ISIS routes from Libya to Italy
Italians are worried ISIS that has already infiltrated their country. Apparently, dozens of jihadists who fought in Iraq and Syria have returned home to Italy. In addition, Italy has evidence that ISIS terrorists are hiding among thousands of people arriving boats and ships from Libya. Along with Libyans, others arriving by sea are other Arabs and Africans, just passing through Libya to get to Italy.
More than 11,000 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean and taken to Italy in the past six days, with hundreds more expected Friday, April 17, the coastguard said.
Sic transit gloria mundi…
The migrant wave has swelled in recent days on the back of the worsening security situation in Libya – the staging post for most of the crossings – as well as the milder spring weather.
On April 14, Italian police reported that Muslims who were among migrants trying to get from Libya to Italy in a boat this week threw 12 Christians overboard—killing them.
Italian authorities have arrested 15 people involved in the incident on suspicion of murdering the Christians at sea, police in Palermo, Sicily, said.
The original group of 105 people aboard the killer boat left Libya in a rubber boat. Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants—Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal—threw the Christians 12 overboard, according to the Italian police.
Investigating migrants from the Christian murder ship
Since the fall of Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has descended into chaos, giving rise to warring militias, many of whom are loyal to ISIS. “We find ourselves facing a country with a vast territory and failed institutions, and that has potentially grave consequences not only for us but for the stability and sustainability of the transition processes in neighboring African states,” Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said.
Unfortunately for Italy, as many as 500 newcomers arrive each day from Africa.
The Italian Navy has a fleet of ships dispatched to find these migrants at sea. These ships have saved as many as 170,000 people from sinking vessels in 2014, a 66% increase over 2013.
It’s hard to say how many hiding among these immigrants could be terrorists or ISIS sympathizers.
Sabrina Magris, president of the International University School of Rome and Florence, which offers counter terrorism and hostage negotiation training to various governments around the world, said that Italian officials are increasingly worried about the situation in post-Qaddafi Libya and the influx of terrorists sneaking into Italy. A growing number of Libyan militias have proclaimed their loyalty to ISIS in recent months.
Pro-ISIS blogger Abu Irhim al-Libi wrote last month.,“If ISIS can successfully intermingle with those fleeing the Libyan coast en-route for Europe, this could turn life in southern European states into hell.”
ISIS has hundreds of thousands of sympathizers in Italy. Italy’s army is only 5,000 strong—a force to small, perhaps, to save Italy from ISIS—and there are hundreds of thousands currently waiting to be transported to Italy.
Last year, 170,000 refugees from Africa and the Middle East entered Europe through Italy, according to the United Nations. And by some estimates, their number may more than triple this year, as political and economic stability in their home countries worsens. Presently, there are 600,000 or so migrants currently waiting in Libya for their turn to go to Italy.
To stop the largest group of migrants from coming, Europe would have to end the bloody civil war in Syria and institute a lasting peace in the area. This is something Western governments don’t have a great track record with in the Arab world so far, as Libya demonstrates. In fact, the current turmoil in the Middle East and Libya has been caused by the U.S. overthrowing of the governments of Iraq and Libya—thereby upsetting the delicate balance of power in the Middle East and North Africa.
This is the legacy of the last Bush administration with the support of the Democrats led by Hillary Clinton who voted in favor of the invasion of Iraq and who played a leading role in reducing Libya to a failed state. Consequently, there is no end in sight to the continuing migrations to Italy and the threats of ISIS calling for their invasion of Italy.
Bieber, Kardashian, Gone with the Wind!
Way back on April 1st, 2012, we wrote about the super-exciting remake of the famous film Gone with the Wind, starring Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian. With everyone anxiously waiting for the film to come out, we ask – what happened? When are we all going to see this wonderful film.
Back then, James Cameron, the producer consented to give us an interview. We met with Cameron, today, early in the morning in his office to see what had happened.
“Hi, I’m Jim,” said Mr. Cameroon with a friendly smile. He was an unimposing fellow, short and fat, and seemed to be somewhere in his sixties or seventies. He had aged at least twenty years since our first interview only three years ago, to the day.
Mr. Cameron didn’t seem to remember us, so we explained that we were reporters from JohnHarding.com, and were here to get some background information on his epic re-make of Gone with the Wind.
“Youse come to the right place,” smiled Mr. Cameroon.
We felt quite at ease with the great man.
Before we could ask a single question, just like in the last interview, Cameroon took off what was going on with Gone with the Wind, and its stars, Bieber and Kardashian.
“We have had to delay the film a bit. Kim is demanding $50 million for her part, and wants to replace Bieber with Kayne West. Geez. I tried to explain to her that, as great an artist that Kayne is, how could he play Clark Gable’s part.”
Gosh, Mr. Cameron, how could Kayne play a rich white guy back in the days of slavery?
“Exactly, continued Cameron, “but Kim countered that she is all for LGBT and diversity, which is her mission in life. Also, said I had to pay for her new butt implants.”
“LGBT?,” we spouted out.
“Of course, I’m sure you must know it stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Trans-gender.”
“Oh sure, Mr. Cameron, sir,” we responded as one.
“So I told Kim that since we are all for LGBT Diversity, we should have Kayne play the part of her black maid – you know, the gal who said, ‘I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ babies. Well, guess what? Kim said that this was a great idea to have Kayne star in a female role, and that he would do it for sure for $90 million.”
