Saturday, June 15, 2013

15-Jun-13: Attention Qantas travelers: A pungent follow-up here to our earlier posts about Emirates, Qantas and Dubai

Click for our earlier posts about Emirates/Qantas
"The World's Leading Airline Partnership" 
In the course of more than thirty posts starting in September 2012, we reflected in this blog on the infuriating saga of Prof. Cyril Karabus and what we termed his Kafka-esque treatment in Dubai at the hands of the United Arab Emirates authorities.

(Click here to see our earlier posts about Emirates/Qantas, "The World's Leading Airline Partnership".)

In the course of analyzing what was being done to him, we noted time and again how Australia's Qantas airline has very recently blended a large part of its operations into the Dubai-based Emirates Airlines. And we warned of what travelers availing themselves of the Emirates/Qantas hookup might encounter in light of the Karabus affair.

Fortunately Prof. Karabus is safely home and we have discontinued our focus on him and his ordeal. But today he is interviewed in Haaretz, and we feel this ought to be more widely disseminated.

Without further ado, here is a direct quote, from "Caught in a Kafka-esque ordeal in Dubai, a South African doctor finally comes home":
...Much of Karabus’s palpable anger is directed at Emirates Airways. He says that just before leaving Canada he was told by airline personnel that there seemed to be a problem with his ticket – some official query from Dubai about him. “I asked what it was and asked them to investigate – and they assured me that it had been resolved. But they knew, they knew, oh yes, that the police were looking for me – and they let me go ahead and fly straight into a trap. What does that mean?” asks Karabus furiously. “It means that the Emirates Airways is an arm of the UAE law enforcement agency. What kind of crap is that?” Various newspapers, notably the Johannesburg Sunday Times, approached Emirates Airways both locally and at its head office to respond to Karabus' accusations. The company said it had nothing to do with Karabus' situation and refused to comment further. [Haaretz]
You can see some of our earlier notes about the implications of an Emirates tie-up for people who, like us, admire Qantas and enjoy flying it but sense something seriously worrying has happened, here.

(No response came to us from either Qantas or Emirates during the nine months of our coverage.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

14-Jun-13: When the murderers go free, what does it really do to you?

Daoud Kattoub, the Jordanian/Palestinian Arab journalist and media ‘activist’ (also a professor of journalism at Princeton University at some point in the past) writes on the Al-Monitor website today [“Pre-OsloPrisoners Still Obstacle To Palestinian-Israeli Talks”] about the heart-tugging issue of convicted murderers outrageously forced to remain behind bars.

Wait. In some ways it’s not as mad as it sounds. But yes, it does sound quite insane if you’re not paying attention to the specific part of the world in which it’s being played out.

Kattoub writes of men who, having been sent on military missions by the leadership of Yasser Arafat’s blood-soaked PLO, are now “rotting in jail” (Kattoub’s exact words) while promises allegedly made by various Israeli politicians to set them free “have not been fulfilled”. These are the so-called pre-Oslo prisoners, sometimes referred to in the ideologically-addled media as political prisoners. There are a total of 118 of them inside Israel’s prisons today. (Other people speak of larger numbers. We're right; they are not.)

The issue reverberates, as Kattoub shows. The president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, 
“has rejected an Israeli offer to have 50 of the prisoners released. Abbas insists that all prisoners must be released as part of a US-brokered agreement to restart face-to-face peace talks.” [Al-Monitor]
A serious issue, it seems. Fifty is not enough. Only the entire 118 will satisfy whatever deep need Abbas is addressing. And until they are out of jail, there can be no talks, no negotiation, no peace with Israel. He can take this purportedly high road because
“prisoners held for a long time… are held in high esteem among Palestinians, as they have been paying such a high sacrifice for their nation.” [Al-Monitor]
Let's analyse this a little. 

The men whom Abbas has on his mind are from the group Kattoub disingenuously calls the “more moderate Fatah faction”, who “feel that they have suffered because of their party affiliation”. Not from Hamas. From Fatah, Abbas' group - the terrorists who report to him today.

Now in case the point slipped you by, almost all these 118 men are murderers; all convicted, all sentenced to lengthy murder-appropriate terms in prison

Kattoub knows this even while he conceals it from his readers. We looked carefully through the table of the 118 names, and their crimes, their victims and their details. It’s a sordid and ugly tabulation (the first-rate researchers at CAMERA published an English version of it here), with a not-insignificant number of the victims being fellow Arabs. 

But most are, of course, Jews. And out of the 118 prisoners in the tally, 112 killed someone. The remaining six tried to kill, and were convicted of attempted homicide. Political prisoners they are surely not, unless we have erased homicide from our justice system. And we have not.

But some people have. 

In an excellent overview on the CiF Watch site, published a week ago (see What the Media Won’t Tell You About ‘Palestinian Prisoners’), Adam Levick quotes Harriet Sherwood’s April 9, 2013 report in the Guardian (UK) in which she writes about the “political prisoners [Sherwood’s term] who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago”. 

CiF Watch complained about this to The Guardian, demonstrating that all the still-incarcerated pre-Oslo prisoners were convicted of violence- and terrorism-based crimes. Sherwood’s report was revised after the fact (we didn't hear about any apology) to note that it is only the Palestinians who view them as “political prisoners”. Of course far fewer Guardian readers saw the editorial correction than read the original Harriet Sherwood outrage.

Now, in a simpler age and in other parts of the world, getting prisoners out of jail traditional involves demonstrating that the price has been paid, the lesson has been learned, justice has been served and it is time to forgive and forget.

A series of incomprehensibly large, even vast, prisoner releases made by Israel between 1985 and 2011 irrevocably changed all of that in this part of the world.

Today, no serious observer even pretends that prisoners should be let loose because they said sorry and promised not to do it again. At least, not when we’re speaking of Palestinian Arab prisoners who were put away because of acts of terror they inflicted on the despised and reviled Israelis. The template has been created and the Palestinian Arabs and the Islamic world behind them fully understand the new rules: that the Israeli prison system is filled with sons and daughters of this transcendent thing called ‘resistance’ and Israel needs to be (a) persuaded, (b) forced or (c) extorted to let them go free.

