrong but ...)

Same old, same old.

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Universal smugness

June 20 - Ouch. Hartley Steward doesn't pull his punches in 'Nice' people finish last:

So, have you dropped the idea of sewing a cute little Canadian flag onto your backpack to endear yourself to strangers when you holiday this year? There goes another precious Canadian conceit.

It seems that even the unbearable niceness of being Canadian won't keep you safe in this dreadful new world of ours. The smug Canuck smile has surely been wiped off your face by the gory details of the alleged Muslim terrorists' plans uncovered in Toronto.

But there's no reason for Americans - or Europeans, Australians, Indonesians, or anybody - to grin at Canadian discomfort because we've all been guilty of thinking our essential niceness and decency immunized us from hatred. Americans failed to learn after the first attack on the World Trade Center to take bin Laden's declaration of war seriously and we paid a terrible price for our stupidity in 2001.

Canadians, or more specifically Torontonians, ducked the bullet this time and only time will tell if enough took the lesson to heart, but people up here do have the regrettable advantage of having witnessed terror attacks where other "nice" people live such as New York, Bali, Madrid, and London.

Our paradox

We've all been raised to believed that people will respond to kindness with kindness and, by application, to tolerance with tolerance. Those notions remain valid and not ones we should discard, yet it's the exceptions to those rules that will kill us.

Canadians, as do most Westerners, need to figure out how to be both tolerant and vigilant. It is extremely difficult because it is a paradox, requiring simultaneous trust and distrust, and all the harder because experiences in both London and southern Ontario indicate that new converts were used, indicating (again) that those wishing us harm are not easily identified.

All in all, it’s kind of depressing that we’ve gotten to this point. Like everybody, I made some vows to myself in those early days after September 11. Most of them were echoed by millions of Americans, but there was one in particular that I knew might be the hardest to keep: to keep my anger focused on the actual evil-doers, not to lump all the members of that culture with said evil-doers, and to persevere in winning Muslim support against evildoers.

We all know that Japanese-Americans were placed in detention camps during World War II. We know that it was rationalized as being to protect Japanese-Americans when Japan invaded as U.S. soldiers would fire upon anyone who looked Japanese while repelling the expected invasion.

So, did anyone else fear that Muslim-Americans with roots in the Mid-east might be rounded up? C’mon, you know you did. Anyone who knows American history would have had the thought flash across his or her mind even if it were immediately rejected.

But, and it’s a big but, I think most of us would have hit the streets and protested against such a draconic move. That’s something the left doesn’t seem to understand about those of us who are determined to protect and defend our country, and that’s why so many of us were won over when President Bush early on made it clear that he regarded Muslims as allies, not enemies, and declared this war as one against the evil practice of terrorism.

We know that we committed a sin during World War II. And I know that, although my rage some days challenges my early vow, that same vow has provided ballast and returned me to my earlier conviction: that we — Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian – are in this together.

You're either with us or against us

Stewart lays it out:

The time has come for the international Muslim community to take some responsibility. It's time to squeal their heads off to security forces everywhere when they know something. Time to drop the dime on friends, neighbours, associates -- to show some courage and old-fashioned fortitude. Time to stop whining about a possible backlash against ordinary, law-abiding Muslims and begin to participate in the solution.

We don't need another lecture on our insensitivity to the Muslim world. We need help.

Note that he addresses this to the international Muslim community.

A more than substantial number of terror attacks have been carried out by Muslims, and those in Western cities were carried out by Muslims who had been living in or raised in Western countries. Those attacks were proclaimed to be in the name of Islam. Like it no, Muslims have been put on the proverbial spot and each thwarted and successful attack lessens the patience Westerners have for the counter-accusations of racism, victimhood and the outright denial uttered by far too many international Muslim leaders.

It really is a pity more liberals seemed incapable of of respecting the sincerity of Bush's call for tolerance after Sept. 11, but it would have been a far bigger pity if many Muslims hadn’t paid attention and, by choosing their allegiance and trusting their governments, helped expose cells like the one in Lackawanna and perhaps even this most recent Toronto cell.

The extent to which tips led to the takedown of international terror cells is impossible to ascertain and it might even be reckless to overly speculate on the subject, but logic tells us that some degree of inside information had to come into play.

That realization should counter outrage or any kind of opportunist backlash because, just as we do not always recognize the foe, we also do not always recognize the ally.

We were all forcibly enrolled in an intense training course on Sept. 11 and it is right that we hated being forced to take it, but don't forget that Muslims were also enrolled in that course and that Muslims were not only among the victims of Sept. 11 but have comprised the majority of casualties since.

In the end, Muslims have as large a stake in this war as do we, and we should never stop reaching out to those communities.

14:43 - I can't believe I failed to include the fact that success in fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Afganistan is largely due to the massive number of tips received by the police and armies as well as coalition forces in those countries. The grim degree to which Iraqis and Afghans have a stake in destroying terror networks there is beyond any dangers we've yet faced in North America.

[This was written Sunday but I've only now been able to publish. Sorry it's so stale.]

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June 18, 2006

Rules? In a knife fight?

June 18 - Comments are down to deflect spam attacks yet I am serene: the guy at my internet provider maybe managed to fix whatever was keeping me from mu.nu sites (and I hope I didn't just jinx all his efforts.)

This past week in Washington has been breathtaking if only for sheer insipidity. Of course I'm not saying that the renewed focus on Iraq is intended to distract us from dealing with border control and immigration issues (which are, despite Senatorial efforts to combine the two, entirely different problems) but I don't know if I should be angry, amused, or resigned when I hear a Democrat Congressman say that Zarqawi came to Iraq after the U.S. army. (I heard it on Fox, I don't remember the idiot's name, and my forgiving nature is more due to the fact that I am really bad at names than charity or forebearance in my nature.)

Now, I'm just a normal U.S. citizen who tried to exorcise my desire for revenge after Sept. 11 and examine the various suggestions as to how to best deal with the threat to my country without yielding to blood lust. I spent more time than my family liked reading various opinions and following the news (on the other hand, being glued to internet pages at least kept me quiet, so my family sensibly considered it an even trade.)

When then Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. back in 2003, I watched it on CNN and then read the speech on the internet. I had never heard the name Zarqawi prior to that address nor had I known that an al Qaeda terror camp specialising in chemical weaponry operated in northern Iraq but I did know, because it was widely publicized at the time, that Saddam Hussein had increased the cash award to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers to $25,000. That, for me, was sufficient evidence that Iraq under Saddam funded terrorism and the confirmed link to al Qaeda that Powell offered was additional, not primary, proof that we needed to deal with Saddam and end his support to terrorists. (If I haven't made it clear a sufficiently tiresome number of times already, I consider terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians to be acts of terrorism.)

Now I don't know why someone elected to national office who presumably considers himself to be sufficiently informed so as to speak to the issue on national television (much less vote in the House) didn't know that Zarqawi was operating out of Iraq long before we invaded. I am willing to assume that he is ignorant rather than mendacious (as in by her excuse she damned him.)

One significant point in Powell's speech that provided a key point of clarity was the term "nexus of terrorism" -- a phrase and comprehension that I believe seperates those of us who demand victory in the war on terror and understand that the limits by which many would constrain us also separate us from those who aspire merely for a stalemate.

Quo vadis?

I watched the movie Network tonight with several terrific people (sadly I worked last night and didn't wake up early enough to meet or hear the iconic Darcy and friends) and, although I had seen the movie before, the issues it raised were extremely disturbing even thirty years after it was made.

I find I have been stymied in my writing because I'm tired of reitering the same arguments -- yet I also recognize that we are losing the edge we need to fight this war because that which we call the MSM is truly meant to entertain than to inform.

Ain't the blogosphere grand? I didn't even have time to dwell on this before I read Gerard's terrific post "RULES? IN A KNIFE FIGHT?": Redrafting the Rules of Engagement in the First Terrorist War which crystallized much of my irritation with how ridiculously far we are going to accomodate the enemy even as we fail to assert that our goal is victory and to do what it takes to win.

Victory, people. Not a stalemate, a draw, or defining a new line of engagement. Total, complete, annhilatory victory. Read the whole thing.

Bottom line: if loudly playing hip-hop music is "torture" then many parents of teenagers can now seek recourse in the courts. (Needless to say, if it is rock music the kids are blasting out then some of us parents have the consolation of knowing our kids have good taste.)

Hell, I'm doing what I've done too often: making a stupid joke to obscure how furious I really am.

Let's put it on a personal level: suppose your child is missing. Suppose you have very good reason to believe your child's life is in danger. Suppose some bastard knows where your child is and the identity of the person(s) threatening said child.

What would you do? And how moral are we be if we wouldn't do exactly the same for any child? And how quickly have some forgotten that, on Sept. 11, aboard AA Flight 77, students, i.e, children were flying to LA for a National Geographic conference?

There are things about which I am intractable. Anyone who can look into the eyes of a child yet not be swayed from murderous intent is a monster, and we slay monsters, not coddle them much less want to understand them.

If we aren't willing to defend our children then we are useless and need not concede defeat becuase we have already been defeated. It's really as simple as that.

Posted by Debbye at 01:22 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 11, 2006

A possible result of the Harper meeting with Muslim leaders?

June 11 - John B. had a great, common sense idea: set up a BadJihadWatch to root out terror elements, and I guess someone listened because CTV reports that

Muslim religious leaders promise to report any suspicious behaviour from their followers to authorities and abide by a zero-tolerance policy against preaching hatred in the wake of last week's terror arrests.

Leaders representing more than 30 mosques and Muslim organizations throughout Canada gathered in Toronto on Saturday to deliver the message -- and remind Canadians not to discriminate against Muslims.

The leaders admitted there are pockets of radical fundamentalists within their community who believe in violence, but said co-operation by the Muslim community led to the arrests of 17 terror suspects.


"Canadian youth of Muslim faith have been unduly influenced by radical thought," said Yasmin Ratansi, a Liberal MP.

That last admission, of course, is not limited to the youth of Muslim faith.

What on earth should we expect when our media and schools deliberately promote the notion that Western civilization is degenerate and evil? The "home grown" nature of the alleged terrorists refers to more than place of birth or upbringing: it is about institutionally planting and nourishing the seeds of contempt for this country because it is a Western one.

But, as I've stated repeatedly, most people who feel alienated do not to strive to become psychopaths. We've seen that kind of radical thought before, with the FLQ, the Air India bombers, the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army, so even if we don't understand it we must recognize that is dangerous for us all.

Posted by Debbye at 01:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why the CBC?

June 11 - The inclusion of the CBC as a terror target was the most surprising of the revelations that came out of the Toronto terror sweep. The big question was Why? The only news entity up here that is more terror-friendly is the Toronto Star, and they were not on that list.

I trust the CBC is having in-depth meetings to address the "root causes" of Muslim "anger" and "perceived alienation" that has caused so much "resentment" and "humilation."

Those meeting will undoubtably be productive although they won't address the "root causes" of steadily declining CBC viewership (except, of course, for hockey.)

Going a step further, inasmuch as seizing communications and media are top priorities for insurrectionists, Lorrie Goldstein goes there and reaches a surprising answer to why terrorists might be discontented with the CBC: What would happen if our national broadcaster was ever taken over by ... er ... 'militants'?"

"Hello, I'm Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun, reporting live for Sun TV, Torontosun.com and Canoe.ca, outside Toronto CBC headquarters at 250 Front St. W., where terrorists have just taken over the building, demanding that the CBC refer to them as ... uh ... terrorists.
When you come right down to it, that really is the only possible grievance they can have against the CBC.

In a hypothetical interview with OBL, the question is asked if there are women in the group:

"I see, evil spawn of Satan. So, let me get this straight. We storm the CBC's headquarters, overpower their security staff and are now holding hundreds of their employees hostage and threatening to blow up their building and all these infidels care about is whether there are any women in our group, so they will not be politically incorrect if they refer to us as 'gunmen'?"
The beauty of satire lies in how closely it resembles reality, and Goldstein scores a grand-slam on this one.

Posted by Debbye at 03:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Where do they find such wankers?

June 11 - It's hard to be patient in the face of incredible stupidity. Of course it is vital to maintain a presumption of innocence in any arrest (that's why the word "alleged" was invented) but when some fool announces, on behalf on Muslim youth, that 'This is our 9/11' my calm side notes that they missed a vital difference, unless over 3,000 Muslims were massacred in Toronto last week, and my rational side is overcome with disgust that a horrific event would be hijacked by some of the stupidest apologists this side of the Toronto Star.

Of course, maybe I missed coverage of the over 200 Canadian Muslims who leapt to their deaths from a blazing inferno atop the CN Tower. Maybe I failed to read about the dust cloud that swept down Bay Street - a dust cloud that was composed of incinerated building materials and human bodies.

Maybe I was sufficiently insensitive to the reports of the horror in forensic labs as DNA was extracted from intenstines and bone fragments in order to try and identify victims and match them to the heartbreaking posters of the missing that lined Toronto streets.

And that story about a pair of bound hands found atop a nearby building? I totally missed that.

I did note, although not previously report, that some 28 windows at a GTA mosque were broken. (Sorry, my attention has been somewhat distracted by the bombing of Shiite mosques and funerals in Iraq. Maybe the death toll accounts for my inattention.)

It was wrong, but it was also mild; in fact, it seemed downright tame compared to the firebombing of a Jewish synagogue and the destruction of the library in a Montreal Jewish elementary school a few years back events which - Gee! did not compel Muslims to hold press conferences denouncing acts against Jewish and Shiite religious institutions.

Just how stupid do they think we are? Have Muslims been dragged out of their homes and beaten to death? Have they been forced to wear crescent badges so we can readily identify them? Have there, in fact, been widescale reprisals against Muslims?

Of course not. It's not as those cartoons depicting the Prophet were published in Canadian newspapers and set off a rampage in which the Danish Embassy was burned ... besides, this is a free country, and those who want pandering and abasement can get that and more from the Toronto Star which is attempting to put a human face on those arrested which inevitably lead to promoting the alientation and misunderstood theme - a notion that is insufficent given that they allegedly sought to express their feelings with mass murder.

If "teen angst" and "lack of identity" justifies psychopaths, then wouldn't we expect that Christian teens - surely the most marginalized group in both Canada and the U.S. - would be primary candidates for terrorists? (Read Michael Coren's column along that line of thought here.)

But, fortunately, timing is everything. Any theme of finding terrorism as an outlet while searching for an identity is downright awkward given that one primary inspiration for terrorists is DEAD. (Those who are offended that Zarqawi's puffy dead body was put up for display can also be soothed by the Star which, at least in this instance, did give fair time to both sides of the controversy.)

And I can't deny that I was downright inspired upon learning that Zarqawi's last look at life on this side of Hell was at the faces of U.S. servicemen and Iraqi policemen - people he had spent considerable time and resources to kill but who had a most satisfying last word.

Ah, maybe I'm being too hard on these kids. What with the failure to teach criticial thinking at Canadian schools and the Cult of the Don't Pass Judgement Unless it's Against Americans, why wouldn't they imagine that the arrest of 17 alleged terrorists is the same as the murder of over 3,000 innocent people?

Or maybe the media mis-reported the press conference. Maybe the "Muslim youth" were thanking Allah that a real Canadian 9/11 was averted. Ya think?

Posted by Debbye at 02:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

Harper meets with Muslim leaders

June 10 - Unsurprisingly, PM Harper held a closed-door meeting with Muslim community leaders in the aftermath of the arrest of 17 terrorists in Southern Ontario and, although the details of the meeting were not released, the response by one of the participants hints that in addition to the soothing of ruffled feathers, issues of accountability may have been broached:

[Farzana] Hassan-Shahid [of the Canadian Muslim Congress] told The Canadian Press that those in attendance had different viewpoints about what may have led a group of young Muslims to consider violent attacks on their own country.

"It's about time Muslims owned up to the fact it's a Muslim problem," she said, adding that she thinks the community must forcefully denounce extremism.

"We need to be more proactive, rather than issue statements of condemnation," she said.

And then there was some unintentional humour:
[Tarek] Fatah [spokesperson for the Canadian Muslim Congress] said the issue of American-based Islamic organizations spreading fundamentalism and extremism in Toronto was also brought up.

He said two - the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America - were singled out.

"This is America pushing its fundamentalist Islamist thinking into Canada, not vice versa," he said.

That's a switch. Instead of bashing the U.S.A., President Bush and evangelical Christians, he bashes the U.S.A. for importing Muslim fundamentalism. That man is like totally Canadianized -- he just can't address home-grown Canadian issues without invoking the anti-American card.

By the way, don't blame me for designating Fatah as "spokesman" for the CMC and Hassan-Shahid as being "of" the CMC - that's how the article is written. Another well-known dirty little secret is that the Canadian value of equal rights for women is applied somewhat selectively - although I blame the usually vocally outraged Canadian feminists for that unprincipled failure.

As I wrote yesterday, there does indeed seem to be a concerted attempt to push fundamentalist thinking onto Canada but the source is Saudi Arabia, not the U.S.A.

The Saudi royal family has issued over $70 billion in grants to leading U.S. universities - including Harvard, Cornell, Texas A&M, MIT, UC-Berkeley, Columbia, UC-Santa Barbara, Johns Hopkins, Rice University, American University, University of Chicago, Syracuse University, USC, UCLA, Duke University and Howard University and the purpose of the grants was to establish departments and chairs that promoted the Wahhabist version of Islam.

There is a fairly well-defined line between propaganda and education and it's no secret that many U.S. and Canadian universities crossed that line long ago, but what many don't realize is that Saudi money helps fund that propaganda.

Question of the Day: How much money do the Saudis contribute to Canadian mosques and universities?

Posted by Debbye at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

Wahhabism in Canada

June 9 - Schools funded and staffed by Saudi Wahhabists have been blamed for teaching the ideology that justifies terror attacks in Pakistan and Indonesia, and it seems that they have kindly included Canada as a recipient of their benevolence.

Newsbeat1 links to a video of an interview with a Sufi Muslim recently aired on CBC's The National in which serious allegations are made that the Saudis have sent Korans to Canada which include tracts inciting jihad (go to Newsbeat 1: If you click on the video clip at 7:55 mark -. there is a story about those arrested. It requires RealPlayer to view.)

Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslims Coalition has a blog entry on the Saudi Royal Family and the Wahhabists which is extremely thorough and puts some key points in perspective:

For most of the 20th century, the Saudi royal family was substantially stronger than the Wahabi religious establishment. However, due to shortsighted policies and a lack of leadership from the Saudi government, the Wahabi religious establishment has gained substantial influence in Saudi Arabia. Over the last 30 years, radical Wahabis have become restless and unsatisfied with Saudi Arabia’s historical division of power. In response to the Wahabi’s increasingly assertive demands, the Saudi government adopted a policy of appeasement. The decision to appease the Wahabis has resulted in the legislation of internal social policy that is based on the most extreme common denominator. As is clear, Saudi Arabia’s policy of appeasement has backfired and has resulted in the propagation of a wicked, backward, violent and intolerant interpretation of Islam the likes of which the Muslim world has not experienced in 1400 years of history.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has become a victim of terrorism with several bombings that killed hundreds of people. In response to terrorism on its own soil, the Saudi government has finally declared war on terrorism. It now appears that the Saudi government realizes that the status quo cannot continue and are taking baby steps to reform their policies by organizing tough police actions and ideologically challenging the terrorists’ theological justification for violence. The Free Muslims Coalition regularly monitors Saudi TV and while we have witnessed intolerant rhetoric by radical Wahabi religious figures, we have also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of religious and government figures who aggressively advocate tolerance, respect for other religions and attempt to discredit the ideology that leads to extremism and terrorism.

Nevertheless, while we recognize that the Saudi Arabian government has taken steps to fight extremism and terrorism, it is not yet doing enough. ..

Nawash calls upon the Saudi government to take steps to end the export of intolerance, but I think it is equally the responsibility of the U.S. and Canadian governments to not allow what is arguably hate literature into our countries.

We really need a chapter of the Free Muslims Coalition up here. John Lawrence's latest article in Canada Free Press, Toronto area Muslims feel singled out, expresses the frustrations many feel when Muslim leaders adopt a stance of victimhood in the wake of terror arrests rather than express determination to weed out those in their community who threaten us all:

As for those in the muslim community who don't like the tactics of Canada's various security agencies and police forces, I issue this challenge to you. Flush these cowards out of your mosques. Condemn all radical speech as unacceptable and turn over any and all information regarding subversive activities involving any member of the muslim community immediately. ..


You, Mr. Hindy, are no better than any other Canadian, and as a Canadian, it is time for you to put Canada first and to stop this rhetoric about how you are being persecuted. There is a groundswell of emotion rushing against your religion not because of remarks by our Prime Minister as some have suggested, and certainly not because of the allegations put forth in the form of criminal charges.

The fault, my fellow Canadian, lies at the doorstep of your mosque and others like it. Deal with it like a man and stop blaming every one else. It will not be until the majority of muslims speak out and turn out these sadistic hate mongers that muslims will be looked upon in the same light as every other group in this great land.

Just a caution: there are still many things we don't know about the terror sweep in Toronto last week, including whether tips came from Muslims who noticed there was something decidedly "off" with these men and contacted the security agencies.

Nevertheless, the quick assertions of victimhood are counter-productive as well as wearisome, and they do a deep a disservice to Muslims everywhere.

While it is true that the vast majority of terror attacks are carried out by Muslims, it is equally true that the vast majority of terror attacks target and kill Muslims.

Far too often we only pay attention when it affects Western countries, and that is a dangerous miscalculation. Al Qaeda and its affiliates seek to gather all Muslims under their murderous banner and, as we have seen in Iraq, they murder shoppers at markets and children playing in the streets ...

GI and dying Iraqi girl 0_22_450_baby.jpg
Michael Yon

and they do so with the same indifference with which they murder Iraq police and army personnel - and us.

Victory can only be achieved when people who cherish freedom are willing to stand up and fight for it, and that means all of us - Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jainist, animist, wiccan, agnostic, and atheist.

The war on terror is decidedly non-denominational, and the Muslim community in Canada desperately needs leadership that is willing to stand up and protect the rights of all Muslims from Islamic fundamentalists -- not only in Canada but in the rest of the world as well -- and affirm that tolerance is something to which we are all entitled.

June - 10 08:30 Salim Mansur passionately writes about the economic, social and political morass in many Muslim countries and declares that We Muslims have work to do.

Posted by Debbye at 07:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Zarqawi is still dead

June 9 - I'm slowly moving from the giddiness occasioned by the elimination of the monsterous Zarqawi but the process, as they say, is far from complete and besides, I'm not really in any hurry.

I am kind of relieved that I'm not the only relic person who sang "Ding dong the witch is dead" upon first hearing the news.

I won't comment on the revelation that Zarqawi was still alive when Iraqi police and U.S. forces arrived on the scene because we all have, um, imaginations.

Okay, maybe a little sobriety. Christopher Hitchins writes Why Zarqawi's death matters:

Zarqawi contributed enormously to the wrecking of Iraq's experiment in democratic federalism. He was able to help ensure that the Iraqi people did not have one single day of respite between 35 years of war and fascism, and the last three-and-a-half years of misery and sabotage. He chose his targets with an almost diabolical cunning, destroying the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad (and murdering the heroic envoy Sérgio Vieira de Melo) almost before it could begin operations, and killing the leading Shiite Ayatollah Hakim outside his place of worship in Najaf. His decision to declare a jihad against the Shiite population in general ... has been the key innovation of the insurgency: applying lethal pressure to the most vulnerable aspect of Iraqi society. And it has had the intended effect, by undermining Grand Ayatollah Sistani and helping empower Iranian-backed Shiite death squads.
Read the whole thing, because Hitchins also revisits former Sec. of State Colin Powell's 2002 address to the U.N. in which he cited Zarqawi's presence in Iraq.

Abu al-Masri has been mentioned as the probable successor to Zarqawi. So an Egyptian is likely to replace a Jordanian to head al Qaeda in Iraq? It seems to me that this rather bolsters claims that there are a number of foreign fighters in Iraq, and certainly the inability to name an Iraqi to head the terror group there implies a degree of isolation that I find hopeful.

It hardly needs be said that the biggest challenge for the Iraqi government will be to take aggressive steps to contain the sectarian and criminal violence.

Let Zarqawi's epitaph be that, in the end, he failed.

Posted by Debbye at 05:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Zarqawi is Dead. Dead. Dead. (Updated)

July 8 - (Updating continuously and time stamp intentionally keeps this on top.)

06:29 - The no-good, m-f'ing, murderous pscyopath is dead: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Killed in Bombing Raid. I wonder how he likes it in Hell?

My son called me at work at 4 a.m. this morning and said "You want to hear some good news?" Heh. I hope my, um, enthusiastic response doesn't get me fired. The downer: I told the other people, and none of them knew him by name and I had to list some of his crimes.

And it looks as though they used my fav-ou-rite weapon: Predator and Hellfire.

This is huge, and I mean huger than capturing Saddam Hussein or killing Udai and Kusai, and in terms of the immediate strategy for Iraq, this may well be the turning point. More later, perhaps, when I settle down.

One last word: I can never think of Zarqawi without thinking of Nick Berg. Well, he has been avenged at long last. Rest in Peace, Nick, and all those who fell victim to that monster.

07:32 - I'm still blushing over the language that I used when I first heard the news. I so need to wash my mouth out with soap.

How wonderful and appropriate that Iraqi police made the identification! He has orchestrated the murders of so many of them -- as well as those who stood in lines to join the police (and army) -- that I can easily imagine their grim satisfaction that a vicious foe has been "eliminated."

Pres. Bush is speaking on this, and although he is far more cautiously optimistic than I, I do echo his closing: God Bless the Iraqi People, and God Bless America.

Okay, so now U.S. officials are being cautious. Lord give me strength: I was not convinced that capturing Saddam was going to stifle the insurgency but they thought such was the case however, as I stated at the outset, I think this is bigger than they are saying (maybe because their own optimism has led them astray before? They really need to read more blogs.)

Now Dan Senor is speaking, and he is hitting the nail on the head: this latest instance of "blasting the bastard to Kingdom Come" shows that it take time and patience, but the days of people like Zarwawi are numbered.

I haven't heard anyone say it yet but I just know some wanker is going to try to throw cold water on this and prattle "but Bin Laden is still loose" to which I will pre-emptively respond "what's your point?" I don't care about Bin Laden, I want the strategists and the architects of terror like Zarqawi and al-Zawahiri. I want bin Laden to watch helplessly as his followers fall one by one because more and more people choose to stand up to those who try to rule them by terror, and finally for him to die a lonely, disillusioned man with only bitter dreams of glory to comfort him. I want him to know utter despair before he dies.

8:03 - Rats. Not Predator/Hellfire. Oh well, he's still dead.

08:09 - Australian PM John Howard is more enthusiastic:

"The reported death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is great news for the people of Iraq, the real victims of his murderous behaviour," he said.

"He has been the principal architect of terrorism in that country.

"Not only does his death remove a cruel terrorist, but it's also a huge boost for anti-terrorist forces in Iraq."

The Prime Minister said the Iraqi Government's determination to destroy terrorism should be supported.

"The determination of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and his new Government to confront terrorism and the insurgency is something that everyone should support," he said.

I love that guy.

Tony Blair was concise as always:

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said al-Zarqawi's death "was very good news because a blow against al Qaeda in Iraq was a blow against al Qaeda everywhere."
Properly his words should be up on the BBC website but I couldn't find his comments there and I haven't seen any comments yet from Canadian PM Harper. The CTV does quote "terrorism expert" Eric Margolis, though, at that link. They just can't help themselves.

08:39 - Michael Yon's post is aptly titled Death Finds the Devil's Second Most Favored Serpent and concludes:

His death will not likely fracture the terror campaign in Iraq because of the disparity of the insurgency itself, comprised of many distinct and disjointed elements, not all of whom were following al-Zarqawi.

Nevertheless, this is an important victory in the GWOT showing that persistent effort can and will produce definitive results. But al-Zarqawi was largely a media-produced terror hero, now that he is gone, let us not produce another.

08:47 - In the press briefing, Caldwell is calling the information collected at the site "a treasure trove" and confirming that they were 100% convinced they were hitting Zarqawi at the "safe house." Heh. Another humourous concept is that Zarqawi's "spiritual advisor" was also killed.

I may as well admit it: I really, really wish that the kill had gone to the Iraqis. It would have been appropriate given how many of them he has killed as well as a tremendous confidence booster for the police and army. Again, though, I think that being the ones to identify his body parts was a great source of satisfaction.

The press briefing showed Zarqawi's head. Of course there was no intentional irony.

One dead Zarqawi
Courtesy of FoxNews.

11:47 - A good round-up of reactions here at Pajama's Media (link via Newsbeat1.)

I want to extend a hearty congratulations to the people of Iraq, who have endured more than their share of monsters. This may not be the end of their road but I hope this represents a significant turning point for them.

I need to get some sleep, and it occurs to me that a great many mothers in Iraq are settling their kids down for bed about now. None of us can predict what tomorrow will bring, but is it really too much to hope that tonight, if only this night, all of Iraq's children can sleep without fear?

Posted by Debbye at 02:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Another cat out of the bag -- and it's a biggie

June 8 - Judi McLeod in The Truth about Toronto Terrorism reveals something that had already been revealed on a talk show in the U.S.:

Did you know that Monday, June 5, 2006 was the chosen date for a terrorist attack on Toronto?
Actually, yes. I connected that dot. Anyone with an ounce of skepticism should have wondered that there were so many conflicting stories about the strike and that it was seemingly called on some fairly flimsy pretexes -- much as I deplore some of the civic service unions, the men and women who work for the TTC are not prone to frivolous strikes much less one with so little notice. Besides, anyone who spoke to a TTC driver Tuesday morning as to how this strike evolved should at minimum have had some kind of Hmm thought -- espcially after the arrests of the 17 terror suspects and the wearisome repeated claims that the TTC was not a target which, as they say, did protest too much.

At first I was dismayed that this became public, but I came to recognize that this disclosure serves the greater good because, if there is one lesson we have learned during the past few years, it is that each of us are on our own when a terror attack (or any calamity) strikes and the best, if not only, means of survival is to be prepared.

Face cloth

Never leave home without them. The life you save may well be your own.

But there's also an implicit question in this story: do you feel safer because our civic leaders have deemed it best that you are in the dark rather than go public and disclose the enormity of the dangers you face?

That answer is fairly obvious: had the strike not occured and the arrests not taken place when they did, how safe would you have been? Do you really believe that they got them all? Is there really any doubt that there are more people out there who want to intimidate Canadians and force their withdrawal from the valuable mission in Afghanistan and their participation in the war on terror?

Do you believe that freedom is God's gift to us all? And how far will you go to cherish and protect that gift?

That is what it comes down to. That is always what it has come down to, and my answer is that I will do whatever it takes -- up to and including keeping faith with the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and with those we have asked to carry out those missions and to remain vigilant on the homefront.

Somehow the inconvenience (and weight) of carrying Implements of Survival in my bag pales in comparison with the enormous tasks which we have asked of these exemplary men and women, and I would be ashamed to fail a task which truly asks so little of me.

And to my family: I told you so.

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006

Canada and the War on Terror

June 7 - I've been off-line as the phone company didn't come through and then Munuvia was hit with yet another DNS attack. We must have pissed someone off, which I'll take as a compliment.

The international attention to the terror arrests up here has been astonishing, and all the more so in that the Canadian security agencies involved in the arrests have been more forthcoming than usual about those accused and their alleged specific targets. And too, the accusation that one of them wanted to behead the prime minister adds to the sensationalism in the case.

The Toronto Sun has archived the reports coming out in the aftermath of the arrest of 17 alleged terrorists here.

Judging from my own observations, I would say that awareness by both private citizens as well as by institutions has been increased -- but I'm sticking with generalities for the same reason as I cited in the previous post: give nothing away and make the bastards do their own legwork.

I will only report on the responses of those I know (and those who know me, and my American flag lapel pin intentionally acts to forewarn folks) yet I think it's fair to say that the astonishment here in Toronto is mixed with gratification. After the dismal failure to convict the defendents in the Air India trial which was, in part, attributed to turf wars between CSIS and the RCMP coupled with the revelation that the RCMP was involved in some questionable Adscam doings and had become highly politicized was disenheartening, but the arrests seemingly signaled that those responsible for public safety were in fact making us safer:

The RCMP led the investigation, but the probe included significant co-operation with partners through an Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, or INSET, made up of RCMP, the CSIS spy organization, federal agencies and provincial and municipal police.

INSET teams were created in April 2002 under a five-year, $64-million investment by the federal government.

That means the teams were created when Chretien was prime minister, which is significant and asks a question of those who parrot the sorry "it sends a message" line: Why do you vote for people who say one thing and then do another rather than voting (or at least respecting) those do what they say they will do?

Chretien and his ministers continually pooh-poohed the terror threat in Canada, yet established a high-profile committee to counter terror threats and it was highly successful. The arrests and detainment in Canada under this country's Anti-Terrorism Act (and which was opposed in an open letter from Muslim and civil rights organizations in part due to provisions permitting secrecy and long-term detentions without the formal filing of charges) should have been enough to persuade Canadians that (a) there was a security threat and (b) some strong measures had been taken to contain that threat.

The most striking feature of the case is that the targets were total Cancon -- nary an American business concern or MacDonald's were on that list. Even the dumbest dunderhead should have to concede that their hated for Canada and her institutions went beyond any imagined connection with the USA and spoke to their hatred of the West in general, but I'm not counting on it. The readiness with which many up here blame the USA for everything and anything is so deeply embedded that I doubt anything could excise it, but it is those others who are thinking about this and doing their own math and, if they think about it from this perspective, the aborted attacks say so much about Canada's worth that it may help counter the sense of inferiority that marks much of what is called Canadian self-deprecation.

In short, Canada is a force of good in the world and that makes her a target -- just not in the way that those at the CBC and Toronto Star would project. It is more evident in the West, but folks in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario too have it as part of their heritage: the courage to pick up roots and settle in a foreign country (including the Tories Loyalists* that fled from the American War of Independence;) the willing self-reliance and confidence such a decision requires; the optimism and hope that life here will be better than it was "back home."

Okay, I'm going all Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle on you, but there is a lot of wisdom in that movie (and some grrr-eat humour) but I do have a point: people don't come here (especially given the damned winters) unless they have confidence and yearn to build a better life for themselves and their children. I actually believe that at least some of the familes of the accused had no idea what their kids were up to because that spark and optimism drove them to take a chance and move here and I feel as badly for them as for any family that sees - and disbelieves - that their kids are trashing every gift their parents gave them.

Those who want to invoke the 60s might want to look a little deeper: one of the accusations of my generation was that our parents were too materialistic and insufficiently spiritual and "close to nature." That this accusation was directed at people who had grown up with war-time scarcities was not even a consideration, yet how different is that blindness from the young fundamentalists who have disavowed every reason for which their parents migrated here?

It should be said that recognition of and gratitude for that gift can be perverted if the schools and communities don't celebrate the very heritage that enabled people of all colours, religions and ethnicities to come here and succeed, and by that I am referring specifically to the shared English heritage of both the USA and Canada which molded our institutions and gave legal recognition to individual merit and free will, despite its inconveniences, and just maybe what Canada and Canadians need is to accept that the two countries have that in common as well as a geographical boundary.

Instead of Canadians prefacing sentences with "unlike Americans," maybe we can all say that we -- Canadian, American, Australian, New Zealander, and British -- are all engaged in promoting the genuine values of an Anglosphere which decrees that all are equal and can rise on the basis of individual merit and worth.

On Canadian Appeasement

All the protests, anti-Americanism, Bush-bashing (including that by elected officials) and a refusal to support the Iraq War only fooled the fools -- it did not fool those who allegedly plotted attacks on institutions and landmarks and, had the plot actually gone forward, the death toll as well as the impact on the Canadian economy would have been substantial.

They are even accused of plotting an attack on the Toronto CBC studio, one of the most liberal if not leftist institutions in Canada. The CBC has been lukewarm on Canadian involvement in Afghanistan and their hostility to the USA as well as US efforts in Iraq is unmistakeable, yet they were a target.

Again, only the fools were fooled.

As I noted in an earlier post about some pre-Sept. 11 difficulties between the French and British in their respective perceptions of the international scope of conspiracies to commit terror acts, the French may talk a lot about discourse and negotiations but their security services tell a different story: they are focused, hard-nosed, and sometimes ruthless in their determination to eliminate threats. The problem with the French governments is their hypocrisy, or perhaps it would be better to say that the security agencies operate in such deep shadows that the French people can pretend that they are far too sophisticated to indulge in cowboyish maneuvers or do things like blow up the Rainbow Warrior just because it was attempting to expose the environmental impact of continued nuclear testing in Polynesia. After all, their government was "sending the right message."

There are indeed two Canadas, but it is not divided so much between French and English as between those who recognize that terrorism is an international threat and Canada is vulnerable, and those who will not concede the fearsome reality. Given the need for public vigilance in noticing stray bags, gunfire in the night, or an imam who preaches beyong the fiery, the extent to which these arrests are a wake-up call are yet to be determined.

As it has in the USA, though, I fear the retreat to partisan trench warfare between right and left will be rapid and unashamed, and far too many will not be able to find it within themselves to take the necessary steps to admit that we need to pull together now if only for self-preservation. But I really hope to be proven wrong.

* I should have said Loyalists, not Tories. Thanks to Keith for the correction.

Posted by Debbye at 05:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 31, 2006

Jimmy's funding

May 31 - Jimmy Carter has some explaining to do. Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press reveals that the Censure Carter Committee has uncovered a paper trail which, it is alleged, traces funds from the Saudi Bin Laden Group to Carter.

From The film the world never viewed: Fahrenheit Jimmy Carter:

A paper trail shows that more than $1 million has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden on behalf of the Saudi Bin Laden Group to The Carter Center.


"An investigation by the Censure Carter Committee into the financing for The Carter Center of Atlanta, Georgia founded by President Carter and his wife to advance his "Blame America First" policies reveals that over $1,000,000 has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden for the Saudi Bin Laden Group to the Carter Center," says Censure Carter.Com in a mainstream media-ignored recent media release.

"In fact, an online report accuses former President Carter of meeting with 10 of Osama Bin Laden’s brothers early in 2000, Carter and his wife, Rosalyn followed up their meeting with a breakfast with Bakr Bin Laden in September 2000 and secured the first $200,000 towards the more than $1 million that has been received by the Carter Center."

The group lists a number of allegations here and it makes for some extremely uncomfortable reading.

I think there is a general assumption that Jimmy Carter lost his mind after the Tehran Embassy takeover and doomed rescue attempt. He's become much like that elderly woman you see on the street corner -- the one with several large message buttons pinned to her coat passing passing out leaflets produced by The Nut Factory.

But he's also family, so you let him button-hole you for the obligatory 10-minutes on Thanksgiving until you can escape.

But no degree of diminished capacity could absolve Carter of not going public after Sept. 11 to explain that he had accepted funds from a highly questionable source nor excuse his failure to return the money to the Saudi Bin Laden Group after Sept. 11.

Unfortunately for Carter, another respected American, Rudy Giuliani, set the standard when, right after Sept. 11, he refused a donation for New York City from a Saudi prince.

We'll see if the U.S. news media picks up on this story; in the meantime, the Censure Carter Committee is raising money for ads to be aired on television.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

On "Faustian Deals"

May 30 - The French were so concerned about probable terror attacks on the 1998 World Cup that they contemplated kidnapping Abu Hamza, according to a book by Sean O’Neill and Daniel McGrory, The Suicide Factory, scheduled for release June 19.

The authors wrote about a portion of the book examining these worries in the Times Online article French plot to kidnap Abu Hamza and save the World Cup and, whatever we may think of the lofty posturing by French politicians, that country's security organizations indicate more accurately the seriousness with which the French regard terror threats and the ruthless steps they are willing to take to thwart them:

Jean Pierre Chevènement, France’s Minister of the Interior, had one worry in particular. It was March 1998. In a few months the football World Cup was to be held in France, and it was a huge security headache. Algerian terrorists of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) had bombed the Paris Métro in 1995, and the architects of that atrocity — regarded in France as a deadly enemy — were still on the loose, living untroubled lives in London. The World Cup offered them an opportunity, and there were whispers in the intelligence world that something was being planned. It might take only a word from their spiritual guide Abu Hamza, an article in his newsletter, or a line in a communiqué pinned to the Finsbury Park mosque noticeboard to set the wheels in motion.


There had been panic in 1997 when a newsletter carried a GIA logo in which the letters were arranged in the shape of a triangle.

Was it a signal that terrorists were going to target the Eiffel Tower? In 1994 four GIA men had hijacked an Air France jet in Algiers and threatened to fly it to Paris and smash into the tower. The plane was stormed by French commandos at Marseilles and the terrorists killed.

France was on edge. Such was her anxiety about the World Cup that she demanded co-operation from her European neighbours. Where she deemed that collaboration was lacking, or less than enthusiastic, she was sending teams of agents abroad to gather intelligence on Islamist militants. Hassaine was part of the team in London, recruited by France’s DGSE intelligence service, to be a spy inside Finsbury Park’s Algerian community and its mosque.


As far as the French were concerned, the British had entered into a Faustian pact with the extreme Islamist groups assembled in London. They were free to organise, propagandise and speak, as long as there was no threat and no trouble on British soil. Abu Hamza seemed to enjoy a friendly relationship with MI5 and Scotland Yard’s intelligence wing, the Special Branch. They called him regularly, invited him for meetings and were generally on cordial terms. (Emphasis added)


“But the French believed that this plot to attack the World Cup was real, that it was being drawn up in London and that Finsbury Park mosque was the capital of Londonistan. The names of many suspects were passed to the British – veteran terrorists arriving from around the world – but the British did nothing. They did not take it seriously, even when the French said that if anything were to happen they would declare publicly that they held the British responsible.”

In the event, France thwarted the threat to attack the tournament. The process of unravelling it began with the arrest of an Algerian terrorist in Belgium in March 1998. The man had been convicted in absentia by a French court in connection with the Paris Métro bombs in 1995, and was subsequently jailed by the Belgian courts for nine years for attempted murder, criminal association, sedition and forgery. In the three months before the World Cup began, more than a hundred North Africans were arrested in France, Switzerland, Italy, Britain, Belgium and Germany as suspected terrorists.

The intent of this post is not to criticize the British; just as I've long regarded it as useless to issue solemn pronouncements of blame over U.S. (in)actions prior to Sept. 11, it seems that too many countries, even staunch U.S. allies in the war on terror, don't take Islamic terror threats seriously until there's blood on their homesoil (e.g., the Theo van Gogh murder) and others, like Indonesia, don't believe there's even a terror threat until it happens (e.g., Bali.)

Of course those lessons we can learn from the many failures are valuable, but endless blame games tend to distract instead of focus us. One glaring case in point: how, exactly, did Farenheit 911 serve to secure the nation from terror attacks?

One thing this article does highlight is the urgent need for security agencies from different countries to work together. There is an interesting Cancon aspect to this because French security agencies had tried in vain to alert Canadian authorities about al Qaeda operative and Millennium Bomber (and Canadian refugee-applicant!) Ahmed Ressam, but those warnings were ignored -- and then he was caught by a U.S. border guard trying to enter the USA with a trunkload of explosives with the intent of bombing LAX.

Despite the well-earned reputation of French intelligence agencies, domestic security in that country remains troubled: the kids are at it again because, it is claimed, the French haven't addressed the root causes of last November's riots.

The French Parliament recently tried to relax labour laws in an effort to reduce the high unemployment of the nation's young -- especially the disproportionately higher numbers among the children of immigrants -- but the the labour unions and students forced a retreat. (Is it really so surprising that, when it comes to protecting their own comfortable incomes and job security, the French left-wing turns downright reactionary? /obligatory French bashing)

The French seem caught in their own Faustian deal, a state which, to larger and lesser extents, afflicts us all -- including the USA, where an irate American electorate demands border security but is only getting platitudes.

(A goal and an assist to Newsbeat1 because the latter link led me to the first link. How about them Oilers?)

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2006

The Last Battle

May 15 - I used to love books about Elizabeth I when I was a girl and have enjoyed the Helen Mirren two-part series now showing on TMN. There are always lessons from history, but the outcome of historical events should not blind us to the fact that, had those wars not been waged, the Western civilization we celebrate today may not have evolved.

In short, had either side surrendered without a struggle, would religious tolerance have triumphed?

I think it unlikely. I can understand why so many want to take a short cut, but much as we deplore war, war has come to us just as it came to the Protestants in those days and we have only two choices: fight on our feet now or die on our knees later. This Westerner's temperment is not suited for submission and, in the spirit of the ancient Greeks to whom we owe so much of our civilization, I do not prostrate in fear before my God but stand before Him freely filled with the awe of the love and compassion He has shown both those who have accepted Him and those who have not yet nonethless walk the path of righteousness.

Don't take that to mean I am a good Christian. I'm not. I suffer terribly from pride and I find it hard to forgive my enemies. It takes me a long time to build a grudge but once I have one it's difficult for me to let it go. I pay to Caesar that which is owed to Caesar but it's only money, after all, because my soul remains free.

I believe that the theory of evolution best fits the scientific knowledge we have accumulated but I'm always struck at questions that eventually circle around to what happened one second before the big bang and that too feels me with awe. For someone who really sucked in science I am nonethleless a most curious person who can delight in the little bits of plate techtonics and quest for the Theory of Everything that I can grasp. Indeed, the theory of evolution or the prospect of life on other planets doesn't dissuade me from belief in a benign deity but confirms it, and if there is anything I don't understand it is how discovery of life on other planets would destroy our faith in God.

If God created rational, creative life on one planet why wouldn't He do it on other planets? If we truly understand what it means to celebrate life then why wouldn't we expect to find life throughout the universe?

Such thoughts fill me on Mother's Day because, like many women, I worry that I have borne sons who are destined to fight a war that my generation failed to wage. But unlike the appeasers and defeatists, I know I didn't bring children into this world to be slaves but to be free men who would chart their own destinies and that is both a blessing and a curse.

Some books stay with you longer. I can't tell you why The Last Battle, the 6th books in C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, was my long-time favourite of the series, but the events of these past years have caused me to revisit this book and see it in a different light. Did C.S. Lewis foresee a potential danger clearer than us sophisticated, modern folk? This portion from Chapter III has haunted me:

The Ape jumped up and spat at the Lamb. .."Tash is only another name for Aslan. All that old idea of us being right and the Calmormenes wrong is silly. We know better now. The Calormenese use different words but we all mean the same thing. Tash and Aslan are only two different names for you know Who. That's why there can never be any quarrel between them. Get that into your heads, you stupid brutes. Tash is Aslan. Aslan is Tash."


"Excuse me," said the Cat very politely, "but this interests me. "Does your friend from Calormene say the same?"

"Assuredly,"" said the Calormene. "The enlightened Ape--Man, I mean--is in the right. Aslan means neither less nor more than Tash."

"Especially, Aslan means no more than Tash?" suggested the Cat.

"No more at all," said the Carormene, looking the Cat straight in the face.


... But now, as Tirian looked round on the miserable faces of the Narnians, and saw how they would believe that Aslan and Tash were one and the same, he could bear it no longer.

"Ape," he cried with a great voice, "you lie. You lie damnably. You lie like a Calormene. You lie like an Ape."

He meant to go on and ask how the terrible god Tash who fed on the blood of his people could possible be the same as the good Lion by whose blood all Narnian was saved. If he has been allowed to speak, the rule of the Ape might have ended that day; ...

The Cat's question and his conclusions from the answer should raise the question as to how any Christian - let alone a Pope - can kiss the Koran because the question and answer is that of an atheist, not a believer. As the forces for both deities are aligned today, it is clear that Allah is not God and God is not Allah unless neither exist, yet it is in noting whose blood was spent for salvation that we find the key difference which belies the assertion that we all worship the same God.

My God asks that I expend my blood to save that of innocents. Their Allah demands that the blood of innocents be shed for his glory.

The martyrs of my religions gave their lives freely without taking life in affirmation of their belief in one true God. The martyrs of Mohammed's religion have become martyrs by taking the lives of others.

I wish there was an easier path. I wish it could be resolved with dialogue and no loss of blood. I wish that my wishes were not so futile.

Now read Sword Without Leniency by Bruce Thornton (via Newsbeat1) and remember that we already have been already converted to the "true faith" -- the one that gives life, not death, and the one which, through the gift of freedom, allows us to find God through affirmation, not submission, and that it is through our journeys by different paths that we affirm that the gift of free will is the path to righteousness.

On this day, the day after Mother's Day, I wish I could wish peace be upon us but I fear the best I can wish is that we raise our sons and daughters well and that we keep our faith with the mothers before us who grieved to know that their sons were needed to fight a war no one wanted but one that came to us nevertheless. It is our curse and our blessing, and although it is not of our choosing, we must take that which has given to us and know that future generations will not decry our lack of courage.

And that, in truth, is the one lesson history teaches us: that we accept the burdens bequeathed to us and bear them as have those before us.

Posted by Debbye at 01:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

Canadian troops capture 10 Taliban

May 12 - Canadian troops capture Taliban suspects without firing a shot and turned them over to Afghan police. Much of the article content, though, focuses on whether photos taken by an embed from Agence France-Presse may have violated Geneva Convention articles on the rights of prisoners.

The Toronto Sun article also focuses on the photo issue, but provides much more information about the suspects and what they were carrying:

Ten prisoners were taken in the raid, including three known to authorities. [Maj. Marc] Theriault said the men were found with large sums of money and bomb-making materials.
That information is conspiciously absent from the Yahoo account as well as the the CBC story. which is exactly the same as the one at Yahoo but does include a link to a photo gallery (requires Macromedia Flash Player.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 11, 2006

New kerfuffle because the NSA is doing it's job

May 11 - Oh frak. Kill me now - no, wait! That's the point: there are those out there that want to either kill or enslave me -- and make me wear an ugly sack. Uh, no thanks.

So the NSA has a program which looks for patterns in telephone communications and the President says it's within the law. Dollars-to-donuts his approval ratings jump because those of us who are adamant that every possible tool we can utilize to prevent another Sept. 11 are most decidedly not upset that one of the surveillance lapses noted by the Sept. 11 Commission has been addressed. If references to wedding celebrations or other indicators result in thwarting another attack then I will be happy. If the forces that seek to destroy us have to work harder to plan and coordinate attacks then I'll take grim satisfaction that at least we didn't make it easy for them.

We are at war. I get it, millions of Americans get it, and if the Democrats really intend to win they should yell that not enough surveillance is being conducted and demand the FCC pull the license of Qwest until they comply.

I am curious about one thing: there are millions of undocumented persons in the USA, so on what basis can anyone assume that the phone records actually belong to Americans as opposed to the Mohammed Atta-types?

The renewed frenzy this story has caused is sending me right over the edge, and in my darker moments I wish we would just go all German on those who seek to kill us: round 'em up, pass out the cigarettes and shoot them. (Germans, you ask? 4 words: Battle of the Bulge.)

In my more rational moments (heh) I remember that if they are Americans and they communicate with members of al Qaeda they may very well be guilty of treason and should at least be monitored if not arrested. If they aren't Americans they may very well be enemy agents, saboteurs, or spies and should be monitored -- if they provide clues that will assist in the war that's a good thing, and if not let's arrest their sorry asses and at minimum deport them.

Thanks you, Dems, for reminding me why I despise you so thoroughly. I was beginning to mellow.

Note: I was in a rush when I wrote this last night because I had to go to work so I didn't express myself clearly. I realize that the NSA project is not eavedropping but data mining, but I assume that when red flags are raised that the next logical move would be to initiate more active surveillance.

May 13 00:01 - An ABC poll indicates that, unsurprisingly, "Americans by nearly a 2-1 ratio call the surveillance of telephone records an acceptable way for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, expressing broad unconcern even if their own calling patterns are scrutinized." (Link from Powerline.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 02, 2006

Got another one

May 2 - A U.S. law enforcement official has confirmed that a top al Qaeda operative, Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, was captured in Pakistan last November and turned over to U.S. authoritities. He was indited by a Spanish court for involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombing and believed to have been involved in last July's train bombings in London.

He was also a far too well-travelled propagandist for al Qaeda:

Nasar, who lived in Spain and was married to a Spanish woman, also stayed in London during the mid-1990s before traveling to Afghanistan, where he was believed to have been part of bin Laden's network, a Western diplomat in Islamabad said.

His movements have been traced to Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and at least two European capitals.

Singapore-based terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna said Nasar's capture is a major blow to the Al Qaeda movement because he was the "most prolific writer" of jihadi propaganda and held close links with extremists throughout Europe and South Asia.

"The ideologues are as equally important as the operational people and he was in close contact with very prominent figures with movements in different countries, particularly the North African region," Gunaratna said.

In 2004, Nasar released a 1,600-page book titled "The International Islamic Resistance Call," which lays out strategies for attacking Islam's enemies.

Nasar holds dual citizenship in Spain and Syria and the latter government reportedly want him back (as if.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 21, 2006

Better get those passports

Apr 21 - Fox reports some interesting news - FBI: Two U.S. Citizens Met With Islamic Extremists in Canada to Plan Terror Strikes - with one glaring omission: Canada is a big country and the "where" might be of interest to folks up here and, I suspect, to folks down there.

Get with it, FoxNews.

(The alleged meeting was in Toronto.)

[Just to clarify that post title, it is in reference to people up here who oppose the new regulations requiring people from Canada to present passports when they try to enter the U.S.A. There seems to be some weird attitude by Canadians that they have a God-given right to enter the US at will, which is kind of funny coming as it does from a country in which the English population doubled by the many Loyalists who left the USA after the Revolutionary War.]

Posted by Debbye at 07:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 01, 2006

Abderraouf Jdey (and Harper's wardrobe)

Apr. 1 - Some Canadian exposure of revelations about Abderraouf Jdey that emerged from the Moussaoui trial: Al-Qaeda plotters sought Canadian as pilot, court told because al Qaeda believed that those who held Western passports would more easily pass through security checks. One correction though: the Sept. 11 commission was in fact told specifically that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed that Jdey and Moussaoui were both to have hijacked planes out of Indonesia to attack the U.S. west coast (more on that here and google search results here.

Note to Globe and Mail: Kindly check your ... Oh forget it. I realize your people have far more important things to do, like complain about Harper's wardrobe.

18:07 This goes beyond the ridiculous: today's CTV poll question (on their main page) is if I think it matters what Stephen Harper wears when he attends high profile meetings with foreign leaders. What are they trying to do, turn him into a metrosexual?

It's nice to note that there are so few issues of substance these days that the Canadian news media can address this sort of urgent issue. And they wonder why Canadians watch US news channels.

Posted by Debbye at 05:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Maple Leaf Forever!

March 31 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to Afghanistan could not have been timed better coming as it did right before the annual spring Taliban offensive. In contrast, the calls by the Opposition parties to debate the Afghan mission in Parliament could not have been timed worse. It effectively gave the Taliban reason to hope that Canadians would cut and run once blood had been drawn and why the assault on the base was stronger than expected; they well understand the nature and tactics of opposition parties which hope to bring down a minority government by any and all means. It was essential that Harper renew Canada's committment then and there, with his boots on the ground, and assure the troops (and Afghans) that the Canadian government and people supported them.

Not bad for a rookie prime minister, eh? And the response here has been overwhelmingly positive and makes one wonder what the heck is going on with Canadian sensibilities. Media pundits, meanwhile, gripe that Harper, who never received any respect from them, doesn't respect them. There have been major firefights in Afghanistan and the media is focused on themselves. Right.

Harper's visit and brief speech also marked a welcome shift in policy as he asserted his confidence in Canada - not as a heckler but as an active player on the world stage by recognizing that you can't "lead from the bleachers." Andrew Coyne's analysis on this is well worth reading and I won't go over the same ground but want to speculate about some possible implications on how that speech might affect the role of the Canadian military in foreign affairs and how it might affect Canadians as they perceive themselves.

