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December 31, 2009: Looking More Deeply

April 20, 2010

I confess it: For me, the secular new year is marked chiefly by the need to remember to write the correct date on my checks and at the top of these postings. But I am mindful of what the New Year means to many of my readers.  And I most certainly wish one and all blessings — for peace, health, inner contentment and prosperity — in the coming year.

The imagery for the new year is one of beginnings that are fresh and hopeful. May 2010 bring the world better tidings than it received in 2009.
In my last posting, I raised the question as to whether Obama will grapple with the root of the “systematic failure” that led to a terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, getting on an American plane and attempting to blow it up outside of Detroit.  There is a vast amount of material on this subject coming my way, and so I return for a closer look.
We will pass by the idiocy of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who told CNN, after the incident, that “the system worked.”  A ludicrous attempt to put a good face on what — but for the courageous response of passengers and a failed detonator — would have been a very major terrorist attack.
Of great concern, however, is that the Obama government seems to be treating this as an “incident,” and an isolated one at that, rather than as a symptom of something a great deal more ominous.  In fact, Napolitano also alluded to this, saying that, “We have no indication that it’s part of anything larger.”  Come on!
Yes, there will be examinations of how screening failed to pick up the explosives being carried on to a plane. This is the “systemic failure” that the president is concerned with. And as a result all passengers flying in or to the US will be considerably inconvenienced.  There is talk of such measures as body-frisking and preventing passengers from getting out of their seats for a period before landing.
But there is no mention of the fact that the would-be terrorist was a Muslim. No talk of Islamists, or radical Islam or jihadist ideology.
So thoroughly is Abdulmutallab being treated as a criminal rather than a terrorist that he is simply being charged — within the civil criminal system — with committing two felonies: trying to destroy a plane in U.S. airspace, and bringing a “destructive device” on an aircraft.
JINSA (in Report #951) quotes counterterrorism expert Steve Emerson:
“I’d like to first find out who recruited him. I’d like to find out where he got the explosives…I’d like to find out who sent him. How he was recruited….”
However, laments JINSA:
“…being charged in a U.S. court means that Abdulmutallab is now entitled to Constitutional protections, including the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. And we are sure that if Abulmutallab doesn’t know about those rights, his court appointed lawyer or the ACLU will surely tell him. How much we will learn from him under the circumstances is unclear.
“We have already learned enough about the young men…who adopt jihadist teachings as their religious touchstone to understand that it is a mistake to endow terrorists with the legal and constitutional rights of American citizens who violate civilian laws.” 
A Wall Street Journal editorial, “The Terror This Time,” on Monday made the same points:
“[The Obama administration] immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges…despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read. Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction.” (emphasis added)
Miranda rights for terrorists. Setting up a situation that makes it significantly less likely that information will be secured that might help prevent future attacks.  Not a good way to go!
Obama has not internalized the fact that we are at war.
I recommend here the very excellent piece — “The Wake up call from flight 253” — by Jeff Jacoby.
“…As the near-unanimity of 9/11 receded, Americans divided into what the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes dubbed September 12 people, for whom 9/11 had changed everything, and September 10 people, who believed the terrorist threat was being exaggerated by the Bush administration and who regarded the fight against Islamist extremism as chiefly a matter of law enforcement.
“…Would that divide have closed if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had succeeded…? If Al-Qaeda…had succeeded in carrying out another 9/11, would the short-lived unity and moral clarity of that terrible day in 2001 have returned?”
Jacoby then lists for us the lessons that too many have been inclined to dismiss in recent years:
[] “Terrorism isn’t caused by poverty and ignorance.Abdulmutallab came from a wealthy and privileged family, and had studied at one of Britain’s top universities. He wasn’t trying to kill hundreds of Americans out of socioeconomic despair…Abdulmutallab was motivated by ideological and religious fanaticism. The teachings of militant Islam may seem monstrous to outsiders, but that is no reason to doubt that their adherents genuinely believe them…”
[] “The Global Jihad is real…Of course Abdulmutallab is part of something larger: He is part of the global jihad — the relentless assault by Islamist radicals whose deadly serious goal is the submission of America and the West to Islamic law. If government officials like Napolitano cannot bring themselves to speak plainly about the jihadists’ ambitions, how will they ever succeed in crushing them? “
[] “Terrorists can always adapt to new restrictions. After 9/11, knives and sharp metal objects were banned from carry-on luggage, so Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb. Thereafter everyone’s shoes were checked, so the 2006 Heathrow plotters planned to use liquid-based explosives…There is no physical constraint that determined jihadists cannot find a way to circumvent. Yet US airport security remains obstinately reactive — focused on intercepting dangerous things, instead of intercepting dangerous people. Unwilling to incorporate ethnic and religious profiling in our air-travel security procedures, we have saddled ourselves with a mediocre security system that inconveniences everyone while protecting no one.” (emphasis added)
[] The Patriot Act was not a reckless overreaction. Security in a post 9/11 world has not come from…sending Guantanamo inmates off to Yemen, or refusing to use terms like ‘war on terrorism.’ It has come from stepped-up surveillance and stronger intelligence-gathering tools, and from working to pre-empt terror attacks in advance, rather than prosecuting them after the fact. Congress was not out of its mind when it enacted the Patriot Act in 2001, and the Bush administration was not trampling the Constitution when it deployed the expanded powers the law gave it: They were trying to prevent another 9/11 — and they succeeded. President Obama has repeatedly and ostentatiously criticized his predecessor’s approach. Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that Obama’s first year in office has also seen an unprecedented surge in terrorist threats on US soil.”  (emphasis added)
Jacoby provides a link to “Domestic Terrorism Hits a Peak in 2009”: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1949329,00.html 
There have been 32 terror-related events in the US since 9/11, and 12 of them were in 2009.
Jacoby’s article is at:


A hope for 2010, then, would be an awakening on the part of 9/10 people in the US (which undoubtedly includes Obama and the bulk of his administration) before a tragedy ensues.


Analysts are viewing the unrest inside Iran with increased seriousness. Some are even saying that this is a grassroots rebellion that in due course will either seriously affect the nature of the current regime or even overturn it.  Reuters has reported that police in central Teheran are refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators.
Such situations are volatile and difficult to predict.  Certainly — we know this already — change, if it comes, would not be without cost in limb if not life for some protesters.
But I am mindful of what I reported the other day when Professor Irwin Cotler spoke, and the need to support these protesters.  Cotler yesterday called a press conference here, in concert with other lawyers doing the same in other places, to announce the release of the petition he had spoken about, which details actions the international community must take against Iran. 
And so this, too, may be a hope for 2010: that the situation in Iran might resolve itself internally, without the need for military intervention by Israel.
Sheikh Abdul Palazzo is a good man.  I’ve known of him for several years now. Born in Rome to an Italian Catholic father who had converted to Islam, and a Muslim mother whose roots were in Syria, he is today the leader of the Italian-Muslim Assembly co-founded and co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, which promotes a positive attitude in Muslims to Jews and Israel.  He is profoundly pro-Israel, believing that this is what the legitimate teachings of Mohammad say before they are corrupted by the Wahabi perspective.

My biggest quandary, with regard to the Sheikh, is understanding how he has managed to stay alive in spite of what he says publicly.  I mention him now because I have just read that he visited in Hevron — Jewish Hevron, that is.
Do I expect to see other Muslim clergy such as him?  Not really.  He’s an anomaly.  But we can hope.
The rest of the news, such as it may be? It can wait.



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