Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where Exactly IS Palestine?

President Bush is once again pushing the futile idea of a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I strongly support the creation of a Palestinian state. I believe it's in the interests of the Palestinian people, I believe it's in the interests of Israel to have a democracy living side-by-side - democracies living side-by-side in peace," Bush said. See today's story in the Jerusalem Post.

Sadly, there is every indication that President Bush is actually sincere about this idea, and not just playing the usual chin-music that we expect from politicians. This fantasy of a two-state solution is rooted in the popular but quite mistaken belief that the Palestinian Arabs were booted out of their homeland by the Israelis (AKA the Zionists) in 1967, after which they resorted to terrorism, and they would end all that terrorism if only the Israelis/Zionists would give back that conquered Arab land, as is called for in UN Resolution 242. That belief is mistaken because the Palestinian Arabs formally resolved to liberate all of Palestine from the Zionists at least as far back as 1964. They have no interest in two states. See the Palestinian Charter and other interesting historical documents at the website of the Palestinian UN Observer: http://www.un.int/palestine/PLO/PNA2.html

Check out that Charter. It framed the mental landscape of "Palestine" for the present generation of Palestinians. Particularly check out Article 2 ("Palestine, with its boundaries at the time of the British Mandate, is a indivisible territorial unit.") and Article 17 ("The partitioning of Palestine, which took place in 1947, and the establishment of Israel are illegal and null and void, regardless of the loss of time ... "). A two-state solution is unimaginable, at least on the Arab side. The Arab League absolutely rejected the partition of the Palestine Mandate territory into Arab and Jewish states in 1947 [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1947UN181.html]; that is the cause of the conflict, and that rejection has only become more entrenched over time.

This point is key: both the Palestinian Charter and the Palestinian Liberation Organization pre-date the 1967 war. Where exactly - geographically - is that Palestine that the PLO was formed to liberate? Since the facts on the ground before 1967 were that Arabs occupied ALL of the territories that are in dispute today, plus parts of Jerusalem (the 1964 Arab League meeting which adopted the Palestinian Charter was held in Jerusalem), there is no place left for that Zionist-occupied Palestinian land to be other than that place we call "Israel." There is no getting around the fact that the Palestinian Arabs are utterly convinced they are entitled to have all of the land of historic Palestine from the Jordan to the sea, including the part that is Israel.

All conflicts can be solved, but not all of them can be solved peacefully. That great American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes (a Civil War veteran) said it with his usual cogency: "I believe that force, mitigated so far as may be by good manners, is the Ultima Ratio, and between two groups that want to make inconsistent kinds of world, I see no remedy except force." That unsentimental statement is exactly the rhetorical bucket of cold water I'd like to throw on President Bush and the rest of our "two-state solution" dreamers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This Week in The History of Terrorism, September 16 to 22

Here's my summary of significant past events for this week. This week is notable for the very first use of a vehicle-borne explosive device, which was detonated on Wall Street in 1920 [picture at left]. The vehicle was a horse-drawn wagon, and the idea behind it was a leap of the imagination that inaugurated the era of the carbomb.

September 16

1920 (United States)
– A horse-drawn wagon filled with dynamite and scrap iron was parked outside the J.P. Morgan building at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in the heart of American capitalism and detonated at noon when the streets were full of financial workers, killing more than 40 persons. The bomber was not caught but may have been an Italian-American anarchist named Mario Buda. Leaflets placed at the scene suggested that the bomb might have been a response to the murder indictment in Massachusetts of Buda’s fellow anarchists Sacco and Venzetti one month earlier.

The tactic was a huge escalation from previous anarchist practices of thrown or hand-carried bombs. The act of attacking the public at large in a symbolic location with a vehicle-borne bomb was ahead of its time. The next instance of a vehicle bomb did not occur until the 1940s.

September 17

1948 (Israel)
– LEHI (“Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”), also known as the Stern Gang, assassinated the UN Security Council mediator, the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who had been appointed to implement the 1947 UN Palestine partition plan. LEHI believed that Bernadotte’s proposed settlement terms, which included placing the city of Jerusalem under UN authority, critically disadvantaged Israeli interests.

