Day by Day

Friday, April 30, 2004

Britain releases terror suspects

From ITV

This is almost getting to the Keystone Kops level. What on earth is going on with British intelligence?

More than half the people arrested in anti-terror raids in the UK since the September 11 attacks were eventually released without charge.

According to Scotland Yard figures, fewer than one in five of the 572 held in such police operations were charged with terrorism-related offences.

The figures come one day after Greater Manchester Police said none of the ten arrested in recent raids are being charged with terrorism offences.


Even though over 700 officers were involved in the operation!

[...]

Of those arrested under UK anti-terror laws since attacks on the US, 289 were released without charge and 283 faced further police action.

Of those, 97 have been charged with an offence under terror laws, up to and including today.

The Home Office believe there have been six convictions for terror-related offences over the same period.


Six out of 572! No wonder Al-Qaeda like to operate out of the UK. The benefits are good, you are not likely to be caught, if you do get caught you won't get convicted, and even if convicted you probably won't be deported.
Al-Qaeda cleric, Abu Hamza no threat

So says Mick Hume writing in The Times Online

PANTOMIME Abu Hamza, the infamous one-eyed, hook-handed preacher, is an Islamist bigot and cheerleader for Osama bin Laden, whose appearance and utterances often bring to mind the words “lunatic” and “raving”. What he is not, however, is a mortal threat to Western civilisation.

This week the Government’s drawn-out attempt to strip Abu Hamza of British citizenship and deport him descended further into farce. To judge by the furious public reaction to the latest delay in the court procedures, one might imagine that the beak had released bin Laden himself on bail. But while he might look the part, the preacher from Finsbury Park mosque, dubbed “Captain Hook” by the tabloids, is little more than a panto villain. Building up Abu Hamza into Britain ’s public enemy No 1 will do wonders for his inflated ego, but nothing to address real problems.


Presumedly, Hume doesn't mind using our tax money to pay for Hamza's Al-Qaeda recuritment programs.

He goes on to down play the effect Hamza is having on young Muslims.

Worse, the campaign against Abu Hamza could become a self-fulfilling mission. By building up his image as a formidable opponent, the authorities have succeeded in making him appear an heroic resistance fighter among some disaffected young Muslims. Without all the cameras, he would be invisible.

Well it seems that many do not agree with Mr. Hume.

From Paul Kenyon writing for The BBC

A growing number of young Muslim men in Britain want to train to become suicide bombers, a BBC investigation has revealed.

Young Muslims take notes on laptops while others scribble down key phrases and children as young as nine sit, mesmerised.

Despite his avuncular demeanour, Bakri, who came to the UK from Beirut, has twice been arrested for issuing a fatwa - one of them on the former Prime Minister, John Major.

Tonight, he rallies the crowd by listing places in America, Africa and the Middle East where suicide bombers have already struck, before coming closer to home: "If somebody decided to land an aeroplane over 10 Downing Street, for example - this is a form of self sacrifice", he tells them.


While this article talks about Bakri in particular, Hamza preaches the same kind of hate and encourages the same kind terrorism.

Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, speaking to The BBC

"said the sooner leaders of these groups were deported the better.

Mr Phillips said members of the far-right British National Party (BNP) were "scumbags" but reserved his most vehement criticism for Abu Hamza al-Masri and Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, two of the leading figures within fringe Islamist politics.

"The faster [Home Secretary] David Blunkett can deport them the better," Mr Phillips told Reuters in an interview.

"Every time Abu Hamza or Sheikh Omar do their thing in front of the television cameras, Muslims suffer in dozens of places in this country," Phillips said."


There is no doubt that these people are not merely pantomime characters as Mr Hume would have you believe. They are just what they appear to be, evil recuriters for terrorism who should be locked up or deported. These people are not just exercising their freedom of speech.

Hume goes further though and blames Britain and the west for breeding terrorism.

Abu Hamza’s crankish sermons are not the reason why some British Muslim youths are drawn towards Islamic extremism. Treating them as mindless attack dogs that will jump at their master’s voice looks like a way of avoiding the awkward question of what it is about British and Western society that could make the backward cant of religious fundamentalism seem an attractive alternative. How much easier it is to knock down a one-eyed bogeyman.

Hume must have had one to many Gin and Tonics when he worte this pile of camel dung. Why would he write in support of a despicable terrorist like Hamza? Why would he blame the UK and the west for breeding terrorism?

Here's why

Mick Hume

Erstwhile leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, editor of Living Marxism, and now editor of Spiked online.

"Mick Hume is the editor of spiked and a columnist for The Times (London) and a regular contributor to other publications. He was the editor of LM magazine (which he launched, originally as Living Marxism, in 1988) until it was forced to close in 2000 following a libel suit brought by ITN. Hume is a fortysomething ex-grammar school boy from Woking, who went to Manchester University and still has a season ticket at Old Trafford." [1]

References

"Speakers' biographies", Communicating the war on terror conference website, 5 June 2003


Now you know why.
UN bans WMD sales to terrorists

From The BBC

Now I bet that sent terrorist everywhere scurrying to buy those WMDs off the shelves.

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution aimed at keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists.

It means all UN member states will have to pass laws to stop terrorists and black market traders from buying, selling or developing such weapons.


Just in case any of the member states had let that one slip through the cracks.

And what happens if you get caught violating this resolution? You already know, don't you?

However, the resolution does not outline any sanctions against states that do not comply.
Jordanians burn portraits of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden

I posted about this yesterday. I can't believe this is not getting better coverage.

Compare what Middle East Online reports with what The Herald reports.

MEO: They burnt portraits of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian suspected mastermind of the bomb plot, and 10 members of a dismantled terror cell, including four who were killed.

Herald: Nothing on the burning of bin Laden and Zarqawi portraits. Why?

Likewise no mention in The Scotsman or
The Washington Times

But which UK paper did report the burning of bin Laden's portrait? I was amazed but tip my hat to them.

The Guardian!

When the demonstrators reached parliament, they burned pictures of bin Laden, his alleged Jordanian associate Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of the foiled plot, Azmi al-Jayousi, and his accomplices.

Why is this not getting better coverage? You let any thug in the world burn the US flag and it's a media frenzy. Some 250,000 Jordanians march and burn bin Laden's portrait and there is very little reporting let alone pictures and video all over the television and press.

What's up with that?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Weblog specials

From The Guardian

Weblog specials are our subject-by-subject guides to the best journalism on other websites.

Now this ought to be interesting coming from the Guardian. I have not had time to check out their selections yet.
Canada prepares to enforce Islamic law

From World Net Daily

Canadian judges soon will be enforcing Islamic law, or Sharia, in disputes between Muslims, possibly paving the way to one day administering criminal sentences, such as stoning women caught in adultery.

Spain, you are next.
You know you have problems when your are out of beer!

From Iraq at a Glance

I went to a neighborhood north of Baghdad, I was looking left and right before I decided to enter that sector, it was a dark street, God, I had to enter that narrow dark street, it took me a minute of silence and thinking ‘should I get in?’, ‘what if those idiots bombed the place?’, then I said ‘whatever happens..I don’t care’.. So I entered, I walked about 20 meters and turned left and stood in front of the metallic door, this door has a small opening in the corner, I called carefully ‘hey..anybody here?’, the fat man came by ‘yes, what do you need?’ I replied ‘ nine’ he said ‘ nine of what?’ I replied ‘beer’ !!

So, all the above dangerous steps are for beer !!! I hated myself for that, the neighborhood I used to buy from has been bombed by the crazy Islamists and the poor owners are no longer opened, God damn it, when will we get rid of those too?

The worst thing was when I got the beer and went back home, we drank and drank, then my friend lifted the can and read the expire date.. It was March 22 !!!


I feel your pain!

‏Jordanians march against terrorism, burn pictures of Bin Laden

From Kuwait News Agency

Jordanians march against terrorism, burn pictures of Bin Laden‏
‏‏
‏ AMMAN, April 29 (KUNA) -- Some 250,000 Jordanians led by Queen Rania staged ‏‏a demonstration in the Jordanian capital on Thursday expressing outrage and ‏condemnation of terrorism namely a recent uncovered plan to carry out an ‏attack intended to kill civilians randomly with chemical materials.

