The race is on. Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al Khazmari al Zahrani, who is better known as Abu Maryam al Zahrani probably made it to the U.S. ‘kill these guys’ list today. He’s been on the Saudi list of wanted terrorists since 2009, mainly for acts committed in 2007 and his ongoing propaganda work for al-Qaeda. Membership in al-Qaeda is a crime in Saudi Arabia.
There is a difference in the lists. The U.S. designation blocks all al-Zahrani's property interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of al-Zahrani. It may also move him up as a candidate for ‘targeted strikes.’ If we find him we’ll probably kill him in another cowardly act of murder by Obama. It is the President of the United States who actually signs off on the kill list when we are in doubt about our ability, or willingness to put American lives at risk, to capture accused terrorists.
The Saudis, on the other hand, want to bring him to trial. It sounds like the Saudis take a more Rule of Law path than the U.S. policy of “kill first, defend the action later.” Our drone enforcement policy is drag on our reputation in the international community and should be halted. Being afraid to execute an arrest warrant is no excuse for extrajudicial murder.
This past year the Saudis have tried over 100 al-Qaeda operatives and extracted a great deal of information from them. The U.S. drone justice has killed hundreds in over 333 strikes in Afghanistan alone and learned nothing from them.
If we had the courage of our stated convictions we would bring more terrorists to trial and murder fewer innocent civilians.
January 25, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
In case you were wondering if the U.S. is still, after all those reports, charges, and convictions, heavily invested in mercenary forces as part of our foreign policy:
[these are DoD Numbers]
Contractors U.S non-U.S Host Country
Military Mil. Mil.
Afghanistan 109, 564 31,814 39,480 38,270
Iraq 9,000 2,314 4,621 2,065
Countries 18,843 8,764 9,297 782
TOTALS 137,407 42,892 53,398 41,117
And then we started wondering about just what those ‘other country’ 28,000 are doing…and who they are doing it to…and what are we getting out of it…
Taxpayer monies are going down the drain into the sewers of the manufacturers of weapons and private ‘security’ companies. And the result: the number of terrorist attacks, globally, is rising, not falling. In some places, like Pakistan, the number of terrorists acts has risen in proportion to the military aid we deliver.
Maybe it's time to test a new theory. Less military spending will reduce overall violence.
The U.S. used to spend about $10 billion a month in Iraq. We thought that taxpayer money would be better spent on health, education, infrastructure (to create jobs), and other people positive projects. We might as well have flushed that cash.
Well, we don't spend those dollars in Iraq anymore. But we don't funnel them to 'good' projects, either. Last year we flushed aboout about US$10 billion a month down the Afghanistan toilet.
Our investment in Iraq brought us nothing but death and destruction of American lives. We lost whatever influence we had in the region and are now ridiculed by Islamic extremists for our folly. We didn't do much good for Iraqis, either. Our investment in Afghanistan brought us nothing good of lasting value. We're about to retreat without victory. It's Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan deja vu all over again.
But wait a minute, there, fella. We didn't flush the cash. It went somewhere...oh, yes. There is a group of people getting rich while our soldiers die and we destroy whole cultures. They have little interest in ending these seemingly useless conflicts. In fact, these wars are making them richer and richer. At a million a pop (some cost a lot more) for the bombs and missiles it makes sense to keep using them. Drones aren't cheap, either. Mercenaries are still raking it in.
Yeah, retreat without victory, but there are some real winners here. In the drone wars alone you are looking at enormous profits. Northrop Grumman and General Atomics (huge political contributors, of course) sell about half of the unmanned flying machines and pull in about $2 billion a year from our follies. Of course they're not alone in this business. The list of war profiteers is long and it will only continue to grow and suck up taxpayer cash that could be better spent unless we push towards more peaceful tomorrows. Some of the Dronesters:
Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE)
Aeronautics Defense Systems
American Dynamics Flight Systems
Aurora Flight Sciences
Blue Bird Aero Systems
Boeing Defence, Space & Security
Denel Aerospace Systems
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
We helped build the Taliban in our effort to push Russia out of Afghanistan, and now we fight them.We chased al-Qaeda after 9/11 and then we partnered with them in Libya to oust Gaddafi. Now we partner with al-Qaeda in Syria in our 'covert' attempt to get rid of Assad.
Is there no one we will not dance with even after they have killed our sons and daughters?