Significantly, Harper asserted that the troops were in Afghanistan to "defend our national interests." Now I don't know how often the Liberals openly justified foreign policy on the basis of national interests but I'd hazard it would be somewhere between "not often" to "rarely if ever." Canadian participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, for example, was portrayed as one of altruistic peacekeeping -- as though Canada did not have a stake in the establishment of a democratic, peaceful Afghanistan. (Harper did elide over the fact that it is a NATO mission by referring to it as a U.N. mandated mission. The political reality is that Canada tends to regard the U.N. as a Canadian accomplishment so invoking the U.N. confers better legitimacy. Sigh.)

He also stated that Canada has a stake in the role on terror, and by affirming that Harper broke new ground - not so much because of what he said but because he was completely and utterly sincere. If Americans regarded former prime minsters Chretien and Martin as indistinguishable from France's Chirac maybe it's because that perception was accurate: the previous governments were perceived to be paying token lip service to the war on terror and justified Canadian participation by playing the trade card, as though Canadian security and national interests were not at stake and as though terror attacks on innocent civilians were not an affront to Canadian values. Yet, like France, Canadian security forces have been more active than is publicly recognized here. It's as though they are contributing but don't want anyone to know about it - something that is insulting to Canadian citizens who are entitled to know what their government is doing.

Harper also reminded the Canadian troops of the two dozen Canadians that died on Sept. 11, something the Liberal government had been quick to shrug aside just as they underplayed the deaths of Canadians who have lost their lives in other terror attacks. The previous government followed much of the world by pretending that the U.S. alone was the target -- as though the name World Trade Center was as devoid of symbolism as was the death roll of citizens from around the world.

Right about this time three years ago the booing of the U.S. national anthem at a Montreal Canadiennes game was noted by the American news media (although not so much the determined cheering of the anthem at a Blue Jays game in Toronto.) There were a lot of people up here who recognized that, despite one's attitude about the war in Iraq, the ties of friendship and shared values were worth defending, and it was in that spirit that the Friends of America organized rallies across Canada in early April of 2003.

The Toronto rally was on a Friday afternoon and, despite the freezing rain, some 2,000 people attended. One of the most spirited speakers at that rally was Stephen Harper, then leader of the Alliance Party, who ended his speech with the cries "God Bless America" and, very significantly, "The Maple Leaf Forever!"

The response was electrifying. By invoking that cry he hearkened back to an earlier, pre-Trudeauian era when Canadians were internationally regarded as tough and gritty - bold men and women who strode down from the North with determination and got the job done. (The song Maple Leaf Forever is quickly recognizable because it was often background music in war films where Canadian troops were featured, and was the unofficial song of Canada before Oh Canada was institutionalized.)

The capabilities of the Canadian military have been so diminished that that when Canadian soldiers first arrived in Afghanistan they were wearing forest green uniforms. It is to their credit that they scrounged for paint in order to create desert-camo fatigues and blankets but they shouldn't have had to go to such lengths, nor should Canadian troops have had to hitch a ride for the deployment. Sea Kings should not fall out of the air nor should a sailor die on a second-hand submarine and it is hard to swallow the pious sentiments expressed at cenotaphs on Remembrance Day when it is government indifference that most puts military lives at risk.

Polls indicate that Stephen Harper's approval ratings shot up after his trip to Afghanistan and it has been reported that enlistment numbers for the Canadian military are steadily increasing. Is it possible that a long-stifled urge is at work here, an urge for Canada to count as a player on the world stage and be recognized by her deeds rather than by the empty words of past governments? Is it possible that the energy checked by too much political correctness is about to spring free?

I still can't gauge how Canadians are reacting to the reality that her soldiers in Afghanistan are engaged in active warfare as well as reconstruction efforts but the lack of demonstrations argues that Canadians are fine with it. American forces in Afghanistan as well as Iraq have been doing both for a long time and I suspect that Canadians are sensible enough to recognize that there is no reason why, with proper support, Canadian troops can't do so as well, but there is also a deeper recognition that springs not so much from American sentiments but from Western sentiments: we are not only willing to die for our values but also willing to kill to defend those values.

There is a part in most of us that is dismayed when we ask our sons and daughters to kill. That is it should be in a moral society and is a key value that separates us from those who enthusiastically rejoice when their children commit murderous terror acts which kill inocent civilians. Yet the fact is that killing and detaining terrorists are the best if not only ways to protect civilians - including Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus - from terror attacks, and those who will not defend the innocent are selfishly immoral.

As I prefaced earlier I'm just speculating, but there's a reason why Don Cherry was voted to the Top Ten List of Canadians and why hockey thrives up here. If the Canadian youth are totally anti-war then why are they wearing desert camo clothing? There's something askew, and as neither Don, hockey nor military wear are for sissies, maybe there's something going on that neither the media nor the polls have addressed but which Stephen Harper has.

Confidence is a concept that has been eroded by fretting over self-esteem. It takes confidence "to do" but one needs neurosis to obsess over self-esteem, and a less neurotic and more confident Canada can be a strong and valuable participant on the world stage. I sincerely hope that Harper can tap the wellspring of Canadian confidence sufficiently to render ludicrous accusations that such is an American-style approach to life and the world because the detractors are dead wrong: confidence is not the sole province of Americans but is God's gift to the world as surely as is liberty, and there are no more confident people on the planet than free people.

To repeat Harper's exhortation of three years ago, The Maple Leaf Forever! Stride onto the world stage with the same gritty confidence that once marked Canada as a force to be reckoned with and show 'em what Canadians are made of and yes, do it for the children - including mine.

[It only took me three days to write, edit, and re-write this. Heh, maybe that's why I don't post as often as I used to. Oh well, Stephen den Beste and Bill Whittle I ain't.]

Posted by Debbye at 11:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 30, 2006

Predator gets 3

Mar. 30 - The Predator silently watched while three wannabes planted a homemade bomb near Balad Air Base in Iraq and then let them have it:

The Predator monitored the three terrorists for about a half hour while they used a pick ax to dig a hole in the road, placed an explosive round in the hole, and strung wires from the hole to a ditch on the side of the road. When it was clear the individuals were placing a bomb, the Predator launched the 100-pound Hellfire missile, killing all three insurgents.
The article also notes the weapons piles that have been located by tips from civilians. I call them patriots.

This has been a growing trend and further evidence of the growing sense of responsibility Iraqis feel for what happens there, and I find it so thrilling to watch as Iraqis assume more and more control over their country. The base assumption of the war in Iraq was our belief that their capabilities would render our presence unnecessary once the clean-up was done, and the continued line-ups for both the police forces and the military -- despite the attacks on the aspirants -- argue that this willinginess to take responsibility for themselves is neither a figment of anyone's imagination nor political spin but a real manifestation of energy and optimism.

Three years in and there's a lot more to do, but it's worth it. Indeed it is.

Posted by Debbye at 11:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

And then they came for Tom and Jerry

Feb. 27 - The cartoon controversy has just taken on a new aspect, according to Ace: Iranian Scholar: Tom And Jerry Cartoons A Jewish Conspiracy.

You just know they're priming the pump before they go after Mickey Mouse and Stuart Little.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by Debbye at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 26, 2006

The Western Front

Feb. 26 - In yesterday's Opinion Journal was an interview with Yenny Wahid, Daughter of Islam

The main goal of ideologues like Osama bin Laden is to topple the governments of Muslim countries, including, most famously, the Wahabi royal regime of Saudi Arabia. But the real strategic plum, Ms. Wahid says, would be her native Indonesia and its 220 million citizens--with the largest Muslim population on earth.

"We are the ultimate target," she told me in Washington during a trip to the U.S. earlier this month. "The real battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims is happening in Indonesia, not anywhere else. And that's why the world should focus on Indonesia and help."

The 2002 attack in Bali awoke Indonesia to the terrorist element there and it is heartening that one result of their recent elections was that this most populous Muslim nation seems committed to keeping a strong, secular government.

The war on terror has many fronts but most of the media scrutiny has been to the east. As to why they overlook the west, it is probably related to the ease with which they also ignore the partnership of Indonesia (as well as Australia) in the war on terror.

The Whalid Foundation noted in the article is an interesting site and well worth exploring.

Posted by Debbye at 09:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Cartoon Jihad

Feb. 26 - If you haven't already done so, be sure to read The Cartoon Jihad by John Thompson of The MacKenzie Institute. It is uncompromisingly and blunt:

... After years of seeing freedom of speech being defended by the likes of pedophiles, pornographers and Neo-Nazis, it is a welcome relief to speak up for editorial cartoonists against the two-faced demagogues of the Islamic World.

The seeming outrage is only expressed by a tiny minority within the Islamic world, and could be characterized as the work of rabble-rousers and professional activists from the Jihadist movement. To acknowledge their point and adjust our behavior in any way only rewards this group and invites their next act of carefully coordinated 'spontaneous' outrage. Their concerns neither merit serious consideration nor our respect.


In most cases, the first protests have been small but intense and few foreign journalists have bothered to ask why so many of the signs are in English…


As for Laban, he has returned to Denmark to practice the other old tactic of the political front, that of standing to one side while attempting to look sorrowful and reasonable. To understand how this role is played imagine, for example, the outraged survivor of a sexual assault being told by a seeming passer-by (who is related to the rapist), “Oh, if only you hadn't been so provocative”.

This is a good place to note that the Crown has declined to lay criminal charges against the Western Standard for publication of the cartoons because the intent was clearly not to incite hatred.

(MacKenzie Institute link via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Canadians in Afghanistan

Feb. 26 - A Canadian soldier was slightly wounded after two grenades exploded near a Canadian patrol on the Kandahar road between two Canadian camps. The attack was made at approximately 10:30 p.m. and and, as too often happens, it was a hit-and-run attack and thus no chance to return fire (Canadian patrol under rocket-propelled grenade attack in Afghanistan):

The first round exploded on the road between vehicles. The second projectile struck a rear door.

"It was bang, bang," said Grimshaw. [Maj. Nick Grimshaw, the senior officer on the patrol.]

Capt. Jay Adair was standing through the hatch in the rear the lead LAV-3 and saw the RPG attack firsthand.

"I heard the bangs and I also saw the explosions," Adair said.

"I'm not sure whether I saw the explosions from the weapons being fired or the weapons striking the ground and the vehicle. But certainly a bright flash and two loud bangs."


The attack was on the main road from the city to Kandahar Airfield, the same road where Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry died in a bomb attack.

As the article notes, the soldiers were traveling in G-wagons, which replaced the unarmoured Iltis vehicles after Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy was killed in January, 2004.

Properly funding and equipping the military is going to be a major challenge for the newly installed minority Conservative government. Canadian chief of the defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier lays it out:

"We remain short about three quarters of a billion dollars just to sustain the present Canadian Forces," he said.

"That's everything from married quarters to spare parts, to ammunition, the running of simulators, to gas and oil, to rations and to everything else necessary to march or fly or sail."

Beyond these day-to-day expenses, there's an enormous backlog of repairs and maintenance that has been deferred for years.

"The bow wave of things that we have not done, that we have put off . . . is enormous," he said. "It is going to take us billions of dollars to get out of that hole and I mean billions with a capital B."

Hillier also said that the military has too many buildings, hangars and other infrastructure on its bases that cost money but add nothing to the Forces.

"My estimate is that we have anywhere up to a quarter of our infrastructure that is not operationally required."

Hillier has welcomed the Conservative government's proposals for new planes, bases and 13,000 new troops.


Hillier seemed to be taken aback by a new poll published Friday which suggested almost two-thirds of Canadians oppose Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.


Hillier also said he wants to build a stronger connection between the Forces and the rest of the country after years in which the military and the civilian community have drifted apart.

"Having been disconnected from the population for many years in my view, disowned by Canadians in this past decade and seen their confidence in us plummet, we have an obligation to ensure that we as Canada's armed forces are seen by our population . . . as exactly that; as their armed forces."

Although I can't scientifically prove it, I do believe that the impact of American Milbloggers on communications between the American public and military has been immense. As this chart indicates, though, there is a decided lack of them in Canada.

Bloggers do have a way of filling a vacuum, though, and Damian Brooks and Chris Taylor are part of a new enterprise to fill that need: The Torch, a blog focused on the Canadian military and which already has an impressive series of posts including this one which takes on the notion that Canadians are a nation of "peacekeepers." Be sure to bookmark and visit The Torch.

(Yahoo link Neale News; CTV and Milblogs links via Newsbeat 1.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"We're all racial profilers now"

Feb. 26 - Munu changes servers (insert mumbled techno-stuff) and I too had difficulty logging on but everything seems to be back to normal.

As weeks go, last week was a sorry example of our ability to differentiate between the war on terror and fear of all things Arab. I am referring, of course, to the sensationalist fear-mongering over the sale of a British company to a company run out of the UAE and both Democrats and Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. I'm just a private citizen and even I know that security at ports is run by federal agencies not private ones, so why don't U.S. Senators? As someone quipped, "We're all racial profilers now."

Crucial to al Qaeda's successful attacks has been the recruitment of and deployment of home-based terrorists. The attacks in New York, Madrid and London were performed by people residing in those countries and, although security in ports remains a gaping question, so does security in chemical factories, electrical plants, subways, and just about everywhere. Fighting the war on terror while also retaining our society as an open one remains the paradox and the challenge.

Has everyone already picked up on the fact that the same company that has raised such alarms in the U.S. already leases a container facility in Vancouver?

Duncan Wilson, spokesman for the Vancouver Port Authority - basically P&O Canada's landlord - said security at the port is the responsibility of the RCMP, the local police and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, whose agents inspect containers.


"It's a business arrangement. Our other terminals are also operated by offshore companies."

So do we want to isolate all Arabs, or encourage Arabs to join in the effort to isolate terrorists?

Isn't it curious that the American news media which, with only a few exceptions, declined to publish the Danish cartoons (although I did see two of them broadcast by Fox News during a clip about the support demonstration in front of the Danish Embassy in D.C.) yet was so willing to misinform the public about the sale of the British company to a Dubai based concern? I guess they figure it's safer to target our allies than to annoy our enemies ...

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

That cartoon controversy (the Canadian one)

Feb. 21 - I promised on Saturday that I would explain why I liked the Tunnel of Tolerance cartoon published by The Strand, a Canadian student newspaper. My reaction to it was immediate but it was hard to pinpoint why it struck me favourably because, although I primarily was struck by the political statement it made, I recognized there was a religious element. I eventually realized that, for me, the religious element was irrevelant because it didn't affect my faith.

Jesus was not a micro-manager. I don't believe that Jesus was a homosexual but then I've never spent any time wondering about that aspect of his life because he himself didn't address it. His message transcends sexual considerations because he taught us to regard one another as brothers and sisters, a message which is as profound and immense in this age as it was in his.

I have no doubt that the cartoon angered a lot of people for a great many reasons, but I also believe that darned word "tolerance" put those who might be inclined to over-react on the defensive. In both military and moral grounds, that gave the cartoonist the high ground if not the win outright. It also outflanked many in the liberal left who didn't want to be accused of homophobia.

The cartoonist outmaneuvered too many interest groups not to be worthy of respect.

Angry or not, I doubt Christians will hurl molotov cocktails into the newspaper offices and demand that the editors be beheaded and the cartoonist's hands be cut off. It's all about how faith is rooted in free will. My faith is freely given so is not shaken by "harmful" influences. If indeed any cartoon is sufficient to shake my faith then the question must be asked: is my faith based on sand or on rock? (That's a religious metaphor, not a topographical one.) If one really takes the riots over the cartoons as expressions of religious outrage then it is hard not to wonder how insecure many of the participants - and those who incited them - are in their faith.

But of course the controversy over the Danish cartoons was not about the cartoons and the riots were incited to intimidate Western publications and governments. They posed the question as to what extent a religion - any religion - is allowed to influence secular institutions but too many journalists failed to accept their responsibilities as members of the secular press and were complicit in subjecting themselves to religious censorship either through fear or an innate failure to recognize their own bias.

However much I might regret that the latest battle lines have been drawn over cartoons I still march under that banner which reveres freedom of expression. The principle must be emphasized: if you don't like what you see or read then turn the page, cancel your subscription, and write a scathing letter. The reality is that Christians can respect Muslims without believing in the sanctity of Mohammed and a Pope can kiss the Koran but Mohammed remains, to many of us, a false prophet and pictures depicting him are not blasphemous. We've tried to be polite about it but that's the way it is.

The cartoon may offend many but it's how we respond to such provocation that affirms our ability to co-exist. The Tunnel of Tolerance is aptly named because the capacity for tolerance is what is being tempered in this age of globalization. Fire and ice, people. Fire and ice.

Posted by Debbye at 05:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006


Feb. 19 - Victor Davis Hanson addresses the question behind the issues raised by the Cartoon Controversy: are we finally seeing A European Awakening Against Islamic Fascism?

(Via Newsbeat1, who has a terrific line-up of solid reading. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.)

[Aside: Canada trails Finland 2-0 in men's hockey. This seems like a really good time to get out of the living room and grab some sleep.]

Posted by Debbye at 03:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 18, 2006

Raising the level of the debate

Feb. 18 - The University of Toronto's student newspaper, The Strand, has published a cartoon depicting Mohammed and Jesus kissing.

The cartoon, "Tunnel of Tolerance," and editorial, "To print or not to print," can be viewed here (registration may be required.)

Unsurprisingly it has caused a bit of an uproard , but the U of T student newspaper refuses to apologize for publishing the Muhammad and Jesus cartoon.

I am in the usual evening rush (wake up, gulp down coffee, dash out) and don't have the time at this moment to properly formulate and present my thoughts, but my immediate reaction is that I like this response to the Cartoon Controversy. I'll try to put words to my thoughts tomorrow.

One sees what one wants to see. I don't see this as a gay statement but as a kiss of peace -- a symbol of acceptance and tolerance between two of the world's largest religions.

Bottom line: the war of terror is not a war on Muslims.

[As I noted, I'm in a horrible rush and thus reserve the right to edit this for the sake of clarity.]

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

NATO allies reduce forces, budgets

Feb. 17 - We have a couple of sayings back home:

"Talk is cheap."
"Put your money where your mouth is."

For some reason those cliches came to mind when I read NATO allies cut military since 9/11.

Posted by Debbye at 11:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

Canadian connection to thwarted L.A. attack

Feb. 10 - Noteworthy item here, although the interesting part is not even in the story: Malaysian recruited for attack on U.S. pulled out after seeing Sept. 11 on TV. The Malaysian in question is Zaini Zakaria. (I suspect Australians and New Zealanders are familiar with that name, hmm?)

Duly note this:

It quoted Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the reputed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks who was captured in 2003, as saying "three potential pilots were recruited for the alleged second wave."

It identified them as Zacarias Moussaoui, Abderraouf Jdey, and Zaini. (Bolding added.)

I immediately recognized the name of Jdey. In that this is a story on a Canada's supposed primary news site (funded by the taxpayers) and written by writers for the Canadian Press one might think they would blink (if not shoot out of their chairs) at the name "Abderraouf Jdey" but, while providing some information about Moussaoui and Zaini, they passed on Jdey.

So why am I making such a fuss? Because Abderraouf Jdey is a Canadian. He moved here in 1991 and became a Canadian citizen in 1995. His suicide tape was found in Afghanistan and the FBI issued a world-wide warrant for his arrest some years ago. He is considered armed and dangerous. (Heh. Wikipedia has an entry on Jdey including some allegations which are highly, um, speculative.)

It's absolutely incredible that they fumbled on some rather obvious Can-con (that's a phrase we give to the mandatory inclusion of Canadian content imposed on radio and television.) Journalistic malpractice or willful ignorance? I can't read their minds so can't make a determination in this matter but I do think either is pathetic.

Moussaoui, of course, was already in jail on September 11, 2001, so his participation in any plot planned for 2002 was foiled, and Zaini Zakaria is currently being held for his involvement in Jemaah Islamiya, the al Qaeda-linked group which planned and carried out the 2002 Bali terror attack.

I knew Jdey's name already -- it also came up during the Sept. 11 hearings in the U.S. -- but had to google to get information about Zaini. (That's because I'm just an amateur and forgot his mention in the Sept. 11 Commission report.)

The true wonder is how they concluded the item in the best tradition of the Sob Story without blushing.

Posted by Debbye at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

Another "mistake?"

Nov. 18 - Task Force Soldiers Respond to Khanaqin Bombings:

TIKRIT, Iraq, Nov. 18, 2005 – More than 150 Iraqi civilians were reported killed or wounded in terrorist attacks that destroyed two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin during prayer services today, military officials here said.
These attacks had nothing to do with our presence in Iraq and everything to do with ongoing efforts to destroy the religious freedoms now enjoyed by Shiites.

Zarqawi now claims that the bombings in Jordan were not meant to target civilians. It is impossible to believe that the bombers in Amman didn't know they were at wedding receptions so this disavowal is little more than damage control, but, sadly, there are probably many who will accept the notion that the attack was a "mistake."

For more critical analysts, though, when this disavowal is taken within the context of today's bombings it must cause one to wonder exactly who Zarqawi considers to be civilians. Judging by these latest murderous attacks by so-called insurgents, one must conclude that worshippers in a Shiite mosque are not considered civilians.

This highlights a central issue which those who call for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq need to address within their own ranks: is their reluctance to support a U.S.-lead coalition more important than defending innocent people against a monster that would strangle not only political but religious freedoms as well? Aren't religious freedoms an integral part of that which we call human rights and therefore worth defending?

In ways which many did not foresee, bringing down Saddam has exposed a previously little-known facet of Islamic extremism, which is to murder Muslims who do not fall within their narrow definitions of "true believers." I am not one who will support this latest variety of an "Inquisition."

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

Able Danger

Nov. 17 - Former FBI director Louis Freeh writes about the dismissive attitude toward Able Danger by the Sept. 11 Commission in An Incomplete Investigation.

We're fully into the Christmas Holiday season at the store (including non-stop playing of the ubiquitous Christmas Holiday carols.) Posting will tend to be light until mid-January.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 24, 2005

"We did nothing to apologize for."

Oct. 24 - More "religious" riots. So are Egyptians rioting over the release of a DVD of a Christian play or in preparation for elections next month?

According to information gleaned from this CNN account, Four die in DVD-fed Muslim rioting, the rioters have won a partial victory because one of the two Coptic candidates, Maher Khalah, has withdrawn from the parliamentary elections.

But they didn't win the big concession, namely an apology:

"We're not going to apologize because we don't want it to become a precedent," said [Kamil] Sediq of the Coptic Community Council, a secular body of prominent Copts established in 1874 to oversee affairs of the community. "We did nothing to apologize for."
I wish more would follow his example by not apologizing when they've done nothing wrong.

Posted by Debbye at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

"Do these people not feel the shame and disgrace that shroud them?"

Oct. 21 - Lots of people should feel shame these days for things that have been done, things that have not been done or said, and things that should be done but most likely will not be done.

'Omran Salman has written about the continuing extermination of Shi'ites in Iraq and attacks the silence of Sunnis there and that of Arab journalists and statesmen throughout the Mideast: "Aren't the Arabs Ashamed When Some of Them Massacre Iraqi Citizens?":

"What can we say in light of the attitude of the Arab media [in general] and the Arab satellite channels in particular, which report the killings, the slaughters, and the suicide bombings among Iraqi citizens coolly, treating them as routine events [and] as part of what has been termed 'the series of [acts of] violence in Iraq?'

"The war being waged by the Al-Qaeda organization and the terrorists against the Shi'ites in Iraq is among the acts of collective extermination, which is rare in modern history. There has been no case in the past in which somebody has declared a similar war against a race or a group as a whole, except [for the case of] Nazi Germany against the Jews...

"The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq and similar [bodies] in Arab countries have issued dozens of fatwas about current political issues, but have not issued even a single fatwa declaring bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, or Al-Zarqawi to be infidels because of their killing of the Shi'ites."

Salman could have included much of the Western media in his denunciation because they too have failed to place the targeted murders in the context of al Zarqawi's stated purpose, preferring to pretend that the bombings of civilians is part of the "insurgency."

Since we're on the subject of shame, the media silence about the recent Iraq referendum has been deafening, and Oliver North does some sharpshooting in The purple finger effect:

The same potentates of the press who focused for weeks on hanging chads in Florida five years ago widely ignored one of the most dramatic political events of our time. In the midst of a bloody war, politicians in an Islamic country spent seven months drafting their own constitution and then sent it to their people for ratification.
More shame: the U.N. report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri has concluded that Syrian officials were behind the bomb that killed Hariri and
CNN was able to obtain a copy of the report given Thursday to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Security Council members, which lists the names of the men accused of planning the February 14, 2005, bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people.

The names were not in copies of the report released for general distribution.

In addition to Maher Assad, the Syrian president's brother, those investigating Hariri's death accused Assef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law; Jamil al-Sayyed, head of Lebanese intelligence; Hassan Khalil, former head of Syrian intelligence; and Bahjat Suleyman, a personal friend of the Syrian president, as participating in planning the assassination.

A witness, who is Syrian but lives in Lebanon, and who claims to have worked for Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, told investigators that about two weeks before Security Council Resolution 1559 was passed, the officials decided to assassinate Hariri.

President Bush spoke about the report today:
"Today, a serious report came out that requires the world to look at it very carefully and respond accordingly," he said. "The report is deeply disturbing."

Bush said he instructed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to "call upon the United Nations to convene a session as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter."

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, will be meeting with the author of the report, German prosecutor Detleve Mehlis, Friday morning, and will urge the U.N. Security Council to meet and "consider options." That's all very nice, but the U.N.'s options are extremely limited. They can't ignore their own report, but would the General Assembly pass a resolution condemning Syria? and then ... what?

Lebanon is a member of the agency of "francophonie" as are France, Romania and Benin, nations which currently sit on the UNSC, and thus one would expect them to exhibit some degree of solidarity, right? [As an aside, Canada, New Brunswick and Quebec are also members of the agency of francophonie.]

One group that realistically might be able to exert pressure on Syria is the EU. They were quick to make overtures for increased trade with Syria after the U.S. Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act in 2004 and are thus in a position wherein they could at minimum impose sanctions. Right.

(Memri link via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 05:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 07, 2005

Zawahiri: Send money!

Oct. 7 - (Sorry about the silly title, but I'm on my sixth day/night with little sleep and I couldn't help thinking that Zawahiri's reqeusts for funds sounds like the stereotypical college student writing home.)

Nevertheless, the request for money is astonishing. The general impression had been that al Qaeda seemingly had limitless funds, but if the letter accurately represents al Qaeda's financial state I have to wonder if maybe we have indeed been successful in cutting off their funding - including that which many of us suspect came from Saudi Arabia.

The rest of the letter (ahem, treatise) is perhaps less surprising. Zawahiri evidently realizes that Zarqawi is as much a psychopath as Saddam & Sons but he's trying to reason with him. Maybe he should have received the Nobel Peace Prize instead of elBaradei ...

Silliness aside, the implications of this 13-page comminque are deadly serious (U.S. Obtains Treatise By Bin Laden Deputy) and confirms the reasons why the U.S. is hanging tough in Iraq.

These days leading up to the October 15 referendum in Iraq are likely to continue to be bloody but the treatise makes clear how vitally important that vote is. The results are somewhat secondary to the fact that there will be a vote and that the people of Iraq will have the final voice in the destiny of their country.

On the plans to extend jihad, is it just me or would not taking Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Israel effectively tighten a noose around Jordan and Saudi Arabia? And no mention of the Palestinians? That is a glaring omission given the civil war taking place there.

Iran is also left out. Or is it counted as "mission accomplished?"

I still haven't had a chance to do more than scan the transcript of President Bush's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy (and like the passion of what I've read) but hot damn! releasing the treatise at the same time as that speech was well-executed.

Please, Mr. President, do it more often! Let's stay focused on the aims of this war and the horrific consequences of appeasement or, unthinkably, failure.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dawn Patrol (even if it is dusk)

Oct. 7 - I have been totally caught up following the links at today's Dawn Patrol at Mudville Gazette and can barely digest it all. To call it a "full plate" would be as to call toast without butter a meal. [Sheesh. I'm trying to say that today's patrol is a banquet.]

Scroll down and take a look. Warning! The final section, Welcome Home, might just fill your heart with gratitude and bring tears to your eyes. It's had that impact on me.

19:23 - Hurrah for the good folks in Brook Park, Ohio! The thousands that turned out for the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, were joined in spirit by millions of us too far away to attend.

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2005

Is it "sectarian civil strife" if only one side is attacking?

Oct. 5 - Hillah: A bomb kills 25 and wounds 87. Inside a mosque. During the funeral service of a victim of a previous homicide attack. Part of the mosque is destroyed.

CNN notes that Iraqi police were at the funeral and might have been the targets. Riiight.

CNN offers the usual analysis that this is all sectarian civil strife, but is that accurate?

Doesn't "civil strife" imply that both sides are attacking one another and setting off bombs in mosques? Yet bombs have been going on in Shiite mosques, not Sunni mosques. Shiites have been targets of terrorist attacks, not Sunnis - unless they are Sunni Kurds. Non-Kurdish Sunnis are only 20% of Iraq's population, and, despite political overtures from Shiites and Kurds that have been extremely generous, they have been obstructionists to establishing consensual government in Iraq.

Although Shiites are the majority in Iraq, they are not the majority of Muslims, and that may explain why many Muslims are seemingly indifferent to desecrations of Shiite mosques and the murders of Shiite civilians and why the U.N. and Saudis are more concerned about the Sunnis than the Shiites that are being slaughtered.

The religious tensions between Shiites and Sunnis casts a different light on the rebuke delivered by Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr to Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia:

Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, had expressed concern about growing Shi'ite influence in Iraq during a visit to Washington last month.

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a member of the Shi'ite Islamist Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, fired back during a press conference in Amman yesterday, saying, "We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal issues, regardless of their political status. ...

"This Iraq is the cradle of civilization that taught humanity reading and writing, and some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us. This talk is totally rejected," he said.

He could have gone much further. He could have accused the Saudis of exporting the cult of terrorism through the religious schools they've established throughout the Muslim world. He could have pointed out that many suspect that Saudi money is financing the wave of terror aimed at Shiites in Iraq. He did point out that the suppression of political freedoms in Saudi Arabia hardly make them authorities on establishing consensual government:
He also took a swipe at the Saudi monarchy.

"There are regimes that are dictatorships. They have one God. He is the king, he is God of heaven and earth, and he rules as he likes," Mr. Jabr said.

"A whole country is named after a family. If we open these topics without inhibitions, it is neither to our benefit, nor to theirs."

The exchange between the two ministers reflects wider tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites that divide the Arab world and are behind many of the problems in Iraq, including a stubborn insurgency and the failure of the country to unite in support of a new constitution.

I have to admit that the Shiites and Kurds have been far more patient with Sunni intransigence that I would be, but maybe that is changing:
Iraq's National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reverse last-minute changes it had made to rules for next week's referendum on a new constitution.

The United Nations had criticized the change as unfair to Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which had threatened to boycott the vote.

After a brief debate, the Assembly voted 119 to 28 to restore the original voting rules for the referendum, which will take place October 15. Only about half of the 275-member legislative body turned up for the vote.


U.S. and U.N. officials hope that restoring the original rules will avert a boycott of the referendum by the Sunni minority, would have deeply undermined the credibility of the vote and wreck efforts to bring Sunnis into the political process.

To Western minds, those who don't vote have no right to complain about the outcome. The Sunnis boycotted the January elections but were still appointed to government positions in an effort to unite the country (which is something we understand fully as "going the extra mile") but the Sunni insurgents have exploited that sentiment by continuing to attack Shiite targets.

Maybe - just maybe - restoring the original rules will be interpreted as a sign that the 80% of Iraqis who aren't Sunnis are losing patience and want to get on with ratifying a constitution, electing a government, and rebuilding the country.

I'm with the 80%. The Sunnis once ruled Iraq and, hard as it may be to relinquish total power, at some point they must be made to realize that if they are to have any power it will have to within the framework of a power-sharing government.

(Washington Times link via Newsbeat1)

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October 03, 2005

Terrorists criticized by Human Rights Watch

Oct. 3 - Maybe I was too pessimistic on Saturday when I despaired that there was sufficient tinder to feed Muslim outrage over terrorist attacks.

Human Rights Watch has condemned terror attacks by anti-Iraqi forces (whom they call insurgents) and accuse them of committing war crimes. They also say that the attacks are backfiring and reducing popular support for the anti-Iraq forces. (Link via Mudville Gazette.)

In Afghanistan, the assassination of candidate Mohammed Ashraf Ramazan sparked protest demonstrations by nearly 4,000 in Mazar-e-Sharif. Ramazan was a Hazara, an ethnic group that is about 10% of Afghanistan's population, and the protesters accused international peacekeeping forces and the Karzai government of discrimination which led to the lack of security which enabled the killing. (Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Captain Ed reports that the Balinese are going from shock to anger and asking Why us?. He also points out the the usual excuses given for attacks on Western targets simply don't apply to Bali or Indonesia as a whole.

It should be remembered that some of the largest demonstrations against U.S. intervention in Iraq took place in Indonesia yet bombs still went off in Jakarta and Bali.

Pieter focuses on some of the reasons why the Balinese are targets and draws a parallel between the challenge fundamentalist forces pose to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Instinctive anti-Americanism once sufficed as an excuse for the apologists of terrorism but the instict for survival may yet prove more persuasive.

Posted by Debbye at 07:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bali Update

Oct. 3 - Tim Blair deals with rumours and some accounts that dispute the official story that the three bombs that hit two restaurants in Bali were the work of homicide bombers as well as the persistent rumours that other bombs failed to detonate by remote because the phone service went down after the initial bombs went off.

It appears that Indonesians (probably Balinese) were the largest number of casualties. CNN reports 21 dead and at least 132 wounded:

The latest attacks killed at least two Australians, one Japanese and four or five other foreigners whose nationalities have not been determined, hospital officials said. The other victims were Indonesian.

Earlier reports put the death toll higher because body parts were entering the morgue in separate body bags, police said.

Among the wounded are 68 Indonesians, 20 Australians, six Koreans, four Americans and four Japanese, with five others unidentified, according to Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari.

Two of the three chief suspects are Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed. They are Malaysians and believed to be al Qaeda operatives. The CNN account is somewhat understated; bin Husin and Mohamed are both wanted in connection with the Jakarta attacks of 2003 and 2004, as well as for their part in the 2002 Bali attack:
Syaiful Bahri, alias Apuy, was sentenced for helping the fugitive masterminds behind the attack make their bomb.
The blast, in September last year, killed 10 innocent people and the suicide bomber.

Judge Sucahyo Padmo said Bahri, 26, was guilty of "providing assistance" to Malaysians Azahari Husin and Noordin Top, who are both wanted over the September 9 attack.

Bahri helped purchase potassium used to make the two-tonne truck bomb that exploded outside the heavily-fortified mission and helped master bombmaker Azahari mix the chemicals into an explosive cocktail.

The judges said he also helped hide Azahari and Noordin, who have managed to evade police despite a three-year manhunt launched after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people - including 88 Australians.

The pair are also blamed for the 2003 blast that ripped apart Jakarta's JWMarriott hotel, killing 12.

There is something sinister about those who travel about Indonesia and other hot spots building bombs and persuading others to lash on those bombs to blow up themselves along with people eating in restaurants or nightclubbing. Calling them "terrorist enablers" is accurate but makes them sound like a group designed for a wearying number of papers submitted to psychology associations; the words I prefer are not appropriate for a blog my parents read but in their own way are more satisfying.

I'm not as angry as I was Saturday but that's not to say that I'm calmer. Bali is a beautiful island and the ideal target for Islamist extremists. The tourism industry is vital to the island's economy, which was only beginning to recover after the devastating attack of October 12, 2002, and most of the inhabitants are polytheist Hindus or Buddhists and seen as an impediment to Jemaah Islamiyah's stated goal of turning Indonesia into a strict Muslim state. If the intent of the terrorists is to isolate and impoverish Bali they may have finally succeeded.

We in North American don't pay enough attention to the Western theatre of the war on terror (fortunately, the Australians do.) Maybe this latest terror attack will get the public's attention and events in Malaysia, Thailand, the Phillippines and Indonesia will be placed in context in this worldwide war on terror.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2005

Blasts in Bali Tourist Area

Oct. 1 - Details are extremely sketchy thus far: Blasts in Bali tourist area:

EXPLOSIONS in a popular tourist area of Bali have injured at least three Western tourists and damaged buildings.

The blasts occurred along Jimbaran beach and in Kuta Square.

The area has been cordoned off and staff from nearby businesses told to leave the area, witnesses say.

A restaurant and neighbouring shop were damaged in one blast.

There is no confirmation of what caused the explosions, nor how many people were injured.

At least three Western tourists were injured in the blasts, El Shinta radio reported.

Just a caution: there is no evidence as of yet that this was another terrorist attack. But that doesn't change the fact that I am having a hard time breathing much less writing coherently. Some memories are seared so deeply that it doesn't take much to trigger a reaction.

Hope and pray. That's all we can do (for now.)

11:30 - The Australian news is reporting at least 4 bombs were detonated in the two areas; at least 19 are dead (mostly foreigners) and 51 wounded. (CNN also has the story here if your browser hates Java.)

It is suspected that Jemaah Islamiyah (an affiliate of al Qaeda) is behind the attacks. From CNN:

A report issued in early September warned that bin laden and his top lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri may be planning a series of attacks in October, dubbed "The Great Ramadan Offensive."
Tim Blair is updating as information comes in. An early report said that at least one Australian was dead and Tim Blair reports that ABC (the American network, as opposed to ABC, the Australian equivalent of the CBC) lists two Americans among the dead.

12:04 - Tim Blair is updating here as information comes in. (Sorry for the redundancy. No sleep.)

12:26 - FoxNews reports two Americans and one Australian among the dead. The nationalities of the other fatalities are not yet known. There are a number of wounded; Fox reports 38 with the largest number being Indonesians (28) which, in all liklihood, means Balinese, i.e., Hindus.

12:35 - According to Focus English News, police found another four unexploded devices were found on the island. They say there are 23 fatalities.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reported to be on his way to Bali.

12:50 - I believe Australia is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time, so it's likely going to be a long and grim night for many Australians and Indonesians as they await specifics.

"The Great Ramadan Offensive" indeed. Remember when the USA was urged not to begin the Afghan campaign until after Ramadan so as not to inflame the Arab street? I wish, I really wish, that they would get inflamed about al Qaeda's new offensive, but having been so quiet about the Iraqis who've been murdered by the pious terrorists it's unlikely they'll be too upset about a few dead Westerners and Hindus.

I keep waiting for that breaking point - that moment in time when Muslims around the world unite in opposition to the desecration of their religion and heritage. This latest attack is unlikely to provide that spark, nor will a few bombs set off in Christian neighbourhoods in Lebanon or in British subways.

Maybe there will be no spark that takes because there is no tinder. It may well be that fatalism and cynicism, two afflictions which also burden us, will prove too deeply rooted for healthy growth.

There are some things I simply must take care of before I try to sleep. Later.

13:27 - It suddenly occurred to me that the BBC would be broadcasting their evening news at this time, and I tuned it in. They are covering the Bali blasts extensively (please don't point out the obvious; I could be shopping or clubbing or ... painting my nails instead of having to spend hours trying to write posts if the American news media would just do their &*@$# jobs.)

The BBC reports there were 3 bombs and there are 22 dead and 38 wounded -35 of which are said to be foreigners.

An expert on Jemaah Islamiyah pointed out that this is the first terror attack in Indonesia since Yudhoyono took office. Trenchant point.

More from Tim Blair: a Japanese woman is among the dead. He also reports that the high number of Indonesia wounded (28) has been reported by Sangla Hospital. Eight Australians and two Americans are also reported to be injured.

I plan to continue to pretend that I can focus on mundane, personal stuff.

20:36 - An Australian news agency is now reporting 32 dead and 101 injured from the bomb blasts. One Australian teen is confirmed to be dead and at least 17 Australians are injured. (CNN reports 36 dead and 103 injured.)

There remains confusion over the identities of the dead and wounded, but it is probable that the majority of those dead and wounded are Indonesian. CBC is reporting 3 Canadians sustained minor injures in the blast and were released after treatment and Fox reports 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Koreans, three Japanese and two Americans were injured, according to an official at Sanglah Hospital. [By the way, I failed to mention earlier that a specialist burn unit at Sanglah Hospital was built by the Australian government after the 2002 Bali attacks. Sadly, it has proven useful.] Early reports that two Americans were killed may have been erroneous.

From CNN:

[Australian Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer said it appeared most of those killed were Indonesian. He said 17 Australians were among the injured. Local media reports also said several foreigners are among those wounded.

So far 15 bodies had been identified, according to Reuters news agency, quoting hospital officials. It said among the dead were 12 Indonesians, including a six-year-old boy, two Australians and a Japanese national. The wounded included 17 Australians, six South Koreans, three Americans, three Japanese and one Briton.

Downer said Australia was sending a response team to Bali, and Australian Federal Police were ready to work with their Indonesian colleagues in investigating the attacks.

It's worth saying again: The al Qaeda network in Asia is extensive and murderous. Australia is the Western front of the war on terror and doesn't get half the recognition she deserves.

Lift a few to the redoubtable Australians this evening and give them praise. Say a prayer for the Balinese who have endured more than their share. Remember that those who have died in terror attacks over the years have been a persistent reminder that the war on terror isn't about a religion but a stand against heartless murderers who attack innocent people because their message is so perverted that they cannot persuade by reason.

Death to them, I say. Death and eternal damnation.

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

Terrorism and world poverty

Sept. 15 - The U. N. continues to dither over defining terrorism and taking a firm stand for freedom. Iraq President Talabani had no difficulty in identifying it during his response (scroll down) to Bush's welcome speech to the White House on Tuesday:

We have also people who are in -- (inaudible) -- who are cooperating with Iraqi forces, and with American forces against terrorism. It is a good signal that our people start to understand that terrorism is the enemy of Iraqi people before becoming enemy of Americans. They are killing our civilians, or innocent children. They are destroying our mosques -- church, everywhere, regardless of what may happen to the people.
Yesterday's terror attacks in Baghdad continued the sad connection with the dead of Sept. 11 in New York, March 11 in Madrid, and July 7 in London: those whose only crime was going to work were murdered by the same merciless group as took the lives of those seeking employment. And what is employment if not a means to secure income to meet the necessities of yourself and your family?

Those who were killed because they have or seek jobs join the fallen of Beslan who were guilty of no more than attending school and the many victims of terror attacks who were guilty of no more than shopping at a local market, enjoying a vacation in Bali, or working in the tourist industries of Bali, Egypt and Kenya.

There is much truth to assertions that poverty plays a role in recruiting to terrorist organizations, but doesn't that beg the question as to why many terrorist actions seem to be intended to further poverty?

Member countries of the United Nations may be unwilling unable to define terrorism, but most of us can see that one of terrorism's goals is to defeat the hopes of people who want to better their lives.

I never thought it probable that the U.N., in which a majority of the member nations are dictatorships, would actually stand up for freedom and human rights anyway but it is interesting to note that terrorism is - properly, in my view - being framed as being a major obstacle to ending world poverty. It seems to me that the British proposal to the U.N. is aimed not only at the bureaucrats, rock stars and NGOs but also to everyday people, most of whom can connect dots and who rely on their common sense more than deconstructionist obfuscations.

Given today's attacks in Iraq in which at least 30 were killed, President Talabani's address to the U.N. in which he asked that the world help defeat terrorism resound all the more eloquently.

On a related note, for those who find it hard to believe that al Qaeda attacks people simply because they want to be free today's roadside bombing in Kabul and the timing of yesterday's attacks in Iraq as well as the threats leading up to last January's elections there should at least be suggestive:

The wave of bombings, which began shortly after dawn and continued until about 4 p.m., coincided with Iraqi lawmakers announcing the country's draft constitution was in its final form and would be sent to the United Nations for printing and distribution ahead of an Oct. 15 national referendum. Sunni Muslims, who form up the core of the insurgency, have vowed to defeat the basic law.
A final thought: the leadership of Iraq continues to impress me with their steadfast refusal to be goaded into a civil war. An old Civil Rights song urged we "keep our eyes on the prize / hold on" and today's Iraqis are exhibiting that kind of resolve. They are truly heroes.

Let Freedom Ring!

[FYI: President Bush's speech to the UNSC is here. British PM Tony Blair's address to the U.N. summit is here (with thanks to Robert for the latter link.) Also, President Bush is not impressed with the UNHRC and blasts them (link via Neale News.)]

Posted by Debbye at 06:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2005

Distinguishing between Muslim Friend and Islamist Foe

July 28 - The wait for this to download and run was well worth it although the interview itself was unsettling because it punches into what is so difficult about this new war: Re: Al Gordon interviewed on 570 News Radio (with many thanks to John for the link.)

Gordon's interview and the Irshad Manji essay cited below seem to be two sides of the proverbial coin, hard questions that need to be asked both from within and without.

I guess I'd count myself among those who understood why Muslim communities would tend to close ranks when the result of Sept. 11 was a declaration of war. I hoped (and still believe) that the questions Gordon and Manji pose would be asked within those communities but that it wouldn't happen overnight and recognized that finding solutions would be painful for those who chose to address the problems.

We can't avoid a defensive climate altogether, though, because Muslim communities are on the spot because terror attacks are proclaimed to be conducted in the name of Islam. It isn't up to Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, or the believers of anything else to counter the claims of the Islamists but Muslims themselves, and however badly I may feel that so many Muslims have been put in this horrible position it doesn't change the objective reality that this is a religion in crisis and reclaiming the principles of that religion and its ability to coexist with those of other faiths is absolutely necessary.

Does it need to be stated yet again? September 11 was the crossing of the Rubicon, the point of no return, the last and final straw. Patience should not be confused with suicidal tendencies, and the lines that have been drawn are rarely spoken about explicitly because we already know they are there. Those of al Qaeda and their like who counselled war have it. Period.

If moderate Islam is the solution to extremist Islamism, this excerpt from the mission statement of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies succinctly states what I believe is the unifying principle which separates those of us who support freedom and those who pay it only lip service:

Founded in 2003, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-denominational organization of concerned Canadians dedicated to the protection and promotion of democracy at home and abroad. CCD will influence the Canadian political process and public opinion to achieve a more pro-democracy foreign policy.

Senior members of CCD include Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Copts, Assyrians, Buddhists, secularists, and everything in between. The uniting principle is democracy, not religion or ethnicity. (Bolding added)

That's right: a confident assertion for freedom from a Canadian source. (Just when you think you had this country figured out ...)

A social studies teacher long ago said that America was less a melting pot and more of a stew. Chunks of beef, carrot, onion, potato and celery were put into one pot and, although each retained its individual flavour, the combination made for a hearty meal. That goes for Canada too.

The problem with multi-culturalism is that it shouldn't be a problem; there are many things which unite those who move to - and live in - Western countries, and the willingness to take the risk and act upon the desire for freedom and it's offspring, pursuing one's dreams, is the tie that binds. That is an aspect of our way of life that we should trumpet and celebrate rather than apologize for.

It's who we are and what we strive to maintain.

Let freedom ring!

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When Denial Can Kill

July 28 - Irshad Manji: When Denial Can Kill.

Manji has written a sober, heartfelt essay on the need for a reformation in Islam and, as I read it, I was reminded again that the Enlightenment did not immediately succeed the reformation in Christianity but that there were wars, purges and massacres before the heretical notion of tolerance was accepted.

(Via Newsbeat1.)

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July 11, 2005

Hanson and Mansur

July 11 - The July 7 London terror attacks have prompted many to recall the fortitude of the British during the blitz of WWII and the sheer will and determination that finally led to VE Day 60 years ago. The inescapable sub-text is "this is how we win a war" (and I share that desire to appeal to inner resolve to get us through these trying times.)

There are, of course, those today who think it possible to step back from the brink of war and negotiate with or appease the enemy - mostly because they have a different analysis of the root causes of the current conflict - yet demoralising the public is a textbook example as to How to lose a war:

... the terrorists and their supporters understand that in a strange way the West is not only split, but also increasingly illiberal as well. It has lost confidence in its old commitment to rationalism, free speech and empiricism, and now embraces the deductive near-religious doctrines of moral equivalence and utopian pacifism. Al Qaeda's supporters will say that Thursday's victims were killed because of Afghanistan or Iraq. Westerners will duly repeat the dull refrain that "Bush lied, thousands died" in their guilt-ridden search for something we did to cause this.

And so, rather than focus our attention on the madrassas and the mosques that preach hatred, we will strive to learn more about Islamic culture, as if our own insensitivity were the true culprit. Our grandfathers could despise Bushido — Japan's warrior cult — without worrying whether they were being unfair to Buddhists; we of less conviction and even less courage, cannot do likewise.

Salim Mansur's column World must unit to fight terrorists links the G8 conference with some apt historical parallels:
In the 19th century, the great European powers of the time came together to end piracy on the high seas, and make the sea-lanes of the world safe for commerce.

Similarly, Britain took the leadership in ending traffic in slavery, and the United States had to survive a civil war to abolish it from its lands. Thus were the terrible scourges of piracy and slavery in human history brought to an end.

Now, once again, the great powers of the world must set a common purpose to end this latest form of global banditry -- dismissing with deserving contempt all the excuses offered by the so-called well-meaning "liberal" folks in the West.

The reference to ending piracy on the sea lanes is in part based upon the shared history of the countries of many of those at the G8 when they finally confronted the Barbary Pirates in the early part of the 19th century, the tradition of which was often invoked after Sept. 11 and contains within it the seeds of the strategy we would be employing in the war on terror as well as the long term patience and committment it would require.

Millions for defense; not one cent for tribute! This slogan was inspired under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and the need to take the fight to the pirates as well as protect our shipping interests led to the establishment of the U.S. Navy. [Those who delive deeper might be pleased to learn that our struggle to end the tributes was not initially supported by Europe, shipping was further protected by the naval power of the day - the British! - and those who love irony will appreciate that, although the French had long urged us to pay, they eventually ended the reign of the pirates by capturing Algiers in 1830.]

Mansur notes:

Bandits win, if they win at all, when lawfully organized society is drained of its will to eliminate banditry from its midst.
When I look at the time lag between terror attacks in major cities, I wonder of al Qaeda recognizes that a number of attacks within a shorter time frame would likely ennervate those who seem at present to be lethargic.

For many of us the terror attacks in Iraq have heightened our determination to pursue the war, but it's discouraging that al Qaeda attacks in Iraq are blamed on the war and the countries that removed Saddam. That contortion conveniently side steps dealing with the fact that groups like al Qaeda want us gone in order to assert total domination over all Muslims without regard as to what those Muslims might think of the prospect.

It is also indicative of a failure to embrace all humanity and respect all human rights: the outcry when the U.S. mistakenly kills civilians is not equaled when the "insurgents" of Zarqawi deliberately murder civilians. The implicit message is that it's all right for Muslims to kill Muslims which discredits the claims of those opposed to the war as to how much they truly respect human life without qualification.

I earlier employed the term "brink of war" because I recognize that, thus far, this war has been conducted with far more restraint than some credit and others would like. I doubt the American public is ready to "go all Roman" and salt Mid-east soil; most of us recognize that a strategy of destablizing the current "sick old men of the Mid-east" is much as an antibiotic is to disease and we are willing to see if this course of treatment will take effect.

Surely if one root cause of terrorism is despair then the antidote is hope. Yet shy should we be be ashamed that among our values we include hope? I happen to believe that the racism this war has revealed comes not from those of us who view the stifled potential of those living under tyranny as an atrocity but from those whose paternalism and superiority leads them to conclude that people who live in Third world countries are inherently incapable of embracing freedom and thus dismiss the significance of the January Iraqi election turnout. As U.S. Secretary of State Rice recently pointed out, democracy is not imposed but tyranny is.

The hoopla over the rock stars and their participation at the G8 conference served to render that conference about as serious as any other circus. Their motivations are probably a mixture of naivete and a bit of believing their own press, but their solutions will do little to help and perhaps do more to entrench racism than they might wish. There is an implicit acceptance that African leaders will always be corrupt but do they not realize that, as with Saddam, unmonitored aid money will not only go into their own pockets but also to those instruments which keep the citizens of those countries oppressed?

Back to Hanson, those urging we must endeavour to learn about Islam in order to further our tolerance misses the mark by so wide a margin as to indirectly prove his assertion that the West is increasingly illiberal:

tolerance: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
If a prequisite to tolerating Islam is to learn about it, is that not itself symptomatic of intolerance?

I don't have to "know" any much less all the tenets of Hinduism to respect those who practice it. I don't have to know anything about anyone to recognize that we all march to the beats of different inner drummers and that the true diversity of the human race is revealed on every face and in every heart.

Those demanding tolerance would do better to learn to embrace it; tolerance isn't a two-way street but an eight-lane highway and those who fail to follow the rules of the road shouldn't complain when they are involved in a fatal collision.

I don't care what religion or creed motivates someone who is trying to kill me; if I get the chance I'll take them out first and if I die in the attempt then so be it. I call that sanity.

(VDH link via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 04:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Urgent: Needs Cancon

July 9 - I looked for a Canadian contribution but sheesh, there are over 700 entries at the We're not Afraid! website.

Come on, surely one of you knows how to create this kind of thing! (Don't look at me; history major but tech dunderhead here.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:27 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Aftermath of the London train bombings

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July 9 - The Met revealed in a press conference that the bombs in the Underground went off within 50 seconds of one another at 8:50 a.m. and that the bus bombing occurred an hour after. High explosives were used. There is a lot of speculation about the Tavistock Square bombing - including that the bomber may have been trying to defuse the bomb - but the London police are patiently and methodically investigating the attack and refuse to be rushed into hasty and possibly erroneous conclusions.

25 people are believed to be missing. Excavation efforts in the Tube are proceeding very slowly. What can I or anyone say? We went through it ... the sleepless nights which were preferable to the nightmares when we could sleep.

Meanwhile, the fun has begun. Robert says

. . . so let's be "clear" here. The following "discourse" from him [Tariq Ali of the Guardian] will be rooted in the recent emergence of a sublime, overarching, yet forcefully engaged, clashing yet hyper-interactive essentialism, which holds determinedly to elements of the truist self, and is based on both a transnational and intranational psycho-socio-sensibility, that is movingly neo-culturalist in its embrace of what might be termed an anti-modernistic model of pro-reactive anti-deferentialism. (Translation: Jihadists don't like us, and respond by crashing planes suicidally into buildings, or placing bombs on underground railway systems.)
Go Robert! Read Enjoy the whole thing.

Although I remain wrapped in cold fury, my sense of resolve has evolved; the defiance has not diminished but I find an ever growing iron enveloping my will. At first I was concerned that I felt apart from the pain and grief of those people who have endured much these past 3 days, but after a good night sleep I was able to take better stock of recent events and understand that the changes this war has wrought within me have come about because I have so deeply internalized the fact that we are in fact at war.

I feel it necessary to stare our attackers down. That's the long and short of it.

The British are tasting the bitter pill we had to swallow after Sept. 11: people who lived amongst us were planning to kill us. Some of these attackers may even have been born in the U.K. yet chose in some respects to defy their parents' intentions to build new lives for themselves and their children by returning to what they perceived as their "roots" and pursuing jihad.

It's that last part that needs examination most: why people who weren't even born in the mid-east (or any of the former Baltic states) feel a closer affinity to a home they never knew than for the home they have.

I think it's reasonable to continue to take steps to deport those clerics who preach hate in mosques be it in London, Paris, New York and Toronto, but I also believe that it is too late: the message has been delivered, the faithful perverted and the training camps have prepared the footsoldiers.

There have been a lot of news stories warning that Canada is next as well as revisiting the cascade of warnings from the Fraser Institutute, the Auditor-General and the appointed Senate but I'm staying outside of that because this is recylced stuff from after the March 11 Madrid train bombings and you know what? nothing changed here. Nothing will change here. The Air India bombing - which originated in Canada - didn't shake the complacency of this nation and I am persuaded that an actual terror attack here would result in arguments as to how much George W. Bush can be blamed because despite the growing lack of courtesy here, Canadians are convinced that they are nice and nice people don't get bombed.