No one comprehends this better than the head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas. Often described as a moderate, he is quite the opposite to anyone paying attention. As an important analysis today by Khaled Abu Toameh on the Gatestone Institute website shows ["The Palestinian Authority's Reign of Terror"], he is a doctrinaire manipulator of naked power, chiefly directed at the citizens he purports to lead. 

Abbas is in the ninth year of a four year term as president of a political entity that has no functioning parliament, and that - while bankrupt, deeply in debt and perpetually penniless - finances a governmental ‘reward for terrorism’ scheme that pays imprisoned murderers three or four times what it pays its own civil servants. That’s not the whole of it, but merely the beginning. We will come back to this.

The Abbas regime, currently pressing so hard for its veteran murderer/prisoners to be let loose by the Israelis, does a cracker-jack job of telling its own people why, and what it stands for. Here’s an illustration from the past month that appears in today’s edition of the always-valuable Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin.

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, writing for PMW, report on how the Mahmoud Abbas PA regime chose two ways in the past month of expressing honour and respect for a prisoner called Abdullah Barghouti. His is a name we know well; he built the bomb-inside-a-guitar-case that exploded in Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant on August 9, 2001. Among the fifteen people killed instantly was our much-loved teenage daughter, Malki. 130 others were maimed and shattered, but survived. One young woman was left unconscious, and remains unconscious until today. We have written about this particular prisoner here in our blog repeatedly.

The despicable Abdullah Barghouti, convicted on 67 separate counts of murder, was honoured first by means of an official “solidarity” visit to his family’s home. The PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, led the honour parade, accompanied the District Governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam. Then the PA’s tightly controlled official television channel arrived and recorded a video homage to Barghouti, including interviews with proud family members.

This follows the well-documented but largely ignored PA policy of glorifying terrorists and turning them into role modelsPalestinian Media Watch has been in the forefront of documenting this for years. 

The program host stated that Barghouti, who prepared the bombs that killed 66 people, is "certainly a hero", and wished for the fulfillment of "the purpose for which [the prisoners] are in fact in the occupation's prisons." [PMW]

Unrepentant mass murderer Abdullah Barghouti:
Behind bars where he belongs, at least for now
The host directly addressed the father of the unrepentant mass murderer:
Father of Abdallah Barghouti, your son is certainly a hero. We all think so, Allah willing they will live lives of freedom soon. All their hopes and aspirations and the purpose for which they (i.e., the prisoners) are in fact in the occupation's prisons, Allah willing, will be fulfilled soon. [PMW]
Stop for a moment. Where else but in the society being constructed by the Palestinian Arabs, would a man who deliberately murdered 67 innocent civilians get this kind of lavish media attention? And be met with silence and utter indifference by the media professionals who know about it - and keep it out of their reports?

The sons and daughters of Palestinian Arab society are being taught by their leaders and by their televisions that men and women like the psychopathic killers Abdullah Barghouti and Ahlam Tamimi are heroes. The actions that got them locked away are a source of pride on a scale literally inconceivable to people like us who live in democratic societies where law, order and justice mean something. 

So let’s clarify that when the Palestinian Arabs and their many apologists call for the release of the Barghoutis and the Tamimis, their calls are not for a pardon; if these killers of women and children had actually asked for a pardon, we would be in a new world, a different era. 

It’s not a pardon they are requesting. It’s release for the sake of political expediency. We really need you to do this, they say to Israel. We really, really have to have these murderers out again because, look, they represent everything that’s fine and great about the world we are building for our future generations. So just do it. 

And if you were thinking perhaps that all of this might somehow be leading to peace and therefore is worth the pain and the effort, consider this: "Peace talks useless: Palestine leaders / June 12, 2013".

We say this: In the name of everything decent and sane, the demands for cold-blooded, unrepentant killers to be let loose again must be answered with: that would be massively unjust and we refuse in the names of our families and of the children who continue to be your targets and theirs.

Now a few words about Norway

Not everyone who tries to obscure the true nature of Palestinian Arab society’s adoration of its baby-killers is Palestinian Arab. We wrote about this phenomenon here a few weeks back, after visiting Scandinavia [see "22-May-13: Asking Norway to face up to the lethal consequences of its funding decisions" and before that "14-Mar-13: Shock! Horror! Norwegian politicians awaken to discover they were played for fools by the terrorists"]. 

Norway is a country of generous people. It gives more than (by far) most other states in order to do good. That, at least, is the plan. The reality is they are a major financial enabler of the appalling 'rewards for terror' program of Mahmoud Abbas. Norwegian money - along with French, British, German and Belgian money, all of it coming from unwitting tax payers and aid budgets - provides the family of the unspeakable mass murderer mentioned above with a monthly salary four times the size of a PA government worker's pay. 

The European funding of Palestinian Arab terror is not at all new. Neither are the small and large lies that EU officials have been telling to their constituents, to the media and to themselves since at least 2002. Norway is now carrying out a long overdue self-examination to see who knew what and when. Their parliamentarians should be congratulated for being the first European government to do it, and parts of their media deserve full credit. They surely must not be allowed to be the last. 

The Norwegians and other European funders of child killing have been able to get away with a hypocritical embrace of terrorism for so long because so many others - and first among them, the members of the news media - have allowed it. Harriet Sherwood will surely not be the last to write about the unrepentant killers of innocents as 'political prisoners'. 

Those of us who can see where this leads have to ensure the people who make the political and editorial decisions know we are watching, that we will demand it stops, that we insist on respect for justice. Let the murderers remain in prison, and let those who seek to place them on a pedestal know of the revulsion the rest of us feel for their actions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

13-Jun-13: Little-known sides to the post-Shalit careers of unjustly released killers

Shalit Transaction terrorists bused from their Israeli prison
When the government of Israel transacted a deal with Hamas via various intermediaries for the release of a young Israeli captive Gilad Shalit in 2011, we felt something seriously wrong was being done.