The protestors, who poured into the capital from various governorates of ‏‏the counry, brandished slogans and placards, condemning terrorism and the ‏recent bid to carry out attacks on sensitive targets in the kingdom. The ‏‏protest marched from the Labor Union headquarters to the National Assembly ‏‏building.‏

Sentiments of the people, expressed in this demonstration, emanate from ‏‏their keenness on maintaining the security and stability the homeland, the ‏queen said. She added that fighting terrorism is a common responsibility that ‏should be shouldered by the security forces and the ordinary citizens.‏

‏The protestors, upon arrival at the parliament building, set alight ‏pictures of Usama Bin Laden, Abu Mesaab Al-Zarqawi and ten people who planned ‏‏the chemical attacks.


We got to see film of this on major television stations! This needs to happen in every country.
Guantanamo Bay detainees released to return to terrorism.

From Newsweek

May 3 issue - The Bush administration's detention of hundreds of foreign fighters in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, got dissected last week by the Supreme Court, with some justices questioning the government's right to incarcerate aliens indefinitely without judicial review. But the court arguments may have obscured a potentially bigger embarrassment for the Pentagon: some of the more than 100 Gitmo prisoners who have been released have since turned up back in Afghanistan—fighting with Taliban forces against the U.S. military.

[...]

... But administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that military intelligence has identified at least three additional "revolving door" cases of Gitmo detainees' returning to the battlefield. One released prisoner, Mullah Shehzada, is serving as a "senior" Taliban commander. The officials say that alarming development—as well as information developed about four released detainees sent back to Britain—shows that the Gitmo population is far more dangerous than most of the public understands. Administration officials are especially aghast over the released British prisoners, who U.S. intelligence says are hardened Islamic extremists trained in urban warfare and assassination techniques at Qaeda camps before 9/11; one of them met several times with Osama bin Laden.

Now why didn't we see this in the BBC?
Terrorism and the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Ever hear of them? They've made the news now and then. Lately they are going after Boston-area radio talk show host Jay Severin.

I posted about a suit they brought against this blogger.

Later I posted about former CAIR Communications Specialist Ismail Randall Royer being sentenced to 20 years on terrorist related offenses.

Now Front Page Mag via Jihad Watch really takes them to task. O'Reilly you listening?

[...]

"One group in particular, CAIR or the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an entity masquerading as a ‘civil rights’ organization, has called into question its own support for nefarious causes. The following will prove that, in late 2001, CAIR appeared to be in violation of United States law, as in regards to the providing of material support to terrorists.

In September of 2001, just following the worst terrorist attack ever suffered in modern history, CAIR placed on its website, under a picture of the World Trade Center in flames, a plea for donations. It read, “Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund.”

Yet, when people clicked on the link, it did not take them to any NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund. No, it took them straight to the website of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Islamic ‘charity’ that was soon to be shut down by the United States for “raising millions of dollars annually for HAMAS.”


Mousa Abu Marzook – Grandfather of CAIR

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was founded by HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook, a man who was deported by the United States to Jordan in 1997. Marzook, who may very well be, today, second in command of HAMAS, also founded, in 1981, CAIR’s parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine.

This is important, when considering the previous questions asked, but – but – there is a much bigger connection to CAIR, with respect to the Holy Land Foundation.


Ghassan Elashi – CAIR Board Member

The Chairman of the Holy Land Foundation, before the group’s closure, was Ghassan Elashi. Elashi, in December of 2002, was charged with “selling computers and computer parts to Libya and Syria, both designated state sponsors of terrorism.”

Besides the Holy Land Foundation, Ghassan Elashi was also involved with CAIR. In fact, Elashi was one of the founding board members of CAIR’s Texas chapter. What this means is that CAIR didn’t just stick a link to the Holy Land Foundation on its website, but instead, CAIR was directly linked to the Holy Land Foundation itself!

Rabih Haddad – CAIR Fundraiser

Rabih Haddad was a co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation. Before being deported by the United States to Lebanon in July of 2003, Haddad had held various positions with Global Relief, including that of Executive Director and Public Relations Director.

And like Ghassan Elashi, Haddad was also active in CAIR. According to the Quaker organization, the group that runs the large charitable foundation, the American Friends Service Committee, Haddad had served as a fundraiser for CAIR.


Read the whole article.

The headline on their website reads "Building a better Amercia, one member at a time". Better by what definition and one member of what?

This is an organization that needs to be shut down.
Muqtada al-Sadr's masters in Tehran also face a Revolt.

From Vodkapundit

Vigorous attacks on the credibility and legitimacy of the clerical leadership in Iran have continued to mount since the February 20, 2004, Majlis (Parliament) elections, which, despite the removal of so-called “reformists” from the ballot, still failed to attract a meaningful voter turnout. The elections showed the extent of electoral fraud to which the clerics were forced to turn, highlighting their tenuous hold on power. There are now signs that the underpinnings of the clerics will be attacked still further, especially as evidence is now available showing even that their claims to religious authority are open to question.

[...]

What bears watching more than the struggle between the hardliners and the so-called “reformers” is the turmoil, rising from the political depths, which threatens to destabilize the status quo in Iran far beyond the earlier student unrest and which now targets the legitimacy of the Islamic coup itself.

“Reformers”, with nothing left to lose and outraged by the disqualification of their candidates and the resultant takeover by the hardliners of the only nationally elected government body, have begun to poise an attack at disqualifying the ruling clerics' claim to any legitimacy; to even be in power, let alone rule. Diplomatic sources speculate that a significant nudge in this direction could well result in a speedy downfall of the Iranian clerics.

Supreme Ruler Ali Khamene‘i’s authority and ability to govern has been publicly and directly questioned in an unprecedented open letter written by members of the Majlis (parliament) and widely publicized outside Iran. Two Iranian newspapers, Yaass Noh and Shargh, which reprinted the letter within the country, were immediately closed down. This essentially unprecedented confrontation against the clerical leadership of Iran signaled an at- tempt to cut the clerics off at the knees rather than dispute election details or the misuse of existing power structures.


Well worth reading the whole thing.
Revolt against Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq?

From The Scotsman via Instapundit

Now I wonder how long, if ever, we will read about this at the BBC or Guardian?

[...]

"In a deadly expression of feelings that until now were kept quiet, a group representing local residents is said to have killed at least five militiamen in the last four days.

The murders are the first sign of organised Iraqi opposition to Sadr’s presence and come amid simmering discontent at the havoc their lawless presence has wreaked.

The group calls itself the Thulfiqar Army, after a twin-bladed sword said to be used by the Shiite martyr Imam Ali, to whom Najaf’s vast central mosque is dedicated."


[...]

But while Iraq’s leading Shiite moderate cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has warned the US that the city border was an uncrossable "red line", he is known to share the anger of many Shiites about Sadr’s use of a holy place as a sanctuary.

Local residents, moreover, are deeply angry at how his revolt has robbed them of their livelihoods in recent weeks.

It would seem all is not doom and gloom as the BBC would like it to be.

Since Sadr’s forces drove out Spanish troops this month, the tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims who keep the city’s hoteliers, taxi drivers and restaurateurs in business have become a mere trickle.

During a visit to the city by The Scotsman last week, some residents branded Sadr "the second Saddam", claiming his followers regularly intimidate locals who speak against him.


Either way, the realisation that not every fellow Iraqi in Najaf may be a friendly face seems to have had a notable effect on Mahdi morale.

According to the Najaf carpenter Mr Abbass, many of the militiamen are shedding their trademark black headbands and jumpsuits.

"Many of them, I am sure, only joined because they like posing about in that clothing," he said. "Now, hopefully, they will go home."
Al-Qaeda targets US natural gas tankers?

About a month ago I rasied this question here. That post contained a link to this story.

In the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Richard Clarke, then America's top counterterrorism official, rushed to get the US Coast Guard to close Boston Harbor. His main fear: Al Qaeda might attack a huge liquid natural gas tanker as it glided past downtown buildings.

Mr. Clarke professes to know what few did: that Al Qaeda had used LNG tankers to smuggle agents into Boston from Algeria. He also knew that each ship held as much energy as a nuclear weapon. "Had one of the giant tankers blown up..., it would have wiped out downtown Boston," Clarke said in his book "Against All Enemies."


It seems the story is still alive.

From Boston.com

The Department of Homeland Security is investigating whether Islamic extremists infiltrated the nation by stowing away on Algerian liquefied natural gas tankers that docked in the Port of Boston and has concluded several stowaways may have had links to indicted Al Qaeda terrorists, officials disclosed yesterday.