There is a part of me that would almost be relieved if Canada put a growing distance between herself and the U.S.A. as a result of an attack here because then I wouldn't have this nagging sense that having Canada as a neighbour means leaving one's back exposed to a treacherous ally. [Keep your sputtering indignation to yourself; did you really think we didn't notice that the sudden announcement about BMD was conveniently made while President Bush was meeting with Russia's Putin?]

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Canadian response the days of and after the blast is telling. If the TTC was on a state of vigilance they forgot to inform most of the drivers of that fact (although the drivers themselves hardly needed the suits to tell them to be especially wary) and as for Via Rail, on Friday a CBC reporter was able to easily bypass security precautions on Via Rail boarding a train without a ticket and gaining access to the baggage area without being challenged:

The reporter said it was easy to walk into Toronto's Union Station with a backpack and board a train to Windsor without buying a ticket or being requested to produce one. He was also able to enter the baggage hold without being asked for identification.


Security expert Brian Hay of Crisis Management Specialists said that even though technology exists for bomb-sniffing and even X-raying groups of passengers, it would be next to impossible at major hubs like Union Station.

"If you start to try to put the kind of security like in the airport, you're going to have thousands and thousands of people lined up waiting to get through, " said Hay.

So locking the door of the baggage area would be a major problem and would cause disruption and delays in services?
Via Rail on Friday called the breach "disturbing" and said it should never have happened. An investigation has been launched, and a spokesperson said the company had taken immediate steps to ensure every passenger boarding their trains is at least asked for a ticket. (Emphasis added)
It's comforting to know they have their priorities right.

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Mohammed al-Gerbouzi

July 9 - The hunt continues for Mohammed al-Gerbouzi:

A Moroccan granted British citizenship is being hunted by anti-terrorist forces investigating the London bombings.
As detectives warned the suspected Al Qaeda cell that blitzed the capital leaving more than 50 people dead was primed to strike again, a Europe-wide request for information on Mohammed al-Gerbouzi was circulated around police forces.

The request for details on the 45-year-old father of six, who has a British passport after being granted asylum in the mid-1990s, was sent by British police to European counterparts within hours of the three rush-hour Underground explosions and one bus bomb on Thursday.

He is already wanted for questioning in connection with the Casablanca and Madrid terror attacks, which investigators say have striking similarities to the London attacks.

Spanish investigators who led the probe into the Moroccan bombers that left 191 dead in the Madrid attacks are due to arrive in London to help British police in the inquiry into England's worst terrorist attack.

Detectives fear the terror cell of at least three bombers still at large from the Underground bombings have stockpiled enough explosives for another series of devastating attacks on the transport network.


Scotland Yard said they were keeping an open mind on a claim by a previously unheard of group called the Secret Organisation Group of Al Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe that it carried out the attack.

Police believe the men may have met at King's Cross before going to place their deadly packages and officers are searching through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage. It is believed that the security camera on the top floor of the bus was not working properly, however.

A Brussels-based European police official confirmed yesterday that they had been asked for information on the whereabouts of Gerbouzi.

A former pupil of radical cleric Abu Qatada - said to be Osama Bin Laden's European ambassador - Gerbouzi is alleged by the Spanish authorities to have spoken to some of the Madrid bombers twice in the hours before they blew themselves up as police closed in.

Ahem. A Spanish policeman was killed and several wounded when the Madrid suspects blew "themselves" up.
Gerbouzi lived in England with his wife and six children. In April last year he is said to have vanished from his ground floor flat in Kilburn, North-West London.

Last night Gerbouzi's family said claims he is linked to the London bomb attacks were fantastical.

In case you missed this and want to know more about Gerbouzi, Michelle Malkin linked to an April, 2004, article from the Sunday Mirror about Gerbouzi UK's terror fear: Cleric we can't kick out. and to this item on Gerbouzi, aka Abu Aissa at the Counterrorism Blog.

(Mail link via Neale News.)

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July 08, 2005

Root causes - bah!

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July 8 - The war on terror has drawn a critical line in the sand, not between left and right but between those who have integrity and those who are opportunists. Dave reminds us to thank Britain's PM Tony Blair, who despite his many political differences with President Bush, has been singularly capable (and sadly rare among leftists) of taking the longer view to recognize how directly the threat from Islamists fundamentalists attacks the very existence of a debate over our differences.

There is no room for philosophical or political debates in the world order which al Qaeda would establish. We wouldn't be arguing about women's, gays' or religious rights under their rule because they don't allow for dissent.

It still astonishes me that more people do not understand that our very right to dissent faces a far more direct challenge from al Qaeda and their apologists than any "repression" in the U.S., and although that fancied repression in the U.S. is refuted if only by the scores of people who are able to publicly and openly state their political views in the media and online in freedom rather than by smuggling their tracts out of jail, those claims do attest to the power of the diversionary tactics which focuses our attention from our enemy.

I tend to believe that the timing of yesterday's terror attack in London intentionally coincided with the G-8 conference for the same reasons as the Sept. 11 attackers targeted the World Trade Centers, and that while Britain may have been a high-profile target due to their staunch support and actions in the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are also a target because they offer Muslims a place to work, live, and add to the fabric of multi-culturalism.

Al Qaeda does not want Muslims to become part of any Western society, and thus has no compunction about killing Muslims who have become so.

The quickie assumption that the attack was due to was Britain's military presence in Iraq conveniently overlooks al Qaeda's demand that all Western units be removed from all Muslim countries (which Canadians would do well to remember include Afghanstan, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Golan Heights) and that simplistic explanation also fails to take into account the attacks on Iraqi soldiers, who are predominantly Muslims.

Although I understand the intent, I do take exception with Adams's characterization of yesterday's attacks as a defeat for the same reason that I do not consider every German plane that crossed to channel to drop bombs during the blitz of World War II as representing a defeat.

Defeat implies the other side was victorious, yet by rights such terms can only be applied when an adversary faces it's opponents openly.

Defeat implies there was a battle, but there was no battle.

London was sucker-punched, plain and simple. Civilians were targeted without warning, deliberately and with murderous malice, by a foe that is cowardly and operates out of shadows.

God bless the good people of London. They have not been defeated, and their attackers would learn the meaning of victory and defeat should they come out of hiding and face us openly and in honourable battle.

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The day after: the hunt is on

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July 8 - The sturdy Londoners returned to work today, which I believe is British for "the terrorists can FOAD."

News reports are now placing the death toll at 50 for yesterday's terrorist attack in London, but it's expected to rise as many bodies have not yet been removed from King's Cross because the structural integrity of the subway tunnels has been too severely compromised.

The death toll from the Tavistock Square double-decker bus is 13.

It seems somehow wrong to feel relief that the death toll is comparatively low, but there it is.

Need it be added that a manhunt is underway? The claims of the "Secret Organization of al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe" have not yet been proven, but it seems to be a starting place.

It appears that at least two unexploded devices were found (police conducted "controlled detonations" of them) which confirms one of yesterday's rumours. Although news reports state that timers, not cell phones, were used to set off the explosives, the Met still says they are not sure how the bombs were detonated. Any involvements of suicide bombers remains unproven.

Also, the explosives were apparently aboard the trains, not buried in the tunnels as some speculated.

Yesterday, the ever-blithering CBC was trying to "puzzle out" what the goals of terrorists might have been. Winds of Change lists the goals Norm Geras identified which might help sort out that "puzzle" for the CBC.

With all the talk about the relatively small amount of explosives used, I suddenly remembered the joint British-Canadian operation in which 8 men in Britain and Mohammed Momin Khawaja in Ottawa were arrested in simultaneous raids and the seizing of nearly half a ton of ammonium nitrate in London in March, 2004. Khawaja, known as "the Enabler," is still in custody here and the information that led to his arrest remains under security seal. It is said that information is being protected so as not to compromise the criminal trials of his alleged accomplices which are to begin soon in Britain.

Of course I don't know if there is a connection, and I'm more or less speculating about whether there are even grounds to speculate, but MI5 reportedly learned from surveillance and the use of lip readers that the men discussed bombing targets in and around London.

Michelle Malkin has extensive coverage on the hunt for those who planned and carried out yesterday's attacks here, and it seems the search is centering around one Mohamed Guerbouzi who has already been implicated in other terror attacks, including the 2004 Madrid train bombing, yet lived openly in London this past decade. My jaw stayed on the floor as I read the entire post as well as one she posted earlier on how Britain has become the center of terrorists organizations.

Michael Yon writes that American soldiers in Iraq are angry about the attack, viewing it as Attacking Our Family.

I am no longer dismayed by the failure of so many in Toronto to have similar sentiments despite this country's British heritage, but I too need to be reminded sometimes that Toronto is only a small part of this vast country.

Adams invokes Churchill and calls for a leader to roar to remind the enemy that we have the heart of a lion and Younger Pitt invokes Michael Joseph Savage whose 1939 speech declared that Canada would back Britain to the hilt.

Salim Mansur warns that the World must unite to fight terrorists, and Peter Worthington's declares that We must not waver

The U.S. State Department flew the British flag at half-mast yesterday as an expression of our sympathy and solidarity. I believe this is the first time the flag of a foreign nation has ever flown from that mast, and I think it a beautiful gesture reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth II's request that the Palace Guard play the Star Spangled Banner on Sept. 11.

I am living proof that the phrase "too tired to be angry" is wrong. I am still cold with fury about the attacks, but I've had less than 4 hours sleep in the past 48 hours and have an irresistable impulse to throw my cat off my pillow and fall asleep while he glares at me. (I get my fun where I can.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

Atrocity in London (updating)

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July 7 - Many of those making public statements are using the word "atrocity" so I'm honouring their chosen description as well as their flag.

21:29 - I finally got some sleep, and am headed for work. Belmont Club's two posts offer typically excellent insights - with optimism.

15:55 - I watched BBC for as long as I could stand it. Found Darcey's solution more to my liking: Kill the sons a bitches.

14:15 - Flea has ongoing commentary on the London bombing, and links to a stout post at Silent Running (be sure and read the comments.)

Flea has issued a stern rebuke to Howard Moscoe and makes an astute observation at the end of the paragraph as to where sympathies for any fundamentalism that depends on hate leads. You think it inappropriate today? No, friends; it is exactly appropriate today. The enemy believes tolerance and diversity are the problems, but one of our most treasured values is that we judge others on the content of their characters. Let that remain our standard.

13:25 - Amazing. Londoners are crossing the bridges to begin their treks home or to whatever public transit is running. Never forget that just as Sept. 11 exposed the depth of evil it also revealed courage and resilience.

I feel as though I'm starting to breath again, and regaining some perspective.

One note: many of us know people on this side of the Atlantic who are going through their own hell as they try to contact loved ones in London. This is intensely personal for them and I'd feel instrusive linking under such circumstances, but you know who you read or know who might be in agony right now, right?

Murdoc pays tribute with an apropos Henry V quote, and just in case you thought he's lost his rapier, keep scrolling for Galloway's surrender.

Heh. Robert has his own thoughts on the "unity" this is supposed to bring us and pays his own special tribute to Fingerpointer Galloway.

13:04 - London police report 37 dead, but again, that doesn't seem to include the casualties from the double-decker bus. But it does appear that the death toll will be far lower than that in the previous attacks in NYC, Bali and Madrid.

Nice report on Fox from Sky-TV. The reporter, Alistair (something) mentioned that Londoners are expected to behave much as New Yorkers did on and after Sept. 11. (See Rudy Giuliani's remarks below for a wondrous synchonicity. We can take strength from one another.)

Whoa, London police have warned people to "run as fast as they can" from Victoria Station. Fox is reporting that a suspicious package has been found there.

I guess there will be a fair bit of that kind of "run now, wonder later." Doubtless a great many bags and packages were left as people were evacuated from the stations, but count me as someone who would prefer to respond to a false alarm than a victim of willful stupidity.

12:40 - NYC Mayor Bloomberg is stating solidarity with London as well as reassuring New Yorkers that they are taking all possible precautions there.

Sir Rudy Giuliani is in London (which is why I refer to him by his title) and, when interviewed earlier on Fox, he casually mentioned that, during the dark days following Sept. 11, New Yorkers took as role models the comportment of Londoners during the blitz of WWII. Very. Well. Done, Rudy.

11:27 - Toronto Transit Commissioner (TTC) board member and Toronto City Councillor Howard Moscoe is in serious need of ... strong words issued in his general direction.

The TTC is officially in vigilance mode. I watched the press conference on CP 24 during which the Mayor, TTC CEO (?) Ducharme were briefing the press and public about security measures that have been taken here in Toronto and Moscoe intruded with a smug "we don't have any troops to withdraw from Iraq so we should be okay" comment which kind of missed the mark as the "massacres in Afghanistan" were among the accusations issued by the "we are the al Qaeda wing of Europe and there's nothing you can do about it" website posting in which they also took credit for today's barbarous atrocity in London.

TTC Commissioner tried to return the focus of the press conference on track but Moscoe had to stick his ... foot in his mouth again; I'll give credit to Toronto Mayor David Miller for eventually intruding and, without directly confronting Moscoe, cutting in to reassure the Toronto transit-riding public that they were taking all proper precautions to ensure their safety.

So what's with this:

"I didn't see the advisory, but I think there's a pretty low probability of something like that happening here," said David Crombie, a Toronto businessman, as he exited King Street subway station. "Even if I had, it wouldn't have changed my habits."
He's a freaking former mayor, known by many as The Perfect Little Mayor. This city makes me nuts.

PM Paul Martin officially offered his condolences and notes that thus far, no Canadians appear to be among the casualties. Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty is in London but not among the injured or dead.

Martin also confirmed that he has spoken to national security adviser William Elliott.

11:00 - Add "barbaric" to the words of choice. Fox also has a time line (I'm finding logon times to news meda getting longer - perhaps as the West Coast awakens?)

10:29 - The emergency services are holding a press conference. They report 33 fatalities, 21 dead in the second blast at King's Cross but no numbers available yet on the double-decker bus; the British fatality tracking system is down; approximately 1,500 police personnel are deployed but they aren't recalling police currently assigned to the G-8 nor those off-duty as they anticipate they will need them in their due rotation.

All passengers are reported as having been evacuated from the subway.

I'm impressed: thus far, no really stupid or editorialized questions such as our press is apt to indulge in.

10:17 - I'm starting a second post and again referring everyone to Robert, who is now posting from his home in North London. The most recent post concerns advice from the Met (London police) which is totally common sense but as the words sink in they take us back to Sept. 11.

I missed which location (update: it's Edgeware) but Fox is reporting that one of the bombing sites is in a predominantly Arab neighbourhood. In the same minute (inasmuch as time has telescoped) they also mention that a website states that top Egyptian envoy to Iraq Ihab al-Sherif has been killed claiming he was an apostate.

I expect nothing from CAIR or their little sibling in Canada, but the message to London Arabs seems fairly clear, and I doubt there will be too many who will dare modify their condemnation of the London atrocity with "but" (or should that be I hope there aren't?)

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 02, 2005

The big lie and the youth

July 2 - This post by Melanie Phillips on The big lie cut straight to the chase and when it reminds readers of the known links between al Qaeda and Saddam. The gem is in the concluding paragraph:

The anti-western left has, over the course of history, fallen time after time for the propaganda of murderous tyrants who offered a handy platform for bashing the home society by providing the alibi of conscience. (Emphasis added)
The "alibi of conscience" is a wonderful turn of phrase, and quite appropriate today as I find it more heartbreaking than humorous that so many young people are attending or watching Live Eight concerts in the assured belief that the money raised can actually turn the tide in Africa when any rational person has to admit, however privately, that what Africa really needs is decent, honest leadership. I am beginning to realize that trying to nurture the ideals of the young without shattering their idealism with reality is impossible:
The investment of personal, political and moral identity that this represents is so immense that after a short while such gullible dupes are simply incapable of recognising reality even when it stares them in the face. Hence their stupefaction when confronted with the enormities of Robespierre, Stalin or Mao. To that list must now be added the Islamic jihad and Saddam Hussein.
There is a sobering warning in her conclusion:
The difference is that this time these useful idiots have taken the middling people of Britain and Europe – and increasingly, it seems, of America – with them into the land of deluded wishful thinking. The result could be that this war against the jihadi terror could be lost -- at home.
She could well be addressing Canadians too.

More on the youth and the lies they are fed, Peaktalk writes about The Benefits of Underage Labor (in which he links to this post by Kate about her childhood work experiences.) In addition to the inevitable paper route, my kids also worked at movie theatres, which seems to be a fairly predominant rite of passage for city dwelling high school and college students, and I must admit that I was initially astonished that the middle child stayed at the job, given his fairly laid back approach to life, and his perseverence and dedication at that job laid to rest my fears that he had somehow failed to inherit the work gene.

Inserting a quick aside to Kate's post for a moment, my morning bus driver made a similar observation connecting childhood obesity to the lack of support for public school athletic programs.

Further on this theme, Michelle Malkin writes on how the feel-good therapy crowd is trying to turn us into a nation of namby-pambies (link via Newsbeat1.)

The latest example of Hand-Holding 101 comes from the New York City public schools. According to Lauren Collins of the New Yorker magazine, the school system is introducing a new curriculum called "Operation Respect: Don't Laugh at Me" into all its elementary and middle schools. The program is now used in at least 12,000 schools and camps across the country.
Ostensibly, the program helps kids deal with petty meanness and name-calling from insensitive classmates, not by instructing them in self-defense, mind you, but by inflating their self-esteem. The organization's mission is "to transform schools, camps and organizations focused on children and youth, into more compassionate, safe and respectful environments." Instead of "putdowns," teachers encourage "put-ups."
I'd be in favour of assigning "push-ups" in response to "put-downs" and childhood obesity, but that's just me.
The Operation Respect Web site depicts well-adjusted children holding up ego-affirming signs reading: "Ridicule Free Zone," "No Dissing Here," "U Matter," and "Peace Place."
Mark just said that he knows who he'll be beating up for lunch money. I love that man!

There's so much renewed value in the old adage regarding "sticks and stones." There are people who really are trying to break our bones, and that seems more worthy of our attention than worrying over potential hurt feelings caused by the names Americans are being called internationally. (I know it bothered Sen. Kerry, but it doesn't bother me until it becomes personal, a still relatively minor hazard here in Toronto compared to, again, issues like death.)

It also doesn't hurt that our folks taught us to ignore "peer pressure" and to do what was right, not what was popular.

What to say? By all means, let's add the nation's youth into the growing list of "victims" in our society. Let's strip them of their dignity and urge for self-sufficiency and teach them that self-defense and the work ethic are wrong. What's to lose, except for minor qualities like the vigor and strength exhibited by citizens in a confident nation?

Posted by Debbye at 04:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Jihadists in Lodi?

June 8 - I'm having trouble dealing with this story, Feds Probe Possible California Terror Cell, mostly because I've been to Lodi and it was small.

Guess it's grown, though; according to this, it had an estimated population of 61,027 in 2003.

But still, Lodi? I guess the residents are even more shocked than I am.

Posted by Debbye at 05:52 PM | Comments (4)

May 16, 2005

It led and they bled

May 16 - Maybe it was inevitable that a sensational, single-sourced story would spark the kind of events we've witnessed.

So Newsweek Retracts Koran-Desecration Story - big deal. That will not change a single thing because no one is the Mid-east is going to believe that the retraction was voluntary.

Afghanistan should sue Newsweek.

May 17 - 09:18 Welcome MSNBC readers! If I'd know you were coming I'd have ... written a more thoughtful, insightful post. Oh well, it is what it is. Free free to poke around the War on Terror archives or click on the masthead to take you to the front page.

Posted by Debbye at 06:05 PM | Comments (3)

May 15, 2005

March Against Terror

May 15 - Local group leads march against terror

About 50 people converged on Freedom Plaza for the "March Against Terror," an event organized by Free Muslims Against Terrorism, supporters of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and the entire Muslim community.

"We have to be honest; we have a problem with extremism, and the Muslim leadership in this country has totally failed us," said Kamal Nawash, leader of the year-old organization.

Mr. Nawash, 35, a Palestinian-born lawyer who has become a U.S. citizen, is a former candidate for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. He and his organization, which promotes a secular interpretation of Islam, has generated a national profile in the past year by participating in hundreds of radio and television interviews.

"It starts with just a few people, so I'm not worried about the number" in attendance, said Mr. Hashim El-Tinay, founder and president of the Salam Sudan Foundation. "It's more about the quality of leadership."

Mr. Nawash ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in the past, which has led to accusations about his political agenda, but he seems to have a bigger picture in mind - breaking the monopoly over entrenched groups in Muslim communities.

I don't know very much about Free Muslims Against Terrorism but they have posted this on their site:

Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously.
Note that last word: unambiguously. Read the items on the site and decide for yourselves.

Posted by Debbye at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

Rumours: one dead terrorist, one wounded.

May 15 - Predator plus Hellfire equals dead terrorist. I've had trouble accessing Murdoc's posted link in Death from above but I persevered and finally gave up on AP and found a Fox link about the recent much denied hit on al Qaeda leader Haitham al-Yemeni which "was not a military operation."

Sounds like someone at the CIA is a little miffed ...

On another unconfirmed rumour, there's a second report that Zarqawi was seriously wounded last week. The logo next to the Fox report looks like that of the London Times which does carry same story here (requires free subscription.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2005

Operation Matador - Day 6

May 12 - retro-posting (again!) noting the final steps as this operation winds down Suspected Insurgent Hideout Flattened in Iraq:

The U.S. offensive — one of the largest since militants were forces from Fallujah six months ago — came amid a surge of militant attacks that have killed more than 420 people in just over two weeks since Iraq's first democratically elected government was announced.

Snipers opened fire on the motorcade of Interior Ministry undersecretary Maj. Gen. Hikmat Moussa Hussein in western Baghdad on Friday, killing one of his guards and wounding three, police Maj. Moussa Abdul Karim said. Hussein escaped unharmed.

Elsewhere in western Baghdad, insurgents fired on Iraqi soldiers who were searching the area, prompting a 30-minute gunbattle, said police Maj. Abdul Karim. There was no immediate word on casualties

Ralph Peters makes this observation:
Terrorism revealed its soul: merciless, vindictive and in love with death itself. There's no strategic plan behind the slaughter of Iraqi workers in a marketplace in Tikrit or the butchering of other Sunni Arabs in Hawija. Suicide bombings in a Baghdad bazaar don't have cunning goals.

The terror attacks are no longer about changing Iraq. They're about punishment.


Zarqawi isn't hopeful. He's outraged. And humiliated. Now he's out to make Iraqis pay for choosing freedom and peace over brutalized religion and ethnic fascism.

Consider the locations of recent bombings. Tikrit was Saddam's hometown. Hawija had been a hotbed of fanaticism and resistance. A year ago, terrorists and insurgents had the run of the house at both locations, to say nothing of Fallujah. Today? Tikrit has turned from terror. Hawija wants the foreign Islamists out. Fallujah's finished.

The terrorists feel betrayed.

So they kill. Poor laborers gathered to beg for part-time work. Women and children. Police recruits. Low-level officials. Students. And any passers-by who get in the way. Simple Muslims slain by "holy martyrs of Islam" in suicide vests. By the fountains of paradise, Mohammed must be weeping.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Operation Matador - pouring it on

May 11 - The DoD news release makes some very interesting observations about the enemy in Operation Matador: Helping Flush Insurgents From Western Iraq:

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2005 – Troops fighting in Iraq's northwestern Anbar province are facing a sizable and skilled insurgency, with some members seen fighting in military uniforms and protective vests, the Joint Staff's director of operations told Pentagon reporters here today.


Conway said the region has witnessed a buildup of insurgents since the fall of Fallujah, when they began moving west. (Emphasis added)

The use of protective vests isn't a surprise, but uniforms? (Those who read Belmont Club already knew that the insurgency headed closer to the Syrian border when Fallujah was taken.) The DoD report continues:
Conway said he's not surprised by the strength and capability of the insurgency being encountered. "We know this is a determined enemy, that he has the skill and ordnance (and) the weapons to be able to resist fiercely, as we are seeing here," he said.
Attacks on Iraqis who want to be part of their country's future continue, but much as the Battle of the Bulge was fierce precisely because it was the beginning of the end, the intensity of both the defense and the high number of attacks on Iraqis signals not optimism but desperation as Iraqis continue to reject and be intimidated by them.

The Washington Times article by Rowan Scarborough on the operation makes a critical point which in part affirms the value of the January elections:

The war's changing nature is also illustrated by the list of the high-ranking enemy announced as captured by the new Baghdad government. Virtually all of those caught since December have been identified as lieutenants of the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, not operatives for Iraq's former dictator Saddam Hussein.
David Warren put forth a hypothesis early on that the war in Iraq was "carefully hung flypaper" intended to lure terrorists to Iraq, and although I don't think it was so much pre-planned (one would think the Afghan campaign would have been the battleground more than Iraq had there been such a strategy) I do believe it a confirmation of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Belmont Club's post today (which also notes his past analysis of the westward movement from Fallujah and thus saved me a lot of time searching for the older link) looks at a trap between hammer and anvil in which the enemy is caught and why this operation is so critical:

However, the fact that Operation Matador is taking place at all and is being fiercely resisted strongly suggests that both the Coalition and the insurgents regard controlling access to the Syrian border important. That it is contested is an empirical fact, but the really fascinating question is why should this be so. My own belief (speculation alert) is that the single most important requirement of the insurgency is not vast quantities of weapons but a supply of trained fighters and money. There is very little prospect of moving very large quantities of munitions and materiel into Iraq from Syria. Camp Gannon at Qusabayah has closed the road for some time now. But this is unimportant because there are huge amounts of loose explosive and weaponry lying around Iraq and the absolute quantities of these needed to wage a terrorist war is very low. But what is needed, above all, is a steady supply of trainers who will teach locals to build ever more sophisticated weapons from any available material; men who are absolutely committed, unwavering and ruthless; and who are well supplied with money to pay their way. It may be impossible to infiltrate trucks of materiel through the Syrian border, but it is perfectly feasible to trickle in terrorist technicians and pedagogues.
Wretchard believes this is the beginning of a new campaign, and that in the coming period "both sides will probably attack and counterattack not only in geographical breadth, but in along the depth of each other's echelons."

Posted by Debbye at 05:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

IRA improved Columbian terrorists

May 10 - Let's see how Yes, but apologists for terrorism will spin this: IRA training and tactics help Colombian rebels:

Colombia's most senior general has blamed the improved fighting of rebels on their alleged training by instructors linked to the IRA.

The deployment of a new model of home-made mortar and the more effective use of snipers by the guerrillas of Farc (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) both owe a considerable debt to tactics honed in Northern Ireland.

"What we are now seeing with the Farc is the direct result of IRA training," said Colombia's armed forces chief, Gen Carlos Alberto Ospina.

The Farc have started adding stabilising fins and new detonation methods to mortars. They now resemble the "barrack-busters" used by the IRA against the British Army. Three Irishmen, Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan, were last year sentenced by a Colombian court to 17 years in jail for training the Marxist rebels in explosives and terrorism techniques. The three are currently on the run and subject to an international arrest warrant.

I blame globalization.

Posted by Debbye at 12:44 PM | Comments (2)

May 09, 2005

March Against Terror

May 9 - This is well-worth supporting: the May 14 March Against Terror in Washington D.C..

The organizers of the march, Free Muslims Against Terror states the case:

Join us in sending a message to radical Muslims and supporters of terrorism that we reject them and that we will do all we can to defeat them.
Over 66 groups are signatories to that call (including the Canadian Israeli Students Association at the University of Calgary) and I want to note that the call to march has another significant message:
We also want to send a message of hope to the people of the Muslim world and the Middle East who seek freedom, democracy and who reject radical Islam that we are with them and that we will do all we can to support them.
I wish I could get to D.C. on Saturday but I can't, but if somebody reading this does then please carry my fervent hopes with you.

Posted by Debbye at 03:39 PM | Comments (3)

May 07, 2005

A "sinister nexus"

May 7 - Shaken, Occasionally Stirred has a breathtaking series of posts on connections between the Oil-for-Food Program encompassing the recent revelations of how money from the U.N. Oil-For-Food program was funneled to financiers of terrorists and research has led to threads that may tie into the Abu Nidal Organization. Abu Nidal left a long, bloody trail behind him, including the 1985 Christmastime attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports (another event in the category of things that people don't talk about but haven't forgotten.) He died in extremely odd circumstances in Iraq in August, 2002.

Shaken has put all the links together in this post and connecting the dots has led to either a startling coincidence or something that demands a great deal of explaining by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (or jail time. I'm easy.)

How chilling: the name I found listed in Montreal is Albanna, the same name I found that linked to alleged Oil For Food fund redirection by BNP Paribas.

When I did some background research on "Abu Nidal Organization" (ANO), I saw many references to close ties to Iraq, and routing funding through Lebanon. Perhaps a total co-incidence. But it is chilling to find a telephone listing in Montreal for an Albanna that is renting a furnished executive suite, and shares the same name as an executive for a company in Lebanon linked to Oil For Food contracts placed on hold by the US. Very chilling indeed. Scroll down to my earlier posts to see how the dots connect.

Do as he says. I'm heading back for my second read-through.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Bringing it back home

May 7 - Wonderful post from Stuff I Think You Should Know that connects the the war on terror in chilling, close-to-home terms:

And now, for today's Random Thought (TM)
Israel has been a nation for 57 years now. In that time they have suffered through three all-out invasions. At least three times they have been in a life-or-death struggle for independence. In between, there have been smaller conflicts, and of course, nearly continuous terrorist strikes.


... how about this. The terror bombings we see daily on TV [in Iraq], here at home. Not just one isolated (horrible, yes- massive, yes- four planes, yes- but still just one) incident. Bombings every day. Your local police department, blown up. Your grocery store, blown up. The train you take to get to work, blown up. The car in front of you on the highway, blown up.

D'ya think maybe then we'd get the hint?

People think the War on Terror started for America on September 11. Well, it started for the Israelis the day they became a country- and it hasn't stopped yet.

There is so much more to the post and my excerpts don't really capture the simple power of the piece. I hope you'll read it all and take something from it because sometimes we (or at least I) can use a good, bracing reminder as to why the U.S.A. finally resolved to confront those who wage "war" by using terror as a weapon against civilians and therefore nations which supported terror and harboured terrorists - two of which were Afghanistan and Iraq.

1. Iraq was a strong supporter of anti-Israeli terror. Saddam Hussein provided a financial incentive to successful suicide bombers by gifting their families with US $ 25,000 - the money for which, if it needs to be pointed out, came from his ill-gotten gains from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program.

The corruption of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program demonized the USA because billions of people held us responsible for deaths attributed to the sanctions, and the corruption of that same program financed murderous terrorism against Israeli citizens. Those who want to believe the U.N. can be reformed must first figure out how the U.N. can wash the blood from its hands.

On September 11 the bond between Israelis and us was strengthened rather than weakened - after all, how many of us chose to view Israelis as role models that day? To draw from their example by forcing ourselves to carry on with our lives despite the burning in our hearts?

Of course, when all the "root causes" were explored, one, pragmatic solution was clearly stated: if we withdrew our support for Israel, we would be in less peril. The cowardly nature of appeasement was thus fully exposed and the offer rejected.

Our reaction to Sept. 11 was decisive yet humane. Although our past half-hearted resignation to those evil things we called the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein reproached our consciences, we gave each of them one last chance to behave honourably - and we even told them it was their last chance. That generosity was rebuffed because they had foolishly failed to learn something every school kid knows: the difference between someone who is beside themselves with frustration and someone who is calm with white hot anger.

Thinking Americans, however, also understood one simple fact: the events of September 11 liberated us because our minds were no longer clouded by those Wormtongue-like whisperers of appeasement and self-hatred. The skies of New York may have been darkened with smoke and ash but we knew the sun still shone overhead and, with a staunch great-heartedness that would have gladdened Tolkien, Great Britain and Australia stood tall and proud as true friends and allies.

2. Iraq was a haven for terrorists fleeing from, among others, us. We knew, for example, that Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Musab Zarqawi had received sanctuary in Iraq (some may remember that Zarqawi was prominently mentioned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. in February, 2003.)

When President Bush declared war on terror, he reminded us that we are a patient people. It's one of those things that the media and the rest of the world largely dismissed as rhetoric, but Americans understood fully what he meant and a confirmation of a kind was the instantaneous name recognition of Abu Abbas when his capture in Iraq was announced. The names Leon Klinghoffer and Achille Lauro were burned in our collective memory just as surely as Lockerbie and the Munich Olympics.

You see, one of the qualities of patience is that you need not talk incessantly about a certain category of things because with patience comes another admirable trait: perseverance. So we accept that there will be delays, setbacks, detours and that the kids in the back seat will ask "are we there yet?" every 5 minutes - yet we keep the destination in sharp focus, scout and search for the best routes and finally reach journey's end because we actually know the difference between the trip and the destination.

We've endured much death and bloodshed, but there have also been triumphs, the most celebrated ones being the purple forefingers of January, the rising up of the people of Lebanon and the dominating theme of freedom during the president's Inaugural Address. Less well-recognized but just as important have been the debates and squabbling on the new Iraqi council - none of which ended in arrests, gunshots, or the imposition of martial law.

Israel is still standing and the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein aren't.

No, we aren't "there" yet but so long as we check our maps, oil and tires regularly we will arrive - tired, disheveled and in need of a hot shower - but we will arrive.

Because we must.

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 AM | Comments (4)

May 05, 2005

A tale of two pictures

May 5 - There's a picture in Canada's new War Museum that has stirred some controversy. Peter Worthington writes:

Prominently displayed in the new Canadian War Museum, which opens to the public next week, is a 10-foot painting of a Canadian soldier choking a young and bloodied Somali prisoner with a baton.


Why is this painting in the War Museum?

While the purpose of the new War Museum is not to glorify war, surely its intent isn't to belittle and depict Canadian soldiers as murderers?

Read the whole thing. Peter is admirably restrained in it.

The CBC is also covering the dismay of Veterans groups over the inclusion of the infamous picture and has a response from the artist:

The artist, Gertrude Kearns, said these two paintings deal with the theme of how Canadian soldiers deal with the psychological toll of modern warfare.

She said a committee, which included several veterans, approved her concept.

"These particular works, the ones in the museum, are about conscience. They're also about complexity," said Kearns.

She wants conscience and complexity? If the horrors of Nazi Germany are too simple, she might try this:

GI and dying Iraqi girl 0_22_450_baby.jpg
Michael Yon

Eager to get to and kill U.S. soldiers, Michael Moore's "Minutemen" plowed through a crowd of children who were playing in the street.

They "got to them" all right, and gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "human shields."

Is that "complex" enough?

Amy Bieger, wife of Maj. Mark Bieger (the soldier in the above photo) is interviewed here.

(NY Post and CBC links and photo via Neale News.)

11:59 - Paul has a lot more to say on the Canadian War Museum's choice of pictures and connects this fiasco to the cheapening of the English language.

14:11 From this post by Michelle Malkin I've learned that the photographer, Michael Yon, has a blog and he has a very moving post titled simply Little Girl. His final line on the eager murderers is "Their day will come."

So say we all.

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 AM | Comments (4)

May 04, 2005

Abu Faraj al-Libbi captured

May 4 - A man described as al Qaeda's #3 man, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, is reported to have been captured along with 10 others in Pakistan. (Pakistan seizes 'al Qaeda No. 3'.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 PM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2005

Ressem provided over 100 names

Apr. 14 - Ahmed Ressem, who was caught on the U.S.-Canadian border in 1999 with a bomb-making materials in his trunk and a map with LA International Airport circled, fingered 100 terror suspects according to a brief filed by his lawyers. He was conviced of 9 charges in 2001, and spent over 200 hours with federal agents providing names of his al Qaeda associates and details of his training in Afghanistan hoping to reduce the 130 years to which he had been sentencedto 27 years. He also spent about 65 hours testifying at trials or making depositions.

Although most of the names remain under seal, some of them have been "startlingly helpful" and other have been apprehended and convicted due to Ressem's information.

Ressam's testimony helped convict Mokhtar Haouari of supplying fake identification and cash for the millennium bomb plot. Haouari was sentenced in New York City to 24 years in prison.

Ressam also provided information about Haydar Abu Doha, an Algerian who is in British custody awaiting extradition to the United States, where he is charged with orchestrating the plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport.

In December 2002, Ressam met with German justice officials who questioned him about al-Qaida for the trial of a Moroccan charged with supporting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist hijackers. Mounir el Motassadeq was convicted in February 2003 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Ressem will be sentenced April 27.

Posted by Debbye at 06:47 AM | Comments (2)

April 06, 2005

McClellan Spinning Time (updated)

Apr. 6 - Here's one example of how the CBC chooses to present facts: U.S. will demand passports from Canadians.

"Demand!" Yeah, those nasty friggin' Yankees!

WASHINGTON - In response to a new rule requiring most Canadians to carry passports for entry into the U.S., Public Security Minister Anne McLellan said Americans may also have to carry the document to enter Canada.
You go girl! (Okay, not exactly "demand" calibre, but it sounds like a bit of tit-for-tat, right?)
"Our system has really always worked on the basis of reciprocity," McLellan said outside the House of Commons.

"And therefore we will review our requirements for American citizens and we're going to do that in collaboration with the United States.

"There's no point in either of us going off in a direction without working together to determine how best we can facilitate the flow – a free flow – and movement of low-risk individuals."

McLellan's comments come as the U.S. State Department announced that by 2007, most Canadians will need a passport to enter the United States.

CBC finally gets to the real circumstances on the sixth paragraph:
And by 2008, most Americans who visit Canada won't be able to re-enter their country without a passport.

The new rules will still allow Canadians to enter the United States without being fingerprinted. The U.S. demands a fingerprint from all other foreign visitors now.

The tighter security will be implemented first between the U.S. and Caribbean countries, then along the U.S.-Mexican border and finally between the U.S. and Canada.

It is likely to start at airports, then spread to land crossings.

As I wrote yesterday on this matter, passport requirements were mandated in 2004 in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. It's going to be inconvenient for everyone, not just Canadians, but I wonder if the vital justification in the sixth paragraph of the item will be heard before people express their outrage.

(Link via Neale News.)

12:11 Here is the link to the 2005 Report of the Auditor-General of Canada on National Security which reads much like the last report, come to think of it. It appears there has been no improvement in passport checks either (although the fees were raised citing the addition of security features as the reason.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (4)

April 05, 2005

Border crossing rules tightened

Apr. 5 - Americans re-entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Panama and Bermuda will require a passport or other valid travel document and Canadians will require a passport to enter the U.S. These new procedures are to be phased in by 2008. This is to be announced at a press briefing this afternoon.

The announcement of the briefing at the Dept. of State web page notes that

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandated that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship document when entering the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will implement this law.
In a closely related issue, the Real ID Act which was introduced in January, 2005, passed in the House but has languished since in the Senate.

According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) who introduced the legislation, it is intended "to address the use of a driver's license as a form of identification to a federal official" by "establishing a uniform rule for all states that temporary driver’s licenses for foreign visitors expire when their visa terms expire, and establishing tough rules for confirming identity before temporary driver’s licenses are issued."

The argument that passing this legislation puts responsibility for immigration control on the states isn't really valid as there are already requirements to prove age and driving ability before licenses are granted so proof of status would be only another requirement; besides, each license already has a date of expiry, but I dislike bills which are promoted under the guise of fighting terrorism when their real intent is to deal with another, unaddressed issue.

Posted by Debbye at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

April 03, 2005

Sandy Berger, Terry Nichols, and Ramzi Youssef

Apr. 3 - Sandy Berger's guilty plea to a lesser charge did not settle controversy because he retreated from the "honest mistake" defense and admitted he not only stole the documents but willfully destroyed them. The judge in the case did not ask Berger to explain his motives, in and of itself strange, and the sentence is light:

The charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

However, under a plea agreement that Robinson must accept, instead of jail, Berger would pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators. Security clearance allows access to classified government materials.

Three of the documents he stole were from an investigation into the 1999 plot to bomb the LA airport by Ressem, who was caught at the US-Canada border.

In a Classical Values post, Stop all this colturned digging!, Eric notes the clause by which Berger agrees to to cooperate and wonders co-operate in what investigation? and asks if there is any connection between Berger's co-operation and the recent news of the discovery of blasting caps and explosives in the crawl-space of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.

I'm quoting beyond what Eric cited from the same source:

FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said the information that spurred the search indicated that "Nichols was responsible for hiding these devices."

Nichols and McVeigh, who was put to death for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, used blasting caps, fertilizer and fuel to make the bomb.

McVeigh's trial lawyer, Stephen Jones, said he had known that some materials gathered for the attack were never located by the FBI and that this discovery could answer some of those questions.

Following up on Eric's questions about this article, I wonder exactly what information "spurred the search" and placed responsibility onto Nichols? I too am dubious that the FBI would have failed to search a crawl space, and think it possible that they did not release information of what they found there because there was more than explosive and blasting caps within.

Eric follows a long trail and poses some very provocative questions. Read the whole thing.

I'm extremely curious about the Canadian connection to this whole affair. If the documents which Berger stole were indeed relevant to both the plot to bomb LAX and to the Oklahoma City bombing and Nichols can be connected to Ramzi Youssef (connected to the 1993 WTC bombing) the implications for US-Canada relations could be staggering as there have been an increasing number of issues which have challenged the one time easy assumption of friendship between the two nations and a recent Iranian visitor to Canada makes me wonder if Canada is secretly helping the other side.

Maybe the Minute Man Project is patrolling the wrong border.

(CBC link via this post at lgf.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2005

Kassem Daher charged as money raiser for al Qaeda

Mar. 30 - An former Edmonton man, Kassem Daher, was named as a money-raiser for al Qaeda and is believed to have operated movie theatres towards that end.

Daher hasn't resided in Edmonton since 1998.

In 2000, he was arrested in Lebanon after a shootout between police and alleged terrorists. After his arrest, Daher's relatives denied he was ever involved in terrorism and urged the Canadian government to intervene on his behalf. He was never formally charged with a crime in Lebanon or Canada and has been free on bail for the past year, Barbara Campion, a spokeswoman for CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) told CanWest News Service on Tuesday.


Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami released a 14-page affidavit sworn out by FBI agent John T. Kavanaugh detailing what he described as the "Jayyousi-Daher-Hassoun North American Support Network" for Islamic terror.

"The investigation of Jayyousi, Daher (and) Hassoun began in late 1993 and revealed that they had formed a network across North America to fundraise for and recruit mujahedeen to train and fight in various jihad areas including but not limited to Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Somalia," the affidavit states.

"During the times relevant to this investigation, Daher resided in Leduc, Canada."

FBI surveillance teams recorded numerous conversations between the three men and others involved in the network, including onetime leader Mohamed Zaky, who died in 1995 fighting in Chechnya.

The tapes are said to have Daher describing his money-laundering, and one 1995 tape involves a conversation between two of the men in which they discussed their efforts to raise money to move "jihadist soldiers between Algeria, Egypt, Somalia, and Eritrea." They also expressed their wish they could raise enough money to send soldiers to Chechnya.:
"Daher and Jayyousi also discussed setting up a for-profit business in order to fund jihad," the affidavit states. "Daher then mentioned his organization, the Canadian Islamic Association, which he described as a 'cover, I mean it's very good.' "
Jayyousi is in U.S. federal custody in Detroit and was scheduled to appear in court today. Daher is believed to still be in Lebanon.

I ran a google to find the Canadian Islamic Association and found that it is a registered organization, has a business license in Leduc (among other places,) and was cited in an item at the Canadian Newspaper Association web site: Muslim chastizes Canadian media for erroneous coverage of Islam and terrorism.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

Mohamed Harkat

Mar. 29 - Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa resident, faces deportation to Algeria after a federal judge ruled that he was a terrorist on March 22 and poses a threat to national security:

Judge Eleanor Dawson ruled that two federal cabinet ministers made a reasonable decision in December 2002 when they concluded that Mr. Harkat was a member of al-Qaeda, the world's foremost terrorist organization.

And she flatly dismissed Mr. Harkat's sworn testimony, during which he denied any connection to terrorism or the al-Qaeda network, as the work of a liar.

There is credible, reliable information from a number of independent sources, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), that contradicts Mr. Harkat's evidence, the judge said.

"On the basis of the confidential information," she said, "it is clear and beyond doubt that Mr. Harkat lied under oath to the court in several important respects."

The judge is not required to divulge the confidential information that led to her decision, but she reportedly said that
... she did not rely on the evidence of Mr. Zubayda, who was thought by Mr. Harkat's defence team to be a linchpin in the government's case.
There are allegations that Zubayda was tortured by the U.S. military to obtain information.
Judge Dawson said she could not rely upon Mr. Zubayda's evidence because she was not told exactly what he said or the circumstances under which he identified Mr. Harkat.

Mr. Zubayda had been the only informant identified by the court as giving credible evidence against Mr. Harkat.

As a result, the defence team spent considerable time trying to establish that Mr. Zubayda had been tortured into giving that evidence.

Mr. Copeland said the experience highlights the "impossibility" of defending someone against a security certificate: "In these cases, you have no idea of the case you have to meet, and you have no idea of how to meet it.

"It is a process that is unfair and violates fundamental justice. But the courts don't seem to agree with me on that issue."

Indeed, Judge Dawson defended the process in her decision, arguing that it is constitutionally sound and offers fundamental justice to foreign citizens accused of terrorism.

The judge concluded there were reasonable grounds to find Mr. Harkat is a member of al-Qaeda who has repeatedly lied to Canadian officials about his terrorist links.

Mr. Harkat came to Canada in 1995 after five years in Pakistan, during which time he said he worked as a warehouse manager for the Muslim World League.

But Judge Dawson said there's reasonable grounds to believe Mr. Harkat travelled to Afghanistan during the early 1990s and developed an association with Mr. Zubayda, who ran two al-Qaeda training camps.

Harkat also was allegedly associated with Ahmed Khadr:
The judge found that Mr. Harkat was also unbelievable when he described his relationship with Ahmed Said Khadr, a known associate of Osama bin Laden's who was once the ranking al-Qaeda member in Canada. (Mr. Khadr was killed in the fall of 2003 during a gun battle with Pakistani forces after fleeing Afghanistan.)

Mr. Harkat admitted on the witness stand that he met Mr. Khadr in Ottawa and travelled with him to Toronto by car. Mr. Harkat claims he met Mr. Khadr through his roommate, Mohamed El Barseigy, and that he did not converse at length with him during a five-hour ride to Toronto.

Judge Dawson concluded that testimony was "inherently implausible and incredible."


Judge Dawson's decision on the reasonableness of the security certificate cannot be appealed to a higher court.

Posted by Debbye at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Increase of Predator fleet

Mar. 29 - One of my favourite tools in our arsenal is a Predator armed with a Hellfire missile. It has the elegance of hitting them when they least expect it, and the tactical advantage of making them feel (rightly) vulnerable - by the time you see it, it's too late.

I am pleased that there are plans to increase the fleet which Murdoc has covered here and he also provides the link to a video of a Predator firing a hellfire missile.

Posted by Debbye at 03:36 PM | Comments (10)

March 23, 2005

Mohammad Mahjoub

Mar. 23 - Another moral dilemma: Bail bid for detainee Mohammad Mahjoub, who has been held in a Toronto jail for nearly 5 years on suspicion of terror connections:

AFTER BEING held for nearly five years in a Toronto jail because of secret evidence and a national security certificate, Mohammad Mahjoub must wait several more months to learn if he will be granted bail. Mahjoub, 44, an alleged high-ranking terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden, is one of five Canadians held on secret CSIS evidence as a threat to national security.

He appeared in federal court yesterday seeking bail, while Ottawa continues its efforts to deport him to Egypt, where, all sides agree, he faces the risk of torture.

The evidence is secret, so we are going on faith that it is valid. From what little I know of the case no charges have been filed although the article notes further down that he lied under oath previously. Generally speaking, we don't detain people for five years because we believe they might commit an illegal act but our new awareness of "sleepers" has changed our perception of what consitutes real and present dangers to national security.

One more for the "no easy answers" category. (I'm kidding; I don't have such a category ... yet.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:27 AM | Comments (3)

March 19, 2005

Hope Trumps Despair - 2 years in

Mar. 19 - There have been a series of terrorist attacks in Asia today:

27 Killed in Pakistan Bombing at a Shiite shrine located about 210 miles south of Quetta. Two other bombs went off further south wounding four people.

A car bomb in Beirut wounded nine. Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud said he won't attend an upcoming summit of Arab leaders in Algeria due to security concerns in Lebanon.

A bomb in a Qatar theater killed a Briton and wounded 12.

Five police officers were killed in Iraq.

On Thursday, a bomb killed 5 and wounded 32 in Kandahar. A suspect has been arrested.

Mar. 20 - 00:37 Australian News is reporting that Scotland Yard has issued an alert for a new campaign by "rogue Irish republican groups." /end update

Today in Europe, tens of thousands of people protested the ongoing violence intended to derail Iraq's steps toward consensual government after Iraqi voters defied terrorists and voted in the historic elections there Jan. 30. Oh wait, that's wrong. They were protesting against the war that removed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I think it's important to show that we still care about this," said Linn Majuri, 15, a member of the environmental organization Green Youth, who held a banner reading "Drop Bush, not bombs!"

"People have become apathetic about this, it's no longer something they walk around thinking about every day," she said.

Didn't millions of Iraqis disprove her assertion that "people have become apathetic about this" only last January?

Okay, I'll behave. They were actually protesting non-U.N. sanctioned American action (because the U.N. represents corruption international law, you know) against Iraq, and what they perceive as the unleashing of America's military might.

Silly rabbit, Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in order to avoid unleashing America's full military might. In terms of air power alone, we conducted that war with one arm tied behind our backs.

Sept. 11 represented an escalation of on-going attacks and our counter-attack could have taken many forms (and don't imagine for a minute that there weren't plenty of people agitating for the nuclear option) but the best, albeit most risky, response was to try to avoid the ultimate confrontation by offering the people in the Mid-east a different future: one of hope and realized aspirations. Wicked, huh?

There were small demonstrations in Canada, the largest of about 3,000 being in Montreal. There were also demonstrations in the U.S.A., but, again, they were sparsely attended.

President Bush said

America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women, and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin.

Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources, and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.

No, wait, that was in October, 2002. His message today was
On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world from a grave danger.

Before coalition forces arrived, Iraq was ruled by a dictatorship that murdered its own citizens, threatened its neighbors, and defied the world. We knew of Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew of his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction, and we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently. We must, and we will, confront threats to America before they fully materialize.

Now, because we acted, Iraq's government is no longer a threat to the world or its own people. Today the Iraqi people are taking charge of their own destiny. In January, over eight million Iraqis defied the car bombers and assassins to vote in free elections. This week, Iraq's Transitional National Assembly convened for the first time. These elected leaders broadly represent Iraq's people and include more than 85 women. They will now draft a new constitution for a free and democratic Iraq. In October, that document will be presented to the Iraqi people in a national referendum. Another election is planned for December to choose a permanent constitutional government.

Free governments reflect the culture of the citizens they serve, and that is happening in Iraq. Today, Iraqis can take pride in building a government that answers to its people and honors their country's unique heritage.

On the current political landscape in the Mid-east:
Today we're seeing hopeful signs across the broader Middle East. The victory of freedom in Iraq is strengthening a new ally in the war on terror, and inspiring democratic reformers from Beirut to Tehran. Today, women can vote in Afghanistan, Palestinians are breaking the old patterns of violence, and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are rising up to demand their sovereignty and democratic rights. These are landmark events in the history of freedom. Only the fire of liberty can purge the ideologies of murder by offering hope to those who yearn to live free.

The experience of recent years has taught us an important lesson: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. Because of our actions, freedom is taking root in Iraq, and the American people are more secure.

Yes, I know, the new meme is that bringing freedom to the Mid-east would have a domino effect was an afterthought when locating WMD didn't pan out, but if that is so, why has so much bandwidth been used these past two years with arguments over the feasibility of functional consensual governments in Muslim countries?

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

Phillipine terrorist suspects killed as police retake prison

Mar. 15 - Philippines braces for retaliation after 28 die in prison uprising:

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippines braced for retaliatory attacks after some of the country's most hardened terror suspects were killed in a failed prison uprising that left 28 people dead, most of them inmates killed in a barrage of bullets as hundreds of police stormed the maximum security facility.

The dead included three leaders and a fourth member of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for deadly attacks and ransom kidnappings in which hostages have been beheaded.

The crisis began with an Abu Sayyaf suspect snatching a guard's weapon and quickly turned into a prolonged standoff with at least 10 of the group's top suspects leading the rebellious inmates. Three guards and 24 inmates died - 22 in Tuesday's assault to take back the prison. A police officer also was killed, his body discovered under debris hours after the operation ended.

The next is significant:
Sweat-soaked police marksmen filed out of the building after the assault to the applause of bystanders, escorting prisoners stripped to their underwear and with hands clasped behind their heads.

"The terrorists got what was coming to them," Ignacio Bunye, press secretary for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said in a statement. "The crisis team gave them all the chances to peacefully surrender." (Bolding added.)

Abu Sayaaf has promised to retaliate, but they've bombed, kidnapped and terrorized the Phillipine people for years as part of their SOP so it's not exactly as though they've agitated quietly and peacefully and are only now thinking of escalating their tactics.

The good news:

Three leaders were among four Abu Sayyaf members killed: Alhamzer Manatad Limbong, known as Kosovo; Ghalib Andang, known as Commander Robot; and Nadzmie Sabtulah, alias Commander Global.
Limbong allegedly was involved in a mass kidnapping in 2001-02 that left several hostages - including two Americans - dead, and a ferry bombing a year ago that killed more than 100 people in the Philippines' worst terrorist attack. Others were accused of ransom kidnappings and other criminal acts.
The Phillipine media seems cut from a different cloth than ours:
"Throughout the day, the nation had to listen to the demands of people who had just killed three jail guards and were on trial for multiple murder and kidnapping," The Philippine Star daily wrote in an editorial. "And we wonder why the country is turning into a terrorist paradise."

15:15 - The Australian press has more.

Posted by Debbye at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005

March 11 Honoured

Mar. 11 - March 2004 was a bad month. There were a horrific series of terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan targeting Shi'ia observances of Ashura, the Madrid train bombings, terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan and the Phillippines, and, closer to home, a plague of anti-Jewish graffiti in Toronto. Four contractors were murdered and their bodies mutilated and strung up on a bridge outside Fallujah, and Canadian Andy Bradsell was killed in Iraq protecting a convoy of people trying to restore electrical service in Mosul.

Each of those memories are searing and produced responses both good and bad, but I really didn't see this coming: Muslim clerics in the Islamic Commission of Spain have issued a fatwa on Osama bin Laden and declared terrorist acts totally banned:

The commission's secretary general, Mansur Escudero, said the group had consulted with Muslim leaders in other countries, such as Morocco -- home to most of the jailed suspects in the bombings -- Algeria and Libya, and had their support.

"They agree," Escudero said, referring to the Muslim leaders in the three North African countries. "What I want is that they say so publicly."

(More at Bin Laden fatwa as Spain remembers - Mar 11, 2005.)

My initial reaction was to feel how very, very difficult this was for them. Muslims have felt under intense scrutiny since Sept. 11, and although I could never entirely condemn the natural inclincation of many to close ranks thinking to protect themselves, I was frustrated by the "Yes, but" defense as attacks in Iraq targeting Muslims mounted.

There was too common an assumption that the war on terrorism was some kind of codename for a war on Islamic fundamentalists, somehow assuming that terrorism was the unique province of Muslim fanatics and totally overlooking places like N. Ireland, Columbia and Spain.

There were even numerous arguments these past 4 years over the usefulness of labelling this a "war on terror," but its appropriateness has become more and more evident culminating, for me, with the anti-terror demonstrations last year in Columbia after a night spot there was bombed. They got it, even if some of us were slow to do so.

I suspect that it is due to Spain's internal problems with terrorism perpetrated by Basque separatists in the ETA that put the Islamic Commission of Spain in the unique position of being able to credibly denounce terrorism, including that espoused by bin Laden, and the additional fact that they contacted and communicated with those in countries from which the March 11 attackers originated makes this appear to be more than a local fatwa.

