CAIR FOUNDER CONVICTED OF TERRORISM
This story doesn't mention it, but Ghassan Elashi founded the Texas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). You know, the group that controls what Americans must say and not say about Islam. "Brothers Found Guilty of Terrorism Support," from AP, with thanks to LGF:
DALLAS - Three Dallas-area brothers were convicted Wednesday of supporting terrorism by funneling money to a high-ranking official in the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
Ghassan and Bayan Elashi and their company were found guilty of all 21 federal counts they faced: conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist. Basman Elashi, who faced the same counts, was convicted of three counts of conspiracy but acquitted of the other charges.
The brothers, all born in the Middle East, were convicted the same day jurors began deliberating, after nearly two weeks of testimony, and are to be sentenced Aug. 1. Prosecutors said each count carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence....
Ghassan Elashi, free pending sentencing, left without commenting.
"It's hard times for people of Middle Eastern descent," said his lawyer, Tim Evans.
Yeah. I guess it was his "Middle Eastern descent" that made him decide to raise money for a group that celebrates the wanton murder of civilian non-combatants.
Prosecutors said the men tried to hide a $250,000 investment by Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook in their Richardson computer company by making it look as if it came from his wife. Payments were allegedly funneled to Marzook in return for the investment.
Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the Elashis' indictments in 2002, calling the defendants "terrorist money men."
Marzook lived in Louisiana and Virginia until 1995, when the federal government labeled him a terrorist, which made it illegal for anyone in the United States to have financial dealings with him. Marzook was deported and is believed living in Syria.
Prosecutors said the Elashis' computer company, InfoCom Corp., continued to make payments to Marzook's wife until 2001....
Defense lawyer Michael P. Gibson vowed to appeal and said prosecutors had sensationalized the case.
"There is no evidence that money ever funded any terrorism," Gibson said. "This is not a terrorism case, it's a financial crimes case."...
If the money went to Hamas, I am not moved if it was used to fund day-care centers. Thursday, April 14, 2005
THE FOOD-FOR-KOJO PROGRAM
I respect the right of the Wall Street Journal to keep much of their newspaper on a subscription-only basis, but today's Oil-for-Food tidbit is too good not to quote:
Among all the leads and clues churned up in the wake of Paul Volcker's second interim report on the United Nations Oil for Food scandal, one strikes us as especially deserving of further scrutiny. It is the news, first reported by the Financial Times, that in 1999 Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son Kojo invested $235,000 in an ailing Swiss soccer club called Vevey-Sports and was elected the club's president. Yet, according to the FT, Kojo had little to do with the club's management and was never once seen at a match.
The Volcker Committee's recent report does not address Kojo's investment in Vevey-Sports. But here's a question it might wish to pursue: Where did the 25-year-old Annan -- who comes from a family of moderate means and who, until 1998, was making some $2,500 a month -- get that kind of throw-around money?
Good question, isn't it? Maybe Senators Dodd and Boxer will go onto that one since "reform" of the United Nations seems so high on their agendas. Thursday, April 14, 2005
Here’s a very weird report from Reuters about twin suicide bombings on Israeli buses that supposedly took place last Tuesday—and somehow escaped being reported by every media service in the world: Twin suicide bombings on Israeli buses kill 16. (Hat tip: Kragar.)
Something is seriously amiss here. There are enough details in this story to make it seem quite contemporary and realistic, and it’s dated Friday April 15, 2005, but it seems to be describing an event that didn’t happen...
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters) - Palestinian suicide bombers killed at least 16 people in simultaneous attacks on two Israeli buses on Tuesday, breaking a long lull in such violence and threatening to disrupt an Israeli plan to pull out of Gaza.
The bombings by the militant Islamic group Hamas in the southern city of Beersheba were the first in Israel since March and the deadliest since last October. They showed that Hamas was not a spent force, even after repeated Israeli assassinations of its leaders and the building of a West Bank barrier.
Thousands of Hamas supporters celebrated in Gaza, singing and throwing sweets in the air after bombings which the group said were to avenge Israel’s assassination of two top leaders after the last suicide bombing nearly 6 months ago.