Syria blames al-Qaida-linked group for attacks

From The Guardian

The Syrian government yesterday blamed a terrorist group that could be related to al-Qaida for the violence in the diplomatic quarter of Damascus that left four dead.
Syrian security, the most-feared in the Middle East, was last night holding two of the alleged gunmen and also raided a house in which a cache of weapons was said to be hidden.

A Syrian official said yesterday that the government had not yet "100% established the group's identity".

But he added: "It seems to be an al-Qaida-style group or some group that shares their ideology."

He recalled that the Muslim Brotherhood, a forerunner of al-Qaida that still exists in Syria, had been responsible for a series of attacks in the early 1980s, including an assassination attempt on the present president's father.


Jordan, Saudi Arabia and now Syria; where next?
China reports thefts of radioactive material

From Arab Times Online

This is not good.

After eight reported thefts of radioactive material this year, China says it will launch a nationwide registry of all radiation sources and do more to guarantee that waste is disposed safely. China has more than 63,700 radiation sources, with 30 per cent unregistered and 20 per cent that is improperly disposed waste, the government’s Xinhua News Agency reported Monday, citing official statistics.

Not good, not good.
Strange Saudi goings on

Now this is strange.

From Channel News Asia

RIYADH : An Indian who escaped the clutches of a gang of suspected terrorists only to lead police to an enclave they were hiding in north of Riyadh has identified one of his captors as senior Al-Qaeda member Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin.

The Indian, who identified Muqrin from police photos, was held by "five terrorists" and said the group had forced him to carry their belongings and help them negotiate the rugged landscape of Al-Ammariya, Arab News said, quoting sources.


This raises a host of questions.

Who is this unnamed Indian? Why is he so important that "the" senior Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia would personally kidnap him? What is such a "high value", at least seemingly to Al-Qaeda, doing in Saudi Arabia? How was he able to escape five kidnappers including, again, the senior Al-Qaeda member in all of Saudi Arabia?

It gets even more strange.

From SiFy News

Surprisingly, however, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is in the dark about both the Indian and the incident. MEA director Venu Rajamony said he was unaware of the event.

Navtej Sarna, MEA spokesperson, said the ministry was not informed of the developments. Officials in the Indian embassy in Riyadh too had been kept in the dark about the developments.

Head of Chancery Sanjay Rana from Riyadh said the embassy officials would find out more.

However, according to sources, there was no reported information about any kidnapping of any Indian in Riyadh.


Very strange.
BBC biased against Bush

In violation, again, of its own charter, Rob Watson BBC Washington correspondent, attempts (and fails) an "analysis" of President Bush's testimony to the 911 commission.

Paragraph 3.2 c of that charter states:

" contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world to support fair and informed debate at local, regional and national levels;"

Dr. Watson's "so called" analysis is neither impartial, fair or informed.

When President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney appear before the 9/11 commission on Thursday, it will be in private, with no cameras and no transcripts.

While that is correct Dr. Watson fails to inform BBC readers that Clinton and Gore testified, together, in exactly the same manner. By leaving this information out Watson tries to create the illusion that no one else has testified this way and therefore it is Bush who has something to hide. Here Dr. Watson is not being impartial.

The fact that the president and vice-president will be appearing together has been a gift from heaven to political satirists, with one cartoonist depicting Dick Cheney as the ventriloquist and George W Bush as his dummy.

Here Dr. Watson is not being fair by using one cartoon about the 911 proceedings to put forward his own views on who runs the White House. Since this is merely his own biased view, how does this add to his "so called" analysis?

It has also prompted some awkward questions for the president - including the obvious: Why does Dick Cheney have to be there too?

No one seemed to mind when Clinton and Gore appeared in exactly the same manner. But clue less Dr. Watson fails to inform his readers of this.

Notice how the first three paragraphs of this "so called" analysis are devoted to the issue of Bush and Cheney appearing together. Watson is trying to hammer home his point that there must be something wrong with this. He is trying to build the illusion that they have something to hide; something he later claims in the article. This is not fair or impartial.

One of the Democrats on the commission, former Congressman Tim Roemer, told me he wasn't that bothered about the unusual double billing, but he insisted he would have some tough questions for the president.

He wants to know whether terrorism was a priority in the Bush administration and whether Mr Bush personally spent enough time on terrorism.

There has already been one witness, former counter-terrorism chief Dick Clarke, who has alleged that fighting al-Qaeda was not as big of a priority for the Bush administration as it was for the Clinton administration.

And Mr Roemer agrees with that assertion.


Dr. Watson gives us the views of one commissioner, a Democrat and Bush opponent, on this issue. He also quotes Dick Clarke's testimony which has already been widely discredited. And, finally, we are told that Mr. Roemer agrees with Clarke, at a time when the commission is still hearing evidence. Dr. Watson fails, again, to be fair and impartial.

The president won't be going unprepared. Bush administration officials say he has been extensively briefed for his appearance senior White House officials and lawyers.

The 911 commission is looking in to ways to prevent another such atrocity; should Bush go in unprepared Dr. Watson? Here again, the good Dr. Watson wants to continue building the illusion that the administration has something to hide.

"I don't really see any danger. It's a private session. There will leaks on both sides, probably neutralising one another," Mr Mann said. The commission's conclusions are what will matter and whether the commission finds the president bears any responsibility for 9/11, he said, adding: "But for now, the testimony will come and soon be forgotten."

Dr. Watson fails to point out that finding if the president bears any responsibility for 911 is not the commissions mandate. Nor is its mandate to put blame on Clinton.

As you read the next few paragraphs, remember how Dr. Watson has been trying to build the illusion that Bush has something to hide. Now he is going to make that claim with some "analysis" of a CBS poll. Read carefully.

That said opinion polls suggest the hearings already held by the commission have started to take their toll.

Dottie Lynch, the senior pollster for the CBS network, says the American people are now decidedly less trusting.

"In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, they were very positive. It was a time of national unity," she said.

"But since then, people have become very sceptical of what the Bush administration knew before 9/11. Our recent poll show that 72% believe that they are either hiding something about what they knew or lying outright about what they knew about 9/11," she added.


What is missing here; what has Dr. Watson failed to inform us of? Well, how about a link to the poll so we can see for ourselves and make our own conclusions. But Dr. Watson doesn't want you to see the poll for good reason.

Here is why.

Only one-quarter thinks the Bush Administration is telling the entire truth about what they knew of the terror threat prior to 9/11. 59 percent say they are mostly telling the truth but still hiding something about that knowledge, and 11 percent say they are mostly lying.

So, 25% completely trust the administration compared to "only" 11% that think they are lying. And 59% say they are mostly telling the truth but are hiding something. I don't doubt for one minute they are hiding something; I hope they are. That would be called intelligence but we are not given the exact question so we don't know how it was worded.

So where did the 72% come from? Beats me. If you add the 59 and 11% you get 70%. However if you add 25 and 59% you get 84%. There you have it 84% of the people either completely or mostly trust the Bush Administration.

Dr. Watson leave the "analysis" to Sherlock Holmes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

BBC complaints double in a year From The Guardian

This is just too rich. The Guardian reporting on complaints about the BBC.


BBC: to create new complaints department to deal with criticism more transparently

The number of complaints received by the BBC has more than doubled in the past year, since the corporation introduced a system allowing people to email their criticisms of programmes and demands for corrections and apologies.
This upgrading of the BBC complaints process to allow emails is a precursor to a more wide-ranging overhaul of the corporation's systems of accountability to licence fee payers being led by the acting director general, Mark Byford.


[...]

As a result, the number of complaints received by the BBC in the 12 months to March 31 2004 was 1,640, compared with 794 in the previous 12 months.

I'll take credit for some of that.

Now I wonder what the number is at the Guardian? Porbably a lot more.
Is the UN a Trojan Horse?

It would seem so. For it is only through hidding inside the UN that those countries who stole Iraqi oil using the UN will ever get back in Iraq. But how do you get the Iraqis to open the gate?

Enter Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy to Iraq. What magical, "open sesame", words does he use to lull the guardians into a false sense of security?

“There is no doubt that the great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination, and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians as well as the perception of all of the population in the region, and beyond, of the injustice of this policy and the equally unjust support ... of the United States for this policy,” Mr. Brahimi said.