The assassination was approved by the LEHI leadership (which included the future Prime Minister Yitzhat Sharmir) and planned by the operations chief in Jerusalem. A four-man team ambushed Bernadotte's motorcade in downtown Jerusalem, killing him and an aide, French UN observer Colonel Andre Serot. LEHI denied responsibility for legal and political reasons: the attack occurred a few days after the establishment of the State of Israeli and the incorporation of all armed groups under central authority, therefore the act was a crime against the new government as well as a political embarrassment.

According to journalist Kati Martin in A Death in Jerusalem, the decision to assassinate Bernadotte may have had a basis in social divisions within the Israeli Jewish community. LEHI’s extremists were often Sabras (native-born Jews) or Jewish immigrants from Arab nations, while the mainstream Israeli Government authorities were mostly European immigrants. Some LEHI-ists believed that the European Jews were subservient to an upper-class noble like Count Bernadotte, making him a dangerous influence.

1992 (West Germany) – Four Iranian Kurdish dissidents, including the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), were assassinated by Iranian agents while meeting at Berlins’s Mykonos restaurant. According to testimony in 1996 by former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, senior Iranian government officials and religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the killings. Two Iranians, Kazem Darabi and Abbas Rhayel, were sentenced to life in prison, and two others, Yousef Amin and Muhammad Atris, received sentences of 11 years and five years and three months, respectively, for the killings.

September 18

1997 (Egypt)
– A bomb attack on a Cairo tourist bus killed two Germans.

2001 (United States) – The first mailing of anthrax-filled letters from Trenton, New Jersey, occurred. No party took responsibility, and no one had ever been arrested for this use of a biological weapon.

September 19

1989 (Niger) – UTA Flight 772 to Paris exploded over Niger, killing 170. Libya was responsible. The brother in law of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and five other Libyans were put on trial in absentia for the bombing. In 2003, Libya admitted responsibility and agreed to pay compensation to the families of the victims. The motive is usually ascribed to revenge on the French for supporting Chad against the expansionist projects of Libya. One of those killed on UTA 772 was Bonnie Barnes Pugh, wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Chad, who had been on her way back home to help plan her daughter's wedding.

1972 (United Kingdom) – A letter bomb mailed to the Israeli embassy in London exploded, killing a diplomat, Dr. Ami Sachori. Eight bombs were addressed to personnel at the embassy, but three were detected in the embassy’s mail room and four others intercepted by British postal sorters. The devices all originated in Amsterdam. Black September was believed to be responsible (many of the letter bombs were in fact signed by Black September) and reprisal letter bombs were sent by Israeli groups to Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) addressees, injuring six. A total of 51 letter bombs were sent from Amsterdam to Israeli embassies around the world, but Dr. Sachori in London was the only fatality.

1975 (United States) - Patricia Campbell Hearst was arrested in San Francisco on charges related to violent acts committed by an urban terrorist group, the Symbionese Liberation Army. Hearst had been kidnapped by the SLA the previous year and was held for ransom, but then joined the group and participated in a bank robbery and other crimes. When booked by police, Hearst gave her occupation as “urban guerrilla.”

September 20

2003 (Iraq)
– Governing Council member Akia-al-Hashimi was mortally wounded in an ambush on her motorcade in Baghdad. The incident was the first attempt to assassinate an official of the US-installed provisional governing authority. The attack involved at least five men in a pickup truck and a backup car throwing grenades and firing rifles at Hashimi’s two-vehicle convoy as she was being driven to work about 8:45 a.m. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting, but Ahmad Chalabi, then chairman of the Governing Council, blamed it on “remnants of the Baathist regime and Saddam’s assassins” from the ousted government.

1984 (Lebanon) – The U.S. Embassy annex in West Beirut was attacked in a suicide carbomb operation sponsored by the Islamic Jihad Organization, killing 23 persons were killed. The bomber drove at high speed up the embassy’s main access road in a bomb-laden truck similar to embassy vehicles and bearing diplomatic plates. The explosive charge was over 1,100 pounds of high explosive, and it was detonated in front of the 5-story main office building. The West Beirut embassy annex had been open only six weeks. The previous embassy chancery building in downtown Beirut had been blown up in April 1983, killing 61 people.

