Friday, July 24, 2015

24-Jul-15: Terror here? 'Ridiculous' say Kenyans, deploying their largest ever security blanket

CNN as depicted on a Kenyan tweeter's stream
As the Nobel Prize-winning leader of the free world gets started with a visit to East Africa (check out the Twitter hashtag #ObamaHomecoming) today, aspects of the media messaging are getting up some Kenyan noses.
Kenyans ridicule CNN for calling the country a “hotbed of terror” |  Quartz Africa | July 23, 2015 | Kenyans are demanding an apology from CNN after the news network described Kenya as “a hotbed of terror” in a report on US president Barack Obama’s visit this week. “If CNN is civilized enough, they should apologize,” interior minister Joseph Nkaisserry said today, in response to anger on social media. Under the hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN, Kenyans have been voicing both impatience with being branded as a country rife with violence as well as pride in their country...
A Nairobi, shopping mall after a random event September 2013
[Image Source]
No reason to especially blame the Kenyans, who are looking beyond the idea of an Islamist terror war against unbelievers to make a case of a more nuanced kind.

They are doing pretty much the same as many Americans did after 9/11; as many Brits did after 7/7; as many Spanish did after 11-M; and as President Obama himself did when he called the people behind an attack on a French kosher food store in January 2015
"a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris... But we also have to attend to a lot of other issues, and we've got to make sure we're right-sizing our approach so that what we do isn't counterproductive." [Obama speaking to Matthew Yglesias in a VOX interview]
Obama has never publicly commented on the post-massacre disclosures about the passions of Amedy Coulibaly, who did the killing, for ISIS and the lethal savagery for which it stands. Perhaps, like the Kenyans, he or his advisers would ridicule those claims too, and carry with them a large slice of American public opinion. Or call them "random" as his spokesperson did in front of the media right after the killing of those French Jews.

Today's Kenyan state of excitement [Image Source]
Calling what has been happening in Kenya something other than terror or imagining that the violence upending thousands of East African lives during the past two decades (and especially the past two years) has been routine and unworthy of any special attention is tragic if it leads to paralysis of the security authorities.

Fortunately for the traveling US president, the authorities in Kenya don't play that foolish game:
Parts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi have been locked down and airspace will be closed during the president's arrival late Friday and his departure late Sunday... At least 10,000 police officers, roughly a quarter of the entire national force, have been deployed to the capital. Top of the list of security concerns is Somalia's Shebab militants, who have staged a string of suicide attacks, massacres and bombings on Kenyan soil, including the bloody attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the heart of the capital nearly two years ago that left 67 dead. ["Kenya lockdown as Obama comes to talk security, trade", Reuters, today]
It's not only the Kenyans who are (rightly) concerned:
Hundreds of US security personnel have arrived in Kenya in recent weeks and three hotels have been examined by the secret service, according to local media... Kenya is treating the visit as a chance to shine, akin to an Olympics or a football World Cup, and is all too aware how catastrophic another terrorist attack would be for its image. Three months ago Islamist militants murdered 148 people at a university in Garissa, while an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall left at least 67 people dead less than two years ago... ["Kenya kicks off biggest ever security operation for Barack Obama welcome", The Guardian, today]
For short-of-memory readers, a random selection of some of our recent Kenya-focused posts:
President Obama on the right, with father [Image Source]
How likely is it that the mainstream media will give attention during the Obama Kenya visit to his brother?

The extended Obama family is not small (here's an overview). We specifically mean Abon'go Malik Obama (known as Abongo or Roy), a University of Nairobi graduate who spent a decade and a half in the US working in the back-offices of Lockheed, Fannie Mae, and the American Red Cross [source]. He served as best man at Barack and Michelle Obama's wedding, and BHO did the same at several of the brother's weddings (there have been twelve). He runs a charitable foundation whose website calls him "founder" and which is
committed to a wide array of development and humanitarian projects which will help mitigate social-shortcomings in areas of education and literacy, health and well-being, poverty, and lack of community infrastructure in such basic needs such as water, electricity, shelter and sustenance... [source]
The Barack H. Obama Foundation (entirely unrelated to the Barack Obama Foundation) earned US tax-exempt status in 2011 in record-breaking time - about a week when for most applicants it takes many months, and for some, year. (Why this happened has been the subject of speculation.) It had claimed to be tax-exempt years earlier; fortunately once its approval came through [source], it was made retrospective for several years back. Talk about lucky.

Barack H. Obama, president of the United States, on the left of
a family snapshot held by his brother Malik (and other names),
a leader in a deeply troubling, terror-friendly organization
[Image Source]
But there are some puzzling aspects. Its US address is located in a UPS store. The address given in its IRS filings, namely 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 110-152, Arlington, Virginia, turns out to be the location of a marketing center for a drug-and-alcohol treatment organization, A Better Today Recovery Services.
When questioned about BHOF in May 2013, not a single employee in A Better Today's office had ever heard of the foundation... [source]
Most likely because of a misunderstanding.

As for Abon'go-Abongo-Roy-Malik Obama himself, the president's best man and an invited guest at the presidential inauguration, the allegations appearing across the web are considerably less benign.

He, it appears, serves as executive secretary of the Sudan-based Islamic Da’wa Organization (IDO), an arm of the jihad-friendly government of Sudan, whose ruler since 1989, president Omar al-Bashir, has for years been the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant, as yet not executed. IDO, under the president of the United States' brother, is said to stand for the expansion of Wahhabist Islam throughout Africa.

Though his political activities have been almost totally ignored by the global mainstream media, Haaretz ran a piece ["Obama's half brother photographed wearing Hamas kaffiyeh"] in January 2014 that focus on the Presidential Brother wearing an item of Arabic clothing on which are inscribed the random words "Jerusalem is ours – we are coming" and "From the river to the sea".

But the most troubling? That for the most part, the disturbing ties between the president of the US and a brother with serious question marks over his head are, along with the photos, almost totally ignored and unpublished by the mainstream media. (Parts of the conspiracy-friendly web and especially some parts of it conventionally labeled right-wing in outlook, seem to be the sole exceptions. Why?)

Troubled and troublesome brothers are nothing new for incumbents of the White House (Carter, Clinton), but we can't think of another instance where the sibling benefited from so extensive a media blackout. Makes a person wonder.

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