The bombers boarded buses at the same stop near Beersheba’s central bus station and detonated hidden explosive belts when the vehicles were just a few dozen metres (yards) apart, gutting the buses and scattering bloody remains.
“The bus simply blew up. It just blew up in front of my eyes,” said motorist Joey Harel.
No Israeli news site is reporting anything like this. What the hell?
UPDATE: The story seems to be from September 2004: 16 killed and 80 hurt as suicide squad hits two Israeli buses at the same time.
UPDATE: This is a major league foul-up on Reuters’ part. And now it’s being featured on Google News.
Good news from Britain, where the left wing Independent reports that a massive ring of Algerian Islamic terrorists has been dismantled since 2002: Police made 100 arrests to smash al-Qa’ida network. (Hat tip: Jheka.)
A British-based network of Algerian terrorists with links to al-Qa’ida are suspected of being behind the plot to cause mass panic in the UK with the release of lethal poisons.
The Metropolitan Police’s anti-terrorist branch began investigating an Algerian network throughout summer 2002, but at first they thought it was only involved in logistical support, such as illegal fundraising.
The attempt to break the network led to more than 100 arrests, with investigations stretching from Bournemouth to Scotland.
The most active of the Islamist groups, and the organisation believed to be at the centre of the ricin plot, is the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which had sent thousands of members for training in camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Its fighters have been also been involved in Chechnya, Kashmir and the Balkans, as well the nucleus of the urban terror cells in Europe.
UPDATE: If all the details are true, that number of more than 100 arrests is both impressive and scary. One hundred dedicated individuals can commit an awful lot of mass murder, and it’s good news indeed that this group is in custody, instead of in garages in east London, cooking up ricin poison.
But is it reasonable to conclude that since British authorities have cracked one large terrorist ring, they’ve cleaned up the problem? How did a network this big come to exist in the UK in the first place? Does anyone CAIR?
And are there one, or two, or ten other networks in Britain and Europe just as large, but a bit smarter about staying hidden?
How disgusting is the European Union, really? EU shocker: Hamas
are ‘freedom fighters’. (Hat tip: Elle Plater.)
A top European Union official held a secret meeting in Gaza with the leaders of Hamas, in spite of EU denials to the contrary, in which he praised the terror organization’s work, blamed terrorism on “Israeli occupation,” referred to Hamas militants as “freedom fighters” and failed to contradict claims Israel was responsible for the September 11 attacks, according to transcripts of the conversation obtained by WorldNetDaily.
There were some leaked reports of the 2002 meeting, but the transcripts for the first time expose what was discussed with Hamas and may shed light on various aspects of EU Mideast diplomacy.
The transcripts, seized from the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security compound in Gaza during Israel’s 2002 Defensive Shield operation and released through Israel’s Center for Special Studies, document a discreet meeting between Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in March 2004, and Alistair Crooke, the security adviser for Miguel Moratinos, then EU special envoy for promoting the peace process in the Middle East.
Read it all.
Sgt. Hasan Akbar, the American Muslim accused of murdering two officers and injuring 15 others in Kuwait, wrote about killing fellow soldiers in his diary.
“I suppose they want to punk me or just humiliate me. Perhaps they feel that I will not do anything about that. They are right about that. I am not going to do anything about it as long as I stay here. But as soon as I am in Iraq, I am going to try and kill as many of them as possible.”
His lawyers are going to attempt an insanity defense:
His lawyers are scheduled to begin calling witnesses in their insanity defense Monday.
I wonder if they’ll call any of the imams and sheikhs who preach these concepts in every Salafist mosque in the Islamic world, and try to argue that they’re “insane.”
An amazing statement from Denmark’s queen: Danish queen warns against rise of Islamic fundamentalism. (Hat tip: numerous LGF readers in Denmark and elsewhere.)
COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II warned against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Denmark and the world in a new book out, saying people must on occasion “show their opposition to Islam”.
“It is a challenge we have to take seriously. We have let this issue float about for too long because we are tolerant and very lazy,” she said in the authorized biography “Margrethe” written by journalist Annelise Bistrup.
While she did not specifically refer to fundamentalism, she spoke of “these people for whom religion is their entire lives”.