September 21

1976 – United States) - Orlando Letelier del Solar was assassinated while riding to work at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. Letelier had been a cabinet member and ambassador of the government of Chile under the Marxist President Salvador Allende. The assassination was carried out by agents of the Chilean military regime that overthrew Allende, and was part of a broader campaign of attacking expatriate dissidents throughout the Americas.

The bomb was fixed to the undercarriage of the car and remotely detonated by one of the
Chilean agents as Leteilier's car drove through Sheridan Circle. Several people were eventually convicted for the murder, among them Michael Townley, a U.S. citizen who worked for the Chilean regime, and who confessed that he had hired five anti-Castro Cuban exiles to booby-trap Letelier's car.

September 22

2004 (Israel)
– A female al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade bomber killed two Israelis in Jerusalem.

1889 (United Kingdom) A large bomb placed in the recreation center of the Royal Marine School of Music killed ten troops and wounded 22, most of them teenagers. The blast destroyed all three floors of the building and severely damaged dozens of nearby houses. The IRA was responsible, although no one was ever held prosecuted. Opposition party politicians expressed concern about security at the base, which was partly guarded by a private security firm.
The bombing was part of an IRA campaign on the 20th year of the deployment of British troops to Northern Ireland.

1975 (Northern Ireland) – A series of 17 IRA bombs exploded in Belfast, injuring twelve persons. The attacks primarily targeted security forces, and were in retaliation for British Army and police (Royal Ulster Constabulary) raids on Irish Republican strongholds. The attacks came during a ceasefire, but were justified by the IRA on the grounds that security forces remained legitimate targets.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Turning Point in Iraq?

Al Qaeda might have made a strategic mistake by assassinating Abdul Sattar Abu Risha [photo on left; he's the one wearing the guttra], the Sunni leader of the pro-Iraqi government Anbar Salvation Council. Al Jazeera reports today that the alliance of tribes that Abu Risha led are mighty pissed.

Iraqi Tribes Vow to Revenge Murder: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D1DD318D-6571-4C27-8A73-3D6571394C92.htm

Monday, September 10, 2007

This Week in the History of Terrorism, September 9 to 15

Here's my take on significant past events for this week.

September 9

2001 (Afghanistan)
– Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance opposition to the Taliban, was assassinated. The attack came at Massoud's headquarters in the Panjshir Valley, when two Arabs posing as journalists set off a bomb hidden in a video camera (which turned out to have been stolen from a French videojournalist). The attack is believed to have been coordinated by Al Qaeda to disrupt possible Northern Alliance actions against the Taliban after the soon-to-be-launched 9/11 attacks. Ahmed Shah Massoud (1953 – 2001) held the Panjshir Valley and 30% of Afghanistan’s population against the Taleban for years. It was the Panjshiris of the Northern Alliance who eventually occupied Kabul when the Taleban regime collapsed.

2004 (Indonesia) – A suicide carbomb exploded outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, killing ten persons and wounding at least 160. The militant Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) was responsible, and five JI members have since been convicted of preparing or carrying out the attack. The blast came exactly one month before Australia's general election.

1971 (Uruguay) – The British Ambassador, Geoffrey Jackson, was freed eight months after being kidnapped by the Tupamaros, a leftist movement that had carried out a campaign of urban terrorism against the Uruguayan regime. Jackson was captured by the Tupamaros as he drove to work, and was held hostage for the release of 106 Tupamaro prisoners. No prisoners were released in exchange for Jackson, however, some skeptial observers note that about half of the 106 prisoners escaped shortly before the Tupamoros decided that Jackson’s detention no longer served a purpose, so there might have been an under-the-table deal. Jackson wrote one of the best of modern-day hostage narratives, published in Britain as People’s Prison, and in the U.S. as Surviving the Long Night.

September 10

2001 (Colombia) – Colombian FARC leader German Briceno was sentenced in absentia to 40 years for the abduction and murder of three U.S. citizens. The Americans were returning from an U'wa Indian reservation where they had been working with the U'wa in a land dispute. On March 4, 2001, the three were found shot to death in a Venezuelan field near the Colombian border.

