Terror

9/11 at 12

Wednesday, 11 September, 2013 0 Comments

Today is the twelfth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on Manhattan and Washington. What has entered folk memory as “9/11” was our young century’s introduction to totalitarianism, in its most brutal form. On that day, a murderous, criminal gang dedicated to maximizing civilian deaths seized airplanes filled with innocent passengers and then used their victims as part of a wicked plan to gain notoriety. In the wake of the tragedy, the civilized world woke up to the reality that the West was now at war with a medieval death cult driven by a racist, religious hatred of Jews, Hindus, Christians, Shi’a Muslims and all other “unbelievers”, especially those who placed their faith in democracy, tolerance and individual liberty. Out of the blue on 11 September 2001, those who trusted in modernity were confronted with the evil resolve of people dedicated to the restoration of a vanquished dictatorial empire. Two worlds collided on 9/11 and the repercussions are still being felt. As always, our thoughts are with the families whose loved ones were torn from them on that day.

The Twin Towers


The silence of the imams

Tuesday, 10 September, 2013 1 Comment

Students of contemporary barbarism should take note of what happened to customers at the Village restaurant in Mogadishu on Saturday. Here’s the BBC report: “The Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab has said it bombed a popular restaurant in the capital Mogadishu, killing 15 people… Run by Somali businessman Ahmed Jama, who returned to the country from the UK in 2008, it was targeted by two suicide bombers last September in attacks that killed 14 people.”

As word of this appalling crime seeped out, Pope Francis was holding a “Syria peace vigil” in Rome attended by 100,000 people. “May the noise of weapons cease!” he said. “War always marks the failure of peace — it is always a defeat for humanity.” He didn’t mention the murdered Mogadishu diners directly, but he cannot be faulted for this because no imam did, either. These authority figures in the Islamic world are usually vociferous when it comes to condemning the decadence and crimes of the “West”, but they tend to be very shy about the horrific crimes being committed in the name of their own faith. And the body count from those faith killings is shocking.

In Iraq, some 4,000 people have been killed by rival Sunni and Shi’a gangs so far this year. The pot of sectarian hatred is being stirred by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is also heavily involved in the savage Syrian civil war. It has invested heavily in the notion of an embattled Alawite regime led by Assad battling a radicalized Sunni opposition of al-Qaida terrorists because this legitimizes Teheran’s interference. Meanwhile, Turkey’s government is adding fuel to the sectarian fire, as rumors circulate that Ankara is pressing for a Sunni majority Syrian government if Assad falls. One does not need a vivid imagination to picture the butchery that would follow, should this ever be the case.

Forgotten in this gruesomeness is that fact that the Taliban have killed more than 1,300 men, women and children so far this year with car bombs, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. As if that wasn’t enough, Muslims are also murdering Muslims in Pakistan, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt and the silence of the imams and mullahs regarding this carnage is deafening. Finally, there’s Yemen: “Kuwaitis have called for stringent action against a family in Yemen after their eight-year-old daughter died of internal injuries on the first night of her arranged marriage to a man more than five times her age.”

A mosque


It’s time to take sides says Tony Blair

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013 3 Comments

Writing in the Times today, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that we have reached a crossroads and he wants to know which direction the West will take. Is it going to be talk or action? Blair demands action. Snippet:

Tony Blair In Syria, we know what is happening. We know it is wrong to let it happen. But leave aside any moral argument and just think of our interests for a moment. Syria, disintegrated, divided in blood, the nations around it destabilised, waves of terrorism rolling over the population of the region; Assad in power in the richest part of the country; Iran, with Russia’s support, ascendant; a bitter sectarian fury running the Syrian eastern hinterland — and us, apparently impotent. I hear people talking as if there was nothing we could do: the Syrian defence systems are too powerful, the issues too complex, and in any event, why take sides since they’re all as bad as each other?

But others are taking sides. They’re not terrified of the prospect of intervention. They’re intervening. To support an assault on civilians not seen since the dark days of Saddam.

It is time we took a side: the side of the people who want what we want; who see our societies for all their faults as something to admire; who know that they should not be faced with a choice between tyranny and theocracy. I detest the implicit notion behind so much of our commentary — that the Arabs or even worse, the people of Islam are unable to understand what a free society looks like, that they can’t be trusted with something so modern as a polity where religion is in its proper place. It isn’t true. What is true is that there is a life-and-death struggle going on about the future of Islam and the attempt by extreme ideologues to create a political Islam at odds both with the open-minded tradition of Islam and the modern world.