“We have to show our opposition to Islam and we have to, at times, run the risk of having unflattering labels placed on us because there are some things for which we should display no tolerance,” she said.
“And when we are tolerant, we must know whether it is because of convenience or conviction,” added the queen, who has reigned since 1972 and celebrates her 65th birthday on Saturday.
Denmark has in recent years been accused of fuelling xenophobic tendencies after implementing a slew of measures aimed at curbing immigration. The government has argued that it wants to focus efforts on improving the assimilation into Danish society of immigrants already in the country.
Queen Margrethe, who professes a knowledge of Islam due to her interest in archeology, said it was “natural that young Muslims would be attracted” to the faith’s absolute values and seek refuge in religion “as they are cut off from our community because of their lack of (Danish) language skills.”
“It’s not just a matter of speaking and understanding” Danish, she said, but also “understanding the language’s codes, and we have to help them.”
One of the best stories I’ve read today is this account of the confrontation at Belmont University in Nashville between anti-idiotarian students and the ambassador from Sudan’s “Islamic republic:” Sudan’s envoy gets hostile reception at Belmont. (Hat tip: Bill Hobbs.)
An unusual gathering at Belmont University featured the ambassador of Sudan, more than 300 students who came to express their anger at genocide in that East African country, and a professor who led a walkout in protest.
Yesterday’s event was organized, in part, by the college’s office of Spiritual Development, which informed the ambassador that the audience would have a clear point of view against the Sudanese government.
Many in the crowd — including one student refugee from the Sudan — accused the government of supporting atrocities such as murder and rape and what former Secretary of State Colin Powell has called “genocide.”
Sophomore Amr Ali said his family escaped Sudan after the government harassed his mother and beat his father.
He told the crowd he was proud that he would soon be an American citizen. But he told Sudanese Ambassador Abdel Bagi Kabeir that he would not forget his native country.
“I want you to look at me,” the 19-year-old told the ambassador. “This is the future. The people that you have oppressed, the people that your government has kicked out of the country will go back. We will make the country greater than it has ever been since you have raped it since 1989.”
Ali received a loud ovation for his statements.
UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has more details on the confrontation here: Sudanese Ambassador Challenged on Genocide.
Caterpillar shareholders overwhelmingly rejected the moronic moonbat campaign that wanted Caterpillar to stop selling killdozers to Israel.
The measure was defeated 97 percent to 3 percent. But this AP article focuses almost entirely on the moonbats and their evil divestment agenda: Caterpillar Won’t Probe Bulldozers’ Use. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)
CHICAGO (AP) — Caterpillar Inc. shareholders soundly rejected a resolution that would have directed the heavy equipment manufacturer to investigate the use of its bulldozers by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian homes.
The resolution — which the company said at its annual meeting Wednesday in Chicago was defeated 97 percent to 3 percent — stated that Israel has used Caterpillar equipment to destroy more than 3,000 homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 2000.
It was introduced by four Roman Catholic orders of nuns and the group Jewish Voice for Peace, who argued that the sale of company equipment for such purposes violates Caterpillar’s code of business conduct.
“Caterpillar’s sale of weaponized bulldozers to the Israeli military is tantamount to selling a gun to a person you know is planning to kill someone,” said Liat Weingart, co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Though Caterpillar is not actually behind the wheel, they are providing the machinery as well as training and support for the Israeli military to harm civilians.”
In a poignant (albeit insane) side note, the Stop Caterpillar Calendar lists an event coming up on April 20 in Oakland: Celebrate the successes of the CAT campaign.
UPDATE: Here’s a little detail the Associated Press forgot to mention; that 3 percent who voted for the resolution? They were the moonbats themselves. (Hat tip: AW.)
Several human rights organization and religious groups submitted the resolution, including Jewish Voice for Peace, which acquired shares in Caterpillar in order to be able to vote for the resolution, and persuade other shareholders to support it.
