Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israel vs. Hamas - Keep the record straight

As we move from TV news channel to channel and from newspaper to newspaper, it's quite noticeable that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza that began Saturday December 27, 2008 has triggered global coverage, some of it is fair and complete and some skewed and misleading.

Coverage began on a good footing and the New York Times' early coverage is a good example. To be expected, BBC has begun tilting the news.

According to CAMERA:

"As in the Hezbollah War of 2006, the story is quickly shifting in some coverage to questions of disproportionate use of force by Israel with focus on relative losses by the parties. CNN’s Rick Sanchez has gone awry in this regard, saying Monday that ”300 people have been killed there in Gaza, as a result of the 17 who have been killed by rocket fire in parts of southern Israel. Now, think about that as we go through the story...”"

It's important to remember context is essential for any news story. And the need to understand Israel's actions can only be had if one considers the earlier events that brought Israel to Gaza.

"1) Israel was motivated to act militarily after eight years of bombardment by Palestinians targeting civilian towns inside Israel – not just after the recent Dec 19th collapse of a cease fire and a week of rocket attacks. Since 2001, 3984 rockets and 3, 943 mortar shells have been launched at Israel. The aim of the intervention in Gaza is self-defense – to end the bombardments of Israel, not retaliation.
"2) Israel withdrew every man, woman and child from Gaza in 2005 (even removing the dead from their graves) in hopes of advancing peace, but instead Palestinian rocket fire dramatically intensified.
"3) Israel is targeting Hamas and, as even Palestinian sources note, a substantial majority of casualties in Gaza have been Hamas members.
"4) Hamas intentionally places its rocket launchers, rocket factories, rocket caches and general armories in civilian neighborhoods. When Israel accurately hits these targets, the missiles and bombs explode in all directions, putting Palestinian civilians at dire risk of injury or death. It seems likely that many if not most of the Palestinian civilian casualties in the present conflict have been caused by secondary explosions when these Palestinian missile and weapons caches are struck. Hamas bears total responsibility for any such resulting Palestinian civilian casualties.
"5) Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel and has used the cease-fire to arm itself.
"6) Israel has continued to provide humanitarian aid to Gazans before and during the strife."

Reporting on the news should be factual and contextual. When it's not, there is a price to be paid by the public whose impressions and opinions are formed without full consideration.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Palestinians Need Israel to Win. If Hamas gets away with terror once again, the peace process will be over.

The "usual suspects" are lining up to condemn Israel's response to Hamas attacks from Gaza against the southern part of the country. There will be much hand wringing in world capitals and the media, never a friend of Israel in its conflict with Palestinian terrorists, will soon be picking up the cry against Israel's "disproportionate use of power" or the toll of civilian casualties.
As the father of a terror victim, I admit to my prejudice--by always hoping the Palestinians will see the error in their ways and cease and desist their terror attacks that lead to much hardship for their own people.

From the December 29, 2008 Wall Street Journal--

Messrs. Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi weigh-in on the war between Israel and Hamas now taking place in Gaza.

  • Israel's current operation in Gaza is essential for creating the conditions that could eventually lead to a two-state solution.
  • While a majority of Israelis now believe in the need for a Palestinian state, it's also clear from the failure of the Oslo peace process that "no amount of concessions would grant international legitimacy to Israel's right to defend itself."
  • The parallels between the Gaza operations and the Lebanon campaign of two years ago are there. Israel withdrew unilaterally from Lebanon in 2000 and Hezbullah's build-up of arms and rockets was unchallenged. Israel's unilateral decision to leave Gaza in 2005 resulted in rocket and mortar attacks against Israel's southern cities.
  • "Israelis across the political spectrum agreed that the state had the right, indeed the duty, to protect its people. But one question remained: Would the international community consent?
  • "Without Hamas's defeat, there can be no serious progress toward a treaty that both satisfies Palestinian aspirations and allays Israel's fears. At stake in Gaza is nothing less than the future of the peace process.
Here's the full article:

A quarter century has passed since Israel last claimed to go to war in the name of peace. "Operation Peace for Galilee" -- Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon -- failed to convince the international public and even many Israelis that its goal was to promote reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world. In fact, the war had precisely the opposite results, preparing the way for Yasser Arafat's disastrous return to the West Bank and Gaza, and for Hezbollah's ultimate domination of Lebanon. And yet, Israel's current operation in Gaza is essential for creating the conditions that could eventually lead to a two-state solution.

Over the past two decades, a majority of Israelis have shifted from adamant opposition to Palestinian statehood to acknowledging the need for such a state. This transformation represented a historic victory for the Israeli left, which has long advocated Palestinian self-determination. The left's victory, though, remained largely theoretical: The right won the practical argument that no amount of concessions would grant international legitimacy to Israel's right to defend itself.

That was the unavoidable lesson of the failure of the Oslo peace process, which ended in the fall of 2000 with Israel's acceptance of President Bill Clinton's proposal for near-total withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the territories. The Palestinians responded with five years of terror.

Yet much of the international community blamed Israel for the violence and repeatedly condemned its efforts at self-defense. The experience left a deep wound in the Israeli psyche. It intimidated Israeli leaders from taking security measures liable to be denounced by the United Nations and the European Union, or worse, result in sanctions against the Jewish state.

One consequence was an Israeli reluctance to respond to periodic Hezbollah provocations following Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. This hesitancy allowed the Shiite terror organization to amass a rocket arsenal with the proclaimed intent of devastating Israel's population centers.

Finally, when Hezbollah unleashed its weapons in July 2006, Israel was widely accused of responding disproportionately. It was pressured into prematurely ending its defensive operations in Lebanon, and compelled to accept an international "peacekeeping" force that has permitted Hezbollah to rearm far beyond its prewar levels.

Israelis are now asking themselves whether their Lebanon nightmare is about to repeat itself in Gaza. The parallels are indeed striking. As in Lebanon, Israel in 2005 unilaterally withdrew to its international border with Gaza and received, instead of security, a regime dedicated to its destruction. The thousands of rockets and mortar shells subsequently fired on Israeli neighborhoods represented more than a crude attempt to kill and terrorize civilians -- they were expressions of a genocidal intent.

Israelis across the political spectrum agreed that the state had the right, indeed the duty, to protect its people. But one question remained: Would the international community consent?

That question grew urgent in the days before Dec. 19, when the tenuous cease-fire between Israel and Hamas expired. Nearly 300 missiles landed in Israel, paralyzing much of the southern part of the country. Yet Israeli leaders held their fire.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni flew to Cairo to implore Egyptian leaders to urge restraint on Hamas, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told viewers of Al-Arabiyah Television that Israel had no interest in a military confrontation. If Israel was guilty of acting disproportionately, it was in its willingness to seek any means, even at the risk of its citizens' lives, to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

Yet the U.N. Security Council abstained from condemning Hamas and convened only after Israel resolved to act. The U.N.'s hypocrisy, together with growing media criticism of Israel, is reinforcing Israeli concerns that territorial concessions, whether unilateral or negotiated, will only compromise the country's security and curtail its ability to respond to attack. This fear is compounded when Israelis consider withdrawals from the West Bank, which is within easy rocket range of its major population and industrial centers.

