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Nine years ago this morning, the Islamist wing of the Muslim religion, a gigantic and merciless force, declared war on the West.
Islamists don’t believe in the principles of the West and plan to banish them from the Earth. The war, they claim, will continue until they win.
Well-financed, they show every sign of expanding into every corner of the planet. Most of the world’s Muslims dislike them but can’t stop them.
Those who live in the democracies of the West don’t believe the stated intentions of the Islamists. Mistakenly, we treat their existence as an oddity of history, a temporary eruption that will soon fade and shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with our lives.
Many of us worry more about the rights of the Islamists than about preserving our own traditions. We set up human rights councils to protect Islamists from words they might find offensive.
The West now lacks the conviction our way of life needs and deserves defending. Is modern Western society, four or five centuries in the making, a unique collective achievement? Or is it simply one way of organizing society, neither better nor worse than others?
The attack by Islamists should have encouraged us to confront this question. Instead, we have done our best to avoid thinking about it.
It’s become clear free speech and free inquiry are among the chief targets of the Islamists. They have developed the term Islamophobia as a stick to shame their critics into silence. At the same time, Islamists and their sympathizers have devoted themselves to finding reasons to be enraged. In this pursuit what they call Islamophobia is their rhetorical ally.
In 2005, after a Danish newspaper with a circulation of 120,000 published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, rabble-rousers in Syria, Lebanon and Iran stirred up furious protests. These led to mob violence. Police began shooting and some estimates place the resulting fatalities at 100 — in most cases fellow Muslims.
These killings inaugurated a new form of intimidation and censorship. Around the world many editors who would otherwise have published the cartoons decided against it, lest they inspire more demagogues to inflame more crazed gangs and thereby lead to more deaths.
It is as if Islamists were saying to the world: Don’t offend us or we’ll kill a lot of our people.
Because an idiot Christian pastor with a minuscule church in Gainesville, Fla., threatened to burn copies of the Koran, Muslims announced they would riot again.
Evangelical leaders, having failed to persuade the firebug pastor to desist, asked Muslims not to take his plans too seriously. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, argued no one should imagine one obscure minister, with a congregation numbered in the dozens, was speaking for 300 million Americans.
Anderson, poor fool, seemed unaware Islamists, trying to incite mindless violence for political gain, have no interest in accuracy or a sense of proportion. So protests began in Afghanistan; about the time the pastor was announcing he would suspend his bonfire, the first death was reported.
Something similar, on a larger scale, happened this week in the controversy over the 11-storey Islamic centre and mosque that may be built near the 9/11 site in New York.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is responsible for the building, moved the issue to a more ominous level when he said on television on Wednesday night the results will be dire if the controversy causes the centre to be located elsewhere.
“The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack,” Rauf predicted.
He said it would threaten U.S. troops and otherwise undermine U.S. security.
“This crisis could become much bigger than the Danish cartoon crisis,” he warned.
About two-thirds of Americans, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll, oppose building a mosque near Ground Zero. Rauf believes fear of violence should change the public’s attitude.
No one argues he is an Islamist, but he’s clearly playing Islamist violence as a political card.
It feels like a test case. If that threat silences opposition this time, the number of future uses of the same strategy is infinite. Rauf says his goal is to build a bridge among faiths but in this case his strategy sounds more like coercion:
“National security now hinges on how we negotiate this,” he said.
Burning books in Gainesville is ugly and mean-spirited but no more than that; Rauf is trying something more serious, eliminating free discussion by threatening violence.
In the climate that was created by 9/11 the fear of Islamophobia has created another threat, more serious in the long run: It inhibits the serious discussion of Islam.
Of all the great religions, Islam is unique in believing it should not be analyzed or criticized. The key point is the divine nature of the Koran. Because Muslims believe it is unalterably holy, any discussion of it is an affront.
In this sense Islam remains medieval. In 15th-century Europe, before Martin Luther, criticism of the Gospels and the Christian church was forbidden. In the year 2010 Islam still maintains that principle.
The Koran has never been scrutinized in the way the Bible has been studied since the 17th century. Ibn Warraq, a brilliant, Muslim-raised scholar whose books bring standard scholarly principles to the Koran, finds it necessary to travel with security guards.
Why should both practitioners and scholars not argue about Islam with the same frankness we bring to other world religions? Islamist violence subverts free speech and threatens to eliminate it altogether.
For the same reason, the possibility of separating religion from politics rarely gets even cursory discussion in the Islamic world.
Much in our life has changed since 9/11, as a visit to any airport in the world will demonstrate. But in the timorous way we think about Islam, far too much remains just as it was when we saw planes fly into the Twin Towers.
A reader comments:
There is NO SUCH THING as a “moderate” Muslim. I have acquainted myself with Islamic culture as well as cultivated “friendships” with Muslims. EVERY Muslim has told me that although they do not completely understand the Koran and the significance of the later interpretations taking precedence over the earlier ones (chronological significance and importance). Yet, upon command from their “imam” (so-called “spiritual” leader), they would commit “jihad” and kill the infidels. When asked “would that include ME”? their response (ratherly sheepishly) was YES. I rest my case.
The bombings earlier this month in London have once again focused the attention of the free world on the questions of what kind of people would commit such acts of barbarity and what motivates them.
I was in the United Kingdom when the attacks on July 7 occurred, safely celebrating my wife’s 41st birthday in a little town south of Glasgow, Scotland. Moderate Muslims and careful politicians in Britain were quick to disassociate the bombings from Islam. Those responsible are not “real” Muslims, we were assured; this is not what real Islam is all about.
This disassociation, however, has a hollow ring to it that, I suspect, many hear and are confused by. How can we say that these and other such terrorists are not real Muslims when every one of them comes from a Muslim background, often deliberately acts in the name of Islam, receives instruction from Islamic schools and practices their faith devotedly up to the point of blowing themselves and their targets to smithereens. Are they real Muslims or are they not?
The fact is (and no humour is intended), the answer to the last question is “Yes.” Islam is not a monolithic religion; it is a house with many rooms. Claiming that these terrorists are not real Muslims may provide comfort and a degree of protection to the many moderate Muslims who live in the West who abhor these attacks done in the name of their god. And it may help to maintain civil peace in societies like Britain, Europe, Canada and America with large ethnic Muslim populations. But refusing to acknowledge that these are real Muslims who commit such atrocities is both dishonest and dangerous and serves no one’s interest ultimately.
Personally, I believe that the phrase “the war of terrorism” is misleading and unhelpful. We are not at war with terrorism but with a branch of militant Islam. Let’s be honest about it. Terrorism is their weapon but their religious beliefs are what provide their basic motivation. These militants sincerely believe that they are the “real” Muslims and that the moderates are apostates. The war on terror cannot be won if we refuse to acknowledge what we are up against. Ideologies breed violence. We must lump militant Islam in the same category as Fascism and Marxism, whether we want to or not, as dangerous ideologies that cannot be appeased, reasoned with, excused, or ignored.
We must acknowledge the reality that this present terrorism is a problem within Islam and moderate Muslims must begin to acknowledge it openly and assume responsibility to effectively deal with it, both publicly and privately. For starters, Islamic religious leaders in the West must begin to actively cooperate with local police and security services. They must encourage their congregants to do likewise. To their credit, Muslims in the West often know and appreciate their rights in a free society far better than most. Now they must also join us in accepting the responsibility to maintain such a society. Cooperation with police and security forces are among these responsibilities. This also includes an active isolation and exclusion of militant elements within their own midst that promote violence and hatred as a means to an end. This must include public repudiation of teachers of such hatred and violence, identifying them by name. Such civil responsibility must include refusing to allow mosques to be used as recruiting grounds for militants and counselling parents not to send their children to schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan which are known to promote militant Islam. Until the Muslim community in the West begins to do more to actively uproot militancy from their own midst both publicly and privately, the claim that these terrorists are not “real” Muslims will never and should never be taken seriously.
Muslims living in the West must also learn to stop making exceptions to violence. As David Frum put it in his National Post editorial of July 12, “It’s hard to take a principled stand against al-Qaeda if you privately support Hamas and Hezbollah (in their actions against Israel). And to cry out that this violence in London would never have taken pace if the West had not stirred Muslim resentment by invading Iraq is short-sighted rhetoric. Forgotten is the fact that al-Qaeda actively recruited, conceived, strategized, and set in motion the events of 9/11 at a time when the United States and its Western allies were actively protecting Muslims in Kuwait, Kosova, and Bosnia. Nor can we blame the policies of the Bush administration for the rise of militant Islam. It was during the Clinton administration that al-Qaeda supported militant organizations like Laskar Jihad and similar groups in Indonesia, and received support and sanctuary from the murderous government of Sudan. It was during Clinton’s presidency that al-Qaeda blew two American embassies in Africa and first attempted to bomb the World Trade Centre in New York.
To be certain, the US-led invasion of Iraq has contributed to the galvanization of more Muslims against the West and helped convince them of the truth of Osama bin Laden’s vision for the world. But we must not forget that the roots of militant Islam go back much further than the beginning of the Iraq war. Al-Qaeda, itself, was founded in the 1980’s with the expressed purpose of overthrowing the Saudi monarchy (and goal that remains unchanged). And lest we forget, as Charles Krauthammer recently noted in Time (July 18, 2005 edition), al-Qaeda has always been quick to invent some excuse or historical injury to justify it barbarism. Today it is Iraq. Yesterday it was Palestine. And if all else fails, bin Laden refers to Andalusia and the loss of Muslim control in Spain to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. Rest assured that in the future, as conditions change, new excuses will arise and new causes will be invoked to justify the unjustifiable.