Wonder who’s paying for their prodigious feats of anti-Israel “altruism?” Thursday, April 14, 2005
LESSONS OF LAWFARE
The conviction of terrorist Kamel Bourgass of plotting to poison the British population with chemical and biological agents highlights both the shortcomings in dealing with terrorists strictly from a legal perspective and the pervasiveness of al Qaeda in Europe. Bourgass’ actions are clearly that of an enemy combatant and terrorist, but his sentence for the plot to mass murder Brits is 17 years. He received life in prison for the murder of a policeman during his arrest. Bourgass was caught red handed with the laboratory, materials and instructions to manufacture these chemicals:
His home-made chemical weapons laboratory, in a flat in Wood Green, north London, included recipes and ingredients to make ricin, cyanide and botulinum - one of the most toxic substances known to man - and a blueprint for a bomb.
Eight other suspects implicated in the plot were freed due to lack of evidence. Bourgass and his 8 compatriots were closely connected with Algerian GSPC (an al Qaeda affiliate) as well as the Finsbury Park mosque. This mosque is run by the notorious al Qaeda supporter Abu Hamza, who according to a US indictment was involved with “attempting to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, hostage taking, conspiracy to take hostages, and providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban” (a summary of the indictment can be seen here).
Abu Hamza will not be extradited to the United States, and will be tried under criminal charges (not terrorist related charges as is available). He is not the only radical Islamist and al Qaeda member stuck in the British legal system. Khalid al-Fawwaz was also indicted for numerous terrorist charges, yet sits in a British jail as he fights extradition to the United States. Abu Qatada and Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leaders of the radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun remain free. Bakri has openly supported “hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a just cause.” The list goes on (a reading of the International Crisis Group report on al-Muhajiroun as well as pages 116 – 121 of Inside al Qaeda will give the scope of al Qaeda’s network within Britian).
Despite these very obvious problems of extraditing, convicting and imprisoning terrorists, some still advocate fighting the war as a law enforcement problem. Phillip Carter, a lawyer and former army officer, relishes the thought of fighting with “lawfare”.
Truth be told, we have every reason to embrace lawfare, for it is vastly preferable to the bloody, expensive, and destructive forms of warfare that ravaged the world in the 20th century. First, lawfare has the obvious advantage of being safer than conventional warfare: I would far prefer to have motions and discovery requests fired at me than incoming mortar or rocket-propelled grenade fire. Likewise, lawfare rarely generates the collateral damage of conventional warfare. In recent war zones such as Bosnia, Chechnya, and Iraq, the cumulative civilian death toll stretches into the hundreds of thousands.
Mr. Carter assumes al Qaeda and other Islamists prefer to return fire with motions and discovery requests, and one wonder what legal brief in any nation’s arsenal would have prevented the bloodshed in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Iraq. He summarizes by citing lawfare's "successes":
Recent prosecutions of Osama Bin Laden (in absentia), "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, wannabe shoe bomber Richard Reid, Tim McVeigh, and Terry Nichols demonstrate the ability of our judicial processes to meet the challenges of terrorism. The trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has run aground, but that owes as much to the administration's invocation of lawfare to trump Moussaoui's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights as anything else. And even then, he's still in prison, where he poses little threat to U.S. national security. None of these cases resulted in a disclosure of critical national security information; none conferred a strategic advantage upon our foes. If anything, our commitment to legal process for even our worst enemies has given us a moral and political advantage. Now that we are committed to the spread of freedom and democratic institutions, we must lead by example. To do otherwise would be the worst form of American exceptionalism.
The prosecution of Osama bin Laden (in absentia) has done nothing to prevent 9-11 or subsequent acts of terrorism. In fact, it can be argued that treating him as a perp instead of an enemy only emboldened his resolve to commit acts of terrorism against the United States. John Walker Lindh is imprisoned for 20 years (a sentence likely to be reduced if not overturned) and is free to proselytize radical Islam in US prisons (just as Abu Hamza and Khalid al-Fawwaz no doubt are doing). Richard Reid receives life after threatening the judge and yelling, "I'm at war with your country not for personal reasons but because you have killed so many innocents, so many children... My fate is in Allah's hands..."
We have a moral imperative to properly classify and treat terrorists as they should be: as enemies of civilization who do not abide by the rules of law or mercy. Without doing so, there will be no American exceptionalism to uphold. Terrorists fighting out of uniform, under no flag and outside the accepted norms of war are not entitled to protections of the Geneva Conventions, and they should not be accorded the comforts of this pact. This does not mean they should be tortured, but it certainly means they are in no way entitled to access to domestic courts.
