Monday, October 31, 2005
TERROR IN DELHI
s the Indian capital's people prepared for the upcoming and coinciding festivals of two religious communities (the Hindu "Festival of Light" Diwali and the Muslim end of the holy fasting month Idul Fitri), terrorists celebrated their manhood by coordinating bomb attacks against the citizens of New Delhi yesterday. Three large blasts in crowded market areas across the city have killed about 60 people. Thankfully for some, there were alert heroes among them:
The story of the blast on a packed Delhi Transport Corporation bus in south Delhi's Govindpuri could have been similar to those of the two crowded markets. But a few seconds before the bomb went off, Budh Prakash and Kuldeep Singh changed the terrorists' script.Best wishes to Kuldeep Singh and all others injured by this atrocity. How fitting it would be if the alert passenger, unidentified in this story, would be a Muslim -- to go along with the Hindu conductor and the Sikh driver in saving so many lives. That this third bomb caused no deaths is truly amazing, and due only to the perceptive alertness and heroic actions of these three people. The story carries a lesson that, unfortunately, we all need to learn, internalise, and carry around with us at all times these days. 'Terrorist jihad can be inflicted on anyone, at anytime, and I am the first line of defence.'
Prakash, 42, the conductor of the DTC bus on the Outer Ring Road route and Singh, its driver, are now at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences -- Prakash with minor injuries and Singh in a critical condition. But their presence of mind saved scores of passengers. The Govindpuri toll: No death, nine injured.
A passenger sighted a black rexin bag three seats behind the driver's and alerted Prakash. He made the driver stop the bus. "There were 100 passengers on the bus at that point so we stopped the bus near Okhla Mandi and took the bag out. The driver saw a wire hanging out of the bag which was about two-feet long. The only solution seemed to be to throw the bag away and as the driver was doing that, the blast happened," said Prakash who has minor injuries on his arm. Singh is seriously injured. "His whole arm has burnt and he is in a critical state at the moment. Had the conductor and the driver not taken action in time, many lives would have been lost," said DTC's chairman and managing director A. Majumdar.
A kind reader recently reminded me that India has been one of the earliest victims of devastating attacks by jihadist violence. Just over one month before al Qaeda's first attempt to demolish the World Trade Center in New York, Mumbai (then known as Bombay) was attacked with a wave of 13 bombings on March 12, 1993. Cars, vans, taxis and bajaj (ph: "bajai" as they call them in Indonesia, little three wheeler taxi vehicles) were packed with high explosives and detonated all over the city -- 257 people were killed. The subsequent trial showed apparent involvement of Pakistan's notorious ISI (secret intel services), the same group which provided much support for the Taliban fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan, al Qaeda and others involved in the "Kashmiri jihad".
Ten years later on August 25, 2003, a double bombing in Mumbai killed 55. That attack was traced to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Pakistan-based jihadist outfit. Yesterday's New Delhi bomb attacks have now been claimed by the "Front for Islamic Uprising," a group of which authorities now confirm having previous knowledge, and which is linked to the aforementioned lashkar group. (Lashkar simply means "brigade" or similar, as in the now defunct Laskar Jihad of Indonesia). The Indian capital itself was of course spectacularly assaulted by heavily armed jihadis very soon after September 11, when terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. A number of police and security officers lost their lives repelling that attack.
These despicable atrocities in India yesterday should serve as a reminder for all of us -- as my kind reader reminded me only a week earlier -- that India has been one of the earliest victims of our current wave of massive terror attacks on civilians, and that we all need to watch out for each other, and never let our guard down.
lso at the weekend, a group of girls heading off to their Christian high school near Poso, Central Sulawesi were attacked by six men with machetes. Three of the girls were beheaded. The perpetrators carried the heads away, depositing them later outside local police stations and a church. This inhuman attack has had very major attention all weekend across the country, in newspapers and on television. Normally in such cases, the government does all it can to suppress sectarian aspects in an effort to avoid provoking communal anger, but here the religious aspect is so prominent as to make this impossible.