“Ninety-million,” we chorused.
“Now don’t tell this to Bieber, or he will be wanting even more than Kayne – maybe even $100 million. But you know what Bieber wants?”
We sat in stunned silence.
“Bieber wants Selena Gomez to play the lead role and replace Kim Kardashian… not a bad idea because Selena will do it for peanuts.” Cameron paused in thought and then continued, “Hell, I don’t know what we are going to get this film on the road, even though the public is screaming for it.”
Cameron then stared at the floor.
Slowly and respectfully we got up and left in silence.
He is Edward “Ed” Mezvinsky, born January 17, 1937. Then you’ll probably say, “Who is Ed Mezvinsky?”
He is a former Democrat congressman who represented Iowa’s 1st congressional district in the United States House
of Representatives for two terms, from 1973 to 1977.
Mezvinsky sat on the House Judiciary Committee that decided the fate of Richard Nixon. He was outspoken saying that Nixon was a crook and a disgrace to politics and the nation and should be impeached.
Mezvinsky and the Clintons were friends and very politically intertwined for many years.
He also had an affair with NBC News reporter Marjorie Sue Margolies and later married her after his wife divorced him.
In 1993, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, then a freshman Democrat in Congress, cast the deciding vote that got President Bill Clinton’s controversial tax package through the House of Representatives.
Mrs. and Mr. Mezvinsky
In March 2001, Mezvinsky was indicted and later pleaded guilty to 31 of 69 counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud.
Mezvinsky had embezzled more than $10 million dollars from people via both a Ponzi scheme and through notorious Nigerian e-mail scams. He was found guilty and sentenced to 80 months in federal prison.
After serving less than five years in federal prison, Mezvinsky was released in April 2008 but remains on federal probation.
To this day, Mezvinsky still owes $9.4 million in restitution to his victims. About now you are saying, “So what!”
Well, this is Marc and Chelsea Mezvinsky. That’s right, Ed Mezvinsky is Chelsea Clinton’s father-in law. They were married in George Soros’ mansion.
Now Marc and Chelsea are only in their early thirties but managed to purchase a $10.5 million NYC apartment.
Has anyone heard mention of any of this in any of the media?
If Mezvinsky was Jenna or Barbara Bush’s, or better yet, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s father-in- law, the news would be an everyday headline and every detail would be reported over and over. And yet liberals say there are no double standards in political reporting.
Yemen’s capital has just been taken over by pro-Iranian Houthi tribesmen. Both the American diplomatic corps and military personnel have fled the country, leaving behind $500 million of valuable equipment and arms for the Houthi rebels.
In addition, secret files left behind by the fleeing Americans contain details of American intelligence operations in the country have been looted by Iran-backed militia leaders, exposing names of confidential informants and plans for U.S.-backed counter-terrorism strikes, U.S. officials say. The identities of local agents were compromised after Houthi leaders in Sana took over the offices of Yemen’s National Security Bureau, which had worked with the CIA, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations. The compromised agents’ lives are now in danger.
On Wednesday, March 25, Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled his residence in the southern Yemeni city of Aden.
This is a major victory for Iran which continues to exploit the ongoing unrest by the Shia majority in Bahrain, which threatens to spread to the Shia population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Meanwhile, Sunni-backed ISIS continues to penetrate into Saudi Arabia from Iraq.
The strength of ISIS lies in social inequality, which is rife throughout the Arab and North African countries.
When unrest came to Syria in the spring of 2011, King Abdullah’s advisers thought that, with a little outside help, Syrians might be able to rid themselves of the Assad government and shift their country out of the Iranian orbit.
Washington shared this optimistic assessment, which turned out to be a tragic misreading of Syrian realities. 225,000 dead and nine million displaced Syrians later, Bashar Al-Assad still rules in Damascus. Worse, Syria has become the incubator for a self-proclaimed ISIS “caliphate” (“Da’ish,” to use the Arabic acronym for it), a renegade Muslim movement of truly satanic brutality that is at once an idea, a structure of governance, and an army.
ISIS was born by the U.S. intervention and misguided “surge” in Iraq, and has grown rapidly in Syria. It has already erased the Syrian-Iraqi border.
ISIS is determined to undo the legacy of colonialism in the Middle East, including the formation of the modern states of Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, and to revenge past injuries to the world’s Muslims at the hands of Western powers elsewhere. ISIS plans to rule in Mecca and Medina. It now governs an area the size of Ireland with a population larger than Israel or Jordan.
ISIS is rapidly attracting migrants, recruits, and statements of allegiance from all over the world. ISIS is expanding into Africa. Potentially hundreds of millions of people with two continents could fall under the ISIS caliphate.
At the outset, Riyadh saw ISIS as a distastefully extremist but potentially useful instrument of armed opposition to Assad and Iran. But the Kingdom later realized that ISIS is threat to its interests, including its domestic tranquility and even the head of its ruler, among other Arab monarchs.
Under Saudi Arabia’s new monarch, King Salman, Saudi policy seems to be evolving toward actively countering ISIS as well as Iran and the Houthi’s in Yemen.