Lawfare does not take into account the subversive and poisonous nature of radical Islam, the difficult nature of using sensitive intelligence to obtain convictions in criminal courts, the desire of terrorists to clog the court systems and take advantage of their careful and liberal nature, or the threat of convicted members released into the general population of prisons. A simple look at Britain will demonstrate failures of depending on lawfare to deal with foreign combatants and treasonous citizens. Thursday, April 14, 2005
A MUSLIM HERO
As the campaign to prevent John Bolton from becoming the US ambassador to the UN intensifies, on the grounds that it is intolerable to appoint someone to that position who actually tells the truth about the UN, a further example has occurred of that organisation's moral and political bankruptcy. A resolution proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and passed by the UN Commission on Human Rights (sic) has condemned the 'campaign of defamation' against Muslims following 9/11. Ignoring the fact that 9/11 and the wider jihad against the west have been perpetrated in the name of Islam, that its perpetrators have not been excommunicated from the faith but, on the contrary, Islamic religious and political leaders have backed their aims and, in the case of Israel at least, openly supported their tactics (remember the standing ovation given by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to Mahathir Mohamed when he urged holy war against the Jews), it singles out Islam as the victim of a 'culture of hatred, disharmony and discrimination' in the war against terrorism, totally ignoring the religions of the world targeted by terrorists and their state sympathisers for murderous attack in the name of Islam.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury knows all about the culture of ‘hatred, disharmony and discrimination’. The Jerusalem Post has reported that, as the Muslim editor of the Bangladeshi newspaper The Weekly Blitz, he had the enormous courage to condemn the power of radical Islam in his country and to provide his readers with unbiased news about the Middle East (we could do with him here in Britain). 16 months ago he was arrested as he prepared to address the Hebrew Writers' Conference in Tel Aviv on "The Role of Media in Creating a Culture of Peace" and thrown into jail. The Post reported:
‘Shortly after his arrest, police raided his home and business, seizing computers, files and other material. A mob then sacked the premises with impunity. His family was threatened, even attacked. His brother twice fled the capital. Mobs gathered in front of their home, and police blamed it all on the Choudhurys' "alliance with the Jews." The government said Choudhury was "spying for the interests of Israel against the interests of Bangladesh," then orchestrated a vilification campaign. They called Choudhury's undelivered speech their strongest evidence of his perfidy and said he broke Bangladeshi law by trying to visit Israel. Choudhury remains behind bars in deteriorating health, without due process, and facing a capital offense. Blackballed from employment, his family is on the verge of financial ruin.’
In an extraordinary article printed by the Post, Choudhury wrote:
‘Today, I stand before you perhaps as a living contradiction: a Zionist, a defender of Israel, and a devout, practising Muslim living in a Muslim country. Like you I believe in the justice of the Zionist dream. I also acknowledge this historical reality: that the world has endeavored to crush that dream and, yes, even destroy the viability of the Jewish people. At the same time I live in an environment where people believe just as passionately in an opposing view that sees Israel as illegitimate and the Jewish people as evil incarnate.
‘A true culture of peace is far more than the cessation of hostilities. It includes justice and tolerance for all people. It allows each person to have pride in one's own faith, while respecting the pride that courses through the veins of those who follow other paths to God. In Israel, you have any number of viewpoints being aired in any number of forums. You have Likud; you have Labor. You have Shas; you have Shinui. You have Peace Now; you have the Temple Mount Faithful. You have The Jerusalem Post; you have Haaretz…
‘The Islamic missionaries who have taken root in Bangladesh recently have, of course, a very different agenda than their Christian counterparts. Funded by shadowy sources in the Middle East and Africa, they operate under charitable-sounding names like Islamic Hospital, Free Ambulance Service, and Kindergarten Madrassa. But charitable they are not. Whispered allegations – for louder objections place you at considerable risk – that Islamic kindergarten madrassas train children for guerrilla war found support when many of their graduates went on to real battlegrounds in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some even volunteered to fight alongside the PLO and other terrorist organizations here. Repatriated Soldiers from Palestine, an organization in Bangladesh, cares for "soldiers" wounded in the fighting here, then recruits a fresh batch of terrorists to take their place. You might think such revelations would placing these organizations in a bad light. Yet, if anything, to my chagrin, it improves their standing in the eyes of many Bangladeshi citizens.