Gaza is the test case. Much more is at stake than merely the military outcome of Israel's operation. The issue, rather, is Israel's ability to restore its deterrence power and uphold the principle that its citizens cannot be targeted with impunity.

Without the assurance that they will be allowed to protect their homes and families following withdrawal, Israelis will rightly perceive a two-state solution as an existential threat. They will continue to share the left-wing vision of coexistence with a peaceful Palestinian neighbor in theory, but in reality will heed the right's warnings of Jewish powerlessness.

The Gaza crisis also has implications for Israeli-Syrian negotiations. Here, too, Israelis will be unwilling to cede strategically vital territories -- in this case on the Golan Heights -- in an international environment in which any attempt to defend themselves will be denounced as unjustified aggression. Syria's role in triggering the Gaza conflict only deepens Israeli mistrust. The Damascus office of Hamas, which operates under the aegis of the regime of Bashar al Assad, vetoed the efforts of Hamas leaders in Gaza to extend the cease-fire and insisted on escalating rocket attacks.

In the coming days, the Gaza conflict is likely to intensify with a possible incursion of Israeli ground forces. Israel must be allowed to conclude this operation with a decisive victory over Hamas; the untenable situation of intermittent rocket fire and widespread arms smuggling must not be allowed to resume. This is an opportunity to redress Israel's failure to humble Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and to deal a substantial setback to another jihadist proxy of Iran.

It may also be the last chance to reassure Israelis of the viability of a two-state solution. Given the unfortunate historical resonance, Israel should refrain from calling its current operation, "Peace for Southern Israel." But without Hamas's defeat, there can be no serious progress toward a treaty that both satisfies Palestinian aspirations and allays Israel's fears. At stake in Gaza is nothing less than the future of the peace process.

Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Mr. Klein Halevi is a fellow at the Shalem Center's Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sami Al-Arian - About to catch a break?

Admitted terror supporter Sami Al-Arian might catch a break next month when a court rules on a motion to dismiss contempt charges. Al-Arian's request is based upon the prosecutor's strengthening of the plea agreement Al-Arian signed in connection with his admitted support of Islamic Jihad, a violent terror group responsible for the murder of many dozens of civilians in Israel.

Of course, Al-Arian's release is hypothetical at this time and is being drummed up by his supporters.

According to the Tampa Bay Tribune report,
Charles Rose, a law professor at Stetson University, said if he were Al-Arian's attorney, he would have strongly advised him not to testify with the immunity order he was given. The order put Al-Arian at high risk of criminal prosecution, no matter what he did, Rose said.

"This was in no way done for the benefit of the defendant," Rose said.

One reason is that obstruction of justice is not a clearly defined crime, Rose said. Prosecutors have a lot of leeway in deciding when to bring such charges. With obstruction of justice added to the immunity order, the prosecutor could decide Al-Arian was obstructing justice if the prosecutor didn't like Al-Arian's testimony before the grand jury.
The court is expected to rule on Al-Arian's request in mid-January 2009.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The New York Times: Separating the Terror and the Terrorists

The December 14, 2008 column by The New York Times public editor Robert Hoyt, Separating the Terror and the Terrorists, caught my attention because it touched upon an issue of great concern to terror victims and their families-- the general reluctance of the media to call a spade a spade. It was worth a letter to the public editor and off it went. The Times published it as the lead-off letter under Letters To the Public Editor-- Other Voices: When Labels Carry Moral Weight.

The points made by Mr. Hoyt:

"When 10 young men in an inflatable lifeboat came ashore in Mumbai last month and went on a rampage with machine guns and grenades, taking hostages, setting fires and murdering men, women and children, they were initially described in The Times by many labels.

They were “militants,” “gunmen,” “attackers” and “assailants.” Their actions, which left bodies strewn in the city’s largest train station, five-star hotels, a Jewish center, a cafe and a hospital — were described as “coordinated terrorist attacks.” But the men themselves were not called terrorists."

Mr. Hoyt attempts to explain the "reluctance" of the Times and other news sources to call a terrorist a terrorist.

In the newsroom and at overseas bureaus, especially Jerusalem, there has been a lot of soul-searching about the terminology of terrorism. Editors and reporters have asked whether, to avoid the appearance of taking sides, the paper bends itself into a pretzel or risks appearing callous to abhorrent acts. They have wrestled with questions like why those responsible for the 9/11 attacks are called terrorists but the murderers of a little girl in her bed in a Jewish settlement are not. And whether, if the use of the word terrorist can be interpreted as a political act, not using it is one too.

The issue comes up most often in connection with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and to the dismay of supporters of Israel — and sometimes supporters of the other side, denouncing Israeli military actions — The Times is sparing in its use of “terrorist” when reporting on that complex struggle.

He concludes by writing

I do not think it is possible to write a set of hard and fast rules for the T-words, and I think The Times is both thoughtful about them and maybe a bit more conservative in their use than I would be.

My own broad guideline: If it looks as if it was intended to sow terror and it shocks the conscience, whether it is planes flying into the World Trade Center, gunmen shooting up Mumbai, or a political killer in a little girl’s bedroom, I’d call it terrorism — by terrorists.

Now that caught my eye and off a letter went to the public letter. Here's my response as printed:

Re “Separating the Terror and the Terrorists” (Dec. 14):

I write as the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered by Islamic Jihad in April 1995.

While I appreciate your approach to the use of “T-words” for a situation that “shocks the conscience,” it is, because of its subjective nature, nothing more than a small step, albeit in the right direction.

The general refusal of The New York Times and its writers and editors to recognize that people who intentionally target and murder civilians, whether on a bus in Gaza or in a hotel in Mumbai, are attempting to alter a political situation (the classic definition of terrorism) and are therefore terrorists defies logic.

STEPHEN M. FLATOW West Orange, N.J., Dec. 15, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Torture or Interrogation -- It's not black & white

The New York Times December 18, 2008 editorial, The Torture Report, sent shivers up and down my spine because of the implications that the Times' views, if accepted without comment or disagreement, would have on our security. Thank heaven for The Wall Street Journal.

In its editorial, the Times stated that a "bipartisan" report issued by the
Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

These policies have deeply harmed America’s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Hogwash. The Times continues to recognize the existence of a legitimate debate as to what constitutes torture.

Comes today The Wall Street Journal to the rescue with The Real 'Torture' Disgrace.
The release of Carl Levin's report on the Bush Administration's alleged "torture" policies was a formality: The Senator's conclusions were politically predetermined long ago. Still, the credulity and acclaim that has greeted this agitprop is embarrassing, even by Washington standards.
According to the familiar "torture narrative" that Mr. Levin sanctifies, President Bush and senior officials sanctioned detainee abuse, first by refusing to accord al Qaeda members Geneva Convention rights, and second by conspiring to rewrite the legal definition of torture. The new practices were then imposed on military leaders and spread through the chain of command. Therefore, Mr. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their deputies are morally -- and legally -- responsible for all prisoner abuse since 9/11, not least Abu Ghraib.
Nearly every element of this narrative is dishonest.
Mr. Levin claims that Bush interrogation programs "damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives." The truth is closer to the opposite. The second-guessing of Democrats is likely to lead to a risk-averse mindset at the CIA and elsewhere that compromises the ability of terror fighters to break the next KSM. The political winds always shift, but terrorists are as dangerous as ever.
In 1997 I wrote Israel's Fine Line, it appeared in The New York Times. I argued that the interrogation of captured terrorists requires investigators to act in ways that may not be appropriate in symmetrical warfare. Terrorism by its nature asymmetrical as the victims are civilians and the perpetrators most often hide in civilian clothes and behind civilians.