It looks as though Riyadh may now be in the process of organizing a coalition with its neighboring Arabian countries, especially with the Arab monarchies, whose Ankara, Amman, Cairo, and Islamabad so as to be able to counter both ISIS and Iran. This could change the regional balance and alter its political economy in important ways. With respect to Iran, Pakistan can provide a nuclear deterrent, Egypt can furnish military manpower, and Turkey has industrial strength. All three are producers of armaments as well as importers of them. Amman is on the frontline with Da’ish. Saudi money can help them cooperate or at least coordinate their policies to mutual advantage.
From an American perspective, such a coalition would be a mixed blessing. Certainly, Israel would not welcome it. But, if something like it came into being, there could at last be hope for an effective strategy that dealt with all three dimensions of the Da’ish phenomenon. Currently, there is a military campaign plan but no strategy. U.S. policy is especially limited. The Americans treat ISIS as a bombing target, even though military commanders all acknowledge that it is also an ideological and political problem that military means alone cannot address.
This is because Western interests are not credible or competent as commentators on ISIS connection to mainstream Islam. Rather than believe in an “extremist” version of Islam, ISIS may reflect what true Islam was originally.
Salafism has a literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam. Salafi Jihadis who espouse offensive jihad (holy war) against those they deem to be enemies of Islam as a legitimate expression of Islam.
It is often reported from various sources, including the German domestic intelligence service, that Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement in the world.
The Saudis had their Salafi reformation in the 18th century. Salafism in the Kingdom is a conservative, stabilizing, if repressive force. Many Saudis, like ISIS, are Salafis, being adherents of the view that the revival of their Islam requires reaffirmation of the way of the Salaf, the earliest Muslims and the repudiation of subsequent innovations, superstitions, and corrupt practices.
There are 4 million Saudi Salafis, making up 22.9% of Saudi Arabia’s population, while most of the rest are Wahhabi. The Salafi movement is often described as synonymous with Wahhabism, but Salafists consider the term “Wahhabi” derogatory.
The 4 million Saudi Salafis plus many socially deprived Saudi Wahhabis provide a fertile recruiting ground for ISIS. In fact, there are many ISIS attacks on Saudi Arabia and not just on its border. Internal attacks in Saudi Arabia by ISIS are increasing rapidly – something which is not reported in the news.
Both the rise of ISIS and the challenge of Iran’s advance into Iraq, Syria and Yemen underscore the importance of Saudi-American strategic cooperation. The window of opportunity is closing. For the sake of the West, the Arab and African counties quick, informed and decisive action must be taken to save the day.
Saudi Arabia has formed a coalition of more than 10 countries to attack the Houthi Shiites in Yemen. These include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. In addition, Egypt, Jordan, and Sudan have said they have forces involved in the operation. Even Pakistan is considering a Saudi request to send ground forces. Some reports say that Morocco will send combat aircraft as well.
Even if this is a winnable plan (and it may not be) its success is risky. If the effort fails, those opposed to ISIS will suffer the consequences and heads will roll (both figuratively and literally).
The similarities between the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared on 8 March 2014 and Germanwings flight 9525 are striking.
The pilots of both airplanes remained silent and apparently incapacitated while their flights flew calmly to their doom.
Like MH370, Flight 9525, without warning or distress signal, abruptly left its cruise altitude as it approached the French Alps and began a steep but controlled descent lasting eight minutes before slamming into a remote, snowy mountainside, killing everyone on board.
For both flights, no distress call was made to air-traffic controllers, suggesting some sort of relatively sudden event—perhaps a depressurization and failure to don oxygen masks that left both pilots incapacitated.
Since MH370 was a Boeing 777 and Flight 9525 was an A100 Airbus, the design of the aircraft is probably not to be blamed for the crashes.
So what happened to the pilots? Was there an explosion or decompression in the cockpit of both aircraft? Apparently so, and if so, what happened is apparently sabotage in both cases.
The wreckage of Germanwings Flight 9525 may well hold the answer to what happened to both flights.
The Three Dimensional Threat of Daesh: A Conversation with Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and SUSRIS, the Saudi-US Relations Information Service
Note: ISIS or ISIL as it is known is referred as “Daesh” in this interview.
[SUSRIS] A year ago few people had heard of ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State. Now it is the transcendent security threat in the Middle East and beyond. What are your thoughts on this challenge?
[Amb. Chas W. Freeman, Jr.] I think we’re mishandling it. The one exception to all of the words of praise that I uttered in our earlier conversation about King Abdullah’s legacy is that, in his last years, he was misled by key advisers and pandered to opinion in Saudi Arabia by carrying out a foreign policy organized mainly on sectarian lines. This makes no sense if the geopolitical problem is Iran. To weaken Iran’s hold on their fellow Arabs, the Saudis should be emphasizing their Arab identity, not their schismatic Sunni identity.
The Saudis have a terrible problem in Daesh. I don’t like to call it ISIS or ISIL. Neither they nor we have handled this problem at all effectively. But there are some indications that King Salman – perhaps with help from Prince Mohammed bin Nayef – understands this and the Saudi policy may be shifting.
Daesh is a three-dimensional thing. First, it is an idea – a renegade idea within Islam – and, second, it is a political movement. It has the structure of a state. I mean every attribute of a state – territory, tax collection, the enforcement of order, judicial authority – is now present in Daesh. And, third, Daesh is a military force. It has a very effective infantry, now US-equipped by virtue of the Iraqi army’s retreat and abandonment of its weapons and transport equipment on the battlefield. Daesh has to be attacked on all three dimensions, not just the military one.