We were careful in what we said and did throughout the debate about what Israel should do to secure Shalit's freedom. Even so, we publicly expressed the deepest revulsion at the idea that one specific woman in particular, the main planner, executor and mastermind of the massacre that took the life of our fifteen year-old daughter Malki, was among the convicted murderers and terrorists to be unjustly freed from Israeli prisons.

We pointed out that she represented less than one tenth of a percent of the people on the list, and that removing her from it was essential to preserving a semblance of dignity for the victims (ourselves among them) and some respect for basic notions of justice.

Taking her off the list would certainly not have endangered the completion of the deal to get back Shalit.

The woman was not only an unrepentant murderer convicted in court on her own admission. She was also an outspoken advocate for the idea that the killings she planned and executed were right, that she would do the same again if the opportunity were given to her and that others ought to emulate her actions. In short, the very last sort of person to allow back out onto the streets and airwaves of the jihadist world.

We failed.

She walked free along with 1,026 other imprisoned terrorists in 2011. She now lives in total freedom a few dozen kilometers from us, on the other side of Israel’s border with Jordan. She speaks regularly and often about the righteousness of her path, in favour of additional jihadist murder of Jews and Israelis, and in support of the terrorists still held in Israeli prisons. She is married, and travels unhindered throughout the Arab world, addressing large crowds, being interviewed on popular TV programs, and appearing in her own weekly show that is beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world by the Hamas-owned Al Quds TV channel.

It is difficult if not impossible to think of a historical precedent for a convicted murderer, entirely unrepentant, filled with self-justification, released with the agreement of her jailers to go on to a career of encouraging the serial repetition of the heinous crimes of which she was convicted. If any of our readers can think of one, please tell us.

She is certainly not the only one of the thousand-plus terrorists released and promptly recycled into active jihadism.

One by one, graduates of the Shalit Transaction have been re-arrested by Israeli authorities [see for instance our posts here from February 2012, March 2012, April 2012May 2012, June 2012September 2012, October 2012March 2013 and others] and a handful of their back-stories have come to light.

What will be done with them now that they are back behind bars remains unclear. In principle, according to what we were told by official channels when Israel set them free in 2011, any sign of their returning to terrorist activity would render them liable to at least serve the remaining term of their prison sentences; and perhaps more on top of that, given the new charges facing them. So far, we are not aware that this is what was done to any of the miscreants freshly re-captured.

So here we are nearly two years after the Shalit Transaction and both of the Palestinian Arab statelets. the Hamas one and its perpetual rival, the Palestinian Authority headed by the ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas, are calling repeatedly and with rising urgency for Israel to release the remaining 4,000+ terrorists from its prisons and/or urging their own ranks to rise up and abduct Israelis so that the unmatched glory moments of the Shalit Transaction can be repeated.

Hamas cut the 2011 deal with Israel and thereby scored a peerless advantage over the Abbas regime. So it’s Abbas who has had to do the fast running needed to try to catch up. As the Herzliya-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Research Center points out in a bulletin issued today, the perpetually penniless Abbas regime authorized a $5,000 presidential grant to every one of the freed terrorists, “those who remained in the PA-administered territories as well as those who were deported elsewhere”, ordering up completely free medical care to all the released Shalit Transaction terrorists. Granting all the glory to the jihadist Islamists of Hamas would have been too heavy a political price.

The Amit Center’s report also focuses on a handful of representative successes by Israeli security forces in uncovering several terrorist networks in which central roles are, and were, played by Shalit Transaction beneficiaries. Some examples:

Husam Badran (Hamas): Sentenced to 17 years jail in 2004 for his part in multiple lethal bombing attacks, including the massacre at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem - in the post September 2000 fighting – what we call the Arafat War and others term an intifada – he was released in the October 2011 Shalit Transaction and deported to Qatar. We believe he lives there today.
In January 2013, Israeli security forces arrested some 20 Hamas operatives in the area around Hebron. They belonged to a network planning terrorist attacks, with a focus on abducting Israelis to make them bargaining chips for the release of yet more terrorists held in Israeli jails. The plans for well advanced; a ‘safe house’ had been secured, and an Israeli Arab citizen was recruited to be the driver. Weapons were found in their possession, all of them intended to be used during the planned attacks. Most of the members had spent years behind Israeli bars for terror offences. They had relied on contacts with Hamas for support, instructions and funding. Their principal Hamas point of contact was Badran.
Bassel Himouni (Hamas): Released in the Shalit Transaction, he was deported to the Gaza Strip and lives there today.
In February 2013, Israeli security forces uncovered another terrorist ring in the Hebron area that was functioning as part of Hamas. Headed by Munjed Mousa Diab Juneidi, 23,, they were planning multiple shooting and roadside bomb attacks but were arrested detained before they could put their plans into operation. One of the group was found with a pipe bomb in his possession when detained. The ring leader Juneidi said under interrogation that his Hamas handler was Himouni.
Amir Dukan (Originally Fatah; now Hamas): Released in the Shalit Transaction, he relocated to the Gaza Strip where he established ongoing contact with Hamas and other terrorist groups.
The Israeli security authorities arrested Amir Barakat, 25, on his February 2013 return from Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Under interrogation, he confessed to meeting there with Dukan, who proposed shooting and grenade attacks in the Nablus area in return for payment of a performance fee of $60,000. Barakat admitted that he agreed with Dukan to do the deal and was trying to acquire a gun. 
Two brothers from Fara’a, near Nablus, were intercepted by Israeli security in January/February 2013 while attempting to smuggle money from Hamas sources into the West Bank in order to finance acts of terrorism. Detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing, they had €10,000 plus US$900 hidden in cigarette packages. Under Israeli interrogation, they confessed to being in the service of Hamas, and said the money had been passed to them in Jordan from a Hamas source. That Hamas source, again, was Dukan.
Hisham Abd al-Qader Ibrahim Hijaz (Hamas): Sentenced to ten consecutive terms of life imprisonment for causing the deaths of ten Israeli civilians and soldiers in terrorist attacks, he was released in the Shalit Transaction and deported to a foreign country. Today he lives freely in Qatar.
Israeli security detained a Hamas terror activist, Baker Atallah Samih Sa’ad, in May 2013. Sa’ad was from the Ramallah area village of Mazra'a al-Sharqiya. Under interrogation, he confessed to planning several abductions and shooting attacks. He had been recruited by a man from his village, Hijaz, in Jordan a month earlier: Hijaz. Sa’ad agreed to go to Sudan for military training. Hijaz had told Sa’ad that some time close to the date of the planned attacks, a messenger would deliver four weapons to him. He was also instructed to raise money to fund his own activities. Those activities are now, fortunately, on hold. 
Ayman Ismail Salameh Sharawneh (Hamas): From Dura, near Hebron, he was imprisoned for multiple offences including his involvement in a May 2002 bombing in Beersheba which injured 19 people (a technical fault prevented the bomb from exploding fully, as we noted here); an attempt to abduct an IDF soldier; and shooting at IDF soldiers. Sentenced to 38 years in prison, he too was released in the Shalit Transaction. At the time, he was called Mahmud Abdallah Abd al-Rahman Abu Sariya. (He has also been called Ayman al-Sharawna Ismail Salma in some reports such as this Israeli one - see page 5.) We posted about him  immediately after his re-arrest [see "1-Feb-12: One down, 1026 to go"].