And if present attitudes prevail, many Muslims living in the West and their sympathizers, will parrot these new excuses and causes, attempting to shift (or at least share) the blame, justifying acts of terrorism or, at the very least, deflecting criticism. Western Muslims (and their supporters) cannot continue to hold to this modus operandi and ever expect their fellow citizens to accept their claim that Islam is a religion of peace.
The crux of the issue is, of course, can Muslims who have moved to the West come to accept the fact that Islam’s status in their adopted society is that of being one religion among equals? David Frum correctly points out that it is far from clear whether Western Muslims accept the Western way of doing things or yearn for a Middle-Eastern future. The number of mosques in western nations that preach violence and call for the overthrow of western society and the imposition of Shariah law in the West is worrisome. It also undermines claims that Islam is committed to peace.
I am prepared to accept this claim, but with conditions. I will believe that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance:
1. When Western Muslims are prepared to fully embrace living in inclusive, democratic countries governed by the rule of law.
2. When Western Muslims support attempts to transform their former homelands into societies where freedom of religious belief is as welcomes there as here.
3. When Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others can openly worship in Saudi Arabia and Muslims can be invited to consider the claims of Christ without fear of imprisonment, torture, and execution.
4. When Muslims can actually choose to change their religion anywhere in the world with the same ease that others can become Muslims today.
5. When Muslim moderates actively work to create Muslim societies around the world where religious minorities can feel safe from violence and retaliation for the actions of fellow religionists perceived to be against Islam, in the same way that they expect protection in the West from acts of vigilante retaliation for the acts of al-Qaeda.
6. When Muslim moderates actively work to end once and for all, the discriminatory practice of dhimmitude that disguises oppression for protection of religious minorities in Muslim societies.
7. When Muslim moderates act to make effective legal changes that recognize equal rights under law to all citizens, regardless of gender or religion.
This is the crux of the matter. While Islam is a house with many rooms, the entire building rests upon a foundation of religious intolerance and discrimination that we must insist on being abandoned and rebuilt. Such fundamental changes must be made.
Am I optimistic that they can be? Not really. That’s why I am not sure that the so-called “war of terrorism” can ever be won. While we are fighting against one room in the house of Islam, the room shares the same foundation with the rest of the house. This is perhaps why so few moderate Muslims are prepared to speak up. While they abhor the violence and the terror done in the name of Islam, they know that they share too much in common to address the real issues that could put an end to militancy in Islam. How do you begin without dismantling the house entirely?
Glenn Penner is Communications Director for The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada. He is also Visiting Professor at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and author of a unique new book exploring the Biblical theology of persecution and discipleship.
We are living in dangerous times, but far too many Americans seem to have forgotten this unforgiving fact. How can so many forget the unforgettable?
Terror is a tragic teacher, and the memories of September 11, 2001 haunt us even now. The images of planes crashing, towers collapsing, and bodies falling will be forever seared into our memories. Just to say “9/11” is to invoke a flood of remembrance and the bitter taste of tragedy.
More than three years after 9/11, what have we learned? The immediate aftermath of the terror attacks in New York and Washington was widespread confusion. What had happened? Who was responsible? How awful is the damage? How many have died? Is more to come? The confusion gave way to the even more terrifying clarity. The carnage was just too much to imagine—but too real to deny.
We know so much more now than we knew then. But have we really learned anything? We must hope so, but lessons learned in a moment of urgency have a way of fading into memory. What lessons must remain?
First, the terror has taught us to accept reality. This is a dangerous world. Towers we thought to be sound were attacked in a nation we thought to be safe, hit by airplanes we thought were no threat. Reality has a way of interrupting our dreams, and Americans have dreamed ourselves safe from the dangers that threaten the rest of the world. Those dreams came to an end on September 11. Americans now routinely accept levels of scrutiny and screening that would have baffled previous generations. We line up for airport security checks, taking off shoes and coats, while we send our earthly goods through x-ray machines and walk through metal detectors—all the while talking with friends and family as if this were normal, for now it is. How can people who board airplanes fail to remember that we live in a dangerous world?
Second, the terror has taught us to distinguish between good and evil. Our age has grown ever more reluctant to make moral judgments. Moral cowardice has denied the inherent evil of immoral acts. Moral relativism has denied any objective judgment of right and wrong. A naive non-judgmentalism often masquerades as moral humility. A refusal to make moral judgments is not humility—it is insanity.
The American university culture has embraced this false humility as a basic worldview. Speaking of morally disarmed college students, journalist David Brooks explained: “On campus they found themselves wrapped in a haze of relativism. There were words and jargon and ideas everywhere, but nothing solid that would allow a person to climb from one idea to the next. These students were trying to form judgments, yet were blocked by the accumulated habits of nonjudgmentalism.”
These “accumulated habits of nonjudgmentalism” are very much in evidence on America’s campuses today—and in the academic world of publishing and public lectures. Why would we expect moral sanity from a campus culture that celebrates Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Noam Chomsky as wise men?
These accumulated habits were of no use on September 11. The attacks on New York and Washington, carefully planned to maximize civilian casualties and terror, were unadulterated evil. These were not acts of cultural rebellion or national liberation—they were acts of murderous terror at the hands of men rightly named as murderous terrorists. We came face to face with the undeniable reality of evil. Moral relativism was stripped of its disguise on September 11. It is evil to speak of those attacks as anything less than evil.
Third, we learned once again that God is ultimately in control, or else we are lost in a cosmos of chaos. Tragedy breeds theological tremors. Is God really in control? Could a good God allow such pain and loss? Can we really know anything about God at all?
Christians were called upon to answer with the calm confidence of biblical truth and genuine faith. God has revealed Himself in the Bible, and He has shown Himself to be both omnipotent and loving. Both truths are non-negotiable, and each complements the other. We have no choice but to affirm both truths as two sides of one great truth, and to affirm that God’s sovereignty and His moral perfection are established in His own revelation and in His own terms.
Fourth, we learned that the Gospel has enemies. We should have known this all along, for the Apostle Paul described the Gospel of Christ’s cross as a stumbling block and scandal. The cross has its enemies. The attacks of 9/11 were made in the name of Islam—not in the name of secularism. Moslem and non-Moslem alike argued whether Islam is at war with America, or if the terrorists were acting in violation of the Koran. Whatever the merits of those arguments, the more important truth is that Islam is at war with the cross of Christ.
Those who love the gospel learned again that Islam rejects Christ as the incarnate Son of God and the cross as the atonement for our salvation. There can be no reconciliation between the claims of Christianity and the claims of Islam. The enemies of the cross know this full well.
Secularism raised its head in the aftermath of 9/11 to warn that anyone who takes truth claims seriously is a potential terrorist—the Christian as well as the Muslim. Claims that Jesus is the only Savior and that salvation is found in His name alone were dismissed as “theological terrorism” and religious extremism. For this the early Christian martyrs gave their lives.
Fifth, we learned that spirituality is no substitute for Christian faith. Churches were filled to capacity in the weeks following September 11. Some observers predicted a period of national revival and openness to the Gospel. That did not happen. Within just a few months church attendance had fallen to pre-9/11 levels. The national trauma produced flutterings of “spirituality” but little evidence of renewed Christian conviction.
Spirituality is what is left when authentic Christianity is evacuated from the public square. It is the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth. Spirituality affirms us in our self-centeredness and soothingly tells us that all is well. Authentic faith in Christ calls us out of ourselves, points us to the cross, and summons us to follow Christ.
The lessons terror taught us are still fresh for those with the will to remember. The gaping hole in Manhattan’s skyline and the scarred landscape of Washington point to the unspeakably greater loss measured in human life and human misery. The distance of years has not healed the wounds, but it has sharpened the memory. There are lessons we have learned. In the midst of a very different war, the indomitable G. K. Chesterton understood the same lessons.
From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!
—G. K. Chesterton, “A Hymn”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Carol Platt Liebau
With approximately 21 million Americans flying during the 12-day period surrounding Thanksgiving – and more preparing to fly over the Christmas holidays — the public debate over the new, intrusive TSA searches isn’t likely to die down any time soon. Nor should it.
Certainly, in a democratic republic, citizens have every right to weigh in on the proper balance between freedom and security (although it is a bit rich when those who routinely sport today’s most revealing fashions — or their parents — suddenly react with shocked modesty to the prospect of scanners showing what’s already pretty well evident to the naked eye). But the widespread outrage is more than the traditional American aversion to intrusive, overreaching government.
In truth, it’s a revolt against the Obama administration’s moral obtuseness in prosecuting the war on terror. The kind of searches the TSA is now empowered to conduct signal that the terrorist threat is real, and pressing, and imminently dangerous to each of us – so dangerous, in fact, that government agents must have license to grope anyone in the security line in the most personal, intimate ways. Now, Americans might be willing to accept this level of intrusion – where any law-abiding citizen can be treated as a potential terrorist – if it were consistent with the administration’s approach to confronting terrorism and those who engage in it.
But it’s not. And that mismatch rightly generates public disgust and outrage.
Think of the President’s longstanding approach to the war on terror. From the beginning, candidate Obama sent the message that the Bush administration was overreacting to the potential for attacks by Islamic extremists. Indeed, since taking office, the President has used the phrase “war on terror” less than a dozen times, preferring instead circumlocutions like “overseas contingency operation.” (And who can forget Janet Napolitano’s famous “man-caused disasters”?)