The U.S. cannot lead an effort to deal with renegade Muslims. We have no authority, no knowledge, no competence, no standing to say who is a Muslim and who is not, what a Muslim is, and whether Daesh fits within that definition or not.
It’s also ironic for non-Muslim Americans to object to Daesh as non-Muslim. Daesh is Takfiri. It pronounces anathema on Muslims as well as the people of other religions. Daesh strikes me as a terrible perversion of Islam but it does not make sense for us to emulate it by arrogating to ourselves the right to declare that Daesh is not Muslim. It makes sense for non-Muslims to shut up and to insist the Saudis and others who do have the standing to undermine or attack or discredit Daesh’s religious credentials do that, with us helping but only in the background and not even visible.
Second, on the political front we’re not in a position to reconstitute the Iraqi state. We may have destroyed Iraq by invading and occupying it but Nouri al Malaki and the overambitious Shiite majority then completed the job. Only Iraqis can reunite Iraq.
Syria fell apart in part because of the sectarian nature of the divisions and fighting in Iraq, which was communicated to Syria, producing contagion there and ultimately erasing the Syrian border with Iraq. We’re not in a position to address the political problems that come about from the collapse of Sykes-Picot or the collapse of the authoritarian states that succeeded the colonial governments that Sykes-Picot created. Those governments were designed to facilitate divide and rule policies by colonial regimes, and divide and rule is how the subsequent governments have governed. That’s all broken down. We can’t do anything about that.
What we can do is supplement the efforts of regional military forces. We have military and intelligence capabilities they don’t. But again, we should not be in the forefront. This is ultimately a struggle within Islam, within the region, within the Arabs, perhaps between the Arabs and Iran and in none of those contests are we competent to lead.
So the question now is will King Salman step into the leadership vacuum that we have partly and mistakenly attempted to fill, and help us out. After all Daesh wants to rule in Mecca and Medina not in Washington.
There is a pattern of commentary emerging which counters the mindlessly militaristic John McCain-Lindsey Graham position. There’s a good article by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post this morning [“An ideological war American must watch, not fight”], for example, which makes some of these points. We’re not yet sophisticated enough, apparently, about these issues to deal effectively with them but we are beginning to think about how to do so.
[SUSRIS] Where do you fall out on the Washington parlor game of whether it’s called countering violent extremists or Islamic radicals?
[Freeman] As I said it’s not for us to make that distinction. I think the President is very wise not to label this as a war on any particular Islamic idea because the implications of that would be that we are at war with 1.6 billion people and their faith. One of the basic rules of statecraft is not to multiply your enemies but diminish them.
The debate here doesn’t deserve the title debate. It’s part of ‘gotcha’ politics, and it’s very dysfunctional. But that shouldn’t be news because our government is dysfunctional.
So what could we do about this? King Salman just sponsored a conference, though he didn’t attend. He had Khaled al Faisal read out his speech in Mecca but it was devoted to the first two of these issues which are the ones that only the Arabs can deal with, mainly the ideological or theological questions and the political issues. We ought to get behind that. But we ought to be saying look, this is a Muslim problem, it’s an Arab problem and we will be helpful, but we are not going to take the lead because we can’t.
That is a very difficult message to put over in a Washington where the main renewable resource seems to be hubris. It’s election season. We’ve got all kinds of posturing going on.
We have many presidential candidates, none of whom have any ideas at all about what to do about these issues other than more of the same. That includes the lead candidates. Jeb Bush certainly doesn’t understand any of this and he is being advised by the very people who got us into Iraq and who bear ultimate responsibility for creating the conditions that fostered Daesh. Hillary Clinton led the charge into Libya — that turned out to be not so smart — and encouraged the destabilization of Syria. That also hasn’t worked out too well for anyone but Daesh.
So we’ve got people running for office who are not qualified to deal with these issues: Hillary by her record, and Jeb by his ignorance and his advisors. Paul Wolfowitz as an advisor again? Give me a break.
[SUSRIS] There were not too many fresh names on the list.
[Freeman] One hopes it’s basically symbolic, but if it is symbolic it’s symbolic of deep incompetence in our statecraft. I’ve said all this before. At the Arab-US Policymakers Conference [Link] last October I lamented how everything we have been trying to do in the Middle East has gone awry.
We don’t have any standing or answer on any aspect of the situation in the Holy Land – Israel or Palestine. We’ve lost control of the issues. We’ve now got Netanyahu coming to Washington basically to join the Republicans in abusing the President. I’m no fan of this president but it’s disgusting to watch this. It’s being facilitated by people in Congress who have pledged allegiance to a foreign country and are more committed to its leader than our own. They have to be among the least patriotic politicians in our history.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress about the P5+1/Iranian nuclear negotiations on March 3, 2015
Israel has its problems but we have lost control of our problems, specifically the problem of Daesh.
We don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t have good relations, basic cordial, good relations, or mutual trust now with anybody in the region – not Israel, not Egypt, not Saudi Arabia, not the U.A.E., not Iran, not Turkey, not Syria, not Iraq, not even the Kurds in Irbil.
