All posts tagged terrorism

Bin Laden Got Way Too Much In Exchange For His Life

It is no surprise that the assassination of Osama bin Laden has brought a wave of celebration in the United States. I, however, found my sentiments best expressed by a 9/11 survivor, Harry Waizer:

“If this means there is one less death in the future, then I’m glad for that,” said Mr. Waizer, who was in an elevator riding to work in the north tower when the plane struck the building. He made it down the stairs, but suffered third-degree burns.

“But I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama Bin Laden.”

The crowds I have seen in New York and Washington have been chanting and waving flags in scenes that could easily have been taken from a global sporting event. I don’t mean to minimize the real feelings of anger that were justifiably raised by the barbarity of the 9/11 attacks. But if people are going to treat this as a contest of some kind, it’s worth looking at the score.

Bin Laden, obviously a fanatic, lost his life. But the cost to the world was so much greater.A terrorist begins with the understanding that he is leading a much less powerful force than his foes. Part of the goal of terrorism is precisely to increase the brutality of the targeted state, increasing the fear, the terror, of the populace so that it will support greater violence.

At this, Bin Laden succeeded spectacularly. Since September 11, 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan, where it has predictably become mired (as have so many invaders before it); its government created an elaborate (albeit ridiculous) lie in order to whip up sympathy to invade Iraq, where it also became entangled; its support for the Israeli occupation became even more fanatical and mindless; and, despite the obviously shallow mantra about “not being at war with Islam,” the US intensified its image in the Arab and Muslim worlds as the imperialist enemy, a condition which is about to bring serious consequences as the Arab Spring makes popular opinion a much more important factor in the region.

Add to that some 6,000 more Americans killed after 9/11, not to mention the people killed in the various foreign countries, numbering easily into six figures at minimum, trillions of dollars spent on the war effort and the damage that has done to the American ability to recover from the massive theft of money by Wall Street, the geometric increase of Iranian influence in the Middle East due to the American invasion of Iraq, and the concomitant decrease in American influence in the region, helped along by the fact that it took nearly a decade for the US to locate and kill bin Laden, and we see just how much the terrorist gained by taking an act that would get him killed at the not-terribly-young age of 54.

I have no doubt that if this deal had been offered to bin Laden before 9/11, he would have not only accepted but would have been giggling at the one-sided nature of the deal.

And we can rest assured that the US is not close to fully paying the price bin Laden extracted for his life. The Middle East, as we can see modeled in Turkey and Egypt, is quickly moving farther away from cooperation with the US. We remain trapped in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and even our puppets, like Hamid Karzai, are defying American policy priorities. And, lest we forget, in the end, bin Laden was an important figurehead of al-Qaeda, but there are many similar groups in the world and even al-Qaeda itself was far from dependent on bin Laden to do its dastardly work. Al-Qaeda and similar groups have been losing popularity for a long time, especially now as Egypt, Tunisia and other countries have shown there are popular and better ways to gain their rights. But the terrorist groups will still survive, and bin Laden’s death isn’t going to make a terribly big difference, beyond hopefully dispiriting some of the militants with the death of their charismatic leader.

We didn’t win here. If a crowd is going to cheer about this like it’s a baseball game, what they’re really cheering is the ending of a long inning where our team just kept getting hammered, giving up run after run. When the game finally ends, we will have taken too many losses to have any realistic chance of winning.

That’s what we need to recognize now that we have, after far too long and at far too high a cost, killed Osama bin Laden. Hillary Clinton has already said we are not going to realistically assess the score here, but are going to continue down the same forlorn path. But perhaps, after emotions have died down, we can convince more Americans that it is time to turn away from this path of destruction and try to finally bring at least some hint of what most Americans incorrectly believe to be our high ideals into foreign policy for a change.


Hamas reaction to Bin Laden killing disgraceful

Ismael Haniya, the political leader of Hamas which pretends to be the voice of Palestinian Muslims living in the Gaza Strip, was quick to issue a statement denouncing the killing of master terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Rather than denounce Bin Laden and the tragedy that he has brought upon not only all Muslims but on the Palestinian people, Hanieyh celebrated Bin Laden and praised him as a martyr.