Although the Times will have us believe the opposite, it's not enough to ask "pretty please" when dealing with these murderers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mark Steyn - Silence=Acceptance

Writer Mark Steyn writes in National Review Online, "Rabbi Holtzberg was not murdered because of a territorial dispute over Kashmir or because of Bush’s foreign policy."

Shortly after the London Tube bombings in 2005, a reader of Tim Blair, the Sydney Daily Telegraph’s columnar wag, sent him a note-perfect parody of a typical newspaper headline: “British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.”

Indeed. And so it goes. This time round — Bombay — it was the Associated Press that filed a story about how Muslims “found themselves on the defensive once again about bloodshed linked to their religion.”

Oh, I don’t know about that. In fact, you’d be hard pressed from most news reports to figure out the bloodshed was “linked” to any religion, least of all one beginning with “I-“ and ending in “-slam.” In the three years since those British bombings, the media have more or less entirely abandoned the offending formulations — “Islamic terrorists,” “Muslim extremists” — and by the time of the assault on Bombay found it easier just to call the alleged perpetrators “militants” or “gunmen” or “teenage gunmen,” as in the opening line of this report in the Australian: “An Adelaide woman in India for her wedding is lucky to be alive after teenage gunmen ran amok…”
Steyn points to the silliness of the media in describing the Mumbai terror attack and worrying about Muslim sensibilities when reporting the news.

There's a problem, dear reader, and it stems from Western indifference to the Islamic agenda. As Steyn says,

We are told that the “vast majority” of the 1.6-1.8 billion Muslims (in Deepak Chopra’s estimate) are “moderate.” Maybe so, but they’re also quiet. And, as the AIDs activists used to say, “Silence=Acceptance.” It equals acceptance of the things done in the name of their faith. Rabbi Holtzberg was not murdered because of a territorial dispute over Kashmir or because of Bush’s foreign policy. He was murdered in the name of Islam — “Allahu Akbar.”

I wrote in my book, America Alone, that “reforming” Islam is something only Muslims can do. But they show very little sign of being interested in doing it, and the rest of us are inclined to accept that. Spread a rumor that a Koran got flushed down the can at Gitmo, and there’ll be rioting throughout the Muslim world. Publish some dull cartoons in a minor Danish newspaper, and there’ll be protests around the planet. But slaughter the young pregnant wife of a rabbi in Bombay in the name of Allah, and that’s just business as usual. And, if it is somehow “understandable” that for the first time in history it’s no longer safe for a Jew to live in India, then we are greasing the skids for a very slippery slope. Muslims, the AP headline informs us, “worry about image.” Not enough.
Justice for terror victims demands more than what is being done now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wiretaps and the War on Terror - Lawyer Interference?

The Wall Street Journal reports on Ray Kelly's Wiretap Alarm subtitled, "New York's police chief v. the lawyers on antiterror warrants."

India's three days of carnage stand as another warning about how easily terrorists can perpetrate a major attack. So when top New York City counterterrorism officials declare that U.S. intelligence laws are shackling their powers to prevent the next Mumbai, it ought to raise more than eyebrows.

Instead, almost nobody seems to care. Seven years without an attack on the U.S. mainland has created a growing public complacency. And the anti-antiterror lobby has exploited that complacency to assail and constrain critical Bush Administration intelligence programs, making it harder to intercept terrorists before they strike. As a consequence innocent Americans may be killed.
It seems that it is not the so-called FISA Courts that are impeding the issuance of wiretaps, but U.S. Department of Justice lawyers who are so doing. In what is termed "an extraordinary exchange of letters," New York's police commissioner takes the U.S. Department of Justice to task for "'unduly constraining'" his high-priority "'international terrorism investigations in the greater New York area.'"

Mr. Kelly was furious and let Mr. Mukasey know it in a searing critique. Someone leaked the October correspondence late last month, and though each party blames the other, both have since walked back from public conflict. In any event, whoever leaked made his point. Mr. Kelly's letter exposed a "lack of urgency and excessive time lags" in processing FISA applications; as well as a bureaucracy that insists on "frequently long and unjustifiable delay," even "weeks of delay." This is disturbing enough given fast-moving terror plots.

Readers should know that it was Commissioner Kelly who addressed the threat of attacks on New York City's subways by directing his department to make bag and backpack searches at subway entrances in July 2005. New York Starts to Inspect Bags on the Subways. Although challenged, the searches were upheld.

The truth of the matter is that
"Most antiterror victories are invisible, and the best evidence of success -- being spared another attack on U.S. soil -- has the effect of increasing public skepticism about the seriousness of the threat. If the Mumbai terrorists had been rolled up beforehand on the evidence of a wiretap, to the extent that anyone noticed, the media response would have been to scoff at their haplessness and maybe something about "fear mongering."

Now nearly 170 people are dead. Ray Kelly is warning that it can still happen here, and that it is more likely to happen if we let lawyers make decisions that our chief security officials should make.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mumbai Terror Attacks - What's the local news saying?

The story surrounding terror attacks lasts only as long as there's room on the front page. One day's crisis becomes next week's old news. The memory of its victims soon fades away. So I thought I would take a 5 minute look around the news about the Mumbai terror attacks. To my pleasant surprise, a major story has arisen.

From the Associated Press, December 8, 2008, "Pakistan arrests suspected Mumbai plotter."

"Security forces overran a militant camp on the outskirts of Pakistani Kashmir's main city and seized an alleged mastermind of the attacks that shook India's financial capital last week, two officials said Monday."

Is this event a demonstration of resolve by Pakistan or a one-act play to get India and the United States off its back?

From the Times of India – "26/11 terrorists trained by Pak army, navy instructors: Report"

"The ten terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks were among 500 men trained to "elite" commando standards by the Pakistani army navy instructors and were directly supported by the ISI, a media report here said on Sunday.

"The Indian intelligence have the names of the 26/11 terrorists' ISI trainers and handlers and have intercepted internet phone calls between them, The Sunday Times said."

Much is still to be revealed about the plotting, planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks. Mourning for the lost will soon become, however, a private affair.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Terrorism Down the Road - Does there have to be a patsy?

I will start out by saying that I love Peggy Noonan. A speechwriter during the Reagan administration, you can now find her columns in opinion section of the Wall Street Journal. Today's column, "'At Least Bush Kept Us Safe' --The two words Democrats don't want tacked onto that sentence."

Who in America gets credit for the absence of a terror attack here since 9/11? Was it the result of President Bush's efforts to combat terrorism domestically as well as internationally? Was it just luck as in the case of the plot to use poison gas in the New York City subway system when a member of the terror cell turned chicken and ratted out his brothers in arms?