“I think that there is unanimity in the Arab world, and indeed in much of the rest of the world, that the Israeli policy is wrong, that Israeli policy is brutal, repressive, and that they are not interested in peace no matter what you seem to believe in America,” Mr. Brahimi said.

From The Globe and Mail

Hey, don't knock it. It works in most countries in the Middle East. Just ask Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak.

But this shift in favour of the "realities on the ground" sent "moderate Arab opinion" into a tizzy. Returning from a visit to America, Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, dropped in on Jacques Chirac in Paris. "Today there is hatred of the Americans like never before," he told Le Monde. And, in what sounded suspiciously like a threat, Mubarak added: "American and Israeli interests will not be safe, not only in our region, but anywhere in the world." Did he mention that when he was back at the ranch with Bush?

And that’s a guy American taxpayers give $2 billion a year to. In return for which, they get Mohammed Atta flying through the office window and vile state-funded Egyptian media that license anti-Americanism as a safety valve for disaffection that might otherwise be targeted more locally. Thanks a bunch, Hosni. The Guardian reported this as a "damaging rebuff to President George Bush’s policies", though it’s difficult to conceive of anything less "damaging" to Bush than being insulted by some third-rate Arab strongman dependent on US aid.
From Mark Steyn in The Telegraph

And who is the "vile state-funded Egyptian media that license anti-Americanism" Steyn speaks of?

From earlier post.

Well the deputy editor Abd Al-Wahhab 'Adas of Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya blames, not so surprisingly, the Jews. From MEMRI

"If you want to know the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews. They are behind all the violent and terror operations that have occurred everywhere in the world.


As a point of interest and to show just how interwoven world politics are I offer this little bit of information.

What does CNN, the UN and Jordan all have in common?

ATLANTA -- CNN reporter Rym Brahimi resigned from her job following her engagement to King Abdullah II's half brother, Prince Ali, the network said.

Brahimi, daughter of the U.N. envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned Friday, the same day her engagement was announced by Jordan's royal family, a CNN spokeswoman said.

The wedding will take place Sept. 7, the official Petra news agency reported. The engagement ceremony took place in Paris in the presence of Abdullah, Petra said.

Ali, 29, heads a special force that protects the monarch. He is the son of the late King Hussein from his marriage to Queen Alia, who died in a helicopter crash in 1977.
From Seattle PI

As Michael Caine would say, "and not a lot of people know that".
Intelligence agencies monitoring blogs?

A reader emailed Rantingprofs this article about "Blog-Tracking May Gain Ground Among U.S. Intelligence Officials".

And so they should.

The privacy issue is a non starter here. Bloggs by their very nature are public and available to anyone, including foreign and domestic intelligence agencies.

Intelligence gathering uses all manner of "sensors" to gain information. From spies, satellites in orbit, mobile phone communications, email, the internet and right down to the old spy favorite - chalk marks on a tree. Since blogging is part of the internet it has always been a "source" or "sensor".

Money is a big issue in intelligence gathering. Intelligence agency budgets while huge are not nearly big enough to do the job. There are only so many "sensors" you can afford. Likewise, media organizations, whether television or press, have limited budgets. They can only afford so many reporters and cameramen. By contrast the Internet, including blogs, is a huge sensor largely paid for by the public. No matter where in the world, if something important happens and there is a blogger nearby, you can bet it will be on the net soon. As a result of budgetary constraints intelligence agencies use all available sensors to them; their own as well as others.

Validity and accuracy are other big issues facing the intelligence community. Can you trust the "source" and how accurate is the information. These are the same bogey men that have plagued the intelligence community since spying began. Disinformation has played a vital part in all wars and today is no different. One thing that is certain is that intelligence agencies does not "rely on" a single source for primary reporting. Many techniques are brought to bear on a particular problem.

Speed is also a very important factor for the intelligence community. Getting the information, analyzing it and getting it into the proper hands so the proper decisions can be made is vital. Pearl Harbor and 911 are prime examples. The internet is on 24/7 around the entire world and is cheaply available, sometimes free. This "chatter" we hear so much about used in terrorist warnings, some of that is undoubtedly from blogs.

Money, validity, accuracy and speed - the intelligence juggling act.
Are the French serious about terrorism? From

National Review via Merde in France

April 26, 2004, 8:43 a.m.
Fight or Flight?
Will France stand up to terrorism this time?

By Glen Feder

On a street in Paris, there is a kiosk that on the outside looks like all the other kiosks selling their wares. On the inside, just above the tourist maps and miniature Eiffel towers, there is an entire wall lined with pro-bin Laden and anti-Semitic books for sale. One book maintains that Jews run the Saudi government. Another praises bin Laden and his cause and violently attacks the U.S. and Western "values" in general.

The name of that street is the Champs Elysées. The kiosk sits right by the chic Louis Vuitton store just about ten-feet away.

In a country where freedom-of-speech laws are much stricter than in the U.S., the radical stance of this vocal minority of Islamic fundamentalists is virulent and often unabashedly public. Even more worrisome is that it is often connected with officially recognized Muslim organizations.

The Union of Islamic Organizations of France is the largest umbrella organization of French Muslim groups and has obtained more seats than any other in the "Conseil Français du Culte Musulman" (CFCM), supposedly the leading voice of the more than five million Muslims living in France. Tariq Ramdan, grandson of Hassan al Banna — founder of the Muslim Brotherhood — has been a frequent guest of the UIOF's annual national congress meeting in Le Bourget, a suburb north of Paris. The UIOF has had longstanding ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Outside the conference you can buy books with titles such as "The Sharon Protocols" and "The Jews Follow the Protocols of the Elders of Zion." The recent Israeli assassination of Hamas's "spiritual leader," Sheik Yassin, drew immediate condemnation by the UIOF on the front page of its website.


Thought not.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Spain to Float Iraq Proposal to France, Germany From Reuters

I know what else floats.

Maybe it's the wine or just the sheer audacity of these guys but this just cracks me up.


By Estelle Shirbon
MADRID, Spain (Reuters) - Spain will ask anti-war allies Germany and France to join in a proposal calling for a U.S. exit from Iraq and a new international presence in the country, a Spanish government source said Tuesday.

"The idea is to see if Spain, France and Germany can help the United States find an exit from Iraq...and devise a formula for an international presence there that would not be perceived as an occupation by most of the population," the source said.


Well damn, seems f...ing Spain found the exit quick enough! Don't worry France is just itching to get back in and cash in those oil vouchers.

[...]

Zapatero will make the proposal during talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin Wednesday and with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris Thursday. Germany has already expressed interest in it, the source said.

Asked whether Spain would be prepared to send troops back to Iraq under such a formula, the source said it was too soon to say.

Boy them Qaeda boys really got ya'll scared, uh? Now look here ya'll. Ya'll done and gone pulled up grub stakes so you don't got no say in this here Hatfield and McCoys feud. Ya'll go on back home and maybe we'll hollar ifn we be needun ya'll. Savvy?

Terror clerics the UK is paying for

Scott Burgess has a great round up of all the terror clerics the UK is paying to encourage terrorism.

The UK may soon be paying more than money for letting these preachers of hate remain in the UK.
Marine tactics in Falluja

From The Belmont Club

This may give you some insight into what is happening on the ground in Falluja.

Mortensen's earlier story indicated the Marines were returning to positions north; since it is known that they already hold positions south it seems clear that the enemy is now squeezed from two sides and is probably contained in the northeast corner of Fallujah, an area full of meandering streets and mosques. The enemy would prefer a linear American advance, hoping as in the case of Jenin, to mine buildings and blow them up as Americans occupy them. Not wanting to oblige, the USMC is mounting relatively small probes forcing the enemy to react. The current Marine strategy is ripping up the mobile defense. The company plus unit which attacked the platoon is probably no more. However, it will not be long before the enemy must retreat into a continuous perimeter, as his manpower dwindles to the point where a mobile defense is no longer viable. The remaining enemy forces are probably in the battalion plus range. And then the ghost of the Shuri line will rear up, in which there were no other option but to go directly into the teeth of the defense. The density of the defense displayed in the recent encounter may mean that time is near.

The important thing to know now, and Marine commanders are probably working to find out, is where the enemy plans his last stand. When that is prepared, the enemy will probably abandon most of the territory he now holds and collapse his remaining manpower into the stronghold. During that withdrawal he will be somewhat vulnerable, although the presence of civilians frustratingly precludes any kind of aggressive pursuit even when the retreat is underway. There, in that redoubt, he will present the whole panoply of mined buildings, IEDs, strongpoints, spider-holes and pillboxes, all in continous and interlocking line. Then there will be nothing for it but to reduce it by overwhelming fire.


