Category Archives: al Qaida

Monday, Sept. 21, 2009

We didn’t do it.

At least I hope to God we didn’t do it.

No.  There’s no way.  

Folks in New England may have no love lost for George Bush or for the USA in general, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to send a bunch of folks down to DC with a bomb to blow up the Capitol!  Even if we’re trying not to be part of the USA, we don’t hate the US government that much…we were all Americans not so long ago.

Okay, so was Tim McVeigh, but…no.  I still don’t believe it.

We’re on our own here.  We’ve got plenty of our own problems without planning some way to get…what was it…four guys, a front loader and a couple of dump trucks full of ANFO across the border, through god-knows how many checkpoints and into Washington.  And not just into the city, ramming it right into the Capitol building.

Why would a New Englander do that?

I’m not just asking about humanity’s inhumantity here.  What purpose does it serve?  Why attack the Congress.  We don’t have any issue with the Congress except that they refused to reign in a despotic chief executive.  If we we ere going after a a buidling in DC, wouldn’t it be the White House? Or maybe the Pentagon.

No, I don’t buy the line that the Bush White House is pushing.

Islamic terrorists makes more sense to me.  Uighurs and Palestinian terrorists have been using construction vehicles in their attacks since last summer at least.  The Iranians have more cause than we do…we only got hit by a little airstrike, not a full-on bombing campaign.  And does anybody still remember al-Qaida?

But nobody’s looking at them.  Everybody is just calling for the heads of all of us ‘bluebloods’ on a pike.

Not good.

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Sunday, April 5, 2008

Living on the border between Cambridge and Somerville means that sometimes you get a front-row seat to watch the class, socio-economic, and cultural divisions in the Boston area try and sort themselves out. We were in one of the many little brunch cafes around here when a discussion at one table spread into an argument involving about half the place. The subject was the DHS and FBI announcements that they had foiled terrorist attacks on a bunch of Mississippi River bridges.

A couple of college kids were being loud about how the announcement was a scam. By their measure, DHS has a whole slew of these scenarios on a shelf in a bunker in DC, and anytime people start asking too many questions, they announce “another close call.” Several of the blue-collar folks (including the waitress) took exception to this. Another table full of late-twenties yuppies came to the kids’ defense, saying they may be wrong, but they have the right and good reason to be paranoid. An old boomer hippie piped-up to say he believes the government, they’ll prevent attacks on Iowa but won’t prevent them in New York…nobody in New York voted for them. A couple of guys (I think they run the pizza parlor next door) stood up at this, not red-faced, but full-on pale in the face. Seems one of them lost a cousin in NYC during the Halloween attacks.

Neve and I were looking out the route to the back door when the cook came out, big guy with a grease-stained apron and a fry-pan in his hands. He slammed the pan down on a table (scattering an omelet, a bagel, and several mugs of coffee) and bellowed. “You people can’t keep civil, I don’t have to feed you. Get out! All of you!”

The shock alone was enough to break things up.

On the walk home we noticed someone had spray-painted “Traitors” across an older Children of Liberty New England flag graffito on the bike path. I guess the counter-revolution has started too.

Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009

Seven years of bad luck.Gitmo Protest

Today represents the seventh anniversary of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.  I hadn’t realized the anniversary until Neve, April, and I ran into the procession and vigil run by the ACLU downtown.  The procession of orange-clad, black-hooded demonstrators was pretty eye catching.  I suppose that was the point, but I also felt bad for them since the jumpsuits were clearly not nearly insulated enough to handle the weather in the high teens.

We would have hung around and helped show the flag, but demonstrations take a bit of a backseat to avoiding hypothermia when you have a two-year-old.

(this entry was modified on 1/17/2009 to fix a broken image link)

Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

How far has America fallen in the eyes of the world? Especially in the eyes of our allies?

Now Belgium has refused to extradite Abdennabi Bendouda to the US. This guy was arrested by Belgian police as part of an Interpol investigation into the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade, the folks who claimed responsibility for the London Tube Bombings in 2005. The CIA wants him because they think he was related to the Halloween attacks here in the US too. But Brussels is refusing to send him, citing the Convention Against Torture and Mukasey’s separate Federal terror courts. Instead, they are offering to have US prosecutors come and present their case at the Hague.

Belgium isn’t one of those countries in Europe that tends to lash-out at American hubris. Brussels is the home not only of the EU Parliament, but also of NATO Central Command. After 9/11, NATO invoked Article 5, declaring the attack on the US to be an attack on all of the nations of the alliance. This was amazing, since Article 5 was historically seen as a way to defend Europe and ensure that the US didn’t retreat into isolationism as we did after WWI. Instead, the first time the Article was invoked, it was the Europeans offering their assistance to an America under attack.

And they were rebuked. Washington turned down the offer and decided to go it alone in Afghanistan. Only later, as things got uglier, did we ask for NATO help.

And so we find ourselves under attack again. But this time, our allies want to see us play by the international rules. Instead they want us to try this guy in the International Court of Justice. I doubt anybody in power in Washington wants to play by those rules.

Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

After 9/11, the question that everyone was focusing on was “Why do they hate us?”  Maybe I’m strange, but I always wondered “Why did they attack there?”  We’ve since discovered that the Pentagon was a probably a back-up target when the pilots had trouble finding the White House.  Honestly, both are viable military targets, though I don’t begin to call terrorist cells or hijacked civilian airlines viable military weapons.

I wondered more about the New York attacks.  To my mind, an attack on the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty would have had a greater psychological impact on America (even if they caused fewer casualties).  The Empire State probably would have stood up to the abuse better and there are never as many people on Liberty Island as in one of the Two Towers.  But that doesn’t explain the obsession with the World Trade Center.

It wasn’t until December that I read an article in Slate describing how the layout of the WTC complex purposefully mimicked the Qa’ba in Mecca.  Bin Laden probably saw the complex as a mockery of the holy sites of Islam.  This does nothing to justify al Qaida, but it does go to show that terrorists target us for reasons that we often don’t see.  Incidentally, the sculpture that originally sat in the ‘holiest’ spot in the WTC courtyard has now has a place of honor in NYC’s Battery Park in all its damaged glory.

Considering all that, I wonder about Halloween’s attacks.  Bloggers and pundits say that the attcks were aimed at our culture and government (hence hitting NYC, DC, & Chicago).  Others talk about efforts to drive up oil prices by hurting our refineries (Houston) and scaring people away from mass transit.  Before Houston got hit, the religious wackos and conspiracy theorists were already focusing on how only relatively liberal areas of the country are targeted.

There is a focus on transportation, but I think that may just be because it is where people gather.  The opportunities of crowded train platforms would be tempting to anybody planning a high body-count.  The added tactic of planting car-bombs in taxis waiting outside the subway stations is a variation on tactics we’ve seen plenty in Iraq and elsewhere.

The real key is Houston I think.  Some have played it down, but I think targeting the oil industry in Texas was a way for Bin Laden to try and enrage Bush. 

And I think it worked.

Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008

He actually did it!

I can’t believe it. Bush has cancelled the elections.

OK, delayed the elections. And he has a point that Houston is essentially still empty and people in cities up and down the coasts are afraid to gather in any groups. And there are so many rumors of more attacks, like aftershocks following an earthquake.

But Election Day is written right into the Constitution. What is Presidential Directive 51 that it lets him just ignore that?!  A Google search gives you the same press releases and an old Slate article.

I can see where Bush is coming from. He has to be frazzled. Al Qaida just sent him a very personal message by targeting a city in his home state (Houston, Texas), in his old industry (oil), while he was on live television telling Americans that things were back under control. He doesn’t want his last public action as a non-lame-duck president to be an international kick in the balls.

But, most concerning, he didn’t give a new date. Those lines about “when the security situation is settled” isn’t enough to settle my nerves.

Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008

Neve has a point from the last post. The campaign ads have been getting pretty nasty. The meme that I was surprised to see surface again this week was the tried and true GOP standard “If you vote for the Democrats, we will have another 9/11.” What a crock!

First-off, I thought the 9/11 allusions would finally die-down once Guliani dropped out. More the fool me. Guliani was certainly not the only one playing this one-note symphony. Cheney had it the best back in ’04 when he predicted a Dem congressional victory would lead to “mushroom clouds over New York”. The meme is not just with the candidates — its true home is in the minds of the political consultants. And while a candidate can drop out and fade away, the same consultants are in the campaigns, round after round.

The meme is at least marginally effective (or it would have died by now). People can be motivated by images of the Two Towers burning. It plays well into the idea that Republicans are decisive and strong on foreign policy and Dems are emotional flip-floppers who are focused only on the domestic sphere. That’s an argument the GOP can win, so they like to frame it that way.

But what about the idea itself? Does al Qaida care whether there is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House? I sincerely doubt it. Is al Qaida planning to hit the domestic US again? Everybody says yes, but why should they? Think about it, they got exactly what they wanted from us. The US is embroiled in a guerrilla war against not just al Qaida, but nationalistic secular Sunnis, theocratic Shiites, and just off-the-street Muslim civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every day we remain occupying these countries, we prove al Qaida’s point that the West (and the US in particular) are a threat to the Arab and Islamic world.

And here’s the kicker. Osama and company don’t really care about the threat that the West poses to Islam. All the attacks, all the rhetoric against the ‘Great Satan’, and our insidious creeping culture, all the bluster is not aimed at us. The messages are aimed at the Muslim world. Sure, it would be good for al Qaida if all US troops left any lands inhabited by Muslims, but only if they get the credit! The true conflict is between the Wahabbist Sunni fundamentalists and the various secular dictatorships, royal families, and Shiite dictatorships through out the Middle East. By attacking the West, al Qaida is looking to ‘fire-up’ their base (al Qaida means ‘the base’ in Arabic).

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this, after all, the meme that al Qaida will attack the US again isn’t really about al Qaida; it is about impressing and motivating the Republican base.