Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Wouldn't Trust Muqtada al Sadr With a Ten-Foot Pole

Muqtada al Sadr has been a pain in America's butt from nearly the beginning of the occupation. He has taken many a trip to Tehran. So it wouldn't surprise me if his latest decision to call for a suspension of Mahdi Army operations for six months is a ploy.

But what about the new guy--Ammar Hakim?

Muqtada al Sadr is walking proof that the Iranians are involved in the Iraqi insurgency.

Paul Bremer wished that he had been successful in getting rid of al Sadr early on in the Iraqi occupation. The half-hearted way about which the attempt to do so was prosecuted caused al Sadr to gain an even greater following than he had before. He is still very well thought of among a large segment of the Shia population in Iraq. So it's not likely that he's up to much good when he asks for his Army to cease operations for six months. That can only mean trouble, especially when General David Petraeus is set to report on Operation Iraqi Freedom successes before congress next month.

The BBC says:

To some extent it may be merely a tactic aimed at distancing himself from the recent violence in Karbala.

It is certainly a tactic he has used before to distance himself from some of the worst excesses of the Mehdi Army.

But it is a puzzling and potentially risky move by the young Shia leader.

Puzzling because the very call for a re-organisation of the Mehdi army would seem to be an admission that he has lost control of it.

It's not that simple. One way or the other, the Mahdi Army will continue to fight. Now is the time for coalition forces and the Iraqi people to be most on their guard. Something is brewing.

Muqtada is all about power. He's all about himself. I wouldn't trust Muqtada al Sadr with a ten-foot Pole.

I'm not sure what to think of Ammar Hakim, another 30-something who is stepping into the limelight as leader of the Shia Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which got into fighting in Kerbala in the past few days with members of al Sadr's army. Hakim has been several times to Iran as well. But at least he talks a good talk:

"We are not agents of Iran," he said. He pointed out that it was his father who had encouraged Iran to open a dialogue with the United States about Iraq, and he said it was in Iraq's interests to maintain good relations with both countries.

He cautioned against a sudden drawdown of U.S. forces, saying it would be dangerous for Iraq. He said he supported a U.S.-sponsored bill to regulate the distribution of Iraq's massive oil wealth. And he expressed willingness to compromise with Sunni Arab politicians.

Based on his early hatred of Saddam (he was taught at age 4 to participate in the anti-Saddam forces) Hakim may see the light of what America is trying to help Iraq accomplish. Time will tell whether he contributes to peace and stability in Iraq. But we already know quite a lot about Muqtada al Sadr. So far, he hasn't. Do you suspect he's turning over a new leaf? Don't count on it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Very Amanpoor Reporting on Jihad

The left screams that the media has a rightist slant. Well, I've got at least one instance where that is not true. Christiane Amanpour did essentially everything she could to misrepresent the truth in a recent CNN program entitled God's Warriors

Prior to its airing on CNN, it was said of God's Warriors by the Associated Press that

Understanding is what Amanpour is trying to promote in "God's Warriors," which takes up six prime-time hours on CNN this week.

Please...don't insult our intelligence. When someone tries to promote understanding, they try to get their facts straight. Not only did she create a great deal of misunderstanding, she caused a great deal of unneeded animosity.

One can dispute why radical Islam is so violent, but it is beyond dispute that

It is "deeply false," to equate "Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency with that of Muslims heard endorsing 'martyrdom,' or suicide-killing. There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns underway across the globe...

I wrote about this several months ago in The First Jewish Suicide Bomber. My point: there is yet to be one.

Jews and Christians, as compared to radical Muslims, almost never resort to violence to get their points across.

Much of the segment God's Christian Warriors deals with a man named Ron Luce, depicting him as representative of Christians. Ron who? I've been a Christian (Mormon) for 44 years, and I've never heard of him. I didn't check, but perhaps one of Ms. Amanpour's "fact checkers" was Rosie O'Donnell.