Great read.
Ceasefire ends - Explosions in Fallujah

From The Command Post

FNC and CNN are both airing pool reporter’s coverage of nightime shelling in the Fallujah area. Night vision cameras show substantial smoke from explosions.

Update: FNC reporting AC-130 attacking a section of Fallujah that was known to have a number of munitions dumps. Explosions are said to be the ground munitions exploding.

AP now reporting that tanks are also attacking.

Breaking news - Syrian capital 'rocked by blasts' From The BBC

A series of explosions and gunfire rocked the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday evening, reports say.
Sources said between three and five explosions were heard in the west of the city from about 1600 GMT. The blasts were followed by heavy gunfire.


More in the article.

Funny, I just posted about something like this earlier today.

UPDATE: From The New York Times

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian security forces clashed with a "terrorist band" late Tuesday in Damascus, Syrian television reported. Explosions and gunfire were heard in a neighborhood where foreign diplomats live and work.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

Syrian television, in a brief statement, said the "terrorist band" opened fire indiscriminately. Security forces gave chase and were in control of the situation. It gave no other details.

Syria has not seen such violence in years.

Residents of the area had reported explosions and gunfire in the Mazza neighborhood. Security forces sealed off the area, said the residents


[...]

Al-Jazeera reported that car bombs were used in the attack and that heavy exchanges of gunfire were continuing late into the night.

Al-Arabiya quoted a witness saying more than 15 explosions were heard.


UPDATE II: Background information from Bradenton.com

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Syria's hard-line government fought a fierce war with Islamic fundamentalists of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was blamed for a 1980 assassination attempt on President Hafez Assad, the country's authoritarian leader. Assad was succeeded by his son, Bashar Assad, after his death of natural causes in 2000.

Assad suffered minor injuries after gunmen open fire with automatic weapons and grenades in the 1980 attack.

Syrian special forces troops massacred some 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood members in Tadmur Military Prison near Palmyra to avenge the assassination attempt.

In 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood staged a rebellion in the northern province of Hama. During the clashes, Syrian forces razed much of the city, killing as many as 10,000 people and finally crushing the Brotherhood after five-year war.


UPDATE III: From Yahoo News

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman in London said an explosion took place on a street close to the Iranian Ambassador's residence.

"It is closer to the Iranian ambassador's residence than it is to our ambassador's residence... (There were no) injuries to UK embassy staff but our staff are in the process of assessing the situation," she said.

"There was no damage to the British Embassy."

Israeli television reported five blasts, one outside the British ambassador's residence, and said the Saudi embassy was also among the targets.


Too early to tell on all this.
Fox and Al Jazeera compared

The Bigpharaoh answers a readers comments about Fox news and Al Jazeera


To me, Aljazeera is becoming more like the arab Fox News

That is a very misleading comment. I agree, Fox News is overly patriotic and biased towards the US government, but I would like to present the following differences:

Fox: Independent, owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, can kick government butt if it wants to.
Al-Jazerah: Not independent, receives $30 million from the ruler of Qatar and it will kiss Doha goodbye if it kicked Qatar butt.

F: Does not incite violence nor call for murder
AJ: Incites violence and indirectly calls for murder of Iraqi officials and coalition members (80% of Iraqis are against that)

F: Did not take bribes from Saddam nor collaborated with his intelligence agency
AJ: Took bribes from Saddam and collaborated with his intelligence agency

F: Twists some truth
AJ: Twists the truth and nothing but the truth

F: Most importantly, wants Iraq to be a decent nation and a beacon of decency in the region
AJ: Doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Iraq being a decent nation and a deacon of decency in the region as long as the coalition is in trouble.


Sounds about right.
Jordan chemical plot

Update and more information over at Regnum Crucis
Islam the peaceful religion

From InstaPundit

PAMELA BONE:


I am sent a newsletter from a women's rights group in Pakistan, which lists items from Pakistani newspapers. The following is a recent selection (I checked the items on the newspapers' websites):

Lahore: A girl, Kauser, 17, was strangled by her elder brother because she had married of her own will. She returned home and asked her family to forgive her but her brother strangled her with a piece of cloth. - The Daily Times.

Ghotki district: Two women were killed over Karo-Kari (honour killing). One Nihar Jatoi tied his wife to a bed and electrocuted her. One Bachal axed his wife Salma to death and fled. No arrests were reported. - The News.

Sargodha: A woman is in hospital after having both legs amputated because of severe injuries inflicted by her brother-in-law and mother-in-law, who clubbed her for her alleged illicit affairs. The woman, who was fighting for life, said the real reason was that her brother-in-law was trying to force her to arrange his marriage to her younger sister, but her sister had instead eloped with her paramour. - Dawn.

What chance of this woman becoming an international symbol, as has the boy who so tragically lost his arms during the invasion of Iraq?

Why is international public opinion not outraged at the treatment of women in Islamic fundamentalist societies? Why is it easier for millions of people around the world to see America as the great evil, rather than the countries in which governments ignore such horrific abuses of women?


Because elites around the world see American culture as a more immediate threat to their power than Islamic fundamentalism.
Glenn's comments

Al-Qaeda's death throws

Al-Qaeda is losing and they know it. From Iraq, Jordan and now Saudi Arabia they are starting to attack their own; Muslims. Just as Hitler, in the death throws of the Nazis, began to kill those around him.

This then is when they are most dangerous. Already deranged, their continued losses are pushing them further into the abyss.

They failed in New York. bin Laden miscalculated the US.

They failed in Afghanistan. bin Laden miscalculated the US again.

They failed in Iraq. bin Laden miscalculated the Iraqis.

They are failing all over the world as terror plots and cells are broken up. Most recently in Britain and I suspect in the US.
In a post just a few days ago I noted how in the same week the US an UK simultaneously took steps to protect both the Congress and Parliament. The UK acted on a "specific threat" of chemical attack.

Spain is their only success and Spain gave them that victory.

As a result of these losses they begin to strike out at their own kind whom they perceive to be traitors; Jordan and Saudi Arabia. These latest attacks on these two countries were not meant to be small like in Spain. These attacks would have been far more devastating than 911. The Jordan attack was intended to possibly kill up to 80,000 people, according to the Jordanians. Likewise the Saudi attack was meant to be far more lethal. The Saudis intercepted four of the five trucks, only the fifth hit its target.

What does all this mean for us?

Weather by fortune or chance the year 2004 will be Al-Qaeda's last stand both as an entity and movement. In 2004 their arch enemy, George W. Bush will be reelected. Even as I write this Kerry is self destructing just like Clark and Dean before him. Al-Qaeda must do everything in its power to stop Bush being reelected; Al-Qaeda knows this. Al-Qaeda cannot withstand four more years of a Bush administration.

If they fail this time they will lose all credibility and their followers will drift away looking for a new messiah. Hopefully a peaceful one this time.

Like a trapped and crazed animal Al-Qaeda will now lash out at anyone and anything. It can no longer see the enemy; everyone is the enemy now. We are seeing these blind attacks now. The big attack is yet to come. When it attacks it will use all of its weapons, all its cunning and all its fury.

Even a crazed animal can be cunning, very cunning. As I just mentioned, their latest plan for the US and UK seemed to be to go for decapitation of the government and not the leader. Again that failed.

US elections are now just seven months away. Time is running out. Look at the current tempo of attacks. Spain, Iraq, Britain (2 failed attempts) Jordan and Saudi Arabia all in just two months. And the attacks are getting bigger and bolder.

So where will the attack be?

The Middle East is lost and Al-Qaeda knows it. Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Jordan, Turkey - gone. Palestine - gone. Syria, Iran - going. Most of the rest of the world is being lost to them.

The only place where an attack will possibly make a difference or mean anything, will be the US, UK or both simultaneously. Only a catastrophic attack on one or both of these countries will galvanize the Jihadist world wide to push forward for an Islamic dominated world.

We know when and where. What about how?

A crazed animal learns its lessons well. Holed up in a cave, licking its wounds, its mind is focused on learning what went wrong and how to make a better kill next time.