Sharawneh returned to terrorist activity immediately after his release, and was re-arrested on January 31, 2012. The Israeli prosecution asked for the reduction of his prison sentence to be revoked, and for him to return to prison to serve the remainder of that sentence. On returning to prison, Sharawneh undertook a hunger strike which attracted widespread media coverage and sympathy. His argument was that the Israelis had cooked up a bogus claim of his having returned to his terrorist ways, and that this was all wrong and unfair. In March 2013, a deal was agreed by which he was sent to the Gaza Strip for a ten year period of exile, instead of serving the remainder of his sentence. Astonishingly, the request was approved by Israel’s security and legal systems. On arriving in the Gaza Strip, he was given a tumultuous welcome by the Hamas regime and then, on March 18, 2013, interviewed from his hospital bed on the Al Quds television network. In it, he asserted that the only way to release prisoners was by the abduction of Israeli service personnel and that is precisely what he called for.

If Sharawneh ever again experiences the misfortune of being arrested by Israel, it’s likely he will be treated as a returning terrorist (this time with clear evidence on the public record as in this Huff Post article) and sentenced to… Or perhaps not, given his amazing track record of getting off the hook until now.

Note that Sharawneh who is now calling for abductions of Israelis was depicted in a sympathetic photo (click to see it) published by The Guardian (UK) newspaper as its Guardian "Best Photo of the Day" earlier this year. On the Adameersite, which advocates for 'prisoner support' and for 'human rights' but strictly only if they are the rights of Palestinian Arabs, he was given his very own banner:

[Image Source]
Their pre-release imprisonment turns out, in too many cases to have been a small road-bump in a life of terrorism, murder and hatred. The Shalit Transaction has resulted in the idolization of people like Sharawneh  who tried - and in his case failed - to execute a random murder of a large number of people, and then outwitted (as they would tell it) the Zionists. And not only their idolization but their transformation into leaders and figures of inspiration. Their lives have become the stuff of legend; their utterances are the fuel that fires the ongoing waves of terror actions directed against Israeli civilians and innocent people abroad.

Is it too soon to ask whether the Shalit Transaction was worth all of this?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

12-Jun-13: Guardian's Harriet Sherwood visits town of Nabi Selah. Forgets to mention the monsters it spawned

This is cross-posted from the excellent CiF Watch website

Harriet Sherwood visits town of Nabi Selah – forgets to mention the little monster it spawned

Adam Levick

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood has returned after a short absence and filed a report on June 12, from the West Bank town of Nabi Selah, about efforts by British foreign office minister Alistair Burt “to revive moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians”. Sherwood, in a story titled ‘Middle East peace talks must succeed to avoid despair says UK minister‘, describes Burt’s visit to the Palestinian town, where he urged Palestinians involved in “grassroots protests” against the “occupation of their land” to give their leaders a “completely free hand” to re-engage with negotiations.

In recounting the supposed difficulties of Burt’s efforts to restart talks, Sherwood includes only those obstacles allegedly created by Israeli leaders to a degree that the reader would be forgiven for believing that a culture of incitement, as well as preconditions set by Palestinian leaders to resume talks, had any role whatsoever in obstructing the political process. However, it’s when Sherwood pivots to detailing the UK minister’s visit to Nabi Selah, a town along the hills of southern Samaria, when the most pronounced obfuscation about Palestinian intentions occurs.

Sherwood writes the following:
Burt’s visit to Nabi Saleh – his third in two years – was part of a personal commitment to track the village’s protests against the encroachments of a nearby Jewish settlement and the forceful response by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to weekly demonstrations. Two villagers have been killed by IDF fire, in December 2011 and November 2012.
“This is a very important stop for me,” he told village representatives. “The reason I keep coming is to maintain a relationship with the families [of the dead men], to make clear they are not forgotten and that those of us who care about the issues of Nabi Saleh will continue to support you in the hope the suffering is not in vain.
“What’s happened here has been wrong; wrong for the settlers to take your land, and wrong in the way the IDF handled demonstrations.”
Naji Tamimi, the leader of the local protest group, said: “We consider you a brother … As a politician, it’s important to know what the people think, not just the [political] leaders.” He appealed for the British government to “support the popular resistance”, adding that the IDF response to protests had become harsher. Another village protest leader, Bassem Tamimi, said: “The visit is important, but it’s not a big issue. We need real pressure on Israel to stop settlements. The UK is a big state, and we expect more action.”
You may recall that the town of Nabi Selah (and Sherwood’s protagonist, Bassem Tamimi) was featured in a New York Times magazine cover story by Ben Ehrenreich, which romanticized the culture of terrorism in Bassem’s ‘little village’, and whitewashed the crime of its most famous resident, a woman named Ahlam Tamimi – whom, per Ehrenreich, is still much-loved in the town.   