“We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior,” Haniyeh told reporters, according to Reuters. “We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”

In contrast, the Palestine National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, through his spokesman Ghassan Khatib, told Reuters, ”Getting rid of Bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide, but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods — the violent methods — that were created and encouraged by Bin Laden and others in the world.”

Once again, Hamas and Haniyeh in particular show they care more about their religious views than they do the causes of justice, civil rights and the aspirations of Palestinians for nationhood.

Not surprisingly, the people who continually defend Hamas, which has used violence as a form of terrorism rather than resistance, have been silent on Haniyeh’s ignorant and stupid rantings. Haniyeh again shows how little concern he has for the people of Palestine and that the concern of Hamas is solely for the interests of Hamas and the religious revolution.

Osama Bin Laden was NEVER a martyr for Islam. He was a vicious murderer who intentionally killed innocent men, women and children rather than have the courage to face professional soldiers in battle. He was cowardly, brainwashing young people to destroy their lives for a tragic meaningless cause to commit acts of suicide bombings and suicide airplane hijackings and suicide attacks. Bin Laden was and never will be a role model for what Islam is really about. Bin Laden brought disgrace to Islam and to many Muslims, although the vast majority of Muslims have stood up to his vicious strategies of violence.

Bin Laden never cared for the Palestinian people so why should the head of any Palestinian organization bother to express any compassion for Bin Laden’s killing? Why not denounce Bin Laden who reportedly refused to surrender, but hid behind a woman as a shield to protect himself, actions that are typical of the terrorists leaders who send children to commit their crimes and live in their own luxury and maniacal self-aggrandizement and popularity. Bin Laden should be denounced for killing innocent people. Bin Laden should be denounced for his failed policies to free the people of the Islamic World.

It is ironic that the killing of Bin Laden comes on the crescent of the rising tied of Arab people who are rising in protest against the dictators and tyrants of the Middle East who are fashioned from the same egotistical and brutal cloth that was also the fiber of Osama Bin Laden. The Arab World is changing and the people are demanding that they be able to speak out for themselves. Maybe they will achieve Democracy and strengthen their voices to overcome the oppression of dictators and angry leaders like Haniyeh who is driven by hatred, emotion and anger rather than by a concern for his people.

Haniyeh, though, has shown in his tragic public comments that he doesn’t care about the Palestinian people that he and Hamas claim to lead. They represent no one. They speak for no one save those few who share in his hatred and viciousness. Bin Laden may have been a Muslim but he distorted the message of Islam to serve his own selfish agenda. If Hanieyh were a leader, he would have instead of praising Bin laden as a martyr, denounced him as a traitor to the Islamic cause.

Yet Haniyeh’s actions only once again demonstrate why Hamas cannot serve in our Palestinian government. His actions and the actions of Hamas have only given Israel the excuses to engage int heir own acts of government terrorism and to strengthen not weaken the occupation of Palestine, to block a peace and to prevent Palestinians from achieving sovereign statehood.

Worse is the silence of the activists who cheer on fanaticism and extremism and even violence. Activists who celebrate when others are killed and then loudly denounce when our own Palestinian people are murdered and killed. That double standard has insulted the memory of the real martyrs of the Palestinian people, the thousands of innocent civilians who have been killed by Hamas suicide bombers, terrorists and Israeli military assaults. Haniyeh’s words have only strengthened the occupation. But maybe that’s what he really wants. Because without a brutal occupation, Hamas would be nothing.

– Ray Hanania


Against terror, liberty is America’s best defence

Fremont, California – The arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a
30-year-old US citizen of Pakistani descent and the alleged driver of the
vehicle used in the failed New York Times Square bombing a few weeks ago,
represents an opportunity to respond effectively to a potential act of terrorism
instead of reacting with fear and hysteria that will inevitably be manipulated
by extremist elements.