Jihadist fighters have been active in this area for years, trying to provoke a religous war in a region where Christians used to be the majority. Although the situation has cooled down a bit following peace efforts by religious leaders, mujahideen groups continued their activity, including a market bombing five months ago which killed 22. This account gives a roundup of recent incidents:
In May a pair of bomb attacks killed 22 people at a market in the neighbouring coastal town of Tentena...Meanwhile, indications this week are that some of those convicted in the Bali bombings of 2002, including Jemaah Islamiyah's "emir" Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, will receive sentence reductions in honour of the end of Ramadan month Hari Raya (Great Day), Idul Fitri.
Last December a Christian priest was critically injured when unidentified attackers slashed him with machetes in Poso ahead of Christmas services, police said. On the same day south of the provincial capital Palu, to the west of Poso, two Christians died in a machete attack.
Among other violence last year was the assassination of a Christian prosecutor who handled terrorism cases in Palu.
In July last year gunmen sprayed bullets into a Palu church, killing a woman priest and injuring four other people.
In the worst bloodshed of 2003, armed gangs in October killed 10 people in attacks on mainly Christian villages.
A report last year by the International Crisis Group think-tank blamed many of the Christian deaths in Poso on Mujahidin KOMPAK, an outfit with loose affiliations to the Jemaah Islamiyah.
I think extending forgiveness on Idul Fitri is fine, that's what it's all about. Knock a few weeks off the sentences of shoplifters, embezzlers or ganja possessors -- no problem with that. But for people convicted of conspiring to mass murder for God, even a partial clemency is completely unjustified. I hope SBY would reconsider, and set a precedent by singling out these crimes as comprising an ineligible category. Those who engage in terrorism deserve no clemency, whether he's a ringleader or a low level "go-fer." The most pernicious lie that needs to be discredited in every way possible, is the contemptible idea that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." One way is to demonstrate with every opportunity, that those who embrace these tactics -- whatever their cause -- are nothing like ordinary criminals, and deserve no such consideration like time off for Idul Fitri.
EDITING PHOTOS, AND A DEAD SOLDIER'S LETTER
very time I think that the mass media formerly known as "respectable" can't sink any lower, they go right on ahead and surprise me. It would be disappointing enough, if all the gaffes, misquotes and accidents (and through the spectrum all the way up to lies, forgeries and hatchet jobs) would have ended up settling in an even distribution pattern favouring no particular "side" or point of view. But for some funny, perhaps metaphysical reason that defies the law of averages, media mistakes (intentional or otherwise) always seem to come down against the party, philosophy or group which 95% of journalists don't happen to subscribe to.
Michelle Malkin had a fine example last week, showing an obviously over the top manipulation by USA Today, of a photo of Condoleezza Rice. I mean, just take a look -- Michelle puts it next to the original wire service photo which someone found on the Spanish Yahoo site. What in the hell were they thinking, that no one would notice? Were the "editors" (and I use that term in the most condescending way possible) perhaps going for the 'demon hound from hell' look, or was it more of the 'Stepford wife possessed by Satan' genre? It could also have a little bit of 'reptoid alien inhabits Condi's body' aspect too, it's hard to tell exactly what was in their puny little brains. Maybe USA Today "editors" were suddenly possessed by Satanic reptoid hounds of outer space, it's hard to figure. They removed the photo after a pathetic attempt at excuse-making.
A blogger I've just rediscovered recently, is Mark in Mexico, a very good writer with a clever way with words. He picked up on this racially charged Photoshopping job by a "progressive liberal" against the Lt. Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. Mr. Steele is running for the US Senate, but has a politically incorrect identity as a Republican who happens to be black (hey, sort of like Condi!). I remember him from the Repub's convention last year, where he delivered quite the impressive speech. I bet he never dreamed he'd be villified by a "progressive black blogger" as a little black Sambo caricature, just for having the temerity of wanting off of the liberal plantation. But Mark takes it further, and shows examples of why conservatively minded folks have no need for photo manipulation if they wish to embarrass their opponents. The real honest truth is good enough for that.