Worse, the administration has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to treating terrorism like a law-enforcement matter, rather than a military one. From proposing to move Guantanamo Bay prisoners to US prisons and send the 9/11 plotters to trial in Manhattan to terminating the questioning of the Christmas bombing suspect after one hour and reading him his Miranda rights, the Obama administration has been exquisitely sensitive to the perceived rights and sensibilities of suspected terrorists.
There’s a cost to that sensitivity, as the American people were recently reminded by the near-acquittal of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantamo detainee to face trial in a civilian court. He was convicted on only one count, and acquitted on more than 280 others, when the civilian rules of evidence barred key witness testimony about Ghailani personally providing explosives for a terrorist plot to destroy a US embassy in Africa. Nevertheless, the administration seems determined to persist with a civilian trial – complete with all the civil rights trimmings – for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
So as law-abiding American citizens stand patiently in security lines and submit to embarrassingly intimate searches by TSA employees (themselves uncomfortable with the new inspection regime), no wonder they are angry. If the President himself seemed deeply concerned about the potential of further terrorist attacks – and insisted on dealing sternly with those who perpetrate them – no doubt Americans would be more receptive to his insistence that they be treated like potential terrorists when they travel. But so long as he seems committed to treating terrorists – even known terrorists – to the full panoply of rights available to American citizens while subjecting American citizens to treatment that suggests each of them is a potential terrorist, there will be public outrage. And that’s just fine. Outrage is the appropriate response by decent, free people to their leaders’ willful moral blindness.
In response to a Nigerian Muslim trying to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, the government will now prohibit international travelers from going to the bathroom in the last hour before the plane lands.
Terrorists who plan to bomb planes during the first seven hours of the eight-hour flight, however, should face no difficulties, provided they wait until after the complimentary beverage service has been concluded.
How do they know Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab didn’t wait until the end of the flight to try to detonate explosives because he heard the stewardess announce that the food service was over and seats would have to be placed in their upright position? I can’t finish my snack? This plane is going down!
Also prohibited in the last hour of international flights will be: blankets, pillows, computers and in-flight entertainment. Another triumph in Janet Napolitano’s “Let’s stay one step behind the terrorists” policy!
For the past eight years, approximately 2 million Americans a day have been subjected to humiliating searches at airport security checkpoints, forced to remove their shoes and jackets, to open their computers, and to remove all liquids from their carry-on bags, except minuscule amounts in marked 3-ounce containers placed in Ziploc plastic bags — folding sandwich bags are verboten — among other indignities.
This, allegedly, was the price we had to pay for safe airplanes. The one security precaution the government refused to consider was to require extra screening for passengers who looked like the last three-dozen terrorists to attack airplanes.
Since Muslims took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, every attack on a commercial airliner has been committed by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair color, eye color and skin color. Half of them have been named Mohammed.
An alien from the planet “Not Politically Correct” would have surveyed the situation after 9/11 and said: “You are at war with an enemy without uniforms, without morals, without a country and without a leader — but the one advantage you have is they all look alike. ... What? ... What did I say?”
The only advantage we have in a war with stateless terrorists was ruled out of order ab initio by political correctness.
And so, despite 5 trillion Americans opening laptops, surrendering lip gloss and drinking breast milk in airports day after day for the past eight years, the government still couldn’t stop a Nigerian Muslim from nearly blowing up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.
The “warning signs” exhibited by this particular passenger included the following:
His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
He’s a Muslim.
His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
He boarded a plane in Lagos, Nigeria.
He paid nearly $3,000 in cash for his ticket.
He had no luggage.
His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Two months ago, his father warned the U.S. that he was a radical Muslim and possibly dangerous.
If our security procedures can’t stop this guy, can’t we just dispense with those procedures altogether? What’s the point exactly?
(To be fair, the father’s warning might have been taken more seriously if he had not simultaneously asked for the U.S. Embassy’s Social Security number and bank routing number in order to convey a $28 million inheritance that was trapped in a Nigerian bank account.)
The warning from Abdulmutallab’s father put his son on some list, but not the “no fly” list. Apparently, it’s tougher to get on the “no fly” list than it was to get into Studio 54 in the ‘70s. Currently, the only people on the “no fly” list” are the Blind Sheik and Sean Penn.
The government is like the drunk looking for his keys under a lamppost. Someone stops to help, and asks, “Is this where you lost them?” No, the drunk answers, but the light’s better here.
The government refuses to perform the only possibly effective security check — search Muslims — so instead it harasses infinitely compliant Americans. Will that help avert a terrorist attack? No, but the Americans don’t complain.
The only reason Abdulmutallab didn’t succeed in bringing down an airplane with 278 passengers was that: (1) A brave Dutchman leapt from his seat and extinguished the smoldering Nigerian; and (2) the Nigerian apparently didn’t have enough detonating fluid to cause a powerful explosion.
In addition to the no blanket, no computer, no bathroom rule, perhaps the airlines could add this to their preflight announcement about seat belts and emergency exits: “Should a passenger sitting near you attempt to detonate an explosive device, you may be called upon to render emergency assistance. Would you be willing to do so under those circumstances? If not we will assign you another seat ...”
Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.
The three, all members of the Navy’s elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral’s mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.
Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named “Objective Amber,” told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.
Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.
Matthew McCabe, a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class (SO-2), is facing three charges: dereliction of performance of duty for willfully failing to safeguard a detainee, making a false official statement, and assault.
Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe, SO-2, is facing charges of dereliction of performance of duty and making a false official statement.
Petty Officer Julio Huertas, SO-1, faces those same charges and an additional charge of impediment of an investigation.
Neal Puckett, an attorney representing McCabe, told Fox News the SEALs are being charged for allegedly giving the detainee a “punch in the gut.”
“I don’t know how they’re going to bring this detainee to the United States and give us our constitutional right to confrontation in the courtroom,” Puckett said. “But again, we have terrorists getting their constitutional rights in New York City, but I suspect that they’re going to deny these SEALs their right to confrontation in a military courtroom in Virginia.”
The three SEALs will be arraigned separately on Dec. 7. Another three SEALs — two officers and an enlisted sailor — have been identified by investigators as witnesses but have not been charged.
FoxNews.com obtained the official handwritten statement from one of the three witnesses given on Sept. 3, hours after Abed was captured and still being held at the SEAL base at Camp Baharia. He was later taken to a cell in the U.S.-operated Green Zone in Baghdad.
The SEAL told investigators he had showered after the mission, gone to the kitchen and then decided to look in on the detainee.
“I gave the detainee a glance over and then left,” the SEAL wrote. “I did not notice anything wrong with the detainee and he appeared in good health.”
Lt. Col. Holly Silkman, spokeswoman for the special operations component of U.S. Central Command, confirmed Tuesday to FoxNews.com that three SEALs have been charged in connection with the capture of a detainee. She said their court martial is scheduled for January.
United States Central Command declined to discuss the detainee, but a legal source told FoxNews.com that the detainee was turned over to Iraqi authorities, to whom he made the abuse complaints. He was then returned to American custody. The SEAL leader reported the charge up the chain of command, and an investigation ensued.
The source said intelligence briefings provided to the SEALs stated that “Objective Amber” planned the 2004 Fallujah ambush, and “they had been tracking this guy for some time.”
The Fallujah atrocity came to symbolize the brutality of the enemy in Iraq and the degree to which a homegrown insurgency was extending its grip over Iraq.
The four Blackwater agents were transporting supplies for a catering company when they were ambushed and killed by gunfire and grenades. Insurgents burned the bodies and dragged them through the city. They hanged two of the bodies on a bridge over the Euphrates River for the world press to photograph.
Intelligence sources identified Abed as the ringleader, but he had evaded capture until September.
The military is sensitive to charges of detainee abuse highlighted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The Navy charged four SEALs with abuse in 2004 in connection with detainee treatment.
LONDON — A camera that can see through people’s clothing at distances of up to 80 feet has been developed to help detect weapons, drugs and explosives.
The camera could be deployed in railway stations, shopping centers and other public spaces.
Although it can see objects under clothes, its designers say the images do not show anatomical details. However, it is likely to increase fears that Britain has become a surveillance society.
The new technology, known as the T5000 system, has attracted interest from police forces, train companies and airport operators as well as government agencies.
It has been developed by ThruVision, an Oxfordshire-based company spun out from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, one of the British government’s leading physics research centers.
It was designed for use in spacecraft and astronomy but researchers soon realized that cameras capable of seeing through clouds of cosmic dust could also see through clothing.
This week the camera will be displayed at the Home Office scientific development branch’s annual exhibition, Britain’s premier showcase for security equipment, to be held on an RAF airbase in Buckinghamshire.
ThruVision already offers a smaller system designed for office foyers that can scan through clothing at a range of 30 to 40 feet.
This has been used at the Canary Wharf complex in east London, which is home to several global banks and is regarded as a target for terrorists. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange has a similar installation.
The system can be linked to a computer so that it can automatically scan anyone passing and alert its human operator to anything suspicious.
Clive Beattie, ThruVision’s chief executive, said: “Acts of terrorism have shaken the world in recent years and security precautions have been tightened globally. The T5000 dramatically extends the range over which we can scan people.”
Bill Foster, the president of Thermal Matrix, an American defense contractor specializing in imaging systems for the U.S. military, is one customer. He said: “This could be deployed at major sporting events, concerts and rail stations as well as for military use.”
The technology works by detecting and measuring terahertz waves, or T-waves for short. These are a form of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by all people and objects that lie between the infrared and microwave parts of the spectrum.
The waves from any given material also carry a distinctive signature, offering the potential to distinguish Semtex plastic explosive from modeling clay and cocaine from sugar.