The 911 attacks were meant to be more symbolic than destructive. bin Laden in a video tape was surprised the Twin Towers collapsed. He was probably more surprised at how quickly the financial markets in New York were up and running. But he will have most definitely noted the effect on the markets which still have not recovered to pre 911 levels. The US now has redundant market capabilities should New York be hit again. Does Britain? Likewise bin Laden will be following the political fallout of 911 via the 911 commission.

New York, Bali and Spain are recovering from conventional blasts. You can rebuild buildings and while lives take longer they to can be rebuilt.

The latest attack on Jordan and the possible attack on Parliament were both chemical. The next Al-Qaeda attack will be a WMD type attack.

With defeats mounting, space running out, time running out and facing the humiliation of Bush being reelected, Al-Qaeda will be aiming for a knock out blow. One that would bring America to its knees. Symbolic targets will not do this time.

A country functions through Politics and the economy. You need leaders to govern and an economy to run the country. Take out both and the country no longer functions.

The elections in seven months are not between Bush and Kerry; they are between the world and bin Laden.

So, what can we do?

As the brave passengers on the Pennsylvania flight said on 911, "Let's roll".
House of Hate to reopen

According to The Sun Finsbury Park mosque is due to reopen in three months time.

You will remember this is where Abu Hamza, aka Hamza the Hook, preaches his hate. Hamza was banned from preaching there so he now preaches in the street in front of the Mosque.

The Finsbury Park mosque was closed in January 2003 when CS gas and a stun gun were found there.

Gee, I would have thought incitement to violence and terrorism would have been enough.

Well the new king of camel dung is Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad.

You may remember Bakri from this article in Yahoo News in which he states

Several Islamic militant groups are preparing attacks on London, making such a strike unavoidable, a radical Muslim cleric said in an interview published Sunday.

"It's inevitable. Because several (attacks) are being prepared by several groups," Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad told Lisbon's Publica magazine from London where he is based.


And

He added: "We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity."

Here is a link to a detailed background to this Syrian.

Not only does Britain tolerate Bakri and Hamza, they pay them state benefits for the privilege!
The "sky is falling" on the BBC in Iraq

By Paul Reynolds, BBC News Online world affairs correspondent, writing for The BBC has been so traumatized by the "sky falling" in Iraq that he has taken to talking to Humvees.

American and British hopes that a hand over of "sovereignty" to an interim government on 30 June might lead to stability in Iraq are fading fast.

There was never any doubt in anyone's mind that Iraq's sovereignty was going to take a lot more time than 30 June. The coalition forces have said from the outset that they would be in Iraq to provide security for sometime after 30 June.

Setting a deadline and sticking to it makes sure the hand over process does not get bogged down. The Iraqi people will have to come together and step up to the plate. Saddam is gone and the Iraqi peoples moment is at hand.

As far as "hopes fading fast" nothing could be further from the truth. The coalition said, after announcing the date for the hand over of power, that the insurgents would escalate violence dramatically in the run up to 30 June. They have to. Once the hand over is complete on 30 June, despite the presence of large numbers of coalition troops, the insurgence will then be seen to be fighting their own country men. It is symbolic in an area of the world where symbolism is important.

[...]

It will not be an elected body to which moderate Iraqis can easily rally. It will last only until elections are held by the end of January 2005.

Which is what? A mere nine months away. For a country that has been ruled by a ruthless dictator for over 35 years I'd say that was pretty damn amazing!

Its power to control security policy will also be in doubt since US, British and other forces will stay on as a multi-national force under an American general.

You would prefer a Spanish one? There is nothing new in this. Maybe Mr. Reynolds needs to brush up on history. France, Germany and Japan seem to have fared pretty well after WWII.

He goes on to list four limitations he has concerns over. None of which I can see are a huge problem. Not everyone is going to be happy about how the transition is handled. Not everyone is happy about how things are run in any country. The bottom line is that it is an interim government that will lead to elections in nine months time.

Besides all of this is still a work in progress.

Foreign Office officials in London said that there would be an annex to the TAL which would "clarify" some of the powers of the Interim Government. The annex, a spokeswoman said, would include the issue of security control. It was still under discussion, she said.

Now, Mr. Reynolds talks to the Humvees.

A telling detail about the actual state of affairs on the ground is that the US army is making a world-wide search for armored Humvees. This is not a war which is getting easier, therefore.

As I pointed out earlier, everyone except the inept BBC, knew the insurgence would dramatically increase the level of violence in the run up to 30 June. The coalition forces made a decision to pull back their tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles in order to look more like peacekeepers than an occupying army. No doubt this was at the urging of the British who advocate a "softly, softly" approach and even stopped wearing their body armor for awhile. The US is paying the price for that policy now.

And then Mr. Reynolds throws in this tid bit.

The actions of soldiers carry more weight than the predictions of politicians.

Well there is one "action of soldiers" you should pay more attention to Mr. Reynolds. That is the reenlistment rate of the US military. It's on the up with all branches exceeding their goals.

From Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Apr. 24, 2004

U.S. Soldiers Re-Enlist in Strong Numbers

KIMBERLY HEFLING

Associated Press


FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Despite the shrapnel wounds Staff Sgt. William Pinkley suffered during his tour in Iraq, the 26-year-old is joining other soldiers who are re-enlisting at rates that exceed the retention goals set by the Pentagon.

As of March 31 - halfway through the Army's fiscal year - 28,406 soldiers had signed on for another tour of duty, topping the six-month goal of 28,377. The Army's goal is to re-enlist 56,100 soldiers by the end of September.


[...]

The Marines, which along with the Army have borne the brunt of combat in Iraq, said they have already fulfilled 90 percent of their retention goal for the fiscal year for getting Marines to re-up after their initial commitment. The Air Force and the Navy said they, too, are exceeding goals for getting airmen and sailors to re-enlist.

I fail to see how your article contributes one bit the building of Iraq. I see no "news" here, just a rehash of what is already known to everyone except possibly you.

So, Mr. Reynolds, the "sky is not falling", you need to get some history lessons, stop talking to inanimate objects, and start talking to real people.

You seem like a frightened little boy Mr. Reynolds. Pacing the floor, wringing your hands and muttering "Mustn't do this; too dangerous" "Mustn't do that; too risky" "Yes, yes stay at home; safe at home"

Best place for you and your whining, anti-American BBC buddies.
Iraq is not Vietnam but did we learn from Nam?

Ted Kennedy, Democratic US Senator from Massachusetts, said "Iraq is Bush's Vietnam; referring to the quagmire war his brother JF Kennedy and then his successor Johnson found themselves in.

Iraq is nothing like the war in Vietnam but that doesn't mean we can't and shouldn't apply some lessons learned.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, writing in Newsmax lays out some important lessons.

[...]

"... Iraq will only be another Vietnam if the home front collapses, as it did following the Tet offensive that began on the eve of the Chinese New Year, Jan. 31, 1968. ..."

After the first few hours of panic, the South Vietnamese troops reacted fiercely. They did the bulk of the fighting and took some 6,000 casualties. Viet Cong units not only did not reach a single one of their objectives - except when they arrived by taxi at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, blew their way through the wall into the compound and, guns blazing, made it into the lobby before they were wiped out by U.S. Marines. But they lost some 50,000 killed and at least as many wounded.

Gen. Giap had thrown some 70,000 troops into a strategic gamble that was also designed to overwhelm 13 of the 16 provincial capitals and trigger a popular uprising. But Tet was an unmitigated military disaster for Hanoi and its Viet Cong troops in South Vietnam. Yet that was not the way it was reported in U.S. and other media around the world.

It was television's first war. And some 50 million Americans at home saw the carnage of dead bodies in the rubble and dazed Americans running around.


[...]

Donning helmet, Mr. Cronkite declared the war lost. It was this now famous television news piece that persuaded President Lyndon Johnson six weeks later, on March 31, not to run for re-election. His ratings had plummeted from 80 percent when he assumed the presidency upon John F. Kennedy's death to 30 percent after Tet. Approval of his handling of the war dropped to 20 percent, his credibility shot to pieces.

[...]

But defeat became an option when Johnson decided the war was unwinnable and that he would lose his bid for the presidency in November 1968. Hanoi thus turned military defeat into a priceless geopolitical victory.

Even Giap admitted in his memoirs that news media reporting of the war and the anti-war demonstrations that ensued in America surprised him. Instead of negotiating what he called a conditional surrender, Giap said they would now go the limit because America's resolve was weakening and the possibility of complete victory was within Hanoi's grasp.