We don’t have a diplomatic strategy. We don’t even have politicians who know what diplomacy is.
What are we doing? There’s no effective strategy for dealing with the ideological and political issues. The purely military approach we have taken is facilitating the metastasis of anti-Americanism with global reach.
This problem is now all over the Sahel and North Africa and in the heart of Africa, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and you know it also has some resonance in the Caucasus and even in Europe.
We’re just not dealing with it. We don’t know what to do. We imagine that you can deal with it as you could with an enemy army: decapitate it; take out its leadership and it falls apart.
Well, this is a political structure. It’s a network that you can’t decapitate because by definition you can’t decapitate a network. It’s partly a political structure that requires compromise between people over whom we no influence. We can’t deal with the political aspects of Daesh effectively unless there’s some sort of understanding among Iraqis and among Syrians and between Riyadh and Tehran, and we’re very far from that.
My fear with respect to the nuclear negotiations is that we will do a deal with Iran – one which under the circumstances will be the best we can do and much better than not doing a deal. The Israelis will then either succeed or not in derailing that deal. If they derail it, Iran will go nuclear. If they don’t succeed in derailing it they will raise sufficient doubt about it in the course of their attempts to do so that they will erode its credibility enough to force the Saudis and others into proliferation. In either case, Riyadh will have no confidence in the possibility of holding Iran to nuclear latency or precluding its building weapons.
The question is, if the Saudis believe that an Iranian nuclear breakout is possible in a fairly short timeframe, what do they do? Will they have any confidence that there will be no breakout?
I think we’re much better off with an agreement than with no agreement, but the fact is that nothing’s perfect. Meanwhile, we’ve got the nuclear counter-proliferation advocates as well as the Israeli lobby agitating against any rapprochement with Iran for reasons that have nothing to do with Saudi concerns.
The gurus of the non-proliferation effort write in the New York Times that we have to do this, this, and this to hem in Iran – an entirely coercive approach, all sticks and no carrots. All technical approaches and no strategy. Nobody’s making an effort to think about how to address the security issues that might drive Iran to actually field a nuclear deterrent. We need a strategy on that level, and we don’t have one.
We probably also need to administer some tough love to Riyadh. “Hey, guys you live in the region. We’re happy to support you up to a point, but you cannot afford an entirely confrontational approach to Iran. This business of conducting a simultaneous war of religion and geopolitical rivalry with the Persians doesn’t serve your interests and it doesn’t serve ours. It facilitates the rise of things like Daesh, which are mainly a menace to you, not us.”
We need to have a serious conversation about regional strategy with Riyadh. But that presumes that we’re capable of strategic thought – for which there’s very little evidence at present.
[SUSRIS] Is the larger problem the sentiment in Riyadh that Washington is going soft on Iran?
[Freeman] Of course, that is the concern and underlying it is Saudi recollection of the days when Iran, not Saudi Arabia, was our principle partner in the region. I don’t think it’s realistic to imagine a return to those days, but it’s easy to understand the Saudi concern. Saudi fears may not be well grounded but they’re there. There’s no doubt about this.
We need to restore confidence in our sense of strategic direction and steadfastness. The problem goes well beyond Saudi Arabia. There’s no one in the region who believes we know what we’re doing or can be counted upon to do it — not General Sisi, not King Salman, not the late King Abdullah, not the terribly exposed King Abdullah II in Jordan, not Prime Minister Netanyahu. There’s no on in the region who thinks we listen to them or pay attention to what they think. Dysfunctional government at home does not stop at the water’s edge.
Amb Chas Freeman was interviewed by SUSRIS by phone on Feb. 27, 2015
(This is one of our greatest presidential speeches. It should be made the source and content of a course given at every college and university throughout America.)
Edmund Pettus Bridge
2:17 P.M. CST
It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.
Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning 50 years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation and fear. And they comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:
“No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.”
And then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, and a book on government — all you need for a night behind bars — John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.
President and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Mayor Evans, Sewell, Reverend Strong, members of Congress, elected officials, foot soldiers, friends, fellow Americans:
As John noted, there are places and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war — Concord and Lexington, Appomattox, Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character — Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.
Selma is such a place. In one afternoon 50 years ago, so much of our turbulent history — the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham; and the dream of a Baptist preacher — all that history met on this bridge.
It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the true meaning of America. And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others, the idea of a just America and a fair America, an inclusive America, and a generous America — that idea ultimately triumphed.
As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation. The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.
We gather here to celebrate them. We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching towards justice.
They did as Scripture instructed: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” And in the days to come, they went back again and again. When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came –- black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope. A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing. (Laughter.) To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.
In time, their chorus would well up and reach President Johnson. And he would send them protection, and speak to the nation, echoing their call for America and the world to hear: “We shall overcome.” (Applause.) What enormous faith these men and women had. Faith in God, but also faith in America.
The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities –- but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before. (Applause.)
What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.
As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them. Back then, they were called Communists, or half-breeds, or outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse –- they were called everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism challenged.
And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? (Applause.) What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course?
What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals? (Applause.)
That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or a static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents: “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (Applause.)
