The Politics of Bin Laden

I was putting my shoes on when I heard my mom say, “He’s now in heaven” as my sister nodded approvingly. I looked back to see what my mom was referring to. It was an image of Osama bin Laden on the television, then I realized. Naturally, I had my own reaction to the announcement of this man’s death. Everyone does, even those who believe it is all a hoax. “Even if he is responsible for the deaths of many Muslims? I asked my mom. She should know this because she was in Nairobi the day the US embassy was bombed there. Many Muslims were killed that day (of the 12 Americans killed, one was a Muslim-American). And in Dar es Salaam, all the 11 people killed were Muslims. When bin Laden was asked why did he kill those Muslims, he responded by saying that “good Muslims should be at the mosque on Friday.”

So how does someone who not only kills innocent people in general, but also fellow Muslims, get sympathy from my apolitical mom? It is very strange indeed to see very rational, and quite well-informed, people become emotionally sympathetic to such a fellow. We are taught, from an early age, that to not say bad things about the dead but does that mean we forget and praise people whose very identity as we know is about killing lots of people? Conversely, it is horrifying to see people so jubilantly celebrate the taking of a human life regardless of how evil or accused evil the person was (which is a sad reflection on humanity, to say the least). For all we know, bin Laden could have been a great father, husband, brother, son, uncle, and friend. Only those who knew him would have the benefit of knowing that. But his identity to the world was as the leader and chief financier of Al Qaeda whose bombings have killed countless innocent people, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Yet, as he has portrayed himself as the ‘defender’ of Muslims, by also killing many Muslims along the way, bin Laden has managed to create a political identity that many have come to sympathize with even as they recognize his undoubtedly horrible acts of violence and destruction that killed thousands of people, in addition to his cancerous ideology that will continue to outlive long after most people forget his image. He did of course defend his fellow Muslims earlier in his career – fighting and defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But does that justify such a sympathy after the many more innocent people he killed since creating Al Qaeda? It still amazes me how many people I come across that believe bin Laden was a religious leader. Of course he was not, despite his followers calling him Sheikh Osama. He was a political figure, who has single-handedly changed geopolitics forever.

It is a grave mistake, then, to see his death as anything but a martyr.

Categories: politics, Religion, Terrorism | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Terrorists Suck

To: Terrorists and Wanna-be Terrorists

Re: The Shit That You Do

Subject: An Open Letter

Every passing day my life seems to get more difficult. Mind you, it is not my fault. I’m a law-abiding citizen; I avoid getting into a beef with the law at all cost, not because I love the laws that are out there but simply I want my life to be free of difficulty. Yet no matter what I do, terrorist-assholes have it out for me. Like this guy. Not only does this guy claim to be my co-religionists but also co-nomad. I hate this guy even more. I hate him because my life just got that much difficult because of him and all the other assholes like him.

I’m going to be traveling to East Africa in one week and I know for a fact that I will be harassed and sexually molested by TSA agents. I know I will be “randomly” selected for extra-loving by the good folks at the TSA. And I also know that I will be interrogated in the “back room” on my return to the states. I resent having to endure these hassles because some loser decided to murder babies and their mothers at a Christmas Tree lighting in Oregon or shoppers in Stockholm. What I resent the most is assholes who, in their fantasy-filled minds, justify killing innocent people is somehow permitted or encouraged by my faith.

Unfortunately these people don’t think for themselves and hence don’t learn Islam for themselves, relying on assholes like them with a keyboard and internet connection to fill them up with hate and propaganda. Why else would a kid who lived in Portland since he was 5 want to kill his fellow Oregonians? I’m actually not opposed to people who have beef with the US government. If they want to fight then why don’t they go to the battlefield and shoot at soldiers who also have guns and shoot back at them? Because they’re punks. They prefer to hurt the weak and innocent because it is easy.

And they make all of our lives difficult.

Categories: In the News, Terrorism | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Despair Over Fallen Flowers

Last week we witnessed the incredible cruelty humans are capable of in the medical school graduation bombing in Mogadisho that killed over 20 and injured 60 plus people, mainly students. A day later, it was a mosque near Peshawar, Pakistan that killed at least 50 people. What do these two events have in common, beside the indescribable evilness to it? They’re done by people who believe they share a faith with us. They’re done by people who share the human kinship with the rest of us. They’re done by, above all, people who believe in so much hatred and destruction that any being that doesn’t subscribe to their ideology of wicked hate must be annihilated at any cost, by any means.