And back to Michelle's site again for What The Nytimes Left Out. As part of last week's Grim Milestone Parade™, the Times ran a piece about Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, who was on his third tour of duty in Iraq. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 at the age of 22. His laptop computer was returned to his family, and the Times wrote:
Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. "I kind of predicted this," Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. "A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances."End of quote, desired point made.
But Corporal Starr's uncle, Timothy Lickness saw the Times story online, and wrote to Michelle so that others could know what the "newspaper of record" didn't want to tell:
Yesterday's New York Times on-line edition carried the story of the 2000 Iraq US military death[s]. It grabbed my attention as the picture they used with the headline was that of my nephew, Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, USMC.What have we done to deserve such men and women? The answer is, we don't automatically deserve them at all, we have to work at it, we have to be worth it. The Times' "editors" decided we didn't need to hear what Jeffrey's uncle knew of his grace and maturity. It was merely the "news [not] fit to print," and they prevented their readers from understanding, and deserving, a man like Jeffrey Starr.
Unfortunately they did not tell Jeffrey's story. Jeffrey believed in what he was doing. He [was] willing put his life on the line for this cause. Just before he left for his third tour of duty in Iraq I asked him what he thought about going back the third time. He said: "If we (Americans) don't do this (free the Iraqi people from tyranny) who will? No one else can."
Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.
He wrote: "Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."
What Jeffrey said is important. Americans need to understand that most of those who are or have been there understand what's going on. It would honor Jeffrey's memory if you would publish the rest of his story.
In Michael Yon's most recent dispatch on the Iraqi constitutional referendum, Purple Fingers, he describes a conversation with an Iraqi Major:
I then spoke with Major Yayha Rasuruh from the Iraqi Army, who said that four million people live in Sadr City. He is charged with securing the 46th Sector, and said he took all fifty of his soldiers to vote, and he showed his purple finger proudly and said, "I think this is great time Iraq passes through. Thirty-five years we suffer. There is freedom now." We talked for about ten minutes, and I asked what it was like to vote, and Major Yayha said that the voting worker made him fold his ballot before sticking it in the box. I laughed and said, "The worker was brave. He told an Army Major to fold his paper!"Cpl. Starr and his comrades know very much better than Major Yayha would, about that. They know that their home media is full of doom and disaster, reporting that nothing is going right and everything is getting worse. I watched a CBS news "National Security" correspondent last week fielding calls on Washington Journal, stating as matters of indisputable fact that there is no progress with the Iraqi Army and Police, that the situation is dire and going quickly downhill, and that the insurgency has not changed in the past 2 1/2 years. All claims which are demonstrably false, except if you only get your information from the information gatekeepers, formerly known as the responsible news media.
Major Yayha laughed, "Yes, no longer afraid to talk with Police or Army. This is good change." The moment was warm and fuzzy, but the true situation is not. There is little doubt that the people are getting more confident in their new world, but the under-theme is still Jungle Law. Major Yayha expressed gratitude to America for supporting Iraq, and I did not have the heart to say that many Americans are ready to abandon him powerless and adrift on windswept sands.
UNDER THE FITZMAS TREE
or weeks upon weeks, the leftish side of the blogosphere has been in a state of great anticipation: what would old saint Patrick give them at Fitzmastime? The Daily Kos-acks and Democratic Undergrounders were just sure that their patience would be rewarded, that the whole stinking, venal, criminal cesspool of George W's administration would come apart at the seams after Mr. Fitzgerald's 2 year investigation into who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson the Fourth, who was sent by the CIA to investigate whether Saddam had purchased uranium from Niger.
Every night the Kos-acks and their fellow Chimpy-haters went to bed, dreaming themselves to sleep with visions of perp-walks and frog-marches dancing in their heads (not of sugar plums though). And every morning.... darn! .... they had to wait another day. Well last Friday, Fitzmas finally came. They wanted to see the Dark Prince Rove dragged across the Rose Garden in shackles, preferably followed by the rest of the "cabal." And maybe a nice shiny pony too. "Huh? All that waiting and being good, and all we get is this crummy Scooter? Not even handcuffs either! Hobbling on crutches? Rip-off! Wait, there's something else here under the tree... a steaming heap of horse droppings? Hold on, there's got to be a pony in here somewhere!" Always the optimists. Well ok, not always, but sometimes.