As Arnold and Frimet Roth explained in-depth recently, in response to Ehrenreich’s story, Tamimi (released in 2011 during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange) is the Palestinian who escorted a suicide bomber to a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001 – a massacre which left fifteen people dead, including the Roths' daughter Malki who was only fifteen years old at the time:
[Ahlam Tamimi] was 21 years old and the news-reader on official Palestinian Authority television when she signed on with Hamas to become a terrorist. She engineered, planned and helped execute a massacre in the center of Jerusalem on a hot summer afternoon in 2001. She chose the target, a restaurant filled with Jewish children. And she brought the bomb. The outcome (15 killed, a sixteenth still in a vegetative state today, 130 injured) was so uplifting to her that she has gone on camera again and again to say, smiling into the camera lens, how proud she is of what she did. She is entirely free of regret. A convicted felon and a mass-murderer convicted on multiple homicide charges, she has never denied the role she embraced and justifies it fully. 
Sherwood completely fails to mention Ahlam Tamimi in her report.

Further, we humbly suggest that if Mr. Burt truly wants to understand Nabi Selah and, relatedly, the reluctance of many Israelis to take seriously the casual and ubiquitous assurances of Palestinians’ peaceful intentions, that he consider paying a visit to grieving mothers and fathers who continue to suffer as the result of the monsters spawned by such tiny Arab villages in the hills.

A reminder that the blog piece of ours that Adam Levick refers to in his CiF Watch piece above is "17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns". (Many thanks, Adam.) It happens to be the single most read blog post in the history of This Ongoing War.

12-Jun-13: Sick of the war on terror. Oh, and also of being shot down out of the sky while flying somewhere.

One not-so-complicated way to permanently bring down
a civilian aircraft [Image Source]
Associated Press has been running a series of expose pieces in recent weeks, disclosing and analyzing the contents of thousands of pages of internal al-Qaida documents recovered in Timbuktu, Mali where a French military expedition has been fighting local Islamists - see our post "14-Jan-13: How do you say "proportionality" in French?"

The latest was published today. It focuses on the really disturbing disclosure that Islamist terrorists have gotten control of a stock of surface-to-air missiles capable of downing commercial airplanes.

It describes the discovery of what an expert calls "a ‘Dummies Guide to MANPADS'", the commonly used name given to the SA-7 weapons system. It says this is strong circumstantial evidence of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb having the missiles.
First introduced in the 1960s in the Soviet Union, the SA-7 was designed to be portable. Not much larger than a poster tube, it can be packed into a duffel bag and easily carried. It’s also affordable, with some SA-7s selling for as little as $5,000. Since 1975, at least 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by different types of MANPADS, causing about 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths around the world, according to the U.S. Department of State.
A digital version of what AP calls that Dummies Guide is online here.

Some extracts from the Washington Post: "Manual left behind in Mali suggests al-Qaida training to use feared surface-to-air missile"
  • The United States was so worried about this particular weapon ending up in the hands of terrorists that the State Department set up a task force to track and destroy it as far back as 2006. In the spring of 2011, before the fighting in Tripoli had even stopped, a U.S. team flew to Libya to secure Gadhafi’s stockpile of thousands of heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles. By the time they got there, many had already been looted. “The MANPADS were specifically being sought out,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, who catalogued missing weapons at dozens of munitions depots and often found nothing in the boxes labelled with the code for surface-to-air missiles... 
  • The knowledge that the terrorists have the weapon has already changed the way the French are carrying out their five-month-old offensive in Mali. They are using more fighter jets rather than helicopters to fly above its range of 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers) from the ground, even though that makes it harder to attack the jihadists. They are also making cargo planes land and take off more steeply to limit how long they are exposed, in line with similar practices in Iraq after an SA-14 hit the wing of a DHL cargo plane in 2003... 
  • The SA-7 is an old generation model, which means most military planes now come equipped with a built-in protection mechanism against it. But that’s not the case for commercial planes, and the threat is greatest to civilian aviation.
  • In Kenya in 2002, suspected Islamic extremists fired two SA-7s at a Boeing 757 carrying 271 vacationers back to Israel, but missed. Insurgents in Iraq used the weapons, and YouTube videos abound purporting to show Syrian rebels using the SA-7 to shoot down regime planes...
  • “This is not a ‘Fire and forget’ weapon,” said Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. “There’s a paradox here. One the one hand it’s not easy to use, but against any commercial aircraft there would be no defenses against them. It’s impossible to protect against it... If terrorists start training and learn how to use them, we’ll be in a lot of trouble.”
  • ...“Even if you get your hands on an SA-7, it’s no guarantee of success,” he said. “However, if someone manages to take down a civilian aircraft, it’s hundreds of dead instantly. It’s a high impact, low-frequency event, and it sows a lot of fear.”
Just another little thing to think about when people like Peter Beinert over at the Daily Beast write, as he did yesterday
Obama was right: Americans are sick of the war on terror. We aren’t terrified anymore, and we’re no longer willing to sacrifice our freedoms.
For Beinert and anyone else wondering about how to quantify risk versus reward on this somewhat touchy issue, AP published a list today [here] of civilian planes shot down so far by MANPADS. If it's not relevant to you, just ignore.

12-Jun-13: As Islamist numbers grow, Europe's future is unlikely to ever again be what it was

The cartoons irritated their sensibilities: Salafist Islamists rioting in Solingen, Germany, May 2012 [Image Source]
Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (in German, the BfV), yesterday issued its annual report on domestic extremism. Der Spiegel says it shows
a surge in support for Islamists and growth in the number of influential neo-Nazi music groups... 
It says Germany's largest Islamist organization, the Milli Görüs, and Hezbollah Germany, now count on some 42,550 members. Last year's tally was 38,080.