MIAMI, Fla. — While the debate grows on how to tackle global jihadism on the Internet, some security experts warn that “cyber vigilantes” — people who track and help shut down terror-related Web sites — are compromising government investigations with their amateur sleuthing tactics.
Michael Radu, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and an expert on terror-related Web sites, said the government is already overburdened trying to monitor the thousands of sites on the Web believed to contain radical Muslim messages. These cyber vigilantes, he said, are not helping.
“It is very unlikely they will find something of significance in the Internet that the government doesn’t already know,” Radu said. “They are redundant at best.”
Cyber vigilantes typically troll the Internet, searching message boards, Web sites and media sharing sites for incendiary postings from people with ties to terror groups like Al Qaeda. Using Arabic translation software, they monitor postings and even assume fake identities to join online conversations.
One of them is Bill Warner, a Sarasota, Fla.-based private investigator and a self-proclaimed cyber-crusader.
Just last month alone, Warner was instrumental in helping shut down three Web sites hosted by a Tampa Internet service provider (ISP) that contained text, images and video related to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One site contained footage of a U.S. military mine sweeper being blown up by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). According to Warner, the site claims that all the troops aboard the vehicle were killed. (www.alekhlaas.info)
The same site, which is still operational, shows what appears to be footage of fighters in Afghanistan firing on U.S. troops and what is believed to be the destruction of an American mine sweeper in Iraq.
Warner said the popular site is nearing 19 million hits over the last 10 months, and is among a growing number meant to incite would-be followers to join the ranks of extremist groups like Al Qaeda and provide information on how to carry out attacks and build weapons.
“This is what Al Qaeda does now,” said Warner.
He said the World Wide Web is where the real fight for global jihad is being fought.
Sites such as these are often hosted by ISPs in the U.S. because they have large bandwidth, making posting and viewing large videos easier. Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet and foreign language content, U.S.-based ISPs can’t provide sufficient screening and oversight.
Warner said he alerted the local police and the FBI in Tampa after he identified three Web sites hosted by the Florida ISP. In some cases the sites were removed within hours. But he said others remained online for days after he reported their presence.
But not everyone thinks Warner’s vigilance is helpful.
“There are a lot of weekend warriors and quasi vigilantes out there that think they can do what the government can’t,” said a private intelligence contractor for the U.S. government who has been investigating jihadist Web sites for more than 15 years. The contractor spoke to FOXNews.com on condition of anonymity due to his continuing work with U.S. intelligence.
He said that when cyber-sleuths alert authorities or ISPs to the whereabouts of an extremist site, the page is removed — only to reappear somewhere else, and sometimes within hours.
“For those working in the intelligence community, it becomes extremely costly, because then they have to go looking for the sites all over again,” said the private intelligence contractor, noting that U.S. intelligence often knows of the sites for a long time and monitors their traffic to look for clues to their origins, creators and visitors.
When the site comes down, he said, intelligence investigations can be ruined.
“They have good intentions, but end up doing more harm than good,” he said.
But Yigal Carmon, President of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Middle East media monitoring group, said the sites reported by Warner are tools of “ideological recruitment” that should be removed from the Internet entirely, and especially from American ISPs.
“Why is it that [an] American ISP can host them?” Carmen asked. “When these sites appear there, the whole war on terrorism becomes a joke.”
Lt. Col. Joseph Felter of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center said the increased participation to battle online terrorists is a good thing.
“The more people that we get involved combating the threat, the better,” said Felter. “God knows the enemies are getting a whole lot of people on board.”
But Radu warns that without specific knowledge of extremist groups or languages like Arabic, Urdu and Farsi, Cyber vigilantes don’t always understand what they’re looking at.
“Those people are nuisances, nuisances that already burden an overworked government and should be discouraged,” Radu said. “No matter what their intentions are, they are overburdening the government” and “have nothing to contribute.”
Cyber vigilante Aaron Wisesburd has taken a similar approach to Warner, tackling terror-related Web sites and reporting his findings to authorities.
Wiseburd, the creator of the Web monitoring site Internet Haganah, which collects and stores intelligence for governments to use, said he was responsible for the dismantling of thousands of extremist sites.
Weisburd’s critics say posting of sensitive material on his site may reveal too much and jeopardize ongoing investigations.
Wiseburd is reticent to discuss his efforts, due to safety concerns — he said he has received death threats and a handwritten note mailed to his home from a disgruntled site creator. But he said he won’t stop fighting the emerging threat of cyber terrorism.
He and Warner say their work is an important part of stopping terrorist groups from gaining a recruiting foothold in the U.S. and inspiring others to form their own spin-off extremist groups.
“If a Web site is calling for U.S. citizens to be killed, it should be shut down,” Warner said. “If it incites these wackos who don’t have direct allegiance to Al Qaeda to commit attacks, then it shouldn’t be on the Internet, period.”
But a private intelligence contractor said winning the War on Terror isn’t just about shutting down sites; it’s about tackling the heart of the problem.
“Great. Somebody shut down a bunch of websites. What we’re trying to do is find out where the terrorists are.”
Many analysts and commentators have speculated what america’s enemies might think about liberal politicians, celebrities and activists who protest the war in iraq, call terrorists “freedom fighters,” express solidarity with terror-supporting countries or even question who was behind the 9/11 attacks.
In a shocking new book, author and wnd jerusalem bureau chief aaron klein actually petitions muslim terrorists to respond to the statements and actions of american public figures such as anti-war activist cindy sheehan, sen. Hillary Clinton, sen. Barbara Boxer, rep. John Murtha, house speaker nancy pelosi and entertainment personalities Rosie O’donnell, Sean Penn and Jane Fonda. The jihadists overwhelmingly applauded the liberal leaders.
In “Schmoozing with terrorists: from Hollywood to the holy land jihadists reveal their global plans – to a Jew!,” Klein in one chapter assembles a panel of senior terrorist leaders and asks them to sound off about high-profile liberals. He also asks about conservative personalities from ronald reagan through rush limbaugh.
The terrorists were familiar with some of the names, while for others the jihadists were provided with a series of statements and speeches to which to respond.
Klein, for example, had a speech made earlier this year by penn translated into arabic. In the speech, penn, who in 2005 paid a solidarity visit to tehran, called iran a “great country,” slammed president bush and vice president cheney as “villainous and criminally obscene people” and suggested iran had the right to obtain a nuclear weapon since the u.s. has a nuclear arsenal.
In “schmoozing” Klein also read to the terrorists statements from o’donnell in which she argued terrorists are people, too. “don’t fear the terrorists. They’re mothers and fathers,” said o’donnell.
The former daytime talk host also has raised questions about whether al-qaida was responsible for 9/11; implied the iranian seizure of 15 british sailors in march was a hoax to provide bush with an excuse to attack tehran; and doubted whether confessed 9/11 mastermind khalid sheik mohammed really planned the attacks.
Klein discussed with the terrorists demands for a quick u.s. withdrawal from iraq by politicians such as boxer and murtha.
He asked jihadists what they thought of pelosi’s visit last april against the recommendations of the white house to meet with syrian president bashar assad.
During a photo opportunity, a smiling pelosi stated, “we came in friendship, hope and determined that the road to damascus is a road to peace.”
Syria openly hosts palestinian terrorist leaders, signed a military alliance with iran and is accused of arming and funding the lebanese hezbollah terror group and aiding the insurgency against u.s. troops in iraq.
Klein also read to the terrorists speeches and statements by sheehan, who has called terrorists “freedom fighters” and has accused bush of waging war in iraq for israeli interests.
Why schmooze with the professed enemies of western civilization?
States klein: “in the midst of america’s war on terror, in the midst of our grand showdown with islamofascism, with our boys and girls deployed in iraq and afghanistan and around the world to defend liberty, it is crucial for all of us to understand the adversary we are up against and how some of our policies and personalities are emboldening the terrorists to think they are winning.”
Klein explains he believes america is in trouble. While the U.S. has made enormous advances in the war on terror the past few years, it is encouraging terrorists to attack, and people don’t even know it, he professes.
“if the american approach to identifying, understanding, and dealing with terrorism is not re-examined in the very near future, if we don’t immediately begin to understand how the terrorists think and respond to our policies, we face a devastating reality, with global jihad beating down our doorstep before we even realize what happened,” states klein.
Among the highlights of “schmoozing with terrorists:”
* Madonna and Britney Spears stoned to death? What life in the U.S. would be like if the terrorists win.
* Jihadists list their u.s. election favorites, mouth off about politicians and even threaten to kill one 2008 presidential candidate.
* Klein and friends confront well-armed senior terrorists about whether suicide bombers really get 72 virgins after their deadly operation.
* a shocking expose on how your tax dollars fund terrorism!
* Bibles used as toilet paper, synagogues as rocket launching zones? Meet the leaders of the most notorious holy site desecrations in history.
* the under-reported story of christian persecution in the middle east as told by the antagonists and victims.
* terrorists offer tips on how to win the war on terror!
Klein has been interviewing terrorists since age 19, when he spent a weekend with a group connected to al-qaida. He reports daily from israel, going where many of his media colleagues dare not tread.
The oldest of 10 children, klein attended jewish schools from kindergarten through college at yeshiva university in new york, where he served as editor-in-chief of the undergraduate student newspaper.
BRAMPTON, Ontario — One of the members of an alleged terror cell in Canada plotted to behead the prime minister, according to charges released Tuesday.
Steven Vikash Chand allegedly plotted to attack Canada’s parliament, including taking political hostages and beheading Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to the details released Tuesday.