1973 (United Kingdom) – Two bombs exploded at train stations in central London injuring 13 people. The attacks were part of an IRA bomb campaign in England intended as retaliation for the Bloody Sunday incident in Ireland.

September 11

2001 (United States)
– Four U.S. airliners were hijacked and three were crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. The fourth, probably intended for another target in Washington D.C., was seized by passengers and crashed prematurely. Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden were responsible.

The attack, essentially a series of suicide attacks predominantly targeting civilians, killed 2,973 persons in addition to the 19 attackers. It was the most successful terrorist action ever against United States interests and one of the most spectacular in history, and had global ramifications that are still unfolding. The principal architect of the operation, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, was captured by the U.S. in Pakistan and is currently in detention at Guantanamo Bay awaiting a military tribunal.

September 12

2000 (Libya) – Libya agreed to cooperate with German authorities in the investigation of the 1985 bomb attack on Berlin’s LaBelle Disco, a place frequented by U.S. soldiers, which killed a Turkish woman and two U.S. servicemen and injured 230 people. Libya’s responsibility for the bombing was discovered through intercepted telex messages from Libya's East Berlin People’s Bureau (embassy), and the U.S. retaliated with air strikes against seven Libyan military installations in Tripoli and Benghazi.

In 2001, a Libyan diplomat, Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, two Palestinians, and a German woman (the ex-wife of one of the Palestinians) were convicted in Berlin's Superior Court of murder and given sentences of 12 to 14 years in prison. In 2004, Libya paid $35 million compensation to the non-U.S. victims.

September 13

1993 (Israel) – Israeli and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) sign a peace agreement, the “Declaration of Principles,” which led to Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank territory. Yasser Arafat was elected President of the Palestinian National Authority in 1996. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli extremist opposed to the settlement.

September 14

2003 (Colombia)
– The ELN (National Liberation Front), a Marxist terrorist group, kidnapped four foreign visitors (Israeli, British, German and Spanish citizens). Kidnapping for ransom is a common ELN tactic.

1986 (South Korea) – A bomb exploded in a crowded terminal at Seoul’s Kimpo Airport, killing five persons and wounding 29. The attack occurred on the eve of the Asian Games and authorities blamed the attack on a North Korean attempt to disrupt the Games, but no supporting evidence has come to light.

September 15

2003 (Russia) – A truck bomb exploded outside a government security services building in Moscow, killing three and injuring 17.

1999 (France) – Several GIA members (Algerian Islamist militants) were sentenced to ten years for a series of bombings in Paris in 1995.

1978 (United Kingdom) - Astrid Proll, one of the most-wanted members of the West German Baader-Meinhof gang and its successor organization, the Red Army Faction, was detained in London. Proll was working as a mechanics instructor in a West Hampstead garage under a false name when she was arrested. Proll fought extradition to West Germany until June 1979, but in 1980 she was sentenced in Germany to 5.5 years for bank robbery. German authorities gave Proll credit for the time she had spent in British and German prisons before her conviction (equal to 2/3 of her sentence) and she was immediately released.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I Can't Wait!

Can't you just feel the dramatic tension building? The countdown has begun to the release of Osama Bin Laden's highly-anticipated next video.

Here's today's Al Jazeera story.

Bin Laden 'to release new message'

Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, is to shortly release his first videotaped message for nearly three years, according to a website on which al-Qaeda's media arm, al-Sahab, has previously posted messages. The announcement late on Thursday came just days before the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

"Soon, God willing, a videotape from the lion sheikh Osama bin Laden, God preserve him," the notice, signed by al-Sahab, said. Bin Laden was last seen in a video statement ahead of the US presidential election in 2004.

Since then, he has issued a number of audio messages, the last in July 2006 when he vowed al-Qaeda would fight the United States across the world.Proof of lifeMichael Taarnby, a specialist in political and militant Islamism at the Danish institute for international studies, said the new video would be significant as proof that he was still alive.

Last year, a leaked French intelligence report said Saudi secret services thought bin Laden had died of typhoid in Pakistan, but Saudi Arabia said such reports were just speculation."I don't think we'll find any major surprises,the usual threats, the usual diatribes against the West," Taarnby said.