Members and supporters of the German Salafist movement saw the sharpest overall rise. Germany's Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, in issuing a banning order against three German Salafist organizationssaid in March that:
"Salafism, as represented in the associations that were banned today, is incompatible with our free democratic order. The groups aim to change our society in an aggressive, belligerent way so that democracy would be replaced by a Salafist system, and the rule of law replaced by Sharia law."
Salafism, originating in Saudi Arabia and highly influential there, holds that democracy must be destroyed and replaced with an Islamic form of government. While Salafists represent only a small part of Germany's 4.3 million Moslems, they have clout and know how to use it. They launched a very public campaign called Project READ! in April 2012, in which 25 million copies of the Koran were handed to every household in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for free..
The campaign to place a Koran in every German household is being spearheaded by a Rhineland-based Salafist, Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, a Palestinian hate preacher who leads a radical Islamic group called "The True Religion" [Die Wahre Religion]. In September 2011, German public prosecutors launched an investigation into Abou-Nagie after he called for violence against non-believers in videos posted on the Internet. In his sermons, Abou-Nagie glamorizes Islamic martyrdom and says that Islamic Sharia law is above the German Constitution. He also says that music should be prohibited, homosexuals should be executed, and adulterers should be stoned... In May 2012... more than 500 Salafists attacked German police with bottles, clubs, stones and other weapons in the city of Bonn, to protest cartoons they said were "offensive". ["Germany vs. Radical Islamists", Soeren Kern - March 15, 2013]
For their well-heeled Saudi Arabian backers/funders/leaders, the cost of the high-profile stunt was probably mere sauerkraut. But the significance of the German Salafists' ability to operate freely and attract media attention while delivering a resonating message of hatred and calling for the overthrow of democratic government and conventional law and order has implications that the German authorities have noticed. 

Extremist neo-Nazi music bands also do well, without giving away books. Today's Germany has 182 of them, but the report says they "held significantly fewer concerts than in the previous year" which probably indicates something.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

11-Jun-13: Bulgaria reaffirms Hezbollah are indeed the terrorists who bombed a busload of Israelis last summer

Aftermath of the July 19, 2012 airport bus bombing
in Bulgaria [Image Source: Dano Monkotovic/Flash90
We quoted here yesterday a report that, with a recent change of government, the Bulgarians were now backtracking from their earlier assessment that Hezbollah stood behind the July 2012 terror attack on a busload of Israelis at Burgas airport. [See "10-Jun-13: Will appeasing Hezbollah work better now than it did with Nazi Germany?"]

Evidence of the retreat? See this Reuters report from last Wednesday for instance: "Bulgaria now says Hezbollah's role in bus bombing unproven". And the New York Times: "Bulgaria Pulls Back on Blame for Hezbollah".

Now Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin has clarified, in the wake of those reports of a retreat, that they are untrue and Reuters, the NYTimes and others have it wrong. Bulgaria has not reassessed its conclusion, he said [Sofia Globe]. Bulgaria continues to believe Hezbollah was behind the attack and responsible for the killings.

This is important because, as noted yesterday, the government of Ireland - along with Sweden, Finland and Italy - are shamefully blocking efforts by the UK, France and others to blacklist Hezbollah. (Ireland currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.) Bulgaria carried out an extensive investigation over the past year into the terror bombing at their airport, and their view obviously carries weight.

A new Bulgarian government, led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the former Communists, took power a  week ago. The previous governing party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, was regarded (says the NYT) as more attuned to the west. The previous government's interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said in February that the Bulgarians had identified, but not captured, two conspirators, one Canadian and one Australian, both Hezbollah members of Lebanese descent. The elaborate operation leading to the cowardly attack on tourists involved a remote detonator for the bomb and travel by the conspirators from Lebanon to Warsaw, Berlin and finally Bulgaria.

Bulgaria's sensitive relations with the Islamic world and geolocation in the eastern Mediterranean are clearly part of the squeeze in which its leaders now find themselves.

But how - other than in the obvious way - do you justify the excessive 'understanding' of Hezbollah's undisguised terrorism-driven bloodlust on the part of the Irish, the Finns and the Swedes? 

Incidentally, the Bulgarian reaffirmation of Hezbollah culpability first came in a note sent to - who else - the Irish ambassador six days ago. That was reported in a Bulgarian source [FOCUS, June 6, 2013] but got zero international coverage until today.

Monday, June 10, 2013

10-Jun-13: Will appeasing Hezbollah work better now than it did with Nazi Germany?

Britain's pre-war prime minister Neville Chamberlin, engaging
in a catastrophic policy that made sense at the time
to many observers [Image Source: NY Times]
Death tolls don't attract readers. Unless you have a strategic stake in an ongoing war, you will likely avert your eyes (especially if you're mainly on the dying side, as opposed to the killing side) when the tally of dead in this conflict or that appears in the news.

Syria has been the site of an appalling state-sanctioned bloodbath for more than two years. When the UN stopped conducting its own death count there in January 2012, the senior UN human rights official Navi Pillay said the toll was more than 5,000. We went to the website of the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights earlier today. There [this page] they offer these heart-stopping updated numbers:
  • People killed since the start of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad: 83,598
  • Of whom the number of civilians killed is 74,993.
  • Of that number of civilians, 8,393 are children and 7,686 are women. 
  • The number tortured to death: 2,441.
Smaller, more human-scale numbers, are easier for some to visualize. So the same organization's home page gives these numbers for the deaths of just the past few days: Thursday June 6: 84. Wednesday June 5: 69. Tuesday June 4: 91.

Just numbers, true. But signifying dead humans and lost lives.