Talking about a Christmas gathering, she writes:
There was no grousing about John McCain, and considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: "But he kept us safe." In the seven years since 9/11, there were no further attacks on American soil. This is an argument that's been around for a while but is newly re-emerging as the final argument for Mr. Bush: the one big thing he had to do after 9/11, the single thing he absolutely had to do, was keep it from happening again. And so far he has. It is unknown, and perhaps can't be known, whether this was fully due to the government's efforts, or the luck of the draw, or a combination of luck and effort. And it not only can't be fully known by the public, it can hardly be fully known by the players at all levels of government. They can't know, for instance, of a potential terrorist cell that didn't come together because of their efforts.
And it is precisely this that requires America to be on high alert. Even if it is dumb luck that has protected us since 9/11, you cannot let your guard down for a second. The people planning our destruction are looking for our weaknesses, the proverbial chink in our armor. And we must not let up for a second. (See, the New York Times report from August 1997, Police Break Up Suspected Bomb Plot in Brooklyn.)

Congress has issued a report boldly stating that the "margin of safety is shrinking, not growing."

Noonan asks,

Why does Congress prepare such reports? To inform, and to win support for new plans. To show they are doing something. And to be able to say, in the event of calamity—forgive my cynicism—that they warned us. This hasn't been the first such report. It won't be the last. But it comes at a key moment for Mr. Obama, because it gives him a certain amount of cover to be serious about what needs to be done. What's at stake for him is two words. When Republicans say, in coming years, "At least Bush kept us safe," Democrats will not want tacked onto the end of that sentence, "unlike Obama."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happenings in the Back Country of Pakistan - Police living and leaving in fear

MSNBC says "Pakistan police losing terrorism fight" and lays out an AP report: Officers outgunned and underfinanced compared with insurgents .

"BADABER, Pakistan - Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.
They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They were too poor to pay for a personal ad, so the editor of The Daily Moon, Rasheed Iqbal, published a news story instead. He has run dozens like it.
"They just want to get the word out to the Taliban that they are not with the police anymore so they won't kill them," said Iqbal. "They know that no one can protect them, and especially not their fellow policemen."

Tough crowd these Taliban. But importantly, the Pakistan government does not seem interested in bolstering their police by paying them more money, or dare I say, taking the battle against the Taliban seriously.

Some ally we've got there in Pakistan.

Mumbai Attacks - Pakistan in the Spotlight

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was in Pakistan following a visit to India, the New York Times reports. The Times reports on troubling links between Pakistan and the terrorists who murdered 170 last week in Mumbai.

According to the Times, "The new links to Pakistan added fresh complications to American diplomatic efforts to secure cooperation between India and Pakistan, which has questioned some of the evidence that Pakistanis were involved. On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met in Islamabad with Pakistani leaders, a day after meeting with Indian leaders, to urge that the two countries work together to find the attackers and bring them to justice.

“Pakistan should also take the necessary steps to prevent any non-state actors from indulging in such activities against any country from its soil,” Ms. Rice said, according to a statement from the Pakistani prime minister’s office."

Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani guerrilla group, is believed to be behind the attacks. As the home to hundreds, if not thousands, of Islamic madrases, Pakistan attempts to keep both ends of the candle lit. At one end is American aid, the other is freedom from attacks by Jihadist terror groups given sanctuary in Pakistan's northwest territories.

The Pakistani government has a lot of soul searching to do. Any more evidence that Pakistani government indifference led to the attacks could be disastrous for the subcontinent.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Media Narratives Feed Terrorists

Brett Stephens writing in the Wall Street Journal points out that the media could bear some responsibility for stoking the fires that drive terrorists to commit their atrocities.

Case in point,
For purposes of self-justification, Azam Amir Kasab, the only terrorist taken alive in last week's Mumbai massacre, offered that the murder of Jews in the city's Chabad House was undertaken to avenge Israeli atrocities on Palestinians. Two other terrorists cited instances of anti-Muslim Hindu violence as the answer to the question, "Why are you doing this to us?" before mowing down 14 unarmed people at the Oberoi Hotel. And if dead terrorists could talk, we would surely hear Abu Ghraib mentioned as among their reasons for singling out U.S. and British hostages.
According to Stephens, "ne suspects the terrorists spent far too much time listening to the BBC World Service."

Some examples of media excess that gave rise to "grievances" against the West:

  • In the spring of 2005, Newsweek ran with a thinly sourced item about the Quran being flushed down a Guantanamo toilet. Result: At least 15 people were killed in Afghan riots.
  • The refusal of French reporter Charles Enderlin and his station, France 2, to retract or even express doubt about his September 2000 report on Mohammed al-Durrah, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli soldiers during an exchange of gunfire in the Gaza Strip -- an exchange Mr. Enderlin did not witness.
Read Media Narratives Feed Terrorists

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Much to Say about Mumbai Terror - What they hate about Mumbai

Much will be written in the days to come about the terror attacks in Mumbai, India.
Today, Suketu Mehta, a professor of journalism at New York University, penned an op-ed in The New York Times, What They Hate About Mumbai, it bears close reading because it speaks volumes in a few words about the nature of terrorists and why they prey on the innocent.

Some of his points:

  • Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it.
  • But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever.
  • If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid?
  • So I’m booking flights to Mumbai. I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn’t have to be just economic.

Stephen M. Flatow

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pirates on the High Seas - Why is there no response?

Somali-based pirates hold a number of ships and many crew hostage in ports along the coast of Somalia. Why has there been no concerted effort to stop these attacks from happening? Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal comments in this short video report, Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

For a backgrounder on the link between piracy and terrorism, read "Terrorism Goes to Sea" by Gal Luft and Anne Korin in "Foreign Affairs," November/December 2004

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holy Land Foundation - New York Times Coverage

The New York Times has weighed in with its coverage of the guilty verdicts announced yesterday in the Holy Land Foundation trial in which the purported charity and its officers were found guilty of providing aid and support to Hamas. See sidebar for more information on Hamas. Read Five Convicted in Terrorism Financing Trial.

The defendants and their supporters (of which there are many) maintain that all work of Holy Land Foundation was for charitable purposes, or in the words of one supporter, it

“simply provided food, clothes, shelter, medical supplies and education to the suffering people in Palestine and other countries."

What this naivete conveniently overlooks is that the main objective of Hamas is the destruction of a democratic country, Israel, through any means possible, including murdering its civilian citizens. Holy Land Foundation's contribution of money to Hamas for charitable and welfare purposes overlooks the fact that other Hamas resources were thereby freed to be used in the group's horrific acts of terror.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holy Land Foundation Verdict - Islamic Charity Guilty of Supporting Hamas

The Holy Land Foundation trial ended today with guilty verdicts on 108 counts.
According to the Associated Press,
U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation's largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11.

The trial gives the United States a victory in its domestic war against terrorism after suffering setbacks over the last three years. In addition to the corporation, five officers were found guilty.

As previously noted by this writer, terrorism trials are difficult by their very nature and made more so considering that much information was developed during the Clinton Administration but not acted upon until the Bush Administration.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dirty Money to an American University - What is George Mason University Thinking?