January 4, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
It's just a movie, for sure, but the one-sided, heroic projection of the star is just a fiction. There was no single hound relentlessly chasing Osama bin Laden, and the character does not exist. However the CIA does exist, and did find bin Laden. But its actions regarding the Rule of Law, Justice, and rendition were responsible for one more of America's horrendous forays into torture...and well outside the reach of American courts.
Darryl Li, of the Committee on Global Thought (at Columbia University), has written an excellent article describing the Kahled el-Masri case and it is replete with details about the secret rendition program supposedly ended by the Obama administration.
It aint over. Here's part of the the European Court of Human Rights' (ECHR) findings in its investigation of the el-Masri case:A German citizen of Lebanese origin, el-Masri was arrested in Macedonia on New Year’s eve in 2003, held incommunicado and interrogated in a hotel for several weeks at the behest of the United States, and then handed over to CIA personnel. The Court recounts what happened next:
[el-Masri] was beaten severely from all sides. His clothes were sliced from his body...His underwear was forcibly removed. He was thrown to the floor, his hands were pulled back and a boot was placed on his back. He then felt a firm object being forced into his anus…a suppository was forcibly administered on that occasion. He was then pulled from the floor and dragged to a corner of the room, where his feet were tied together. His blindfold was removed. A flash went off and temporarily blinded him. When he recovered his sight, he saw seven or eight men dressed in black and wearing black ski masks. One of the men placed him in a nappy. He was then dressed in a dark blue short-sleeved tracksuit. A bag was placed over his head and a belt was put on him with chains attached to his wrists and ankles. The men put earmuffs and eye pads on him and blindfolded and hooded him. They bent him over, forcing his head down, and quickly marched him to a waiting aircraft, with the shackles cutting into his ankles.
The CIA held el-Masri Afghanistan for five months before they decided he was innocent and knew nothing of value. They dumped him on a roadside in Albania.
El-Masri’s secret detention and torture had all been based on a mistaken identification. The analyst was later promoted and presumably had a key role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
For the full article see MERIP
December 18, 2012 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
The Khyber Attacks and Pakistan’s passive support of terror in the FATA
The newspaper Dawn reported today, “JAMRUD: At least 19 people, among them women and children, were killed and 71 others injured when a powerful car bomb ripped through the Jamrud bazaar in Khyber Agency on Monday, officials and witnesses said.” [Dawn]
This latest terrorist attack in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan occurred in the Khyber Agency. Jamrud is the gateway to the famed Khyber Pass, logistically important to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
No group claimed responsibility but the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been active in the area and usually claim that their attacks are retaliatory for Taliban members killed by NATO, U.S., or Pakistani forces. One raid was termed retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden. Earlier in the year they kidnapped and then executed 15 Frontier Constabulary. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said, “We have killed these personnel. This is revenge for the killing of our comrades in Khyber by Pakistani Forces. We will soon take revenge for other operations too."
The FATA is rife with terrorists. While local officials bemoan their presence, the central government has taken little action to curb groups such as the TTP.
The government of Pakistan has taken almost no action against the terrorist groups in the FATA. This neglect has put an enormous burden on local officials; one that they cannot handle. TTP, the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group are left to terrorize the region and slip into Afghanistan without interference. The U.S. drone attacks are still going on, but they have little long lasting effect.
One particularly disturbing result of the Pakistani government’s non-involvement is the emergence of the “Lashkar-e-Khorasan (LeK), the group’s only purpose is to identify, capture and execute persons allegedly working for what is described as a ‘web of local spies’ created by the CIA.” [SATP]
This passive support for the terrorists in the FATA can only backfire on Pakistan. As groups such as the TTP and the Haqqani network grow stronger they have begun to target government forces as well as citizens. It will only get worse until Pakistan’s central government takes a stand against terror.
December 18, 2012 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Zero Dark Thirty: The Boredom, the Joke, and the Lie.
December 13, 2012 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
OMG, don't get me started. Too late! I'm already started. Boring! We saw this hyped up Zero Dark Thirty and were disappointed in a couple of ways. With a great opportunity to deliver a caper film about something that really matters, Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal delivered something less exciting, a little boring, and much less important. Yes, it is true that it is hard to draw folks in when they already know the ending, but one can at least try to, perhaps, give us some new facts, viewpoints, or insights to reward our patience. Even a trite view of the intensive Seal training that went into this mission would have been welcome; the mockup site, the over-and-over-till-perfect drills, Lee Marvin pushing the men to their limits and beyond...oops, that was The Dirty Dozen, a really great piece of film!