But much of the rest of "God's Christian Warriors" depicts the ministry of Ron Luce. His priority is battling what he views as an amoral popular culture. There's footage of one of Luce's "Battle Cry" youth rallies, which took place in San Francisco in March; in an understated and effective way, the documentary depicts how the two-day event used all the trappings of an extravagant rock concert to condemn most aspects of modern culture (of which rock concerts are part).

Amanpour made more than a few factually incorrect statements on the program, which can't do well to soften the angered feelings between Christians and Muslims and well as Jews and Muslims. For example, HonestReporting notes the following inaccuracy:

Amanpour does not hesitate to inject her own views, demonstrating occasional lack of knowledge. For example when an Israeli settler said God says Jews must live in Hebron, Amanpour interjected that the West Bank was designated by the UN to be the largest part of an Arab state. Not only is this statement factually incorrect, it is out of context. Amanpour is evidently unaware that all Arab states rejected UN partition resolution 181, to which she evidently referred and that the West Bank was included in the area designated for encouragement of Jewish settlement by the Balfour Declaration and even endorsed in article 6 of the British mandate.

The program also tended to be historically very out of context.

One of the most misleading aspects of the program, was the use of the very few isolated incidents of Jewish terror attempts over the past 15 years, to create the false impression that a Jewish terror movement exists on a par with the violent worldwide jihadist phenomenon of indiscriminate death and destruction.

I'm not sure whether Christiane Amanpour had a motive for the plethora of inaccuracies in her series, God's Warriors, nor if she did, what that motive would be. She's married to a former Clinton Administration official, but I'm not sure how that would play into the factual bias, except that Bill Clinton made a somewhat applicable statement at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, claiming that right-wing Christian fundamentalism and talk-show hosts had created the environment in which such a bombing could have occurred.

But at least, if Christiane Amanpour does not have a motive for her inaccuracies, her professionalism calls on her to recognize those untruths and apologize for them.

Especially in issues so volatile, factuality is critical. False statements purported as fact can have the same effect as swords, rockets, and bombs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Best Reason to Get Rid of al Qaeda? Al Qaeda

Even the Democrats are conceding that things are looking better in Iraq. The reason that they are better is that as time goes on, more Iraqis see that the US Military has much more integrity than al Qaeda.

Even though accidental deaths are higher for the month of August, the death rate is still about that of July--part of a lower trend of US military deaths. Even considering the large scale killing in the otherwise peaceful northern Iraq this month, civilian deaths are maintaining their downward trend. Democrats in the US Congress are conceding that we're making progress. Why is this?

First of all because the surge is working. The general populace is being treated with more respect by the US military. The insurgents are getting their butts kicked. But there's another reason.

As the smoke begins to clear from the surge, Iraqis are beginning to see a distinctive difference between the US Military and al Qaeda. You can trust one but not the other. Michael Yon, who currently resides in Al Anbar, puts it this way:

Ironically, in Anbar Al Qaeda has become our best ally for killing al Qaeda. They’ve managed to do this directly, just by being al Qaeda. Despite the promised carrots, what Al Qaeda consistently delivered here was mostly stick, and with a special kind of hypocritical contempt that no sensible person would believe possible. (Not unlike the notion of baking the children of resistant parents or ordering shepards to diaper the corrupting genitals of goats.)

Al Qaeda has a management style—doing drugs, laying up sloppy drunk, raping women and boys, and cutting off heads, all while imposing strict morality laws on the locals—that makes it clear that they have one set of principles for themselves, and another for every one else.

In that kind of scheme, it didn’t take long before people in Anbar realized that any benefits from Al Qaeda having control would not be distributed equally. Once that realization spread, the tribal sheiks—almost all Sunni—had to consider the alternatives.

With the success of General Petraeus's plan, even some of the bigger fish are trying to call a truce. Captain's Quarters noticed this interesting development.