The Washington Times reports today that "George Mason University is expanding its Islamic studies program with a $1.5 million grant from a Northern Virginia-based think thank still operating under the cloud of a six-year federal terrorism investigation." The donor is the International Institute for Islamic Thought.

The IIIT's Northern Virginia center was among 14 homes and offices raided by federal agencies in March 2002 in an attempt to disrupt domestic financing for global terrorism. The raids - known as Operation Green Quest - resulted in 21 search warrants, 12 arrests, four indictments and the seizure of about $10.3 million smuggled into the United States, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

What gives with GMU? Temple University received the same offer earlier in 2008 and saw the sense in distancing itself from the IIIT which is suspected of supporting admitted terror sponsor Sami Al-Arian's efforts with World and Islam Studies Institute at the University of South Florida to support Islamic Jihad's activities in the Middle East, especially targeting Israeli civilians.

Wake up GMU. When you lie down with.....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Follow-up to al-Qaeda's Panning of Barack Obama

The New York Times has now weighed in with a story on al-Qaeda's dissillusionment with the election of Barack Obama.

Just what is al-Qaeda up to?

Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said he wondered whether Al Qaeda was responding to the aggressive tone of Mr. Obama’s campaign pledges to go after the terrorist network and capture or kill Mr. bin Laden. Dr. Walters said that if the tape was an attempt to reach black Americans or the Third World, it was “ham handed” and futile. [Pun intended? SMF]

“You’re talking about someone who looks like the rest of the world, and that’s got to be threatening to them,” he said, referring to Mr. Obama. “On 9/11, Al Qaeda didn’t make any racial distinctions in who it killed, and people remember that.”

Read Al Qaeda Coldly Acknowledges Obama Victory

Of Course You Realize, This Means War. Terrorists to President-elect Obama: The honeymoon's over.

Of Course You Realize, This Means War
Terrorists to President-elect Obama: The honeymoon's over.

Ah, for the lost innocence of . . . well, of three days ago, when David Ingatius of the Washington Post penned these words:
Let's try for a moment to read the mind of an al-Qaeda operative in the remote mountains of Waziristan as he listens to the news on the radio. His worldview has been roiled recently by two events--one confounding his image of the West and the other confirming it.

The upsetting news for our imaginary jihadist is the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. This wasn't supposed to happen, in al-Qaeda's playbook. Its aim was to draw the "far enemy" (meaning America) ever deeper onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, the jihadists must cope with a president-elect who promises to get out of Iraq and whose advisers are talking about negotiating with the Taliban. And to top it off, the guy's middle name is Hussein.

That honeymoon sure didn't last. Today Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's Joe Biden, released a recording that, as the Middle East Media Research Institute mildly puts it, "criticized U.S. president-elect Barack Obama." Memri has the transcript, in which Zawahiri addresses Obama in the second person:

"You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him). You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America. And so you promised to back Israel, and you threatened to strike the tribal regions in Pakistan, and to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, in order for the crimes of the American Crusade in it to continue. And last Monday, your aircraft killed 40 Afghan Muslims at a wedding party in Kandahar."

As for Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him), he was born to a black pastor killed by white bigots, but Allah favored him with guidance to Islam, and so he prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims, and he condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation, and he spoke about the worldwide revolution against the Western power structure."

That's why it wasn't strange that Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him) was killed, while you have climbed the rungs of the presidency to take over the leadership of the greatest criminal force in the history of mankind and the leadership of the most violent Crusade ever against the Muslims."And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning 'House Negroes' are confirmed."

Even those who think the victims of 9/11 were little Eichmanns who got what was coming to them cannot possibly countenance such racial insensitivity. The only thing that can be said in Zawahiri's favor is that he didn't call Obama "Hussein." (Shame on you, David Ignatius.)

And in case you think we're just looking on the Sunni side of the street, Memri also has an address by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Iranian Assembly of Experts*, in which he expresses skepticism about the president-elect's promise of change:

Other people run the show. For almost 60 years – since the days of Eisenhower – American foreign policy has not changed one bit. It's only the game that has changed. Sometimes they think they can control things by using the slogan of change, and other times by using the slogan of the war on terror. So it wouldn't be right to pin one's hopes on them. . . .The American politicians should know that as long as they persist in their arrogance, this [Iranian] people will not change. The slogans of this people will remain the same. Our people has not changed one bit. Its slogan of hatred toward America continues to resound: Death to America.The crowd then chants the familiar "Death to America."

The ayatollah should be careful what he wishes for. After all, he could change U.S. policy to bring it in line with a certain Beach Boys number.

* What would we do without 'em?

Good writing Mr. Taranto.

Terror Verdict in Canada

From The Globe and Mail – "Judge says firebomb attacks were acts of terrorism, man sentenced to 4 years"

"He had been depicted as immature, naive and devoid of religious fanaticism. Yet Azim Ibragimov was committing acts of terrorism when he firebombed two Jewish institutions in Montreal, a judge said yesterday."

Despite efforts to paint him as a minor player in the attacks, Quebec Court Judge Gilles Cadieux said Mr. Ibragimov played an "active role" in the two firebombings, which he qualified as hate crimes that spread fear and "panic" in the Jewish community.

It is sometimes difficult to understand the motives behind these two terror attacks. What we are certain about is that Ibragimov's attacks succeeded in causing damage, both physical and psychological, to its victims in the Jewish community. Score one for the prosecutors and judge who got this guy off the street.

Stephen M. Flatow

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Israel: 250 Palestinians to Be Released

The New York Times reports that "Israel said that it would release 250 Palestinian prisoners next month as a gesture to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas." According to the report "the candidates for release were aligned with Mr. Abbas’s Fatah movement and would not include members of Islamist organizations."

Another effort by Israel to curry favor with the Palestinians? What has Israel learned from past releases? First that many released prisoners return to the terror groups they left. Second, there is no effort by the Palestinian Authority to comply with any of its obligations as agreed upon in the Roadmap.

FoxNews also picks up on the story.

I subscribe to the theory that a leopard is incapable of changing its spots. The same applies to terrorists.

Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saudi King's Interfaith Conference - a Follow-up

Last week we wrote about the Saudi king's interfaith conference at the United Nations. Today New York Post writer Benny Avni weighs in with a column called UN Masquerade.

Recognizing that the "king won much praise last week for convening talks at the United Nations ostensibly meant to promote peace and 'religious tolerance'" Avni advises that

"if you take a close look at King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud's agenda, some of it is hardly praiseworthy. In fact, if he gets any traction at the UN (or anywhere else), it'll mark a giant step backward for both peace and tolerance."

Writing about what he calls a "scary agenda," Avni points out that the king
"wants the world's moral blessing to restrict any and all speech about Islam,its adherents and regimes that promote them - except, of course, that which is approved by official censors. He also wants to throw the UN's moral weight behind punishments meted out to those who violate such restrictions, even if he doesn't say that explicitly.

"Meanwhile, Abdullah failed to make even the slightest gesture toward softening his own regime's brutal intolerance of other religions and cultures. Some parley on "religious tolerance."

Looks like the king is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Let's hope the world is smart enough to see through his latest PR stunt.