I don't know if this will be the first of many fatwas from different countries or if it will dangle indefinitely as a lone example, but it's a good beginning.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (2)

March 04, 2005

The Road to Damascus

Mar. 4 - Charles Krauthammer on the cedar revolution in The Road to Damascus

Revolution is in the air. What to do? We are already hearing voices for restraint about liberating Lebanon. Flynt Leverett, your usual Middle East expert, took to the New York Times to oppose the immediate end of Syria's occupation of Lebanon. Instead, we should be trying to "engage and empower" the tyranny in Damascus.

These people never learn. Here we are on the threshold of what Arabs in the region are calling the fall of their own Berlin Wall and our "realists" want us to go back to making deals with dictators. It would be not just a blunder but a tragedy. It would betray our principles. And it would betray the people in Lebanon who have been encouraged by those principles.

I need to sleep, but on behalf of those of us who have to work Friday night, please, please enjoy the opening night of your weekend!

Posted by Debbye at 02:48 PM | Comments (31)

Australia requests appeal for light Bashir sentence

Mar. 4 - Update: 12:42 - Darn, I should have read Belmont Club earlier. Wretchard's post The Foundations of Barad-dur confronts the issue behind the issue.

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was sentenced to 30 months for his part in the 2002 Bali bombing which killed 2002 people:

The radical Muslim cleric was yesterday sentenced to just 30 months in prison for his part in the deadly conspiracy that claimed 88 Australian lives in October 2002.

He was also cleared of four other serious anti-terrorist charges including the 2003 J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta which killed 12 people.

But the court heard no testimony from Mubarok, sentenced to life in prison, or Amrozi, sentenced to death. Mubarok refused to testify, and Amrozi never appeared in the makeshift court in the Agriculture Department's auditorium in south Jakarta.

The judges also found Bashir visited a JI training camp in The Philippines in 2000.

But they cleared the Islamist cleric of all charges connected to the 2003 blast at Jakarta's Marriott hotel, which killed 12 people.


One of Bashir's senior defence lawyers, Mahendradatta, told reporters the judges' finding was "illegal", because they had not relied on direct testimony to convict Bashir, but rather on police interviews.

The preacher has always denied any connection with terrorism, and repeatedly alleged the US and Australia pushed Indonesia into trying him. His lawyers have pointed out Bashir had been in prison for nine months when the suicide bomber attacked the Marriott hotel.

Bashir was jailed shortly after the Bali bombings, and he has already been tried and convicted once. Released and immediately rearrested in April last year, the preacher was charged under Indonesia's new anti-terrorism laws in connection with the Marriott blast, and under the penal code in connection with the Bali bombings. After a five-month trial, the judges from South Jakarta district court acquitted him of all five charges in connection with the Marriott blast, and two of the three charges connected to the Bali bombings.

Both Australia and the U.S. have condemned the light sentence, and Australia has called for the prosecutor to appeal the sentence.
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said the issue was something Australians felt "very passionately" about.

"Our ambassador in Jakarta has already raised with officials in Jakarta that the sentence isn't very long," he said.

"We feel this as Australians because so many Australians died in the Bali bombing. We've got to, as a country, not just a Government, express the view on behalf of those whose loved ones were killed in Bali."

He believed a sentence of about eight years, as sought by the prosecution, would have been more appropriate.

Ba'asyir (Bashir) was found guilty of "an evil conspiracy" but acquitted of direct involvement. As he has already been in jail for 10 months due to his suspected links to the 2003 bombing of the Marriott, he will be released next year. He was acquitted last year of being the head of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group in Indonesia that has ties to al Qaeda.

CNN barely covers the reaction: Dismay over Bali bombing sentence:

Australia will ask Indonesian prosecutors to appeal for a longer jail term, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

"It's of some concern to us that the sentence is as short as it is. We're disappointed about that. We'd like to see a longer sentence," Downer told Australian television.

"I have instructed our embassy in Jakarta to raise this whole question of the short sentence with the Indonesian authorities and to say from our perspective we'd like to see a longer sentence," Downer said.

"We ask that the length of the sentence be appealed in the Indonesian courts."

Although the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said that the light sentence could provoke futher terrorist attacks against Australia, intelligence agencies there have not reported an increase in threats, according to Attorney-General Phllip Ruddock.

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2005

Hope trumps despair

Mar. 3 - Good item from the Montreal Gazette: 'Great democratic experiment' ignited by U.S., analyist says:

The dramatic changes underway in Lebanon are signs of a "great democratic experiment" ignited by the United States that could sweep through the Middle East this year, says a scholar of Islamic politics here.

"Democracy is knocking at the door of this country and, if it's successful in Lebanon, it is going to ring the doors of every Arab regime," says Nizar Hamzeh, a political scientist at the American University in Beirut and author of a new book on Islamic militia movements.

"I don't think any country in this region is going to be spared from this wave."

After a report on the meeting of the current opposition in Lebanon, the article continues to interview Hamzeh:
Hamzeh said the difficult work of solving these issues and bringing true democracy and sovereignty to Lebanon now falls to its people. But he insisted yesterday that the United States deserves the credit for inspiring the winds of change in this region.

"Definitely the credit here is to the United States and President (George W.) Bush," he said yesterday.

"What's happening in Lebanon is not just power of the people, with all due respect to them. Whether people like the U.S. or hate it, this process of peaceful political transformation would not have started if the U.S. had not initiated it."

Hamzeh said the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, coupled with U.S. pressure on Syria and Iran to mend their ways as sponsors of terrorism - what he calls "coercive diplomacy that falls just short of war" - has emboldened opposition movements throughout the Middle East and created a climate of political opportunity in a region whose people were desperate for change but needed international encouragement.

He said elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, plus the prospect of genuinely free elections in Lebanon and Egypt, are signs of a movement that could spread to Jordan, the Gulf states and even Syria and Iran.

In Lebanon, however, Hamzeh said the rest is now up to the country itself. "The U.S. can't fight all our battles."

Some Lebanese at Beirut's protest camp agreed yesterday the United States laid the groundwork for their goals. The handful of people interviewed by CanWest News Service said they were fans of Bush, but also said the United States and Europe need to do much more.

"The U.S. should invade Syria, just like Iraq," said Peter Geagea, a university student. "Syria has been talking for 15 years about leaving Lebanon, and it never has. The only way is to force them out."

At the nearby grave and memorial of Hariri, whose murder helped spark the Beirut protests, businessman Nage Abesaad said the Lebanese people, not the United States, are the agents of change here.

"This is the first time that we've stood up together, as one, and demanded freedom," he said. As for Lebanon leading the rest of the Middle East into a new political era, Abesaad was skeptical.

"We will have true democracy here, maybe," he said, "but in Syria, I don't know. If you want real peace in the Middle East, you need to get rid of the (ruling) Baath Party in Syria - the same way the U.S. did in Iraq."

The U.S. has pledged assistance in organizing and holding elections in Lebanon, which is somewhat less than invading Syria but is considerably more than anyone imagined a year ago.

"Coercive diplomacy that falls just short of war" is made much easier when 140,000 troops are parked next door, something Syria could not have failed to note, and their response will likely be to stage an increased number of attacks in Iraq -- I suspect Syria would prefer they fight the US in Iraq rather than in Syria.

David Frum has some ideas as to what Syria is likely to do to re-introduce the rule of fear to combat the hope that is beginning to thrive here.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2005

Ya mean that was the plan all along?

Mar. 2 - Sorry, the site went down for awhile.

It all seemed very simple. The Iraqi elections, despite the nay-sayers, were held. As promised. When they were promised. The Iraqis -voters and security personnel -did the rest.

A columnist with a Chicago paper wrote that maybe he'd have to admit that Bush was right all along.

And then the Lebanese people responded to the murder of Rafik Hariri with peaceful solidarity and determination. Those of who who understood and supported the aim of bringing consensual government and respect for human rights to the Mid-east applauded them.

Thomas Friedman wrote a column, and the NY Times wrote an editorial.

But now the rush onto the bandwagon is downright getting out of hand. (Ace is calling it a stampede.) Respected liberals are admitting that Iraq was a good place to start. Others are even going so far as to admit that maybe Bush was right. Even the BBC and Arab media is beginning to catch on.

But then there are others, and Jon Stewart is messing with a guest and suggesting that nobody knew that Operation Iraqi Freedom was all about bringing democracy to the Mid-east! It was a secret! It was a secret plan hatched by Karl Rove and nobody knew (except for the millions of Americans who voted for Bush - they knew!)

18:30: Ace has been on a roll keeping up with all this, and he's got a round-up of his "stampede" posts here. (Of course he would do that after I've been patiently linking every time a new post popped up on his site and me doing all that hard work.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2005

Mark Steyn

Mar. 1 - New column up at the Telegraph (UK) by Mark Steyn, The Arabs' Berlin Wall has crumbled, in which he looks at the rapid shifts in policies in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the displeasure of Palestinians over the latest terrorist attack in Israel and asks:

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."

... In the space of a month, the Iraq election has become the prism through which all other events in the region are seen.

No, I can't condense Steyn. Just read it.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (15)

2,000 Iraqis say "No" to terrorism

Mar. 1 - One reaction to the car bomb in Hillah that killed over 125 and wounded nearly 150:

More than 2,000 people demonstrated Tuesday at the site of a car bombing south of Baghdad that killed 125 people, chanting "No to terrorism!"


The Internet statement by al-Qaida in Iraq said that the attack targeted a registration center for Iraqi police and National Guardsmen. It made no mention of the medical clinic or a nearby market where a number of people were also killed.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the statement, which was posted on the Web site that has previously carried al-Qaida material. The statement was also posted under the name of Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the designated media coordinator of al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

More than 2,000 people held the impromptu demonstration on front of the clinic, chanting "No to terrorism!" and "No to Baathism and Wahhabism!"

Wahhabism is a reference to adherents of the strict form of Sunni Islam preached by Osama bin Laden, while the Baath party was the political organization that ran Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The demonstrators also demanded that interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi step down.

Police prevented people from parking cars in front of the clinic or the hospital, where authorities blocked hospital gates with barbed wire to stave off hundreds of victims' relatives desperate for information on loved ones.

Provincial Gov. Walid al-Janabi said no funeral procession would be held in Hillah due to "security reasons." He did not elaborate, but police said they feared new attacks. (Bolding added)
From AP

Posted by Debbye at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2005

Canada's role in electronic warfare

Feb. 28 - Startling article by Judi McLeod and David Hawkins in Canada Free Press about Canada's hidden, media-ignored role in electronic warfare.

Weapons of electronic intelligence and electronic warfare are where the nation of Canada holds the cutting edge.

Through an intricate series of subsidiaries and sub-contractors, leading back to the blind trust running his Canadian Steamship Lines company, Prime Minister Paul Martin is still at the epicenter of that cutting edge.

In the development and design of Instrument Approach Procedures (IAP) for military aircraft, Canada maintains a first-place role.

IAPs are published instructions to pilots, specifying a series of aircraft maneuvers that must be executed for the aircraft to transition safety from an en route driving final approach, when flying by instruments.

Pretty routine stuff, until we get here:
In addition to CMC and BAE selling flight simulators in the global marketplace, Lansdowne's project managers also conduct something called "Lessons Learned" or what the Americans would call, "Red-Team Analysis" for NORAD's war games--including the simulations carried out on, and just prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Irrefutable proof that NORAD was conducting "simulation experiments" at the same time as the attacks, exists.

It was alleged confusion from these war game simulations that gave the NORAD commanders the convenient (and at the time, credible) excuse to order all U.S. Air Force military bases to "stand down" when they were about to scramble jets to escort or shoot down the alleged hijacked aircraft that nearly one hour later, crashed into several buildings.

Explaining the 9/11 collapse of NORAD command, control, communications and intelligence (C31 war-room) systems, the 9/11 Commission report cited a failure of imagination where no one (in America, at least) conducted "Red Team"--analysis as seen through the eyes of the enemy on how to convert hijacked jets into fuel-laden, precision-guided, un-intercepted missiles. (See www.9/11 Commission Report).

It now appears that project managers for the then-Paul Martin-owned Lansdowne Blind Trust Company were conducting Red-Team Analysis, in support of Canada’s participation in NORAD’s 9/11-style war games–but they just didn’t happen to share their web-enabled war-room insights with Canada’s allies in America.

The 9/11 Commission claimed that prior to September 11, 2001 no one was looking for possible telltale indicators that may have aroused suspicion. Indicators, such as prospective Arab-speaking terrorist group members using the CSL blind trust concealed behind Lansdowne to buy advanced flight simulators from companies such as CAE in Montreal, or flight-training lessons from corporate giants, such as Bombardier, which operates the NATO flight-training schools in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Read this through to the end, where the question is posed
Is Canada’s role in the ongoing attacks on the American-led "Coalition of the Willing", one of counter-counter terror?
Please note that I'm sharing this with you all as I re-read it. It seems incredible.

Posted by Debbye at 03:16 PM | Comments (15)

Lebanon's road to sovereignty

Feb. 28 - On Monday, 10,000 Lebanese defied a ban on demonstrations to press their demands for Syria's withdrawal (10,000 in Beirut Join Protest Against Syria) as the Lebanese parliament opened in its first session since former PM Rafik Hariri's assassination of Feb. 14. [13:00 - This just in: Lebanese government resigns! Also, the crowd size is now estimated at 25,000.]

Syrian president Assad denies any involvement in the bombing which killed Hariri and told an Italian newspaper that to do so would have been an act of "political suicide." That may seem self-evident given ensuing events, but was it so February 14? Of course not.

CNN estimated there were 50,000 protesters in Martyr's Square and elaborates on the ban:

An estimated 50,000 people gathered Monday in Beirut's Martyr Square despite an order a day earlier by Lebanon's Interior Ministry for military forces to "use all necessary means" to make sure the demonstrations did not take place.
I think Damascus has learned the meaning of the phrase The whole world is watching.

What I find most hopeful is that past differences between Lebanese factions seem to have been overridden by the desire to take back control over their own country (see this article on the tent city.) One of the arguments against any form of consensual government functioning in the Mid-east has been conflict - often armed - between religious, tribal and ethic groups which had been arbitrarily lumped together to form a "country" although there were few ties other than geography which bound the inhabitants into a cohesive unit.

The Iraqi people have shown that they can find common ground which can benefit all the Iraqi people and, perhaps more significantly, reach compromises. Although this unity is still in its infancy, within that transcendence of narrow self-interests lies the seeds of the future for countries of the Mid-east.

The question of Syrian involvement in Hariri's assassination is almost moot. Although it serves as a rallying cry for those tired of Syrian occupation and domination of Lebanon, the long supressed aspirations of the Lebanese for national sovereignty lie at the heart of the crisis in Lebanon and defiance of the ban against demonstrations spring from a recognition of the rights of free men and women.

There's been much discussion about Thomas L. Friedman's column in the NY Times yesterday, The Tipping Points (see extended entry for item) in which he discusses three tipping points in the Mid-east: Iraqi elections, the Lebanese defiance of Syria, and Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, but he doesn't tie the events together satisfactorily.

The impetus for change - and that's at heart what the tipping points represent - stem from U.S. response to the events of Sept. 11. Those who observed that the tensions in the Mid-east were reaching critical mass were shocked into recognition that these conflicts had ceased to be spectator sport and had landed in our front yards and that we had to do something, not just anything, and it had to be something that could provide hope to counterpose against the despair of death cultism.

We were paying attention to root causes, but we chose to go the hard course and press to change the biggest root cause from which the others stemmed.

Fact: No democracy has ever gone to war against another democracy.

Fact: One of the characteristics that has propelled homo sapiens forward is our ability to look at what others have done and to adapt it to fit ourselves.

Conclusion: If one people in one country in the Mid-east (besides Israel) can form a government based on and adherent to the recognition of human rights and consensual rule, others will believe that they too can do so and strive towards that goal.

I supported the Iraq war not due to any fears about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction but because it seemed fertile ground for planting the seeds of democracy and, as we had to start somewhere, it seemed natural to pick up where we had (regrettably) left off in Gulf War I.

The Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution and the courageous voter turn-out by the Iraqi people on January 30 are, I think, part of an ongoing revolution which is peaceful by nature but determined in intent (as indicated by the steadfastness of the Lebanese) and the only question now is in the specifics: where the impact of these marches to freedom will next be made manifest.

The United States and the Coalition of the Willing can take credit for planting the seeds, but it is those who strive for freedom who deserve credit for taking these bold steps toward a new future. I don't know how it will all end, but I have to believe that we have averted a war of civilizations that would have seen the destruction of one and the diminishment of the other.

The Tipping Points

Thomas L. Friedman, NY Times
published Feb. 27, 2005

The other night on ABC's "Nightline," the host, Ted Koppel, posed an intriguing question to Malcolm Gladwell, the social scientist who wrote the path-breaking book "The Tipping Point," which is about how changes in behavior or perception can reach a critical mass and then suddenly create a whole new reality. Mr. Koppel asked: Can you know you are in the middle of a tipping point, or is it only something you can see in retrospect?

Mr. Gladwell responded that "the most important thing in trying to analyze whether something is at the verge of a tipping point, is whether it - an event - causes people to reframe an issue. ...A dumb example is the Atkins's diet, which reframes dieting from thinking about it in terms of avoiding calories and fat to thinking about it as avoiding carbohydrates, which really changes the way people perceive dieting."

Mr. Koppel was raising the question because he wanted to explore whether the Iraqi elections marked a tipping point in history. I was on the same show, and in mulling over this question more I think that what's so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once.

Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.

In Lebanon, the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Syria is widely suspected of having had a hand in, has reframed that drama. A month ago, Lebanon was the story of a tiny Christian minority trying to resist the Syrian occupation, which had the tacit support of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and a cadre of Lebanese politicians who had sold their souls to Damascus. After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped. Lebanon became the story of a broad majority of Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druse no longer willing to remain silent, but instead telling the Syrians, and their Lebanese puppet president, to "go home." Lebanon went from a country where few dared whisper "When will Syria leave?" to a country where nearly everyone was shouting it, and Syria was having to answer.

The Israel-Palestine drama has gone from how Ariel Sharon will use any means possible to sustain Israel's hold on Gaza, which he once said was indispensable for the security of the Jewish state, to being about how Mr. Sharon will use any means possible to evacuate Gaza - with its huge Palestinian population - which he now says is necessary for saving Israel as a Jewish state. The issue for the Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there - a Dubai on the Mediterranean. Because if they do, it will fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.

While all three of these situations would constitute tipping points by Mr. Gladwell's definition, I would feel a lot better about all three if I thought that they were irreversible - and couldn't tip back the wrong way.

For Iraq to be tipped in the right direction, it was necessary to have the election we did, but that was not sufficient. The sufficient thing is that a stable, decent Iraqi government emerge that can also quell the Sunni insurgency. That will depend in part on America's willingness to stay the course in Iraq. It will depend in part on the Shiite majority's willingness to share power with the Sunnis - particularly one of the crucial cabinet portfolios of defense, intelligence or interior - and not go on a de-Baathification rampage. And it will depend in part on the Sunni Arab leaders finally supporting the Iraqi majority.

For Lebanon to liberate itself from Syria, the Lebanese opposition groups will have to find a way to translate their aspirations into a withdrawal deal with Damascus. The Syrians will not be pushed out. And for Israelis and Palestinians to really tip toward peace, the moderates on both sides are really going to have to help each other succeed.

Indeed, in the Middle East playground - as Friday's suicide bomb in Israel reminds us - tipping points are sometimes more like teeter-totters: one moment you're riding high and the next minute you're slammed to the ground. Nevertheless, what's happened in the last four weeks is not just important, it's remarkable. And if we can keep all three tipping points tipped, it will be incredible.

Posted by Debbye at 11:34 AM | Comments (11)

Mass murder in Iraq

Feb. 28 - True, somewhat grim title but I feel an anger at the pit of my stomach that has no words over this latest outrage (Car Bomb Kills at Least 115 in Iraq.)

I realize that the death cultists have little recourse but to murder and spread mayhem; after all, what else to they have to offer? On my better days I try to pity them for their failure to embrace the gift of life, but most days I just hate them.

FoxNews reports (at least on the televised coverage) that those present worked together to load the wounded onto ambulances and gather body parts of the dead. It's some comfort to see that solidarity and humanity in the middle of the wreckage, and not a day goes by that I don't see new reasons to respect the courage of those trying to build a new nation.

Courage. What a small, pitiful word for such a breathtaking concept.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2005

Jihad on the Pacific Rim

Feb. 24 - If you have time (and even if you don't) I strongly recommend reading the article Dire Straits by Austin Bay in the Weekly Standard about the growth of terror networks in the Southern Pacific.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005

Canadian troops return from Afghanistan

Feb. 20 - Members of the Land Force Western Area returned to Edmonton last night after a 6-month tour in Afghanistan (Hope delivered):

"They kept Kabul, and the region around Kabul, secure in a way that allowed people to start to create normal lives, to start to build houses and invest in their future," said Brig.-Gen. Stu Beare.

"The bottom line, people are making buildings. People are building roads, people are putting in electricity in a country that had none of that during the Taliban era.

"What does that mean? That people have hope, so there's been a huge difference."

Efforts to rebuild Afghanistan are often overshadowed by the bloodier events in Iraq, but restoring stability to Afghanistan is vital to the war on terror and Canadian forces have played an important role in that endeavour.

Despite the questionable support of the Canadian government, members of the Canadian military have steadfastly adhered to their duties, and as the post below demonstrates, this has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by the public.

Posted by Debbye at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Adil Charkaoui freed on bail

Feb. 18 - Adil Charkaoui, (some background here,) has been freed on $50,000 bail after being held without charges for nearly two years.

Feb. 22: Morocco wants to extradite Charkaoui on the basis of an arrest warrant issued last September, but he says he's being framed.

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2005

Negroponte to be named

Feb. 17 - President Bush is just announcing the nomination of John Negroponte as the Director of National Intelligence.

I like it. I haven't closely followed Negroponte's activites as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, but as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during the run up to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom I was impressed by his consistency and focus.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)


Feb. 17 - U.S. Sec. of State Rice has said that the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Margaret Scobey, has been recalled for an "interminate" period of time (Tension mounts between U.S., Syria) and said that the U.S. has an "increasing list of problems" with Syria.

The ball is in Syria's court, but the response from Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha that Syria has cooperated with the U.S. and done everything asked of it is extremely non-substantive.

As always, it's the face down cards that are the most interesting.

14:03: Russia has just finalized a deal to sell short-range anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. They have been identified as Igla shoulder-held missiles called Strelets. A defence ministry spokesman says fears that the missiles could be used against US, British or Israeli aicraft were unwarranted because "the launching device is fixed either on tracked or wheeled gear and is not portable." (We're into tech stuff about which I know little, but if it's not portable, why the wheels? And why are wheels on a shoulder-held launcher?) [To clarify, I realize that wheels or tracks would be for the recoil but on a shoulder-launcher? Must.Google.]

The article ends on an ironic note:

Mr Putin is to meet President George W Bush in the Slovak capital Bratislava next week. They are expected to sign a deal aimed at curbing the spread of shoulder-held missile-launchers.

Posted by Debbye at 07:13 AM | Comments (4)

February 16, 2005

The Restoration of Lebanese Sovereignty

Feb. 16 - The nice thing about chess is that all the active pieces are on the board and thus visible. In life, alas, we have to actively seek out not only partially forgotten pieces from the recent past but infer a great deal from diplomatic moves that speak symbolically rather than overtly.

In The Curtain Rises, Wretchard gives a very shrewd analysis of the withdrawal of the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, the effectiveness of the elections in Iraq as a unifying force and recalls the rumour from last year about special forces readying to take action in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.

In some respects it no longer matters whether Syria is actually guilty - the opposition forces in Lebanon have been emboldened and no fact-finding panel or U.N. inquiry will be sufficient to derail the renewed push for ending the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

The passage of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act a year and a half ago was regarded by many as a U.S. shot fired over Syria's bow. It seems incredible that Syria would orchestrate this assassination at this time, given the success of Sect. Rice's diplomatic missions to Europe and the upcoming visit of the President. One talking head on CNN speculated that France and the USA would lead a joint military mission to Lebanon. I don't know how accurate that assessment might be, but it would be another example of forming "coalitions of the willing" on case by case bases and as Lebanon is a francophonie nation, Canada may well join such a coalition.

There is a lot odd about all this. If indeed Syria did order the killing, it was either an act of incredible arrogance or one of desperation. If the latter, it may have been in part a reaction to the success of the Iraq elections -- Syria must recognize that the Ba-athist strategy of relying on al-Zarqawi to disrupt those elections backfired in a big way and they have irretrievably lost Iraq as an ally. If the former, Syria may have signaled their response to UNSC resolutions calling for an end to the occupation.

The claim of responsibility by Victory and Jihad seems little credited. Maybe the recent kidnapping of Toy Soldier Cody demonstrated the dangers of relying on "known terrorist" web sites for news and information, and the confession by Victory and Jihad that they killed former PM Harisi as payback for him being too close to Saudia Arabia could just be blatant misinformation circulated by the Syrians. After all, Saudia Arabia is Bin Laden's special hobby and it seems odd that an hitherto unknown group would insert itself in what is seen as al Qaeda's especial concern.

There are other forces in play here as well. The announcement of what amounts to a mututal defense pact between Syria and Iran (I'm tempted to label it SIP) merely formalizes what has been implicit for awhile now, and it can either be seen as surrounding Iraq or Iraq can be seen as a physical wedge between Syria and Iraq.

There are other countries that come into play here, however. Turkey, for one. There were suspicions that Syrian forces played a role in the Istanbul bomings of Nov., 2003, and those were not allayed even after Syria turned over 22 suspects.

And what about suspected involvement of Syria in the thwarted terrorist attack in Jordan in April, 2004?

[N.B. MuNu went down in media post so I'm playing catchup before I head for work. This post is not much on analysis but I'm just looking at the cards and trying to figure out if we're holding a low pair or can fill out a straight.]

19:15: Daniel Drezner has a round-up on Syria and one of the commenters speculates that Iran was behind the assassination.

Posted by Debbye at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2005

Terror attacks in Lebanon, Phillipines

Feb. 14 - This story is still developing: Beirut Car Bomb Kills Former PM, 9 Others. Former PM Hariri's stance against Syrian occupation of Lebanon was well-known, which would tend to make Syria the number one suspect, but a group calling itself Victory and Jihad has claimed the dubious credit by reading a statement on al Jazeera. (They seem to believe Hariri was too pro-Saudi.)

In the Phillipines, Abu Sayaaf has responded to a military offensive against them and claimed responsibility for what they termed a Valentine's Day's "gift" to Pres. Arroyo - 3 bombs have killed seven and wounded over 100.

Feb. 16 - 13:30: Wretchard connects the dots beautifully.

Posted by Debbye at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2005

For you, Nik

Feb. 3 - It was, after all, inevitable: Bush captures bin Laden.

(via Ace via The Corner.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2004

Arrests in Australian embassy bombing

Nov. 25 - Four men involved in the pre-election bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta last September have been detained and were planning more bombs, police say:

National police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said crack anti-terror police arrested the embassy attack field co-ordinator, named Rois, near Bogor on November 5, along with three other men: Hasan, Apuy and master bomb-maker Sogir.
Officers burst into their hideout and overpowered them before they could set off suicide bombs.

A cache of explosive packs and bundles were found at the scene -- chilling evidence more attacks were planned in the wake of the September 9 embassy car bomb blast that killed 11.

The four were detained in secret for almost three weeks as the hunt for other terrorists continued.


Even so, JI's [Jemaah Islamiah] principal bomb masterminds -- Malaysians Azahari Husin and Noordin Top -- are still on the run.


The missing pair are also implicated in the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed 202 people -- including 88 Australians -- and the August 5, 2003 attack on the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, which killed 12 people.

The most important of the four arrested is Rois, alias Iwan Darmawan.

He is accused of being the right-hand man of Azahari, the bespectacled, British-trained engineer believed to have overseen design of the Bali bombs.

Rois is said to have recruited Heri Golun, the embassy suicide bomber.

Posted by Debbye at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Australia renews pledge to fight terrorism

Nov. 18 - From Nov. 16, a reminder that the valiant Australians are leading the fight on terror in the Pacific (Canberra vow to boost terror fight) and forging an impressive coalition with her nieghbours.

In a speech delivered at the opening of the 41st Australian parliament, their firm committment to fight terrorism was re-affirmed and some new steps announced:

[Governor General Michael] Jeffery said the government intended to keep a controversial election promise to create six Australian police "flying squads" for quick deployment across borders to "disrupt terrorist networks."

Canberra also will create a counterterrorism and intelligence training school for Southeast Asian and Pacific countries.

"The Australian government places high priority on strengthening cooperation with our regional neighbors and offering assistance in capacity building in the fight against terrorism," Jeffrey said.

There is much too little in the news media about Australian leadership in the war on terror, but I for one feel heartened to have these doughty warriors as good friends and allies.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

The legacy of Arafat

Nov. 11 - The news is all about Yassar Arafat and the departure of the helicopter carrying his remains, but I find this more indicative of Arafat's legacy: Troops find captive chained to wall in Iraq.

11:15: Australian PM Howard's candour is refreshing: "History will judge [Araftat] very harshly for not having seized the opportunity in the year 2000 to embrace the offer that was very courageously made by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barack, which involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 per cent of what the Palestinians had wanted." (link via Daimnation.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2004

Last words

Nov. 9 - Word is that Arafat hasn't revealed where he stashed the money yet technically is still alive (Arafat 'suffers brain hemorrhage' -- and what's with the death quotes? Is CNN parodizing themselves?)

I'm serious about the money, by the way. I have this vision of Chirac, Arafat's wife Suha, and a plethora of Palestinian leaders hovering over the bed hoping to hear the bank account locations and numbers. Art becomes reality (with apologies to Jimmy Durante.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian-American group to study bi-lateral maritime defense

Nov. 9 - A Canadian-American planning group is studying the feasibility of establishing a 'Maritime NORAD'. A report is due to be released soon, and any implementation of those recommendations for the project would have to be approved by both Canada and the USA.

A great deal of informal co-operation has already taken place since Sept. 11 but this a project to formalize that co-operation:

The binational planning group was formed in December 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. Morrell said the group is independent of both NORAD and U.S. Northern Command and comes under the command of Canadian Forces Lt. Gen. Rick Findley and his American deputy, Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge.

The concept of a "maritime NORAD" has a large group of endorsers, who envision an automated, oceanwide, vessel-monitoring surveillance network.

The study group has a great deal of support in the US and in Canada:
... The September issue of Canadian American Strategic Review calls a maritime NORAD "a logical next step" in increasing intelligence and surveillance data sharing between the two countries' maritime-security forces.

Author Philippe Lagasse called the concept "a win-win opportunity," noting that the United States' providing Canada with access to U.S. satellite and radar data increase continental maritime security while saving Canada the cost of building its own comparable capabilities.

The means by which we could prevent an attack by sea is one area that remains largely unaddressed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2004

Canada and Holland

Nov. 7 - The murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland was somewhat eclipsed by the US presidential campaign and downplayed by most of the MSM but I realised I wasn't overreacting when 8 others were held in his murder. But the same question dominates which was asked after the Madrid train bombings: what conclusions will the Dutch and Europeans draw from this latest murder? (I'm not suggesting that there are any conclusions to be drawn yet, only that this latest killing will have an effect.)

In case you haven't been reading Peaktalk, his coverage of the Theo van Gogh murder has been outstanding. His post A War of Courage highlights the essence of this struggle for Muslims:

It requires guts to line up for a police job in Baghdad and you equally have to be willing to risk your life to walk into an Amsterdam mosque and explain the principles of freedom of expression. Without these courageous Muslims this war can never ever be won. Let’s help them, let’s enlist them, they are the most important ingredient in this struggle for freedom and democracy.
Bang on!

Pieter has a great many posts of the murder of Theo van Gogh from when it was first reported here to an examination of the existence of a Fifth Column here, the reaction of Ayaan Hirsi Ali here, a less than optimistic outlook for Holland here, a translation of the letter pinned to van Gogh here, a more hopeful outlook here, a re-assertion of political correctness in Holland here followed by a re-assertion of Dutch pride here to the most optimistic post I first cited. Read them all, especially as there is a direct correlation of some events in Canada as the public here tries to digest what has happened, tries to make sense of it, and might recognize an implicit threat and hope.

11:59: This post at Belmont Club points to the way political correctness still constrains a meaningful response to the crisis. I would have run additional showings of the movie Submission and commissioned many more murals as my response to attacks on freedom of speech. When possible responses are assertion or appeasement one would like to think the answer was obvious.

There had been an undercurrent of speculation in Canada over the possibility of a Fifth column here which peaked when the notorious Khadrs (We-are-a-terrorist-family) returned to obtain medical treatment for the youngest (who had been wounded, captured and released by US forces) but three recent events (which also were eclipsed by the US elections) occurred which should have re-introduced discussions about the need to find some tangible means of encouraging tolerance in Canada which do not unintentionally breed intolerance.

On October 8, the Toronto Star carried a report that a Canadian had been killed by the Russians in Chechnya. After the usual expressions of disbelief and doubt as to the accuracy of the Russian claims came a report about the leader of the mosque attended by the dead Canadian, Sheik Younus Kathrada, on which Jay Currie reported here and then on October 19 Dr. Mohamad Elmasry, leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress, was a guest on Michael Coren's TV show and said that all Israelis - including seniors and babies - were fair targets for Palestinian terrorists.

Colby Cosh has a column with the National Post that points out the good news and the bad news. The good news is that as early as August, 2002, 20 B.C. Muslims had published an open letter which called upon Kathadra "to recant his teachings and apologize for them" but the bad news is that he didn't feel compelled to re-examine his views in this multicultural, diverse and tolerant country.

It is becoming more usual to read posts that sarcastically ask where the moderate Muslims are when a Nick Berg is beheaded or the head of CARE is kidnapped in Baghdad, and the fact that letters as the one Colby cites are not reported in the mainstream media does more a disservice to Muslims than would an exposure of a debate which may be quietly taking place within Muslim communities.

Dutch Muslims are responding to van Gogh's murder by recognizing they have a problem and if they don't provide strong leadership now the problem will only worsen.

Back in Canada, three forceful body blows struck the Canadian myth of super-tolerance, and much of the Canadian media responded by (what else?) lamenting the stupidity of the American voter. Do not expect strong leadership here so long as the public's attention can be diverted from issues which actually do impact on the average Canadian (and yet they call us stupid? It boggles the mind.)

Nov. 8 20:30: Some Dutch citizens have taken matters into their own hands, I'm sorry to report. An elementary school, for heaven's sake?

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2004

Transcript of Osama tape

Oct. 30 - I still haven't seen the tape (and am unlikely to, as I'd have to, like, tune on CNN and pay attention in order to view the tape ... yeech!) but the Fox website has what appear to be most of the words and Matt Druge has the transcript.

Is he actually suing for peace? I think we've gone way, way beyond that, although it will please those who are openly in favour of appeasement.

So long, Osama. Nice to hear from you again, but we're a bit busy these days hunting down your friends and dispatching them to the lower regions of Hell.

If you let us know where you can be reached, we'll drop a daisy cutter by for tea someday.

11:23: Some different views on the tape from Wretchard (who says "Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out,") Beldar (who believes he is making "an invitation to Pres. Kerry to negotiate a truce,") Donald Sensing calls it a "yawner" and notes "the tape is the best al Qaeda can do. A videotape is their pre-election surprise" and although he cautions against letting our guard down thinks "... the new OBL tape should encourage us that we are winning. Before 9/11, bin Laden acted, not blustered. Now bluster is about all he's got against America, though al Qaeda sadly still kills abroad." Roger Simon reluctantly admits OBL seems alive, and links to a commenter with more than the usual credentials who makes some interesting observations that suggest OBL really is dead (a must read!)

It struck me that OBL is suing for a separate peace. That would mean that, having initiated and take the leadership in the war on terror, we could just abandon it and save our skins, but what of our allies? What of Iraq?

Another thing: he focuses solely on the Mideast, but doesn't mention other hot spots, such as Indonesia. Australia has her own just grievances against OBL, but unless something has occurred in the past few hours, a similar offer hasn't been made to her or any of our other allies (the real ones, I mean, not the "traditional" ones, as an offer was allegedly made to France in exchange for rescinding the headdress ban.)

There have been a variety of opinions as to whether this helps President Bush or Senator Kerry, and we should see a lot of spin from the media and their trained seals experts as to which. As though we haven't already had plenty of that in the course of this campaign.

To more important matters: it appears the assault on Fallujah is underway, and eight good Marines have died.

Semper fi.

Oct. 31 - 18:01 - I'm wrong about the campaign in Fallujah. Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawai is warning that patience is wearing thin:

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's warning, delivered in a nationally televised news conference, occurred as U.S. forces prepare for a showdown with thousands of militants holed up in Fallujah - the city that has become the focal point of armed resistance to the Americans and their Iraqi allies.

Allawi appeared to be aiming to prepare the Iraqi public for an onslaught likely to unleash strong passions, especially among the country's Sunni Muslim minority.


U.S. officials say Allawi will personally issue the final order to launch any all-out assault on Fallujah and other Sunni insurgent strongholds north and west of the capital.

Allawi gave no deadline for talks with Fallujah city leaders to bear fruit, but he insisted they must hand over foreign fighters and allow Iraqi security forces to take control of the city.

"We have now entered the final phase of attempts to solve Fallujah without a major military confrontation. I hope we can achieve this, but if we cannot, I have no choice but to secure a military solution," he added.

It's easy for me to sit over here and wish for faster action, but Allawi has to think of Iraq's future and the difficult task of knitting together the different factions to create a strong, unified country.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 AM | Comments (4)

October 29, 2004

Osama Speaks!

Oct. 29 - The MuNu server went down before I published anything this morning (which I took as a sign to get some sleep) and I woke up to learn I had slept through a new Osama tape. CNN is all a-twitter about it, but the only thing that surprised me was that he actually seems to have taken credit for the Sept. 11 attacks, which deals a severe blow to those who insisted it was Mossad, the CIA, or never even happened. Other than that, I don't see that it informs me of anything we didn't already know: he doesn't care who wins the election because he hates us. Period.

The tape did say that they will continue to attack us until we stop attacking them, which is a backwards endorsement for President Bush as it affirms that we are attacking them and a blow to Kerry who insists Iraq was a "diversion."

It's hard for me to tell if I'm overly dismissive about this latest tape (although I'll concede it appears the bastard is still alive) or if it is truly dismissible, but I think maybe the media is running too hog-wild with it because the missing explosives story is faltering and they want to divert us.

Maybe I'm just tired of everyone trying to divert us. Taking the fight to the enemy is basic military strategy, so what does make my eyes light up is news that finally, finally, it appears that we are going to renew the campaign in Fallujah. Sooner, please?

As for Osama? He still hates us. And after all we've done for him ...

And as for me, I am off to work.

Update: This should learn me (again!) to trust CNN snap headlines. Now that I've been able to read the transcript I think this is a significant change from the usual bin Laden message. But I think he still hates us.

Posted by Debbye at 06:22 PM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2004

Osama bin Laden appearances timeline

Oct. 20 - Interesting look at the timelines of OBL appearances at The Belgravia Dispatch, Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Maybe I'm just tuning him out, but it seems Kerry hasn't mentioned OBL for awhile. Or maybe his handlers advised him that most Americans are smart enough to recognize that capturing or killing bin Laden won't end either al Qaeda or terrorism.

I maintain OBL is probably dead (although I'd be just as cheerful if it turns out that he's deathly ill and in perpetual agony.) And if Zarqawi is taking orders from him, I want to know if the use of a Ouija board is permitted under Islam.

I think I got the link from Instapundit.

Posted by Debbye at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

Madrid train bombings update

Oct. 17 - Police identify mystery ringleader of Madrid bombings, Allekema Lamari, as one of the men who blew themselves up in an apartment after a shoot-out with police shortly after the March 11 bombing.

A special operations policer officer was killed and several other policemen were wounded in that explosion.

The other suspected terrorists killed in the April suicide blast were identified as: Tunisian Serhane Ben Abdelmajid, Moroccans Jamal Ahmidan, Asri Rifaat, Abdennabi Kounjaa, and Rachid and Oulad Akcha, brothers who were also from Morocco.

Officials say several of the seven were ringleaders of the attack.

Another suspect, an Egyptian called Rabei Osman Ahmed who is currently in Italian custody awaiting extradition to Spain, is also suspected of helping mastermind the Madrid train bombings.

The response of the Spanish electorate to the bombings has been analyzed elsewhere, but what is notable is that, appeasers or no, those countries that did not participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom are nonetheless engaged in the larger war on terror by tracking down terrorists in their midst and that is something that should not be discounted.

Americans who counterpose police action vs. military action are missing the point: successfully combating terrorism will require any and all tools available. Neither course need be sacrificed to bolster the other and to argue issues on that merit either indicates a lack of understanding or lack of committment to combatting terrorism.

Posted by Debbye at 06:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2004

Why we need experts

Oct. 14 - Terror suspects jailed in Britain losing their minds

LONDON (AP) - Foreign terrorist suspects detained indefinitely without trial in Britain have suffered severe and possibly irreparable damage to their mental health, a group of psychiatrists who examined the men reported Wednesday.

The experts, who met eight men held under Britain's anti-terrorist laws, said all displayed similar symptoms of depression, anxiety, self-harm and thoughts of suicide. "All of the men I saw were extremely desperate," said Ian Robbins, a clinical psychologist at St. George's Hospital in London. (My bolding.)

To be fair, I'll include the rest of his statement:
"All had considered suicide and had attempted self-harm, either through cutting themselves or in one case by trying to hang himself."

In their report, the seven psychiatrists and one psychologist concluded mental health damage "is inevitable under a regime which consists of indefinite detention."

The detainees were examined at the request of their lawyer. The British high court is considering an appeal brought by nine detaineese "who argue their detention is inconsistent with Britain's democratic principles."

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2004

Philippine Ferry update

Oct. 11 - This is not a surprise (Bomb caused ferry blast in Philippines that killed more than 100 in February) but I do find it depressing. Would I feel more sanguine if I managed to regard it a mere nuisance?

When the left is willing turn a blind eye to suffering around the world and the right is the side that grieves, it does indeed render labels meaningless.

Kerry is not a liberal, at least not in the classic sense of the word. He may be a sanctimonious, self-serving scumbag, but he is not a liberal.

Damn, now I'm channeling Star Trek.

Posted by Debbye at 11:40 PM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2004

A Chronology of Terror

June 29 - Commenter Tim provides this link to The Evidence: Chronology of Attacks on the West:.

I'm at a loss for words. The traces of memories of these attacks pale when confronted with so lengthy a list, but it does confirm that Western countries were stupid to ever bargain with the terrorists.

I wonder if "appeasement" counts as a root cause for terrorism, because meeting the demands of hijackers and kidnappers encouraged (and paid for) further attacks.

Posted by Debbye at 05:10 PM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2004

Terror Watch in Turkey

June 24 - A bomb exploded on a bus in Istanbul and police suspect it detonated prematurely while being transported to another location (Turkey bus explosion kills four.) A smaller blast earlier in Ankara wounded two.

A NATO summit will be held in Istanbul early next week.

Posted by Debbye at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2004

Assault in Chechnya

June 23 - There had been warnings that the Chechnyan rebels would launch a new military offensive, but the large number of attackers was a surprise (Dozens die as Chechen rebels sweep into city.)

CNN is putting the death toll at 92, and says at least three towns in southern Ingushetia were attacked.

Col. Ilya Shabalkin, head of the press service for Anti-Terrorist Operations in the Caucasus, told CNN the attacks were carried out by 50 to 100 fighters that included Chechen, Ingush and "possibly" foreign fighters. An Interior Ministry source told Interfax that about 200 rebels took part.

Shabalkin said the acting head of the Ingush Interior Ministry was among the dead. He said the fighters wanted to call attention to themselves to attract money from international terrorist organizations.

Both articles quote Russian President Putin as saying that
those responsible for the deadly attacks should be "found and destroyed. Those whom it is possible to take alive must be handed over to the courts."
But there are conflicting reports not only about the size of the attacking forces but also who the attackers were: according to this at the Command Post, an eyewitness says that some of the attackers were Ingush:
Initial reports put the number of attackers at 200-300, but the Gzt.ru website on June 23 quoted "an informed source in the Russian power structures" as saying that up to 1,500 fighters participated in the raids, with at least 80 of them involved in the attack on the Interior Ministry building in Nazran alone. According to the website, some 20 other installations around the republic were attacked. An unnamed source close to the investigation now under way into the attacks told Interfax that the goal of the attackers, who were outfitted in spetsnaz special forces uniforms and ski-masks, was to kill law-enforcement personnel. (Interfax, June 23)

Reports on the attackers' origins have been contradictory. A spokesman for the Ingushetian branch of the FSB, Aleksei Baigushkin, said that foreigners, including Turks and Algerians, were involved, but that Chechens formed the attacking group's "backbone." Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy to the Southern Federal District, Vladimir Yakovlev, said that prior to the attacks, the fighters had trickled into Ingushetia from neighboring Chechnya and North Ossetia. An unnamed official in North Ossetia's Interior Ministry, however, categorically denied Yakovlev's assertion, saying, "We don't have such fighters". (Newsru.com, June 22)

An Ingushetian traffic policeman who was briefly detained by some of the fighters told the independent Ingushetiya.ru website that all of them spoke Ingush and that while their faces were covered by masks, he could tell by their voices that they were young. The traffic policeman said that after he was released, fighters who were also Ingush stopped him several times on the way into Nazran. "They said that they were getting revenge for murders and kidnappings of their friends," the traffic policeman told the website. "And that they were killing employees of [the Ingushetian police's] criminal investigation [department], spetsnaz and OMON [special police units] for helping the Russian special services". (Ingushetiya.ru, June 22)

Likewise, Rossiiskaya Gazeta cited local residents as saying that the attackers were Ingush, "which partially refutes the version about the invasion from Chechnya," and quoted a Russian special services source as denying that they had also crossed over from North Ossetia. "According to our source, most likely no one came from anywhere," the government newspaper reported. "In the evening, people simply put on camouflage clothing, took weapons out of hiding places and went out to the streets to fight". (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, June 23)


A Nazran resident told Ingushetiya.ru that he had spoken to some of the fighters involved in the attack on the Interior Ministry building, who identified themselves as Ingush. They claimed they had "persuaded" Basayev to carry out the attacks in order to "teach a lesson" to the Interior Ministry, FSB and other special services units that have reportedly been involved in "extra-judicial punishment" and kidnappings in Ingushetia.

Best read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2004

Russian advised USA of terror attack plans by Saddam

June 18 - Russia 'warned U.S. about Saddam' - admittedly slightly old news to most people but it suggests so many things without much in the way of clues. Roger L. Simon's analytical skills make his post on the subject far more interesting than my idle speculation, though.

There's also a persistent refrain running in my head ... Chechnya, Chechnya which must factor in somehow.

Posted by Debbye at 01:25 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2004

Paul Johnson, Jr., RIP (multiple updates)

June 18 - Al Qaeda militants kill American hostage. I knew Mr. Johnson was doomed when he was kidnapped, but that doesn't lessen my outrage and the sorrow I feel for him and his family.

CNN is also carrying a report from al Arabiya that the al Qaeda leader was killed:

Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the leader of al Qaeda's cell in Saudi Arabia, was killed, Saudi security sources told CNN.

He was killed while disposing of Johnson's body, the Arabic-language television network Al-Arabiya reported.

MSNBC is reporting that al-Muqrin had been sentenced to 8 years in prison for conspiracy to assassinate Egyptian president Mubarek but was released early for good behaviour (which apparently was evidenced by memorizing several passages in the Koran.)

CNN was pontificating about how safe Saudi Arabia used to be, and my mind flashed back to William Sampson.

Remember him? He is a Canadian who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. He and some British nationals were arrested by Saudi authorities in 2001 - before Sept. 11 - and convicted by a Saudi court of killing a British banker in 2000 which the Saudis claimed was part of a black market liquor ring.

Mr. Sampson was condemned to be beheaded after his "confession" was shown at his trial (he said he had been tortured.) No other evidence was presented to the court.

His and the British citizens were finally released by the Saudis after Prince Charles intervened personally.

The Saudi Arabia which was considered safe for foreigners was not safe: that safety was an illusion which the Saudi kingdom perpetuated by denying that terrorists were operating within Saudi Arabia and they substantiated these claims by accusing Westerners (and Israelis) of being behind the car bombs and shooting deaths of other Westerners.

This isn't a rant against the Saudis (or the Canadian government for their inaction in the Sampson case.) This isn't even a rant, because I'm too depressed at the news of Williams' death and the manner of his death to go into a rant.

This is rather me looking askance at us and wondering just how freaking stupid we really are.

Al Qaeda hates everyone who doesn't fit their narrow definition of "good" Muslims. They hate Shi'ites. They hate Hindus. They hate Buddhists. They hate Jews. They hate Christians. They hate agnostics, atheists, Wiccans, Taoists, animists and everyone I failed to think of when I made this list.

On reviewing that list, I am struck again at how many billions of people they hate, yet we wail because we are on it? Hell, I'd be ashamed to left off it!

They hate most of the human race. Yes, it's hard to believe because most of us are too busy and productive to waste our time actively pursuing our hatreds, but there you are. We don't understand them because we aren't insane.

We have an enemy. It's name is al Qaeda. It has condemned all of us to death. And how do we respond? By holding partisan-driven commissions to find some way of blaming our government for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. By asking why do they hate us, which rather ignores that anyone who hates "us" so much that they personally inflict horrific deaths upon Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Paul Johnson are psychopaths.

A church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed in 1963 and four little girls were killed. The country didn't ask "Why do they hate Negroes" but joined together to condemn the hatred that killed those children and to renew efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.

Did people ask why Clifford Olson hated children?

Did people ask why Marc Lepine hated women after he went on a rampage at an Engineering School or did they confront the hatred and condemn it?

Of course there was countless speculation as to their deranged reasons, but no one credible concluded that the Klan, Olson and Lepine had good reasons to hate their victims and urged black Americans, women and children to mend their wicked, wicked ways.

Canadians didn't conclude that those women and children deserved to die for the sins of other women and children.

Moral equivalence is not moral. It's not even rational.

I presume the video is available somewhere, but I haven't looked for it and, when it inevitably comes to my attention, I'm not sure what I'll do. Some lessons need be learnt only once, and having viewed the Nicholas Berg video I think I got the message:

They are evil.

11:40: Saudi militants show beheaded body of victim from the Telegraph (UK)

The militants - calling themselves "al-Qa'eda in the Arabian peninsula" and the "al-Fallujah squadron" - released gruesome video images and photographs of the killing.

Still photographs showed a severed head, placed on the back of a body wearing an orange jumpsuit, the face turned towards the camera. A dagger rested on the corpse, its point apparently buried in Mr Johnson's forehead.

The Australian press has some additional information about the shootout that killed al Muqrin.

Kevin at Wizbang links to the Drudge photos of Mr. Johnson and has written a very informative post about the events of today as well as background on Al-Moqrin.

Eric at Classical Values has an excellent post on this atrocity and links to other examples of Muslim on Muslim violence including an account of the "cleansing" underway in Sudan (a genocide that Old Media has shamefully neglected, maybe because the U.N. is talking a lot handling it?) and an eloquent statement that is better than all the floundering I've been doing since I first came across the Drudge photos and debated if I should link to them.

Some of the commenters on the Nick Berg video shocked and dismayed me because they reflected how little people understand the universal threat posed by the psychotics in al Qaeda.

No, I don't mean those who urged us to reflect on our sins, the appeasers, or even those who believe we can build high walls and sit this one out; I mean the people who urged a total nuking of the Mideast and used what I call hate speech.

People are outraged by the vicious murders of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg and Paul Johnson. They should be. But we need to remember the vast number of Muslims that have been killed by al Qaeda and associated terrorists and remember that we share a common enemy with most people who live in the Mideast (and I include Israel in this.)

The enemy has been pretty efficient with their "divide and conquer" strategy. Muslims deplore terrorism yet feel defensive, and we must continue to reach out and affirm that we - the people of the world, i.e., the real international community - face the same enemy.

Another note: before we sneer at Muslims in Mideast countries (outside of Israel) for their ready acceptance that Mossad is behind all the terrorist attacks, we need to clean our own house. Look at our own media and note how they have distorted information: they've lied in claiming that Bush declared Iraq was an imminent threat, that Bush declared an end to the Iraq conflict, and now they write headlines that carefully imply that he claimed a connection between Saddam and Sept. 11.

Despite clearly documented evidence to the contrary, there are many people in the USA who believe the lies and conspiracy theories rather than the truth and all I can figure is that they believe the lies because they want to. So tell me again how much more sophisticated we are than people in the Mideast who watch and believe al Jazeera?

I repeat: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Wiccans, Jews, agnostics, atheists, fundamentalist Christians, Catholics and too many others for me to name share a common enemy.

I have only one motive in linking to these pictures: I want us to transcend the outrage when one of our own countrymen is so murdered and begin to relate more personally when we read of beheadings in Kashmir, the Phillippines or Solomon Islands. It is my sincere hope that the next time any of you read the word "beheaded" it will immediately convey horror, disgust and revulsion whoever the victim and remind you of the nature of the threat to all people.

Lastly, I believe that building a democratic Iraq that respects human rights will alter those dynamics that once lionized al Qaeda but increasingly make it clear that it is al Qaeda - not us - that is the enemy of Islam and peace-loving people everywhere.

Those of you who want revenge on the Saudi government might pause and consider the effect of having an Arab nation run by consensual government on its very borders. (The Saudi Royal family is certainly aware of the threat that would pose to them.)

Mr. Johnson is past pain and sorrow now, and I apologize for any part I might be playing in causing more grief to his family. I do not wish to exploit his death.

June 19 - 05:26: Donald Sensing asks does anyone doubt we must win this war, lays out the options and reaffirms the objective:

The conundrum of our task is that our long-term objectives are exactly those which Islamofascists say will ruin true Muslim society. Every success we gain, in Iraq or elsewhere when the time comes, will be fought tooth and nail by our enemies. But early this year, the high-ranking al Qaeda operative in Iraq, Abu Zarqawi, wrote to his superiors that democracy is "suffocation" for recruiting Iraqis to fight against Americans.

What this means is that the status quo ante bellum cannot be allowed to be reestablished. It was, after all, the womb of the war. The present status quo cannot be maintained either, for it is merely significantly, not decisively, better than before. We must remain focused on the long-term goals and vary our short-term tactics and strategies as we need to in order to obtain them. (Emphasis added.)

He may be preaching to the choir, but I've noticed that the choir needs preaching just as much as the congregation (or at least I know that I need to hear it.)

08:00: Via Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, an Islamic website disputes that Muqrin is dead. I wasn't being prescient or anything as I reflected on the experiences of Bill Sampson, but it is an unfortunate fact that the Saudi government has been known to fabricate cases.

10:35: Tonecluster links to an Amir Taheri column on the practice of beheading that, sadly, is once again relevant and offers an interesting way to respond to this latest murder.

Posted by Debbye at 06:54 PM | Comments (7)

June 15, 2004

Westerners in Saudi Arabia

June 15 - Interesting and relevant interviews in the Telegraph (UK) about Westerners who remain in Saudi Arabia despite advice from their governments that they should leave ('We know something will happen again - and soon'.

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

The CIA - just as inept as we suspected

June 15 - We never fail to remind the world how inept we are, and I have come to accept it as a part of our national heritage or something. Sigh.

The report "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003" concluded that that terror attacks were down in 2003 (I posted about it here) but the report was wrong, and it seems the CIA might have been responsible for the error (Powell: Inaccurate terror report was `big mistake') either by omission, software, using only half a calandar, or hiring an inept consulting agency. The report was put up on the State Department's website and they too didn't catch the errors (did they check the report? Of course not!)

The State Department correction is here.