"Osama bin Laden is an iconic figure now, but it doesn't seem he has that much control over actual events or operations."The website that carried the notice showed a still photograph purportedly from the coming video, with bin Laden addressing the camera, his beard fully black. In his past videos, bin Laden's beard was almost entirely grey with dark streaks. Bin Laden's beard appears to have been dyed, a popular practice among Arab leaders, Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, a Washington-based group that monitors "terrorist" websites, said."I think it works for their [al-Qaida's] benefit that he looks young, he looks healthy," she said.

The US said that any video message would be closely scrutinised and that efforts to capture the al-Qaeda continued."Obviously, it's a huge priority for us to capture and kill bin Laden and bring he and the rest of the leadership to justice," Frances Townsend, the US president's homeland security adviser, told CNN television."We're being manipulated every time that they issue a statement, because they're trying to use the media as a way to terrorise us," she said.

Bin Laden is believed to have escaped US efforts to capture him during a December 2001 battle in Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains. The al-Qaeda leader is now thought to be hiding in the remote tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This Week in the History of Terrorism, September 2 - 8

Here's my summary of significant past events for this week. This week saw two of the most important acts of 20th century terrorism: the Munich Olympic Massacre in 1972, and the 'Dawson's Field' airliner skyjacking in 1970.

September 4

1997 (Israel)
– Three coordinated suicide bombings in the center of Jerusalem killed eight persons and wounded over 150. The bombs were packed with nails to cause maximum casualties. HAMAS was responsible, and evidently intended the attacks to derail Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that were then underway.

September 5

1986 (Pakistan) – A Pan Am Boeing 747 was seized on the ground in Karachi, leading to a 16-hour siege and the death of 22 people. The attack began when five gunmen disguised as security guards boarded the Bombay-to-New York flight at Karachi Airport and immediately opened fire. Some of the passengers escaped down the plane's emergency chutes and the flight crew escaped from the cockpit, but the remaining passengers were held hostage when Pakistani Army troops arrived, about ten minutes after the firing began.

All the attackers were captured alive, and they later admitted to being members of the Palestinian Abu Nidal Organization (ANO). All the attackers were sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment. Pakistan released the leader of the attack, Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini in September 2001, but he was recaptured by the U.S. in 2004, convicted of air piracy, and sentenced to a 160-year prison term. A message Al Safarini delivered to a Pakistani journalist who covered his trial stated that the motive behind the hijacking was to use the aircraft as a missile to hit the Israeli defense ministry.

1975 (United Kingdom) – Two people were killed and 63 injured when an IRA bomb exploded in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in central London. A warning that a device would detonate at the hotel within 10 minutes was received by the Daily Mail newspaper, and the newspaper notified Scotland Yard which immediately sent three officers to investigate, but they were not able to evacuate the building before the bomb exploded.

1972 (West Germany) – The Munich Olympic Massacre began when eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by the Palestinian terrorist organization ‘Black September’ [a name used by Yasser Arafat’s Al Fatah organization to create deniability]. The incident, which was perhaps the most significant terrorist act of the late 20th century, ended with all the athletes and one German police officer killed, and three surviving hostage-takers captured but later released by Germany in exchange for a hijacked Lufthansa airliner.

The terrorists demanded the release of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, along with two German prisoners who were members of the Red Army Faction. Israel refused to negotiate, but offered to send response forces to Munich, an offer the German authorities declined. The genius of this terrorist action was that it played upon the extremely difficult political situation it created for the Germans, who were caught between their obligation to protect Jewish hostages and their inability to effectively deal with modern terrorism under the glare of the world’s news media. The authorities offered the Palestinians an unlimited amount of money for the release of the athletes, as well as the substitution of high-ranking Germans for the hostages, but the terrorists refused both offers. The Tunisian and Libyan ambassadors to Germany also tried to intercede with the kidnappers, unsuccessfully.

After intense negotiations, the terrorists demanded transportation to Cairo. The authorities feigned agreement and conveyed the terrorists and their hostages into two military helicopters which transported them to nearby Fürstenfeldbruck military airbase, where a Boeing 727 was staged and authorities planned an ambush. The disaster that followed has been blamed on: poor intelligence (the police discovered only during the transfer to the helicopters that there were eight terrorists rather than four or five, as they had believed), poor planning (the snipers were deployed where they could not see all sides of the helos) lack of specialized training and equipment (the five German police snipers had no particular training, used ordinary G3 military rifles, and had no body armor), and lack of centralized command (the police waiting inside the 727 voted to abandon the mission and left, without consulting their command authority).