Blair is right. We cannot be neutral in this clash of civilizations. Which side are you on?


Is that Carter or Kennedy in the mirror?

Monday, 26 August, 2013 0 Comments

“President Obama now faces a moment similar to the one President Carter faced when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. The assumptions that shaped key elements of his foreign policy have not held up; times have changed radically and policy must shift.” That’s the conclusion of “The Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East” by Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal. This is a very dangerous moment says Mead:

“Just as Nikita Khrushchev concluded that President Kennedy was weak and incompetent after the Bay of Pigs failure and the botched Vienna summit, and then proceeded to test the American president from Cuba to Berlin, so President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei now believe they are dealing with a dithering and indecisive American leader, and are calibrating their policies accordingly. Khrushchev was wrong about Kennedy, and President Obama’s enemies are also underestimating him, but those underestimates can create dangerous crises before they are corrected.”

Bottom line: “Drawing red lines in the sand and stepping back when they are crossed won’t rebuild confidence.”

On the other hand, Edward Luttwak, whose name was always modified with “hawkish” in the days of George W. Bush, believes that “In Syria, America Loses if Either Side Wins.” His depiction of the battleground is grim: “The war is now being waged by petty warlords and dangerous extremists of every sort: Taliban-style Salafist fanatics who beat and kill even devout Sunnis because they fail to ape their alien ways; Sunni extremists who have been murdering innocent Alawites and Christians merely because of their religion; and jihadis from Iraq and all over the world who have advertised their intention to turn Syria into a base for global jihad aimed at Europe and the United States.”

Luttwak is a realist and he calls out the red-line hardliners who wish to see the US enter this mire: “Those who condemn the president’s prudent restraint as cynical passivity must come clean with the only possible alternative: a full-scale American invasion to defeat both Mr. Assad and the extremists fighting against his regime.”

With his red line, President Obama gave a hostage to fortune and now, despite Edward Luttwak’s sensible call for caution, he must act or be regarded as a coward. And, as history shows, Jack Kennedy was no coward.

President  Obama


The Persecution of Egypt’s Christians

Wednesday, 21 August, 2013 1 Comment

“Violent aggression by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, including those sympathetic to al-Qaeda, continues to be directed at one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, following the military’s break up last week of Brotherhood sit-ins. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has been inciting the anti-Christian pogroms on its web and Facebook pages. One such page, posted on August 14, lists a bill of particulars against the Christian Coptic minority, blaming it, and only it, for the military’s crackdown against the Brotherhood, alleging that the Church has declared a ‘war against Islam and Muslims.'”

That’s Nina Shea of The Hudson Institute in a National Review article titled “Egypt’s Christians Are Facing a Jihad.” Mark Movsesian of the Center For Law And Religion Forum at St. John’s University School of Law references Shea’s piece in “The Persecution of Egypt’s Christians,” and he offers three reasons as to why the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers are adopting this strategy of oppression:

First, Islamists attack Christians because they can. Christian churches, monasteries, and schools are soft targets, especially when the security forces are occupied elsewhere.

Second, the Coptic Church has taken an uncharacteristically strong stand in support of the military. Coptic Pope Tawadros appeared in the video announcing the overthrow of the Morsi regime in July — as did the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, it should be noted — and last week, he endorsed the military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Third, one must recognize the perception Islamists have of Christians. Although not all Islamists advocate a return to dhimma restrictions, most have a nostalgia for classical Islamic law, which tolerates Christians as long as they accept a subservient status in society. Equality is out of the question. For Christians to assert equality with Muslims, or cooperate with Muslims’ enemies, is, in classical thought, a grave affront to the community which must be punished.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the fate of four jailed Morsi supporters dominates media coverage of Egypt. In the Washington Post, the front-page story is, “Ravaged churches reveal sectarian split feeding Egypt’s violence.”


