Friday, July 29, 2011

29-Jul-11: Gunmen/bombers and their motivations

Texas is not Norway.

While a lone gunman was left undisturbed by the Norwegian authorities for several hours to bomb, shoot and cold-bloodedly murder his way through the streets of Oslo and then a nearby island where 600 youngsters were engaged in a political summer camp, an American serviceman was stopped today before he managed to fire off a single round.

Each had the massacre of innocents on his mind. But an alert American police system acted in time while the actions of the Norwegians raise a long list of troubling questions. Nidra Poller ["Mayhem in Norway"] asks
Where were the police?  Where weren’t the young people trained in self-defense?  Where were the heroes that would tackle the killer and save their comrades?  Anders Breivik committed mass murder because no one and nothing stopped him.  Where were the police? ... We are told that the call for help came in at 17:30 — one half-hour after the shooting began — and the police arrived one hour later at 18:30 (approximate figures).
We have other questions. The name of the American serviceman arrested in Texas is Naser Abdo. The very essence of his story is Islam. He took on the religion of his father, a Moslem, when he was 17. He joined the military in 2009, and a year after the 2009 massacre of 13 unarmed men at Fort Hood by a fellow Moslem, he condemned the shooter, according to the Washington Post  because such actions “run counter to what I believe in as a Muslim.” Last summer his name was in news when he refused to deploy with his unit to Afghanistan. The reason again was his Moslem faith - he claimed it prevented him from serving. He fought the army's plans from then onwards and gave multiple interviews to the media, referring each time to his Moslem values. As this ABC News report quotes him saying:
"Overall, as a Muslim I feel that I will not be able to carry out my military duties due to my conscientious objection," Abdo wrote in his application for the status. "Therefore, unless I separate myself from the military, I would potentially be putting the soldiers I work with in jeopardy." 
The New York Times ["Soldier Held Amid Claim of Terror Plot at Fort Hood"] runs through all these facts, including Abdo's confession that he specifically planned to attack Fort Hood... mentioning the soldier's religion exactly once - as the reason for his conscientious objection. It draws no conclusions about the evident inconsistency of a man refusing to deploy with his fellow soldiers because of his religion and then a year later plotting to open fire on them for the same reason.

Reuters, in a syndicated report titled "Police say arrest of soldier foiled "terror plot"", manages to pull off the same feat. The sole mention of Islam, Moslem, Muslim or anything linguistically close comes in the absolute-last line of the article:
"Abdo applied for conscientious objector status in 2010 because he said Islamic standards prohibited his service in the U.S. Army in any war, military officials said."
Al Jazeera's coverage ["Arrested US soldier 'admits to terror' plot'"] suffers from no such delicacy. Trumping Reuters and the NY Times, its English-language editors manage to tell the whole story without a single mention of the man's religion or any possible religious motivation.

But to their credit, Al Jazzera does mention a connection to a previous mass killing at the same Ft Hood carried out by someone named Nidal Hasan. And the connection between Hasan and Abdo? Why, that would be the fact that both purchased weapons from a store called Guns Galore (which is true, but far from being the central issue in this story.)

And lest we forget the European side of the house (hat tip to CIF Watch), The Guardian [US soldier arrested near Fort Hood 'admits to attack plan'] skips any reference to the terrorist's Islamic motivations or connection. Not a single word from the paper whose code of ethics begins with a lecture on the importance of the bond of trust between the publication and its consumers.

Yes, incisive, courageous journalism at its best. All the news that's fit to print - provided it doesn't disclose more than we, the unwashed and ignorant masses, can be trusted to be told.

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