These are not just words. They’re a living thing, a call to action, a roadmap for citizenship and an insistence in the capacity of free men and women to shape our own destiny. For founders like Franklin and Jefferson, for leaders like Lincoln and FDR, the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all of our citizens in this work. And that’s what we celebrate here in Selma. That’s what this movement was all about, one leg in our long journey toward freedom. (Applause.)
The American instinct that led these young men and women to pick up the torch and cross this bridge, that’s the same instinct that moved patriots to choose revolution over tyranny. It’s the same instinct that drew immigrants from across oceans and the Rio Grande; the same instinct that led women to reach for the ballot, workers to organize against an unjust status quo; the same instinct that led us to plant a flag at Iwo Jima and on the surface of the Moon. (Applause.)
It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America. (Applause.)
That’s what makes us unique. That’s what cements our reputation as a beacon of opportunity. Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down that wall. Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid. Young people in Burma went to prison rather than submit to military rule. They saw what John Lewis had done. From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest power and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.
They saw that idea made real right here in Selma, Alabama. They saw that idea manifest itself here in America.
Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed. Political and economic and social barriers came down. And the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus all the way to the Oval Office. (Applause.)
Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for black folks, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian Americans, gay Americans, Americans with disabilities — they all came through those doors. (Applause.) Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.
What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say. And what a solemn debt we owe. Which leads us to ask, just how might we repay that debt?
First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough. If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done. (Applause.) The American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.
Selma teaches us, as well, that action requires that we shed our cynicism. For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair.
Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country. And I understood the question; the report’s narrative was sadly familiar. It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement. But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed. What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic. It’s no longer sanctioned by law or by custom. And before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was. (Applause.)
We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress, this hard-won progress -– our progress –- would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.
Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that Ferguson is an isolated incident; that racism is banished; that the work that drew men and women to Selma is now complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us.
We know the march is not yet over. We know the race is not yet won. We know that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged, all of us, by the content of our character requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth. “We are capable of bearing a great burden,” James Baldwin once wrote, “once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.”
There’s nothing America can’t handle if we actually look squarely at the problem. And this is work for all Americans, not just some. Not just whites. Not just blacks. If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel as they did the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize as they did that change depends on our actions, on our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such an effort, no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built. (Applause.)
With such an effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some. Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on –- the idea that police officers are members of the community they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, they just want the same thing young people here marched for 50 years ago -– the protection of the law. (Applause.) Together, we can address unfair sentencing and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and good workers, and good neighbors. (Applause.)
With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity. Americans don’t accept a free ride for anybody, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes. But we do expect equal opportunity. And if we really mean it, if we’re not just giving lip service to it, but if we really mean it and are willing to sacrifice for it, then, yes, we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts sights and gives those children the skills they need. We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.
And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge –- and that is the right to vote. (Applause.) Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor.
How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic efforts. (Applause.) President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. (Applause.) One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it. If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year. That’s how we honor those on this bridge. (Applause.)
Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or even the President alone. If every new voter-suppression law was struck down today, we would still have, here in America, one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, the number of bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life.
What’s our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? (Applause.) How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future? Why are we pointing to somebody else when we could take the time just to go to the polling places? (Applause.) We give away our power.
Fellow marchers, so much has changed in 50 years. We have endured war and we’ve fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives. We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.
That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.
For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people. That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction — because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.
Look at our history. We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit. That’s who we are.
We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some. And we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That is our character.
We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free –- Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We’re the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because we want our kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be. (Applause.)
We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. (Applause.) We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.
We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent. And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, and the Navajo code-talkers, and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.
We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge. (Applause.)
We are storytellers, writers, poets, artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.
We’re the inventors of gospel and jazz and blues, bluegrass and country, and hip-hop and rock and roll, and our very own sound with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.
We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway. (Applause.)
We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.” We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”
That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others. (Applause.) We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing. We are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe old age of 25 could lead a mighty march.
And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habit and convention. Unencumbered by what is, because you’re ready to seize what ought to be.
For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, there’s new ground to cover, there are more bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.
Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person. Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” “We The People.” “We Shall Overcome.” “Yes We Can.” (Applause.) That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.
Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road is too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on [the] wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.” (Applause.)
We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary. For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.
May He bless those warriors of justice no longer with us, and bless the United States of America.
Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
2:50 P.M. CST
This is not news you will read in your local newspaper, or see on television. The author of this report, John Harding, has lived for nine years in Saudi Arabia and speaks Arabic.
Point of ISIS attack on vast Saudi/Iraq border
On the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, three Saudi Border Guard officers were killed on Monday, Jan 5th, in the dark of night, by ISIS terrorists.
Four ISIS attackers were also killed in the clash. Two ISIS suicide bombers died from detonating their explosive belts, while the other two were shot by Saudi officers.
“A border patrol in Suwaif, in the northern Arar region, came under fire from terrorist elements at 4:30 a.m.,” said Saudi Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki.
As security forces killed one assailant, another “detonated an explosive belt he was carrying,” killing himself and two guards and wounding another.
One of the ISIS terrorists signaled that he wanted to surrender and that he would hand himself over to Saudi Gen. Al-Balawi, who had just arrived at the site. As the ISIS terrorist came close, he blew himself up with the explosives belt hidden under his clothes, killing Saudi Gen. Al-Balawi and injuring others.
In total, three guards were killed, including Brig. Gen. Audah Al-Balawi, commander of the Border Guard in the Northern Border Region.