Earlier today, the Italian news service AKI reported that the presumed leader of the largest insurgency in Iraq will start cooperating with the Iraqi government. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of the highest-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's government, reportedly pledged to work with Iraqi and American forces to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Things have been improving, and they continue to do so. But it looks like our counterinsurgency tactics, which have been bearing fruit for quite some time now, are reaching critical mass. Hopefully, future improvements will be larger and/or more frequent.

al Qaeda is no good. They are not good Muslims. The Iraqis are starting to notice this en masse. Even a couple of Democrats have as well. What happens if things continue to improve? Democrats asking for Bush to serve a third term?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John Murtha Apologizes to Haditha Marines

As it comes to light that John Murtha was premature in his criticism of the Marines and incorrect in his assessment about what happened in Haditha two years ago, will he apologize? I predict that you will never see the headline "John Murtha Apologizes to Haditha Marines".

Where is Congressman John Murtha now that several Marines who were charged with murder from a November 19, 2005 incident in Iraq have been exhonerated? Has he apologized for mischaracterizing what happened there and then? Nope. But he was wrong, and I suspected he was wrong way back then.

I was in Ramadi in September of 2005, when six Marines at an established observation post not far away in the town of Haditha were overrun by a band of al Qaeda insurgents and killed. The insurgents displayed and wore captured equipment from the soldiers and taunted the US military in the process with a lot of free television air time. About a week later, a gigantic bomb killed 14 more Marines in Haditha. The air-time for those killings was enormous and enormously gratifying for the newly emboldened Haditha terrorists. Some people could be forgiven for imagining that the Marines might use these events as a pretext to ignore their rules of engagement in Haditha as retribution. But you can't be forgiven for voicing these concerns on international television, as Congressman John Murtha did. Such actions are treasonous.

An improvised explosive device tore through a convoy and killed another Marine on November 19th. Under normal circumstances, the Marines would be expected to seek retribution, right? Apparently, Congressman John Murtha thought so, when at the time he said "our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood." How can John Murtha be forgiven for speaking out without possibly being able to know the facts surrounding the events and fanning the flames of American liberal hatred of the American military in Iraq, despite the suspicions of a senior Marine officer that he supposedly was privy to. The event quickly but incorrectly came to be referred to as The Iraq My Lai, despite even if the allegations of Haditha were true, the two incidents are hardly comparable.

Oops! So sorry.

It turns out John Murtha was wrong, and yesterday he apologized.

Just kidding.

Even though nearly every member of the Marine unit that supposedly went on a rampage that night has been exhonerated, John Murtha is still in hiding.

His premature revelation of a conversation he supposedly had with "The Commandant of the Marine Corps" is inexcusable. It did more than almost any other event to sour the American public on the Iraq war. It created in many who were violently opposed to the war unfair expectations that many heads should roll, regardless of what the truth is.

The American opinion of the Iraq war (and the greater or lesser likelihood that US troops would exit Iraq) has a marked effect on the Iraqi mood toward the American troops. But John Murtha was not interested in the proven innocence or guilt of those supposedly involved in the Haditha incident on November 19, 2005. It was supposed that at least 6 individuals would be found guilty of their participation in the events of that evening. All but two, however, have now been exonerated. The trials of the last two marines are still future, but the political pressure will now be enormous to find the last two to be tried guilty of murder, in large part because of what John Murtha said.

He was clearly wrong to reveal
to the American public what he had heard. But he didn't care. He's in lockstep with those who have overinvested in American failure in Iraq. The exoneration of yet two more of the Haditha Marines is very frustrating to those who already have their minds made up that America should fail in bringing liberty to Iraq. So if you're planning on holding your breath until John Murtha apologizes, I give you fair warning--your bones will long have decayed in your grave before that happens.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ramadi Enjoying New Sense of Hope and Optimism

Things started to improve when I was in Ramadi in the first half of 2006. But it's really improved in the year since then.

I left the Ramadi area in June 2006. According to an ABC news story, there were 450 attacks in that month. A year later, in June 2007, there were only 25.

The image you see above is Ambassador Ryan Crocker in downtown Ramadi, without a flack vest. It is working between the US and the Iraqis, because they understand more all the time that we're there to help.