Authorities said Chand’s plans were part of a larger plot to use three tons of explosives rigged with cell phone detonators in a terror campaign across the country to secure the release of Muslim prisoners from Canadian and Afghan prisons and demand the removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.
Chand, 25, was one of 17 suspects who were led into the court in groups handcuffed at the wrist for what amounted to a brief court appearance. Charges were read against Chand and one other suspect as family members listened intently from the first three rows of seating.
“There’s an allegation apparently that my client personally indicated that he wanted to behead the prime minister of Canada,” attorney Gary Batasar said. “It’s a very serious allegation. My client has said nothing about that.”
Batasar spoke outside the courthouse, where bail hearings for 10 of the 17 suspects were postponed. He said the charges were based on fear-mongering by government officials.
“It appears to me that whether you’re in Ottawa or Toronto or Crawford, Texas, or Washington, D.C., what is wanting to be instilled in the public is fear,” he said.
The Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton, a small city just west of Toronto, said Monday the suspects faced charges including participating in a terrorist group, importing weapons and planning a bombing.
Police expect more arrests and intelligence officers are probing possible ties between the Canadian suspects — 12 men and five teenagers — and Islamic terror cells in six nations, including the United States.
“We’ve by no means finished this investigation,” Mike McDonell, deputy commissioner for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told the AP. “In fact, you might look at it that, really, we’re just starting with the arrests. We have a responsibility to follow every lead.”
McDonell said Monday that there are “foreign connections,” but he would not elaborate.
A U.S. law enforcement official said investigators were looking for connections between those detained in Canada and suspected Islamic militants held in the United States, Britain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Denmark and Sweden.
U.S. authorities have established that two men from Georgia who were charged this year in a terrorism case had been in contact with some of the Canadian suspects via computer, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
The U.S. Border Patrol put agents on high alert along the 4,000-mile border and stepped up inspections of traffic from Canada.
A Muslim leader who knew the oldest suspect, 43-year-old Qayyum Abdul Jamal, told The Associated Press that his sermons at a local mosque were “filled with hate” against Canada.
Canadian police say there is no evidence the suspect group had ties to Al Qaeda, but describe its members as sympathetic to jihadist ideology. Officials are concerned that many of the 17 suspects were about 20 years old and had been radicalized in a short amount of time.
Officials announced Saturday that the suspects were arrested after the group acquired three tons of ammonium nitrate, which can be mixed with fuel oil to make a powerful explosive. One-third that amount was used in the deadly bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.
“It came to a point where our concern for the safety and security of the public far outweighed our appetite for collecting evidence,” said McDonell, the RCMP deputy commissioner.
Click here to read a copy of the charges (FindLaw.com)
Some people who know the suspects said they were astonished by the arrests.
But Faheem Bukhari, a director of the Mississauga Muslim Community Center, said Jamal, the oldest suspect, gave hateful, intolerant sermons to young Muslims at a storefront mosque in Mississauga, a city near Toronto where six of the suspects lived.
“These youth were very fun-loving guys, soccer-loving guys, and then all of sudden they were not associating with guys they used to,” Bukhari said, referring to the younger suspects.
“People around him knew he was very extreme,” Bukhari said, adding that Jamal once told “the audience that the Canadian Forces were going to Afghanistan to rape women.”
Canada has about 2,300 soldiers in southern Afghanistan to bolster Afghan reconstruction and combat Taliban militants.
The adult suspects all are charged with one count of participating in a terrorist group.
Three of them — Fahim Ahmad, 21, Mohammed Dirie, 22, and Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24 — also are charged with importing weapons and ammunition for the purpose of terrorist activity.
Nine face charges of receiving training from a terrorist group, while four are charged with providing training. Six are charged with intending to cause an explosion that could cause serious bodily harm or death.
No information was released on the five teenagers due to privacy laws that protect minors.
WASHINGTON — The United States said Monday it is restoring normal diplomatic relations with Libya for the first time in over a quarter century after removing Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi regime from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
“We are taking these actions in recognition of Libya’s continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement. She said Tripoli’s cooperation in combating international terrorism has been “excellent.”
The United States has not had formal diplomat relations with Libya since 1980, although a thaw in long-standing hostility enabled Washington to open a diplomatic office in Libya in 2004.
The move announced Monday culminates a process that began three years ago, when Qaddafi surprised the world by agreeing to dismantle his country’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
“As a direct result of those decisions we have witnessed the beginning of that country’s re-emergence into the mainstream of the international community. Today marks the opening of a new era in U.S.-Libya relations that will benefit Americans and Libyans alike,” Rice said.
Assistant Secretary of State David Welch said, “This is not a decision that we arrived at without carefully monitoring and assessing Libya’s behavior.”
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Shalgham told The Associated Press the move was not a surprise.
“It was a result of contacts and negotiations. It is not unilateral. It is a result of mutual interests, agreements and understandings,” he said.
“In politics there is no such thing as a reward but there are interests,” Shalgham said when asked if the restoration of ties was an incentive to Libya to further cooperate with the United States.
Libya was held responsible for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988, which claimed 270 lives, most of them American.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that when countries make a decision top adhere to the norms of international behavior they will reap the benefits,” Welch said.
Removing Libya from the list of countries the United States considers to be state sponsors of terrorism means a 45-day public comment period will begin on Monday, after which Libya would be removed from the list.
A spokesman for the Libyan opposition in exile denounced the move as “unfortunate.”
“This doesn’t help the Libyan people who are looking for international assistance to achieve their human rights,” said Fayez Jibril of the Libyan National Congress.
“Col. Qaddafi will most certainly use this to tighten his hold on the Libyans who aspire for such simple things such as freedom of expression and freedom to have a constitution,” Jibril said from his exile in neighboring Egypt.
The establishment of normal relations may have come sooner were it not for allegations that Qaddafi’s regime was behind an attempt on the life of Saudi’s Arabia’s King Adbullah when he was crown prince several years ago.
Hints that a U.S. move was afoot were evident when the State Department decided to summon family members of the victims of the Pan Am 103 to Washington for a briefing next week on “U.S.-Libyan relations.”
The administration’s decision also comes at a time when it is attempting to shore up relations with major oil producers because of high prices and a shortage of supplies. Libya has substantial oil reserves.
Qaddafi was once known here as perhaps the most dangerous man in the Middle East. President Reagan ordered air attacks against Libya in 1981 and 1986, the latter because of suspected Libyan sponsorship of a terrorist attack at a West Berlin disco frequented by American soldiers. Two Americans died there.
Since 2003, however, Libya has been held up as a model by the administration for the way aspiring nuclear weapons powers should behave.
The American attack on Iraq made Qaddafi wonder whether he would be next. In December 2003, he agreed to surrender his weapons of mass destruction facilities and agreed to allow them to be shipped for storage in the United States.
Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, said the administration’s decisions were fully warranted.
“Libya has thoroughly altered its behavior by abolishing its program to develop weapons of mass destruction and ending its support for terrorism,” Lantos said.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - As MPs gather in Ottawa to discuss Canada’s more combative role in southern Afghanistan, a senior Taliban official and coalition commanders painted two disparate images Sunday of where the war is headed.
In a weekend interview with The Canadian Press, insurgent spokesman Qari Yuosaf Ahmedi said the Taliban are convinced the resolve of the Canadian people is weak.
As suicide attacks and roadside blasts increase, the public will quickly grow weary, he said.
“We think that when we kill enough Canadians, they will quit war and return home,” Ahmedi said in an interview, conducted through a translator, over a satellite telephone.
Given the fact troops are already deployed, Ahmedi suggested Monday’s House of Commons debate as a sign of indecision among Canadians.
In addition to his fire-breathing rhetoric, the Taliban’s public relations spokesman claimed that the insurgency had recruited 180 suicide bombers for operations in and around Kandahar over the next few weeks.
He said they are prepared to attack Canadians “any one else, at any place and at any time.”
But coalition commanders had a vastly different assessment, painting the Taliban as cornered, marginalized into rural pockets, struggling to raise money and find recruits.
“The reason we think the Taliban are falling apart is because the pattern of attacks we’re seeing is not co-ordinated,” said Maj. Quentin Innis, a Canadian liaison officer with the local community.
“It may appear there are a lot of attacks going on and those are regretable.”
On Sunday, Kandahar city was rocked by two separate remote-control improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, which injured 11 Afghans, including two children.
Senior Taliban commanders reside on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border and where many suiciders — as they known by local Afghans — are recruited, said the chief of staff to multi-national brigade commander.
British Col. Chris Vernon said, while the coalition has faced increased attacks, it has been successful is eliminating junior insurgent commanders.
“Various middle level leaders in Afghanistan have been removed from the circuit over the last month,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“When they’re asking for volunteers to come in and take those mid-level positions, there is a distinct lack of volunteers coming forward, particularly out of Pakistan.”
He also said requests by front-line Taliban for more funds and equipment have not been answered.
Canada’s more front-line involvement in this dirt poor, war-ravaged country will be the subject of a “note-taking” debate in the House of Commons on Monday. It will be largely a symbolic exercise as the matter will not be the subject of a vote.
The new Conservative government has been reluctant to hold the debate because of its potential impact on the morale of the country’s 2,200 troops deployed in southern Afghanistan. A few weeks ago, a public opinion survey found that a majority of respondants were opposed to Canada’s more aggressive posture and wanted the country to return to its more traditional role of peacekeeping.
Since 2002, the conflict has cost the lives of 11 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat.