As of Tuesday morning, details are slowly emerging
regarding the potential motives of the suspect, Shahzad, who was arrested at JFK
airport in New York as he planned to fly to Dubai. And in the meantime, the
Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for this amateurish and failed

Their eagerness speaks volumes about their desperation to instil
fear in the hearts of the American public by an act of terrorism on the US

Similar moments of tension – though isolated – have in the
past been used to sow dissension and enmity through polarising statements in the
media by bigoted ideological pundits in both non-Muslim American and global
Muslim communities. We saw this tendency recently when Army major Nidal Hassan
Malik opened fire and killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas and when Nigerian
student Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab tried to ignite himself on an airplane on
Christmas Day in 2009 despite having been previously flagged.

incidents serve as fuel for right-wing commentators to promote a dangerously
inaccurate image of an Islamic monolith with all Muslims having a homicidal
aversion to “our freedoms”. Verbal attacks will, no doubt, be made on US
President Barack Obama’s efforts at conciliation and partnership with Muslim
communities, efforts such as his Al-Arabiya interview, his historic speech to
Muslims in Cairo last June and his outreach to Muslim American organisations and

Some media pundits argue passionately on the cable network Fox
News to “profile away” evil-doers – in effect advocating racial profiling of
ethnic minorities, especially of Middle Easterners and South Asians.
Anticipating public anxiety, Obama reacted to calls for “greater security”
following the failed Christmas Day bombing in 2009 by implementing catch-all
measures – recently amended – to extend special pat-downs and heightened
profiling to individuals returning from 14, mostly Muslim-majority,

Racial profiling and the erosion of civil liberties and due
process are counterproductive in fighting terrorism. Still, I worry that fear
and divisive rhetoric will be lead to such techniques being implemented,
undermining the mutual trust and cooperation that has been painstakingly built
over the past two years between Muslim Americans and law enforcement agencies.

Right-wing demagogues who proclaim the virtues of the West and argue
that terrorism is unique to the “Muslim world” should be reminded of the recent
arrest of nine members of the terrorist group, the Hutarees, for conspiring to
kill police officers and wage war on the United States government. The group has
been labelled an anomaly by Christians and Christian groups.

And the
suicide flight of disgruntled Joseph Stack into the IRS building in Texas, which
killed an innocent public employee, has been overlooked by many media pundits
even as anger at federal government institutions has been allowed to fester in
loud and angry public protests.

To be sure, radicalised Muslim elements
manipulate incidents, such as the satirical cartoon depictions of the Prophet,
as categorical proof that the “imperialist” West is perpetuating a war on Islam
and all Muslims. Recent violence and threats against those cartoonists who have
depicted the Prophet in a disrespectful manner do not emerge in a vacuum, but
rather they are symptomatic of a sustained belief in a skewed and simplistic
narrative of the “war-mongering West” that finds its evidence in the Iraq war,
US support for Israel, civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and cozy
US relations with Arab dictatorships.

It is these elements that
ultimately bear the greatest blame for betraying the legacy and spirit of the
Prophet, who urged moderation and civility.

In the face of the threat
from extremists, the greatest mistake Americans could make would be to revisit
the “us versus them” rhetoric and invasive security policies of the previous
administration, such as the US PATRIOT Act, which made it easier for government
agencies to access private information, detain immigrants and search homes and
businesses. These policies proved to be disastrous in curbing global terrorism
but highly successful in eroding US standing in world opinion, and damaged
cooperation with Muslim communities worldwide.

Ultimately, the best
defence is holding onto the very same values of freedom, liberty and democracy
Americans – both Muslim and non-Muslim – wish to defend and protect.

sad reality of modern, globalised 21st century existence is that the threat of
terrorism and violence is a constant aspect of daily life. But reactionary
posturing, rampant ethnic stereotyping, scapegoating of minorities and provoking
mistrust of Muslim Americans and allies have only ever exacerbated the risks.
Recent history has shown that a reasoned and moderate perspective, along with
sound security measures, vigilant policing, protection of civil liberties and
mutual aid are our best hope.

As more evidence in the Times Square
attempted bombing case emerges in coming days, let us hope this reasoned and
moderate perspective prevails.

This abridged article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service
(CGNews) with permission from the author.