So who leaked the name of a covert CIA agent? The prosecutor was careful to say that the indictments do not refer to any "covert agent." Yet this construction is still used in most news articles (for some unknown reason? Hah!). She was a "CIA officer" whose employment was "classified." She hadn't been "covert" since Aldridge Ames outed her something like eleven years ago. So who is charged with passing classified information to those not entitled to receive it? Nobody. No charges under the Espionage Act at all. Mr. Libby is charged with giving false statements and obstructing justice when he told a grand jury, and FBI investigators, that he had learned Ms. Plame's identity from reporters, when (it is alleged) that he had known it already. A stupid thing for him to do, and a serious enough crime if convicted. But it's his word against the reporters, who will all be called to give public evidence. It should be interesting. But Bush's Watergate, it isn't.
Apparently, the main offence of the Bush White House was to attempt to correct the public record after Joe Wilson came back from Niger and started leaking to reporters about what he did there. Most of what was written before he "came out of the closet" was wrong, and he had to disavow much of it after he'd written his own account in the New York Times. Later, it was found by a Senate investigating committee that his public account was full of misrepresentations as well. The committee, Democrats and Republicans, found that he had lied to them in many instances. He denied that his wife, the CIA officer, had any role in sending him to Niger -- until this fact was confirmed. He claimed to have completely debunked a statement in Bush's State of the Union speech, that British Intelligence has found that Saddam had tried to purchase uranium from Africa (which British Intelligence continues to stand by to this day). Wilson found nothing of the sort. He found that Saddam had not purchased any uranium from Niger. His CIA debriefing actually bolstered their evidence that Saddam had tried to get the uranium, and the CIA's own debriefing documents reflect this. A lot of this controversy is Joseph Wilson (and his media friends) playing with language.
Stephen F. Hayes has written some very good summaries of all this at the Weekly Standard. If you're interested at all to see just how far the media has been exerting itself to avoid reporting all the discrepancies in Joe Wilson's story, have a read through The White House, the CIA, and the Wilsons, The Incredibles and One Good Leak Deserves Another. How our info-gatekeepers manage to keep all this out of the public consciousness is something truly amazing -- but they do it.
Oh, and another interesting development on this whole fiasco. The documents which Wilson claimed to have recognised as forgeries, "because the names were wrong, and the dates were wrong," and thus proving that the Niger caper was all cooked up -- he was lying about that too. Because the documents didn't surface until months after he'd written his Times article! He couldn't possibly have seen them (unless... read on) when he claimed to have done. His response to this: "I may have misspoken."
The forged documents (which British Intelligence say formed no part of their assessment, by the way) were proffered by an Italian businessman who had been cited in Italian, British and other newspaper accounts by an alias, has now also "come out of the closet." Evidently he was in the pay, and acting on behalf of, the French government. The businessman has turned himself in to the Italian police. Now, why would France want to have some sloppy, obviously forged documents about Saddam having purchased uranium from Niger? I wonder...
From that Telegraph article,
"After being exposed in the international press, French intelligence can hardly be amused or happy with him," one western diplomat said. "Martino may have thought the safest thing was to hand himself over to the Italians." Investigators in Rome suspect that Mr Martino was first engaged by the French secret services five years ago, when he was asked to investigate rumours of illicit trafficking in uranium from Niger. He is thought to have then been retained the following year to collect more information. It was then that he is suspected of having assembled a dossier containing both real and bogus documents from Niger, the latter apparently forged by a diplomat.Interesting.... apparently forged by a "diplomat."
Here's an interesting exercise in putting all this confusing material into a logical progression, on a cool little site called Truthmapping. Simply put, using authoritative sources, we can see the story arranged as "if this is true, and if this is true, and if this is also true; then following from 1, 2 and 3 that this must be true." Try it, and see if there's a flaw in the logic.
The conclusion is that, "The mainstream media (MSM) continually repeats Wilson's false assertions without reporting the entire truth in an attempt to make him appear more credible than he is."
And the Kos-acks were tucked, all snug in their beds....
Wai NRO Media Blog for the Truthmapping page.