A senior Afghan army officer said Sunday that Canadian politicians need to understand the positive contribution the army has made to the region, beyond military assistance.
“The Canadians did a lot of things, especially for Kandahar,” Maj. Rahmatullah Sha, the deputy garrison commander of the city, said through a translator.
“They’ve done a lot of reconstruction and security help. The security of Kandahar is normal. It’s not that bad.”
His account was somewhat contradicted by Innis, who laid out statistics from the local media that show there have been 24 roadside explosions or suicide car attacks between June 2005 and March 2006. Those assaults have killed 32 civilians.
“We understand the citizens of Kandahar don’t feel secure, but there are two things you have to realize,” said Innis. “The first thing is that there are more unsuccessful Taliban attacks than successful. I can’t go into the details but we’ve prevented more attacks than those that have occurred.”
The carnage can be blamed on foreign fighters, including jihadists from Pakistan, Chechnya and some Arab countries, said Sha.
Coalition forces claimed to have killed a senior Taliban commander during an offensive in southern Helmand province Friday, said a statement by the U.S. military. Although the man was not identified, authorities claimed the commander “was directly tied to dozens of improvised explosive device attacks.”
THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.
The secret training took place primarily at three camps—in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak—and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria’s GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis. According to three officials with knowledge of the intelligence on Iraqi training camps, White House and National Security Council officials were briefed on these findings in May 2005; senior Defense Department officials subsequently received the same briefing.
The photographs and documents on Iraqi training camps come from a collection of some 2 million “exploitable items” captured in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan. They include handwritten notes, typed documents, audiotapes, videotapes, compact discs, floppy discs, and computer hard drives. Taken together, this collection could give U.S. intelligence officials and policymakers an inside look at the activities of the former Iraqi regime in the months and years before the Iraq war.
The discovery of the information on jihadist training camps in Iraq would seem to have two major consequences: It exposes the flawed assumptions of the experts and U.S. intelligence officials who told us for years that a secularist like Saddam Hussein would never work with Islamic radicals, any more than such jihadists would work with an infidel like the Iraqi dictator. It also reminds us that valuable information remains buried in the mountain of documents recovered in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past four years.
Nearly three years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, only 50,000 of these 2 million “exploitable items” have been thoroughly examined. That’s 2.5%. Despite the hard work of the individuals assigned to the “DOCEX” project, the process is not moving quickly enough, says Michael Tanji, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who helped lead the document exploitation effort for 18 months. “At this rate,” he says, “if we continue to approach DOCEX in a linear fashion, our great-grandchildren will still be sorting through this stuff.”
Most of the 50,000 translated documents relate directly to weapons of mass destruction programs and scientists, since David Kay and his Iraq Survey Group—who were among the first to analyze the finds—considered those items top priority. “At first, if it wasn’t WMD, it wasn’t translated. It wasn’t exploited,” says a former military intelligence officer who worked on the documents in Iraq.
“We had boxloads of Iraqi Intelligence records—their names, their jobs, all sorts of detailed information,” says the former military intelligence officer. “In an insurgency, wouldn’t that have been helpful?”
How many of those unexploited documents might help us better understand the role of Iraq in supporting transregional terrorists? How many of those documents might provide important intelligence on the very people—Baathists, former regime officials, Saddam Fedayeen, foreign fighters trained in Iraq—that U.S. soldiers are fighting in Iraq today? Is what we don’t know literally killing us?
Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.
by Dennis Prager
Jordanians are shocked that Islamic terrorists would blow up families, including families celebrating a wedding. They are so shocked that for the first time in history, Muslims have taken to publicly demonstrating against Islamic terror.
And why are they shocked? Because the terrorists blew up Jordanians. As long as Islamic terrorists blew up men, women and children who are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, American, Australian and black Sudanese, the Arab and larger Muslim worlds were not particularly disturbed. In fact, Palestinians, who comprise the majority of Jordan’s population, celebrated when Jews were blown up at Passover seders and at weddings. And they took to the streets and cheered in the Palestinian fashion, handing out candy, when Americans were incinerated in office buildings.
For some reason, Palestinians, most other Arabs and many Muslims around the world thought that the credulity-straining evil of targeting the most innocent for death, paralysis, blindness and brain damage would be confined to non-Arabs and non-Muslims. In fact, the idea that this Palestinian-made cancer would target Arab Muslims is so inconceivable to most Arabs that many now believe the terror attack in Amman was orchestrated by Jews (the Israeli Mossad).
Of course, Arab Muslim men, women and children are blown up almost weekly in Iraq, but, hey, that’s OK because the monsters doing it hate America and seek Israel’s annihilation. And in the Arab world — and in much of the Muslim and leftist worlds — hatred of America and Israel gets you a moral pass. In the Arab/Muslim worlds (with individual exceptions, of course), as among the world’s leftists, an act is almost incapable of being judged evil if it is committed by those who hate America (especially the America of George W. Bush) or Israel.
In a previous column, I proposed that supporters of the war in Iraq ask opponents of the war just one question: Without in any way compromising your opposition to the war, would you at least acknowledge that the people we are fighting in Iraq are evil? Virtually every one of the many letters I received from readers opposed to the war was incapable of answering in the positive. By fighting America and George W. Bush, the “insurgents” are essentially inoculated against moral judgment.
Likewise it has been nearly impossible for the Arab, Muslim and leftist worlds to morally condemn the blowing up of Israelis.
“Palestinians have no Apache helicopters — what do you expect them to do?”
“They are simply resisting occupation.”
“The Israelis are also terrorists.”
These arguments of the Left, the Arab world and countless other Muslims have given the Islamic terrorists the moral green light to continue their atrocities.
Until, that is, they inflicted one of these atrocities on Arabs in the land of the Palestinians. So, at least for the time being, the sight of charred and dismembered Arab families at a wedding has trumped the anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s killers.
Now there is widespread condemnation of Zarqawi’s terror in Jordan. There is even a fear that the name of Islam will suffer. Unfortunately, however, it is only because Zarqawi was foolish enough to massacre Jordanian civilians, and not confine his massacres to Iraqis and non-Arabs. What has aroused Arab voices against Zarqawi has nothing to do with the immorality of blowing up people celebrating at a wedding — it has to do with the immorality of blowing up Muslims celebrating at a wedding.
Nevertheless, it is possible that a moral awakening of sorts may be taking place in parts of the Arab world. The London Telegraph reports that “Munder Moomeni, a 38-year-old former soldier who lives next to Zarqawi’s house, 13 Ramzi Street, described his former neighbour as ‘a bastard.’ ‘By killing Jordanians here in Jordan, civilian Jordanians going to a wedding, they did something that not even a Jew would do,’ he said.”
That a neighbor and former supporter of Zarqawi publicly acknowledged that Jews would not engage in such terror may be a first step toward the moral awakening that the Arab world needs even more than oil revenues.
It may even come to realize the greatest truth regarding terror and evil: People who blow up Israeli weddings and cut Americans’ throats are very bad people. And if you don’t fight them, they will eventually blow you up, too.
LONDON — They are so obliging, the Brits. On nearly every crosswalk, painted alerts on the streets warn visitors to “look left” or “look right” depending upon whether you’ve come to a one-way or two-way street. Even with these cautions, we’ve had a couple of close shaves with cars making turns from the “wrong” direction.
The city is hardy and resilient, if a bit edgy. The 7/7 bombings and 7/21 attempted bombings are still on everyone’s minds and lips. When sirens scream and three police cars race down the street, people shoot nervous glances at them. Tourism is way down. The police presence is ostentatious. Wait times at attractions like the London Eye (an enormous Ferris wheel with enclosed glass pods that sits on the banks of the Thames), usually up to an hour in the summer months, are down to five or 10 minutes. The British Museum is busy, but not mobbed. It’s easy to find seating at lunchtime in the cafe. When we explain that we’re from Washington, D.C., and are therefore used to this, we get rueful and sad nods from Londoners.
Great Britain is struggling to come to grips with the meaning of those attacks, as they were launched not by foreigners but by entirely homegrown jihadists. They were educated, British-born, middle class Muslims, not poor and ignorant recruits from the Middle East. Great Britain is home to more than 1.6 million legal Muslim immigrants (according to the 2001 census) and to an unknown number of illegals and visitors of various kinds. They are very much in evidence in London, particularly in the Knightsbridge neighborhood. Here, the nickname “Londonistan” leaps to life. In outdoor cafes with Arabic writing on the awnings, large numbers of Arab men sit smoking water pipes and sipping Turkish coffee. Arab women, some covered head to toe in burkas, push baby strollers and hold hands with toddlers as they pass. I saw one Muslim lady clad entirely in black, including black gloves and black face veil, revealing only eyes — and hardly those, as the lady in question wore glasses. It was about 78 degrees and a bright sunny day. She looked like an apparition — the grim reaper at a garden party.
In other Muslim women, the clash of civilizations is played out in their fashions. They adapt. Over long skirts and long sleeves, they wear a beaded denim skirt, or sport boots under a burka. Harrods was packed with veiled Arab ladies buying designer clothes and expensive make-up — to wear at home?
England’s Muslim immigrants are not all Islamists by any means. Neither are all orthodox Muslims. But assimilation is not the norm. The Muslim birth rate is very high whereas that of native Britons lags far behind. It is estimated that by 2050, 20% of the European Community will be Muslim, and Muslim majorities will by then be in place in a number of large cities.