So I ask: Is there anything that can stop such a virus? All the previous ideologies of hate and destruction that came before this virus we call terrorism – from the Crusades, the Inquisition, Slavery, Colonization, Fascism to Nazism – had a sources that could be seen and fought against face to face. But, terrorism – where do you start? How do you fight against someone whose goal isn’t to live to conquer, but just to die fulfilling his perversion of a religion of peace and love? Huxley’s Brave New World may have imagined an advanced human specie capable of producing just about anything, but what it really was trying to predict was this world that we are living in today. And this virus, my friends, will take quite a while.

The Minister for Higher Education who recently returned to the country to "rebuild." Now Dead.

As I sit and write this, I’m contemplating about my graduation in the Spring and what I will do thereafter. It has often been my desire to go back to Somalia and contribute to whatever knowledge and skills I have to my people. These medical students, on the other hand, were already there and ready to serve but these massive assholes just had to destroy the only bright thing the suffering people of  Somalia had. Along with professors, journalists, health and education ministers, and non-graduating students, the bombing effectively made Somalia a land occupied by terrorists. And these terrorists just murdered the last remaining intellectuals in the South of the country. Now I’m not so inclined to go any near where these insane creatures operate.

I can imagine this is also happening to a lot of Somalis in the diaspora but only time will tell if peace and love will prevail over hate and destruction in the land of nomads and poets. God help us.

Categories: Somalia, Terrorism | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments


Categories: Terrorism | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Gitmo panels struggle to assess facts

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – After years of indefinite confinement, many detainees at Guantanamo Bay say they feel they may never receive justice, according to transcripts of hearings obtained by The Associated Press. Fewer than one in five of detainees allowed a hearing last year even bothered to show up for it.

The frustrated words of men, some of whom admit to fighting with the Taliban but swear they would go peacefully home if released, illustrate the seething tension at a prison where hundreds are held without charges. The transcripts also underscore that the U.S. allegations against the men are often as difficult to substantiate as they are for the detainees to refute.

Sometimes the allegations alarmed even the panels of military officers charged with determining whether a detainee should be freed.

Rahmatullah Sangaryar stood accused of “planning biological and poison attacks on United States and coalition forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan” and of possessing anthrax powder and a liquid poison.

The Afghan detainee said he was captured only with muddy clothes, possessed no anthrax and never planned such an attack. The officer in charge of the panel seemed to grope for a response.

“Do you know of anyone who would accuse you of such an act? This is so serious,” the unidentified officer exclaimed. “I am trying to understand why it is here in front of me, this allegation against you.”

The military has released a greater number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay than the roughly 340 men who are there today. As of Sept. 6, the U.S. had transferred or released about 435 prisoners from Guantanamo to more than two dozen nations since the detention center opened in January 2002. Most were subsequently released by their home countries.

But last year, the Administrative Review Board panels determined that 83 percent of the detainees whose cases they deliberated were too dangerous to be sent away, and authorized only 17 percent for transfer to other countries.

After AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request, the Pentagon on Friday handed over transcripts of 64 hearings in which the detainees appeared in 2006. In a letter to the AP, the government said it was withholding three transcripts because they would undermine “particularly strong privacy interests.”

The transcripts provide a rare opportunity to hear from the detainees themselves, and show increasing despair and frustration.

“It appears that our lives don’t mean anything to the Americans … I have a feeling that I might be here until my death,” Mohammed Nasir Khusruf, a 60-year-old detainee from Yemen, told the ARB — the second to hear his case.

At the ARBs, conducted in a trailer inside the Guantanamo detention center, detainees are unable to confront those who have made statements against them. They are not provided with attorneys. The Bush administration has denied the Guantanamo detainees access to civilian courts and only three are charged with war crimes under a new military commissions system that has already run into a legal snarl.

“I am entering the fifth year,” Afghan detainee Hamoud Abdullah Hamoud Hassan al-Wady told his panel. “I want to see American justice. Where is it?”

The unidentified military officer heading the panel told al-Wady that this was his opportunity to “clear up some of the allegations that have been presented to us.”

