*Dawn is reporting that the computer files and CDs confiscated from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on his arrest in Rawalpindi demonstrate the breadth of his networking in the Philippines, Europe and the US. (He had lived in the Philippines in the mid-1990s and plotted terrorism there against US targets like airliners. Like many al-Qaida goons, he led a dissolute lifestyle, hanging out in strip clubs and living large. His photograph shows that he still carries the weight and the alcohol damage. The al-Qaida terrorists believe it is all right to live immorally if your life is dedicated to destroying the enemies of Islam).
The materials confiscated also show recent contacts with Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, both of them now apparently in northern Pakistan. Attempts are being made to track them down. The whereabouts of Bin Laden’s four wives and his children in Iran is also now apparently known. We may be near an endgame against the top al-Qaida leadership, which will make us all much safer (as long as the Bush administration does not provoke so much new anger that a new generation of expert engineer/terrorists arise).
*The war in Iraq is scary for many reasons, not least my concerns about a US mandate trying to administer a contemporary Arab society. But what is really scary is that many of the hawks in the Bush administration say, “after Baghdad, Beijing.” Iraq is a small country with a much degraded army and even its weapons of mass destruction have been 95% wiped out. The war may or may not be harder fought than the Pentagon expects, but it is a task that the US can almost certainly accomplish. Besieging communist China and trying to overthrow the government there, however, is a fool’s errand and a recipe for world war. See Jonathan Freedland’s insightful article in the Guardian:
*About 500,000 demonstrators marched in Cairo Wednesday, in a rally authorized by the National Democratic Party. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is well aware of the need to allow an enraged population to blow off steam. In fact, however, the event was a staged affair with few grass roots supporters. It was the sort of thing you would go to if you were an NDP supporter; and, Egyptian governments have been known to spread some money around to produce a crowd. The demonstration last week this time, which was 100,000-strong, was more of a grass roots affair and probably more important, though smaller in size.
*The horrific attack on a bus in Haifa, apparently an operation of the fundamentalist Hamas party, was denounced by the mainstream PLO because they said it would obscure the wrongs that have been being done to innocent Palestinians by the Israeli army of occupation.
I read the reports out of the West Bank and Gaza every day, and it seems to me that almost every day the Israeli army kills innocent civilians–babies, kids, grandmothers, what have you. Here is how the Christian Science Monitor reported Monday’s operation:
“On a raid Monday to arrest Hamas political leader Sheikh Mohammed Taha, Israeli troops killed eight people, including Noha Maqadme, a pregnant mother of 11. Hours after that raid in the densely packed Bureij refugee camp, shock fused with calls for revenge in an example of the way IDF incursions into Gaza may be hardening resistance instead of undermining it.In the crumbling streets, endurance seemed to be the order of the day as youths hoisted mattresses on their shoulders for those made homeless by the damaging or complete destruction of 14 houses. Four of those structures housed families of Palestinians involved in attacks on soldiers and Jewish settlers, the army says. Though human rights groups condemn the practice as collective punishment and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the army says the demolitions deter others considering violence against Israeli targets. Neighboring houses were blown apart by the force of the blasts, which toppled the wall of a room where the Maqadme family took shelter after soldiers announced a curfew. Jamil Maqadme, his face bruised and sweater torn in the explosion, remembers his mother leaving to make tea for his brother – and then an explosion. “Everyone was under the ruins,” he says. “It was deep darkness. I heard my mother scream ‘help.’ “Something was on my chest, and it was difficult to breathe,” he says. His father and a neighbor extricated him, but four of his siblings were injured, and his mother, Noha, was dead.”
A man named Mohammad Hasan Ali Issa of Nablus was apparently shot to death by Israeli soldiers after he was already in captivity and in handcuffs. The Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza are either extremely unprofessional and incompetent, or they have secret orders to carry out their operations against terrorists regardless of the loss of innocent Palestinian life. Since this latter would be a war crime, it is of course denied, but that is certainly what it looks like to me.
The Hamas fanatics and the Likud fanatics feed off one another and each gains internal power from the brutality and murders committed by the other. The Haifa bombing killed 15 people and wounded 40, many of them college students (one was an American). It was not only vicious but stupid. It just provides further pretext to the Likud to press for the liquidation of any Palestinian state and some form of ethnic cleansing against the population of the Occupied Territories. Most Americans just shrug and say it is the problem of the people who live over there.
But 9/11 should have been a wake up call. Its real lesson was not that the US needs to go around fighting perpetual war. The lesson was that it is extremely dangerous to let hate fester. And yet, the Bush administration has done nothing to lessen hate. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli PM, even embarrassed Bush by rejecting any Palestinian state in the future. That will really improve things–just announce to the Arabs that they will be screwed over yet again in Palestine just as the US is going to war against Iraq. Ariel Sharon should be ashamed of himself for taking American money hand over fist and then pissing all over US policy needs in the region.