'That popularity has taken them to more affluent neighborhoods, away from the poorer areas that were once their exclusive location. Children of prominent Bangladeshis now attend the madrassas, where they learn Bangla (our vernacular), Arabic, Urdu, English and, in some places, French, as well as other advertised subjects. But they also learn the theory and practice of guerrilla warfare. Old hates are taught as faith, and they learn to revere Bin Laden, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein and the shahids. Innocent Muslim children are lured toward "jihad," taught to hate Christians and Jews and encouraged to kill them and destroy their property as a religious duty. It so distresses me that we are allowing these children, the future leaders of Bangladesh, to be brainwashed with hatred and extremism. These institutions are surely breeding thousands of Bin Ladens and Arafats for the future.
'I have listened to this filth since childhood. When I grew up, I turned my eyes to the Bible and many other books, had Christian and Jewish friends, and now am convinced that what the mullahs taught was not merely false, but also evil. That is clear not only to me but to many others in my country. For there to be any chance of lasting peace, this must change. How can we have peace when most Muslims still believe Israel was behind the September 11 attacks on the US? How can we have peace when Muslims see their own leaders refusing even to recognize Israel's right to exist? How can we have peace when we neither hear nor read anything to the contrary?'
This remarkable and immensely brave man currently awaits trial in Cell No.15 of the Dhaka Central Jail in Bangladesh. Just as it did with the Soviet dissidents, the free world must now bring every kind of public and private pressure to bear upon the government of Bangladesh to free him.
But don’t look for support from the UN, for which any such protest will dountless be merely further proof of ‘stereotyping’ and ‘discrimination’. Wednesday, April 13, 2005
HIZBALLAH DRONES OVER ISRAEL: IRAN STIRRING REGIONAL POT
The Word Unheard out of Lebanon is that Hizballah has resumed flying Iranian-made drones over Israel. On one had, this is sparking concern in Israel. Hizballah/Iranian drones flying over Israeli cities does not exactly inspire a sense of security among the citizens. Yet, on the other hand these drones are (to date) harmless in so far as being a direct threat. To be sure, they are pumping usable intelligence back to the resident entanglement of Hizballah/Iranian/Syrian terror planners. But as a weapons platform, the drone itself is an inert (relatively) camera carrier.
And the IDF was wrong about Hizballah too. Last week, senior officers said that Hizballah was caught up in internal Lebanese issues and "aren't looking for friction with us."
Curiously, the Defense Minister chimed a different tune this week when he warned of an imminent Hizbullah action on the northern border.
With such flip-flopping assessments, it's no wonder the flight of the Hizbullah drone caught the IAF by surprise and the warplanes scrambled failed to intercept it before it scrambled back to Lebanon. Senior officers attempted to dismiss it as an insignificant stunt not worthy of the investment needed to seal the skies so that these sorts of pests don't get in.
Hizballah/Iran/Syria may one day use the drones (or attempt to use them) as an active reconnaissance asset for an ongoing operation, gathering tactical intelligence and relaying it to the attacking party. For that reason alone, the event is not 'insignificant' and indeed 'worthy of the investment needed'. But, as of yet, there can be but one true purpose for the flight of the drones recently (aside from testing and probing): Hizballah and Iran are stirring the pot in the region, ultimately hoping to provoke an Israeli retaliation that can be used to further the perception of regional instability and thus the need for a Syrian presence. It is logical to conclude that, as the Iranian 'elections' draw nearer, Iran's internal unrest crescendos and international pressure over its nuclear ambitions increases, Iran's desperation for an international diversion will team up with Syria's desire to stay entrenched in Lebanon and the net result will be an increase in activity such as this (as well as more violent and direct skirmishes). The entire intent here is to provoke an Israeli military response with some degree of plausible deniability for Iran and Syria (albeit acknowledged only by the willfully ignorant or complicit parties). If an Israeli response can be provoked successfully, it permits Hizballah/Syria/Iran and Palestinians to once again trumpet Israeli aggression.