An integrated approach to arrested terror suspects in Indonesia

Jakarta – The so-called “war against terror” is a war of
ideologies. It can only be won by changing extremists’ beliefs in the use of
violence, an Indonesian expert in extremism says.

Noor Huda Ismail,
Executive Director of a private think tank which aims to rehabilitate former
terrorists, the Institute for International Peacebuilding , believes terrorism
can be rooted out of society, particularly in Indonesia, but that the government
and civil society should place more emphasis on “deradicalising” extremists.

Since the 2002 Bali bombings, the Indonesian government has implemented
a deradicalisation programme which consists of using former Jemaah Islamiyah
(Islamic Community, JI) militants such as Nasir Abas to talk to terror suspects
and convicts in prison. After their release from prison, these former terror
suspects receive economic assistance to start a business.

Huda notes,
however, that the programme still has much room for improvement. For example,
more than 450 terror suspects have been charged or tried in courts of law on
terrorism charges, 200 of which were released after serving sentences – but
these men are prone to recidivism.

According to “‘Deradicalisation’ and
Indonesian Prisons”, a 2007 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a
non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly
conflict, this programme has succeeded in encouraging two dozen former members
of the JI – a militant Muslim organisation with the goal of establishing an
Islamic state in Indonesia – to cooperate with the police. But other former
militants who were involved in the government’s deradicalisation programme have
again become involved in extremist activities with the JI.

For example,
Urwah, a JI member who served four years in prison for his involvement in the
2004 Australian Embassy bombing, took part in the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton
hotel bombings in July last year following his release from

According to Huda, the families of former combatants who were
arrested or killed should also be involved in the deradicalisation programme, as
they are also prone to radicalism.

“For instance, look at Muhammad
Jibril, Abu Jibril’s son,” Huda said. Abu Jibril – now a cleric in Pamulang, a
small sub-district near Jakarta, was a treasurer for the JI.

Abu Jibril
spent three years in prison for being a hardliner in the early 1980s. He played
a role in supporting sectarian conflicts in Poso in Central Sulawesi until he
was arrested by the Malaysian government, which held him from 2001 and 2004
under the country’s Internal Security Act for promoting radicalism. His son
Muhammad was arrested in August 2009 for allegedly helping finance the attacks
on the two hotels last year.

This example demonstrates how radicalism
can be passed on from parents to children.

Huda also noted that there had
not been any systematic “reprogramming” or deradicalising of convicts in the
last few years: “The important thing is implementing a curative approach [rather
than repressive methods]. From the moment terror suspects are arrested, they
should be enrolled in the deradicalisation programme, and we have to know what
actions they take after their release,” he said.

The ICG stated in its
report that deradicalisation programmes in Indonesia had largely been viewed in
isolation from other developments.

“There has been little attempt, for
example, to assess whether more people are leaving [extremist] organizations
than joining them; whether the men joining the program were already disposed to
reject bombing as a tactic; or whether the initiative has created any backlash
in [extremists'] ranks. There has been almost no public discussion about where
the appropriate balance should be between leniency toward perpetrators, in an
effort to prevent future attacks, and justice for victims,” the report

Huda said the task of deradicalising former combatants should not
rest only with the police. In a report he co-authored with Carl Ungerer for the
Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Huda claimed that the best way to
counter radical ideology might be to encourage militant leaders who are no
longer hardliners and “whom the fringe group continues to trust, such as
Afghanistan or Philippines veterans, who are now lying low” – to work with the

He added that civil society organisations, such as the
popular mainstream Muslim organisations Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah,
should be more active in countering radical ideologies that might be spreading
in local communities where these organisations are active.

NU’s executive
leader Hafidz Usman said the organisation did not have a specific division in
charge of approaching former terrorists, but has worked with the government to
support its deradicalisation programme.

National Police deputy spokesman
General Sulistyo Ishaq concurred with Huda, saying that in order to be
effective, the deradicalisation process had to involve many of the relevant
parties but, overall, “the point is to offer a new [perspective] to terrorist
convicts and their families.”

This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with
permission from The Jakarta Post.