Read UN Masquerade

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Saudis Dubious Interfaith Agenda at the UN

"The country's lack of religious freedom betrays its lofty rhetoric. The real aim of its 'dialogue' is to promote a global blasphemy law." So write, Donald H. Argue and Leonard A. Leo in today's (Nov. 13, 2008) edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

They write
World leaders gathering at the United Nations this week for a special session of the General Assembly to advance interfaith dialogue should have no illusions that their efforts will miraculously promote mutual respect between religious communities or end abuses of religious freedom.

"What," you ask, "does this have to do with terrorism?" Good question with a better answer. Terrorism as we know it today arises from intolerance of views. How much different is it when Palestinians murder Israelis because they see no place for Jews in the Middle East and Islamists murder artists for "blaspheming" Mohammed? Not much, if you ask me, because Islamists believe that it is either their way or the highway, the bloody highway.

The Saudis' dubious interfaith agenda at the UN | csmonitor.com

Monday, November 10, 2008

Holy Land Foundation Trial Nearing End

The retrial of the Holy Land Foundation is nearing its end but you would not know that if you read The New York Times. Why is it that Federal terror prosecutions do not receive the coverage our present state of affairs would seem to require? I take that back, a little, because the news has been full of stories dealing with Federal prosecutorial missteps when dealing with the subject.
The Holy Land Foundation is standing trial a second time for its alleged support of Hamas, a designated terror organization. The defense? All money went to charitable purposes.

Today's news is from the Dallas News.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Al-Arian Finally Heading to Trial?

With the United States Supreme Court refusing to hear Sami Al-Arian's appeal of a ruling interpreting his plea agreement, it looks as though the admitted terror supporter will have to stand trial. Al-Arian has argued that his plea agreement in which he admitted to providing support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad prevented the government from calling him to testify in other terrorism cases. His appeal to the Supreme Court came after lower courts determined he had to testify.

Now it's time to try Al-Arian for contempt. It's a long time coming.

See today's account in The Charlotte Observer.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Best Friend of Israel

That's a phrase we often hear from American politicians courting the Jewish vote. Joe Biden used it last night during his debate with Gov. Sarah Palin and it brought to memory a meeting I had with him a few years ago.
Ariel Sharon had just been elected prime minister and Biden was on a rant about how bad Sharon would be for Israel. I was able to get a word in edgewise, no mean feat if you know Biden's rep, and told him I wasn't worried about Sharon but that the senator might direct his attention to Arafat.
A few months later, Sharon announced his disengagement plans that fell within Biden's advice for Israel. I dropped Biden a note asking him if he still held the same opinion of Sharon. No reply.
It seems that Biden and other "best friends" are friends to Israel so long as the Israelis adhere to the line announced by these friends. Cross that line and there is hell to pay.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sami Al-Arian in the News – Released on bail

Unlike those countries that are quick to criticize it, the United States once again shows that it stands behind its constitution and laws. It stands behind those laws even when the beneficiary, Sami Al-Arian, an admitted supporter of terrorism is freed from prison where he awaits trial on a criminal contempt charge for refusing to testify in a terrorism case unrelated to his 1995 trial.

How is Al-Arian’s story treated in the media? Well, for those outlets that are covering the story, Al-Arian’s case continues to be surrounded by inaccuracy.

Both quotes which follow misstate the facts of the Al-Arian case. Al-Arian’s plea agreement does not exempt him from testifying before a grand jury. That idea was roundly denied by an appeals court. The plea agreement is completely silent on the issue of cooperation in other terror prosecutions. Al-Arian argues for a right not granted to any other American, not to mention an admitted supporter of terror. You can look it up.

From The Palestine Chronicle, out of Mountlake Terrace, Washington

Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian political activist and former professor of the University of South Florida, released on bail in Virginia on September 2 after more than five years in federal custody, faces criminal contempt charges despite a plea agreement that he would not have to testify in any other case. In 2005, a Florida jury rejected federal charges that Al-Arian operated a cell for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was scheduled for release and deportation in April this year. However, he was subpoenaed and jailed for refusing to testify against others. To borrow Dr. Al-Arian’s lead Counsel, Professor Jonathen Turley, “Having lost the case in Florida , the Justice Department has openly sought to extend his confinement by daisy-chaining grand juries.” His trial to criminal contempt begins in December.

Among the contributors to The Palestine Chronicle- Hanan Ashrawi and Noam Chomsky.

HOTLINE BUZZ from Jurist Legal News & Research published by Bernard Hibbits of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law

“A central aspect of the plea agreement was an understanding that Dr. Al-Arian would not be subject to further prosecution or called to cooperate with the government on any matter. The plea agreement signed with Florida prosecutors explicitly protected him from cooperating in any additional cases.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

The High Price of Ransom - What's a Terrorist Worth?

The New York Sun's Hillel Halkin addresses the ultimate price to be paid by Israel for its exchange of murderer Samir Kuntar for the bodies of two dead Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. "Predictions about the consequences of a country's behavior usually take time to come to pass. The chickens don't come home to roost from one day to the next," he writes.

Has the chicken come home to roost? It looks so, as Egypt has announced that its efforts to obtain the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have failed because Hamas has upped the ante in view of the price Israel was willing to pay for Regev's and Goldwasser's remains.

What does Halkin suggest? Simple, new rules take effect, and the announcement would read:

"Gentlemen, the rules have changed. From now on, there will be no more bargaining over prisoners or hostages. There will be a fixed price — and it will be one of absolute parity. For one dead Israeli, you get one dead Arab. For one live Israeli, one live Arab. For any multiple of that, you get the multiple, no more and no less."

Halkin thinks the sooner the Israeli government adopts such a rule, the better off it will be. As the price of hostage taking goes up, its incentive falls.

Read "The High Price of Ransom."

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Myth of Moral Equivalency

Terrorism's sponsors and supporters take many forms. To my mind, the sneakiest is the fellow who finds equality between the victim acting in self-defense and the perpetrator. Hence, "moral equivalency."

Burt Prelutsky takes on these folks in the Myth of Moral Equivalency found at Townhall.com.

Prelutsky says,
"Our former sense of morality hasn’t been replaced by immorality, at least not entirely, but by something that’s probably more dangerous because it comes cleverly disguised as broad-mindedness."

He makes a good point, and all should consider it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Death Penalty for Terrorists- A Voice Says Yes

Discussion in Israel regarding the release of murderer Sami Kuntar continues. One little known fact about the Israel prison system is that it allows prisoners, even those who have committed heinous crimes, such as Sami Kuntar, are allowed conjugal visits, continuing education and other life improving experiences. In Kuntar's case, he enjoyed conjugal visits and fathered a child.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post, columnist Sara Honig, believes the time has come for the Israeli justice system to adopt the death penalty in cases such as Kuntar. Countering the argument that the government must have prisoners to swap or it will endanger the lives of Israelis who fall hostage to terrorists in the future, Mrs. Honig writes:

"Many in our midst will of course regurgitate the questionable claim that by imposing capital punishment we might imperil captured Israelis, whom vengeful unbridled enemies will readily kill. But the greater likelihood is that by contracting the sort of deal whereby living Kuntars are swapped for corpses, we eliminate the last enemy incentive to keep abductees alive."