The Hizbullah dispatched the drone along the same route it attempted last November. It flew in over Shlomi, cut around Moshav Liman and then curved up over Nahariya, back out to sea and home to an apparently safe landing. It was a route obviously chosen since it contained the largest number of chances for people to observe it as it flew over the populous coast and ability to disappear at sea if malfunctioned. So far, though, the Hizbullah have not shown any footage taken from the unmanned aerial vehicle raising doubts to it success.
The drones in the hands of the Hizballah are psychological weapons at the moment and the intended targets are the IDF and the general Israeli population.
“A UAV would not have much operational value to a guerrilla fighter,” Timsah said. “It was a move aimed at boosting the morale of the fighters and consolidating public support” for Hizbollah. A former Israel Air Force commander concurred.
“This is not a strategically meaningful event,” said Eitan Ben-Eliahu, retired commander of the Israel Air Force. “It will not change the balance between the IDF and the terrorist organization. But it’s a huge boost to Hizbollah’s image and a clear gain in terms of psychological operations.”
However, it should be noted that UAV's have a very sinister and dangerous potential. One would be well advised to recall Saddam Hussein's UAV program that was unearthed by US forces in 2003. Hussein was developing the ability to use drones capable of eventually being fitted with modifications for aerial dispersal of chemical and/or biological agents. The Iraq Survey Group did not find evidence of an existing system for dispersal, however it does not take much to retrofit a sprayer system so long as the system and the agent payload total falls within the payload capacity of the design. Further, the ISG dismisses military direction to the Iraqi design team to leave a 40cm x 70cm compartment 50cm deep as a parachute recovery storage space. The members of the team interviewed were never told what it was for. If it were for a parachute, wouldn't the suggestion have come from the design team, not to the design team from the military? Wouldn't even the most peripheral members of the team know what it was for? Why such secrecy for a parachute compartment? While the ISG and others may shout "No evidence!", if all the ISG had to go on were the words of the design team members (who claim to not know what the compartment was for) as the final report states, then the ISG is just plain wrong and irresponsible for coming to such a sure-sounding conclusion. If Saddam Hussein, incapable of a successful nuclear program, was capable of such UAV design, it would be insane to assume that Iran hasn't already developed the ability as well. Iran, after all, is the source of the Hizballah Mohajer-4 drones.
The prominent London-based Arab daily newspaper Ash-Sharq Al- Awsat quoted an unnamed senior officer with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as saying Iran has sold 8 Mohajer-4s to Hizbollah.
Look for the coming weeks and months to show an steady increase in incidents such as the current drone issue. Possible direct skirmishes in northern Israel as well as the traditional use of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as suicide bombers and loose gunmen until an Israeli response is inevitable. At this point, Iran -through Hizballah and the Palestinians- will have a propaganda tool to fan the flames of anti-Israeli sentiment and allow the events to dominate the airwaves and diplomatic channels. Hizballah, Hamas and the Palestinians themselves are just the spoons to be used to stir a historically-reliable caustic regional pot.
Remember: Iran is simply buying time for the maturity of the Mullahs' nuclear ambitions. They have no interest in peace in Lebanon or the West Bank or Gaza or anywhere else in the region. These conflicts are (or will be once incited) useful strategic tools. As soon as it appears that the clock is finally running out with the EU/E3-IAEA nuclear 'negotiations', Lebanon and the Palestinians will be the next useful tools employed to buy time.
The activities are beginning to build to set this up already. Wednesday, April 13, 2005
"KILL BUSH" PRODUCTS--KILLED
By Michelle Malkin
Blogs get results: The "Kill Bush" products first reported here and publicized on scores of blogs big and small, have been removed.
Here's the announcement from CafePress:
The "Kill Bush" products have been removed from CafePress.com. They were created by individuals across the globe, as are the more than 8 million products available on CafePress.com, a diverse network of more than one million shops.
Hate related materials are in violation of our terms of service and are prohibited from being sold through CafePress.com. CafePress.com is an automated service, and as such, products are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that merchandise that is in violation of our terms of service is removed from our site.
Good on them, but they've still got their work cut out for them.