Saudi Arabia shares an 800-km border with Iraq, so long that it is impossible to defend. The Iraqi/Saudi border, through which liquor smugglers travel is now open to an ISIS invasion.
In addition to the and other border attacks on Saudi Arabia by ISIS, foreign residents in an exclusive compound near the Red Sea, deep in Saudi Arabia, have been attacked by bombs several times. The compound residents are no longer allowed to leave the safety of their compound at night. It is not known if their attackers were from ISIS or from Saudis, many of whom are becoming ISIS sympathizers.
Saudi Arabia and the surrounding monarchies are on full alert to defend their crowned heads as the ISIS Caliphate and its sympathizers expand south to the Saudi oil fields.
With the rapid collapse of oil prices costing Saudi Arabia its revenue and attacks by ISIS, Saudi Arabia and the other nearby Arab monarchies live in fear and trepidation. Heads may roll.
Friday, March 13th update:
U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia on heightened security as Aramco pipeline bombed by ISIS
We were right when we reported the ISIS attack on Saudi Arabia back on January 6th, 2015.
Now, U.S. citizens have been warned to take precautions in Saudia Arabaia and U.S. consular services in the country have been canceled for the present due to heightened security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh said on Saturday.
In a statement on its website, the embassy said consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran would be canceled and it urged all U.S. citizens to take extra precautions when traveling in Saudi Arabia. The statement did not indicate the nature of the threat, but Saudi Arabia is being rapidly overrun by ISIS.
Fox News, citing an intelligence source, said the threat is serious enough that the facilities will have only essential staff over the next two days as the U.S. consular services buckle down for safety.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the embassy statement or the Fox News report.
On Friday, March 13th, the U.S. embassy warned that Western oil workers in Saudi Arabia may be the target of militant attacks. Although the message did not identify the militants it is an open secret that Saudi Arabia is under attack by ISIS as many in Saudi Arabia desire to become part of the Caliphate.
Many Americans live and work for Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco and Americans have become major targets for ISIS.
Saudi stocks and currency tumble as an Aramco pipeline explodes near the town of Sudair, just south of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The explosion has been attributed to ISIS sabotage.
Warning notice from the U.S. Consulate in Riyadh – ISIS attacking within Saudi Arabia!
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. There have been recent attacks on U.S. citizens and other Western expatriates, an attack on Shi’ite Muslims outside a community center in the Eastern Province on November 3, 2014, and continuing reports of threats against U.S. citizens and other Westerners in the Kingdom. This replaces the Travel Warning issued August 8, 2014.
Security threats are increasing and terrorist groups, some affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have targeted both Saudi and Western interests. Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, international schools, and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.
On January 30, 2015, two U.S. citizens were fired upon and injured in Hofuf in Al Hasa Governorate (Eastern Province). The U.S. Embassy has instructed U.S. government personnel and their families to avoid all travel to Al Hasa Governorate, and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same. On October 14, 2014, two U.S. citizens were shot at a gas station in Riyadh. One was killed and the other wounded.
Attacks on other nationalities have increased. On November 29, 2014, a Canadian national was assaulted by a lone attacker with a cleaver at a shopping mall in Dhahran. On November 22, 2014, a Danish national was shot and injured in Riyadh by alleged ISIL supporters. On November 3, 2014, armed assailants attacked a community center in Dalwah in the Al Hasa Governorate, killing at least seven people and injuring several others. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack. On the night of January 13, 2014, unknown gunmen attacked the vehicle of two German Embassy officials who were traveling through the Awamiyah section of the Al Qatif Governorate in the Eastern Province. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to Awamiyah, and we recommend private U.S. citizens avoid the area as well.
Armed assailants have attacked border checkpoints in the north and south. Two Saudi security forces were killed and one wounded during an attack on January 5, 2015 in Arar, along the border with Iraq. Further, on July 5, 2014, media reported that members of Al-Qaida attacked a border checkpoint between Yemen and Saudi Arabia on July 4, leading to the deaths of several of the attackers, as well as four members of the Saudi security forces. The rugged border area dividing Yemen and Saudi Arabia remains porous in some areas and portions are not clearly defined. U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling within 50 miles of the border, which includes the cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission from Embassy security officials. Visitors, who choose to travel to these areas despite U.S. government concern, should be aware that terrorist and criminal elements may be operating there, including AQAP. U.S. citizens are strongly urged to read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before traveling to areas near the Yemeni frontier.
U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia are strongly encouraged to select hotels or housing compounds with careful attention to security measures and location. U.S. citizens should be aware of their surroundings at all times and are advised to keep a low profile; vary times and routes of travel; exercise caution while driving, and entering or exiting vehicles; and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.
If the security threat changes or specific threats affecting U.S. citizens are discovered, this information will be made available through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and U.S. Mission websites.
Emergency Messages, Security Messages, and Messages for U.S. Citizens can be found on the U.S. Embassy Riyadh website.
The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the Consulates General in Dhahran or Jeddah.
Red arrow points to potential source of Sony cyber-attack – click to expand
The Daily Beast, in its article today regarding the Sony cyber-attack, doubts that North Korea is the culprit.
According to The Daily Beast:
“As with much of this investigation our information is somewhat limited.