Mark Steyn had a column in the British Telegraph about the resignation of George Tenet:

Everything that is wrong with the agency was made plain a few weeks ago with the much-anticipated release of a classified CIA "Presidential Daily Brief" from August 6 2001. This was supposed to be the smoking gun which would reveal that Bush knew 9/11 was coming. It turned out to be far more damaging than that. It revealed somewhat carelessly that the CIA - the most sinister acronym in the world, the all-knowing spooks behind the dirty tricks in a thousand Hollywood thrillers - crib most of their info from television shows and foreign intelligence services.

Under the headline "Bin Ladin [sic] Determined To Strike In US", the most lavishly funded intelligence agency in the Western world led off its analysis with its top piece of "classified" "intelligence": "Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 'bring the fighting to America'."

Terrific. Your crack CIA operative knows how to go into deep cover in his living room and pose as an average American couch potato by switching on the television... (Emphasis added)

Of course, this only proves that the average American is at least as knowledgeable as the experts, something "everybody knows" except the experts.

Add Sec. of State Powell's admission about the error-ridden 2003 Report on Terror Attacks to the list of things that might have prompted Tenet's resignation and things that the State Department "didn't catch" and we are left with one, sad other thing that "everybody knows": we accomplish things despite our government, not because of it.

But I really wouldn't have it any other way. After all, it gives constant validation to my belief that the citizen is superior to the government

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2004

Bomb explodes in Cologne

June 9 - "Thousands of nails" on the sidewalks after an explosion in Cologne (Blast injures 16 in Cologne) has caused police to consider a bomb to be the source of the blast.

16 people were injured, including 4 seriously and 1 critically.

Posted by Debbye at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2004

European nations cooperate to capture March 11 suspect (updated)

June 8 - This is interesting: 'Key Figure' Among Madrid Bombing Arrests:

ROME — In coordinated sweeps, Italian and Belgian police arrested at least 17 suspected Islamic extremists, including an Egyptian who was alleged to have a key role in the March 11 bombings (search) in Madrid, authorities said Tuesday.

Officials at Spain's National Court said Rabei Osman Ahmed (search), a 33-year-old Egyptian, was detained in Milan late Monday and said to be planning further attacks.

A senior Spanish law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described him as a "key figure" in the Madrid commuter train bombings that killed 191 people.

Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu (search) said Osman Ahmed was "probably among the principal authors" of the Madrid bombings, and that he "was preparing other attacks."

Osman Ahmed was arrested on a warrant issued Monday by Judge Juan del Olmo, the magistrate leading the investigation into the bombings, said the officials at Spain's National Court. They said they would request his extradition on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

Osman Ahmed was identified by people living near a decrepit rural cottage where the bombs used in the attack were assembled, the Spanish court officials said. Fingerprints of several key suspects were found in the cottage.

One other suspect was arrested in Italy, while 15 were apprehended in Belgium — including Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Moroccans, officials said. One other person was held for questioning in Italy, authorities said.

The suspects arrested in Belgium apparently were not involved in the Madrid bombings, but the investigations in Italy and Belgium were closely linked, said Daniel Bernard, a Belgian federal prosecutor.

He said Belgian investigators were tipped off by Italian authorities.

A current member of the Coalition of the Willing teams up with a former member and a non-member. Result: 17 terrorists are captured.

That sound you hear is air escaping from the faulty balloon the Democrats and assorted pundits sent up which claimed that the war in Iraq divided allies and diverted attention from the war on terror.

European countries will coordinate and cooperate on stopping terrorists because it is in their best interests to do so. No nuance or subtley is required, but may be so freaking obvious that only an elitist or an intellectual could miss it.

June 9 - 18:15: Six more have been arrested in northern Spain in connection with the March 11 train bombings in Madrid.

Posted by Debbye at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2004

Zarqawi associate captured

June 4 - Umar Baziyani, described as an associate of Zarqawi, was been captured by Iraqi police forces. He has been in custody since May 30.

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2004

Bush at the Air Force Academy

June 3 - The text of the President's speech yesterday to the graduates of the Air Force Academy is here.

Just as events in Europe determined the outcome of the Cold War, events in the Middle East will set the course of our current struggle. If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence andd alarm, exporting killers of increasing destructive power to attack America and other free nations. If that region grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business. The stakes of this struggle are high. The security and peace of our country are at stake, and success in this struggle is our only option.
Those who believe Operation Iraqi Freedom is not connected to the War on Terror overlook the fact that there is one root cause of terrorism which we can address and help change, that being the repression and tyranny of Arab states which stifle the creative energy of millions of men and women who, like most of us, desire nothing more than to live, work and raise their families without fear and with hopes of a better tomorrow.

Lest we forget, the Iraqi people have also suffered from the bombs of Zarqawi and his associates as have our soldiers and civilian contractors, and our partnership with the Iraqi people has been forged in blood and perseverence.

Read the whole speech. There's been a lot of events in Iraq since the war first began, but the mission remains the same: Iraqi Freedom.

Posted by Debbye at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2004

Death quotes get death quoted

June 2 - Reading the Sun may not be respectable, but it sure is fun.

After all, what other paper would title an article thusly: Saudis kill 'militants'?

Death quote the death quotes. Or maybe I just need more coffee.

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 PM | Comments (3)

Australia Terror Watch

June 2 - An Australian court sentenced British-born Jack Roche nine years in prison for plotting to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Australia (British Muslim is jailed for al-Qa'eda embassy bomb plot.)

The Australian press reports that the prosecutor, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, has asked officials to appeal leniency of the sentence.

Roche could be released on parole from prison in Western Australia in May 2007 - after District Court judge Paul Healy on Tuesday reduced what he said would have been a 12-year sentence to nine years because of Roche's co-operation with authorities in October and November 2002 and his eventual guilty plea.
The article also notes that Roche may have received a light sentence because he may have tried to become an informant after contacting the ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) in 2000.
Mr Ruddock has confirmed ASIO failed to respond when Roche left two messages in July and August 2000 - three months after his return from Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he met al-Qaeda terrorists.

"The Government does see the issue of terrorism and the potential harm it could wreak in Australia as a matter of very real significance," he said.

The government source said ASIO had been aware for more than a year of one officer's failure to contact Roche.

Another Australian, Bilal Khazal, has been charged with publishing documents inciting terrorism on the internet (with more here about a list of targets.)

I have to run a search tomorrow - sorry, I have to get ready for work - but I believe Khazal's name came up during a trial in Spain of al Qaeda operatives accused of assisting the Sept. 11 plotters.

Khazal had been sentenced in absentia by a Lebanese court for his part in the bombing of a MacDonalds in April, 2003.

Khazal is said to be connected with Saleh Jamal, who was arrested in Lebanon and gave an unexpected confession about his association with al Qaeda:

THE Sydney fugitive arrested in Lebanon has confessed to raising terror funds in Australia, recruiting potential holy warriors and organising bombings, Beirut's chief prosecutor said last night.

In claims that surprised Australian authorities, Prosecutor-General Adnan Addoum said the movements of Saleh Jamal, 32, had been monitored before he jumped bail in March using a false passport.

Mr Addoum said Jamal had confessed to attending Palestinian refugee camps since he fled Australia in March and to forming links with al-Qaeda members in Lebanon.

He also apparently confessed to a role in a bombing last month near the embassy district in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Police sources confirmed yesterday that a second man arrested with Jamal, Haitham Milhem, was also a Sydney resident. The nature of the charges against him were due to become clearer by early this morning.

Tim Blair comments here on Roche's sentence, and Professor Bunyip has some links that refer to the website said to be run by Khazal.

Posted by Debbye at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2004

Jose Padilla

June 1 - I woke up this afternoon just in time to catch this Justice Dept. briefing of the case against Jose Padilla on CNN. When they switched to Wolf Blitzer, I recollected that we now have MSNBC on our new television digital thingy and hurray! they were still airing the briefing. Take that, CNN!

I have little trouble with treating Padilla as an enemy combatant because he is one. After confessing to that shocking display of simplisme, I may as well also admit that although those worrying about his civil rights have their points and their cautions should be acknowledged, they might want to remember that we could just charge him with treason and hang him. We are at war, there is precedent, and it could be done in a military setting as he was plotting to engage in acts of sabotage as an agent of a declared enemy, al Qaeda.

This is the crux of the one, primary issue: do we deal with terrorists and terrorism as a police matter or as a military matter? As Comey made clear, we can't prosecute this war or protect ourselves within the structure of our legal system.

This crux has a sub-crux: are we at war? The answer to the latter question informs the answer to the former. That too is simple, which is not to say it's unsophisticated because it requires a degree of sophistication to envision a war in which there are few battlefields in the classic sense (ref. D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, Shiloh) and uncertain methods of assigning victory.

From the Fox website: Transcript: Justice Dept. on Padilla.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Comey tells a story that should be shocking yet isn't. How far we've come.

The final question indicates the media is still lagging behind:

QUESTION: We've read a lot in the media about Jose Padilla and his motivation. Did he disclose anything new or reveal anything in his conversations with interrogators about his motivations for joining Al Qaeda, and any psychological reasons why a U.S. citizen would join Al Qaeda?
Why do we hate ourselves? Comey's answer concluded with this:
But we have not included in this document the extended exploration of his state of mind.
Heh. I am probably reaching, but I read this to say "There's all kinds of nonsense in the media, but we don't care about his motivations or psychological reasons. We just want to prevent him from carrying out his plot and keep him where he can't kill US citizens."

By the way, some familiar names pop up during the briefing: Mohammed Atef, Adnan Shukrijumah (aka Jafar,) Abu Zubaida, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Posted by Debbye at 06:32 PM | Comments (4)

May 30, 2004

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Khobar Towers attack

May 30 - Saudi Hostage Siege Ends.

Those killed in the 25-hour shooting rampage and subsequent hostage crisis included an American, a Briton, an Italian, eight Indians and three Filipinos ... The Egyptian boy who was killed was the son of an Apicorp employee, ...
According to the CNN story,
A man believed by authorities to be the top al Qaeda figure in Saudi Arabia later purportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

A voice attributed to Abdel Aziz Muqrin posted on an Islamist Web site said he and his group managed to "slaughter" people from various countries, including the United States, Britain, and Italy.

The man, who called Saturday's attack "victorious," vowed to continue attacking Westerners until all had left the "Arab peninsula."

He called his group "al Qaeda in the Arab peninsula." Muqrin and other suspected al Qaeda operatives have used the term "Arab peninsula" to refer to Saudi Arabia, whose government they want to overthrow.

The attackers reportedly desecrated the bodies of their victims and dragged one body behind a car. I guess that's supposed to scare us.

Posted by Debbye at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

The terror threat and Canada

May 30 - Both Canada and the USA face national elections soon. The March 11 bombing attack in Madrid and the impact it had on the national elections there produced a lot of theorizing and speculation and Wednesday, US Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller (ref. 'Clear and present danger') went public with their concerns about the potential for a terrorist attack in the USA given the upcoming US elections.

The inclusion of two Canadians, including the notorious Jdey, forces the thought that Canada may well be the target. (There will be a national election here June 28.)

Shortly after Sept. 11, I asked Mark what he thought the public response would be in Canada if there was a terrorist attack here. He replied that people would complain about gas prices (he's a dyed-in-the-wool cynic.)

Well, Canadians are already complaining about gas prices, so I raised the question again last night, and he responded that Canadians are finally "getting" it and would correctly aim their outrage at the terrorists even though Old Media would use the attack as another plank in their anti-American campaign.

The one thing Westerners (civilisationally, not regionally!) still have had difficulty grasping is that al Qaeda doesn't care which party rules a country: their aim is to destablize and terrify, period. How do I know that? Because al Qaeda told us so.

We also have trouble accepting what al Qaeda says at face value, even though their track record indicates that are stating the unvarnished truth.

That's why appeasement is as fruitless now as it has always been, why US withdrawal from Saudi military bases and the ending of UN sanctions on Iraq (remember bin Laden's justification for jihad against the US?) resulted in an increase of armed confrontation in Saudi Arabia and their open alignment with the Ba'athists in Iraq even though it was Saddam's corruption of the U.N. Oil-For-Food program that caused the deaths of Iraqi babies.

There is an additional complication: the full-blown, outright anti-Americanism led by the Toronto Star and CBC is bound to cause a reaction from Americans. The outpouring of American solidarity with Spain - then an ally - after the March 11 may not be matched if Canada - not an ally - is hit. The fact that Canada's military and security forces are already over-extended and the unfortunate circumstance that an idiot (Anne McClellan) is in charge of Canadian security puts the ruling Liberal Party in a bit of a briar patch: if PM Martin choses to use Opposition leader Stephen Harper's support of the US effort in Iraq as a weapon during the electoral campaign, he further exacerbates relations between the US and Canada but if a terrorist attack happens up here and he calls upon the US to help Canada, more than a few Americans will say "Call France."

It saddens me, but I'll be one of them, or at least I'll be conflicted. Is a docile Canadian citizenry worth the lives of America's sons and daughters? Or are Canadians less docile than they themselves have been led to believe?

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and it will be sadder this year than in years past. We've lost some outstanding men and women in Iraq and will lose more. We knew going in that the losses would deprive us of the kind of people that make our country strong and could only pray that their sacrifices would inspire others much as President Lincoln articulated in his Gettysburg Address: so "they not have died in vain."

It's hard to keep perspective up here in Toronto, and hard to remember that, despite it's pretensions, Toronto is not the Center of the Universe much less Canada.

But (and this may seem contradictory) there is a different Canadian that co-exists with that portrayed by the media. The hockey game last night is a case in point: Jerome Iginla scored a Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist, and a fight.

Is a country that cheers Canadians like Iginla truly passive? I don't think so. But then, it's not me that has to get it, it's Canadians themselves who could be on the brink of defining themselves in something in terms other than unlike Americans.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)

May 26, 2004

Towards a free Iraq

May 26 - Monday night, President Bush made the first in a series of speeches in which he will lay out plans for implementing the goals of Operation Iraq Freedom, the role we are playing, and the steps to transfer power to the Iraqi people (Troops Are in Iraq to Make It Free.) The text of the speech is available here.

Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all -- to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.
The president laid out five steps for achieving this goal. The first is the transfer of power to Iraqis. U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will be working with Iraqis to set up an interim council including a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Prime Minister, and 26 Ministers. 12 government ministries are already under the control of Iraqis.
All along, some have questioned whether the Iraqi people are ready for self-government, or even want it. And all along, the Iraqi people have given their answer. In settings where Iraqis have met to discuss their country's future, they have endorsed representative government. And they are practicing representative government. Many of Iraq's cities and towns now have elected town councils or city governments - and beyond the violence, a civil society is emerging.
The foundation for a free society comes from the bottom - grass roots democracy - and establishing Iraqi control over local, day-to-day government is what will build the confidence of Iraqis that they can take control of their country and build it for the betterment of their and their children's futures.

The second step is to establish security and stability. I think that is the most difficult and most exciting of the tasks at hand, because implementing that step will ultimately involve a transfer of power as well, although it now takes the shape of partnership, itself a signficant if risky endeavour. Referring to the steps taken in response to events at Fallujah:

We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them. At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy, and those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.
Somebody referred to the failed uprisings fomented by the Sunnis and Muqtada al-Sadr as "the dog that didn't bark," referring to the things that haven't happened as more indicative of the state of affairs in Iraq than those things that have happened and which have been reported.

The Sunnis have not revolted in significant numbers. Shi'as have not joined Muqtada al-Sadr. The indignation over Abu Ghraib has been exploited everywhere but with noticeable silence from Iraq itself.

Only the future will be able to adequately judge the steps taken by the US and her allies to establish consensual government in a Mid-east country. I doubt the debate will end soon, but I remain committed to the cause.

Read the president's speech and judge for yourself. As we have said so often, the ability to read the documents ourselves rather than rely on the filter of others is one of the most exciting gifts of the internet.

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2004


May 22

Honor and shame trump everything in that world. A pithy sentence, eh? So instead, think about what it would take for you to kill your own daughter with a knife, with your bare hands, because she was seen in the company of a man not her husband or a relative? Think about that. Think long and hard.
What would it take for you to murder your daughter with a knife, or a knotted cord – with your own two hands and against her pleading, her protestations, and her begging for her life? If your response wasn’t “there is nothing that could make me do that,” then stop reading right here and get the hell off my property.
From Bill Whittle's latest essay, Strength, (part 1). (part 2 is here.)
Posted by Debbye at 10:52 PM | Comments (2)

UK Envoy injured in terrorist attack

May 22 - From The Telegraph (UK), Envoy injured by blast:

The British high commissioner to Bangladesh and his bodyguard were among 50 people injured yesterday when a bomb was thrown near a Muslim shrine.

Two people were killed in the blast from the bomb which struck Anwar Choudhury, 43, in the stomach before rolling away to explode.


Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said he was "deeply shocked" adding: "Details of exactly what happened and the nature of the injuries are not clear."

The shrine has been attacked before and it was not clear if the diplomat was the target.

A senior doctor who treated Mr Choudhury said he had soft tissue injuries in his right leg, but was "in good health". Mr Choudhury and his bodyguard, who was also lightly injured, were flown to Dhaka on a Bangladeshi air force helicopter sent by Begum Khaleda Zia, the prime minister.

There's a bit more information in this item in the Australian news.

Posted by Debbye at 01:18 AM | Comments (2)

May 21, 2004

The New Reactionaries

May 21 - Roger Simon, in The New Reactionaries, comments on his conclusions after reading Congress, Media Could Talk U.S. Into Iraq Defeat

Meanwhile, the Zarqawis of the world are winning this war. And I can promise you one thing -- it's a lot more important than George W. Bush, John Kerry, anybody in Congress and the Media and any one single person. It's about civilization versus a death cult. Make a choice!

More on the role of the media: this Glenn Reynolds post on some poll results which indicate dissatisfaction with Old Media is becoming more widespread, and Donald Sensing has Duelling Biases and some fed-up Marine Moms who I wouldn't want to tangle with.

Posted by Debbye at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2004

How quickly we forget

May 17 - There is a cartoon at trying to grok that is sober. Very, very sober.

I dare you to view it without catching your breath.

Posted by Debbye at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

He's baaack!

May 17 - Paul's back! He's re-invigorated! He had a vacation! (and I didn't.) I better stop before I get really mad at him ...

He's got two eye-popping posts already:
Syrians and equipment involved in North Korea train wreck, which puts me in mind of the $10 million Saddam spent via Syrian intermediaries for SCUD missiles,

and something we should be hearing a lot more about in Roadside bomb in Iraq contained Sarin (but don't hold your breath - CNN is still leading with prisoner abuse stories.) Here is the DoD press release on the subject.

Paul makes reference to sending a dead crow to Hans Blix, which went right over my head ...

(Cut me some slack - I'm still waking up. There are downsides to working the graveyard shift, but one of them has got to be switching and being at work tomorrow at 6 a.m. I can't help wondering if I'd improve my chances by just staying awake all night - I could do that sort of thing a couple of decades ago ...)

May 18 - 13:40: Ozguru expresses his welcome back and then some!

Posted by Debbye at 02:56 PM | Comments (3)

May 16, 2004

The Berg Phenomenon

May 16 - The U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, spoke out on something that, I suspect, is in many hearts and minds: Arab world should be more outraged about the murder of Nick Berg. During an interview on Meet the Press,

"There's no excuse for silence on this kind of murder," Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I would like to have seen a much higher level of outrage throughout the world, but especially in the Arab world, to this murder," he said.

"What we saw with this horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible murder should be deplored throughout the Arab world."

As noted earlier this week, there were condemnations from three nations - Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates - but that mostly highlights the silence from other nations as well as clerics, imams, intellectuals, and newspapers.

Many bloggers have been overwhelmed by what one blogger termed a tsunami - the huge traffic we've encountered as people search for the Nick Berg video. (If you're here looking for the link, I've posted it here.) Sites have been knocked off line; many bloggers suspected they were having denial of service attacks, and others thought there was something totally whacky with site meters and others (ahem) lost service because they had exceeded their quota for the month.

As Ghost of a Flea noted here, there have been a lot of inter-blogger discussions about this, and most of us have sought to understand why so many people want to see this video. Commenters here and at other sites indicate that the people actively looking for the video are people who normally would never contemplate viewing such a thing, but they felt driven to do so almost as a grim duty.

Or mabe I'm projecting too much; that grim necessity certainly drove me to watch it despite my wish to avoid it. It was as though I knew that I needed this lesson - even though I thought I was already implacable in my support of this war.

There are other aspects, as well. When I linked to Wizbang (I'm leaving the url out for reasons that will become apparent) I knew the link would show up on their trackbacks, but I never anticipated the huge amount of traffic that the mere trackback would engender, nor that people would stay and read other posts.

So perhaps it isn't just viewing the video that has driven people, it is a need to understand why they viewed the video.

I constantly see references to "the face of the enemy" (which is highly, and probably intentionally, ironic) and expressions of rage. One thing that makes me proud is that bloggers have been incredibly restrained in our handling of this video: we've been very careful not to incite or spread hate and to restrain our own emotions because we are trying to be responsible.

But I think we bloggers and readers have an advantage: we regularly read Iraqi (not to mention Iranian, Egyptian, Italian, British, etc.) bloggers and we know first hand that terrorists do not speak or act for them but in fact speak and act against them.

That's my way of saying don't waste your time calling for a total nuking of Iraq here. You came here and to other blogs because you wanted truth and on some level, you recognize that Big Media isn't delivering. Read the Iraqi and Soldier blogs on the list to the right of the screen, and learn how much more there is going on than CNN or the NY Times want you to know.

Remember: they withheld information about the torture and murders during Saddam's reign in order, they claim, to maintain their presence in Iraq. What have they done to restore your trust? Shown the same pictures over and over of prisoner abuse, yet shown restraint in their coverage of Nicholas Berg?

Does that mean they trust the Arab street more than the American street?

The biggest media betrayal is this: U.S. forces have fought back attacks launched from Syria and Iran this moth, and they have done so with encouragement and cooperation from Iraqis. You don't have to be a genius to recognize how important that partnership has been, so why has Big Media fretted about being "bogged down" when it was so clear that this the partnership was being formed? Why, when Big Media has constantly urged we not go to Iraq but to continue policies of containment have they bewailed containment policies that have, in fact, borne fruit?

I have to go to work and try to behave normally. I have to try and act as though there isn't a gaping wound in my heart and that this past week hasn't altered my life and world view.

If that seems overly strong, read it as an admission that, despite everything I have written, I really failed to understand what the word "evil" conveys in its entirety. I thought I knew, but I didn't.

Now to some old analysis because I haven't the restraint in me yet to note today's "other" news.

There has also been muted criticism on silence in the USA. As noted in the May 14 Washington Times, American's beheading 'old news' for media elite but the Times also notes that for many Americans, Beheading returns focus to terror war:

"Those who are wringing their hands and shouting so loudly for 'heads to roll' over [the abuse] seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that someone's head has rolled — that of another innocent American brutally murdered by terrorists," said Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat. "Why is it that there's more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all?"

It is hard not to believe that the liberal media have played down the Berg story because they don't want to do anything that might inadvertantly help Pres. Bush. Undoubtably the plethora of photos as those in the prisoner abuse investigations may make that story seem more inviting - or easier - but I'm reminded of Def. Sec. Rumsfeld's question as to how many vases there really were in Baghdad, or was the media just showing the same one repeatedly. (As we learned, Rumsfeld was right on that score.)

Although many of us have focused on how this video is affecting Americans, many experts think that it was primarily a recruiting tool for the terrorists promoting the image of Zarqawi as a strong leader who, I might add, is not afraid to get blood on his hands in the literal sense.

The Spectator article Hoping for the Worst by Toby Harnden from which Instapundit quoted concludes with what should the single most daming facet of the partisanship that plagues Americans in this incredibly long election cycle:

Whatever we thought about the war before it was launched, it is imperative that the forces of Arab nationalism and Islamism that now threaten to destroy Iraq are defeated. If America fails in Iraq it will be all of us in the West, not just Bush, who will suffer. But those who would be most in peril, of course, would be the Iraqis, who deserve better than to have their country treated as an electoral playground by the American Left or Right. To wish otherwise is as sick as the grins on the faces of the Abu Ghraib torturers. (Emphasis mine.)
May 17 - 18:11:Oops. Spectator link added belatedly. Also the link to the Instapundit post about this phenomenon.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 PM | Comments (6)

May 15, 2004

Terror watch in Canada

May 15 - Khalid Khawaja, who is self-described as a friend of Osama bin Laden's, says Canada deserves bombing because it is a friend of the USA and Canada was mean to the Khadrs (which is grimly ironic, given that many Canadians would say the government was far too helpful.) The article quotes Khawaja:

"Look at these Canadians. They have millions and millions of dollars to fight against Muslims, to send their troops, to send their weapons, and all of them put together, they have objections to giving treatment to this 14 year-old-boy who has been a victim of your terrorism."
This man is behind on the news. We spent those millions and millions of dollars in something called Adscam, and it definitely had nothing to do with fighting anyone, including Muslims, and misplaced some more millions on the Gun Registry, which is about destroying our ability to fight anyone. As for funding of the Canadian Forces ... I only wish the government here was actually funding them instead of consigning them to death by slow starvation.

Would he feel better if he knew that a chunk of the Defence budget went to purchase two Executive Jets for Chretien back when he was Prime Minister? No?

Bin Laden first publicly encouraged attacks against Canada in a statement broadcast on Nov. 12, 2002. In March, 2004, an al-Qaeda manual posted on the Internet ranked Canadians as the fifth most important targets.

But al-Qaeda and its ideological theorists have provided little explanation as to why. Canada did not send troops to Iraq, its foreign policy is not particularly pro-Israel and Ottawa has not been overly aggressive in fighting terror.

The writer is still looking for reasons. That's not a shot at Stewart Bell, in fact far from it, because I too instinctively wonder "Why?" whenever I read about most anything. Granted, I've concluded the answer to be "Because they're evil" whenever al Qaeda comes up, but that was after I asked the question.

To be clear, I think that our willingness to ask Why? is one of the strengths of Western civilization, even though it does at times hamper our ability to respond adequately to what Ghost of a Flea once termed the morally insane.

A top Canadian terrorism expert said Mr. Khawaja's comments were typical of the way al-Qaeda followers view the world, as divided between two conflicting religious and cultural camps: Dar ul-Islam, the perfect Muslim world, and Dar ul-Harb, the immoral rest of the world.

I don't think women's rights and gay marriage exist in the perfect al Qaeda world, but we musn't forget that Straight White Men are the real enemy.

"Canada, as a secular democratic society, is by definition assigned to Dar ul-Harb. From the perspective of al-Qaeda and associated Islamic militants, it is incumbent upon Muslims to wage a jihad, a holy war, against Dar ul-Harb in order to destroy its perceived evils and transform those societies into Dar ul-Islam," said Professor Martin Rudner.

"According to this doctrine, Canada is a religiously sanctioned target for terrorism, suicide bombing and political violence," said Prof. Rudner, Director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

A Canadian intelligence report written shortly after bin Laden first urged attacks against Canada said the country was singled out "in view of its support of the U.S." The more recent al-Qaeda manual explains only that Canada is a "Christian" country. (My emphasis)

So, Canadian Members of Parliament and an aide to then PM Chretien insulted our national leaders, poll after poll has indicated Canadians think we Americans are too arrogant, too patriotic and too religious, and that they hate our president and consider him too religious; in short, the pollsters have done verything possible to indicate that Canada is not a friend of the United States and is suspicious of Christianity, yet Canada is still on the short list as a terrorist target.

According to a translation of an article written by Abu Ayman al-Hilali, a senior al-Qaeda leader and ideologist, the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, and Australia are "enemies" and attacks against their civilians are justified. Since Western governments are engaged in a war against Islam, he argued, the civilian voters who elect those governments cannot be considered non-combatants and are legitimate targets for terrorists.
Three and a half of the nations mentioned are in the Anglosphere! Read the whole thing to catch the playing of the ubiquitous Victim Card.

Canadian pollsters and the media have managed to alienate Americans while failing to appease Islamofascists. Now that's nuanced politics, and, to paraphrase Lincoln, proves that you can alienate all of the people some of the time! (An older poll revealed that Canadians were confident that, if Canada was attacked, America would rush to defend her. So far as I know, no similar poll has ever been conducted in the USA.)

By the way, observant readers will note that the person interviewed bears the same last name as the Ottawa resident arrested on terrorism charges last March, Mohammed Momin Khawaja, but there is nothing to indicate there is any connection between the two men so please don't ask.

Sorry, I know I'm coming off as really cranky in this post, but it's only because I got even more cranky after reading this.

(Links from Ghost of a Flea's post Appeasement in the Western Standard blog.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:35 PM | Comments (9)

May 14, 2004

Nicholas Berg Video

May 14 - My enterprising son found a site that is still showing the video at Slant Point by way of Wizbang which also notes several other sites that have it.

Again: the video is grim. It's insane. It's horrible. It is a visual reminder of what the enemy is and what they think is good and, I hope, a reminder of who we are and what we think is evil.

UPDATE: I've been negligent about providing a translation for the pre-murder speech. It's here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:00 PM | Comments (66)

May 13, 2004

Link to Berg Video

May 13 - I'm still getting search hits for the video of Nick Berg's murder, and most of them are coming from the USA which is why I am going to re-post the link for it.

May 14 - UPDATE: This link will take you to Wizbang which also lists several other sites that have it. (End of update.)

Go to link below, read the post before trying to view the video. This isn't something I do lightly, nor is it something I take lightly. I do it because it matters. It is something we have to face. I can't even find the words any more for this but I'm not going to hide from it either.

It's a snuff film, people, not a slasher flick. The bastards who did this have one objective, but I have another one for posting the link.

It's sick, it's vile, and it is the true face of our enemy (with irony noted.)

Flea: The truth. Again, the link no longer goes to the video because the Malaysia hosting site shut it down, but the post is well worth your time to read. It may take awhile to load.

Posted by Debbye at 04:11 PM | Comments (14)

Zarqawi probably beheaded Nick Berg

May 13 - I guess it's official: CIA official: Al-Zarqawi likely beheaded Berg.

I still haven't been able to get any sleep (I'm going to be so freaking great at work tonight, or, more likely, a real bitca) so am going to pass on everything I want to say.

And I'm going to get some sleep, or else!

Posted by Debbye at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)


May 13 - ... But if the combat is not soon ended, the terrorists (or so-called "militants" or "insurgents") will learn something else: they have made the war personal. When that happens, the American experience of war shows that our troops will shed the veneer of restraint like a snake's skin. And for every American head Zarqawi severs, he will soon find three of his own men's heads. -- Rev. Donald Sensing

I doubt I'm the only blogger who has been shocked by the enormous number of hits my site has had for searches on Nick Berg.

I think that indicates that it has suddenly gotten personal for millions of people.

Ever since Sept. 11, anyone who is old enough to have actually been taught U.S. history without the nuance and subtlety and cultural relativism and feminist slant and ... you know what I'm driving at here ... has understood some critical facts both about this war in which we are now engaged and about us - what we love, what we are capable of, and what we could and might yet do.

We love freedom. We are a free people, and no one is more dangerous than a free person. Every dictator throughout time has understood that basic fact, and our enemy today understands it as well.

That is why we are their primary target and their primary enemy. It is, if you like, a perverse honour to be singled out so.

That is also why this time is so dangerous. That is why we took so risky a gamble in Iraq, and why the stakes are so high.

The Arab media is not altogether wrong to consider the sanctions against Syria a major news story, you know. Maybe they are beginning to understand what "You are either with us or against us" really means in American.

Read Rev. Sensing's post Retribution. Read the whole thing, and the comments. Know yourselves.

Then read this letter from Iraq. I'm excerpting some because it says what urgently needs to be said:

It [the campaign against Sadr] has been subtle and very well done by our leaders. You should be proud. It would have seemed impossible to have achieved our four main goals against Sadr even just a few months ago. Now today, despite the message of the pessimists who are misleading you into despair, we are have scored all the victories needed to bring this battle to a close. First goal was to isolate Sadr. Second was to exile him from his power-base in Baghdad. Third was to contain his uprising from spreading beyond his militias. And the last goal was to get both his hard-line supporters to abandon him, and to do encourage moderates to break from him. This has been done brilliantly, and now we are on the march in a way that just months ago seemed impossible to do. Sadr is losing everything.


Our units, in fact, are operating w/in 500 meters of the most sacred Shia religious sites in these cities, and you should notice that the local people are not resisting. This is what the pessimists amongst you are preventing you from understanding.


... What you need to do is be strong and persistent in your faith with us. Sadr's militia is in panic and desperate, so they are dangerous, but you need to keep this all in perspective. The pessimists would have you believe this is a disaster. Don't listen to them. I think some of them feel that their reputations require our failure because they have been so negative all along, so they are jumping at every opportunity to sensationalize what is happening here as a disaster. Eliminating Sadr's threat is part of the overall mission and we are further ensuring the liberation of the Iraqi people. This has to be done, and we are doing it.

Don't be seduced by those who would rather that we sit back and just enjoy the freedoms past generations of Americans have sacrificed to gain for us. This is our time to earn it. I remember President Bush saying after the September 11th attacks: "The commitment of our Fathers is now the calling of our time."

The letter tells exactly how all the achievements of the campaign have come about, but observant, news conscious readers will realize that the signs were in every news broadcast for the past two months.

Take heart, America! Your common sense has risen above the ponderous, fatuous news media and punditry this past year, and you are being proven correct. It isn't over, not by a mile, but steady as she goes, home port is in sight.

God bless and protect our soldiers and coalition forces, and may their bullets fly true.

We have asked so much of them this past year, so show them your support and a million thanks here.

A Very Special Message to CNN: we are approaching the anniversary of a another major combat operation: D-Day (you f***ing wankers.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)

Internet a training camp for al Qaeda

May 13 - Click here for killers camp.

Actually, the link is to an article of that name in the Australian press about how al Qaeda uses the internet for propaganda, recruitment, training, research and to plan attacks:

JUST before Christmas, Norwegian scientists surfing the Internet stumbled across a 42-page document that made chilling reading.

A strategy for ridding Iraq of the US and its allies, it was written by Islamic extremists.

Spain was the weakest link in the coalition, the document detailed. Two or three "painful strikes" in the lead-up to its national elections and the country could crumble.

Notice how al Qaeda always follows through on their threats?

How many times has Canada been named as a target?

Posted by Debbye at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

Nick Berg II

May 13 - Beheaded American was arrested as a spy 'because of his Jewish name' and because his passport bore an Israeli stamp, indicating he had visited that country:

Nicolas Berg, the American who was filmed being beheaded, had been previously arrested by Iraqi police and held on suspicion of being a spy because he had a Jewish name and an Israeli stamp in his passport, it emerged yesterday.

How freaking naive we can be. We know but don't remember that a stamp showing entry into Israel can pose severe problems in the Mid-East - remember Canadian Bruce Balfour, who was arrested last summer in Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel because his passport bore an Israeli stamp? (He was eventually released.)

The Telegraph article, by the way, is a worthwhile read in its entirety because it also contains the views of people who knew Nick during his time in Iraq.

Theodore Dalrymple puts a dark aspect to the murder and uses the "E" word:

One thing that unites the men who beheaded the American Nick Berg in Iraq, the soldiers who abused Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, the Palestinians who have held on to Israeli body parts in Gaza City and the murderers of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan is that they all enjoyed what they did, and enjoyed it immensely.

Via Instapundit, this Guardian article actually features lamentations that the brutal murder has upstaged the prison abuse story and also covers how Arab media are handling the murder and the videotape:

Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, the two main satellite networks, aired carefully edited segments of the video. In Al-Arabiya's edit, a militant draws a knife and jerks Berg's torso to one side. The rest is not shown.

"The news story itself is strong enough," said Jihad Ballout, a spokesman for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television. "To show the actual beheading is out of the realm of decency."

Lebanon's private Al Hayat-LBC station led today's news bulletin with the video.

"We apologize to our viewers for not showing the entire tape because of the ugliness of the scene," the presenter said. Kuwait's state television broadcast the news of the execution late yesterday but did not air the video.

Egypt's leading daily, Al-Ahram, ignored the story today, while two other major pro-government newspapers, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuria, ran agency reports on their inside pages and without photographs.

Ahmed Reda, an Al-Ahram editor who was on duty last night, said the news came too late for the paper to confirm the video's authenticity with the US government.


In many Arab newspapers, the killing received less play than the news of Washington's imposition of sanctions on Syria and the killing of six Israeli soldiers in Gaza City.

Read the article for more.

The prison abuse scandal is our mess - our mess to deal with, our souls to search, and our obligation to investigate and dispense justice, but make no mistake: there is no true connection between what happened at Abu Ghraib prison and what happened to Nick Berg.

9:08: More reactions, including one from Hezbollah here.

14:55: Ghost of a Flea responds to the Telegraph article here with some sober thoughts about the arrest of Nick Berg by Iraqi police for the crime of having visited Israel.

May 14 - A list of links to the video is here. You might consider putting something into their Amazon wish box as a way to thank them for the time, effort, dedication and expenses incurred for the assault on their bandwith that their posting of the video has cost.

Posted by Debbye at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

Arab nations apologize for Berg's murder

May 13 - I'll be honest: I never expected this: Three Arab states condemn American's beheading. The three nations are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Posted by Debbye at 07:00 AM | Comments (1)

May 12, 2004

Googlebombing 9/11 Video

May 12 - Damien has found a glaring problem at google: the hits for Sept. 11 videos lead to conspiracy sites instead of actual, factual reportage of the event. He has issued a call for a googlebomb in Daimnation!: Losing 9/11.

Although I never refer to Sept. 11 as 9/11, I'm willing to break that rule for this worthy endeavour.

9/11 video
9/11 video
9/11 video

And, thanks to Sandy's comment,

Sept. 11
Sept. 11
Sept. 11

Sept. 11 tribute
Sept. 11 tribute
Sept. 11 tribute

Maybe I'm just too pissed off today to let idiots have the final word.

Posted by Debbye at 05:20 PM | Comments (1)

Nicholas Berg Video (Updated)

May 12 - (Text of original post under update.)

Update May 14 - Wizbang is listing all the sites that are carrying the video here. Before you leave their site, consider hitting their Amazon wish box to show your thanks for the kind of people who go to the extra expense, time and dedication that maybe only a volunteer project can inspire.

It's being called an internet tsunami, but whatever you choose to call it, welcome to the blogosphere. We're all a bit stunned by the traffic. (End update.)

Okay, the search engine hits are going through the roof, so let me say here that if you're looking for the video, go here and you'll find the link. (Update: sites are overloaded and crashing with all the hits, so read the post and comments - noting that some of them are, um, extremely angry - and any new links will probably be provided there.)

20:15 Flea's link is working [Update: not any more, as the Malaysia site turned the feed off] but I urge you to read the entire post before viewing the video - this isn't a slasher film, people, but a reality film that we're going to have to live with. Most of all, remember the mission.

Charles names the entry "Islamic Snuff Film" and if you watch it, you'll understand why. To be honest, I surprised myself by choosing to watch it, but I think it's because, although Daniel Pearl's murder should be a constant reminder as to what kind of despicable barbarians we face, it is too easy to lapse back into la-la "we're all human underneath" mentality and need a bracing reminder of what kind of foe we face - not only in Iraq, but around the world.

I'm still catching up on the news, and only just learned that the comparisons with Daniel Pearl were more apt than I first realized. They were both men who wanted to spread understanding and communication capabilities, they were both Jewish, and they were both murdered in a grisly manner and the murder filmed for propaganda reasons.

I hate the fact that the Berg family has been thrust under the media spotlight by all this and don't doubt that the circulation of the video increases their pain, but however much I regret that I am contributing to that pain, I think it is again time to address a truth that we want so much to deflect:

This is a battle to the death.

I've only begun scanning other web logs this afternoon, but started with Expat Yank over in England and, no surprise, he has excellent coverage and links - including one to a woman we've all missed but who has finally posted again. I've been so shocked that it hadn't occurred to me that the video taping of the murder at this particular time was a mistake, but I haven't noticed CNN backing away from the prison abuse story so maybe Zarqawi understands our media only too well. But then, they may have failed to notice that Fox is the number one news choice in the USA and their coverage is pretty focused on Mr. Berg.

16:53: Ghost of a Flea has a wonderful post and more links.

Jay has a column at Tech Central that is a must reading for those who are blinking at the notion of trying to build the democratic nation of Iraq, and William Safire has an appropriately named column in today's NY Times, Hold Fast, Idealists, along the same theme.

May 23 - 09:16: Comments section has been closed.

Posted by Debbye at 04:17 PM | Comments (42)

Syria Accountability Act

May 12 - Bush to sanction Syria for aiding Iraq fighters.

The Syria Accountability Act was passed by Congress in November after being delayed at the request of the Bush administration (see here and here for the provisions and some background on the Act) and requires that the President implement sanctions against Syria.

The timing is interesting and I think indicates that administration wasn't overly impressed by the questionable al Qaeda attack in Syria last month.

May 13 14:39: Syria responds to the sanctions here.

Posted by Debbye at 03:16 PM | Comments (2)

May 11, 2004

Cowardice, not restoration of honour

May 11 - As if we needed reminding as to who are the sickest of them all: Video shows beheading of American captive in Iraq:

[Nicholas] Berg is heard screaming as his throat is cut. One of the captors then holds up his severed head.

"For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused," the hooded man standing behind the American said just before the killing.

"Coffins will be arriving to you one after the other, slaughtered just like this."

I somehow doubt that message is really aimed at American mothers and wives, who surely aren't surprised that we don't bargain with terrorists.

Big, brave men, careful to slaughter someone held in captivity and bound so he can't fight back. Incapable of honour and devoid of humanity, yet they released this statement:

"Where is the compassion, where is the anger for God's religion, and where is the protection for Muslims' pride in the crusaders' jails?" the man says.
The voice is attributed to but not confirmed to be that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

They try to depict this as a response to the shocking images of prisoner abuse, but they also recorded Daniel Pearl's murder for propaganda purposes; they tried to do the same with Fabrizio Quattrocchi but he denied them.

They will never run out of excuses, but their reason will always be the same: they are evil.

The pictures of prisoner abuse that have shocked the world have shocked me as well, but I've never pretended that we Americans are any more perfect than any other group of people (although we may be more honest about our warts than others.)

Those who have already been and will be charged with prisoner abuse forgot the mission, which was to bring freedom to Iraq. That's the short and long of it, and they will be held accountable for their crimes but it will not derail the rest of us from that mission.

CNN keeps asking "how will we win the hearts and minds after this?" and I keep wondering when CNN is going to clue into why we went into Iraq.

It's not about getting Iraqis to trust us. Gaining their trust is a part of the true goal, which is to get them to trust themselves and each other. That's why a political solution to Fallujah was crucial, and why Iraqis dealing with Muqtada al-Sadr is so important.

Al Qaeda doesn't worry about gaining trust or building self-confidence. Why go to all the trouble of gaining trust when you can achieve your aims by spreading fear? (And let's be honest: it is much easier to spread fear than build confidence.)

Our mission in Iraq isn't about easy. We are fighting terrorism by opening a door that was hitherto closed for Iraqis, and thus all oppressed people, to give them a chance to prove to themselves that they are capable of running their own countries and their own affairs.

It isn't even about proving to other countries - including Canada and maybe especially Old Europe - that Arab countries can be self-sustaining and run by consensual government, because the patronizing attitude of elitists doesn't allow for the prospect that people don't need watchdogs.

That is why I believe the handover must happen. That is why I believed and continue to believe that the war in Iraq was just and right. We will make mistakes for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that this has never been done before, but the most important reason is that however strong the USA is as a nation, it is composed of human beings who come complete with human failings and weaknesses and thus make mistakes.

That is another difference between us and them: we are mere humans, and acknowledge it.

May 12 - 7:54: Burnside has more here and some good links.

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 PM | Comments (7)

May 07, 2004

Dirty bomb?

May 7 - Likely 'Dirty Bomb' Material Seized in Ukraine

Posted by Debbye at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2004

Allies and "allies"

May 4 - I woke up because some moron was mowing their lawn at, oh wait, it was around 12:40 p.m. I really can't complain (much.)

While waiting for the noise to subside I read today's essay at USS Clueless which looks at the extent to which the policy of the USA to make conditions on which nations we label "friend" has been implemented.

There are areas of concern in US foreign policy, and (as always, it seems,) Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and that country's influence over the State Department has a huge arrow over it that says "Urgent" yet there has been no visible action or policy change.

After reading Den Beste's essay, I remembered a article in the Daily Telegraph (UK) I had noted early this morning about a plot allegedly by Ansar al-Islam to attack a Nato summit that had been found out by Turkish police (Turks foil plot to bomb Nato summit)

Turkish police said yesterday they had foiled a bomb attack planned by a group linked to al-Qa'eda against western leaders meeting in Istanbul next month.

Nine people appeared in court after police arrested at least 16 suspected members of a terrorist cell in Bursa, north-western Turkey, thought to be a part of the al-Qa'eda network.

Turkey is one of the countries I'm not entirely sure about (as opposed to Syria, which I'm totally certain are double-dealing with us.)

Turkey is unique. It literally, as well as figuratively, is in both Europe and Asia. It is a member of Nato and wants to join the EU.

But this is where latent irritation can play a factor. I believe being deprived of a northern front in Iraq caused problems; although Cencom took a "we can handle it" apporach, it did affect our entry in Baghdad.

[Now there's a weed whacker going. Sheesh.]

I used the phrase "latent irritant" rather than "latent grudge" because the decision not to allow us to transport troops and equipment into northern Iraq was done by a vote in the Turkish legislature - it was not a question of caprice but national sovereignty expressed by a duly elected body.

I may not like the decision, but approve the process.

I also can't fault the Turks for being more enthusiastic about tracking down terrorists in their midst after they were attacked, as efforts in the US were, to say the least, less than stellar before Sept. 11.

Anyone have any insight or links on Turkey?

Posted by Debbye at 03:07 PM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2004

France expels radical imams

May 3 - France targets radical imams in bid to keep terrorism at bay.

Posted by Debbye at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2004

Pakistan prison break foiled

May 2 - Pakistani police have uncovered and foiled a plot to use a truck bomb to blow a hole in the outer wall of a prison in which several terrorists are detained awaiting trial. Prisoners inside were to use smuggled explosives and weapons to make their escape (Mass al-Qa'eda jailbreak foiled by Karachi police.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda plays the market

May 2 - Al Qaeda, the refuge of those who are "in despair," dabbles in the Australian stock market with some help from a country some believe to be an ally: Aussie stocks help fund al-Qaeda:

AL-QAEDA is secretly investing in blue-chip Australian stocks and using the profits to help finance terrorism.

British intelligence agencies have established the terror group is also targeting top technology and defence corporations in Australia, Singapore and other Pacific Rim countries.

They say al-Qaeda is laundering billions of dollars it earns through drug-running, with the help of China's Secret Intelligence Service. [Emphasis added.]

US Treasury agents, working closely with European intelligence services, believe more than $A1 billion has been invested in stocks by al-Qaeda since the start of the year. [That's Australian dollars, btw.]

The money has been laundered through unsuspecting banks as far apart as Australia, Japan, Germany and Ireland.

British intelligence agency MI6 has also established that al-Qaeda's partner in the drug running was the China SIS.

Please, is really anyone surprised that Communist China may be less than an honourable member of the world community? PM Martin may think that the Chinese, who are wholeheartedly repressing human rights and reneging on agreements over Hong Kong, should have a seat at his G-20 table, but is that to protect Canadian trade with China or because he thinks the Chinese have anything to offer to the future?

[Note to those who read the article: CSIS in this case refers to the Chinese, not Canadian, intelligence agency.]

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Thomas Hamill

May 2 - "I want everybody know he's been found ... I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops."

-- Kellie Hamill, speaking to reporters after learning her husband Thomas had escaped and was safe.

U.S. Hostage Escapes in Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Another Saudi/Gaza attack (Updated)

May 2 - Four attackers, 3 of whom worked at the facility and used their passes to gain access and to smuggle guns and a fourth attacker in, open-fired and killed several at Saudi oil compound, an oil refinery owned by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. in Yanbu.

Two Americans, one (possibly two) Australian, two Britons and a Saudi police officer were among the dead. [Update: the Australian link notes one Australian death and another Australian severely wounded. The Swiss-Swedish company that employed the refinery workers is pulling personnel out of Yanbu.]

Two of the attackers blew themselves in a stolen car up while fleeing from police, one was killed in a shoot-out with police and the fourth died later of his wounds.

Saudi authorities said they believe the four attackers were on the "Most Wanted" list released last December.

There are unconfirmed reports that two Canadians were wounded. The CP item also has this:

Intelligence has in the past suggested al-Qaida wanted to strike at Saudi oil interests and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called for the overthrow of the Saudi royal family and questioned its Islamic credentials.

"The kingdom will eliminate terrorism no matter how long it takes," Crown Prince Abdullah said in comments broadcast Saturday night on Saudi television.

SPA later quoted Abdullah telling a gathering of princes in Jidda: "Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the kingdom. I can say that I am 95 per cent sure of that."

CNN elaborates on that quote:

Crown Prince Abdullah said on Saudi state-run television that "Zionists" are behind terrorist attacks in his country.

Abdullah and other Saudi officials have consistently blamed al Qaeda for attacks on Saudi soil, and the terrorist network has claimed responsibility for several.

Abdullah did not suggest that Israelis or Israel supporters plotted or carried out any of the attacks. But he said, "I am 95 percent sure that Zionism is behind the attacks, for I believe that [Zionists] play in the minds of those who are committing the attacks."

He did not spell out precisely how he believes Zionists influence those launching the acts of terrorism in his kingdom.

Well, I'll give CNN points for subtle snarkiness.

Of course, Prince Abdullah's beliefs didn't really need to be spelled out. He mentioned Zionism, which is all he needed to do to generate to that automatic reflex they've nutured to avoid looking at themselves and their society, examining its failures, and, horrors, changing anything.

It wasn't their fault, you see. Zionism makes them incapable of rational thought, etc. etc. etc. Reduced capacity, victims of circumstance, and victimized most of all by of the hatred that is regularly preached in Saudi Arabia. (Oh, did I say that? Sorry. Slip of the tongue. Really)

The sick part is how completely the rest of the world - and media - have also nutured that reflex and swallowed that line uncritically.

Ezra Levant wrote a column earlier this week Double Standard in which he explored the difference between how much in the media differ in their reports of governments like Saudi Arabia and the United States tracking down and killing terrorists and how they report when Israel, often using the same methods as the Saudis and Americans, do the same.

He also used an interesting sliding scale of deaths to demonstrate the hypocrisy of a media that aspires to be even handed:

One million Iraqis killed by Saddam Hussein in his series of wars equals 20,000 Arabs in the city of Hama killed by the late Syrian dictator Hafez Assad equals thousands of Iraqi soldiers killed by the U.S. military last spring equals one terrorist leader, Sheikh Yassin, killed by the Israeli government this month.

Arab governments killing Arab terrorists isn't news. Arab governments killing their own people isn't news. Jews killing an Arab terrorist is news -- not just news, but news that must be condemned and denounced -- even if the "victim" is a founder of the bloody Hamas terrorist group that has killed hundreds, as did Yassin.

But even Americans killing Arabs isn't big news...

He's right in the big sense, although I've seen enough "Massacre in Fallujah" lead-ins these past weeks to give me small grounds to disagree in the little sense.

There were a number of anti-Semitic incidents in the greater Toronto area and a school was fire-bombed in Montreal during the past month and a half, and the media here has been all indignant and self-righteous that such horrible things could occur in Canada. I don't feel surprised. I remember the media coverage of Jenin, and to my mind the media here has actively promoted anti-Semitism and, rather than expressing outrage, they should be expressing remorse.

The media coverage of Jenin was to publish uncorroborated stories, which were later disproven and which how any fool should have recognized as probable propanganda for a very simple reason.

If that many people had been killed, it wouldn't have been possible to cover that fact up for more than a few days. As those who told the atrocity stories had a vested interest in blackening Israel, that bias should have raised a large caution flag to any journalist who was interested in truth.

How could people who claim to be professionals be herded so carefully and consistently toward drawing the wrong conclusions and not even know it? They are supposed to be interested in truth, not available as propaganda tools. Damn the media some more.

After the truth about Jenin came out, the media failed in more ways. They failed to apologize to Israel. They failed to express outrage that they had been blatantly lied to or chagrin that they had been played for fools. They failed to correct their behaviour and they failed to recognize that they served to spread propaganda which has probably cost Israeli lives because they spread those lies and were accomplices to spreading hate.

[Yes, I know Global TV had a special on Jenin last week. Jenin was how long ago? Right.]

All the cliches are about first impressions are true, you know. The story you hear first is the one you'll remember. That's why factual errors by the media are a big deal, and why retractions hidden in the mid-section of the paper are cowardly.

However smart and discriminating we are, there are always issues on which we are prone to be totally credulous or totally skeptical. (I don't exclude myself from that; for me it means I have to be extra-cautious when I see a story that I emphatically do or don't want to believe.)

The media knows that there are many people in Canada who want to believe the worst of Israel and, by extension, Jews, and they have two choices: play to the prejudices, or walk a careful line.

They continue to play to the prejudices, and will continue to bewail incidents of anti-Semitism here. Aren't they freaking hypocrites special?

UPDATE: Think Levant's exaggerating? Read Damian's post on Four Little Girls. CNN at least called it a terror attack (without death quotes) yet the lead connects it to the Likud vote on withdrawal from Gaza. And previous shootings were connected to ...

Update: Canadians and other Westerners are also leaving Yanbu.

Posted by Debbye at 01:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

Terror attacks lowest since 1969

Apr. 29 - The "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003" report shows that terrorist attacks are at their lowest level since 1969 (US Dept of State - Washington File Featured Item,)

The total number of international terrorist attacks in 2003 -- 190 incidents that killed 307 people -- was the lowest since 1969, according to the latest Department of State report on worldwide terrorism.

The annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003," shows the number of attacks last year was down slightly from the 199 attacks reported in 2002. At the same time, the 2003 figure is a 45 percent decline from the 346 attacks in 2001.

Yes, I realize that it doesn't seem that way. But honestly, how much attention did we pay to terrorist attacks before Sept. 11?
"A total of 307 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002," the report said. "A total of 1,593 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, down from 2,013 persons wounded the year before."

By geographic region, there were four terrorist attacks in Africa, 70 in Asia, two in Eurasia, 53 in Latin America, 37 in the Middle East, and 24 in Western Europe, according to the report. And the report indicated that the dominant type of terrorist event was bombing, with 137 occurrences in 2003.

"In 2003, the highest number of attacks (70) and the highest casualty count (159 persons dead and 951 wounded) occurred in Asia," the report said.

Attacks on soldiers in Iraq do not count because acts against combatants are not defined as terrorist attacks by the U.S.

Read the whole thing.

CNN has an article on the report here.

June 15 - 08:20: The report is erroneous. This is the State Dept. statement on the errors, and this is my post on the subject.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

Thwarted WMD attack on Jordan: why isn't it news?

Apr. 29 - The Beacon has a post up on a Wall Street Journal editorial that asks why the thwarted attack on Jordan which could have killed up to 80.000 people isn't big news in Al Qaeda's Poison Gas.

It strikes me that if anyone still wonders why the country wasn't prepared for Sept. 11, they could get no better answer than the media response to events in Jordan.

Posted by Debbye at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)


Apr. 29 - Interesting update to this story about co-ordinated attacks on Thai police stations and checkpoints in an apparent effort to steal weapons: Thailand split over deadly attacks. The controversy is over who is to blame for the attacks: criminals, or Islamic separatists. There are also suggestions of non-Thai organization of the attacks and the possibility that the police were tipped off ahead of time and thus prepared.

As I noted yesterday, separatists have organized raids to steal firearms and explosives in Thailand before.

Posted by Debbye at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2004

Al Qaeda suspected in attack in Syria

Apr. 28 - A gun fight in the diplomatic district of Damascas, Syria, (very near the Canadian and Iranian embassies) is being blamed on al Qaeda, according to this report at the Daily Telegraph (UK) (Al-Qa'eda gunmen attack Syrian capital.)

An unoccupied car was bombed which brought police, a gun fight ensued, and an empty UN building was burned.

2 attackers were killed and the 2 captured were critically injured. Weapons and explosives were seized in a house said to be used by the group.