Yet in case after case, the source of often very serious accusations against the men is unclear, hamstringing detainees’ efforts to contest the allegations.

In a case that illustrates the frustration, a military panelist told Mohammed Ali Salem al-Zarnuki that “a senior al-Qaida operative” had claimed he was seen in Kabul “at the front lines.” Al-Zarnuki, a Yemeni who was arrested in Pakistan, had repeatedly denied ever being in Afghanistan.

“As I had said before, I don’t know Afghanistan,” al-Zarnuki insisted to his military panel. “I wish you would bring that guy so I can talk to him. Maybe I look like someone he knows.”

Sometimes the frustration seemed to come from the other direction, as in the case of an Afghan detainee who insisted he was a simple merchant.

“I am very curious as to why a shopkeeper would be here. I find it very puzzling,” a panel member said. It was impossible to gauge from the transcript whether the officer was salting his remarks with irony.

Only about 18 percent of detainees showed up for the ARBs out of the 330 cases considered last year, the military said. It was the second round of panels which determine whether a prisoner should continue to be held or be transferred from the base in southeast Cuba. Most of the first round of ARBs was held in 2005.

The detainees who chose to participate, for the most part, were cooperative and polite, at times admitting they attended combat training camps in Afghanistan or fighting for the Taliban against the rival Afghan Northern Alliance.

Some said they were simply farmers or shopkeepers swept up by U.S. or allied forces in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. None acknowledged any major role in international terrorism.

Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi, a doctor from Yemen, acknowledged treating wounded al-Qaida fighters at Tora Bora in Afghanistan, but said he was forced to do so. He said he wasn’t a terrorist.

“I deny these allegations against me,” Batarfi said. “It is the same information used against me last year. … I don’t want to be back to the same point again next year.”

Some detainees, explaining how an innocent man could wind up at Guantanamo, said they had been captured in Pakistan and sold for bounties to U.S. forces — a practice that has been denounced by Amnesty International.

“You did not catch us in Pakistan — we were sold in Pakistan,” said Abdennour Sameur, an Algerian. “The Pakistani army was very poor, that’s why they were selling us to you.”

Al-Zarnuki said he was also sold for a bounty, and added that his own money went missing during his arrest in Pakistan.

“So the Pakistani government made money twice, from our pocket and from your pocket,” he told the military panel.

In contrast to the others, one Yemeni detainee proudly proclaimed himself a holy warrior and “an enemy of the United States.”

Abdul al Rahman al Zahri praised the Sept. 11 attacks and other terrorist strikes and said they were retaliation “for your criminal acts and your military invasion (of) the Islamic countries.”

Gitmo panels struggle to assess facts

Categories: In the News, Terrorism | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act – Yahoo! News

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer Thu Sep 6, 11:34 AM ET

NEW YORK – A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court’s approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act “offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers.”

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law, complaining that it allowed the FBI to demand records without the kind of court order required for other government searches.

The ACLU said it was improper to issue so-called national security letters, or NSLs — investigative tools used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information — without a judge’s order or grand jury subpoena. Examples of such businesses include Internet service providers, telephone companies and public libraries.

Yusill Scribner, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said prosecutors had no immediate comment.

Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case for the ACLU, said the revised law had wrongly given the FBI sweeping authority to control speech because the agency was allowed to decide on its own — without court review — whether a company receiving an NSL had to remain silent or whether it could reveal to its customers that it was turning over records.

In 2004, ruling on the initial version of the Patriot Act, the judge said the letters violate the Constitution because they amounted to unreasonable search and seizure. He found that the nondisclosure requirement — under which an Internet service provider, for instance, would not be allowed to tell customers that it was turning over their records to the government — violated free speech.

After he ruled, Congress revised the Patriot Act in 2005, and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals directed that Marrero review the law’s constitutionality a second time.

The ACLU complained that Congress’ revision of the law didn’t go far enough to protect people because the government could still order companies to turn over their records and remain silent about it, if the FBI determined that the case involved national security.

The law was written “reflects an attempt by Congress and the executive to infringe upon the judiciary’s designated role under the Constitution,” Marrero wrote.

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act – Yahoo! News

Categories: Privacy, Reality Check, Terrorism | Leave a comment

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