Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Terrorist Plot to Attack Fort Dix

Recently the FBI announced the arrest of six men and accused them of plotting to attack Fort Dix, in New Jersey.  After the initial shock of the arrests, a closer look at the “plot” reveals a pattern now becoming the rule in these kinds of arrests: the pattern is one of utter stupidity and incompetence on the part of the purported “terrorists”.  There is another pattern as well.

In January 2006, a store clerk for a company that transfers video tape to DVDs in Mount Laurel saw something odd.  A group of men had brought him a video showing them firing weapons and chanting "God is Great!" in Arabic for transferring.  The clerk contacted the authorities.  The authorities then infiltrated the group which eventually led to the arrests.

Reactions to the arrests were interesting.  Predictably, the Administration fanned the flames of fear and implied that only they could protect us from “terrorists” such as these.

On the other end of the political spectrum, the terrorist threat was pooh-poohed as overblown and a case of possible entrapment.

What is the truth?

Once again the truth is pretty much obvious, which makes it invisible to most pundits: although these particular men were probably terrorist-wannabees and incompetent, there is no reason why such a group couldn’t have at least one competent planner within it.  It probably is only a matter of time before such an independent terror cell not only fantasizes about committing a terrorist act, but also has the capacity to pull it off.

It is also clear, though, that the government was handed this case on a silver platter by an alert citizen.  The FBI should not dislocate its collective shoulder patting itself on the back.

And finally, what could be done to prevent such groups from coming into existence in the future?

This is truly the ultimate question which, of course, has gone completely unaddressed by all politicians, military planners and analysts.  Please note the following quote made by one of the suspects as captured on the video tape that led to their arrest:

"In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying attacks (sic) your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."

So, were these men the product of an extremist Islamic background?  Were they oppressed?

Absolutely not; they were relatively successful in business in this country, and free to practice their beliefs; this may be the most frightening aspect of the whole affair.

Officials said four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, in the Kosovo region, one in Jordan and one in Turkey.  All had lived in the United States for years.  Three were in the United States illegally; two had green cards allowing them to stay in this country permanently, and the sixth is a U.S. citizen.

Newsday reported that Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku wrote a letter to the U.S. mission in Pristina on Wednesday expressing the "extraordinary feeling that Kosovo's people have for the U.S."  Ceku also denounced what he called "the disgusting idea" that Albanians could be involved in an attack "against a nation that has been very generous so far."

"We have lost brethren in the World Trade Center in the 9/11 tragedy and fought willingly beside U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Avni Mustafaj, executive director of the Washington-based National Albanian American Council.

"As Albanians, we remain the most pro-American people in the world," he said.

Newdsay also wrote that the Duka brothers' grandmother, Naze Duka, was visibly upset as word of their arrests spread through the modest two-story brick houses in Debar, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) southwest of the Macedonian capital of Skopje.

"America is good _ you work, you earn money there," the 88-year-old said. "I have no idea where this all came from.  How did this happen?"

Elez Duka, the brothers' cousin, said their father took the family to the U.S. via Italy in 1986 or 1987.

Over the past two years, Elez Duka said his cousins told him they had grown long beards and had become more devoted to Islam, but he insisted they were incapable of involvement in a terrorist plot.

Even those overseas in Debar who described themselves as devout Muslims denounced the Fort Dix plot.

"They must have been crazy.  They shouldn't dare throw a stone at America," said Rrahmi Duka, 70, a distant relative of the brothers, selling beads and Muslim books in Debar's main square as a loudspeaker blared prayers.

"Who saved us (in Kosovo)? America," he said.  "We are in America's hands."

Truly, hearing this from a Muslim, living in a foreign country is encouraging, and is proof that one cannot judge others based on their religious preference alone.

But the fact remains that there is but one explanation for the apparent goals of the alleged terrorists, and if one is honest, one explanation for nearly all terrorist acts: "In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."

Even though these six men lived within a community grateful to the US for preventing ethnic cleansing, religious zealotry caused them to turn on their former protectors.

Will anyone ever notice it always all about religion?

Romney, Sharpton & Hitchens

At a recent campaign stop, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was told by a heckler that he was a non-Christian and that Christians should not vote for him.  (You can see this @ )  The audience was not amused by the heckler and Romney replied that in this diverse country, “We need to have a person of faith lead the country.”  Of course, the crowd erupted in applause.  Few persons outside of the community of reason took notice that Mr. Romney had bigotedly ruled out persons of no faith from leading the country.  In other words, according to Romney, atheists need not apply for elected office.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later to a public debate between Al Sharpton and non-believer Christopher Hitchens on the topic of religion where, according to Newsday, Rev. Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation." The most sensible understanding of this quote is that Mormons don't "really" believe in God; why this would refer to Mr. Hitchens, who makes no bones about his unbelief, is hard to understand.  Of course, Romney's campaign took exception to this "insult".

To Romney and Sharpton: both should just shut up, and to the American public; is it any wonder why non-believers are finally speaking up?