And the chances of the South Vietnamese army being able to hack it on its own were reasonably good, with one proviso: continued U.S. military assistance with weapons and hardware, including helicopters.

But Congress balked, first by cutting off military assistance to Cambodia, which enabled Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge communists to take over, which, in turn, was followed by a similar congressional rug-pulling from under the South Vietnamese, which led to rapid collapse of morale in Saigon.

The unraveling, with Congress pulling the string, was so rapid even Giap was caught by surprise. As he recounts in his memoirs, Hanoi had to improvise a general offensive - and then rolled into Saigon two years before they had reckoned it might become possible.


Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of the North Vietnamese army, received South Vietnam's unconditional surrender on April 30, 1975. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal after his retirement, he made clear the anti-war movement in the United States, which led to the collapse of political will in Washington, was "essential to our strategy."

Visits to Hanoi by Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and various church ministers "gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses."

America lost the war, concluded Bui Tin, "because of its democracy. Through dissent and protest, it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win."

Kennedy should remember that Vietnam was the war of his brother, who saw the conflict in the larger framework of the Cold War and Nikita Khrushchev's threats against West Berlin. It would behoove Kennedy to see Iraq in the larger context of the struggle to bring democracy not only to Iraq but also to the entire Middle East.


The President's approval rating is still above 50%, a recent Gallup Poll showed most Americans supported sending in more troops to Iraq and anti-war protests in the US attract very few protesters these days.

Perhaps we have learned some lessons. Events leading up to the US elections in November will tell one way or another.
Jordan terror suspects confession aired

Fox has a report on the airing of confessions by the terror cell who planned a chemical attack in Jordan.

AMMAN, Jordan — Al Qaeda plotted bomb and poison gas attacks against the U.S. Embassy and other targets in Jordan, suspects confessed in a videotape that aired Monday on Jordanian state television. A commentator said the plotters hoped to kill 80,000 people.

How long will it be before they succeed.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Iraq - the test

I wrote in an earlier article

It might be that Iraq will become the final test of will between the US, Syria, Iran and others. For they have to stop the US here and now. If the regional terrorists lose this one democracy will prevail in the entire Middle East and end their dream of an Islamic dominated world

Nelson Ascher writing in EuroPundits expands on the idea.

What’s going on in Iraq right now is one more test of America’s resolve. It’s not the first nor will it be the last.

The several jihadi groups are, in their own way, putting in practice, almost in a didactic sequence, the lessons they have been accumulating for over a quarter of century. As in Teheran or Beirut, Southern Lebanon or Cisjordania, they are basically trying to repeat things they’ve successfully done before: car-bombs, suicide bombings, hostage taking (as Saddam did during the first Gulf War and the Hizbollah in Lebanon), mob violence, lynchings etc. In other words, up to the moment, they have not presented us with anything particularly new or surprising.


That worries me. The recent boat attack on the Iraqi oil terminal was the first "new" type of attack in awhile. I worry that Al-Qaeda is either up to something big or is happy to let Iraq distract the world while it prepares for something big.

Good article and worth a read.
A terrorist game show From The International Hearld Tribune via Merde In France

Quick. What is the name of the Palestinian village near what is now the Israeli city of Ramla that was destroyed in 1949 and replaced by a town called Yavne? Too difficult? It's Yibna. Try another.

What structure built of gray sandstone in 1792 became the source of all oppressive decisions the world over?

This one should be easy: the White House.
.
If you answered both questions correctly, you might be prime fodder to compete on "The Mission," a game show running on Al Manar, the satellite television channel of Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese group. Contestants from around the Arab world compete each Saturday night for cash and the chance to win a virtual trip to Jerusalem. To heighten the drama, points won by the finalists translate directly into steps toward the holy city that are flashed onto a map of the region.

The show is a novel way for Hezbollah to promote its theme - that all Arab efforts should be concentrated on reconquering land lost to Israel, especially Jerusalem.

"Any program at this television station must present the idea that the occupation of Palestine must end," said Ihab Abi Nassif, a 28-year-old high school physics teacher who is the show's host. "That is the core issue, which is why we work day and night to keep it vivid in people's minds."

The game show, begun last fall, is a tad more subtle than the channel's other offerings outside its fairly straightforward news shows. The program "Terrorists," for example, plays endless loops of film from Israeli attacks that killed civilians. "Sincere Men," drawing its name from a Koranic verse about the strength of the faithful when facing battle, profiles either Hezbollah fighters who undertook suicide missions or those in waiting.

"The Mission" follows a standard game show format, with contestants quizzed about history, literature, geography, science and the arts. But at least half the questions revolve around Palestinian or Islamic history, and at least one contestant is usually Palestinian.

What kind of reality show would they put on?
New Iraqi flag

From AP News

The new flag is white, with two parallel blue strips across the bottom representing the rivers and a yellow stripe between them representing Iraq's Kurdish minority. Above the stripes is a blue crescent representing Islam.

Anyone seen one yet?
Deranged cleric derails deportation

From The Daily Star

Abu Hamza, aka Hamza the Hook, has hoodwinked the British justice system. You are not going to believe this.

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza has been given another nine months to avoid deportation.

[...]

And why you ask.

But the year-long legal battle to decide the 44-year-old's future has been delayed by Hamza's failure to produce any evidence in his defence and by rows about legal aid that could cost taxpayers up to 250,000.

Excuse me? If he didn't produce any evidence in his defence that is his fault.

Here is what he is accused of.

Ian Burnett QC, counsel for Mr Blunkett, told the hearing that Hamza had "provided support and advice to terrorist groups" including the GIA, an Algerian group, the Yemeni IAA group, an Egyptian organisation called the EIJ, a Kashmiri group called the HUA and "of course" al Qaida.

Hamza has "encouraged and supported the promotion of individuals in physical aspects of jihad fighting overseas and engaging in terrorist acts", Mr Burnett told the hearing.

He said Hamza had used the Finsbury Park mosque as a "centre of extremism and a safe haven for Islamic extremists, enabling them to develop the support and contacts necessary to further violent aims". Hamza also "promoted anti-western sentiment and violence through his teachings," Mr Burnett argued


Go figure.

UPDATE: Just found The Times article which is better.

Ian Burnett, QC, counsel for the Government, expressed his irritation with the delay, which has been fuelled by a wrangle over Abu Hamza's estimated £250,000 legal aid costs.

He told the tribunal: "We have just been told that Mr Hamza has chosen not to prepare his appeal over the last few months.


Why not just dismiss the appeal then?
Iraqis cheer US Soldiers

Here is the kind of story CNN and the BBC won't run.

This is one soldiers experience in Iraq.

From The Desert Dispatch


Sunday, April 25, 2004

Hesperia soldier says Iraq tour was eye-opening
Bryan Neice says most Iraqis still welcome America's presence
By GRETCHEN LOSI/Staff Writer


HESPERIA -- What a year for Bryan Neice.

Army Specialist Neice of the 51st Airborne Signal Battalion in Iraq, was serving with U.S. Army Rangers as well as Special Forces alongside his best friend, Specialist Justin Jacobsen, who he described as his "brother."

The two said they are glad to be home but angered by the way certain things have been handled, primarily by the media.

"CNN only airs what they want you to see," said Jacobsen. "I finally told my mom to stop watching, because it wasn't true."

Neice said the reality of a soldier's life in Iraq is quite the opposite from what is seen on the evening news.

"When we go through town, the crowds are cheering, crying, thanking us, giving us all thumbs up," Neice said.

Neice said the support from the locals in Baghdad was "at least 95 percent." He said the media is "wrong" and that the picture they are depicting for Americans is inaccurate.

"Americans need to know the truth. They (Iraqis) want us there. The support we got from locals was unreal," said Neice. "Sure, there are small pockets of resistance, but it's rare."
What it's like to be a Marine trapped in Falluja From Blackfive

This article tells the story, in their own words, of a group of Marines who were trapped in Falluja.

Stranded Marines fight to last bullets
From James Hider in Fallujah
April 16, 2004

THE 15 Marines were trapped in a house, surrounded by hundreds of Iraqis armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles, their armoured vehicle in flames on the street outside. Each man was down to his last two magazines. “It was in my head, we just got to go. Whoever makes it back, makes it back, those who fall, fall,” said Staff Sergeant Ismail Sagredo, sitting in the relative safety of Bravo Company’s forward base yesterday, as mortars and machinegun fire sounded a few streets away.