This is unbelievable. (I really mean that.) There doesn't seem to have been any real target, and there are a large number of conflicting reports as to how many explosions there were.

Why would al Qaeda, or any terrorist group, be in the vicinity of a number of embassies as well as the British ambassador's residence and go after an abandoned building?

According to CNN,

The Interior Ministry source blamed the incident on the atmosphere created by instability and confusion in security and politics in the region.

"The Syrian Republic ... is condemning this terrorist attack," the source said, contending it was meant to affect the stability and security of the country.

According to the Telegraph,
Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, appeared to blame al-Qa'eda for the attack last night.

"We have been doing our best against al-Qa'eda," he said. "We share the same enemy [as America]. We aid the US in its fight against al-Qa'eda and terrorism."

Apr. 29 - 12:11: A bit of follow-up here, including speculation that the abandoned building was targeted by a car bomb by mistake and the intended target was the nearby home of the British ambassador.

Posted by Debbye at 10:43 PM | Comments (2)


Apr. 28 - Co-ordinated dawn assaults of suspected separatists armed with machetes and a few guns on 10 police stations and security checkpoints was fought off resulting in over 112 dead in southern Thailand.

Thailand's Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said that the attackers wanted to steal the weapons and sell them, but weapons and explosives have been stolen in the past and there have been several terrorist attacks by Islamic separatists in the region.

CNN says it was 15 police stations, and 107 attackers, 3 policeman and 2 soldiers were killed.

On Wednesday afternoon, police stormed a mosque in which said a gang had holed up using rocket propelled grenades and tear gas. 30 were killed.

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2004

3 arrested in terror sweep released

Apr. 27 - Update on the arrests in England last month on terrorism charges: Two men and woman held by terrorist police were released when the court did not approve an application for their further detention:

Warrants for the further detention of the seven men until this Thursday have been issued by Manchester city magistrates. But District Judge Michael Abelson ruled at a specially convened court which sat on Friday and Saturday that there was no right in law to hold the other three.
Imagine the Sept. 11 hijackers had been detained before the attack. Imagine how long they would have remained in jail.

Conspiracy charges are very difficult to prove.

Posted by Debbye at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

3 IRA members acquitted in Columbia

Apr. 27 - The three IRA members who had been accused of training Columbian terrorists in bomb-making techniques were acquitted of the charges but the prosecution has filed an appeal.

The news report says the defence destroyed key witnesses on the stand.

Posted by Debbye at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

Chemical attack thwarted in Jordan

Apr. 26 - Updating the story which started April 14 and linked here, here, here, and here, Jordanian officials have released more information (CNN story here and Fox story here) about the attack.

The one who allegedly ordered the attack was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The confession of the man identified as the head of the Jordanian cell of al Qaeda, Azmi al-Jayousi, was aired on television:

In a nighttime raid in Amman, Jordanian security forces moved in on the terrorist cell. After the shooting stopped, four men were dead. Jordanian authorities said. They said at least three others were arrested, including Azmi Jayyousi, the cell's suspected ringleader, whom Jordanian intelligence alleges was responsible for planning and recruiting.

On a confession shown on state-run Jordanian television, Jayyousi said he took orders from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected terrorist leader who has been linked to al Qaeda and whom U.S. officials have said is behind some attacks in Iraq.

"I took explosives courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning," Jayyousi said.

Fox reports that he said Zarqawi gave him about $170,000 and he used it in part to purchase 20 tons of explosives. He also said he met Zarqawi in Afghanistan where he studied explosives and met up with him later in Iraq.

Also arrested was car mechanic Hussein Sharif Hussein, who was asked to "purchase and modify vehicles to crash through gates and walls."

CNN reports:

In a series of raids, the Jordanians said, they seized 20 tons of chemicals and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades. [Emphasis added]

Jordanian authorities said the attack would have mixed a combination of 71 lethal chemicals, which they said has never been done before, including blistering agents to cause third-degree burns, nerve gas and choking agents.

A Jordanian government scientist said the plot had been carefully worked out, with just the right amount of explosives to spread the deadly cloud without diminishing the effects of the chemicals. The blast would not burn up the poisonous chemicals but instead produce a toxic cloud, the scientist said, possibly spreading for a mile, maybe more.

The Jordanian intelligence buildings are within a mile of a large medical center, a shopping mall and a residential area.

"And there is no one combination of antidote to treat nerve agent, choking agent and blistering agent," the scientist said.

Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has been accused of plotting chemical attacks before, and authorities said it would not be his first attempt to strike Jordan.

In 2000, a Jordanian court charged him in absentia with planning to blow up a hotel and attack tourist destinations.

Fox concludes

Government officials have said the suspects plotted to detonate a powerful bomb targeting Jordan's secret service and use poison gas against the prime minister's office, the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions. Had the bomb exploded, it could have killed at least 20,000 people and wrecked buildings within a half-mile radius, the officials have said.

No trial date has been set in the case.

Airing suspects' confessions before their trial is unusual in Jordan. In 1998, six men accused of affiliation with a militant group confessed on television to planting a bomb that exploded outside an Amman hotel. Five years later, a court found them innocent.

The unusual move may be an attempt to answer critics who claim the government has exaggerated the terror danger to justify tightening security. Officials in Jordan, a moderate Arab nation with close ties to the United States and a peace treaty with Israel, say the kingdom has been repeatedly targeted by Al Qaeda and other militant groups.

Posted by Debbye at 07:03 PM | Comments (3)

Canadian security

Apr. 26 - In preparation for the upcoming visit by PM Martin to D.C. and in the aftermath of Sept. 11, Canada's first security policy is to be tabled this week (Security on front burner.) Uh huh.

In another related story, RCMP commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli told an international conference on counter-terrorism that Canadians need to begin to assess how best to balance security and privacy, noting that these assessments have yet to take place among lawmakers as well as citizens:

Zaccardelli said Canadians haven't even talked about that balance.
Is it just me, or was that admission downright embarrassing? at a conference on counter-terrorism, no less.

I predict that the upcoming meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Martin will be spun by the Canadian media as Martin giving Bush advice and offering expertise in whatever the government's Expertise Flavour of the Week might be at the time (I think we can safely rule out balancing security concerns with privacy, though.) The US government will acknowledge the visit, probably in a press briefing, and there won't be much spin but platitudes aplenty: "The President and Prime Minister had a very fruitful discussion ... it was a valuable exchange of ideas ... they got along quite well ... shoulder to shoulder ... the Terrence-Phillip issue didn't come up ..."

Apr. 28 - 17:55: Here's a brief overview of the security plan and there's more in depth at CTV news including this curious bit:

To ensure that civil liberties are protected as the country strengthens its security systems, a new advisory body will be established, called the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security.

It will be composed of representatives of cultural groups and religious communities and will provide a forum for concerns about how security efforts may be affecting Canada's multicultural society.

"The National Security Policy protects our collective security interests in a way that reflects core Canadian values of tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms," said McLellan.

Posted by Debbye at 02:42 PM | Comments (3)

April 25, 2004

Marine Barracks bombing mastermind involved in Iraq, backed by Iran

Apr. 25 - There have been sporadic reports in the media about Iranian backing and funding of Muqtada al'Sadr and his aspirations, but this latest report has the markings of Stop! Look! Think!: Beirut veteran blamed over Basra attacks. Excerpts:

A leading Lebanese terrorist accused of blowing up the American embassy in Beirut in the 1980s is being held responsible for the increase in suicide bomb attacks against coalition targets in southern Iraq.

Western intelligence officials have uncovered evidence that the attacks are being co-ordinated by Imad Mugniyeh, a leading figure in Lebanon's extremist Hizbollah Shia Muslim terror organisation.

Washington has accused Mugniyeh of blowing up the American embassy and the United States marine compound in Beirut in the 1980s, killing more than 300 US officials and troops.

The link to the FBI was on the Telegraph web page.

Mugniyeh, who is now in his fifties and has a close relationship with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has been based in Teheran since the end of the Lebanese civil war, and is also known to have close links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network.

Intelligence officials in Iraq have uncovered evidence that Mugniyeh has been helping to train the self-styled al-Mahdi army set up by Moqtada al-Sadr, the dissident Iraqi Shia leader.

Mugniyeh, the head of Hizbollah's external security apparatus, has deployed scores of Lebanese Hizbollah fighters in Iraq, and set up secret training camps along the southern part of the border with Iran.

The Hizbollah fighters are working closely with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, with whom they developed a close relationship during the 1980s when their terror tactics forced the Reagan administration to withdraw US forces from Beirut.

Attempts by Iranian hardliners to encourage attacks on coalition targets are being undertaken against the wishes of the Iranian government, which earlier this month sent a team of diplomats to Iraq to persuade Sadr to end his stand-off with American troops.

But at the same time as Iranian officials were negotiating with Sadr, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's hardline spiritual leader, was circulating a cassette tape in Arabic to a number of Iraqi mosques in which he called on the Iraqis to "unite and expel the occupiers to ensure the establishment of a new power based on Islam".

A commentary in the Washington Times, Iran's covert actions in Iraq, by Constantine C. Menges covers some more background (although it doesn't name Imad Mugniyeh) and concludes with this:

President Bush has spoken eloquently and often about the Iranian people's right to freedom. Now he needs to instruct his State Department to cease all its open and secret "dialogue and engagement" activities with the clerical regime. These legitimatize the dictatorship and discourage those in Iran who might otherwise act to bring about a democratic future.

Taking these actions now in Iraq and encouraging the Iranian people to liberate themselves this summer could result in two democracies. Otherwise, there is grave risk the removal of Iraq's Saddam Hussein will ultimately result in two Irans — two Shi'ite extremist regimes in the region.
Axis. Of. Evil.

Kerry wants to normalize relationships with Iran, which means abandoning the pro-democracy forces in Iran and granting the the mullahs legitimacy. He brings new meaning to the phrase "useful fool."

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2004

Saudi Arabia

Apr. 25 - In Saudi Arabia, 5 suspected terrorists killed in raid after Wednesday's suicide bombing and over at the Iraq page at The Command Post is this report on some assistance and aid we got from the Saudis during the Iraq War.

President Bush told us back at the beginning of the war that we would be assisted by other countries both publicly and privately. It wasn't hard to figure that if Saudi Arabia was assisting it would definitely be on the Private list.

I'm not sure how much credit the Saudis deserve (note unnamed sources alert) but I think maybe it is somehow both more and less than they get.

Apr. 25 13:04 The AP story is being carried in Canada, too.

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Saddam's Missing WMD

Apr. 22 - Remember the thwarted terrorist attack in Jordan? It was inevitable that speculation would arise that there could be a connection with Saddam's missing WMD. It seems that Lab Tests Could Link Saddam's Missing WMDs to Jordan Plot .

Laboratory tests on the poison gas smuggled from Syria into Jordan by al Qaeda terrorists earlier this month could determine whether their weapons came from Iraq, intelligence expert John Loftus said Monday.

"What they captured was a poison gas that consisted of several chemicals to be mixed together," Loftus told nationally syndicated radio host John Batchelor. "This has to be a poison gas of what they call the G-series; Sarin, Somin, Taubin and VX."

The terrorism expert noted that, "VX is the only kind of nerve gas where the chemicals could be safely mixed together in the field."

To quote John Hawkins, "this is worth keeping an eye on."

(Link via Right Wing News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal (UNSCAM) hits British media

Apr. 22 - The Oil for Food program scandal (UNSCAM) has been covered by several articles today in the Daily Telegraph (UK) as well as other media in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.

From the Telegraph, UN officials 'covered up Saddam theft of billions in aid for Iraqis':

Saddam Hussein diverted huge sums from the £60 billion United Nations oil-for-food programme for the poor and sick of pre-war Iraq to foreign governments and vocal supporters of his regime worldwide, the US Congress heard yesterday.

Senior UN, French and Russian officials were alleged to have connived at the scandal, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council inquiry into the affair.

He said some suppliers, mostly Russian, routinely sent out-of-date or unfit food, or sent fewer goods than were paid for and padded out contracts. In that way they created an excess that could be skimmed off by Iraqi officials.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having received bribes on the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the UN official in charge of the programme. Mr Sevan, who is on extended leave pending retirement, denied the claims.

Mr Hankes-Drielsma, a former leading executive at the London-based auditors Price Waterhouse, said that Saddam and his henchmen pocketed billions in surcharges and bribes.

The biggest humanitarian scheme in the UN's history had provided the dictator and "his corrupt and evil regime with a convenient vehicle through which he bought support internationally by bribing political parties, companies, journalists and other individuals of influence.

"The very fact that Saddam Hussein, the UN and certain members of the Security Council could conceal such a scam from the world should send shivers down every spine in this room today."

The Telegraph also has a scathing leader (editorial) Iraq has enough troubles without adding the U.N. which concludes:
There are enough problems attendant on the birth of democracy in Iraq without burdening the country with an organisation that proved so inadequate in confronting the previous dictatorship, whether over oil for food or defiance of Security Council resolutions. George W Bush and Tony Blair may welcome shedding the odious status of occupiers. But they should be under no illusions that the UN will prove an adequate substitute. Given its record in the Balkans and the Middle East, their continuing faith in that body as providing a unique cloak of legitimacy is astonishing.

Another article, Saddam cronies grew rich on cash meant for the starving, points out the hypocrisy of those on the UNSC opposed to the war:

Yesterday, the United States Congress was told that Iraqi files indicated that some of the most vocal critics of sanctions were on the take from Saddam Hussein, benefiting from monies intended to buy food and medicine.

Such friends of Iraq were granted vouchers to buy and trade Iraqi oil, though such vouchers should have been reserved for oil firms with refineries. The vouchers allowed the bearers to make millions in profits.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having profited from the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the top UN official in charge of the oil-for-food programme. Another is a former French ambassador to the UN, Jean-Bernard Merimee, according to Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council's inquiry into the issue.

He told a Congressional sub-committee that Iraq's suppliers routinely sent out of date, or unfit, food to Iraq, or sent fewer goods than were paid for, in order to "pad out" contracts so they could be "skimmed off" by Iraqi officials. Most of those suppliers were Russian companies.

Those involved have reason to fear, Congress was told.

The fall of Saddam uncovered a mountain of meticulous files in several Iraqi ministries, detailing every last aspect of the bribes and commissions extracted by those in Saddam's pay.


UN officials, for their part, have called for evidence of the claims being made, and hinted - off the record - that the investigations were being driven by the political animus of Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favourite who is disliked and distrusted at the UN. But Mr Hankes-Drielsma told Congress that the UN had a clear case to answer, which ran to the very top.

"From the information available to date, it is clear that the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people in administering the oil-for-food programme during the period 1995 to 2003. It will not come as a surprise if the oil-for-food programme turns out to be one of the world's most disgraceful scams and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the United Nations aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression."

He added that it appeared to be no coincidence that the countries most involved in the corruption - Russia, France and Syria, to name just three - were among the fiercest opponents of toppling Saddam as they sat in the UN Security Council.

Then, in How the system was abused,
According to Al Mada, the Iraqi newspaper that listed the names of some of the individuals allegedly involved in the scam, French and Russian middlemen formed the largest group.

Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of cut-rate crude, some 1.4 billion barrels of which went to the Russian state, according to Iraqi documents leaked to the paper.

French oil traders gained 165 million barrels of cut-rate crude.

The scam worked on two levels. Not only did Iraqi oil purchasers benefit from being able to resell at huge profit but also Saddam distributed "oil vouchers" to corporations, political parties and individuals whom he favoured.

More, in French and Russian politicians 'bribed to relax UN sanctions':
Documents emerging from Baghdad appear to show how Russian and French politicians and businessmen were bribed by Saddam, using money skimmed off the oil-for-food programme. These claims have been denounced by many in France as American propaganda.

UN officials say their programme was audited more than 100 times, although it has never made public the detailed findings.

What is known is that France and Russia's financial interest in Iraq was heavily influenced by Saddam's failure to pay for billions of pounds of arms sold to him on credit during the late 1980s. Many of the weapons were then used to invade Kuwait.

France joined the Allied liberation of Kuwait at the last minute, but its government was left guaranteeing £3 billion in loans to Saddam which he had no intention of repaying.

France's relationship with Saddam dated back to the mid-1970s when Jacques Chirac, the then prime minister, visited Baghdad. Between 1974 and 1990, more than 20 French ministers from all the main parties travelled to Iraq to expand France's commercial interests, which ranged from construction to armaments and a nuclear reactor that the Israelis promptly bombed.

Iraq became France's second biggest oil supplier and France in turn became Iraq's second largest civil and military supplier.

Even when Iraq began to show signs of financial strain during its war with Iran, France helped out. In 1986, M Chirac promised French arms makers that it would guarantee any credit they extended to Saddam.

Even after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the US-led war to evict him the following year, the special relationship between France and Iraq continued.

In 1994, Charles Pasqua, the then interior minister, gave a visa to Saddam's right hand man, Tariq Aziz. France's UN ambassador lobbied for the easing of sanctions against Iraq. The fruit of this was Iraq's acceptance of the oil-for-food programme in 1995. A French bank, BNP Paribas, was chosen to do much of the financial administration.

Critics of the programme say it swiftly became a way for Saddam to reward his friends in the West and manipulate the UN.


In Russia, companies supplying goods and services to Iraq under the UN's oil-for-food programme enjoyed years of inflated contracts and preferential treatment with Iraq.

In return, Moscow used its clout as a permanent UN Security Council member to influence the sanctions programme in Iraq's favour.

Sweetheart deals between Moscow and Baghdad for products ranging from rice to refinery equipment continued right up to the moment American and British forces invaded Iraq last year. In 1997 Lukoil, one of Russia's leading oil firms, signed a deal for exploration and extraction in Iraq's western Qorna region, where reserves were estimated at 20 billion barrels.

In the summer of 2001 when London and Washington were pressing the UN to reduce the list of goods and services permitted under the programme, Russia threatened to use its Security Council veto unless the sanctions were left unchanged for a further five months.

Mohammed Salekh, Saddam's trade minister, said that as a reward, Russia received contracts worth £22 billion, almost 10 times more than it had received in the previous five years.

The Telegraph even links to the U.N. News Centre story of the independent panel that will probe the Oil-For-Food allegations. London NewsNet quotes panel head Paul Volcker on the aims of the panel here, and the London Times has an article (but I'm not a subscriber so I couldn't access it.)

The Toronto Star carries the story, U.N. backs probe of Oil-for-food scandal which makes it look as though Annan always wanted this investigation; the Toronto Sun has UNSC approval of the investigatory panel which has a bit more substance than the Star coverage but not by much.

CTV-Canada has a story about Muslims leaders urging a greater role for the U.N. in Iraq but I saw nothing about the probe.

The CBC - surprise - takes a very sharp tone in UN Security Council approves oil-for-food probe:

Russia and France wanted a discreet internal probe, thinking it was better to keep the corruption charges in-house at the UN rather than have outside investigators poking into the alleged links between Saddam, top UN staffers and Russian and French companies.

Resolution 1538, as it is officially known, may come to be remembered as the official lifting of the lid on a financial scandal that could ultimately dwarf even the worst excesses of Wall Street.

The UN oil-for-food program in Iraq was supposed to be a humanitarian effort. Profits from Iraqi oil sales were to be used exclusively to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq.

But it seems billions of dollars may have gone missing.

CBS has a story about the independent investigation but hardly the extensive information ABC carried yesterday.

Glenn Reynolds has some links from yesterday as well as today's links to US papers on the scandal, including one that goes into politicians who received money from Samir Vincent and Shakir Alkhalaji who were on the list of those who allegedly received oil vouchers from Saddam.

Austin Bay has an article on The Myth of Oil for Food at Strategy Page.

Something I didn't have a chance to post yesterday is an article by Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal - The Real World and some ideas how the U.N. could realistically help Iraq.

It seems the U.N. is holding approximately $100 million to cover potential liabilities from the Canal Hotel bombing last August that destroyed the U.N. HQ in Bagdad:

Given that the independent report last October on the U.N.'s security systems in Baghdad found the entire U.N. security apparatus "dysfunctional," and given that the dysfunction was so egregious that the U.N. recently fired the official in charge, it seems strange to reserve that $100 million to help the U.N. potentially cover the cost of its own grievous mistakes. That money was meant to help provide for the betterment of the 26 million citizens of Iraq, not insure the U.N. against its own malfunctions.

As it happens, Iraq-born architect Kanan Makiya was in New York recently seeking funds for the project of building a memorial and a holocaust museum in Baghdad, the better to help Iraq's people understand and come to grips with the atrocities of Saddam's regime. The project would include the cataloguing and preservation of millions of pages of documentation, and the presentation of evidence about the decades of abuse that took place, from which Iraq must still recover. Mr. Makiya is director of the Iraq Memory Foundation (www.iraqmemory.org), which is trying to assemble this project. His proposal states: "The Iraq Memory Foundation is not a project intended to apportion blame or play politics. First and foremost it is designed to allow future generations of Iraqis to glimpse the inner sanctum of the atrocities that were perpetrated during the period of Ba'athist rule from 1968 until 2003."


For this project, Mr. Makiya is seeking, ultimately, an endowment of some $40 million. That's less than half what is still sitting in the Secretariat's own Oil-for-Food account, and it is hard to imagine a more appropriate use of this money than to help Iraqis document, preserve and confront the full truth of Saddam's abuse. In the interest of fairness, the U.N. might also want to turn over a portion of the remaining $60 million or so for a memorial in northern Iraq, where Saddam used chemical weapons to murder thousands of Kurds, and another portion to southern Iraq, site of so many of Saddam's mass graves. It would be the philosophical beginning of restitution for U.N. collusion with Saddam, and of genuine re-legitimization for the U.N. in Iraq.

Pay a visit to the Iraq Memory Foundation and see what you think.

Dang. This post is long even for me.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 AM | Comments (4)

April 21, 2004

Saudi police targeted

Apr. 22 - The police in Saudi Arabia were also targeted today by a homicide bomber Saudi suicide bomb toll revised killing four and injuring 150.

The bomber attempted to drive an explosive-packed car into the Traffic Department building, which houses police offices, at around 2 p.m. local time, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.

He was stopped by officers about 30 meters from site and outside the old General Security building, where the bomber set off the explosion, the ministry said.

The dead include a civil servant, two security officers and an 11-year-old Syrian girl, Interior Ministry officials announced. Of the 148 injured, 45 remained hospitalized Wednesday night and three of those were in critical condition, the ministry said.

Television pictures from the scene showed the entire front of the building had been shattered. Burned-out and damaged cars littered the area.

A senior Interior Ministry official said that authorities, tipped off that six explosions had been planned, had found and defused five of the bombs.

Yesterday, police were tipped off and were able to defuse 2 truck bombs outside Riyadh.

Sherwin at Tonecluster has some thoughts as to why bin Laden is targeting Saudi Arabia which are worth considering (and yes, I think it likely that al Qaeda was behind the attacks in Saudia Arabia and possibly those today in Basra)

Consider the possibility that what he wants is to bring US forces back into the Kingdom to protect the royal Saudi heretics and to demonstrate to the rest of the Arab world his power and their weakness. He would split the US forces into defending two areas where his operatives have the advantage, and with Saudi Arabia he could damage the economies of the West.
There's been a lot of speculation as to why most of the Sept. 11 hi-jackers were Saudis, none of which were entirely satisfying, but we remember from the bin Laden Dinner Tape that he was extremely interested in what the people back home in Saudi Arabia thought of him and if they talked about him.

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

British rails sabotaged

Apr. 20 - Speculation is unavoidable when an arrest on charges of sabotage involves high-speed trains - Cops quiz 'rail vandal':

POLICE are questioning a lad aged 15 over an apparent series of attempts to derail a high speed train, it emerged today.

It appears the youth was arrested after rail workers reported that obstacles had been placed on tracks near London’s Paddington Station.

Debris was discovered on the rails where First Great Western trains travel at speeds of up to 100mph.

One train smashed into 8ft of steel fencing, which it dragged along the track, ripping off early warning safety equipment used to alert trains to danger.

The attacks have all affected trains heading into the capital.

Superintendent Andy Ball, of the British Transport Police, said the damage caused to the trains was "fairly substantial".

"We are not just talking about vandalism, we are talking about premeditated damage with intent to harm human life," he said.

Mr Ball told how four pieces of troughing - used to cover cabling at the side of the track - had been dragged 5ft across both railway lines.

Each piece of troughing weighed 60lbs.

"There are serious safety fears that the train could have been derailed," he said.

There have been eight incidents over the past six weeks at Westbourne Park, west London, police said.

This may or may not be connected in some way with a recent incident in which obstructions were placed on German train tracks but it would seem that trains are becoming (or remain?) a target.

Posted by Debbye at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

UK terror attack thwarted

Apr. 20 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK): Ten held in raids over 'Islamic plot' in Britain.

Ten people were arrested in dawn raids yesterday by anti-terrorist police alerted to an alleged Islamic extremists' plot to blow up civilians in Britain.

Security services are believed to have intercepted mobile telephone and e-mail messages that indicated the possible bombing of a large gathering.

Police arrested 9 men and 1 woman (6 men and a woman in Greater Manchester, 1 in Staffordshire, 1 in South Yorkshire and 1 in the West Midlands.) The suspects are believed to be North Africans and one Iraqi Kurd.
It is understood that officers from the Menwith Hill listening station in North Yorkshire, GCHQ in Gloucestershire and the United States National Security Agency spent weeks monitoring the movements of a number of suspects before the search warrants were executed.
Jay found the story first via Reuters in The Sun (UK), and the Sun unabashedly claims that a suicide-bombing attack was planned on Saturday's upcoming Manchester United-Liverpool match:
Intelligence chiefs believe al-Qaeda fanatics planned to blow themselves up amid 67,000 unsuspecting supporters. A source said: “The target was Old Trafford.”

The Islamic fanatics planned to sit all around the ground to cause maximum carnage.

They had already bought the tickets for various positions in the stadium, cops revealed last night.

But armed cops foiled the horrific plot - which could have killed thousands watching Manchester United’s home game against Liverpool on Saturday - in a series of dawn raids yesterday.

Yes, I know it's the Sun, but they do tend to be more aware of what concerns most of us have.

May 2 - 13:41: According to this report from Australia, the British paper the Observer says the grounds for a plot to set off explosives during a soccer match are groundless based on a statement by one of the lawyers for the defence. (End update)

Sheikh Mohammed bal Qadri, deputy director of a mosque in Upper Brook Street, said he did not believe any of his members were among those being held.

He added: “Since September 11 we have been very vigilant, as mosques should be.

“If I see a person who is new, I ask him why he is here and what he is doing and ask these kind of questions.

“We are against these evil acts. In the religion of Islam we have tolerance.” The raids follow revelations last week that police in Manchester had raised their terror alert level.

I doubt we'll ever know or fully appreciate the level of support and cooperation that anti-terrorism forces receive from Muslims in Britain, the US or Canada (or, in fact, anywhere,) but it's something to keep in mind before any of us blindly assume that there is no cooperation.

Posted by Debbye at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2004

Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, France

Apr. 19 - There were persistent rumours throughout last winter that a spring offensive would be launched against Syria, possibly in Lebanon. Many bloggers, including me, backed off when we suddenly realized that the rumours were probably true.

One of the older rumours asserted that WMD were hidden in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. My oldest complains that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as by what we do say; for example, I interpreted the president's joke about searching his office for WMD as saying Yes, we are still looking for them. I also interpret the fact that the administration has not said that there were no WMD in Iraq as asserting that intelligence still believes that they were there and the rumours and spin around WMD are a smokescreen to confuse the enemy.

Saddam's WMD weren't central to my support of the Iraq War; removing Saddam and Iraq's geographical position were. Nevertheless, finding them is a priority. The fact that Jordan hasn't released specifics about the chemicals that were to be used in the thwarted attack is suggestive but inconclusive and highly frustrating. Is the lack of specificity to hide intelligence or to produce rumours? Take your pick.

Despite the certainty stated by King Abdullah of Jordan that Assad was not involved in the thwarted terrorist attack, the firefights on the Syrian border with Iraq are extremely suggestive: either Assad isn't doing anything to stop them or he is passing information to both the Jordanians and the US.

I think it more likely he is trying to do both, but my view is skewed by the fact that I don't trust him.

Apr. 22 11:30 Further speculation that this could be connected to Saddam's missing WMD.

Wretchard concludes

Indeed, it is virtually certain that Al-Qaim, Ramadi and Fallujah and the road network from Baghdad constitute a single "front" centered on Syria, whose principal axis is the Euphrates itself. Operations in Fallujah cannot be understood without putting it in the context of the wider area.
Read the report on the front at al-Ramadi by Oliver North: Back in Iraq if you haven't already done so not only for a military analysis of what is happening there but also to restate what is a major strategy in Iraq: encouraging the people there to participate in their own nation building.

That practice is contrary to the politics of victimology. For all the modern psychobabble about "empowerment," our touchy-feely philosophers back away from actually allowing people true power over their lives. It's all very well to claim you feel my pain, but insulting when you're causing it.

The US media, with notable exceptions, continues bewail that the U.N. isn't going to take charge. The American people who follow the news, meanwhile, are watching the stymied independent U.N. investigation as well as the Senate investigation into the U.N. Oil for Food program and more questions about the viability of the UN are being raised.

[Aside: I noted that Glenn Reynolds has referred to it as UNScam.]

In the classic definition of conservative, those trying to preserve institutions and social attitudes despite their lack of relevance but strictly for preservation's sake are the conservatives. The U.N. is an excellent case in point, and the argument that it should be preserved "because we don't have anything better" is a classic conservative argument; a classic liberal response would be "let's build a better institution."

Do we need new definitions? Maybe liberal-conservative and conservative-liberals might fit the reality if not the emotional.

Sometimes I think the real war is between the Departments of State and Defense. Michael Ledeen has a brilliant essay in the Opinion Journal The Iranian Hand that notes revelations by the Italian intelligence agency

That the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic "insurgency" has been documented by the Italian Military Intelligence Service (Sismi). In a report prepared before the current wave of violence, Sismi predicted "a simultaneous attack by Saddam loyalists" all over the country, along with a series of Shiite revolts.
The Italians knew that these actions were not just part of an Iraqi civil war, nor a response to recent actions taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority against the forces of Sadr. According to Italian intelligence, the actions were used as a pretext by local leaders of the factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri, who was "guided in his political and strategic choices by ultraconservative Iranian ayatollahs in order to unleash a long planned general revolt." The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was "the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration." The Italian intelligence agency noted that "the presence of Iranian agents of influence and military instructors has been reported for some time." Our own government will not say as much publicly, but Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, have recently spoken of "unhelpful actions" by Iran (and Syria).


The editor of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah recently wrote a front-page editorial saying that Hezbollah and Hamas were working with Sadr, "backed by the ruling religious fundamentalists in Tehran and the nationalist Baathists in Damascus." No classified information was required for that claim, since Sadr himself has publicly proclaimed that his militia is the fighting arm of both Hezbollah and Hamas. Nonetheless, the State Department still doesn't believe--or won't admit publicly--that there's a connection between Sadr's uprising and Iran's mullahs. Just last week, State's deputy spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters that "We've seen reports of Iranian involvement, collusion, provocation, coordination, etc., etc. But I think there's a dearth of hard facts to back these things up."

One wonders what Foggy Bottom's analysts make of Sadr's recent visit to Iran, when he met with Hashemi Rafsanjani (the No. 2 power in the regime), Murtadha Radha'i (head of intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards) and Brig. Gen. Qassim Suleimani (the al-Quds Army commander in charge of Iraqi affairs). And what might they say about the fact that much of Sadr's funding comes straight from Ayatollah al-Haeri, one of the closest allies of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Ledeen is being rhetorical. We know how Foggy Bottom thinks: maintain the illusion of friendship and cooperation whatever the cost, including lives.
Above all, they [the American people] want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy. Thus far, they have heard conflicting statements and mealy-mouthed half truths of the sort presented by Mr. Ereli, along with astonishing proclamations, such as the one by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in which he averred that Iran is "a democracy." (One wonders whether he will liken Muqtada al-Sadr to Patrick Henry.)
Fortunately, we don't have to rely on the State Department for news out of Iran. Feminists in particular might take note of this story from The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran which recounts the rescue of a woman who was taken into custody for "non-Islamic comformity."

The details of the evidence which led to the issuing of an arrest warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr in the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei poses one glaring question: to what extent, if any, was Iran implicated in that murder? Al-Sadr has openly proclaimed his solidarity with Hezbollah and Hamas - based to the east and to the west of Iraq - and I think it more likely that his solidarity was a statement of fact rather than an attempt to form a coalition.

Mr. Armitage (and the State Department) might also read the open letter to Congress of March 11 before he pronounces Iran to be a democracy. As for Sen. Kerry's blunderous call to drop sanctions against Iran, he will probably try to flip-flop-flip on that too but certainly the pro-democracy forces in Iran won't be fooled.

I suspect that cleaning up State will be a post-election endeavour given Bush's victory, but the cost of allowing them to continue to set their own policies may turn out to be high indeed.

I include France in this because of a that French passports are missing: 10,000 in February (6,300 were stolen on Feb. 3 and 3,000 disappeared on Feb. 10.) The story also notes that

The Feb. 3 incident, the FBI said, also included the theft of 5,000 blank French driver's licenses, 10,000 blank car ownership certificates, 25 titres de voyages (Geneva Convention travel documents) and 1,000 international driver's licenses without any identification numbers.
There are reasons other than terrorist-related to steal passports, of course, and the number of French passports missing is minor compared to Canada's 25,000 annual rate.

Relationship to Iran? Possibly none, or possibly another dot to the French-built nuclear facility.

Aside: Stealth posting is a pain. I don't have the time necessary to paintakingly link everything from past events much less draw definitive conclusions from current events.

But I doubt I really need to connect things for most readers and do it more to clarify my own thoughts.

Disclaimer over. And I am so far behind in my (ahem) real work.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Who knew about al Qaeda

Apr. 19 - Kenneth Timmerman writes in the Reader's Digest about what he knew about bin Laden and when he knew it (What We Knew...and Didn't Do.)

Even the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which had successfully prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, refused to discuss ties between convicted bomber Ramzi Yousef and bin Laden, although glimpses of those connections were clear to me as I pored through thousands of pages of trial transcripts and interviewed lawyers for the defendants.

Nor could the prosecutors explain the whereabouts of bin Laden deputy Ali Mohammad, a former U.S. Special Forces operator who testified during the trial that he had been bin Laden's personal bodyguard while he was living in the Sudan in the early 1990s. If this was an administration that made terrorism its top priority, nobody in the Department of Justice or the FBI seemed to know it. Mohammad finally surfaced again during the Africa bombing trial in 2000. In the interim, according to his guilty plea, he had been conspiring to murder U.S. citizens and destroy U.S. buildings and property around the world.


I also managed to locate and interview a key bin Laden operative named Tarik Hamdi, who appeared later with Mohammad in the Africa embassy conspiracy plot for having carried a satellite phone battery to bin Laden in Afghanistan that was used to plot terrorist acts. Hamdi and I had lunch together in a suburban Washington, D.C., Olive Tree restaurant, where he offered for a fee to introduce me to bin Laden's "fixers" in Peshawar. (I am left wondering why our federal government wasn't pursuing Hamdi and Mohammad more vigorously, instead of allowing them to operate openly in the United States.)

Janet Reno testified last week that she didn't brief John Ashcroft about al Qaeda because she was looking at the ruins of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

Oliver North wrote last year that Clinton's response to the first bombing of the WTC was to instruct Reno to investigate fundamentalist Christians. Those investigations led to Waco.

The problem with the Blame Game is that even those of us who don't really want to play eventually feel compelled to give some back.

Posted by Debbye at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2004

Thwarted attack in Jordan

Apr. 18 - There is growing evidence that the thwarted terror attack in Jordan was to have been a chemical attack according to a couple of links in this entry at The Command Post.

From the BBC link:

Earlier this week King Abdullah said a massive attack had been thwarted by a series of arrests, but named no target.

Now unnamed officials say the suspects have confessed to plotting to detonate a chemical bomb on the Amman HQ of the Intelligence Services.

The plot was reportedly hatched by al-Qaeda suspect Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.


An official involved in the inquiry in Jordan told AFP news agency: "We found primary materials to make a chemical bomb which, if it had exploded, would have made nearly 20,000 deaths ... in an area of one square kilometre.

"The target of this bomb was the headquarters of the Intelligence Services," situated on a hill in the western suburb of Amman, he added.

The official said another operation planned by the network was to use "deadly gas against the US embassy and the prime minister's office in Amman ... and other public buildings in Jordan".

According to this link, King Abdullah of Jordan told the SF Chronicle
Jordan's King Abdullah revealed on Saturday that vehicles reportedly containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al-Qaida bomb plot came from Syria, the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
There have long been suspicions that WMD were shipped out of Iraq before the US invasion and sent to Syria and / or Lebanon:
In his testimony before Congress last year, weapons inspector Kay said U.S. satellite surveillance showed substantial vehicular traffic going from Iraq to Syria just prior to the U.S. attack on March 19, 2003.

While Kay said investigators couldn't be sure the cargo contained weapons of mass destruction, one of his top advisers described the evidence as "unquestionable."

"People below the Saddam-Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse," said James Clapper in comments reported by the New York Times on Oct. 29. Clapper heads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

The chemicals are not named, so any actual connection to Saddam's WMD are purely speculative. The terrorist camp (name? darned rotten memory) bombed by the US military in the early days of the war specialized in chemical training for al Qaeda operatives.

By the way, the article about the interview with King Abdullah in the San Francisco Chronicle (aka SFGate) is interesting reading. The bias is evident, but it does show the delicate postion of both Jordan and King Abdullah.

Posted by Debbye at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

New Hamas leader named secretly

Apr. 18 - I first thought Bob at Canadian Comment was joking: New Hamas Leader Named, Sort Of:

Hamas has secretly appointed a new leader for its rejectionist / terrorist group, but it turns out they aren't telling anyone who that person is though, jeez, I wonder why? With its last two leaders killed by the IAF within the last month, I guess Hamas actually wants to keep this guy in place for more than three weeks. Full story here.
Joke or no, I can't help laughing.

I had spoken too soon the other day when I referred to the lack of terrorist attacks in Israel since Yassin was killed, because an attempted incursion was stopped and a real human shield, an Israeli soldier, was killed.

Israel's answer was swift and uncompromising. Good bye Rantisi.

What is this morality that says its okay to kill nameless victims, but not the known persons who ordered those deaths?

Dana sees this as the PLO and Hamas getting the war they wanted.

Apr. 19 Tim Blair reports that the new leader of Hamas is Dr Mahmoud Zahar. (Drink alert in effect for the last line of the quote.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian connection to March 11 attackers?

Apr. 18 - The Globe and Mail reports that, according to a Moroccan press report, a Montrealer is a member of a sleeper cell of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group which conducted a terrorist attack by placing bombs on trains in Madrid March 11.

A Moroccan extremist faction suspected of carrying out the March 11 bombings in Madrid had a sleeper cell in Montreal and Ottawa, according to a Moroccan press report.

The newspaper also claimed that Adil Charkaoui, the Montrealer held on a security certificate and alleged by authorities to be an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, is one of two members of the Canadian cell of that extremist group.

Yesterday's edition of Aujourd'hui Le Maroc said the information was given to investigators by Nouredine Nfia, an imprisoned leader of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

Mr. Charkaoui, the newspaper said, was in charge of logistics, sent a laptop computer to the group, and twice wired $2,000 (U.S.) to it.

The other Canadian sleeper agent was a 28-year-old Ottawa resident who was identified only as "Abdeslam the Canadian," it said.

The article notes that Nfia may have made these assertions under torture.

(I have no memory of where I came to find this link. My apologies if I lifted it from someone without credit.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2004

March 11 Update

Apr. 17 - A Bosnian, Sanel Sjekirika, wanted in connection with the March 11 terrorist attack in Spain has returned from Sweden and surrendered to Spanish police (Bosnian surrenders to Spain police).

Sjekirika was wanted by Spanish authorities on suspicion of financing Islamic terrorist activities.

In their investigation of Sjekirika, police discovered he had known a Tunisian man [Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet]
suspected of coordinating the March 11 attacks on Madrid commuter trains that killed 190 people, the spokesman said.


The National Court has charged 18 people in the bombings, 14 of them Moroccans. The others charged are a Syrian, a Spaniard and two natives of India. Some of the 18 have been charged with mass murder in the deaths, while others face lesser charges of collaborating with a terrorist group.

Three more suspects were arrested Friday in the Madrid area. They are described as being from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Gorelick urged to step down II

Apr. 17 - Jonah Goldberg nailed much of the US media on CNN yesterday for not paying attention to the conflict of interest of Jamie Gorelick's membership on the Sept. 11 Commission given her construction of the wall that prevented intelligence and criminal divisions from sharing information as well as her connection to anti-terrorism efforts under the Clinton administration.

Linda Chavez Misplaced priorities . . . with walls keep the pressure on.

There were probably still people who believe that the commission is not an exercise of partisanship, but I fail to see how they can maintain that position after Ashcroft's testimony.

Those who wanted a blame game got it. Now what will they do?

21:43: Jamie Gorelick's conflict of interest is much more than reported thus far. Among other things, she is a partner in the lawfirm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering which is representing Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud who is connected to a financial agency which is being sued by Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, which is a coaltion of 600 Sept. 11 families. Link from Alpha Patriot, who lists more conflicts here.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

Convinctions under Patriot Act

Apr. 17 - I've opined before that everyone rushing to claim persecution whenever someone is arrested has an inherent danger.

Tracking down and stopping terrorists is a priority. Period.

I'm happy to applaud successes, as in this one which Terence P. Jeffrey writes about in the Washington Times commentary Two who didn't get away.

But, and it's a major one, when the automatic response for every arrest is to scream "fascist totalitarian pigs" then those who should be at the forefront of making sure that innocent people are not victimized have reduced their credibility and when an innocent person is indeed victimized - and the odds are that will happen and, in fact, appears to have happened in the case of a chaplain stationed at Guantanamo - then we will have been so pre-conditioned by the hysteria of those groups that we could fail to pay proper attention when necessary.

We all know the fable of the little boy who cried Wolf!

Groups like the ACLU and Amnesty International have a responsibility, and if they won't be responsible they must be replaced by more sober people who are more interested in justice than political opportunism.

Knee-jerk reactions in war time is unacceptable.

Posted by Debbye at 09:56 AM | Comments (8)

Thwarted terror attacks

Apr. 17 - Terror attacks have been thwarted in Saudi Arabia and (oldish news) Jordan.

In Saudi Arabia, the police found and seized a white GMC Suburban that they have been looking for since February. It was filled with explosives. It is not known if there were any arrests when the vehicle was seized.

In Jordan, three trucks were intercepted:

Jordanian security last week intercepted three trucks, believed to be traveling from the northern border with Syria, that were packed with explosives intended for government buildings, the U.S. Embassy and a number of hotels.

Authorities arrested a number of people over a period of nearly 10 days. Jordanian security agencies had been on high alert following the arrest of two alleged terrorists on April 1.

In a letter to Gen. Saad Khair, the head of Jordan's intelligence department, King Abdullah said the scheme was unprecedented in terms of the quantity of explosives, the means of the attack and the targets. (Emphasis added)

One of the suspected targets was the US Embassy in Amman.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 14 - The transcript of George Tenet's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission hering of this morning is up courtesy of the Washington Post web site here.

FBI Director Mueller is now on, and I'll add the link for the transcript when it becomes available.

17:00: Further questions about Jamie Gorelick's failure to disclose her conflict of interest at Instapundit: More Gorelick Developments, Mitch Berg and several updates to his post yesterday here.

Is there a main server down somewhere? I'm having trouble linking to a lot of sites.

Posted by Debbye at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

Spain Updated II

Apr. 14 - Paul reports on a tape that was recovered when the 5 terrorists blew themselves up late March rather than face justice and which the Spanish authorities have rebuilt in Madrid Update. No surprise it threatens further bloodshed until Spain withdraws troops from all Muslim bases, but their colourful language and defiant assertion that civilians are legitimate targets is breathtaking.

I wonder if they include Andalusia as a Muslim base? Bin Laden certainly does.

By the way, the last line in Paul's post should have a drink warning.

Posted by Debbye at 04:16 AM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2004

Transcript of Sept. 11 hearings

Apr. 13 - The Washington Post has the transcript of today's session of the Sept. 11 Commission online Transcript: 9/11 Commission Hearing.

Enjoy and good night.

Posted by Debbye at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Petition to eject Khadrs from Canada

Apr. 13 - An online petition here has been mounted to force two members of the Khadr family to leave Canada. The reaction has been a lot of traffic to the website, threats against the woman who began the petition, Donna Campbell, and even someone turning Canada in to the FBI for harbouring known terrorists.

Abdul Karim Khadr was released last January by Pakistan authorities after being shot in the spine during a shootout with al Qaeda forces and the Pakistan army last October. He is in need of medical care and has returned to Canada to receive it.

He doesn't qualify for OHIP (free health care) until he has been in the country for 3 months, although the Canadian government has not confirmed that to be the case.

His wounds were sustained during hostile actions against a friendly nation (Pres. Musharref was in Canada only a few months ago and addressed the Parliament) and too I don't know if OHIP would cover injuries sustained from such activity.

The reaction by the Oppostion was predictable, but not the widespread sentiment about the return.

It may be due in part to the fact that the Khadr family (brief history here, much more detailed history here) has taken advantage of Canadian openness on far too many occasions. The country was shocked when one of the sons, Abdurahman Khadr, returned to Canada after his release from Guantanamo and admitted that, despite their protestations of innocence, the Khadr's had in fact been activer supporters of al Qaeda, knew Osama bin Laden, and even stayed at his residence.

A great many Canadians had believed they were innocent, so it's not hard to imagine how they felt when they learned they had been played for fools.

Except for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, of course. He expressed his views today:

Until Ottawa says otherwise, McGuinty said Canadian citizens Maha Elsamnah, her 14-year-old son Karim and his brother Abdurahman Khadr, 21, are as entitled as anyone else in Ontario to receive health-care coverage or apply for social assistance benefits.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham also spoke up:
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said Tuesday in Toronto that the Khadrs have rights as citizens.

"The thing about Canada is that we live in a society of law - we have to deal with terrorism, we have to deal with many problems."

"There is a man out west accused of serial murder that they're investigating but the investigation and the trial will be conducted within the Canadian legal framework and within the Charter (of Rights). The Khadr's have citizenship and they're entitled to that."

There you have it: it's a law enforcement issue.

Posted by Debbye at 10:57 PM | Comments (9)

Update on Mahboob Khawaja

Apr. 13 - Canuck blames RCMP

AN OTTAWA man being detained in Saudi Arabia has told his family Saudi authorities plan to keep him in custody until he can be interviewed by an RCMP investigator, CBC News reported last night. Mahboob Khawaja managed to call his son Qasim yesterday afternoon, CBC News reported from Ottawa.
The CBC story is here.

Intial reports on Mahboob Khawaja's arrest from unnamed Saudi sources claimed that he had been arrested at the request of Canadian authorities. Last week, RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. Paul Marsh said that the force had not been in touch with Saudi authorities over Mahboob or his son Mohammad Momin Khawaja, who was arrested in Canada March 29 in the same sweep that included the arrest of 8 men in Britain.

Apr. 14 The son, Mohammad Momin Khawaja was indited in a British court as a co-conspirator with the men and teenager arrested in Britain. (Yahoo! News - British teen in court on explosives charges linked to arrest of Ottawa man.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 13 - I missed this morning's testimony, so am noting the links to the story on CNN and Fox.

As for this afternoon's testimony, Ashcroft blew them away, and, unsurprisingly, CNN headlines the website story with with "Ex-FBI chief criticizes Ashcroft" instead of Ashcroft's reminding them of the "wall" which kept intelligence and criminal investigations from sharing information and pooling resources.

Atty. Gen. Ashcroft angrily pointed out that FBI perceptions about this wall is what kept FBI investigators from getting a search warrant to access Moussaoui's laptop computer which might in turn have provided the information necessary to connect other nebulous dots and let us know that we were in danger of imminent attack.

I had just read (via Instapundit) the National Review article about the "wall" (What about the wall by Andrew McCarthy.) Read it, and please don't be too quick to leap to judgement.

One of the revelations of the Watergate Hearings was that the FBI had spied upon American citizens who were involved in a number of legal organizations including those promoting civil rights and the movement against the war in Vietnam as well as legal student and leftists organizations. The operation, known as COINTELPRO, involved wire taps, stealing mail out of the target's mailbox to read, re-seal and return, and questioning the target's employer and family members. It also involved sending in agents provocateur to encourage groups to engage in illegal acts like bombing, vandalism and sabotage.

Some of the names of those agents came out, and I shouldn't have been surprised (although I was) that two people I had dismissed as nutcases were actually FBI agents. The one had constantly advocated that we bomb the computer room at San Francisco State College whenever mass meetings were held about political actions and the other was just plain strange but didn't advocate violent actions (we always thought we was stoned, but it turned out he was taking painstaking notes.)

Read the Wikipedia post linked above on the subject; these are not accusations against the US government, they are facts. The breaking in of offices, theft of documents and acts like firehosing the offices were assumed by us to be as likely to be actions of pro-war types as actions by police and law enforcement, but it was a shock to get proof that it was the FBI behind these acts. Didn't they have real criminals to chase?

[Aside to Canadians: even the Communist Party in the USA was never outlawed. Even at the height of the McCarthy hearings, the Party was legal and ran candidates in local, state and federal elections. As I stated, these were operations against legal organizations.]

On the other hand, we took it for granted our office and home phones were tapped and as I lived with a group of girls aged 18-21, the main topic of discussion over the phones were (surprise!) school, boys and clothes. (Some poor junior agent had to transcribe these conversations. Good grief.)

Far more serious was the death of Fred Hampton in 1969. It's not exactly relevant to the discussion at hand, but for those of us who were politically active, it was as outrageous as the deaths of 4 students at Kent State in 1970.

I never forget that there are several good reasons why Americans don't trust the government. But I also know that to hang on to attitudes from 30 years after a major attack as the one we suffered on Sept. 11 is as dangerous as it is to blindly trust any government.

Back to the subject and putting the above into context, steps were taken to reduce the power of the FBI to spy on us and it actively hurt us in assessing the threat before Sept. 11 and in part that's because these protections were extended to everyone on US soil including illegal aliens and that in turn opens up another overloaded bureaucratic entity, Immigration. And State, who granted visas to people who were already on watch lists.

But it also partially stems from political correctness which comes from exellent sentiments and motives but when taken too far, acts as blinders.

That stupid pendulum. It gets you every time.

Perhaps all that means that if you must blame someone, you can blame J. Edgar Hoover for his single-mindedness in interfering with the rights of Americans to organize to seek to change the politicies of the government of the day.

To be sure, it would be heavy-handed to lay the entire culture of intelligence dysfunction at the feet of the Clinton administration. If we are to play the blame game, there is plenty to go around. The relevant history in fact goes back to the 1978 enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1862). FISA, a reaction to domestic-intelligence abuses during the Vietnam and Watergate eras, permits the federal courts to regulate and monitor the executive branch's execution of two crucial investigative techniques — electronic surveillance and physical searches — in the context of national-security (or "intelligence") investigations. This is in contrast to ordinary criminal investigations, where the use of those techniques is governed by other federal law — what is called "Title III" for wiretaps or bugs, and the criminal procedure rules that govern searches.
The wall that Ashcroft referred to was constructed by Sept. 11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick, and anyone who has following the hearings has noted her exceptionally haughty and virulent manner on the Commission. As McCarthy notes,
Commissioner Gorelick, as deputy attorney general — the number two official in the Department of Justice — for three years beginning in 1994, was an architect of the government's self-imposed procedural wall, intentionally erected to prevent intelligence agents from pooling information with their law-enforcement counterparts. That is not partisan carping. That is a matter of objective fact. That wall was not only a deliberate and unnecessary impediment to information sharing; it bred a culture of intelligence dysfunction. It told national-security agents in the field that there were other values, higher interests, that transcended connecting the dots and getting it right. It set them up to fail. To hear Gorelick lecture witnesses about intelligence lapses is breathtaking.
The panel's questions and follow-ups were subdued, to say the least. I, for one, had severely underestimated the Attorney General and never would have figured Ashcroft to be so passionate.

Of course it helps your case when you have copies of the "wall" memo on hand because you just had it de-classified. He shoots, he scores!

Heh, I see Glenn Reynolds is saying Ashcroft slammed Jamie Gorelick and provides a link to the NY Times article on the subject.

The memo on the wall is here. It's a .pdf, and it finally loaded.

19:29 Ith is fed up and adds some information from history which I guess means that we were also as whiny and selfish in WWII.

23:09: The Washington Post has the transcripts up here.

Transcript for Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's statement here; Former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno's statement here; Former FBI Director Louis Freeh's statement here, and former Interim FBI Director Thomas Pichard's statement here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:59 PM | Comments (2)

April 12, 2004

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Apr. 12 - The name of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has come up again, this time calling for an Afghan uprising.

This shouldn't be a surprise (which isn't to say that I would have preferred to be disappointed):

In a statement obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday, Hekmatyar calls for an Afghan uprising in a competitive spirit with Iraq. He welcomed the uprising by supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who have been battling U.S. forces in Iraq.

Afghans "like Iraqi mujahedeen, will choose the way of uprising against the occupiers," said the Pashtu-language statement, translated by AP.

Hekmatyar heads Hezb-e-Islami, an Islamic guerrilla faction that fought invading Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He has reportedly joined forces with the Taliban against the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The statement was in the form of a letter delivered by a Hekmatyar aide, and note that the authenticity of the letter has not been confirmed.

There is more about Gulbuddin Hekmatyar here, here, here, here, and a short biography that only covers up to 1997 here. (By the way, if you chose to do your own google search is name is often inverted, as Hekmatyar Gulbuddin.)

The man arrested for the bombing attack that killed Canadian Cpl. Jamie Murphy on Jan. 27 was said to be a disciple of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

An odd twist is an incidence of kidnapping in Afghanistan:

KABUL (AP) - Dozens of suspected Taliban kidnapped an intelligence chief and two soldiers in a central Afghan province, a local government official said Monday, and there were conflicting reports about their fate.

The three men were abducted Thursday near Chenartu, a town 355 kilometres southwest of Kabul in Uruzgan province, said Fazel Rabi, a senior official in the provincial government. Authorities were negotiating their release, he said.

Another report states that they are already dead, but their bodies would be traded:
But Mullah Hakim Latifi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, told The Associated Press that Hamidullah and the soldiers had been killed. The Taliban, which was ousted by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001, would swap the three bodies for that of a Taliban held by Uruzgan officials, he said.


Taliban militants are also blamed for a string of kidnappings, including the abduction last month of a Turkish engineer working on a U.S.-financed road project in neighbouring Zabul province.

No, I'm not inferring a conspiracy or any such as it's more likely that the power of example is at work here, but Canadian soldiers have already incurred Hekmatyar's wrath by arresting some of his associates and I presume they are being extra cautious.

Remember those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

April 11, 2004

March 11 terrorists called the UK

Apr. 11 - According to Spanish investigators, the terrorists who blew themselves up (also killing a Spanish policeman) in Madrid telephoned a radical Islamic leader in the UK shortly before they died (Madrid rail bombers 'made call to Britain.)

Spanish investigators believe that the man they called is a fundamentalist imam and a member of the al-Qa'eda network.

The newspaper also reported that international arrest warrants were expected to be issued against several new suspects within days.


British links to two of the suspects have already been uncovered. Police raided an address in east London which is connected to two Moroccan men, Kohamed Oulad Akcha and his brother Rachid, who are suspected of being involved in the rail attacks.

Note that the two arrested men are not those who were telephoned from Madrid.

Posted by Debbye at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Salim Mansur on the war on terror

Apr. 11 - Salim Mansur in A year in the war on terror not only looks at this past year but a number of previous attacks linking them to what we now face.

He also makes a point that cannot be emphasized too often:

The events of 9/11 altered the perception of terror in the U.S. and elsewhere. Terror could no longer be viewed as isolated acts of deranged individuals, to be dealt with by law enforcement agencies and the courts.