When the terrorists discovered the 727 was empty they ran back to the helos, at which point the German authorities ordered the snipers to open fire. Two of the kidnappers were killed, but the remaining terrorists got to cover behind the helicopters – where they were out of the sniper’s line of sight – and returned fire, killing a policeman in the control tower. The German helicopter pilots fled, but the hostages, who were tied up inside the helos, could not.

A stand-off ensued for the next hour, then, at four minutes past midnight of September 6, one of the terrorists opened fire on the hostages and threw a hand grenade into one of the helicopters where they were held. Police and the remaining terrorists then engaged in a chaotic running battle across the airport. Three of the terrorists were captured alive on the tarmac. One escaped the scene, but was tracked with dogs to an airbase parking lot where he was killed.

The bodies of the five terrorists killed at Fürstenfeldbruck were delivered to Libya, where they were buried with military honors. On September 9, Israeli planes bombed Palestinian camps in Syria and Lebanon in retaliation. On October 29, a German Lufthansa passenger jet was hijacked, and the three surviving terrorists in German custody were released in exchange for the hostages.

The fate of the three Fürstenfeldbruck survivors is in dispute. The prevailing belief is that only one, Jamal Al-Gashey, is still alive today, but is living underground in fear of retribution. He is the only one of the surviving terrorists to consent to interviews since 1972, having granted an interview in 1992 to a Palestinian newspaper, and having briefly emerged from hiding in 1999 to participate in an interview for the film One Day in September.

Of those believed to have planned the Munich massacre, only Abu Daoud, the man who claims that the attack was his idea, is known to be alive and he is believed to be in hiding somewhere in the Middle East or Africa. On July 27, 1981, he was shot thirteen times from a distance of around two meters in the Warsaw Victoria (now Sofitel) hotel coffee shop, but survived. Abu Daoud was allowed safe passage through Israel in 1996 so he could attend a PLO meeting convened in the Gaza Strip for the purpose of rescinding an article in the PLO charter that called for Israel’s eradication. In his autobiography, From Jerusalem to Munich, first published in France in 1999 [later published in English as Memoirs of a Palestinian Terrorist], and in a written interview with Sports Illustrated, Abu Daoud wrote that funds for the Munich attack were provided by Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), Chairman of the PLO since 2004, and President of the Palestinian National Authority since 2005.

1977 (Germany) – Hanns Martin Schleyer, businessman and President of the Employers Association, was kidnapped in Cologne, West Germany, by the Red Army Faction. The attackers killed three escorting police officers and his chauffeur. He was later murdered after the imprisoned Red Army terrorists for whom he was to be exchanged committed suicide in prison. Schleyer was held for 43 days. His body was discovered in the town of Mulhouse, France.
Wednesday, September 6

1901 (United States) – Leon Czolgosz, an Anarchist, shot and fatally wounded U.S. President William McKinley at a reception line at the Pan-America Exposition in Buffalo, New York. His motives were ideological, although based on a primitive understanding of anarchism. Czolgosz claimed he had been incited to kill McKinley by the speeches of Emma Goldman, and she was arrested for questioning. Upon her release, Goldman stated: "He (Czolgosz) had committed the act for no personal reasons or gain. He did it for what is his ideal: the good of the people. That is why my sympathies are with him." Czolgosz was particularly inspired by the 1901 assassination of Italy’s King Umberto by the Italian-American Anarchist Gaetano Bresci. He kept news clippings of that assassination, and even bought the same type of revolver Breschi had used, a .32 caliber Iver-Johnson.

Czolgosz’s trial began and ended on September 23, 1901, in the Supreme Court building in Buffalo. The total elapsed time, from jury selection to verdict, was eight hours and 26 minutes. He was executed on October 20, just 45 days after the assassination. Before his execution, Czolgosz explained his motive thusly: "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people - the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime."