It's horrifying. But now please note that the leaders of Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Islamist terrorists based in Lebanon, want those numbers to become bigger and better. A Lebanese news source says its leaders vowed today
to continue to help Syrian President Bashar Assad in his two-year-old civil war against rebels, while insisting the party be involved in national government decisions... "We will not change our position on protecting our people and the backbone of the resistance [Syria] regardless of intensified pressure locally, regionally and internationally,” Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nabil Qaouk said... "The more the threats and the more the pressures are exerted on us, the more the spirit of the resistance and enthusiasm has flared..."
The bogus claim to be at the heart of something called 'resistance' has served Hezbollah well. It gets very substantial military training, weapons, explosives and money, as well as political, diplomatic and organizational aid, from Iran (Wikipedia). In fact, for all practical purposes it serves as an arm of the Iranian leadership. It gets additional cash, and support, from Shi'ites living in West Africa, the United States and the tri-border South American area where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet.

Hezbollah has not always been as open about the murderous role it is playing in the Syrian killing fields. Its chief, Hassan Nasrallah, admitted to that role in a May 25, 2013 address that MEMRI also translated to English. Hezbollah "cannot stand idly by" he said, while the Syrian regime is embroiled in civil war. It was an admission that caused outrage in the non-Shi'ite parts of the Arab world, particularly in the Arab/Persian Gulf (we don't take sides in that naming battle), with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), convening in Saudi Arabia last Sunday, deciding (see Al-Watan newspaper) "to examine taking measures against Hizbullah's interests". As with most of Nasrallah's pronouncements, it was deliberate and calculated.

Hezbollah has become a so-called 'state within a state' in its native Lebanon, but has grown lethally active in other places too, particularly in Europe. Reuters pointed out a few days ago that while there are increasingly focused efforts to outlaw Hezbollah in Europe, this
would mark a major policy shift for the European Union, which has resisted pressure from Israel and Washington to do so for years. [Reuters]
One of the factors behind the push to blacklist the Shi'ites is a terror attack carried out this past summer in a Black Sea vacation resort called Burgas. A Bulgarian bus driver was killed, along with 5 Israeli tourists. 32 more were injured. A bomb exploded on their bus at Burgas airport, minutes after they flew in on an Israeli charter flight. Two Hezbollah "activists" were fingered along with an unfortunate third man who died while putting the bomb inside the bus. The intelligence forces of Bulgaria, Israeli and the US, as well as Europol, have said Hezbollah carried out the cold-blooded atrocity. They also believe Hezbollah's Iran-driven terrorism is on the move, spreading out to other parts of the world.

Though sober voices in Europe choose to deny this enlargement of the Hezbollah terror footprint, people closer to the action know better. As we noted here, the parliament of Bahrain, for instance, decided two months ago
to label the Lebanese militia a terrorist organization, the Lebanon-based news outlet Now Lebanon reported. Tensions have been high since Bahrain accused Hezbollah of seeking to overthrow its government in 2011 ["26-Mar-13: Hezbollah is declared "terrorist group" by Bahrain's parliament"]
Also in March, a criminal court in Cyprus convicted a Hezbollah man on terrorism charges ["21-Mar-13: First conviction of Hezbollah terrorist in a European court"].

And last week, the editorial writers at (wait for this) the Saudi Gazette, said
Hezbollah needs to be seen for the ruthless terrorist organization that it really is
which we think wraps things up quite accurately.

But, sadly, not for the Europeans. A few days ago
A British request to blacklist the armed wing of Hezbollah ran into opposition in the European Union on Tuesday, with several governments expressing concern that such a move would increase instability in the Middle East [Reuters].
It goes on to say that "several EU governments questioned whether there was sufficient evidence to link Hezbollah to the attack in Bulgaria" and that there were 
"concerns that such a move would complicate the EU's contacts with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is part of the coalition government, and could increase turmoil in a country already suffering a spillover of civil war from Syria... More discussions on the issue will be held in Brussels in the next two weeks, with a decision possibly taken by the end of the month, diplomats said.
Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino says her government needs more evidence from Bulgaria. Also, that it is concerned for "the fragility of Lebanon", which may surprise some Italians. According to Herb Keinon at the Jerusalem Post, Israeli officials said last week that the Irish are playing a dominant role in the effort to protect Hezbollah. Ireland currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. In last Tuesday's working group discussion, the Irish pro-Hezbollah position was backed by Sweden and Finland.

Note that France, which has for years been one of the group covering Hezbollah's back in these efforts to outlaw the terrorists, has lately stopped objecting to blacklisting them. The French have said (presumably because they see the reports that many others do, including the Lebanese report we quoted above) that thousands of Hezbollah men are fighting alongside the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They are up to their arm-pits in gore and murder.

As for the Bulgarians, Jonathan Tobin writing in Commentary Magazine a few days ago ["Hezbollah’s European Appeasers"], says
The new Bulgarian government, which is led by the country’s former Communist party, is now claiming they are no longer certain that Hezbollah was responsible for the Burgas attack. It should be noted that the Bulgarian switch is not the result of the emergence of new evidence about the attack or even a change of heart by Hezbollah, whose terrorist cadres are now fighting in Syria to try and save the faltering Bashar Assad regime, another Iranian ally. There is no more doubt today that Burgas was the work of Hezbollah than there was in the days after the attack when the identities of the terrorists were revealed. It is simply the result of a political party coming to power that is hostile to the United States and friendlier to Russia and therefore determined to undermine any effort to forge a united European response to Middle East-based Islamist terror.
Tobin makes articulately a point that we wish we had written:
International unity on terrorism is illusory. The willingness of some Europeans, whether acting out of sympathy for the Islamists or antipathy for Israel and the Untied States, to treat Hezbollah terrorists as somehow belonging to a different, less awful category of criminal than those who might primarily target other Westerners is a victory for the Islamists... The effort to appease Hezbollah is not only a sign of Russian influence but also a signal to Iran that many in Europe are untroubled by its terrorist campaign against Israel. That alone is worrisome. But, as history teaches us, the costs of appeasement are far-reaching. Those who are untroubled by Hezbollah’s murders of Jews in Bulgaria or Cyprus may soon find that the vipers they seek to ignore will one day bite them too.
Or to paraphrase Chamberlain's successor as prime minister, Winston Churchill: Europe has a choice between terrorism and shame. Choosing shame, it is likely to get terrorism too.