Click here to view the ABC News Story.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

PBS: "See No Islamism, Hear No Islamism, Speak No Islamism"

Before watching Muslims vs Jihad, the companion to the supposed-to-be-on-PBS-but-now-isn’t documentary Islam vs Islamists, I thought PBS didn’t want to show Islam vs Islamists because the show did not do a good job of depicting that large segment of the Muslim population that does not support Islamism and terror. I was wrong. The thing which ultimately gives PBS pause about Islam vs. Islamists is that the moderates actually do such an excellent job of pointing out the debaucheries of the Muslim radicals.

Now I know why they won’t show it. Because the truth hurts those who don’t want to admit or let it be known that an enormous chasm exists between moderate Muslims and hate-filled Islamists. PBS claimed not to see the moderate Muslims as representative of mainstream Islam. It’s a subtle play on words, but moderate Muslims are Muslims just the same.

Radical members of any society will get more print and airtime that their moderate members. That's the sad fact of an American media who wants whatever is salacious as opposed to whatever is true. Real Clear Politics explains why a cursory glance at our world makes it seem like there are very few moderate Muslims:

Are there moderate Muslims? And if there are, why aren't they speaking out against the beheaders and the suicide bombers?

A lot of people ask those questions. Canadian filmmaker Martyn Burke set out to answer them. He made a documentary. "Islam vs. Islamist," which was financed in part by a $675,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Mr. Burke hired journalists who reported from Denmark, France, Canada and the United States. There are a great many moderate Muslims, they found, but they don't speak out because they are intimidated by threats of coercion, ostracism and physical violence from the Islamists in their communities.

It’s no wonder that very few moderate Muslims speak out. Have you ever been threatened with violence if you speak out about a certain issue? Many of these people have. It takes great guts to stand up and speak out in the violent face of Islamists, let alone when you find they have their sycophants, such as the “See No Islamism, Hear No Islamism, Speak No Islamism” PBS.

According to a Fox News broadcast, in which several segments from the film were shown and discussed, PBS said the film was alarmist and overreaching, and that the producers of the film had demonized the Islamists. The film did no such thing; it simply allowed those who themselves had been demonized to speak the truth. I can’t help but wonder if PBS is afraid of the screechings of such groups as the Council on American Islamic Relations, who don’t want Islam vs. Islamists to be shown. It is clear to anyone watching the video that moderate Muslims blame Saudi Arabia for financing the bulk world Jihad. The Saudis, therefore, who have a great influence on America and many friends in American high places, will by no means be flattered by this film, and they have a great interest in its not being shown.

Nahid Riazy is one who dares to stand up against the excesses of Islam, such as the mistreatment of women. Many such still-Muslim women, including her, fear for their lives. Some are afraid to have their faces on camera, but she is not. She and others have had obscenities shouted at them and eggs thrown at them as they walk down the street. Others have been killed. Leaders of the Islamists, such as Said Mansour, claim that these women are not really Muslims (a spurious charge often made even by non-Muslims against those who do not follow the Islamist variety of Islam), and that in their struggle for democracy and liberty, they are actually limiting themselves.

Many crisis centers are being created to help these women.

Mansour said that Muslims must be God’s slaves--which apparently gives him and others like him the authority to be God’s taskmasters. They are doing a fine job of it! “You don’t ask questions about the religion. You are either a total Muslim, or you are not [a Muslim],” he said in an interview during the film.

Frank Gaffney, who helped with the film, said that PBS wanted them to change the story, to illustrate a moral equivalence between the Islamists and those who opposed their violent form of Islam. The producers of Islam vs. Islamists made several changes over the course of six months, but they refused to subvert the truth about the controversy inside the Muslim religion. They brought in several consultants from Paris, Scandinavia, and Canada, who agreed that the show was accurate, and who came to the conclusion that PBS must have already decided that it would never be satisfied with the end result.