I think Mrs. Honig is onto something here. Now the question is, how will Israel respond?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boteach Asks- Is It Time For The Death Penalty for Terrorists?

Best selling author and tv personality Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says, "it is time that we articulate what few wish to, namely, that Israel must finally institute a death penalty for convicted terrorists. "

Looking at the recent release of terrorist and child killer Sami Kuntar, Boteach believes

There are times when a country must temporarily violate a principle to ensure it is upheld. Police cars speed to catch those who themselves speed on highways, thereby endangering other motorists. Surgeons cut open people's chests with knives to save their blocked arteries and stopped hearts. And just governments must sometimes take the lives of unrepentant terrorist mass-murderers to protect and uphold the infinite value of human life.

You can read his comments in the Jerusalem Post.

What do I think? Maybe Rabbi Boteach has a point. Killers such as Sami Kuntar are "martyrs" to their supporters whether they die in the attack or live long years afterwards in prison. But Judaism has always frowned on the death penalty and it is significant to note that Israel applies it only in the case of "crimes against humanity" such as participating in the murders of the Holocaust. Perhaps civilized society does need to weed itself of the most uncivilized among us.

Friday, July 18, 2008

When Mistakes Are Worth Making

Daniel Gordis offers his explanation as to the need for Israel to make the exchange of a murderer and other terrorists for the remains of two dead Israeli army reservists. It was a mistake:
But if it was a mistake, it was a calculated mistake, a mistake well worth making. It was a mistake worth making when we think about what is the real challenge facing Israel. The challenge facing Israel isn't to win the war against the Palestinians. The war can't be won. We can't eradicate them, and they won't accept our being here. The challenge that Israel faces is not to move towards peace. Peace can't be had. No - the challenge facing Israel is to learn how to live in perpetual, never-ending war, and in the face of that, to flourish, and to be a country that our kids still want to defend. And that is what we did this week.

Read When Mistakes Are Worth Making. It will move you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On the Pro Side for Prisoner Releases

Chezi Shay was a captive of the terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from 1982 to 1985. He, therefore, writes for the JTA about the need for Israel to do whatever it must to obtain the release of its soldiers.

I am glad that the swap is taking place and that the Goldwasser and Regev families can rest.
When, heaven forbid, a soldier dies, army officials knock on the door and inform the family of the terrible news.
Here we have two families who for two years have been facing a terrible situation, waiting for that knock on the door.
Therefore, we had to do everything in order to end the distress they were facing.

Father of a Terror Victim Comments on the Prisoner Release

I have never met Ron Kehrmann but we have something in common--our daughters were murdered by terrorists.

He has written an Op-Ed distributed by the JTA in which he expresses his belief that more kidnappings will result from the exchange of terrorists, alive and dead, for two dead Israeli Army reservists.

He writes,
The mass release of murderous terrorists teaches that terror is the way to victory. But we need to show that only honest negotiations will bring peace. Then Israeli and Arab children will have a better future, and not lose their lives as a result of senseless, hate-driven acts of violence.

Exchanging the Dead for the Alive

The news today is full of stories pertaining to the exchange between Israel and Hezbullah of the bodies of two Israeli reservists, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, for murderer Sami Kuntar, several other terrorists, and the bodies of terrorists killed in action by Israel. It's a sad day for the Regev and Goldwasser families as well as the families of terror victims in Israel and worldwide.

The Jerusalem Post discusses the sadness of the exchange and the wasted opportunities between Israel and its enemies as depicted in photographs and in the celebrations to be held by Hezbullah and similar thinking parties throughout the Middle East and, quite possibly, on some streets in the United States.

The answer to the question whether such exchanges are foolish or worthwhile will come sooner than later.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Profiling Arising from the Ashes? FBI adopting new teror strategy

Civil libertarians and the so-called Muslim "defense" groups are going to have a stroke or heart attack when they read The New York Sun report that the FBI is considering race profiling as it probes terrorist activities.

"Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons — like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated — to investigate American citizens and legal residents. The new policy, law enforcement officials told the Associated Press, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious.

"Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person's race or ethnicity."

It will only be a short while before we hear the reaction, sure to be quite loud, to the FBI's proposal. Time will tell if it will work.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hamas and the "Truce"

Rachel Raskin-Zrihen examines the Egyptian brokered truce between Israel and Hamas.

Hope may spring eternal, but so, evidently, does Palestinian violence. Egypt was able, after months of negotiating, to wrangle a six-month truce out of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, re-igniting a dormant hope for normalcy and peace among many in Israel and the West. I guess I’m jaded. I am not that hopeful.

For some reason, the Palestinians and their apologists, seem to really believe that only Israel should be held to the terms of its agreements. I’m not sure how they rationalize that to themselves, but it’s clear that underlying that belief is an unwavering desire to see Israel destroyed. They have no interest in any “two-state solution,” and probably never will.

Read "All That Springs Eternal is Not Hope."

Poor Sami Al-Arian - In Trouble Again

Sami Al-Arian, the Tampa-based admitted supporter of terror, just had the book thrown at him, again. This time the charge is criminal contempt of court.

As reported by Josh Gerstein in The New York Sun, Al-Arian's latest troubles began when he refused to testify before a Virginia grand jury in its investigation of the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

Al-Arian's refusal to testify was based on a non-existent portion of his plea agreement that allegedly did not require him to answer the government's call to testify. Essentially, Al-Arian was arguing that he, an admitted felon, had greater rights than you or I.
Unless you have sympathy for Al-Arian, remember this-- he supports Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a virulent terror group that targets civilians.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Islamic Saudi Academy Fails to Report Child Abuse

Last week we commented on the Virginia based Islamic Saudi Academy and its use of some very unfriendly textbooks.

Today it was reported that the school's administrator was arrested for failing to report a child abuse allegation that is required under Virginia law.

So in light of last week's report on the academy teaching hate, and its administrator not following local law, we just have to ask, "what's up with the Islamic Saudi Academy?" And, for how long will it be allowed to remain open?

What's the Story with Jihadists in Florida

Must be something in the Florida air or water that takes nice boys and turns them into potential killers. Just so the Florida people are clear on this, I am not talking about all Florida boys, just some misguided, impressionable youth at the University of South Florida. You remember the University of South Florida, don't you? It was the home of Sami Al-Arian and his so-called "think tanks" that were nothing more than fronts for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the virulent terrorist group. Notwithstanding his acquittal in 2005 of serious terrorism charges leveled against him, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to providing support for PIJ and received what amounted to an 18 month sentence and future deportation.
Now we add to the wall of shame at USF the name of Ahmed Mohamed. Mohamed was caught with a traveling buddy with explosives in his car as he drove in North Carolina. While he denied, denied and denied, common sense dictated that a plea bargain with a possible 15 year term is far better than life in prison.
His defenders at CAIR and other organizations have to do a bit of eating crow because of the turn of events.
I would like to know what led Mr. Mohamed to develop the outline of a terror plan that would involve blowing up vehicles remotely so that the bomber could terrorize again.
I would like to know what his religious leaders and advisers taught him as a youngster.
I would like to know where his parents were during his life.
I would like to know why someone plans murder.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where do Terrorists Come From?