It is perhaps indicative of the fear of anarchism in 1901, and its equation with an infectious disease, that prison authorities destroyed all trace of Czolgosz’s remains: his corpse was dissolved in acid, and his clothes and belongings were burned.

1970 (Jordan) – Four New York-bound airliners were hijacked over Europe in an unprecedented operation carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Three of the aircraft were flown to Dawson’s Field in Jordan (re-named “Revolution Airstrip” during the incident) where the 382 passengers were held hostage for the release of three Arab dissidents. The fourth hijacking, on an El Al flight, was foiled by the pilots (who put the plane into a steep dive that knocked the hijackers off their feet), the passengers (who hit one of the hijackers in the head with a bottle) and on-board security personnel (who apprehended the two hijackers, killing one). The hijackers of the El Al flight had thought that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin would be on board.

The majority of the hostages were transferred to Amman and freed on September 11, but the PFLP segregated the flight crews and Jewish passengers, keeping 56 hostages in custody, and on September 12 used explosives to destroy the empty planes in front of the international news media. On September 30, the Kingdom of Jordan negotiated a deal in which the remaining hostages were released in exchange for Leila Khaled [the PFLP hijacker captured on the El Al flight and in custody in Britain] and three PFLP members in a Swiss jail.

Leila Khaled was born in 1944 in Haifa and had been employed as a teacher in Kuwait when she joined PFLP. She is currently a member of the Palestinian National Council. Khaled became something of a cult figure in Europe during the ‘70s and ‘80s, and returned to Britain many times as a popular speaker on Palestinian and leftist causes

The Dawson’s Field incident resulted in the initiation of aviation security measures in the U.S. On September 11, 1970, President Nixon began a crash program to address the problem of "air piracy" by immediately assigning 100 federal agents as armed air marshals on U.S. flights, and ordering the Defense and Transportation Departments to determine whether X-ray devices then available to the military could be used at civilian airports.

September 8

1986 (Chile) – General Augusto Pinochet, president of Chile, survived an assassination attempt. An ambush was set on the highway between Pinochet’s countryside estate and Santiago, catching him as he retuned to the Capitol. Twenty-one members of the armed branch of the Chilean Communist Party, the Patriotic Front Manuel Rodriguez (FPMR), fired on Pinochet's convoy with machine guns, rifles, rockets and hand grenades, killing five bodyguards and wounding eleven, but leaving the General with only a minor injury to one hand. The General’s armored Mercedes sedan withstood the attack and the driver managed to return to the President’s El Melocoton residence. The attack, which came shortly after the General announced his intention to remain in power, was the first attempt on his life and marked an escalation of resistance to his continued rule.

The Human Right to Remain in GITMO

This just in from Human Rights Watch: humans now have a right to NOT be sent home from the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, if they don't want to go. According to a report by HRW, two jihadis from Tunisia were released from U.S. custody 11 weeks ago only to be put into prison back home. Prison in Tunisia is so disagreeable, it seems, that the two regret ever leaving GITMO, where they had lived in comparative comfort and ease for five years.

HRW wants the U.S. to give GITMO detainees a chance to contest their repatriation in a U.S. court. What's up with that? For six years all we've heard from the human rights-types is what a hell-hole the U.S runs in GITMO, how it's a torture center, an outrage to all humanity, the worst Carribean prison camp since the French closed Devil's Island. And now they admit that there are worse places???

I say keep these guys in GITMO. Problem solved.



US: Don’t Send Guantanamo Detainees Home to Torture and Abuse

‘Diplomatic Assurances’ Once Again Prove Inadequate

(Washington, DC, September 5, 2007) –

Authorities in Tunisia mistreated two former Guantanamo detainees who were sent home in June despite Tunisia’s pledge to the US government that it would treat them humanely, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today ........................

The Tunisian government is now holding both men, Abdullah al-Hajji Ben Amor and Lotfi Lagha, in prison; the men have told those who visit them that things are so bad they would rather be in Guantanamo, Human Rights Watch said ........................

The 43-page report,
"Ill-fated Homecomings: A Tunisian Case Study of Guantanamo Repatriations," describes the experiences of the two Tunisians returned home 11 weeks ago and urges the US government to set up a process that would give detainees advance notice of their transfer, and allow them the opportunity to contest it before a federal court if they fear torture or ill-treatment upon return to their home countries .........................