Item: Naomi Ragen, a 57 year old grandmother and author, was accosted on a public Jerusalem bus in Israel by a man who demanded her seat.  (Go to .)

This took place last summer in Jerusalem on a bus route that is the only service available not only to the Jewish Haredi sect, but also secular bus riders as well.  Yes, as a concession to this fundamentalist sect, the state of Israel has sanctioned segregation and second class citizenship for women on 30 bus lines!  Ms. Ragen has decided to take the laws allowing this humiliating treatment to court.

Comment: Now this kind of discrimination is not uncommon in that part of the world, but Israel was supposed to be an exception.  Unfortunately fundamentalism of any stripe often leads to this kind of degrading of humanity in favor of honoring primitive dogmas that have long outlived any usefulness or justification.

Liberal believers are little help in matters such as this unless they are in denial.  Clearly most scripture seems to endorse a paternalistic society – after all, men wrote most scripture as far as anyone can tell, with just a few possible exceptions such as the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.  And what they did write seems to give men a favored position – what a shock!

To deny the overall intent and in fact, the overall acceptance of this intent for many believers through the centuries is to be in denial about what the religion meant to those who created and first practiced the religion.  The writers of scripture generally were not feminists, or supporters of equal rights for women, and indeed the women of those times did not have equal rights with men.  For a liberal believer to read some kind of feminism into scripture now is less honest than the interpretation by an admitted sexist fundamentalist.

So what are the choices available to a liberal believer?  The one reasonable choice is the one they refuse to make; that is the rejection of any divine authorship.  By refusing to reject the divinity of scripture, they thereby cede the remaining intellectual argument to fundamentalists who then interpret scripture in the literal manner as it had been interpreted through the centuries.

And what are the political implications for the US?  In exchange for the aid we give Israel, and the grief we receive because of our support, the US should categorically demand equal rights for all Israeli citizens, including women, period and non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews; and as for those non-citizens under the military thumb of Israel, either equal rights or self-determination.  Just as we would not tolerate suspension of the US Bill of Rights even in times of war, we should make excuses anymore for the same unacceptable situation elsewhere, such as in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Item: (Times Online) The NBA season entered its All Star weekend in Las Vegas with the recent revelation by retired British player John Amaechi that he is gay still resonating around the league.

Just as the issue seemed to be dissipating, former All Star guard Tim Hardaway came out with the most vitriolic anti-gay statements yet made on the topic, bringing Amaechi and the subject of gay players in professional sports, very much back to the fore.

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known.  I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people," Hardaway said in a radio interview.  "I'm homophobic.  I don't like it.  It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.

"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team.  And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right.  I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room.

"Something has to give.  If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your team-mates to win and accept him as a teammate."

Comment: The incredibly bigoted comments by Tim Hardaway needa closer examination, particularly the following: "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known.  I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people… I'm homophobic.  I don't like it.  It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.

Exactly what does he want?  For all homosexuals to be imprisoned or exterminated?

The next thing that comes to mind is “What is the source of this hatred?”  At this time, there are no answers.

Item: (Gallup Org.) Though the vast majority of Kuwaitis undoubtedly despised Saddam's regime, 53% say they view the invasion of Iraq by U.S. and British forces as not morally justifiable, while only a third (33%) disagree with this assessment.  On this point, there is little difference between Kuwait's citizenry and its expatriate population -- majorities of both groups (55% and 51%, respectively) say they view the Coalition invasion as morally unjustifiable.  At the root of this sentiment is a deep aversion to Western military action against fellow Muslims -- a norm that Kuwaitisshare with others in the region who experienced a lengthy colonial past.

Comment: This would seem to be the definition of a no-win situation; even if the US were in the right (which it wasn’t in invading Iraq) the ultimate goal of winning hearts and minds in the area was doomed anyway by taking this particular military action.  Winning hearts and minds, by the way, is what “winning the war on terror” is all about - unless you intend to exterminate every last person whose heart and mind has not been won.  Don’t put such an extermination plan beyond the capabilities of the neocons to consider this.

Item: An F5 tornado, part of a weekend of violent storms across the Plains, claimed at least eight lives in Greensberg, KA, a town of 1,500, in May 2007, putting the statewide death toll from the storms at 10.

Officials estimate as much as 95 percent of the town was destroyed.

The tornado's wind was estimated to have reached 205 mph as it carved a track 1.7 miles wide and 22 miles long.

In Kansas, the governor said the state's response was limited by the shifting of emergency equipment, such as tents, trucks and semitrailers, to the war in Iraq.

"Not having the National Guard equipment, which used to be positioned in various parts of the state, to bring in immediately is really going to handicap this effort to rebuild," she said.

Comment: Another simple example of how the war in Iraq has made the citizens of the US less safe, period.  For the idiots in the audience, thisis not saying that the war caused the tornado; it is saying the Iraq war has compromised our ability to respond to national disasters.  Duh!