It's our belief that terrorists are made, not born. How they are made is up for discussion. Well, not really.

One can argue that it was American government policies that drove Timothy McVeigh to murder more than 240 innocents in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Believed to be a sympathizer of a militia movement and that his motive was to retaliate against the government's handling of the Waco (the bombing occurred on the anniversary of the Waco catastrophe) and Ruby Ridge incidents, McVeigh came from a broken family, he joined the military, seems to have enjoyed the mayhem of war and tried to join the Green Berets. When he could not reach that goal, he resigned from the military and by all accounts became a loner drifting from gun show to gun show selling anarchist books, becoming a white supremacist in the process. Government policies. Hardly. Sounds more like a sociopath to me.

United States Commission on Human Rights and its June 11, 2008 Report on textbooks used at the Saudi government's Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia. According to the Report,

”Last fall, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom asked the U.S. Department of State to secure the release of all Arabic-language textbooks used at a Saudi government school in Northern Virginia, the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA). The Commission took this action in order to ensure that the books be publicly examined to determine whether the texts used at the ISA promote violence, discrimination, or intolerance based on religion or belief. The ISA is unlike any conventional private or parochial school in the United States in that it is operated by a foreign government and uses that government’s official texts. It falls under the Commission’s mandate to monitor the actions of foreign governments in relation to religious freedom. The government of Saudi Arabia, as a member of the international community, is committed to upholding international standards, including the obligation not to promote violence, intolerance, or hate."

What was found in the textbooks obtained from ISA? How about this passage from the Report:

"A twelfth-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook states that “[m]ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible,” which in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity. (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15) Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, “major polytheists” include Shi’a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists."

So, there we are. And the students at ISA, are they new Timothy McVeighs and Mohamed Attas in the making or just getting an old fashioned Islamic education?

When you teach hate, you get haters. End of story.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What Do You Call a Terror(Jihad)ist?

Bravo to P. W. Singer and Elina Noor for their thoughtful and forthright Op-Ed in the New York Times, "What Do You Call a Terror(Jihad)ist?"
For too long the media, and that includes ALL media, have tiptoed around the labeling of people who target innocent civilians through wanton violence. Ranging from insurgents to militants, but never terrorists, the media has given killers a free ride and much glorification by not calling them what they are.

Turning to the issue of "jihad," Singer and Noor believe that the use of "jidadist" gives honor to killers and thugs. Labeling them terrorists is another weapon in our war with terrorists and as the authors point out, "if we want to win a war of words, we would do well to choose the ones we use with greater care."

Trading with Terrorists

Government leaders make hard choices every day. From budgetary issues affecting taxation and the cost of living, to geo-political affecting security at home, to "hot-button" issues such as gay marriage. In the Middle East where Israel finds itself, there is no bigger hot-button issue than prisoner exchanges.

Israel's prisons are rightfully full of Palestinians and other Arabs who have committed crimes against Israelis ranging from throwing stones to riot to murder. Over the years, Israel has released hundreds of Palestinians and others from prison as part of "prisoner swaps" that were never one-to-one affairs but more like 100 Arabs for 1 Israeli, or political gifts to Arafat or Abu Mazen that would increase their credibility on the Palestinian street. From a stated policy of never negotiating with terrorists, Israel has in the past and will do so in the future.

The New York Sun runs an article by Benny Avni Hezbollah's Prisoner Swap Gambit Tests Israel that highlights Israel's decision to release a terrorist in exchange for soldiers' remains and as a possible step in releasing either the soldiers, or their remains, whose kidnapping was the spark that launched the 2006 Lebanon War.

As the father of a terror victim, I know the day is coming, not soon I hope, when my daughter's killers will be on the way out the door of their prison cells. I hope that the price paid by the other side is high enough to warrant it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sami Al-Arian -- The Lies Continue

The supporters of Palestinian terror sponsor Sami Al-Arian have had a busy winter and spring. These friends of Sami are promoting two aspects of Al-Arian’s life, first, his incarceration in Federal prison, and, second, a film about his trial, “USA vs. Al-Arian.”

Al-Arian remains in prison today because of his refusal to testify in other terrorism cases which led to his being held in contempt of court. (His supporters fail to mention that Al-Arian admitted and pleaded guilty to supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a vicious terror organization.) But you wouldn’t know that if you relied solely on the press releases and “news stories” put out by his friends and the film. Instead of admitting that Al-Arian has been found to be in contempt of court, his friends claim he was subpoenaed “to testify before a grand jury in Virginia, even though as part of his plea bargain, Al-Arian had said he would not testify against anyone else. Al-Arian was then found in contempt of the grand jury so that he could be held up to 18 months before he could resume serving his original sentence. This is a ploy that can be used repeatedly Charles Reese

I’ll need someone to point out to me where in the Al-Arian Plea Agreement you find the government agreeing that Al-Arian is not required to testify in other cases.

As for USA vs. Al-Arian, it follows the same twisted thinking as other articles and stories about Al-Arian.

Al-Arian’s biggest crime is the one of chutzpa, you can look it up. It reminds me of the story of the man who kills his parents and then asks the judge for leniency because he’s an orphan.

In my book, the sooner Al-Arian finishes his contempt sentence and is deported from the United States of America, the better off we’ll all be.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Terror Victim's Law Strengthened- Flatow Amendment

The 1996 law named after terror victim Alisa Flatow has been amended to close loopholes. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
A defense bill signed by President Bush includes language that bolsters the ability of victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism. The Defense Authorization Act signed this week incorporates the Justice for Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act, introduced last year by U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

Flatow Amendment Strengthened

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oxford University—Still proud of the Oxford Union?

Oxford University, long the epitome of higher education in the United Kingdom and the world, was once able to claim proudly that its Oxford Union made leaders. Founded in 1823, is the Union still what it once was? That is the question being asked in the United Kingdom and around the world as the Union debated whether the State of Israel has a right to exist and struggles with a dispute surrounding a recent election.

It saddens me to think that the existence of a country that has formally existed for 60 years and whose people have existed for 4,000 years is subject to debate. Those sponsoring the debate are among the best in academia or at least that is what we want to believe.

Truth sometimes being stranger than fiction, here are articles from the Jerusalem Post and the Times Online that offer concise reports on the debate and the strength of the Oxford Union.



Sunday, January 20, 2008

How Are Jihadists Made? Tawfit Hamad has an Answer

What occupies the mind of a jihad-driven Muslim? How is such fervor planted in young and impressionable believers? Where does it originate? How did I - once an innocent child who grew up in a liberal, moderate and educated household - find myself a member of a radical Islamic group?

So begins Tawfit Hamad's essay on the creation of a jihadist that appears in the January 17, 2008 edition of The Jerusalem Post.

Mr. Hamad's story reminds me of the Rodgers and Hammerstein lyrics from "South Pacific," "You've got to be taught, to hate and fear; You've got to be taught, from year to year; It's got to be drummed, in your dear little ear; You've got to be carefully taught."

But Hamad is not singing from some fanciful isle; he's speaking about real life, and the threat that the world faces from an religious educational system that poisons Muslim youth from an early age.

It's a story well worth reading. Here's the link-- The Development of a Jihadist's Mind