Of the 355 detainees the US is still holding in Guantanamo, approximately 50 come from countries such as Algeria, China, Libya, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan – all countries with known records of torture – and have told their attorneys that they are so fearful of torture or other abuse that they do not want to return home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

WAPO Gets It Right, For a Change

I'm not a fan of The Washington Post. I object to their practice of editorializing the news while maintaining a smug pretense of objectivity. But, I have often observed that their actual editorials - as distinct from their left-wing slanted news articles - are frequently quite reasonable. Occasionally I agree with them, despite my low regard for the Post.

That was the case today when I read the editorial bitch-slap the Post gave to Mohamed El Baradei, one of the United Nation's most obnoxious diplomats. I once worked for a UN agency myself (the World Bank) and I got a close look at self-described "international civil servants" like El Baradei. At best, these Bureaucrats Without Borders are harmless, albeit sometimes corrupt. But when they start to implement their own political agendas, they become extremely harmful to real political interests - that is, to national and regional interests - as well as to international relations, and the United States should not tolerate them. As the Post rightly says, when El Baradei carries out his own policy, he represents nobody but himself.



Rogue RegulatorMohamed ElBaradei pursues a separate peace with Iran.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A20

FOR SOME time Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian diplomat who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, has made it clear he considers himself above his position as a U.N. civil servant. Rather than carry out the policy of the Security Council or the IAEA board, for which he nominally works, Mr. ElBaradei behaves as if he were independent of them, free to ignore their decisions and to use his agency to thwart their leading members -- above all the United States.....................

Three times in little more than a year the Security Council has passed legally binding resolutions ordering Iran to end its enrichment program; two of them have had relatively weak sanctions attached. Never mind that, says Mr. ElBaradei: He's decided that the world should simply accept Iran's enrichment capacity and that sanctions are the wrong response.................

But Mr. ElBaradei's freelancing has two major consequences. One is to allow the Iranian government to focus on its past activities rather than its present campaign to build and install centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The IAEA issued a report last week playing down the centrifuge operation, saying that "only" 2,600 were operating or being installed and tested in July. But Mr. Ahmadinejad announced over the weekend that 3,000 were in place -- and even the lower number is a 50 percent increase over the number that inspectors counted earlier this year. By the time the IAEA and Iran are done talking about past questions, Iran will almost certainly have enough working centrifuges to produce a bomb within a year......................

By then, the options of the Bush administration and other governments that believe Iran's nuclear program must be stopped, and not accommodated, may be greatly attenuated -- thanks to a diplomat who apparently believes he need not represent anyone other than himself.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to School, HAMAS Style

"Haroeh school is much like any other in Israel - two floors of classrooms, a play area, bike racks - apart from the massive metal umbrella arching overhead, to shield its 120 pupils from rocket attacks." - BBC, 9/4/07

Around 8 AM this morning, the second day of school, someone in the HAMAS-run Gaza Strip fired three Qassam rockets within ten minutes, evidently hoping to kill some of the Israeli kids who were on their way to the Haroeh School, which is located in Sderot, one kilometer outside Gaza. See the BBC story at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6977346.stm.

Thousands of these anti-personnel fragmentation weapons have been fired at Sderot and every other Israeli town within reach ever since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The firing pace has picked up considerably since HAMAS took over Gaza last June. The only protective measures the Israelis can take are to fortify schools and other buildings, and try to detect Qassam rocket launches with airborne sensors in an unmanned blimp. When a rocket is detected and the Code Red ("Tzeva Adom") alarm is sounded, Israelis know they have a few seconds to run to the nearest shelter. Here's a link to a video showing school kids reacting to today's Code Red: http://joesettler.blogspot.com/2007/09/sderot-kassam-video-hits-near-school.html.

If anything even remotely similar to this were happening to any place in America, can there be any doubt how we would react? I assure you it would not be in a calm, measured, and diplomatic way. Yet, we seem to expect the Israelis to keep putting up with an endless stream of this low-grade warfare so as not to upset the so-called "Peace Process." Processed peace is kind of like processed cheese, in that it has little relation to the real thing.