One can understand why Muslims are flocking to Europe (900,000 legal immigrants enter the EU yearly). It is clean, wealthy, orderly, safe and free. Certainly Europeans are not knocking on the doors of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Lebanon demanding admission. Europeans have created among the most prosperous and peaceful societies on earth. And yet, the paradox is that the refugees from the least successful societies in the world have more confidence in their civilization than the Europeans have in their own. Their birth rate is the best evidence. Surely George Weigel (“The Cube and the Cathedral”) is correct that the reason lies in religion.
English churches, like many of those throughout Old Europe, stand empty. Daniel Pipes suggests that more people in Europe today attend mosques on Friday than churches on Sunday. We stood outside Westminster Abbey after a service and noticed that the worshippers were — without exception — over the age of 65.
Even the tour guides at famous landmarks like the Tower of London and other landmarks — though sometimes dressed in traditional garb — reflect the post-Christian nature of British society. “People in those days,” they explain in reference to the 16th century, “believed in an afterlife.”
One of the great questions of our time is whether Europe will, in the coming century, maintain its identity and civilization, or be gradually absorbed into the expanding Muslim world. And America’s fate cannot be divorced from that of its forebears.
“ . . . There is no terrorist threat. There is no terrorist threat.”
— Filmmaker Michael Moore, Sept. 26, 2003.
Tell that to London.
Four explosions, perhaps set by home-grown terrorists, targeted that city’s transportation system. The current death toll stands at 52, with more than 700 people injured. The train bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, killed 191. Three days later, Spaniards voted out the pro-war government and voted in the anti-war Socialists. The incoming prime minister vowed to promptly pull out Spanish troops from Iraq. Spain’s reward? On April 2, 2004, Spanish authorities found a 22-pound bomb on a railway track between Madrid and Seville. And, later that year, in October, Spanish authorities foiled a plot to blow up their National Court, Spain’s center for prosecuting terrorists. So much for Osama bin Laden’s “offer,” made a month after the Madrid train bombings, for a “truce” to any European country that stops “attacking Muslims” before a three-month deadline.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil, many asked, “Why do they hate us?” Now, after London, many again ask, “What do the terrorists want?” How can one “solve” the problem of Islamic extremism?
Osama bin Laden, in 1998, issued the following “fatwa,” or religious edict: “ . . . The killing of Americans and their civilian and military allies is a religious duty for each and every Muslim to be carried out in whichever country they are until Al Aqsa mosque has been liberated from their grasp and until their armies have left Muslim lands [emphasis added].” So, Islamic fascists demand that “infidels” leave “Muslim lands.” But define “Muslim lands.” Arabs, after all, dominated Europe from the 8th-century AD until 1492 AD, occupying lands as far west as Spain and modern-day France.
“One day the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street,” said Anjem Choudray, a spokesperson for Al-Muhajiroun (“the immigrants”), described by the Jerusalem Post’s Ori Golan as a radical Islamic organization based in Britain. In calling for jihad, Choudray says, “Lands will not be liberated by individuals, but by an army. Eventually there’ll have to be a Muslim army. It’s just a matter of time before it happens.”
The Wall Street Journal’s reporters Ian Johnson and John Carreyrou recently pointed out that Muslim extremists define Arab lands to include Europe. “Fatwas,” they write, “are traditionally only valid in the Islamic world, so [Ayatollah] Khomeini’s  fatwa implied something profound: Europe was part of the Islamic world [emphasis added]. It was a revolutionary change that now is accepted by many Islamic theologians and thinkers.” Europe was part of the Islamic world?
Migration to Europe, with no intention of assimilation, according to Robert S. Leiken, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, serves as a tactic for Muslim reconquest: “In Islamic mythology, migration is archetypically linked to conquest. Facing persecution in idolatrous Mecca, in AD 622 the Prophet Muhammad pronounced an anathema on the city’s leaders and took his followers to Medina. From there, he built an army that conquered Mecca in AD 630, establishing Muslim rule. . . . Europe could even be viewed as a kind of Medina, where troops are recruited for the reconquest of the holy land, starting with Iraq.”
How can one “solve” the problem of Islamic extremism?
The problem is this: to Islamic extremism, democracy is toxic. Al Qaeda-affiliated Abu Musab al Zarqawi, just before the January Iraqi elections, gave a speech in which he listed seven reasons to condemn democracy: Democracy requires obedience to man, not Allah; democracy allows freedom of religion, even to convert from Islam to another religion; under democracy, the people, rather than Allah, rule and pass judgment; democracy’s freedom of expression would allow condemnation of Allah; separation between religion and state calls for secularism, totally inconsistent with Islam; democracy’s freedom of association would allow one to join an unacceptable party; and finally, that majority rule is “totally wrong and void because truth according to Islam is that which is in accordance with the Koran and the Sunna [i.e., the tradition of the Prophet], whether its supporters are few or many.”
In London, where one of the blasts went off near the Arab area — Edgware — The New York Times quoted a Lebanese resident, “This was a message to us. They want us to get out of here and go home.” So Arabs living outside the Middle East are now legitimate targets?
What do they want?
Islamic extremists say they want America and her allies to leave “Arab lands.” Islamic Sharia law says Muslims must present non-Muslims with the three choices from Sura 9:29 of the Koran: conversion, submission to Islamic rule with second-class status and a special tax called the jizya, or death.
For those of us who support freedom, minority rights, women’s rights, religious freedom, rule of law, transparent government, and separation of religion and state — they want mass suicide. Nothing less.
PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland. — Politicians and much of the media in Britain are engaged in a familiar Western practice after a terrorist attack. They think they can explain it using Western standards.
Many Americans blamed U.S. race riots in the 1960s on racism and unemployment, which contributed to hopelessness they said only equality and prosperity could solve. That most unemployed blacks did not riot escaped the mainly white sociologists and commentators who desired a “nonjudgmental” explanation for lawless behavior. Having abandoned a sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions, the explainers and excusers of evil and illegal acts in America 40 years ago have been reincarnated in Britain.
Now unemployment and hopelessness among Muslims are the root cause of terrorism. Finding jobs for them so they can drive nice cars, live in upscale flats and attend West End theaters supposedly will convert them to the British way of life.
Or maybe evil America caused the terrorist attacks. If only the U.S. had not invaded Iraq and dragged Britain along, perhaps Britain might have been spared the bus and tube bombings.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to bring people to their senses. Former Israeli Prime Minister (and current Cabinet minister) Benjamin Netanyahu told BBC’s “Breakfast” program Sunday that Iraq and other actions by Britain and America are the consequences of terror attacks, not the cause.
He said to blame Britain and the United States for causing terrorism is “reverse causality.” Mr. Netanyahu recalled the numerous terror attacks before the Iraq war and prior to the attacks on America of September 11, 2001, noting there was Islamic terrorism before 1948 when Israel became a modern state. If recent Israeli, American and British policies cause terrorism, how does one explain earlier terrorism?
In the United Kingdom, the Sunday Times carried a Page One story exploding the myth of a causal relationship between terrorism and poverty among Muslims. The newspaper reported on leaked Whitehall documents that show “Al Qaeda is secretly recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in British universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks” in Britain. The targets of the “extremist recruiters” are students with “technical and professional qualifications.”
These are not Muslims without a future. These are bright and educated students who, if they wished, could be productive and prosperous members of British society. But many embrace a false theology and a god who requires them to kill “infidels.”
No amount of aid from the G-8 industrial nations to the “Palestinians,” nor resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, will pacify these current and potential killers. Even if Israel was obliterated (the goal of much of the Muslim world), the terror would continue until the entire non-Islamic world is under their control.
This is not the belief of an “Islamophobic” bigot. This is what they say in their sermons and media, teach in their schools, and believe in their hearts. It matters little that “the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists,” to quote a familiar Western mantra. It matters a great deal that most terrorists are Muslims. The sooner Western leaders and Western media begin stating what is obvious to most people, the quicker the real root cause can be dealt with.
The excuses given by Westerners and many Muslim clerics for terrorism are just that: excuses.
If Britain and the West are guilty of failing to adequately address the “oppression” of Muslims in Kashmir and Chechnya, do they earn points for intervening in Bosnia to protect Muslims and sending billions to the Palestinian Authority, money that went down a rat hole of corruption?
Do America and Britain win friends among Muslims for allowing them to practice their faith openly (no Muslim country offers the religious tolerance Muslims enjoy in the U.S. and Britain)? Why must America and Britain be held accountable for every perceived and actual slight against Muslims, but beheadings of Westerners receive little more than pro forma condemnation and are soon forgotten?
More than 25 years ago, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously noted we in the West are mistaken when we transpose our morality on those who don’t share it. Terrorists do not share and cannot be made to share our morality.
There will be no detente, entente or peace treaty between the forces of darkness and those of light. As much as Western politicians may wish to avoid the true root cause of this war, they do so at their citizens’ peril. This is a religious war. The terrorists understand it as such. Too many in the secular and wimpishly religious West do not.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.
At present, little is known of the circumstances which give birth to terrorists. The periodic reports issued by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (National Commission), for instance, are bereft of clues for diminishing terrorist recruits. Until this dearth of knowledge is overcome, the best way to handcuff terrorism is by killing, capturing and punishing terrorists period, with no commas, semicolons or question marks. To paraphrase Churchill on democracy, it is a poor counterterrorism policy, except for all others that have been imagined or attempted.
Terrorism is the employment of indiscriminate violence to cow or intimidate a civilian population to achieve a morally squalid political objective. The scourge has plagued mankind from the beginning. Its incidence has both climbed and fallen at various intervals without self-evident explanations. In contemporary times, Islamic terrorism has surged, but short of monopolizing the terrorism landscape. Timothy McVeigh did not bomb the Oklahoma City courthouse to honor the Holy Koran. But the predominance of Islamic terrorists justifies a corresponding counterterrorism exploration of their motivations.