9/11 was seen for what it was, an act of war through terror, unleashed against the West, particularly the United States -- labelled as the Great Satan -- by a transnational terrorist network of Arab-Muslim fanatics.

In return, President George W. Bush declared war on terror and its operatives worldwide.

The tendency to see 9/11 as an isolated event is compelling. It removes the burden of trying to understand the incubation and growth of terror, its capacity to intimidate states and enlist support from governments over the past several decades.

Consequently, it serves the wishful thinking that terror of the order that produced 9/11 can be contained and eliminated by addressing its presumed root causes.

Mansur suggests the 1972 Munich Olympics might have been the "opening act of this war." Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Two Canadian Families

Apr. 11 - Today's Toronto Sun has two articles about families who were affected by the attacks of Sept. 11: the Khadr family, who reportedly applauded as the two towers collapsed, and Cindy Barkway, whose Torontonian husband David died when the towers came down.

IT'S SICKENING that Ottawa allowed family members with links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network to enter the country, says the wife of a Toronto man killed on 9/11. Maha Elsamnah and her 14-year-old son Karim Khadr, who both have had ties to al-Qaida, were granted entry into Canada on Friday without passports.

"I hope the government will take steps to protect us and monitor their activity," said Cindy Barkway, whose husband David was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

"It's frustrating. They are here taking advantage of our democratic society and they hate us. The government helps the perpetrators and not the victims. It's not fair."

Mrs. Barkway isn't alone in her outrage, as Syed Soharwardy of the Canadian organization Muslims Against Terrorism is also angry.

Abdurahaman Khadr admits his family, former residents of Scarborough, fought with al-Qaida and lived at bin Laden's camp. Elsamnah, in a recent TV interview from Pakistan, said she was proud of her family's connection to bin Laden.

"The interview was shocking, admitting she had ties to al-Qaida. Hasn't the government seen this?" said Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Canadian organization Muslims Against Terrorism. "The Canadian government has a responsibility to ensure the wrong people are removed from our society."

But I wouldn't want you to think that the Canadian government is complacent about the return of two more members of the Khadr family. Canadian Federal agents will grill Khadrs about any recent contact they may have had with bin Laden and which other Canadians might be agents of al Qaeda.

Maha Elsamnah, 47, and her son, Karim Khadr, 14, will doubtless answer as honestly as they always have while on Canadian soil. And then there's this:

"I can't imagine that their movements wouldn't be monitored" if they attempted to cross into the United States, an American government official told Sun Media yesterday on condition of anonymity.
I can't imagine they would actually be allowed to cross into the US, Canadian citizens or no.

Bob MacDonald writes that after 3 months, Karim will be eligible for OHIP, which means that the Canadian taxpayer will be paying for his medical expenses. In truth, it's not about the money, its about the fact that he was injured during hostile actions against an ally. Has Canada formally declared neutrality in the war on terror? Or do they stand with the Canadian troops currently stationed in Afghanistan?

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 PM | Comments (1)

Memo released reveals nothing to Kerrey

Apr. 11 - The release of the Aug. 6 memo of the presidential daily briefing (pdb) tell us little we didn't already suspect (White House releases bin Laden memo) and for those of us who have been paying attention, it is quite unspectacular. It goes without saying that the media hasn't been paying attention.

As is often the case, what is more revealing are the things the media isn't covering.

Those involved in the first bombing of the WTC were about to be sentenced when we were attacked. Am I presumed to have forgotten that?

Am I presumed to have forgotten that past hijackings were done specifically in order to secure the release of jailed terrorists, like Zawahiri himself, and that the hijackings were done not in the US but abroad?

The crews and passengers aboard three of the hijacked airliners certainly conducted themselves in accordance with the expectation that the hijackers were following a well-established pattern, and only the fact that Flight 93 was delayed permitted its crew and passengers to learn the fates of the other three and were thus roused to take action.

There persists this myth that Somebody should have known.

Look, I've tried to be sensitive to those few who stylize themselves as The Familes of Sept. 11 but I'm becoming impatient. I'm glad to see I'm not alone, because others have spoken up, like Steve who remind us that we were all Sept. 11 families, Paul who states unequivocally who should do the apologizing and that we can't allow ourselves to be manipulated with their grief, then Ith who points to another Sept. 11 family member who isn't sought by the news media for quotes, and Jay (note new url and web log title) who says the sytemic problems also come from systemic sheep.

It is wrongheaded to shift blame from al Qaeda to the Bush administration. Those who are doing so either suffer from displaced anger and they should be called on this or they are trying to manipulate public sentiment and should be reviled.

Bob Kerrey, in a guest op-ed in the NY Times, makes the astounding claim that the attacks on Sept. 11 could have been averted but offers no proof, only citing the Phoenix memo which, he admits, never made it to Dr. Rice or the president, yet even that memo was concerned about hijackings and never referred to the prospect that jets would be used as missiles. Kerrey offers this opinion without any evidence? All he's done is prove that the commission was an exercise in partisanship.

He then claims that peacekeeping in Iraq should be turned over to the U.N., but he doesn't mention a single success of the U.N. that would make that case, and the news of late has been more about the spectacular failures of the U.N. - Kosovo, Rwanda, Cyprus, the Oil for Food program and the admission that the U.N. alone was responsible for their vulnerability in Baghdad's Canal Hotel attacks.

Talk about bringing a dandelion to a gunfight.

The president has repeatedly urged the U.N. to rise above their intransigence to face the challenges of the day, and the member nations have resisted. Is that a surprise? They were profiting during the U.N. Oil for Food program. They were on the other side, and decidedly not the side of the oppressed people of Iraq.

People do not rise in bureaucratic institutions because of their imagination and flexibility. They rise because they can navigate a twisting path of procedures which require no thoughtful analysis but much paperwork. When success is identified as crossing t's and dotting i's, who cares if the document was even worth reading?

Anyone who claims that Kofi Annan represents vigorous and unflinching leadership hasn't been paying attention. He won't send peacekeepers into areas that are not peaceful, so what use are they? He actually withdraws peacekeepers once violence breaks out. How would that do other than encourage increased violence in Iraq?

Kerrey then cites the need for troops from Muslim countries. Isn't that sensitive of him?

Wisely, he doesn't mention the al Qaeda attack on the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad because it refutes his argument. Al Qaeda didn't care that they were attacking Muslims. They never have and they never will. He doesn't mention the attacks on the Iraqi Police. He doesn't mention the attacks on Shi'ite religious observances. He doesn't mention that the Sunni minority in Iraq terrorized the Shiite majority with the full knowledge of Muslim countries. In short, he doesn't mention the truth of the matter: it is the predominantly Muslim countries that turned their backs on the suffering of their Muslim brethren.

He doesn't mention those things because they contradict his unstated contention that the war on terror should be concerned with radicalized Muslim terrorists attacking Westerners because he doesn't care that Islamic terrorism primarily targets moderate Muslims; yet if we abandon moderate Muslims, who would be our allies? And they aren't going to join us until they are convinced that we will stand firmly and solidly with them in this fight.

Can we blame them for their doubts? The international coverage that the campaign speeches of Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry and Wesley Clark received could only further those doubts and convince the rest of the world that the average American was fickle and short-sighted.

The president has articulated on many occasions that the war on terror is being waged on all those who engage in terrorism be it in Algeria, Tunisia, the Phillipines, East Timor, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Tamil, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Morroco, Israel, and even Saudi Arabia. The war on terror is to be fought wherever terrorists disrupt the lives of peaceful people.

Al Qaeda has obligingly educated us on what the global war on terror means by attacking civilians in a broad spectrum of countries. Bob Kerrey needs to pick up a map and study it. Maybe then he will present his arguments on the basis of facts -- if he can.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (6)

April 10, 2004

Italian PM Berlusconi visited Iraq

Apr. 10 - Cease-fire offered in Fallujah and a round-up of recent events has this nugget:

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Saturday arrived in southern Iraq for a surprise visit to Italian troops and regional leaders stationed in Nasiriya, his office in Rome said.
On the other hand, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is worried about the increased violence and we may lose Thai participation. They've had their own problems with terrorists in Thailand including some new ones.

Surprised that the goal of the insurgents (as well as al Qaeda) is to isolate us? No. That's always been part of their strategy.

Posted by Debbye at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

Mohammad Momin Khawaja

Apr. 9 - Information about Mohammad Momin Khawaja is coming out slowly. Today, information that Khawaja had access to confidential names and addresses of Canadian diplomats abroad.

Khawaja was arrested last week in Ottawa during the same operation that arrested 8 in the UK and another suspect days later. He worked as a computer programmer under contract with Canada's Foreign Affairs department.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

Khadr family returns to Canada

Apr. 9 - The Khadrs, Canada's first family of al Qaeda, is returning to Canada to get medical care for a son wounded in battle.

Abdul Karim Khadr, 14, is recovering from a bullet that grazed his spine last October. His father, known as al-Kanadi, Arabic for "the Canadian," was among the militants killed in that battle, with Pakistani counterterrorism agents.

Family members have said that if the teenager is ever going to walk properly again, he's going to need the help of the Canadian health-care system.

Members of the Khadr family have lost their share of passports. The fact that over 25,000 passports are missing or stolen annually was a key point in the 2004 Report of the Auditor General on National Security. Initally, the Canadian government had refused to issue them new ones, but gave them "one-time only" passports for the trip to Canada. They are Canadian citizens, so the issue is sticky.
But they stress that taxpayers are not on the hook for the bill. "The family have used their own funds to travel back to Canada," said Reynald Doiron, spokesman for Canada's Foreign Affairs Department.

Abdul Karim has been out of the country too long to qualify for universal health care, so the family would likely have to pay his medical bills as well, at least initially. (Emphasis mine.)

How nice to live in a country that gives aid and comfort to my enemies.
Ms. El Samnah has recently expressed joy that her husband died as a martyr for Islam.

And she has spoken of wanting her sons to be warriors, too. "I like my son to be brave. I mean as I was telling you, if I was in Canada, I would like my son to be trained to protect himself, to protect his home, to protect his neighbour, to really fight to defend it," she told the CBC. "I would really love to do that, and I would love my son to grow with this mentality."

Only in Canada, eh?

Bob at Canadian Comment er, comments.

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2004

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 8 - The transcript of Dr. Rice's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission is here (via Murdoc.)

The text of the presidential daily briefing is here. As Dr. Rice said, it is primarily a document outlining the history of al Qaeda intentions in the US and non-specific. Key quote:

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

I watched it Live! on CNN. Dr. Rice did well, I thought, but when one of the commission members challenged the "swatting flies" characterisation of prior dealings with terrorists and said we had only done that once, I kept muttering "aspirin factory in Sudan" but she didn't hear me.

The outbursts of applause from both sides sickened me - they parodised the proceedings and stripped away the dignity the hearings should have had. I almost wished the hearings were subject to the same rules as a true courtroom so the panel chair could have cleared the room after the first outburst.

The enemy seems to believe that what is strutted before the television cameras is us (understandable in that those on both sides of the camera seem to believe that also.) We do give the appearance of easy prey.

After Dr. Rice's testimony, CNN immediately turned to the ongoing battles in Iraq, and their propaganda was in full On mode. They show a tank with a small fire (hit a mine?) and show a Marine emerging with what appeared to be a burnt forearm and blood on his thigh - the commentator talked about how graphic the images were and how disturbing some might find them.

Note to CNN: I'm much more concerned about the soldiers who can't walk away than those who can, especially when I can plainly see that same Marine charging back to help put out the fire.

One of the most vivid silver screen moments from A Few Good Men is when somebody asks Galloway why she likes the Mariines and she replies

Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."
Forget the shenanigans in DC. The real heart of America is in Iraq and on other walls around the world.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2004

Possible chemical attack in Britain (Update)

Apr. 7 - I never heard of osmium tetroxide before, but it has become one more chemical compound that must be regarded as a threat after US and British security sources said that UK chemical attack foiled.

Seems somebody planned to lace a bomb with osmium tetroxide.

Osmium tetroxide is toxic, can produce eye and skin irritations, and in closed spaces can be lethal.

There has been no suggestion that this information is related to the arrests of 9 British, 1 Canadian and 1 Saudi last week (unless you count CNN's urge to include that disclaimer in this article.)

13:25: Via Jack's Newswatch, The Sun (UK) describes it thusly:

ANTI-terror forces have foiled a plot to blitz Britain with chemical bombs that melt flesh, blind and cause horrific deaths, it was revealed yesterday.


The chemical [osmium tetroxide] — available on the internet for £100 — dissolves flesh, causes blindness, choking and kills by “dry-land drowning” where lungs fill with fluid.

The Telegraph tends to side with the less horrific CNN report - the effectiveness and lethal nature of the chemical is minimal. I would go with the Telegraph account, but when they title a story after a Supertramp album I'm hard-pressed to explain why they are more credible.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 AM | Comments (2)

April 06, 2004

Two fronts in Iraq

April 6 - A long, hard day. We said we would pay the price, and we knew it would include our tears. God bless the men and women who serve, and remember our allies: one Ukranian, one Salvadorean have been confirmed killed by enemy fire. (I'd also heard that 2 Spanish soldiers have been killed.)

The enemy's mistakes

Another mistake

Apr. 4 - Mustapha Yacoubi, close associate of Muqtada al-Sadr, arrested Apr. 3. Muqtada al-Sadr issues call to arms

In Najaf, two allied soldiers were killed, 20 Iraqis died and 210 were wounded after gunmen among 5,000 demonstrators opened fire at a base for Spanish soldiers.

In Amarah, near Basra, British troops were involved in fighting which led to four Iraqis dying.

Apr. 5 - Warrant for arrest of Muqtada al-Kadr issued by Iraqi judge for the Apr. 10, 2003, stabbing murder of Abdel-Majid al-Khoei killed outside a shrine in Najaf.
U.S. officials said the warrant against al-Sadr was issued months ago by an Iraqi judge and that Iraqis only now want to carry it out.
Apr. 6 - Marines lock down Fallujah

Taking car of some long, overdue business.

Apr. 6 - Fighting in Ramadi

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As many as a dozen U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday in heavy fighting in the western Iraq town of Ramadi, the latest in a series of clashes with anti-coalition elements, Pentagon officials said.

The large-scale attack was mounted by suspected remnants of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, officials said.

Coalition forces fighting on two fronts
Backers of fiery anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked coalition forces in three cities — Italians in Nasiriyah, Britons in Samawah and Ukrainians in Kut — after a weekend of fighting that was especially intense in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said U.S. troops have captured a number of people in Fallujah in the last 36 hours.

"They have photographs of a good many people who were involved in the attacks against the individuals and they have been conducting raids in the city against high-value targets," Rumsfeld said.

At the moment, about 135,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq — "an unusually high level," Rumsfeld said. American officials had expected to go down to about 115,000 troops when a series of rotations of new troops into and older troops out of the country was complete, Rumsfeld said.

Note: I wish I could remember which genius over a month ago mentioned that troop levels would be at an unusually high level. Good call.
The United States declared al-Sadr an "outlaw" after his militiamen battled coalition troops Sunday in Baghdad and outside Najaf in fights that killed 61 people — including eight U.S. soldiers.
New al Qaeda tape attributed to Zarqawi.

New al Qaeda tape takes responsibility for the Canal Hotel bombing Aug. 19, and attacks on

"the coalition forces in Karbala, the Italians in Nasiriya, the American forces in the Al-Khaldiya Bridge, the American intelligence in the Al-Shahine Hotel, the CPA in Baghdad, the CIA in the Al-Rashid Hotel, and the Polish military in Al-Hilla."
Portions call for religious warfare:
Al-Zarqawi was especially hostile toward the Shiite majority, calling them "idolaters" and traitors who allied themselves with "the enemies of Islam to seize control over Sunni Iraq."
Boasting about the death they have brought to Iraq taking credit for the bombing of the Mount Lebanon Hotel March 17 and the car bomb that killed Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Hakim Aug. 29.
One theme of the tape echoed that of a letter U.S. authorities released earlier this year in which al-Zarqawi purportedly wrote to other al-Qaida leaders that the best way to undermine U.S. policy in Iraq was to turn the country's religious communities against each other.

Iraq's Shiite majority was suppressed under toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who favoured his own Sunni community. Saddam loyalists in heavily Sunni parts of the country and foreign fighters have been blamed for the bulk of attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

On the tape, the speaker said Shiite Iraqis were not true Muslims and were "the ears and the eyes of the Americans" in Iraq. He called upon Sunni Muslims in Iraq to "burn the earth under the occupiers' feet."

Beware the Tet Offensive Syndrome!

UPI editorialist Arnaud de Borchgrave agrees.

We're clearing some extremely bad characters out of Iraq. I fail to see that as being a problem.

Apr. 7 01:22: Expat Yank covers the view from the other side of the Atlantic.

And a new weapon has been unveiled by the Pentagon.

01:50: The British are also in the midst of troop rotations. 700 of 5,000 troops going into Iraq flew in today (Wednesday.) (Via Rantburg, who also has a good summary of Tuesday's events here.)

The Scotsman explains why the Iraqi elections should not be delayed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

April 05, 2004

France and the war on terror

Apr. 5 - The counter intelligence units in France have shown why they have so excellent a reputation: 13 people were arrested Monday morning on suspicion of being members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group and in connection with the terrorist bombings in Casablanca last year, and an ETA arms factory and a large supply of weapons was found near the Spanish border in the village of San Michel (in the Basque region of the Pyrenees.) They had arrested 3 members of the ETA on Friday.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 PM | Comments (3)

British, Canadian Terror Link II (Updated)

Apr. 5 - According to the Sunday Times (UK) a communication between al Qaeda forces in Pakistan and the UK which appeared to give instructions for an attack on British soil was intercepted by the NSA in the USA. They alerted British authorities (CNEWS - World: Report: U.S. eavesdropping led to arrests) who arrested the 9 people they already had under surveillance and seized half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

According to the Times, Canadian Momin Khawaja played a "pivotal role" in the plot.

The sweep in the UK was called Operation Crevice, and its counterpart in Canada was called Project Awaken.

The operational instructions appeared to come from someone familiar to Americans, Iraqis and Spaniards:

The sender was apparently in the circle around Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed to be the mastermind of attacks in Baghdad and Karbala last month in Iraq that killed 280 people during a Muslim religious festival.

The link to Pakistan is also seen as significant because it disproves a view that al-Qaida's command structure had been broken up and scattered by the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and arrests made around the world in the last 2 1/2 years of the war on terror, The Sunday Times said.

"We all thought there were cells operating in isolation and had been told that the al-Qaida network had been destroyed from the top when suddenly we find a chain of command leading back to Pakistan," a senior Scotland Yard source is quoted as saying.

The assertion that al-Zarqawi masterminded two major attacks on two different continents only last month followed by an assertion that senior level officials thought al Qaeda had been destroyed from the top is either simplistic in the extreme or bad editing.

Have al Qaeda activities been disrupted? Yes. Are they still dangerous? Yes. Should we give up? No.

Is the terrorist counter-offensive finished? Maybe, or at least partially. The rapid deployment of an additional 650 British troops to Kosovo stopped further ethnic cleansing there, and the effectual disruption in Spain of further attacks (with a major assist from the French) in addition the arrests in the UK means that the line in Europe held.

(CNews links via Neale News.)

22:41: Via Jack's Newswatch, this report that Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, the new leader of the terror network in Saudi Arabia, has issued a threat: one of al-Qaeda’s top officials has ordered the killing of Muslim leaders if they co-operate with intelligence services and the police to thwart terrorist attacks.

The ultimate goal of the Islamists is to force all Muslims to accept their version of Islam. We know this because they've said it repeatedly, and this latest pronouncement is part of their on-going attempts to terrorize other Muslims.

Apr. 6 - 01:50: From Winds of Change, Italy has detained 106 people, mostly Moroccan, on suspicions of having links with terrorists. Italy has been in a state of alert since the March 11 train bombings in Madrid.

Posted by Debbye at 08:57 PM | Comments (2)

Hessians? Think Again.

Apr. 5 - I wrote the post Andy Bradsell, KIA in Iraq, about an extraordinary Canadian who, with his partner Christopher McDonald, put themselves between a convoy of executives from the power plant and gunmen. Although the convoy did reach the power plant safely, Mr. Bradsell and Mr. McDonald were killed.

We call that service above and beyond.

I would ask that readers follow the link, not for my words but for the words of tribute from Andy's aunt, June Bradsell, and two several of his friends in the comments. Of especial concern is the pain caused by those who grabbed the label "mercenary" to shrug aside Bradsell's heroism, explain their lack of outrage over the events in Fallujah and who even invoked the despised Hessians of the late 18th century, the deployment of whom in colonial America was the cause of much grievance against Mother England.

We call that propaganda. We call that a deliberate distortion of the truth. We call that using a term that attempts to focus emotional images in the minds of Americans from the past as a way of excusing the ugliness of the present.

I've tried not to let my rage write this post, but it finally occurred to me that the fact that Americans started this mercenary nonsense was a good thing because I can take the gloves off when I'm dealing with my countryman whereas I try to be more diplomatic when dealing with Canadians.

The men we've lost in Iraq are among the bravest of the brave. It is precisely because they are there by choice that elevates them to a place of special respect and honour and the military personnel in Iraq consideres them partners, not impediments or competitors.

What don't those who contemptuously call these men "mercenaries" comprehend?

The actions of men like Bradsell, McDonald and those who died in Fallujah speak more eloquently than any words I can summon to describe such men.

What is it propagandists would have us forget? That Bradsell and McDonald deliberately put themselves in harm's way to protect those who are trying to stabilize the flow of electricity in Iraq? That Zovko, Teague, Helvenston and Batalona knew when they drove into Fallujah that they could be ambushed and deployed themselves to take the fire and allow the food convoy to get through?

Actually, yes. That diversion from the mission of contractors like these men and the others who are working in Iraq is exactly what they hoped to achieve. We got to squabbling about the term mercenary and forgot why their presence is vital to restoring Iraq.

Iraq is dangerous. There are many forces there who care very much that electricity flows are disrupted and food is scarce because they want to destablizing the country further. As they have demonstrated for the last 35 years, they care nothing for the welfare of the Iraqi people. Yet, due to the political polarisation over Operation Iraqi Freedom, their stealth tactics have caused many on the anti-war left who believe themselves to support a liberation struggle to say things and take positions that I think they will someday regret.

Many who presumed to speak out angrily on behalf of Iraqis who suffered electrical black-outs have been silent about both the attempts to restore service and those who would sabotage and disrupt those services. Many who anxiously warned of humanitarian disaster in the wake of the war have been silent about attempts to deliberately disrupt the delivery of food and supplies. That's their contradiction, not mine, and there will come a time when the more honest of them will see that their desire to defend their opposition to the Iraq war has led them to violate their own values.

Remember the human shields who piously and nobly headed to Iraq before the war? Mohammed does and quotes from his 2003 journal:

The worse I hate are those human shields. I hate them for their stupidity, what peace they seek? Don’t they think for one moment about what’s happening here? We’re already dead. Whom are they defending? I don’t know.
Today there are real human shields in Iraq, and they are contributing to the fight to restore life to Iraq after 35 years of living death. Maybe their importance is illustrated by what happens when they aren't present.

Web logger Bob Zangas, after being Iraq for 6 months with the USMC, returned as a civilian with the Public Affairs office with the Coaltion Provisional Authority. This was his final entry from Iraq. Bob was killed in an ambush on March 10:

Zangas, another CPA employee and their Iraqi interpreter were killed Tuesday evening when Iraqi policemen chased the vehicle in which they were riding, forced it off a road and then executed them with a hail of machine gunfire.

The three had been on a return trip to their fortified compound in Hilla after they had visited a newly opened Women's Rights Center in Karbala. The other American, Fern Holland, had worked as a lawyer in Oklahoma before coming to Iraq.

Bob, Fern Holland, and their interpreter were travelling without escort.

But the underlying question remains on the table: why do men like Bob Zangas and Andy Bradsell put themselves at risk in a country like Iraq? Is it for the money? Adventure? Or are they answering a higher calling?

Greyhawk over at Mudville Gazette answers this and other questions with a number of links to military bloggers in The "Mercenary" Response among which is Grimbeorn who proclaims himself to be a mercenary and explains why he volunteered (note that I tried to excerpt this, but dang! the entire post is wonderful):

All the identified are former members of the US military. So what are they doing in Iraq?

I can answer, as I volunteered for such a deployment earlier this year--although my employer preferred to keep me working at another GWOT project in the USA. I volunteered recently for a deployment to Kabul, about which I've not yet heard.

I would be surprised to learn that these men differed very much in motives. Like them, I joined the military--the USMC--right out of high school, largely for patriotic reasons, though also out of a youth's desire for adventure. My service ended in 1994. On 9/11, I abandoned the career I'd embarked upon and started looking for ways to return to service.

Damned straight. And Beorn is hardly alone: most of us responded to Sept. 11 with a desire to do something, anything, to defend our country and values.
The military has strict caps on how many people it can have, though, at every grade. The USMC, being the smallest, has the least room--and the wave of volunteers that came with 9/11 meant that recruitment was, and remains, topped out. There was simply no room.

There are also age limits, and in the years since 9/11, I've run afoul of them. Even if room opened up now, I couldn't return because I'm too old.

But our service is still needed. I went looking for other ways to serve, since the military was closed to me. I found it in the 'mercenary service,' which allows me to work hand in hand with the US military. I've worked on projects for every branch of the service, and most of the global commands.

Estimates on just how many people like me there are run wild, and no one is really sure. It seems likely to be at least one "contractor" to every five servicemen, but it may be as high as one to one.

Many bring skills that they've gotten later in life, which broadens the range of talent and knowledge beyond what the military itself has to offer. Deployments are not much less gentle than the military's own, although they are softened a bit by being purely volunteer--you can leave, if you really want to. Few do.

This is what US mercenaries are like. They exist at all because the Congress and DOD bureaucracy aren't realistic about the force levels needed, and cling to outmoded concepts like age limits. As with anything else in a free society, where there is a demand that isn't being met, a service appears to meet it. I would rather be in uniform; but since I cannot be, I'll do this instead. (Emphasis added.)

Read the whole thing; I'm actually quoting Beorn quoting himself, and he has a lot more to say about answering the call to freedom in whatever capacity he can and about some of those with whom he serves. A snippet:
Most people in these various defense contractor, "Private Military Company" firms are former military, but there are also many who aren't, people who admire the military but who aren't made to be soldiers. They still want to do their part, and they do. Some of them have skills that are rare in the military, too--I know a lot of Arabists like that, including quite a few non-US citizens who want to be a part of what America is doing, but whose nations aren't in the Coalition--Syrians, Egyptians, and Sudanese. They can't serve in their own nation's armies, but they can still help make a stand against terrorism.
We have, therefore, a collection of people who wish to make a stand. I know just how they feel. Were I several decades younger I'd be there, but I'm stuck in this (ahem) mature body and can only wield my keyboard in this fight. And you know what? It's not enough! My heart burns to be doing more, to stand up taller and higher so I can shout to the world "Let Freedom Ring!"

God, how many of us feel like that! I don't want to stand foursquare behind our troops, I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and join in this mighty struggle. And I honour, revere and even envy those who can and do.

Soldier and civilian, contractor and armed guard, all are necessary to this fight. They are engaged in the most audacious and noble enterprise ever known to humanity: the struggle to bring freedom to the oppressed and the fight against those who seek to put forward another Saddam as the bringer of death and cruelty to the people of Iraq.

Those who call civilians like Andy Bradsell "mercenary" might do well to consider what Jason Van Steenwyk calls them: partners.

I should say that I had the privilege to meet many civilian contractors and security professionals from all over the world. Most of them were there supplementing coalition forces security, or providing needed logistical or security services to US troops and to the Iraqi people.

Most of the American contractors I talked to had served 20 years on active duty with the US military in one capacity or another.

Unlike my troops, these guys could have left at any time, just by saying "I quit" and catching a ride to Baghdad or Kuwait. Instead, despite the risks, they chose to stay.

They are, in every sense, our partners. And their families, I'm sure, loved them and missed them and feared for their safety just as fervently as ours.

Anyone who tries to force a moral distinction between our soldiers and these civilians who served alongside us--who dismisses them as "mercenaries" in it for the "pecuniary interests alone," and anyone who buys into that idea, is merely displaying a frightening degree of ignorance.

So it occurs to me that the reason some have targeted the civilians who protect and defend other contractors is precisely that they are there by choice and by conviction. It kind of ruins the image of US soldiers who have no choice to be there and are thus victims of the Bush administration, doesn't it? Of course, the fact that re-enlistment targets have been met ruins that image anyway, but why let facts get in the way of propaganda?

Andy Bradsell was a Canadian. Andy heard the call of freedom and served that call by contributing his skills to advancing that cause. I call him a warrior, not only because he was fortunate enough to have the requisite skills that allowed him to follow the path of a warrior, but because he was willing to fight and die for his beliefs.

Don't you get it? Andy Bradsell stood on guard for thee!

There are so few people like Bradsell, McDonald, Zangas, Holland, Teague, Helvenston, Batalona and Zovko. They will long be remembered for their heroism. That's not a bad place in history to occupy.

Apr. 6 09:26: Warren suggests we begin using the term paladin to describe the security forces in Iraq. I like it.

10:18: Private guards repell attack on US HQ in Najaf:

An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Before U.S. reinforcements could arrive, the firm, Blackwater Security Consulting, sent in its own helicopters amid an intense firefight to resupply its commandos with ammunition and to ferry out a wounded Marine, the sources said.

Read the whole thing. Commandos, mercenaries, armed security guards, call them what you will. Warren is right: they are paladins, champions, fighters for a cause.

Apr. 11: We have another paladin to add to the roll of honour: Michael Bloss:

Michael Bloss, 38, a former paratrooper, died in a gun battle after leading civilian contractors to safety. They had come under fire near the town of Hit, about 110 miles west of Baghdad.
Honour those who serve!

Apr. 21 16:11 There is a Canadian-based honour role of The Fallen for security personnel who have died in the line of duty.

Posted by Debbye at 12:23 PM | Comments (13)

April 03, 2004

British Muslims confront terrorism

Apr. 3 - As noted here, the Muslim Council of Britain called on imams in British mosques to denounce terrorism with mixed results. Despite the lead in the Telegraph story, Union flag burnt as extremists cheer bin Laden, which is about a small group of people, the heart of the issue is further down in the body of the article:

Abdul Qayum, the imam of the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets, said in his sermon that true adherents of Islam "could not conceive" of killing people unlawfully.

But he warned the international community against confusing this with the "freedom movements by the oppressed people of Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya against the occupation forces".

That might be seen as defending terrorism as a tactic.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)

Spain Updated

Apr. 3 - Updating the meagre details of this story from yesterday, the Daily Telegraph (UK) has an extremely coherent account of the latest discovery of the letter bombs and foiled plot to blow up Madrid express.

A warning has been issued in the US to be on guard against potential bombing of transport systems there. (In American English, that means being alert to abandoned back-packs and such.)

20:01: 1 policeman killed, 11 injured when 3 terrorists blew themselves up as policement entered premises to search for suspects in Mar. 11 train bombings. Paul has more (and probably better) information from La Vanguardia.

23:55: Daily Telegraph report here. Jamal Ahmida, "The Chinaman," (perhaps earlier named as Jamal Ahmidan?) is believed to be have been killed by the bomb. The explosive device was attached to the door of the apartment.

Apr. 4 - 07:44 Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the Tunisian believed to be the organizer of the March 11 attack, was among the dead. Spanish officials believe the organization behind the attack was Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM).

Apr. 5 - 17:03: John Ibbitson reports here and here that five suspects in the March 11 Madrid train bombing self-detonted. The identifies of four, three of whom had international warrants for their arrests, have been confirmed:

"The Tunisian", Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, ringleader;
Jamal Ahmidan, who rented the premises where the bombs were made;
Abdennabi Kounjaa, who procured the explosives;
Asri Rifaat Anouar, only identified as a Morrocan;
A fifth who has not been identified.

Five others suspected of being involved in the plot to bomb the trains are in jail: Zougam, Chaoui, Bekkali, Zbakh and Ghayoun.

Apr. 7 - 15:00: The number of terrorists who died in that house has risen to seven.

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 AM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2004

Documents unclear on bin Laden options

Apr. 2 - Anyone who remembers the Watergate hearings can't help but groan at the soft-shoe dancing over whether the CIA was permitted to kill bin Laden (Details emerge on efforts, obstacles to killing bin Laden in 1990s.)

Had the CIA killed him, it is probable (and I obviously haven't seen the documents) that the wording was sufficient to give Clinton plausible denialibility:

The authorities granted to the CIA gradually increased, but a former senior CIA official said Clinton never signed a "pure kill" authorization.
President Bush was far less nuanced on the subject:
Dead or Alive.

Posted by Debbye at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)

Bomb found under Spanish train tracks

Apr. 2 - I guess you can't appease everyone: a bomb was found on the Spanish rail line that runs between Madrid and Seville. 10-24 kg of dynamite were connected to a detonator by a 131 m (430 ft.) cable. The bomb was defused by the Civil Guard. [Note in update that Ángel Acebes, the Minister of the Interior, says there was no detonator.]

Media reports have not been confirmed by officials. There may been a telephone call warning of the bomb, and a contractor hired to build new tracks may have found the bomb.

14 people are being held in connection with the Mar. 11 terror attack on Madrid trains. A Spanish judge released two Syrians without charges and a Moroccan was released but ordered to report daily by the judge.

There are international warrants for six others - one Tunisian and five Morrocans. Tunisian Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet is thought to be the leader. Morrocan Jamal Ahmidan rented the premises where the bomb was built and Mohamed Oulad Akcha, his brother Rachid Oulad Akcha, and Abdennabi Kounjaa procured the explosives and made the bombs. Said Berraj is believed to be the link to al Qaeda.

15:11: Paul has information from La Vanguardia account on some of the details, including the fact that the bomb was minus a detonator.

18:15: Iberian Notes reports that the timer wasn't set. Official consensus seems to be that whoever was planting the bomb was interrupted. He says: "La Vangua ran a story saying that they suspect there are 300 Moroccan Islamist Combatent Group affiliates in Spain, which means there are plenty more where Jamal Zougam and Abderraman Balkh came from."

18:30: Tim Blair's update is from Franco Alemán of Hispa Libertas who says that there was no telephone warning and it had been raining all night (which is why the dryness of the bomb was important.)

Apr. 3 - 08:58: AP confirms that the bomb material matches that used Mar. 11. This report says the bomb failed to detonate because it wasn't properly connected, and CNN is confirms that no initiator was found.

The Washingtn Times carries a report from AP which refers to a claim in the Spanish paper El Mundo reporting that the Spanish Embassy in Egypt received a letter from the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri threatening to attack again unless Spain withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by Debbye at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

Terror threats in Australia

Apr. 2 - The hunt is on for Abou Saleh, a Chechen said to be one of bin Laden's most senior bomb experts, who was recruited by a deported terrorist, Willie Brigitte, to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia.

Brigitte told interrogators he had been ordered by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda operatives to meet Salah in Sydney to help him prepare an Australian atrocity.

According to the French dossier on the Australian terror threat, Salah and Brigitte were to work with Pakistan-born Sydney architect Faheem Khalid Lodhi to prepare "an attack of great size" in Sydney.

The dossier said Salah was also the commander of a series of vast terror-training camps in Pakistan.

It is believed that the attack is to be made upon military or nuclear facilities.

A report on transport security prepared by Australian officials was distributed at an anti-terrorism conference in Manila organized by the ASEAN Regional Forum. It stated that terrorists may be planning to attack shipping lanes with a "crude nuclear device". Jemaah Islamiyah is said to be thriving despite the crackdown by the Indonesian government and

... appeared to be pursuing terror training and links with groups from the Philippines to Pakistan.

"The overall picture ... is that South-East Asia remains a front line in the fight against terrorism. More attacks that threaten the safety and security of regional communities are inevitable," said an Australian government report. [Original ellipses]


One indication that the group [Jemaah Islamiha] was determined to survive was its effort to link up with organisations beyond South-East Asia, the report said, citing the discovery of a Jemaah Islamiah unit, identified as the al-Ghuraba cell, in Karachi, Pakistan, last year.

The cell, composed of Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans, was established to train future religious and military leaders, it said.

Another Pakistan-based terror group, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, has also been linked to the Karachi cell, the report said.

It said there were indications that Jemaah Islamiah was working with extremist groups in the southern Philippines "to the point of sharing training facilities and operational expertise".

Posted by Debbye at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2004

British, Canadian Terror Link (Updated)

Apr. 1 - To update this post about the UK arrests of eight British men and the Ottawa arrest of a Canadian, Mohammed Momin Khawaja, on terrorism charges, there was another arrest in the UK Thursday evening.

The CNN reports this on the arrest in Saudi Arabia of Khawaja's father, Mahboob Khawaja:

Saudi intelligence sources said the arrest was made at the request of the Canadian government. It was not known what charges, if any, the elder Khawaja might face.
Some odd statements by the families of those arrested in the UK might imply, to an amateur detective type, that the bombing was planned for next week and the perpetrators had an escape route planned. (And yes, this could also all be a terrible misunderstanding and they are all innocent.)

Police in Canada and Britain were exploring any links the men may have had to extremists in Pakistan. Seven of the eight men arrested in Britain on Tuesday are British-born of Pakistani descent. The eighth is a naturalized Briton born in Algeria.

Ansar Khan, whose 18-year-old son Ahmed was among those detained in Britain, has said that his nephew, Omar Khyam, age 22 and also detained Tuesday, traveled to Pakistan in January 2000 after telling his family he was going on a school trip to France.

The family enlisted the help of relatives in Pakistan's military and intelligence services to find Khyam, who was eventually located in a Kashmiri "freedom-fighters" camp and returned to Britain, his uncle said.

The family said that Khyam was attending a computer school at the time of his arrest this week.

Omar Khyam's brother Shujah, age 17, also was detained in Britain Tuesday.

The Khan and Khyam families also said they were approached in recent weeks by a man who identified himself as "Mr. Gould" and said he worked for the British domestic intelligence agency MI5.

After meeting family representatives on several occasions, "Gould" suggested that the young males of the family -- who are now in custody -- should leave Britain.

According to the family, "Gould" said the young men did not represent a threat to national security but had been in contact with people who did represent such a risk.

The family said they had made arrangements for the three -- Ahmed Khan and Omar and Shujah Khyam -- to travel to Pakistan next week.

A spokesman for MI5 denied the claim that one of its officers had contacted the families.

It's hard not to wonder about the implications of this last part.

Apr. 2 - 15:30 British admit they were "liasing" with RCMP. (Their word, not mine.)

(CTV link via Jack's Newswatch.)

21:28: The arrests in Jordan may be part of the arrests in the UK and Canada, according to this article in the Ottawa Citizen by Robert Fife. Excertps:

Officials say the RCMP's arrests this week of Mr. Khawaja in Ottawa and the arrests of nine British Muslims in London -- all of whom are of Pakistani descent -- are just the start of a series of anti-terrorism operations to take place around the globe.

On Tuesday, authorities arrested three al-Qaeda suspects in Jordan for allegedly planning terrorist attacks.

Mr. Khawaja is being dubbed "The Fixer" by several newspapers in Britain that claim he was acting as a mentor for a cell of young British terrorist suspects before he was arrested.

Before the arrests, the British spy agency MI5 had conducted a two-month surveillance operation during which the suspected cell is alleged to have discussed bombing several targets in and around London. Lip readers were used to study films of the cell taken by undercover officers and tracking devices were attached to cars

While the cafe and its owners have no connection with terrorist activity, British newspapers are speculating that the suspects have been using the e-mail to talk with al-Qaeda "mentors" or "fixers" in other countries. Police are looking for communications between members of the cell and "fixers" whose job is to offer help.

Insiders say Prime Minister Paul Martin and Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan were briefed on the extensive file on Mr. Khawaja, 24, a contract employee at Foreign Affairs.

(Link via Nealenews.)

Apr. 3 - 10:34: Canadian Mohammed Momin Khawaja appeared by videolink in court and was remanded into custody until Wednesday. And this report from the CBC implies that the Canadian government didn't ask the Saudi government to arrest Mahboob Khawaja.

Posted by Debbye at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

Timeline of Terror

Apr. 1 - How 9-11 happened. This timeline of terror actions against the US contains some things even I had forgotten about:

On April 5, 1986, a West Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen was bombed by Muslim extremists from the Libyan Embassy in East Berlin, killing an American.

Ten days later, Reagan bombed Libya, despite our dear ally France refusing the use of their airspace. Americans bombed Gadhafi's residence, killing his daughter, and dropped a bomb on the French Embassy "by mistake."

Classic Coulter.

Posted by Debbye at 06:52 PM | Comments (2)

54 arrested in 6 countries

Apr. 1 - In a sweep that included 6 countries, 54 people were arrested in connection to homicide bombings in Turkey.

The people arrested were suspected members of a Turkish Marxist organization called the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

38 suspects were arrested in Turkey, and another 16 were taken into custody in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Italy.

15:27: The Australian news report is far more detailed, and credits the cooperation of security forces in the lead up to the Olympics and notes that such cooperation had already been increasing due to the war on terror. Also, one of those killed in DHKP-C attacks in Turkey was an Australian woman.

Apr. 2 - 18:04: 10 more arrests in Turkey bring the total to 63. (Yes, I know there's a discrepancy with the numbers, but the original CNN report still says 54; this may be due to the fact that a German man was arrested in Greece and charged with being linked to the group but his arrest wasn't part of the wider operation.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:03 PM | Comments (2)

Jose Maria Aznar, truth, and Canada

Apr. 1 - This article by Jose Maria Aznar in Opinion Journal should be read for three reasons.

First, it sets the record and chronology straight. Bloggers who followed the chronology of events have links to the news items which confirm Aznar's account.

Second, it reminds us that politics is a game of deception, and that to automatically assume the government is lying is the best way to allow ourselves to be manipulated by the other guys, those who want the same power a sitting government posseses and have no scruples about how they get that power:

Once deception had successfully supplanted truth, our opponents sought to redirect the public's anger against the terrorists, exhorting people to channel their ire toward a government that was hard at work, a government that is still working to clarify what happened and to bring the guilty to justice. Last weekend was a time for solemnity, and for reflection. Instead, people with partisan motives scarred the moment with their screeching accusations. (Emphasis added)
Isn't that what is happening in the Sept. 11 Commission hearings? I know who is to blame for Sept. 11: al Qaeda. Those who are trying to shift the focus of blame away from al Qaeda aren't interested in truth but in power, and they don't care that their quest for power endangers us.

The third reason is that it provides a useful lesson in the tactic of how lies are spun to aid misdirection. Curiously, Canadians are in a tough spot right now of trying to determine truth but they have to approach it from the other side: is the ruling Liberal Party a pack of greedy, shameless liars?

Chretien spoke about Adscam the other day and invoked the We stood up to the US over Iraq card. He is trying to redirect Canadian anger over Adscam theft into smug complacency that Hey, the Liberals stood up to the Americans. Aren't they wonderful?

The problem is, Chretien originally brushed off concerns about the Sponsorship Program funds by pulling the Unity Card, remember? Back then it was Maybe some money is unaccounted for, but is any price too high for national unity?

It will be interesting to see if Canadians fall for this latest re-direction.

(Opinion Journal link via Yankee from Mississippa.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:45 AM | Comments (4)


Apr. 1 - Thailand - 1.3 tons of ammonium nitrate have been stolen in the southern part of the country and security forces placed on high alert.

58 sticks of dynamite and 170 detonators were also stolen.

Bhokin Bhalakula, the interior minister, said his immediate fear was an attack on Hat Yai - a southern town popular with tourists from neighbouring Malaysia - at next week's Thai new year water festival.
See here for information on the terrorist attack last week.

Posted by Debbye at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2004

Wahhabis arrested in Uzbekistan

Mar. 31 - The violence in Uzbekistan lessened today and several people arrested.

Police were scouring the capital Wednesday in pursuit of fugitive militants, and reportedly arrested at least 30. A police official said those in custody so far were adherents of the strict Wahhabi Islamic sect, which was believed to have inspired al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and not members of an extremist group President Islam Karimov has implied were behind the attacks.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is not considered to be a terrorist organization by the US., and its British office denies the group has been involved in the recent attacks.

Posted by Debbye at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

War on Terror vs. Victimhood (Updated)

Mar. 31 - The Mar. 29 (Monday) arrest in Ottawa of 24-year old Mohammad Momin Khawaja, a software developer who works on contract with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, makes for a very interesting supposition:

Mohammad Momin Khawaja, 24, is charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act with participating in the activity of a terrorist group and facilitating a terrorist activity.

According to an RCMP news release some of the activity may have taken place in London, England.

An insert on the CBC page details the charges:
That Mr. Khawaja did:

1) On or between November 10, 2003 and March 29, 2004, at or near the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario and at or near the City of London, England, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, an activity of a terrorist group, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, as defined in section 83.01(1) of the Criminal Code, thus committing an indictable offence, contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code.

2) On or between November 10, 2003 and March 29, 2004, at or near the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario and at or near the City of London, England, did knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity, as defined in section 83.01 (1) of the Criminal Code, thus committing an indictable offence, contrary to section 83.19 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Khawaja appeared in court today at 1:30 p.m. in Ottawa at which time he was remanded in custody until Friday, April 2, 2004 at 1:30 p.m. A publication ban on the proceedings was granted by the court.

The speculation is inevitable: were the near-simultaneous raids in Canada and England conducted as a result of coordinated and cooperative investigations?

Robert at Expat Yank continues coverage of the Tuesday arrests of 8 British citizens in southeast England, raids on 24 locations, and the seizure of half a ton of ammonium nitrate here noting that the response of the Muslim Council of Britain was first initiated following the train bombings in Madrid.

A portion of the MCB letter, which was redrafted after the arrests, urges British Muslims to remember that they too must do what they can to stop terror attacks:

The letter asks for the "utmost vigilance" to help "safeguard" the UK.

Sermons will be delivered on Friday saying terrorism has no place in Islam, while booklets being printed will remind Muslims of their obligation to help safeguard Britain's security.

"A terrorist attack will not discriminate between Muslims and Christians", Mr Bunglawala said.

"As British citizens, we have a right to help the safeguarding of this country by co-operating with police."

However he also urged caution because a number of "high-profile arrests in the past of Muslims" had led to no charges or convictions.

The laudable stand taken by the MCB is somewhat diminished though by the BBC report that says that the letter was drawn up as part of the council's long-term plan to combat "Islamophobia". I liked it better when I thought it was drawn up to combat terrorism (although the BBC may be putting their own spin on it.)

Or not: an MCB campaigner said the press coverage of the arrests was unfair:

Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain picked out one headline which described the police operation as: "Islamic bomb attack foiled".

"First of all we don't know whether it was a bomb attack," he told BBC Breakfast.

"And secondly, to describe it as Islamic is offensive to ordinary Muslims."

Robert notes on the first
But, he's right, technically, one supposes. After all, the chemical hadn't been turned into an explosive as of their arrests.

Actually, that's profound: Is an unexploded explosive actually an explosive?

and on the second
However, it is an unfortunate and undeniable fact of life that all Islamist terrorists are indeed Muslims. They blow up themselves and/or others in the name of Islam. If that is a problem for most Muslims, then one would think most Muslims would want to begin to deal with it.
It might seem that we are still are square one: as Dr. Daniel Pipes noted some time ago, the solution to Muslim radicals is Muslim moderates. Yet public statements by Inayat Bunglawala notwithstanding, there have been quieter (and less publicized) actions by Muslim citizens in places like Cleveland, and the recent elections in Malaysia resulted in a complete rejection of fundamentalist Islamists.

Yet the media by and large remains focused on one theme: Muslims are victims - not of radical Islamists in Muslim countries (which they are) but of Western nations who take action to stop terror attacks by arresting suspected terrorists before they strike.

A BBC website report about arrests made under Britain's Terrorism Act of 2000 is headlined Whatever became of Britain's 500 'terrorist suspects which does eventually refute accusations of racial profiling:

Of the 529 arrested, 77 people have been charged under the Terrorism Act. Only seven have been convicted. Baghdad Meziane and Brahim Benmerzouga were found guilty in April this year of raising funds for terrorism and were each jailed for 11 years. Last year two men were jailed for belonging to a banned network, the International Sikh Youth Federation.

In June this year, three men were convicted under the act of belonging to another banned group, the Red Hand Commandos, linked to the Irish UVF.

Note that the Red Hand Commandos is a banned group, not a terrorist group.

And then this:

Critics say the sweeping powers granted by the law, which lower the normal standards of reasonable suspicion, have been used to target Muslims in particular.

Community groups describe this as "racial profiling", for example considering somebody suspicious because of their style of dress.

But the law has been applied more widely. The trial of three men charged under the act with possessing guns and bomb-making devices to further the aims of the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Freedom Fighters, is due to start soon.

Yet to some, the fact that so many have been arrested then released without charge is evidence of a "fishing expedition" by the police.

I don't know British law so I don't know exactly what "arrested then released without charge" means, but can someone be arrested without charges being laid under British law? Is this the equivalent of "taken into custody for questioning" which, under Canadian and US laws, is not the same as being arrested?

If indeed the "fishing expedition" is to conduct an interrogation, then it isn't that different from the steps taken in any criminal investigation. I tend to doubt that the British police and anti-terror divisions have sufficient personnel to question everyone in Britain because of the apparel and that other evidence is necessary before someone is picked up.

But the MCB letter is also somewhat after the fact given this:

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the raids followed the infiltration of alleged extremist Islamist groups.

He said sources had told him the alleged targets of any bombing were not military or government-related but members of the public.

Infiltration likely means that British Muslims infiltrated and were instrumental in gathering the evidence that led to the arrests and ammonium nitrate seizure.

Algerian journalist Mohamed Sifaoui has lost family and friends in terror attacks. He therefore posed as a terrorist sympathizer and then wrote a book, Inside al Qaeda, which states uncategorically that Britain is the biggest safe haven for hard-core fundamentalists. He also denounces the foolish romanticising of terrorists and the failure to comprehend that they primarily murder Muslims.

And last September, Mohammed Nasim, chairman of the moderate Central Mosque in Birmingham, accused the British authorities of letting British Muslims down by not taking stronger action against radical Islamists in Britain.

Early reports on the arrests of the Lackawana Seven (more here) said that some members of the Lackawanna Muslim community were concerned about the odd behaviour of some of the men so contacted the FBI. That tip led to the discovery of an al Qaeda cell.

There are several reasons to believe the early assertion (not the least being televised interviews with members of the Muslim community in Lackawanna immediately after the arrests) and of course the fact that the defendents pled guilty and thus the US government did not need to call witnesses during trial proceedings but I still find the failure of the media to credit American Muslims with the willingness to confront terrorists within their midst disheartening.

The CBC coverage of the Khawaji arrest has thus far been a repeat of their coverage of the Khadr family - interviews with family members who might not necessarily be objective and insist this has been a dreadful mistake and the police are storm troopers.

They are proving their enlightened state by sympathizing with the victim, and it is that assumption on their part - that anyone arrested for terrorist related activities must be a victim - which most clearly indicates their bias.

The BBC couldn't run the the same show on their side of the Atlantic because half a ton of unexploded explosives is a little hard to explain away, so they are forced to content themselves with portraying all British Muslims as victims who will suffer because 8 Muslims have been arrested.

It aggravates me because the CBC and BBC, in their desire to prove that they are enlightened beyond all other mortals, overlook the primary targets of Islamist terrorists: other Muslims.

We know that they don't mind killing other Muslims. Think of how many Muslims have died in the terror attacks in Istanbul, Riyadh, Mombasa, Casablanca, and Baghdad? Jakarta? Pakistan? Kashmir? Bombay?

After all, what does a word like apostate imply? Something a little stronger than "we'll have to agree to disagree."

We know that the ultimate aim of the Islamists is to purge the world of infidels and that includes Muslims who do not accept the narrow, constricted view of Islam made manifest by the Taliban.

We know this because they have told us this repeatedly through their videotapes, indeed through the very press agencies that would have us believe that Muslims are victimized by Western societies that allow them to practise religion freely and without state interference.

No thinking person should doubt that the vast majority of Muslims support the goals of the war on terror yet the media have done everything in their power to divide those of us who would fight.

We must strive to change this.

22:40: Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew says moderates must speak against acts out or Western countries will think they are the only ones fighting terrorism.

21:51: Canadian Mohammad Khawaja's father, Mahboob Khawaja, has been detained in Saudi Arabia according to his son, Qasim Khawaja. The Saudi government has not confirmed the detention.

Apr. 1 00:15: Silence the preachers of hate

Britain's most prominent Muslim leader last night demanded a crackdown on "rogue" Islamic preachers, blaming them for brainwashing young men with sermons promoting holy war against the West.

Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was backed by the families of some of the eight men arrested in Tuesday's anti-terrorism raids in south-east England.

Read the whole thing.

21:18: Rantburg has a good compilation and solid speculation as to the possible targets of the British cell.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)

March 30, 2004

Al Aqsa Threatens US diplomats

Mar. 30 - Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade issued a threat against US diplomats (Palestinian militants threaten U.S. diplomats) and then withdrew it.

Posted by Debbye at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

Uzbekistan and the Phillippines

Mar. 30 - In Uzbekistan, 43 people have been killed in the past two days in terror-related events. The suicide attack in a market was shortly followed by series of attacks primarily against police and state authority targets in which 23 have been killed. The account of events is swift, and the article includes a time-line from the 1991 declaration of indepedence from the Soviet Union through to the present.

Apr. 1 - 21:48: This and this are excellent summaries of events.

In the Phillippines, four members of Abu Sayyaf were arrested and 80 lbs. of dynamite were seized and authorities believe the arrests prevented a planned attack on Manila of the same scale as the Madrid train bombs.

Posted by Debbye at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 11 Update (s)

Mar. 30 - This Inside Europe: Iberian Notes post has some interesting information about one of the suspects in the March 11 train bombing in Spain and an earlier post here makes some pretty sharp comments about the implications of the attack having Moroccan connections.

And it was only three weeks ago, on March 13 and 14, that everyone was screaming that the government had lied and they wanted the facts. Well, here's the facts, Jack: this was an Al Qaeda hit, the Moroccan Combatents Group is an Al Qaeda franchise, and Al Qaeda would have hit Spain whether it had sent troops to Iraq or not.
And on the troop rotation out of Iraq
The exchange of the Spanish troops in Iraq for new soldiers began yesterday; 160 left Zaragoza last night. Aznar demanded that Zap and the PSOE put their consent in writing; Zap did so grudgingly. Zap can't oppose the rotation of troops because the army guys there deserve to go back home; they've done the spell they were told they were going to do and now they must come home. But he's going to look like a real moron when he pulls the new troops out just a week after they all got there.
Would it be out of line if I started referring to PM Zapatero as Zap? It would? Oh well.

Iberian Notes recommends (and I concur) this by Michael Ledeen, which connects al-Zarqawi to the Madrid bombing, Tehran, and points to a potential for a terrorist attack in Italy.

Apr 1 12:44: Tunisian Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet named as ringleader.

Posted by Debbye at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

Auditor-General's Report on Security

Mar. 30 - Auditor finds major gaps in security. Really? Let's see:

The auditor general said, for example, border guards should know more about missing passports.

About 25,000 passports are lost or stolen each year, and front-line officers have no access to information about them, the report says.

The report said "watch lists" immigration officers use to screen applicants are inaccurate and poorly updated.

And federal agencies don't share information effectively which causes a number of concerns.

This all sounds hauntingly familiar. Very haunting and very familiar.

How bad is it?

For one, Transport Canada can't fully access the RCMP's criminal intelligence when screening airport workers. Because of that, the auditor general found 4,500 people with access to restricted areas at five major airports have criminal associations worth investigating.
The Auditor-General has access to the criminal intelligence files from the RCMP but Transport Canada doesn't. Huh?

There is good news: a number of departments have been consolidated into under the Public Safety ministry.

There is also bad news: Anne McLellan (the former health minister who tried to kill us during the SARS outbreak) heads the Public Safety Ministry.