The Saudis and the Brotherhood: love turns to hate

Tuesday, 20 August, 2013

“On Monday, Saudi Arabia promised to compensate Egypt for any aid that Western countries might withdraw in response to the harsh tactics employed by Egypt’s leaders to quell protests by supporters of the country’s deposed president, in which nearly 1,000 people and more than 100 police officers are reported to have been killed.” — Backing Egypt’s generals, Saudi Arabia promises financial support

Later in her Washington Post report, Liz Sly writes, “That Saudi Arabia is prepared to confront Washington over the crisis is an indicator of how deeply Saudi leaders were unsettled by the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood consolidating its hold over the Arab world’s most populous nation, analysts say.”

Muslim Brotherhood Times have changed, especially in the relationship between the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1952, Gamel Abdel Nasser and a group of fellow military officers overthrew King Farouk and turned to Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood for popular support. However, the Brotherhood wanted to outlaw alcohol and introduce the religious law of Islam, sharia, in the new, post-monarchical Egypt, a price that was too high for Nasser and his Revolutionary Council. It banned the Brotherhood in 1954, then undid the ban, but after an attempt on Nasser’s life, reinstated the ban.

In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman notes what happened next:

“Leading figures from the Muslim Brotherhood fled from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi rulers welcomed them, and put them to good use. The Saudi princes were determined to keep their own country on a path of pure adherence to Saudi Arabia’s antique and rigid version of Islam; and Egypt’s Islamist intellectuals, with their stores of Koranic knowledge, had much to offer. The Egyptian exiles took over professorial chairs in Saudi universities. And their impact was large. Qutb’s younger brother, Muhammad Qutb, a distinguished religious scholar in his own right, fled to Saudi Arabia and became a professor of Islamic Studies. One of his students was Osama bin Laden.”

Sayyid Qutb, however, stayed in Egypt and Nasser hanged him in 1966. By then, though, the damage was done and the religious fascism represented by Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood has since left a trail of death and suffering that stretches from the banks of the Nile to lower Manhattan. It has also steered Saudi Arabia towards barbarism and although it’s a bit late in the day for the princely descendants of the princes who imported Qutb’s toxic ideology to acknowledge their capital mistakes, it is better that it’s done late rather than never. Unless they wish to be devoured by the radicals, the Saudis and the Egyptians know that the Muslim Brotherhood must be smashed.


The evil legacy of the evil Sayyid Qutb

Monday, 19 August, 2013 1 Comment

In his book Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman examines the role that Sayyid Qutb played in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Qutb enrolled in the Brotherhood in 1951 and duly became “the Arab world’s first important theoretician of the Islamist cause.” But what did Qutb write? Well, there is his 1964 manifesto, Milestones, a short work in which he calls for recreating the Muslim world on strictly Qur’anic grounds, but, says Berman, “his true masterwork is something else entirely, a gargantuan thirty-volume exegesis called In the shade of the Qur’an, which consists of commentaries on the various chapters or Surahs of the Koran.”

Sayyid Qutb The writing is “wise, broad, indignant, sometimes demented, bristly with hatred, medieval, modern, tolerant, intolerant, cruel, urgent, cranky, tranquil, grave, poetic, learned, analytic, moving in some passages — a work large and solid enough to create its own shade, where his readers could repose and turn his pages, as he advised the students of the Koran to do, in the earnest spirit of loyal soldiers reading their daily bulletin.” As an example, Berman offers Qutb’s commentary on Surah 2, from the section “Martyrdom and Jihad”. A snippet:

“The Surah tells the Muslims that, in the fight to uphold God’s universal Truth, lives will have to be sacrificed. Those who risk their lives and go out to fight, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the cause of God are honorable people, pure of heart and blessed of soul. But the great surprise is that those among them who are killed in the struggle must not be considered or described as dead. They continue to live, as God Himself clearly states.”

And so it was with Sayyid Qutb, who was hanged by Nasser in 1966. His evil ideas flourish and his writings should be studied closely by those now offering themselves as experts on Egyptian affairs, and they should be mandatory reading for those journalists who display a remarkable “understanding” for the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among those who come to mind here are Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Hubert Wetzel and Mary Fitzgerald.


Dying industry turns to terror and necrophilia

Thursday, 1 August, 2013 1 Comment

In a world where Google and Facebook are rewriting the rules of global media production and consumption, the traditional entertainment magazine must contemplate the writing on the wall. Still, there’s fight left in the old dog as Rolling Stone demonstrated recently when, in search of sales and publicity, it applied a touch of Che chic to suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by placing him on its cover. Instead of flogging alleged killers, Vanity Fair opts for the dead with its September cover, which features Princess Diana. This highly cynical move is clearly timed it to coincide with the recent royal baby birth. The photo, taken by Mario Testino in 1997, is beautiful beyond words, but its blatant necrophiliac use by Vanity Fair is offensive in the extreme.