“That was the decision I’d have had to make, and I’m glad I didn’t have to do it.”

It was one of the most dramatic actions of the war.


Great article, well worth reading the whole thing.

SPECIAL NOTE: I recently wrote an article condemning the BBC for using an anti-war activist as the prime source for some outlandish claims about US forces.

The source, a well known anti-war activist, calimed that in Falluja, the scene of the fighting above, she saw "US gunmen firing at ambulances and civilians."

Note this paragraph in Hider's story.

In the midst of the firefight, with the armoured vehicle’s munitions blowing up, an ambulance pulled up. The Marines thought they were being rescued. Instead, 15 men with RPGs jumped out and started firing.

Believe who you want. Personaly, I'll believe a Marine fighting for his life over an anti-war activist fighting for publicity anytime.
Seems the Guardian has more than one clown

Scott Burgess over at The Daily Ablution tries to keep a straight face while reading Madeleine Bunting's article claiming the anti-globalization movement isn't dead despite this years May Day protest being cancelled.

Sample

London's May Day protests have been cancelled this year, in part due to lack of interest.

And

But the movement is far from dead. First of all, the media are ignoring it, therefore some participants are leaving.
[That's not the strongest way to begin your case, Madeleine]


Read the rest it's great stuff.
Europe is a eunuch

Max Hastings, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and the London Evening Standard, says so in The Guardian

For me this typifies one of the reasons why many Europeans, Britain's and many in the British press attack America.

Poor Max whines and wails so much you would think he had just been castrated.

Having read and written too many history books, Max bemoans the good old days when Britain ruled the waves and the world. He makes no bones about his jealousy of America and since he can't have her and his current lover isn't up to the task he calls for "creating credible European armed forces". Just don't invite Spain.

Rather than use facts, Max results to name calling and mud slinging - a sure sign you have no argument.

Overtaken on the motorway by a motorcycle weaving between lanes at reckless speed, we glance at the rider and mutter something about bloody fools. Curiosity focuses upon the pillion passenger. Is he or she enjoying this? Is it not ridiculous to put one's life absolutely in the hands of a reckless idiot? In other words: how does it feel to be Tony Blair in Iraq?

Max doesn't stop there. He goes after the US military as well.

"... But Britain's 8,000 troops on the ground noticed, and are not happy. They are prisoners of an American command whose incompetence is manifest, whose soldiers are unsuited to their task, whose failures of policy have been laid bare."

Prisoners, Max? Do settle down dear boy. I'm sure we can arrange a prisoner exchange program. Now who would you give in return?

"American command whose incompetence is manifest", Max? Now how far back to you want to go on this one Max? 1776, WWII, Vietnam (oops), The Balkans, Afghanistan and now Iraq. How fast and with how few casualties was that one won Max? The US just can't win with you guys, eh Max? If the US stays at home she is an isolationist and if she intervenes she is an empire builder.

"Unsuited" "Failures", all name calling Max. The facts are otherwise. Falluja and Najaf are a small part of Iraq and while they are flash points, news of late seem to indicate things are in hand. Notice Sadr has been asked by the local Mullahs in Najaf to lay down his arms. The peace was never going to be easy but it will come because the Iraqis desire it.

It might be that Iraq will become the final test of will between the US, Syria, Iran and others. For they have to stop the US here and now. If the regional terrorists lose this one democracy will prevail in the entire Middle East and end their dream of an Islamic dominated world.

Somehow, the world, in general, and the British, in particular, have to consider anew our relationship with the power of the US, granted the less-than-godlike nature of most of the presidents elected to exercise it.

Sorry Max, we don't elect gods and we don't believe in royal blood lines either.

Jim Steinburg, former deputy national security adviser to President Clinton, remarked to me a few months ago that for the cautious Clinton, policy-making was an intellectual game. "He'd try something, see how it played, push on if it seemed to work, pull back if it looked rough or the polls went wrong." The contrast with George Bush could not be more striking. He and his associates are driven by a set of primitive visceral convictions, from which they refuse to be budged by persuasion or evidence.

That's right Max, Clinton couldn't make a decision. That is why the world is in the shape it is today. As far as "cautious" Clinton, having oral sex in the White House is hardly cautious.

"persuasion or evidence" Max? Four jet liners loaded with fuel and aimed at the White House, Pentagon and the Twin Towers was pretty persuasive for most people Max.

Here are some clues as to where Max is coming from.

"... Bush's misnamed "war on terror", by highlighting US double standards towards Israel and Islam" and "We could press Bush to seek international legitimacy, to behave more even-handedly towards the Palestinians."

Max, Max, Max people have long seen through that "linking" smokescreen. Palestinians have vowed that Israel has no right to exist and their continued terror proves they have no intention of changing. The Palestinian issue was linked to the war on terror by bin Laden; a link the Palestinians themselves keep trying to distance from.

Until we address this, and against the background of a struggle against international terrorism that is likely to grow more alarming rather than less, America remains the indispensable ally and shield. That means George Bush. At the very moment when most of us feel surfeited with the president's vacuous grin and impregnable moral conceit, we cannot walk away from his follies unless or until Europe makes itself something quite different from the eunuch it is today.

Anybody know what "surfeited" means? I had to look it up. Anyway it seems poor Max has run out of ammunition and now attacks Bush's smile and morals. How can you have too much of either?

Things you will not see on the BBC

Najaf's leaders call on al-Sadr to end standoff From The Washington Times

NAJAF, Iraq (AP) — Tribal leaders in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf yesterday called on an anti-American cleric's militia to end its standoff with U.S. troops.

The statement, signed by 25 tribal leaders, was the first direct call by residents of Najaf for Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi's Army to put down its weapons.


Now I wonder why the BBC doesn't print this?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Welcome to our world Saudi Arabia

From LA Times via Jihad Watch

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Abdelaziz Raikhan was fuming Saturday, standing alongside his pickup and surveying the abandoned shops and blasted apartment buildings of downtown, a zone still littered with twisted cars and chunks of rubble from the suicide bombing of a police headquarters.

"They're mentally ill, this crowd," he said of the Islamic militants who killed at least five people and wounded 148 on Wednesday. Raikhan, 30, works as a maintenance man for the Saudi security forces; luckily, he was on the other side of town when his office was blown up.


There's not one American in this entire area," he said, sweeping an arm to take in a neighborhood eerily still, its streets laced with police tape. "Not one! What kind of jihad is this?"

Throughout the Saudi mainstream, the call has risen: This insurgency is not a jihad, because a jihad, or sacred struggle, does not kill fellow Muslims, let alone Saudis. Wednesday's attack, plainly meant to kill Saudi police and civilians milling through the tightly wound streets of downtown at rush hour, has infuriated Saudis.


Presumedly if an American had been in the area then that would have been ok.

This ascetic, oil-rich kingdom is stuck between the religious ideal of jihad, still widely embraced, and the bloody, nerve-wracked reality of a nation targeted by militants. Saudis curse the U.S. troops in Fallouja, Iraq, and praise Hamas suicide bombings in Israel even as they pass through metal detectors and steer their cars through the checkpoints that choke Riyadh's traffic to a standstill.

Many people here who have praised and supported jihad around the world are shocked to find themselves on the receiving end of a violence fueled by religious extremism.


Welcome to the party boys. Hey, you wanna pass me that ammo belt there fella?

The Riyadh attack, they say, doesn't fit the bill, and many people bristle at the comparison. Jihad is waged against an invading army or an occupying force, they point out. It does not apply to Muslim-on-Muslim terrorism, they say.

Seems ole Sama don't see it that way mate.

"It doesn't make sense; they're losing popularity and credibility, if they ever had any," Batarfi said. "The [American] troops have left, so what are you doing?"

"They're losing popularity" as any self respecting rapper would say "now ain't that a bitch".

We told you this had nothing to do with America. This is about world domination and you haven't been playing the game.

"It was a big relief when the Americans left," Abdullah Bejad, a former Saudi jihadi who is now among the reformers fighting for political liberalization, said in a recent interview. "By getting the American bases out of here the government has pulled a very strong excuse away from Al Qaeda."

Boy you guys are dumb. You and Spain need to get together and retake Terrorism 101.

[...]

"They hate the people of this country," she said. "They want them to be like the Taliban."

And so he fanned the spark and the spark became a flame and the flame a fire and there was warmth and light.
 
Brain Bliss