Posted by Debbye at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-terrorist raid in London

Mar. 30 - Robert is keeping abreast of developments in the raid that netted half a ton of ammonium nitrate in London, England here. He'll be updating as more information comes out, so keep checking. (Time zones - I guess it's 10 p.m. there?)

He's also following the raid in Ottawa and notes:

When they are arresting people even in Canada, you have to suspect that "things" are really "going on."
CBC Newsworld is responding as we'd expect: they've described the chemicals seized in the UK as "a large amount" - and interviewed one of those questioned in Ottawa who said the RCMP had machine guns when they approached the house. Machine guns? On second thought, I'll let that one pass.

The CBC link for the Ottawa raid is here. It provides little information but makes it up for that with lots of nuanced information.

Posted by Debbye at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2004

Syria seeks Australia's help

Mar. 29 - Via Instapundit, Syria seeks Australian help to woo US:

SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US.

Secret talks between the two nations have been under way for months but have become more urgent as rogue nations reconsider their role in allowing terrorists to thrive, in light of the US determination to take pre-emptive military action.

Nothing says "change your ways" like having the US army as a neighbour.

Posted by Debbye at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

Spain to increase Afghan force

Mar. 29 - Incoming Spanish government to double Afghanistan contingent.

After the increase, the total Spanish force in Afghanistan will be 250.

Posted by Debbye at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

Terror attack in Uzebekistan

Mar. 29 - Putting a bomb outside a large children's store is surely one definition of evil: Blast rips through Uzbek market in Tashkent, the capital city of Ukbek. It killed two and injured at least 20. It is suspected that a woman was a homicide bomber.

Uzbekistan became an ally of the USA in the build-up to the Afghanistan war and allowed air bases for our military. The country has a poor human rights record, and has suffered from terrorist attacked conducted by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which is said to be linked to al Qaeda.

CNN has the war on terror in death quotes in an article about death from terrorism. Nice.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (4)

March 28, 2004

The financing of terrorism

Mar. 28 - Ottawa links $35-million in cash transfers to terrorists:

Ottawa — Canada's anti-money laundering centre uncovered $35 million in suspected terrorist financing in the first nine months of the fiscal year, outstripping the tally for the entire previous year.

The amount reflects the total detected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre from April through December 2003, forming the basis of 29 case files passed to police or intelligence officials for further investigation.

The figures obtained by The Canadian Press are the latest indication that dangerous organizations continue to try to use Canada's financial institutions as conduits for bankrolling terrorist acts.

Fintrac, as the federal centre is known, identified 25 cases of suspected terrorist financing involving $22 million in all of fiscal 2002-03.I'm not sure from reading this articles that the transfer of funds was detected and stopped. There have long been rumours that the Tamil Tigers received a great deal of their financial support from Canada, for instance, and those holes had been plugged.

(Link via Neale News, which has teamed up with Tabloid News and will keep going after initial reports that it would be discontinued.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

Rantisi doesn't like Pres. Bush

Mar. 28 - New Hamas leader: Bush is 'enemy of Muslims'

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- New Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi delivered a fiery speech at a memorial service Sunday for his slain predecessor, blasting Israel for its Palestinian policies and calling U.S. President Bush "an enemy of Muslims."

"Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam, an enemy of Muslims," Rantisi said at Gaza's Islamic University, where thousands had gathered to remember Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who -- along with seven others -- was killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike on Monday.

He said it came as no surprise that the United States -- which he said consistently sides with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government -- vetoed a United Nations' resolution condemning the killing of Yassin.

"America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon," Rantisi said. "The war of God continues against them and I can see the victory coming up from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas."

We're on Hamas' list, we're off, now we're on again. The only that matters is if Hamas is on our list.

I'm not trying to be flippant, but I think most Americans are already aware that groups like Hamas are terrorist organizations and, as we are at war, shedding illusions is a good rather than a bad thing.

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)

Arafat Next?

Mar. 28 - This Sunday Telegraph points to indicators that Yassar Arafat is harbouring known terrorists in his compound, may be next, and cites the US refusal to condemn the removal of Yassin as tacit permission: Israel to turn its sights on the terrorists surrounding Yasser Arafat. Read the whole thing.

The article also notes that Arafat has appealed to the United Nation to protect him.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)


Mar. 28 - Albanians posed as Serbs to stoke ethnic fires in Kosovo:

The murder of a United Nations policeman in Kosovo last week was committed by ethnic Albanians who posed as Serbs in an effort to cast their bitter rivals as villains, the Telegraph has learned.
And then there's this:
The violence flared when three Albanian children drowned after allegedly being chased into a river by Serbs. Unrest quickly spread and, according to one UN official, the "subsequent disturbances all over Kosovo, and their prolonged nature, point to widespread orchestration".

Doubts have also been cast over how the children came to drown as suspicions grew that the blame had been wrongly placed on Serbs. Allegations that they were involved were made by a fourth child who survived, yet during the violence a spokesman for the UN mission, Derek Chapple, said that police had no conclusive evidence. Last Wednesday, Mr Chapple was "moved to other duties" on the orders of senior UN mission officials, who are believed to think he had been too frank.

Posted by Debbye at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda planned on attacking Heathrow

Mar. 28 - Remember the BA flights to Saudi Arabia that were cancelled in early winter? Maybe this is why: Al-Qaeda planned London attack.

Al Qaeda operatives in the UK were supposed to organize a strike on Heathrow Airport shortly after Sept. 11, according to a British newspaper that claims to have seen transcripts of the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (everyone's favourite poster boy for undershirts) but, according to him, it didn't happen because he was sloppy:

Mohammed, 37, who was seized in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in March last year, stated that he met bin Laden in the Afghan capital Kabul several days after the September 11 attacks.

"It was at this time we discussed the Heathrow operation," he was quoted as saying in the transcript.

"Osama declared (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair our principal enemy and London our target," he said.

The Sunday Times said Mohammed arranged for operatives to be sent from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the British capital where they began surveillance of Heathrow and surrounding areas. But the operation never got beyond the planning stages, he reportedly told his interrogators.

"There was a lot of confusion," he said. "I would say that my performance at that time was sloppy."

Or maybe arrogant and smug? As in mere mortals?

As we continue to probe our weaknesses and failures, never forget that the enemy too is prone to weaknesses and failures.

Our biggest problem is facing the threat amid official recalcitrance:

David Blunkett has rebuked Sir John Stevens, Britain's most senior police officer, for warning that a terrorist attack on London was "inevitable" following the Madrid bombings.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Home Secretary made clear it was wrong for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to describe an attack on the capital as "inevitable" because the word would would make people "jumpy without good effect".

That strikes me as ironic given the current status of the Sept. 11 commission here. It seems you really can't make everyone happy.

UPDATE: I understand that some British media are depicting this as some kind of payback for PM Blair's support of the US after the attacks. Unbelievable.

Posted by Debbye at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

Mark Steyn

Mar. 28 - Mark Steyn's Telegraph column is up and he says, in reference to Clarke's testimony, that Bush has nothing to fear from this hilarious work of fiction. As contradictions go, those who place faith in Clarke's testimony (mainly because it is grounds for Bush-basing) are on shaky foundations when we look at the basis for the charge that Bush should've could've hit al Qaeda sooner in that the plan and operatives were ready before Bush took office. Who let them in, again?

And then there's this:

In October 2000, Clarke and Special Forces Colonel Mike Sheehan leave the White House after a meeting to discuss al-Qa'eda's attack on the USS Cole: "'What's it gonna take, Dick?' Sheehan demanded. 'Who the s*** do they think attacked the Cole, f****** Martians? The Pentagon brass won't let Delta go get bin Laden. Does al-Qa'eda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?'"

Apparently so. The attack, on the Cole, which killed 17 US sailors, was deemed by Clinton's Defence Secretary Bill Cohen as "not sufficiently provocative" to warrant a response. You'll have to do better than that, Osama! So he did. And now the same people who claim Bush had no right to be "pre-emptive" about Iraq insist he should have been about September 11.

But Clarke's testimony wasn't about a consistent policy, it was about him trying to absolve himself of responsibility, and his testimony (and book) are as much about fact as was Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, which is to say none.

Posted by Debbye at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2004

Bomb in Thailand injures 30

Mar. 27 - Thai bomb blast injures at least 30. A bomb on a motorcycle exploded outside a bar on the Malaysian border. Two of the injured were in serious condition, and most of those injured were Malaysian tourists. The recent elections in Malaysia was a rejection of the Islamist party.

No one has taken responsibility for the blast and the police did not speculate on the motive, but there have been a number of terrorist attacks in the region killing nearly 50 people, mostly security personnel.

On Jan. 4, 4 soldiers were killed and hundreds of weapons stolen in a raid on an army armory. According to the AP correspondent,

Sungai Golok is a popular destination for male tourists from Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim. The town is known for prostitution and smuggling.

Since January, a wave of violence has wracked the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.


No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but the government blames them on Islamic separatists reviving a decades-old independence campaign for the region.

On Tuesday, a time bomb exploded near city hall in Narathiwat town, the provincial capital, as Thailand's Interior Minister Broken Bhalakula and Defense Minister Gen. Chetta Thanajaro were meeting with senior police officials there to discuss the violence in the south. At least one person was injured in the blast.

The police have made several arrests in connection with the January 4 raid, but their cases have not yet come to trial.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 PM | Comments (2)

War on terror update - Israel, Spain and Canada

Mar. 27 - Hamas planed and attempted to execute an Attack from sea:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Armed Palestinians in wetsuits and flippers emerged from the Mediterranean and fired toward a beachfront Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip, the army said yesterday. Two attackers were killed, and a third was wounded and fled. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack on the Tel Katifa settlement in Gaza. Hamas has threatened to carry out attacks on Israelis to avenge the assassination of its founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

There was an incident in Bethlehem yesterday:

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian in a brief clash with about a dozen youths hurling stones near the Rachel's tomb holy site, according to hospital officials and witnesses.
And there was another attempt which was thwarted when the bomb exploded prematurely:
In the nearby [to Nablus] Balata refugee camp, a Palestinian militant was killed when a car he was driving exploded. Palestinian security officials said explosives in the car apparently blew up prematurely. The blast killed Ahmed al-Abed of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
Interesting news about the Mar. 11 bombing in Spain:
MADRID, Spain -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian linked to al-Qaida and suspected of heading a terrorist network in Iraq, is now believed to have been the brains behind the deadly Madrid railway attacks, a French investigator said yesterday. Investigator Jean-Charles Brisard said Spanish officials told him some suspects held in the March 11 attacks were in contact with al-Zarqawi as recently as a month or two before the bombings, which killed 190 people and wounded more than 1,800.

"They believe today he was the mastermind," Brisard, who is probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, said in a phone interview from Geneva.

The Spanish interior ministry declined to comment. "The investigation is at a critical stage," a ministry official said.

Brisard's comments came as the probe spread to Germany, a key staging ground for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

German police raided an apartment in Darmstadt, where a Moroccan suspect arrested on Wednesday in the Madrid train bombings stayed briefly last year. The 28-year-old man is suspected of membership in a foreign terrorist organization, a prosecutor said.

German officials said they had no evidence the Madrid attacks were planned or prepared in Germany.

A total of 19 people have been placed in custody in Spain.

Successes by the Canadian military in Afghanistan could result in terrorist attacks in Canada:

MONTREAL -- Raids by Canadian troops in Afghanistan could lead to retaliatory attacks at home, a top federal official said yesterday. "If our very brave soldiers are successful in having a major incursion against al-Qaida, we'll be back on a list (of targets)," Robert Wright, national security adviser to Prime Minister Paul Martin, told those attending a security conference.


He told a Senate committee last month Canada has received warnings about terror threats to planes. He refused to give details.

Wright noted Canada fell off al-Qaida's list of targets when the federal government decided not to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

But a suicide attack that killed Canadian Forces Cpl. Jamie Murphy in Kabul two months ago drove home the reality that Canadians aren't safe from terrorism. The attack followed a raid by Canadian troops in which suspected terrorists and alleged drug lords were captured.

Wright noted Canada has spent $8 billion on security since Sept. 11, 2001.

Posted by Debbye at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)

March 26, 2004

Hamas, Gaza and Elections

Mar. 26 - Interesting direction at the NY Times: two items that point at new elections in Gaza as the logical outcome to the withdrawal of Israeli troops although the second slips in an attempt to link elections to a halt on the construction of the wall.

The first suggests that Hamas would welcome elections (Sharon's Gaza Strategy: Good for Hamas, or Israel?):

Hamas sees a unilateral Israeli withdrawal as a political opportunity. In the weeks before he was killed in an Israeli missile strike on Monday, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, was in talks with other Palestinian factions over how to govern Gaza if the Israelis depart, according to officials of Hamas and Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction.

That is a landmark change for Hamas. A fundamentalist group that officially seeks Israel's destruction and rejects any negotiated end to the conflict, Hamas always refused a role within the governing Palestinian Authority, regarding it as a creature of the Oslo peace framework. Since Mr. Sharon is planning to leave Gaza without an agreement, Hamas now feels free to step in, its leaders said.

How much of a role the group wants to play in running Gaza in the near term is unclear. Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, one of its leaders in Gaza, said, "We are going to contest municipal elections."


Dr. Zahar said Hamas would not contest the Palestinian presidency, which is held by Mr. Arafat, until Israel withdrew from the West Bank as well.

Dr. Zahar, who referred to Fatah as "the left wing," bridled when it was suggested that Hamas was a radical group. "Radical?" he said. "We are not radical. Your concept of radical means extremist."

He added: "The radical system describes people who lived in the Middle Ages, who prevented science and propped up the church at the expense of the poor people. This does not apply in our life."

The second is a NYT op-ed by Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research:
If the withdrawal — whether by Israeli design or as an unintended consequence — led to the emergence of a Palestinian faction or entity in the Gaza Strip separate from the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian people would lose the unified voice they need on the world stage. Such a schism is possible given the weakened state of the Palestinian Authority. Harmed by Israeli retaliatory measures during the last three years and plagued by corruption, inefficiency and internal divisions, the authority has been speedily losing legitimacy at home and abroad. As we are already seeing, this has led to the rise of nationalist warlords and Islamist organizations, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, seeking to fill the vacuum left behind.

If the Israeli military also limits its withdrawal to Gaza and excludes the West Bank, as Mr. Sharon has indicated it might, that could further threaten the territorial integrity of the two geographically disconnected areas. This would only heighten divisions among Palestinians and encourage a greater role by the militant groups.

What can be done to prevent this? It is essential that the Bush administration propose ways to ease the potential negative consequences of the Israeli move. One of the most effective would be to hold Palestinian elections before the Israeli withdrawal, perhaps as early as September. The American-backed Middle East peace plan known as the road map already calls for such parliamentary elections. Linking the withdrawal to the road map — and the international support that comes with it — would only strengthen Israel's hand and serve the larger purpose of the peace process.

More important, holding elections would renew the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, providing it with the political will to project leadership at a time when its existence is at stake. With legitimacy comes the ability to lead and take risks. The authority's crackdown on Islamist militants in March 1996, for example, would not have happened had the authority's leadership not gained legitimacy two months earlier in the first Palestinian elections.

In addition, elections would provide Hamas and the nationalist warlords with the opportunity to translate their popularity into parliamentary seats. The integration of these forces into the political system would make it possible for the new government to enforce existing laws against vigilante violence and to collect illegal arms. Finally, elections could provide Palestinians with the means to find their way back to democracy and good governance. No single person, no matter how authoritarian, would again be able to concentrate so much power in his hands.

But he then ties this in with a call for Israel to cease construction of the wall:
Israel must also play a role. Elections would require Israelis to respect the Palestinian cease-fire by observing one of their own and by halting their incursions into Palestinian areas. During the election period they would also, among other things, need to declare a moratorium on the construction of their separation wall and end their occupation of Palestinian cities. If Israel is sincere in encouraging Palestinian democracy and seeking a credible peace partner, it should welcome elections as a way to get both.
So the construction of the wall and pull-out of Israeli forces from Gaza have provided impetus to holding new elections, so Israel should cease construction and not pull out as a sign of good faith. It always comes back that, doesn't it. Israel, who has negotiated in good faith, is expected to expose her citizens to danger as a sign of good faith, and the Palestinians, who have not negotiated in good faith, would harnass world opinion to pressure her to do so while offering no good faith in return. That anyone has the effrontery to make that demand on Israel is beyond audacious.

And of course the responsibility will be that of the US president. Why not the Arab League? or the EU? or some other sucker even-handed country? Canada, for one. Let PM Paul Martin put action to his numerous statements about Canada playing a leading world role.

There are two things to be noted. One is the automatic assumption that the PA is riddled with corruption. Was it only a year ago that such charges were met with hot denial and denounced as fabrications and attempts to destroy Arafat's credibility?

The other is the acceptance that elections should be held. That provision of the Road Map was also denounced as was any presumption that Arafat was not the democratically elected leader of the PA or that he lacked relevance.

If the wall has achieved anything, it has forced supporters of the Palestinians to scramble to find new positions. Now the PA, which wasn't corrupt before, needs to clean up its act ,and elections, which were deemed unnecessary only a short while before, must be held in order to present a credible front to the world and to provide Israel with an honest partner in peace.

Stephen den Beste disagrees with Wretchard that Israel wants to meet Hamas on the battlefield:

Israel doesn't want to meet Hamas on the battlefield. Israel wants Hamas to meet Islamic Jihad and Fatah on the battlefield.
I can't help wondering if the sudden interest in holding elections is also an attempt to stave off the civil war that everyone denies is erupting. Whether the Palestinians are "ready" for statehood is no longer relevant: they will have it regardless. I, as does anyone, hope fervently that the Palestinians can rally behind a leadership that offers hope instead of a death wish, but there comes a point when we must recognize that people are going to do what they are going to do and that further remonstrations and admonitions will fall on deaf ears.

Stephen also takes exception with many of the points in an Amir Taheri analysis of why Sharon had Yassin eliminated. I tend to think that Teheri is being unduly optimistic that the Arab world will actually intervene and act as peacekeepers, but these are times in which many unlikely things seem to be happening.

Taheri also cites that many of Hamas' funds have dried up, including the financial support once supplied by Saddam, and that Iran has lowered its payments to the families of suicide bombers. Coincidence? hardly.

Finally, what isn't in these articles is what I find most interesting: none of them call upon the UN to aid or assist in elections or even administer the area once Israel has withdrawn.

Posted by Debbye at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

Lileks and Jarvis

Mar. 26 - Read James Lileks. Now.

UPDATE: 09:42: And Jeff Jarvis, who states why Clarke's apology didn't rest well with him (and why the clapping of the observers didn't rest well with me):

This assumes that government absolutely could have stopped the attack -- and failed. Oh, I wish we could be guaranteed that government absolutely could stop these things but I've seen no proof or assurance of that.
He's practically treating government the way a fundamentalist treats God: an omnipotent being who could and would intervene and fix this if he wanted to. So he's turning government into a bad god -- is that thus a devil? -- who could have stopped these attacks but didn't; it failed.
Any suggestion that the government can do everything and anything perfectly has frightening implications because I reject the notion of any government that believes itself to be omnipotent. After all, if they are omnipotent then what does that make citizens who disagree with them? Heretics? Unpatriotic?

We can't have it both ways. Either Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act are evil, wicked entities that are setting us on the path to fascist repression or we admit that preserving our freedoms also means preserving our vulnerabilities.

I need a government that tries to do the best it can. I expect a government that knows it is run by humans and is thus fallible. I demand an electorate that accepts its responsibilities to keep an eye on the government, criticizes it when they think it errs, and makes corrections through the ballot box (and blogs.)

To repeat a theme I've stated before, did We, the People, make terrorism an issue in the 1996 and 2000 elections? (I should also like to point out that we did make terrorism an issue in the 2002 mid-term elections and did so somewhat in defiance of media expectations!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004


Mar. 25 - Getting results:

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, told Kosovo Albanians yesterday that intelligence officials had a 'Clear picture' of who led last week's violence.

"When we start arresting those responsible, do not clamour for their release," he was quoted as saying after talks with the province's president, Ibrahim Rugova; the prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, and other ethnic-Albanian leaders.

Nato nations have blamed Albanian extremists for the arson, rioting and expulsion of Serbs.

On Tuesday night a Ghanaian United Nations police officer and his Albanian partner were shot dead in their patrol vehicle outside the capital, Pristina.

(That's all the article says!)

Posted by Debbye at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

New Zawahiri Tape

Mar. 25 - A new taped message has surfaced (New tape said to be bin Laden's deputy) was aired by al Jazeera today.

Posted by Debbye at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Mar. 25 - There are a number of links to note:

The most important is the website for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The archives for prior hearings and commission findings are here; the latest full transcripts are from January, 2004, and the ones from March should soon be available.

However, the agenda, witness list and prepared statements from this week's session are available here (the statements are in .pdf format.)

Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld's remarks are also here at the DoD website in friendly, non-.pdf format.

Glenn Reynolds has a series of links including this batch on Richard Clarke and Condi Rice, one of which is from a Rice interview during the 2000 campaign which destroys Clarke's contention that she had never heard of al Qaeda before he briefed her.

That contention and its easy refutation tends to give more credence to assertions from the White House that Clarke was a disappointed appointment seeker.

More Instapundit links from yesterday in a later post here including this one to Eric of Classical Values who takes a close look at Clarke's Y2K work.

And again from Instapundit, another batch from today here.

(This topic will undoubtably come up again as the electoral campaigns gather momentum so I'm just preserving my links in one, handy-dandy place!)

Naturally, the Fox transcript of the 2002 Clarke brief must be included. Did anyone else fall over laughing when one of the commission members attacked Fox for pulling out the Clarke briefing from their archives? It was unfair, unfair to use an important part of the public record to discount the veracity of a witness's testimony!

One things that astonished me is how dumb uninformed some of the commission members are about military strategy. Don't they teach concepts like beachhead and overflight permission in schools anymore? Did they fail to grasp the significance of Sec. of State Powell's statements about the ongoing efforts that had been made to come to an agreement with Pakistan and Uzbekistan before Sept. 11? (and which also explains why we were able to mount a campaign into Afghanistan so quickly after the attack as well as provide indirect evidence that the Bush administration continued some of the strategy of the Clinton administration.)

Still think it's a bad idea to have a military man as Secretary of State?

The catalogue of human rights abuses of the Northern Alliance also gave a clearer explanation as to why the Clinton and Bush administrations didn't rush to make them allies sooner. (I seem to remember the Alliance protesting that they were included but not in charge of the interim council in Afghanistan which would tend to confirm the president's continuing committment to human rights in the countries we liberate.)

A last complaint: I really wish CNN would stop referring to the small group at the Commission hearings as The families of 9/11. Considering that over 3,000 people were killed that day, it seems disproportionte to the numbers of actual family members who lost loved ones and implies that those gathered at the hearings actually represent all the families.

Posted by Debbye at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

Blair visits Khadaffi

Mar. 25 - British PM Blair made a historic visit to Libya to meet with Gadhafi in historic talks. This visit and one Tuesday by US Asst. Sec. of State William Burns are the first since the early 1980s and follows Libya's decision to disclose and dismantle their WMD program.

This visit has been somewhat controversial in the UK and made more so by the Conservative Party and UK Families Flight 103 campaign group.

Expat Yank Robert has some good insights and offers a common sense view the Opposition should read and study.

Posted by Debbye at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2004

French Foreign Policy

Mar. 24 - Winds of Change takes a look at French foreign policy and their triangulation policies in the Mid-East and Africa in France - Pas Comme Les Autres.

The extent to which statism creates an ability to carry out whatever foreign policy the government chooses with little interest from the people is something I had never before considered.

UPDATE: 17:41: Ambient Irony links to some other pieces here and here.

And too, the discovery of a bomb on a French train track is suggestive, but was it an attempt at extortion or terrorism?

Posted by Debbye at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)

Nexus of Terrorism (cont.)

Mar. 24 - Army chief says Arafat may die too and Abdel Aziz Rantisi has been selected to replace Sheikh Ahmed Rassin.

The latter link to the story from AP continues the fine tradition of missing the point completely as they still shy away from recognizing that a civil war is brewing on the West Bank with the terrorist organizations parceling out territory much as criminal gangs mark out their turf.

Wretchard provides a much better analysis:

Israel's main problem was to escape the cycle of murder and negotiation that was slowly bleeding it to death. No matter how horribly Israel was attacked it was always expected to return, in an attitude of abjection, to the negotiating table... But the operation against Yassin reverses the dynamic. By striking at so senior a terrorist target, the Jihadis will be in no mood for negotiations. They themselves will cast away the Peace Process and sheer fury will make them forswear their favorite tactic, the faux hudna -- thereby granting Israel a meeting on the battlefield. For this is Israel's mortal challenge to Hamas which has often said it would kill the last Jew. The message, now ringing in their ears, is that the Jew will kill the last terrorist, beginning at the top. (My ellipses)
The alacrity with which seemingly spontaneous demonstrations and denunciations of Yassin's killing erupted in Iraq are somewhat suggestive of events in Kosovo, and I'm reminded again of the nexus of terrorism which I am beginning to see with more clarity.

I'm also relieved that NATO troops in Kosovo are actually going after the ringleaders of the recent violence. To bring back a slogan from the 60's, we need less talk and more action.

The linked story to CNN lists the attack on the Sheraton Hotel with events following Yassin's death probably because they were providing a round-up of Iraq events.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting coupling. Events on the West Bank could be used as a springboard to drive a wedge between Iraqis and the US administration there, as noted in this Time Magazine article.

Admittedly I could be overly watchful, but the recent upsurge of anti-Jewish hate crimes in Toronto is also suggestive. It's not that I'm saying there is a connection so much as I'm not willing to rule one out, and to re-state the point made in earlier posts on the subject, it's important to note that this upsurge happened before Yassin's death.

There is also the consideration of the inital threats Hamas made to retaliate against the US which have seemingly been withdrawn, although Wretchard again explores what that retraction may really mean as Rantisi attempts to consolidate power. I daresay things looks different from Gaza than they do from Syria -- one wants to avoid looking down the throats of US guns, and one already is. One wants to avoid insurrection and open civil war, and one is facing it.

There are also the looming implications of the Syrian Accountability Act passed recently by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. I'm calling it a shot across the bow, at least for now.

When I first heard the Hamas threat against the US, I have to admit that my initial thought was Bring It On. Not very diplomatic, to be sure, but I'm a private citizen and thus free to respond to threats with counter-threats. I wonder if the Hamas leadership recognizes how grim much of the American public has become since Sept. 11 and recognized that attacking us would really open the Gates of Hell as many of us are downright itching to do more to support Israel.

Israel has the front line of this battlefield for much too long, and I don't like seeing true allies standing alone. But then, I make a poor Machievellian.

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 AM | Comments (3)

March 23, 2004

Sept. 11 hearings

Mar. 23 - I've been watching the hearings of the independent commission of Sept. 11 on CNN, and it is frustrating. Did the administration under FDR have to face a similar inquiry about lapses of failure after Pearl Habour? (That is strictly a rhetorical question, okay?)

There is so astounding a lack of common sense and humility in these proceedings that it begs the questions Are you more interested in winning this war or this election? In what way does what did or did not happen before Sept. 11 actually pertain to the post-Sept. 11 period?

Honestly, just when did The Blame Game become the second American pastime? That sort of nonsense is generally ignored when there's not much else going on, but is this really the time for self-indulgence? It's like bringing the self-therapy of the 70's into Congress. I'm Okay, You're Okay. I Knew, You Didn't. You Let Them In, You Let Them Stay. I Didn't Know, You Should Have Known.

Hell, why not go all the way back to the first El Al flight that was hijacked and do a complete self-criticism session from that point. I could actually get behind that. I could get behind a sober analysis of why we weren't more forceful about denouncing the terrorism going on in Israel and Ireland.

I dare them, I double dare them to ask Would the American people have supported going to war against Afghanistan before Sept. 11? because I guarantee the answer would be a resounding No. Hell, the left hurridly tried to put together an anti-war movement to agitate against military action against Afghanistan even after Sept. 11 and they only lacked the necessary time to build it, not the footsoldiers to attend the marches.

Had the US launched an invasion of Afghanistan without a Sept. 11, I might well have been one of those who marched in protest because I believed in the sacrosanct nature of national sovereignty and the mechanisms of the U.N.

I can't summon up outrage against the Clinton administration. I can't summon up outrage against the Bush administration. The somebody should have known mindset is all very well and good if you actually believe the technology in The X-Files is online and available to our government.

Maybe if one of the terrorist attacks thwarted during the Millennium celebrations been successful we'd have a different scenario today. Maybe. Maybe. That's the stuff of fiction, though, not policy.

We're not omnipotent. Is that so hard to get?

Another aspect (and I doubt it will be mentioned) is that after the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing we were far more concerned with domestic terrorists than foreign terrorists. When that second plane hit the North Tower, I knew it was the work of terrorists but until the third plane hit the Pentagon I was unsure if it was domestic or foreign. How many millions of Americans had the exact same thoughts that day?

Ooh, brainstorm! Why don't we just blame the terrorists for Sept. 11?

16:51: This is a brief summary of this morning's testimony by the former and current Sec. of State.

Mar. 24 12:55: Jeff Jarvis has the last word:

I saw people die that day not because of anything we didn't do but because of what a bunch of soulless murderers did do. Let's never forget that.
It's us against them, not us against us.

Posted by Debbye at 01:40 PM | Comments (7)

March 22, 2004

James Lileks

Mar. 22 - Lileks is angry today and when when he rolls, it's all to the good.

BUT the guy with the sign isn't (strictly speaking) a traitor. He's a lot of things including an idiot, a maroon, a 33rd degree moonbat, and a few more things but there are real traitors in the US and I don't want that word diluted to include the oh-so-very-clever nut fringe less we forget those who have actively collaborated with our enemies to destroy us.

UPDATE Mar. 23 - 01:07: Robert over at ExPat Yank argues for the need for a third term which can define someone like the nut in the photo.

Murdoc points that this sign is treasonous (and for the record, troops to Vietnam were deployed by air, not by sea.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:46 AM | Comments (11)

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

Mar. 22 - Top news of the day is the successful Israeli air strike that killed Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The CNN broadcast keeps referring to him as having been confined to a wheelchair, but are they really so forgetful as to not realize that most of us remember another man who was in a wheelchair ? When we captured Abu Abbas in Iraq, millions of Americans remembered Leon Klinghoffer (so much for American amnesia!) and, unlike Yassin, Mr. Klinghoffer didn't send others to carry out terrorist attacks designed to kill women, children and men.

This explains the justification for killing him far better than I can. (Link via a commenter at this Winds of War post.)

I see the PA has predictably denounced the killing. Had they lived up to the part of the "Road Map" that required them to stop terrorist attacks and arrested him themselves, Israel wouldn't have had to take him out.

UPDATE 23:01: Neither Paul nor Denise are exactly unhappy about this news. Burnside has done a terrific and comprehensive round-up of blogger reactions and collected the reactions by PM Martin and Min. of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham.

Mar. 23 - 14:36: And then there's the mandatory knock-knock joke!

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)

March 20, 2004


Mar. 20 - Two reports in the Daily Telegraph about the arrival of troops from Europe and a quite sobering one about the coordinated attacks on Serbs and the destruction of their homes and farms after they fled - ethnic cleansing, anyone?

There is also a piece in the NRO by Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic Kristallnacht in Kosovo. It isn't an objective commentary, but does reinforce something that struck me when the violence first broke out: the accusation that Serbs caused the drowning deaths of the children (one account claimed that Serbs dared the children to swim the river!) was painfully reminiscent of stories like The Prioress's Tale from The Canterbury Tales and the variety of accounts of how Serbs were said to have been responsible for the drownings confirmed my suspicions.Can we all say Incite to Riot? This is so out of the KKK Hand-book (but without the "first liquor the mob up" part.)

CNN reports one version of the drowning story from a UN official (although not as a version!) and also that Putin denounced the attacks and that

Russia's parliament passed a resolution condemning the failure of international organizations to stem the violence in Kosovo and said military forces from Serbia-Montenegro's government should be allowed to help defend the province's Serb population, AP reported.
This poses the question if NATO and UN forces are up to the job. The UK responded quickly and firmly and probably stopped the violence from continuing but that's scant comfort for those who watched their churches and home burning.

Yet those who believe there is an international community really think involving the UN in Iraq would be an improvement there?

UPDATE: Mar. 21 09:35: A report from the other point of view in today's Telegraph here. This article too is pessimistic about the prospect of building Kosovo as a multi-ethic society.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 AM | Comments (4)

March 19, 2004

Nexus of Terrorism

Mar. 19 - I fell asleep on the couch shortly after No. 1 Son left last night. I wonder why? The real question: am I looking too closely, or are there signs that al Qaeda and other terrorists have started a major counter-offensive? Events in Syria and Iran indicate that the forces for freedom are also on the move.

Mar. 2 - Multiple attacks on Shiite commemoration of Ashura in Iraq.

Mar. 4 - Abdul Raouf Naseeb captured in Yemen.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahaman Khadr admits family closely connected to al Qaeda

Mar. 4 - Sunni and Shiite clerics march together in Iraq to protest terrorism.

Mar. 4 - Insurrection in Iran.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahman Khadr says he was a CIA agent in Bosnia.

Mar. 5 - Palestinian civil war begins?

Mar. 8 - Interim Iraq Constitution signed

Mar. 8 - Int'l Women's Day march in Iran attacked by security forces

Mar. 9 - North Korea issues rhetoric, withdraws from meaningful talks

Mar. 9 - Abu Abbas dies

Mar. 11 - Terrorist attack in Spain.

Mar. 12 - Millions of Spaniards demonstrate against terrorism

Mar. 13 - Uprisings in Iran

Mar. 14 - Elections in Spain, appeasers voted in.

Mar. 14 - Two terrorist attacks in Ashod, Israel, kills 10

Mar. 15 - Israel retaliates

Mar. 15 - New Spanish government announces they will withdraw from Iraq.

Mar. 15 - Polish government says Fine, we'll carry on without Spain

Mar. 15 - Uprisings in Syria, Iran.

Mar. 15 - Vandals in north Toronto target homes of Jewish citizens with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Mar. 16 - Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir (aka Kahlid Ali Hajj, "The Poet") killed in Saudi Arabia

Mar. 16 - Group with possible Chechen links threaten French over head-scarf ban

Mar. 17 - Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad hit by car bomb

Mar. 17 - Renewal of violence in Kosovo.

**Mar. 17 - Spain goverment received communique dated Mar. 15 claiming to be from al Qaeda which declared a cease-fire with Spain.

Mar. 18 - Pakistan troops heavily engaged in battle in north, may have surrounded al Zawahiri.

Mar. 18 - Additional troops go into Kosovo in response to renewed violence.

Mar. 18 - British announce additional 650 (+-) British troops to be deployed to Kosovo which will be augmented by US and Italian forces.

**Mar. 18 - Second communique claming to be from al Qaeda threatens further attacks in retaliation for death of Khaled Ali Hajj (aka Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, The Poet) in Saudia Arabia.

**Mar. 18 - Attempted assassination of Jose Murat, Governor of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Mar. 19 - President and Vice-President of Taiwan shot by would-be assassins and a FARC plot to assassinate the president of Columbia has been thwarted.

Mar. 19 - First of British troops land in Kosovo; an additional 600 German troops are also to be deployed.

Mar. 19 - French restaurant in Bahrain stormed by Islamists angered by alcohol served. Cars of restaurant patrons hit with Molotov cocktails.

**Mar. 19 - Car bomb in Basra kills 3 people, angry residents catch bomber and kill him:

A man who left the vehicle shortly before the blast was caught by passers-by and stabbed to death, said police Lt.-Col. Ali Kazem. Two others spotted getting out of the vehicle were caught by members of the public and later arrested.
Three Iraqi journalists killed, nine wounded in by drive-by shooting, three US soldiers killed by mortar fire.

Mar. 19 - Plans for the Pakistan-India cricket match remain firm. (I see a major political message in this sports event.)

I left some things out, including the letter purporting to be from al Qaeda declaring a cease-fire in Spain and today's bomb threat targeting DC schools.

Do you suppose the seeming simultaneity is what Sec. of State Colin Powell meant when he used the expression a nexus of terrorism to describe the link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein during his UN presentation last year?

These events may be linked on purpose or they may have inspired one another, but anyone who understands that we are at war might also believe that terrorists are being flushed out into the open.

Others will doubtless say that the events are a direct result of US intervention in Iraq, but there were so many events which preceeded that war that I don't think it an adequate explanation.

**late additions to list

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)

Important stories from Thursday

Lots more on Adscam, but Andrew Coyne is doing such a terrific job I'm going to let him carry this ball.

According to the Chinese ambassador, Canada's lot lies with EU

The Chinese Ambassador in Brussels said the other day, in that big-picture Chinese way, that the creation and success of the European Union is one of those transforming human events that happens every 300 or 400 years.
The article notes that the EU has successfully avoided war. It doesn't note that one of the wars it avoided was the ongoing one in Kosovo.

More anti-Semitism in Toronto:

Police had to be called to York University on Tuesday after a dramatization of an Israeli border crossing by pro-Palestinian students led to a rival demonstration at the politically charged campus.
Is there a connection with what happened yesterday? As Margaret Wente points out, We Can't Afford to Look Away noting that the West is looking away from blatant anti-Semitism in the Arab world.

The insurrection in Syria went into it's fifth day. The death toll is reported to be at least 30. A timely reminder:

Kurds comprise almost two million of Syria's 17 million population although about 200,000 of them are not recognised as citizens of the country as a punishment for seeking to establish an autonomous homeland.
Australia and Japan were mentioned as possible targets on the Al-Quds al-Arabi webiste but both governments said they wouldn't be intimidated. The website also reassured the Spanish government that they needn't worry:
In its statement, Abu Hafs al-Masri said it was calling a truce in Spain to give the socialist government that was elected Sunday, three days after the train attacks, time to carry out its pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq.
How humiliating it must be for the Spanish to be told that the group which has claimed responsibility for killing 202 people in the attack last week is pleased with their election results.
The group appeared to boast it had the power to change governments. The socialists, who have long opposed Spain's military involvement in Iraq, were running second in Spanish opinion polls until Thursday's bombings.

"We change and destroy countries," the statement said. "We even influence the international economy, and this is God's blessing to us. We won't accept to be an object in this world, but a player, a strong player - with God's will."

The statement tells American voters that Abu Hafs al-Masri supports the re-election campaign of U.S. President George W. Bush: "We are very keen that Bush does not lose the upcoming elections."

The statement goes on to boast that it is anxious to have the Arab world see how dreadful the US really is. Sounds a lot like the Maoist rhetoric I heard back in the 60's.

Many thanks for the links to these stories which were available because I receive Jack's Newswatch by email daily.

Posted by Debbye at 10:45 AM | Comments (4)

Important stories from Wednesday

Mar. 19 - These are some important stories I missed Wednesday:

There was an ugly incident of anti-Semitism here: T.O. police probing anti-Semitic hate crimes in north Toronto.

Part of the rise in anti-Semitism last year is being blamed on the war in Iraq, which produced a spike in hate crimes. The ongoing tensions and violence in Israel is apparently giving licence to hate mongers.
The Canadian media, always ready to Blame America.

More news from Syria about Syria uprisings and Syrian officials blame US for the Kurdiah uprising because US flags were spotted in crowd. I'll own up to such that blame inspiration gladly and gratefully.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda yesterday accused France of direct responsibility for the 1994 genocide of at least 800,000 people in the central African country.

M Kagame claimed that the French government supplied weapons, logistical support and even senior military planners to the regime of militant ethnic Hutus responsible for the slaughter of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. (UPDATE: Mar. 24 - See this for seeming verification of the charge.)

France's growing closeness to the Chinese leadership was signalled yesterday when the two countries held joint naval exercises and the European Union said it wanted to scrap its post-Tiananmen Square arms embargo. Hmm, Chretien was visiting China when Adscam broke out.

SAN'A, Yemen (AP) - Nine suspects in the 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole have been arrested, the government of Yemen said Tuesday, including eight who escaped from jail last year.

These and other stories were on my daily email from Jack's Newswatch which I can keep and use the links to refer back to important stories as they develop.

Jack changes the page daily, so bookmark it for your first stop visit to catch Canadian and international news stories.

Incidently, Jack is a veteran, and pays special attention to Canadian troops troops and to the history of the regiments in Canada. In a country that all but ignores it's military unless it makes for a good sound-bite, Jack is a lone voice of support.

You can sign up to be on his mailing list with an email to Jack Davies (contact address at the site.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Bush calls it appeasement

Mar. 19 - Appeasement will not halt terror, Bush tells Spain. Germany foreign minister Joschka Fischer says it's not fair to call it appeasement, but Thomas Friedman in a NY Times op-ed doesn't care; he says there is an Axis of Appeasement (but he also thinks sending more troops to Iraq to pave the way for the UN is the solution. Right. Guess he doesn't read Safire

Posted by Debbye at 08:04 AM | Comments (3)

750 UK Troops Dispatched To Kosovo

Mar. 18 - Can't fight on more than one front? Renewed violence in Kosovo is being met with determination: 750 British troops are being deployed to Kosovo in response to a NATO request after violence broke out Wdnesday. 8 people were killed, and a Serbian Orthodox Church was torched. French troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the Albanian mob.

Three companies of NATO peacekeeprs, approx. 350 soldiers, have already been sent into the area and hundreds more are on standby.

The USA will send one company from Bosia as will Italy. A third will come from the Nato-run peacekeeping force's strategic reserve.

Recent events are described as being the worse since 1999. There have been uprisings in every major city in Kosovo, and at least a dozen soldiers in the NATO forces have been injured and a French soldier killed.

See this for 600 Brit troops and more troops from the US and Italy to go in.

The death toll in Kosovo now stands at 31.

Albanian crowds trying to enter a church through hand grenades at Finnish soldiers guarding it and they fired back.

This CNN report states that 150 US and 80 Italian troops arrived in Kosovo Thursday and 750 British troops will arrive Friday.

UPDATE: Mar. 19 0800 The first 100 have landed in Kosovo.

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 AM | Comments (4)

Analysis of Spanish Elections

Mar. 19 - There's an excellent, well-linked analysis at the Winds of Change of the attack in Spain, the Spanish elections and their aftermath which Dan Darling characterizes as "a definite victory" for al Qaeda" (Winds of Change.NET: Special Analysis: An Al-Qaeda Victory.)

The analysis of the terrorist attack in Spain points to precedent in Israel and Russia (excellent point) and gives some perspective, particularly on Moroccan and Tunisian terrorists who may have fled to Spain to escape the crackdown following the attacks in those countries.

Posted by Debbye at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2004

Meanwhile, on CNN . .

Mar. 18 - I've surrendered to CNN, and even though the insipid commentary is infuriating, I'm watching the reportage of events in Pakistan.

CNN is all antsy about what will happen at nightfall. C'mon, murdoc, say it with me: Predator. Hellfire. Boom.

CNN is also speculating that neight OBL nor Zawahiri will allow themselves to be taken alive. Odd that this is the one thing the two men and I agree upon. In this aspect only, I wish American soldiers were more involved, because I know they know their duty.

One thing I don't get: they repeatedly say that, unlike the Mafia, you can't take out al Qaeda by taking out the leadership.

What moron believes that the Mafia disappears because the head kingpin is put out of action?

I wonder if OBL and al-Zawahiri are watching CNN.

Posted by Debbye at 03:12 PM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2004

The U.N. Card

Mar. 17 - Bob takes apart a recent Globe and Mail piece by Salim Lone, "director of communications for the UN mission in Iraq". Sigh. Bob makes it look so easy.

UPDATE: Mar. 19 10:20: Commenter Sammie pointed to this USAID Mission to Iraq page. Establishing honest and democratic local governance is, for me, the key to success in Iraq. Local control over local affairs is the basis of democratic, accountable government. We call it grass-root democracy, and it safeguards democracy in a country (but it seems the UN is still struggling with the concept that people should have control over their own lives. Bureaucracies are like that.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (2)

France Under Threat

Mar. 17 - More detail about the threatening letter sent to France.

Updated with further references to the new al Qaeda counter-offensive.

The letter, from a previously unknown group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise," said it planned to take action after Muslim girls were banned from wearing headscarves in schools.

The bill was passed last month by the National Assembly.

"You have let loose on yourself a river of hate and ignorance, not only toward Muslims but toward Islam itself," the letter, addressed to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said.

"We will plunge France into terror and remorse, and we will make blood run to your borders."

Describing France as a country of "wine, pigs, loose morals and nudity," the group said it planned to use attack techniques imported from Gaza and Chechnya that "have never been used in the West until now."

The letter, postmarked from Paris and sent to the chief editor of "Le Parisien," urged Muslims to stay out of crowded areas.

"Europe is a new war zone for the Jihad," it says. "Know that our fight has only just begun."


The letter urges the National Assembly to reverse the headscarf bill or face the consequences.

"This law is like a declaration of war directed at the Muslim world. If you don't retract that law immediately, we will respond strongly and severely with amazing intensity in your country."

The letter says they are awaiting three signs: the vote on the headscarf ban, a "clear and explicit" signal from Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a third which they did not reveal.

Mar. 28 12:08 Two posts from Belmont Club:

The attacks in Spain may have succeeded due to Morocco's pissiness: from this:

Flash! The Guardian reports that Spain's hesitance to concede the disputed of island of Perejil may have prevented Morocco from sharing information with Spanish authorities that could have thwarted terrorist attacks.
and this:
They are not the only terrorists who have fled to Europe looking for easier pickings. The group which has been threatening France with mayhem if it does not rescind the law banning Muslim headscarves in schools is thought to be either Chechen in origin or a false-flag operation by the Russian FSB, the descendant of the dread KGB. Either way, it represents a migration of an ongoing struggle onto more congenial grounds. An attack on the defenseless. Europe has long been the preferred base for the political arms of terror organizations. The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade which initially claimed responsibility for the Madrid attacks is thought by Dan Darling to be a public relations front for a variety of Jihadist groups based in London.

Militant Islamists, perhaps embolded by a perception of European weakness, are challenging it to its face. In Mitrovica, 400 miles from the Austrian border, Albanian Muslims were purging themselves of the last infidel Serbs, reasonably certain that Europe cannot nerve itself to stop ethnic cleansing, at least not when the cleansees are Orthodox Christians. As Serbia's nominal overlords, the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) appealed for calm, churches burned.

Also, note the this from AP and this Reuters report about renewed ethnic clashes in Kosovo. [Note: I'm sure that people who are prepared to set off bombs are worried about rubber bullets and teargas! Back in the day, we used to scoff at teargas because however effective it may be within an enclosed area, it has only temporary effects out in the open where people can run and regroup.]

The UN continues to destroy the credibility the left would confer on it.

Daily there are signs of the wisdom of the president's warning: You are either with us or with the terrorists.

Don't get me wrong; I know that the left is not "with" the terrorists in terms of supporting their goals or methods, but certainly they hoped that, with time, the terrorists would become enlightened, soothed, and cease their murderous attacks.

Very idealistic, and very doomed. The left, by continuing to see this as a war which the West began, are analyzing events and attacks more irrationally as terrorist attacks escalate.

When Islamofascists spoke, the left failed to heed it's own rule: To really listen.

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 PM | Comments (3)

Spanish Elections and the EU

Mar. 17 - Post at Iberian Notes about the responses of the US and Polish presidents to the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq and how the new Spanish government will likely affect deliberations over the proposed EU Constitution

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

Mount Lebanon Hotel Attack

Mar. 17 - I'll try to keep abreast of whatever news I can find about the latest terrorist attack in Baghdad. The attack leveled the Mount Lebanon Hotel and which houses civilians, including many Egyptians and Kurds, and houses nearby. Iraq agencies are taking care of the wounded and trying to find survivors in the rubble.

17:40: It's been confirmed that it was a suicide car bomb, and one reporter said it was reminiscent of the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy.

According to CNN (same link as below):

Iraqi leaders had reached an understanding with the United Nations, asking for advisers to help them put together an interim government before the June 30 political handover, a British diplomat said Wednesday.
But will the UN stay this time?

It's about time the Vice-President started reminding people what is happening in Iraq. This isn't electoral politics, despite the inclusion of Kerry, this is the leadership of a country speaking to the people about what we are doing, reminding them how important it is and boosting morale. Election schmelection, this is the duty of the President and the Vice-President.

15:38: The Iraq security forces, police and rescue workers are still digging by hand and trying to find survivors in the debris. They show no signs of giving up. US officials seem to believe it was a suicide attack, that a large vehicle was used, and the explosive used was combined with military ordinance which gave the blast more power. The death toll has climbed to 28.

15:20: US Military officials are saying it was caused by a 1,000 lb. bomb.

14:54: More information here.

14:35: Alaa has two posts about yesterday's deaths in Iraq here and here and has a very direct message:

It is a question of taking the initiative, It is not right for the Greatest Power on Earth, supported by the majority of the people of the country to be harassed in this way by gangs of thugs and murderers.
14:19: From Fox word that at least 27 are dead and 41 injured.
The hotel is inhabited mostly by Kurds and Egyptians and is located very close to the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the Arab language satellite television station.

The blast, which hit around 8 p.m. local time, was probably caused by a rocket attack, Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhim told Reuters. Other experts, including U.S. officers on the scene, said it looked like a car bomb, since the hotel had lax security and it would be easier for a terrorist to drive a car up to the building, detonate it and kill many people.

From live coverage on CNN, some of the reporters have sounded angry at the attackers and outraged over the attack.

13:30 I just got home from work and turned on CNN to learn there had been another terrorist attack and that the Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad had been hit. Preliminary reports on TV indicate that there were mostly civilians in the hotel and that it was either a car or truck bomb.

Has the other shoe dropped?

I'm angry again. Like many others, I was feeling let down over the results of the Spanish elections and the decision of Honduras to withdraw was one more piece of discouraging news, although Steven Den Beste's post on the rout, The Stampede Begins gave me heart.

The French barely had a chance to welcome the newest weasel before being confronted with reality and an anonymous threat. (See commenter Keith's report on what the threats said here.)

Al Qaeda is on the offensive, and they are going after weaker targets. A surprise? Hardly, but more than just bullying, it's basic military strategy.

Al Qaeda is basically a coalition of terror groups as opposed to one, monolithic organization, and it's a matter of basic strategy to join forces with other, like-minded groups who employ terrorism as their basic (and only) tactic.

I wondered if the Spanish train attack was a joint operation between al Qaeda and a splinter group from ETA - probably younger members who admired al Qaeda's audacity and wanted to emulate their methods, and am becoming more convinced of that theory.

We are at war. Why on earth is it a surprise that al Qaeda is now taking the initiative and staging a counter-attack? Don't people read history books anymore?

I think al Qaeda is trying to isolate the US from our allies, and they are going after the weaker links. Spain was wobbly, although former PM Aznar was firm, and the Iraqi people are both strong and weak because it's damned hard to be on the front lines.

Even if we are left standing alone (not that I believe the UK and Australia will back off from their support) I'd rather go down fighting than hide in a corner. We've been backing off, initiating dialogue, examining root causes and diverting ourselves from the clear and present danger for too long as it is.

We are a free people - free people who have a legacy of taking incredible risks and chancing everything for a better life. This goes back to the very first settlers on Roanoke Island and the Pilgrims who got lost on their way to the New World and stepped off the Mayflower and onto Plymouth Rock.

Being a slave to fear is a living death, and I really prefer true death to almost-death, just as I would rather be allowed to pass on than be a vegetable hooked up to machinery.

Never surrender, never retreat. Let that be our motto.

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

Allah Pundit vs. Toronto Star

Mar. 17 - (Note: I actually posted this somewhat later, but have changed the time so as to keep the terrorist car bombing in Baghdad on top.)

Allah Pundit read yesterday's Toronto Star editorial about the implications of the Spanish elections and gets very serious: he (?) blasts the Star for their lies distortions.

Then he compares their editorial with the editorial of another newspaper and closes in for the kill:

The Arab fucking News. Congratulations, Toronto Star: You just got fact-checked by the house organ of the world's foremost terrorist state. Wonderful.

Link via Neptunus Lex.

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (7)

March 16, 2004

Chechen link to French threat

Mar. 16 - What to think of this? A group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise" has sent a letter to the French government which threatened the French people which has a Chechen link : it was signed by "Commando Movsar Barayev," an apparent reference to the Chechen leader who took over a theatre in Moscow in October, 2002. Barayev was killed when Russian forces pumped anesthesia into the theatre and re-took the building.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the letter contained "menacing threats for the entire nation..."

The threat was revealed as French President Jacques Chirac pledged to step up the fight against terrorism to protect citizens and institutions.

"Europe must always fight terrorism with all its strength," Chirac told reporters.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, appearing with Chirac after bilateral talks in Paris, said he agreed with that assessment.

The leaders were meeting in the French capital nearly a week after bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 201 people.

Both leaders expressed solidarity with Spain in the wake of the terrorism, and vowed better cooperation among European nations to collect intelligence on various attacks.

Military force is not the only solution, Schroeder said. "One needs to look at the roots of it," including lack of development in the developing world.

Still looking, are we? And after you've looked, what do you propose to do?

UPDATE: 23:06: ABC News has more details about the letter:

The letter, sent to several newspapers, threatened "to plunge France into terror and remorse and spill blood outside its frontiers," Jacques Esperandieu, deputy editor of the daily Le Parisien which received a copy, quoted it as saying.

The ministry confirmed earlier Justice Ministry reports that the threat, which it said was sent "on behalf of the servants of Allah, the powerful and wise," mentioned possible attacks in France and against French interests abroad.

The ABC article differs in some details from the CNN report, and cites the ban on headscarves recently passed by the French legislature as well as the French efforts against terrorism in France as well as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

Posted by Debbye at 05:53 PM | Comments (3)

Al Qaeda operative killed

Mar. 16 - So much for light blogging when events continue to pile on: Al Qaeda boss 'the Poet' killed

A senior al Qaeda leader -- described as the group's "chief of operations in the Arabian Peninsula" -- was killed in a shootout in Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials have told CNN.

A U.S. counterterrorism official called the death on Monday "very significant, and a major blow to al Qaeda."

The man was identified as Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, also known as Kahlid Ali Hajj. He was also nicknamed "the poet," officials said.

The "Poet" was a suspect in the Riyadh bombings last May which killed 23.

Posted by Debbye at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

Spain: al Qaeda link found

Mar. 16 - Spain: More al Qaeda links found but it's old news from Sunday.

If 90% of the Spanish were against Iraq, why did The Partido Popular win so many seats?

Posted by Debbye at 04:07 PM | Comments (6)

March 15, 2004

French Allies in Afghanistan

Mar. 15 - Sometimes we forget that the French are our allies, despite their actions in the UN Security Council over Iraq which infuriated so many of us. This article (France: Bin Laden Nearly Caught in Afghanistan) is interesting for, among other things, an understanding of what Bin Laden and al Qaeda represent:

[France's chief of defense staff] Gen. Henri Bentegeat said about 200 French troops were operating with U.S. forces in southeastern Afghanistan against the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda.


The general said it was essential that bin Laden be caught.

"He symbolizes September 11 and is certainly not completely innocent in what happened in Madrid," he said, making a link between the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and the Spanish train bombings last Thursday.

But he added that arresting bin Laden "would not change things directly. (Al Qaeda) is a hydra with many heads. If we catch one head, there will be others."

Bentegeat said the minute preparations needed for the Madrid bombings were "the clearest indication" that al Qaeda was probably behind them.

He said the threat of Islamic radicalism was spreading beyond the Middle East. "It's a phenomenon we're seeing step by step in Africa," he said, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Then there are countries that are adrift, that we are trying to help to not sink, such as Ivory Coast or the Central African Republic," he added.

The hard part is how to help those countries that are in danger to succumbing to Islamic radicalism and are adrift. The easy answer would be to support whatever governments stand up against the radicals, but that would be to employ Cold War tactics in a war that is hot.

(Hat tip to Nik for the link.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

The Triumph of Euro Isolationism

Mar. 15 - This opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph (UK) (