Update: Reader Paul Stapleton notes that the "large view" image of the shirt is still on CafePress's site. Thursday, April 14, 2005
Reader Jim Mason called my attention to this piece by Alex Hinton, a professor at Rutgers University, that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and was picked up by Real Clear Politics. Hinton warns that our government's prosecution of the war on terror is causing us to become like the Khmer Rouge, the criminals who ran Cambodia at one time. Their rule saw the mass extermination of ordinary Cambodians in the name of a crazed Communist ideology. So Hinton must have evidence that the Bush administration has killed Americans pursuant to the war on terror, right? Of course not. Nor does he present evidence that we have intentionally killed foreign terrorists in our custody -- you know, the folks who actually are trying to exterminate Americans. Hinton does point to abuses at places like Abu Graib. But it's obscene to compare the disgusting but non-lethal tactics of the rogue guards at that prison to genocide. For the most part, the reported tactics did not even involve the infliction of physical pain.
Genocide has taken place in Iraq. But the perpetrator wasn't the U.S. government, it was Saddam Hussein, the fellow our soldiers overthrew and captured. Also, while it may have escaped Professor Hinton's notice, the U.S. has brought about free and fair elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't recall the Cambodian analog to these shining events. Hinton, however, may think he sees one when he refers to the "era of new fanaticisms." Perhaps he regards President Bush's quest to promote democracy in the Middle East as fanaticism.
It would be nice to think that Hinton's piece represents off-the-chart lunacy. However, he's far from the only leftist to have compared Bush to Hitler -- for example, moveon.org found merit in two such amateur campaign ads. If Hitler, then why not Pol Pot? Perhaps that's what the Christian Science Monitor thought when it published the piece, a decision that further shows that Hinton's lunacy is not necessarily outside the hard left mainstream.
The hatred of folks like Hinton for the U.S. knows no discernible bounds. Thursday, April 14, 2005
KYRGYZSTAN: YANKEES, STAY HERE!
Donald Rumsfeld traveled to meet the new political leaders of Kyrgyzstan as part of his security tour of Southwest and Central Asia this week. Despite the speculation that the new Kyrgyz leaders would align themselves more closely with Moscow at the expense of the West, interim Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev told Rumsfeld that his government wants the American base outside the capitol of Bishkek to remain:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, visiting amid political turmoil in this former Soviet republic, won assurances Thursday that the U.S. military will not lose access to a base it established here in support of the war in Afghanistan.
Ganci air base, which is situated at Manas airport outside the capital, is part of a network of facilities in Central Asia that still provides support for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.
Doubts were raised about the future of the U.S. military presence when Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev fled the country last month after an uprising that has yet to play out.
The acting prime minister, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, discussed the base and other issues with Rumsfeld during a brief stop before Rumsfeld returned to Washington.
During a joint news conference, Bakiyev reinforced the government view that all international agreements signed by the deposed Askar Akayev would remain in force. Bakiyev refused to endorse an expansion of any foreign forces in Kyrgyzstan, but with Afghanistan itself asking for a closer security relationship with the US earlier this week, such an expansion is hardly needed. Neighboring Uzbekistan also hosts a small contingent of American forces, as Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration have built a network of small but effective outposts in the moutainous regions of Asia to directly target and kill Islamist terrorists. Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz hardly want these bloodthirsty lunatics roaming freely in their own territory and have little to gain from expelling us.
One notable conclusion about Rumsfeld's trip is how effective he is at diplomacy. Hamid Karzai owes us his freedom and his stability, but even so, asking the US to expand its forces in a primarily Muslim country and to extend its stay indefinitely hardly makes for the best political position in that part of the world. The Kyrgyz obviously want to maintain and improve its relationship with Moscow and Putin, especially since they share a border with China and could use the immediate assistance of Russia in a tight spot. However, Rumsfeld deftly navigated through the diplomatic dangers in both places as well as in Pakistan, strengthening the American position and our prestige in the region tremendously.
Those who consider Rumsfeld a dangerously loose cannon should take time to reconsider. He can be blunt, at times, and some overly sensitive diplomatic dilettantes might disapprove of that manner. However, for people who have fought for their freedom and their lives, honesty apparently sounds very attractive. Thursday, April 14, 2005