The United States’ support for Israel has been said to explain the September 11 abominations and complementary terrorist attacks against United States citizens and property. But that Israeli support stretches back 56 years to 1948, the year of Israel’s birth in conjunction with a United Nations authorized Palestinian state. In 1973, then-President Richard M. Nixon placed the military on high alert to deter Soviet assistance to Egypt during the Yom Kippur war. Yet no retaliatory Islamic terrorism ensued. Resort was had to a non-violent oil embargo. In contrast, the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City unfolded in 1993, the same year the Oslo Accords promised a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The United States awakened no applause in the Islamic world for preventing Israeli counterattacks against Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. And according to the National Commission, even the Taliban’s Mullah Omar opposed the September 11 terrorism despite the U.S.-Israeli connection. It amplified: “Although bin Laden wanted the operation to proceed as soon as possible, several senior al Qaeda figures thought they should follow the position taken by their Afghan host, Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who opposed attacking the United States.” In sum, United States support for Israel does not persuasively correlate with Islamic terrorism.
Neither does poverty or an absence of education. Osama bin Laden himself is wealthy and sophisticated. Four key Western-educated September 11 conspirators were privileged. The National Commission elaborates: “The four were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah and Ramzi Binalshibh. Atta, Shehhi and Jarrah would become pilots for the 9/11 attacks, while Binalshibh would act as a key coordinator for the plot.
“Atta . . . was born in Egypt in 1968 and moved to Germany to study in 1992 after graduating from Cairo University. Shehhi was from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and entered Germany in 1996 through a UAE military scholarship program. Jarrah was from a wealthy family in Lebanon and went to Germany after high school to study at the University of Greifswald. Finally, Binalshibh, a Yemeni, arrived in Germany in 1995.”
The foot soldiers or “muscle hijackers” of September 11 sported variegated backgrounds. Aged between 20 and 28, many were unemployed and without higher education. But a few had commenced university studies. Some were pious, while others consumed alcohol and abused drugs. The National Commission adds: “It has not been determined exactly how each of them was recruited into al Qaeda, but most of them apparently were swayed to join the jihad in Chechnya by contacts at local universities and mosques in Saudi Arabia.”
John Walker Lindh, “American Taliban,” was more coddled than deprived. Ramzi Yousef, a lead operative in the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the foiled Manila plot to blow up a dozen U.S. commercial aircraft in 1995 was not the child of misery.
Terrorism against the United States is neither ignited by economic hardship nor by illiteracy. And even if these correlations were established, the United States would be generally impotent to cure these ills in Islamic nations, for example, Pakistan or Indonesia.
Neither the foreign nor domestic policies of the United States explain Islamic terrorism. Muslims have been militarily defended in Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo. Humanitarian aid was showered on Somalia. Under the aegis of the United States, the governing charters of Afghanistan and Iraq celebrate Islamic tenets as the supreme law of the land. Russian human rights violations in Chechnya are regularly denounced.
In the aftermath of September 11, the Federal Bureau of Investigation established a special unit to investigate crimes against Muslim citizens or residents in apparent revenge for September 11. Women may wear headscarves or other signature Islamic garb in public or private places, in contrast to the school restrictions in France. Law enforcement resources devoted to counterterrorism have focused on Muslims only in proportion to the Islamic percentage of all terrorist related crimes. Abuses have been investigated and frequently sanctioned.
Terrorists have not been motivated by cravings for democracy.
On February 23, 1998, bin Laden and the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman Zawahiri, published a fatwa announcing a “ruling to kill Americans and their allies,” both “civilians and military.” The chilling decree added that it was “an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.” The fatwa omitted any list of grievances ala the Declaration of Independence purporting to justify such savagery. Neither did bin Laden then nor thereafter specify actions of the United States that would trigger a cessation of anti-American al Qaeda terrorism, for example, an ending of support for non-democratic Islamic regimes that govern in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Indeed, no Islamic terrorist has claimed democratic freedoms and the rule of law as objectives. Taliban’s Afghanistan was the antithesis of democracy. Turkey has not been spared from Islamic terrorism despite its blossoming democratic dispensation and a prime minister whose Muslim credentials are above suspicion.
Al Qaeda and brother terrorists and sympathizers live in a demonic intellectual and moral world alien to western civilization. A substantial percentage daftly insists that September 11 was perpetrated by the CIA and Jews. Since reasoning is futile, killing, capturing and punishing is the only moral answer to the terrorism wickedness.
Bruce Fein is a constitutional lawyer and international consultant with Bruce Fein & Associates and The Lichfield Group.
Libya’s announcement that it will close down its weapons-of-mass-destruction programs is an important vindication of American and British foreign policy. After nine months of talks, Colonel Khaddafi’s regime has acknowledged the existence of weapons that were long denied. According to initial reports, Libya had the ability to manufacture chemical weapons, had attempted to acquire the ability to produce both nuclear and biological weapons and had ballistic-missile programs. The American-intelligence assessment that Libya was up to no good has been proved correct. Israeli intelligence, which had long been dismissed for pointing to Khaddafi’s nuclear ambitions, has chalked up a much-needed success.
The initial reaction of many pundits to the Libya announcement has been and will be both predictable and mistaken. There will be some breast-beating from hawks, who will hint that there has been appeasement of a repressive dictator with a notable record of terrorism. While the hawks are right to ask questions and subject the deal to rigorous scrutiny, it is implausible that either George Bush or Tony Blair would make such dramatic announcements without making a genuine breakthrough. In one important sense, the hawks have emerged smelling of roses. A key criticism of the hawks, that they and President Bush regard armed force as the only foreign-policy tool, that we are now in an era of permanent war, has been disproved, exposed as nonsense by Colonel Khaddafi.
An excessively critical attitude from the hawks will simply hand the argument to the “antiwar” commentators and the advocates of uncritical engagement for whom the fault always lies with the U.S. and her allies. These engagement advocates are already claiming that the negotiated deal with Libya shows that the war in Iraq was unnecessary, that polite conversation can secure disarmament. The myth that they are already spinning is that the Libyan statement foreswearing WMDs on December 19, 2003, resulted from a decade of alleged reforms and attempts to integrate Libya back into the international community. Rather than congratulate the Bush administration for a remarkable diplomatic coup, they are chiding it for waiting too long to press the flesh with Khaddafi.
Yet the evidence indicates that what brought Libya to the table was not multilateral engagement, but the brave and much criticized strategy of forcing terrorism sponsoring dictatorships to meet their obligations or meet their Maker. Indeed, the Libyans appear to have boosted rather than curbed their WMD ambitions after the U.N. suspended sanctions in 1999. The appeal of WMDs for Khaddafi and others was their potential value, not just as weapons with which to attack or deter, but also as bargaining chips. WMDs were hooks upon which to catch credulous foreigners looking for dialogue and oil contracts.
The announcement of Libyan disarmament could not have happened without the liberation of Iraq. That the deal was concluded just days after the capture of Saddam Hussein was a happy coincidence. What made all the difference, however, was that Bush and Blair enforced the U.N. resolutions on Iraq, ending the defiance of Saddam Hussein and the torment of the peoples of Iraq. Bush and Blair have turned the threat back onto the dictators, treating the WMD programs as the death warrants for these wicked regimes, not their tickets to survival. The liberation of Iraq communicated the simple point that international obligations are to be observed; they are not an initial negotiating position with which one quibbles, negotiates over, and ultimately evades. While many in the think-tank lunch circuit in Washington, D.C. may find it hard to grasp, this message has been received loud and clear in Tripoli.
As importantly, the agreement to disarm Libya was achieved by a cooperative Anglo-American approach and without the involvement of such bodies and the United Nations (U.N.) or the European Union (EU). Multilateral bodies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will now play a role in dismantling the Libyan nuclear program, but their utility in negotiating with such regimes is limited.
The fact that France, Germany, and Russia were not directly involved in the contacts with Libya was also a key element in their success. We can only imagine the diplomatic fiasco that would have resulted from the French, German, or Russian foreign ministers landing in Tripoli to invite themselves into the negotiations as intermediaries. These supposed friends of the U.S. would have sent muddled signals to Khaddafi. Instead of facing a firm, but fair, Anglo-American position, the Libyan dictator would have ended up deluding himself — something that he does not find difficult — into believing that was an alternative to full compliance with his international obligations. Perhaps now is the time for that other victim of an overly active imagination, Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, to confine himself to literature.
In coming months, the U.S. and Britain will have to ensure that there is no backsliding on Libya disarmament and should demand political reform in Khaddafi’s highly repressive state. President Bush spoke on December 19, 2003 of “internal reform” and a Libya that could become “more free.” The Libyan people should not be asked to pay the price for Khaddafi’s decision to come clean on WMDs by being condemned to his regime, nor should they suffer his buffoonish sons as their future overlords. Rapprochement should not just mean visits to the State Department, but a concern for the welfare of the much-ignored Libyan people.
Within one week, Saddam Hussein has been captured despite his vow to fight to the death, Iran has grudgingly signed up for additional nuclear inspections that it once called a violation of its national sovereignty, and Libya has agreed to surrender WMDs that it officially never had. After months of mistakes and misguided panic over postwar Iraq, the new British-American grand alliance confronting the terrorism supporting dictators has shown that it is both working and winning.
— Andrew Apostolou is director of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute created after 9/11 and focusing on terrorism.
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