Vanity Fair


Bradley Manning gets what he wanted, kind of

Wednesday, 31 July, 2013 0 Comments

“I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much,” wrote Private First Class Bradley Manning in an online chat with a confidante three years ago about leaking military secrets. He has been spared execution, but the prison part of his wish is going to come true.

Those who claim that Manning deserves some kind of “whistleblower” pardon or prize sound every bit as deluded as the perp himself. He was unaware of the nature of much of what he handed over to the alleged rapist Julian Assange, and when he did know, it was often personal information about troops on the ground. That the US military would entrust secrets to imbeciles like Manning is one of the most disturbing things about the entire case.

By the way, it is journalists and other civilians whose right to speech is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, not soldiers. Bradley Manning stole 700,000 documents. He is no whistleblower.


The Guardian and its “faux-scandal”

Friday, 14 June, 2013 1 Comment

It takes a brave person to defend the NSA and its surveillance remit, but David Simon, writer of “The Wire,” is not afraid to step up. In a blog post titled “We are shocked, shocked…,” he declares: “Having labored as a police reporter in the days before the Patriot Act, I can assure all there has always been a stage before the wiretap, a preliminary process involving the capture, retention and analysis of raw data. It has been so for decades now in this country. The only thing new here, from a legal standpoint, is the scale on which the FBI and NSA are apparently attempting to cull anti-terrorism leads from that data. But the legal and moral principles? Same old stuff.” And, he adds:

“But those planes really did hit those buildings. And that bomb did indeed blow up at the finish line of the Boston marathon. And we really are in a continuing, low-intensity, high-risk conflict with a diffuse, committed and ideologically-motivated enemy. And for a moment, just imagine how much bloviating would be wafting across our political spectrum if, in the wake of an incident of domestic terrorism, an American president and his administration had failed to take full advantage of the existing telephonic data to do what is possible to find those needles in the haystacks. After all, we as a people, through our elected representatives, drafted and passed FISA and the Patriot Act and what has been done here, with Verizon and assuredly with other carriers, is possible under that legislation.”

The Guardian is home to some very nasty types still in pain following the defeat of the tyrants they so ardently supported, from Stalin to Chavez. Since the defeat of communism, this lot has flirted with everything from Islamism to feminism in the hope of gaining some relevance again, but each “ism” is worse than the other and all that’s left now is the “faux-scandal”. Same old stuff.


Obama and the “Syrian affair”

Wednesday, 5 June, 2013 1 Comment

While reading this Al Jazeera article, “Hezbollah: The Syrian connection“, the following jumped out: “Lebanon’s former Prime Minster, Fouad Siniora, has made it clear that he is calling on Hezbollah members to put an end to their involvement in the Syrian affair.” The use of “affair” there is surely one of the great trivializations of our time because what’s happening in Syria is a civil war of almost unimaginable savagery in which both sides are committing crimes against humanity. Consider these two items:

These acts of barbarism place US President Barack Obama in a quandary. He once called on Assad resign and he warned gravely of red lines, and then he abandoned the Syrians to their abattoir. Now, amidst the carnage, he looks increasingly duplicitous. Michael Totten, writing in City Journal, says that Syrians are confused by the American hesitation to remove Assad, and “In The Friend of My Enemy Is My Enemy“, he notes:

“Extreme caution is called for in Syria, but that hardly changes the fact that it is in America’s national interest to see Assad removed. This man has more American blood on his hands than anyone in the Arab world who hasn’t been killed yet. He is a totalitarian state sponsor of international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida. His government has exported chaos and violence, not just to Israel, but also to every one of its neighbors. His regime is part of the Iranian-Hezbollah axis, which may well go nuclear. Calling for his ouster doesn’t require undaunted courage. It won’t yield results by itself, but the White House, and the United States as a whole, without even realizing it, are paying a price for refusing to do even this much.”

Yes, America will be pilloried for whatever it does in Syria, but the arguments against intervention are starting to sound as hollow as those making them.