Zero Dark Thirty did a good job of scaring us with the loud noises of sometimes unexpected exposions, but otherwise left us to sit through a well-known tale while adding very little to our knowledge and understanding of...pretty much anything the film touched on.
The phone 'torture controversy' that the publicists have cooked up is far more controversial that the treatment of torture in the film. That's the joke. The distance between the film's torture and the reality of real-life torture is so far that one can hardly discern the stance of the film. The movie torturers barely show us the joy they get from hurting people for a good cause. You couldn't do that job unless that was true; it would rip you apart. The impact of torture on the prisoners is so mild, and they recover so quickly, that one wonders where the movie makers got their information: from TV, perhaps.
And the Lie? Well, there were a couple, but after all, Zero Dark Thirty is a Hollywood movie and we need some cutting, pasting, and cinetech to liven things up. The big lie, the capital L Lie, has to do with the role of torture in the hunt for Usama bin Laden. In fact, it wasn't important at all.
"After the examination of millions of pages of evidence, the chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee have publicly stated that coercive interrogation techniques such as waterboarding did not provide the information that led to bin Laden." [NYTimes]
There. You have it. Zero Dark Thirty is a just movie, that's all, and not a particularly good one, either.
Happy New Year from Shabaab al Mujahideen
December 12, 2012 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Mukhtar Abu al Zubeir (leader of the Shabaab, the Somalia based offshoot of al Qaeda),
in his December message to Mullah Muhammad Omar (the Taliban's spiritual leader) and
Ayman al Zawahiri (al Qaeda's leader since bin Laden's assassination)
predicted the defeat of America, "the crusader."
Al Zubeir praised Ansar al Shariah in Yemen (an alias for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) urging them to "remain steadfast until victory." He seemed to gloat over the U.S. defeat in Iraq and impending defeat in Afghanistan declaring: "That no matter the Strength of the crusader's offensive, it will eventually result in abysmal failure as the phase of gaining territory and defeating the Mujahideen has irreversibly come to an end."
Is he a threat to the U.S.? He seems totally involved in local issues. Is he a target of the U.S. "kill list"? Maybe. The U.S. has asserted that al Shabaab is part of al Qaeda and al Qaeda poses a global threat (i.e. a direct threat to the United States of America) therefore al Shabaab poses a threat to America. Hmmm...are we conflating the local with the global? Guilt by association?
The 'global threat' designation serves to confuse our perception of al Shabaab. It also serves to justify America's policeman-of-the-world stance enabling the U.S. to continue its self-justified unilateral killing spree; killing those we choose to kill, heedless of the Rule of Law. That can't be good for the U.S. in the long run.
Take care Obama: They called me a terrorist and I said “that will be my honor”
December 10, 2012 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
While President Obama contemplates further arming of the Syrian rebels the administration will have to be careful of who receives this transfer of American power. There are many factions operating in Syria and some are by no means friends of the United States. Just saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" doesn't make it true.
The United States has, in the past, supported groups and people because we were convinced that their animosity toward our perceived enemies would help us in our battles. How do you know the true loyalties of those you help? It doesn't always work out the way you want; the way you predict. Look no further than Iraq and Afghanistan to see the folly of such action. And when it involves violence we can see how we have destroyed people's lives in the vain, failed hopes of victory.
Choosing who receives America's firepower is choosing who lives and who dies. This is not a game I want to play. Governments do it all the time, for many different reasons. Usually they are mistaken and the effort backfires, but the killing continues.
The video: "Two men stand in the balcony of what seems to be a building made vacant by the violence, singing in a microphone, while people congregate in the street and sing along while shouting praises and “Allahu Akbar!”—especially whenever the name “Bin Laden” is sung. Excerpts of some of the words the two men sing—in a non-Syrian accent, likely a Saudi accent—follow:
They called me a terrorist and I said “that will be my honor,” this is a divine call …. We defeated America … the Trade [Center] became a bunch of rubble … Greetings from the Taliban and its leader mullah Omar… Victory is ours, winning is ours, and Allah with all his strength is with us, the infidel masses have come together to defeat us but they will not defeat us." [Raymon Ibrahim]
The Black Flag of Islam in the video is the same one that flew over the embattled embassy. It is becoming a symbol of violent Islamist extremism. Do we really want to arm these men?
Dear Mr. President,
How will you ensure that the weapons we direct to Syrian 'rebels' do not fall into the hands of these evil people?