10-Jun-13: The terrorists and the eye of the beholder

Atwan last week: Click here for the video clip
We have just viewed a short video clip [here] of an Egyptian television interview translated from Arabic to English on (and by) the excellent MEMRI website.

In it, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of a London-based Arabic paper called Al-Quds Al-Araby ("Arab Jerusalem"), speaks about one of his favourite themes, Osama Bin Laden and how he was not what people think he was.

MEMRI headlines the video: "Bin Laden Was Only Half a Terrorist". It went to air a week ago.
If you support the Palestinian resistance, you do not consider [Bin Laden's attacks] terrorism. But if you are with America, Europe, and Israel, you do consider it terrorism. It depends on your definition of terrorism... Whoever fights America and its enterprise in the region, and whoever fights Israel and the American occupation, is not considered a terrorist by me... Are you trying to destroy me [spoken to the interviewer while laughing happily]?
We have written here several times before about Abdel Bari Atwan. For instance, "18-Oct-12: This is not an attack on Abdel Bari Atwan"; "4-Dec-10: Should this man be accorded the respect due to an objective, professional journalist?"; and "16-Mar-08: The unindicted co-conspirators".

The man's terrorism-friendly views, his repeated public embrace of the language of racism, should not take him outside the circle of viewpoints that get to be heard in open, democratic societies like ours. His values may be what they are, but that's no reason to let them impact on ours. He is what he is and his very publicly applying the term "Uncle Tom" to the current US president - as one example among many - should not change that.

Even as we watch him giggling [here] at the Egyptian interviewer's questions about Bin Laden and the very flexible way he approaches the question of who is and who is not a terrorist, it's worth reminding ourselves that this should not be a reason for suppressing his voice. On the contrary: we need to hear voices like that of Atwan; it speaks for a large constituency. It's authentic and it is representative. If more people would view last week's TV interview, then more would understand the depths of the man's cynicism and the hypocrisy, prejudice and hatred that inform it.

Our problem with Atwan is the free ride he gets in the respectable media. Why this happens is not entirely a puzzle, but bothersome nonetheless. We think anyone who reads English translations of his Arabic outbursts will ask themselves how he keeps getting invited back as some sort of objective regional expert.

Relative to the repugnance of his views, Atwan gets an astonishing amount of respect in the television, radio and newsprint world. Note the quality of the venues that regularly give him a platform: BBC News over and again; Al Jazeerah; BBC Dateline; BBC News Review; RT ("Russia Today"); Chatham House London; The Guardian, The Scottish Herald, Gulf News and others. Amnesty International is among the world-class not-for-profits that provide Atwan with a thoroughly unjustified and damaging megaphone.  

Please take a moment to watch Atwan chortle here about Bin Laden
"He was half a terrorist (laughs). He was fighting for some causes... When he was fighting the US... he was not a terrorist. That is my view."
Half a year ago, we wrote (in "18-Oct-12: This is not an attack on Abdel Bari Atwan"):
We don't say Atwan should be shut up or shut out. Many of us live in free societies, and obnoxious views like his are part of the price. What we do say is that presenting him as a sober and objective stakeholder in the robust public marketplace of ideas is irresponsible, dishonest and disingenuous. His viewpoints on terrorism alone should have been enough to remove him from mainstream broadcast media years ago. The fact that he keeps on popping up suggests a serious degree of systemic prejudice at work inside Bush House and other such places of huge global influence.
Not comprehending what terrorism is and what it does to us is far from a rhetorical or atmospheric issue. Atwan is not the problem. He's a mere symptom, and the problem is lethal.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

9-Jun-13: How does one say "disgusting abuse of public trust" in French?

The exhibition includes museum-worthy snaps
like the one above, cleverly entitled Untitled (Death 37)
It was evidently taken at the 
Balata "refugee camp" in February 2012

When you next hear European politicians, and particularly the French, declaring their total and absolute opposition to terrorism, bear in mind this little story emanating from Paris.

An exhibition entitled “Death” (on the web here) and made up of 68 photographs created by one Ahlam Shibli, opened at the Jeu de Paume Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris on May 28. It will run until September 1. The museum is funded by France's Ministry of Culture [source]. Shibli describes herself as "a Palestinian Bedouin photographer based in Haifa". Translation: she is an Israeli. She was awarded the Nathan Gottesdiener Israeli Art Prize in 2003 [source].

Its website (here), according to a JTA report, describes the people in the pictures as "suicide bombers", a galling name for anyone who understands the religiously-inspired hatred-rich process by which they carry out their acts of murder.

Playing the usual black-is-white games, the catalogue notes say the people depicted are "those who lost their lives fighting against the occupation,” and the exhibition as being about “the efforts of Palestinian society to preserve their presence.” As far as we can tell, the idea that the people who carried out armed attacks on generally defenceless Israeli civilians are in fact terrorists who were sent by terrorist organizations and whose terrorism is celebrated by all branches of the two Palestinian Arab statelets is never mentioned.

The exhibition is a joint effort of the Jeu de Paume people as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA), and the Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal.

CRIF, the umbrella body of French Jewish communities, says the the people in the pictures are drawn principally from al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is a unit of Fatah, the political faction headed by the non-moderate Mahmoud Abbas otherwise known as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which is a unit of Hamas, and from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The European Union calls all three of them terrorist groups. But in France, Spain and Portugal, such designations are not taken seriously.

There is a deadly-serious cognitive war underway in Europe. The people who run and fund some of Europe's publicly-funded museums are foot-soldiers in that war, though they (some of them at least) probably have no idea that's what they are doing and would scream in protest when it's pointed out to them. They make terrorism safe, and for this they deserve our utter scorn.