The FBI haven’t released all the evidence, so we have to go by what information is available publicly.
Perhaps the most interesting and indeed relevant of this is the C2 (or Command and Control) addresses found in the malware.
These addresses were used by whoever carried out the attack to control the malware and can be found in the malware code itself.
Taking a look at these addresses we find that all but one of them are public proxies. Furthermore, checking online IP reputation services reveals that they have been used by malware operators in the past.”
Using the Singapore IP-Address, we obtained the following geo-location information:
||1.2931 (1° 17′ 35.16″ N)
||103.8558 (103° 51′ 20.88″ E)
Yes, this location is in the heart of Singapore. The Daily Beast article appears at this link.
Choo Han Teck – terrorists OK?
The wife of a Singaporean fugitive who has been detained in Indonesia for over 50 days has resorted to selling her flat in a last-ditch attempt to get her husband back.
Mrs May Lim, 40, revealed that she has spent all her savings on legal fees to try to bring her husband Lim Yong Nam, 40, back to Singapore. This includes funds from selling her three-bedroom apartment to pay for lawyers’ fees in Indonesia. Her husband is on an Interpol list as he is wanted by the United States for breaching a US trade embargo against Iran.
Lim is accused by U.S. authorities of participating in a scheme to unlawfully ship 6,000 radio frequency modules from Minnesota, US, to Singapore with false statements – however the destination was Iran.
They claimed that Mr Lim managed to convince the US companies that the end users of the devices were in Singapore, when he knew that they were being shipped to Iran to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
US authorities also claimed that in 2008 and 2009, at least 16 of the modules he purchased were recovered by coalition forces in Iraq, and used in improvised explosive devices designed to kill American troops.
Although several of his associates were extradited and are or have served sentences in U.S. prisons, Singapore Judge, Choo Han Teck, found that selling U. S. bomb-making equipment to Iran to kill Americans is not an offense in Singapore—it is OK for Singapore terrorists to engage in such activities! In his opinion, Choo stated, :Furthermore, at the time Wong and Nam’s acts were allegedly committed, the Singapore Customs did not require prior authorisation in the form of permits to be obtained to export or re-export of non-prohibited goods to Iran.”
It appears that Choo’s statement is to avoid prosecution of
Lim and three other people were arrested in 2011 for smuggling US-made radio devices commonly usually used in bomb-making from Singapore to Iran. The three other people were found guilty and extradited to the US for further processing.
Lim claims he did not know he was on the Interpol notice when he traveled to Indonesia even though he has been on Interpol’s list since September 2013.
After Lim’s arrest in Indonesia, the US Attorney-General made a formal request to the Indonesian government to extradite him to the U.S. for abetting terrorism.
Mrs Lim has stated, “I wish the Singapore Government can do more to help us. My husband has already been tried and has proven his innocence here.”
Falsly exporting U.S. made bomb-making equipment to Iran to kill Americans seems to be quite OK Singapore Judge Choo Han Teck.
Singapore terrorist, Lim Yong Nam, my well be extradited to America,
Indonesian president Joko Widodo is said to have given the green light to process the extradition of Singaporean Lim Yong Nam to the United States, even as a court yesterday heard a suit that Mr Lim filed against the police for detaining him in Batam longer than is allowed by Indonesian law.
Mr Lim, 40, is on the American wanted list for breaching a US trade embargo against Iran by sending antennas made in America to Iraq to be used for IED bombs to kill Americans. He worked with the reportedly beautiful Ms. Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson—all alleged fellow terrorists out to kill Americans.
Escaping extradition is Mr Fong Yong Kian, Director-General of Singapore Customs who allegedly issued false End-User Certificates to the terrorists as Choo stated, “Furthermore, at the time Wong and Nam’s acts were allegedly committed, the Singapore Customs did not require prior authorisation in the form of permits to be obtained to export or re-export of non-prohibited goods to Iran.”
Hia Soo Gan Benson aka “Benson Hia,” and 44-year-old Lim Kow Seng aka “Eric Lim” entered the pleas of guilty on June 26, 2013 in federal court in Washington. Both have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison in the U.S.
Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has agreed to extradite to the United States a 40-year-old Singaporean terrorist, Lim Yong Nam, accused of bomb-related smuggling.
The US had accused Mr Lim of acquiring 6,000 radio frequency modules for export to Iran and had asked for his extradition in 2011. But he was not extradited, as Singapore’s High Court Judge found that the wrongdoing he was accused of was not an offence in Singapore. The judge, Choo Han Teck, has made many strange decisions in the past, and, apparently, felt sympathy for the terrorist, Lim.
Lim’s wife, May Lim, wanted the Indonesian government to release her husband, who was arrested in Batam five months ago, and immediately deport him to Singapore.
Lim’s lawyer also said that the Singapore government had not extended maximum assistance to Lim, but had left him to fight for himself in seeking justice.
“Singapore has done nothing. We requested that the Singaporean Consulate in Batam be a defense witness in court regarding the Singapore High Court’s decision stating that Lim was innocent of the US charge, but it refused. Lim’s family is fighting alone in seeking justice,” said Lim’s lawyer adding that the legal expenses were being completely covered by Lim and his family.
The Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, Andri Hadi, said the Indonesian government has not received any opposition from Singaporean authorities to Lim’s possible extradition to the US.