Abd al Malik of France was in earlier years being drawn in by the thuggery of fundamentalist Islam. Then 9/11 happened. He is now a popular rap star (and is still a Muslim) in France. One of his most popular pieces is called “September the 12th”. Here are some of the words:

I already knew a flow of whackos when the twin towers went down
I already knew a flow of crazies when the twin towers were blown out
I was profoundly shocked. And let me tell you
If I hadn’t had my faith, I would have felt guilty for being a Muslim.

After that the eyes of the world were on us
And we had to show the world that we were human to
That if some of us were crazies
Most of us would never mix our politics with our faith

Previously, when al Malik joined the Islamist gangs of France, looking for and threatening those Muslims who did not seem as Muslim as they were. When he was assigned to plant a bomb in a French police station, he decided that Islamism was wrong, and he left. When he decided to go into the music industry, his break with the Islamists—who felt any kind of music was bad—was complete. Since then he has discovered that the correct--the real--Islam is peace.

The rise of this poisonous version of Islam is being funded by Saudi Arabia. Ahmed Amiruddin, a Muslim sheihk living in Canada, who has been threatened for his view, thinks the attraction of fundamentalist Islam is the glory of a past that was lost. Faheem Bukhari of Canada agrees that the tenets of the radical version of Islam that are being perpetuated in North America are exclusively of a Saudi variety.

Are the movies Muslims vs. Jihad and Islam vs Islamists worth your time? Not only are they, you can’t afford not to watch them. The DVD of Islam vs Islamists is in the pre-production stages, and will hopefully be available later this month. For now, you can watch segments of Muslims vs Jihad by clicking here.

At the very least you can make your own decision about what is really happening in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, PBS doesn't want you to do that.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Religion Terrorists and the Information Technology Terrorists

The Information Technology terrorists are getting as sophisticated as the religious ones--particularly those of the Islamist type. Hearing what the information security companies are finding makes me think I'm back in Iraq.

The information terrorists seem to be learning a great deal from the religious terrorists. Their tactics continue to improve and their attacks mount. But the one thing they haven't learned yet is to try and make a moral case for their terrorism. It's been working for the religious terrorists--many people take their moralistic claims hook, line, and sinker.

Information Week reported recently about the number of phishing attacks on banks around the world.

The number of hackers attacking banks worldwide jumped 81% from last year, according to figures released at the BlackHat security conference Thursday. Researchers from SecureWorks also reported that hackers going after the company's credit-union clients increased by 62% from last year.

So why are there so many more hackers this year than last? Joe Stewart, a senior security researcher at SecureWorks, told InformationWeek that highly technical and savvy hackers are no longer the only ones in the game.

Hackers no longer need to be technical wizards to set up an operation to steal people's banking information and then rob their accounts or sell their identifying information to an even bigger cybercriminal. Hacking toolkits and malware are for sale in the online underground. All hackers need are basic technical skills and the knowledge of where to go to buy what they can't build themselves.

"You go to a Web site and pay a $100 to several hundred dollars, and you can buy a turnkey exploit package," said Stewart. "You can buy the malware too, and then you're in business You put these components up on a Web site and immediately start infecting people. All you really need to know how to do at this point is set up a Web site."

This new ease-of-use is evident in the numbers.
With time, terrorists improve their tactics. It doesn't matter if the religious ones are in Iraq or not, they'll find a way to become better at the atrocities they commit. They're getting very good in Europe, fairly good in Canada, and they're starting to appear in the US.

Below is the part of the IW article that sounded the most interesting. Change a few words of it, and it sounds like raiding terrorist hideouts in Iraq.

"The amount of stolen financial data we have found since the first of the year has been daunting," said Don Jackson, a security researcher with SecureWorks and the discoverer of the Gozi and Prg Trojans. "With the Gozi, Prg, and BBB Trojans alone, we found millions of dollars of data sitting in their stolen repositories. These data caches contained thousands of bank-account and credit-card numbers, Social Security numbers, online payment accounts, and user names and passwords, and we're finding new caches of stolen data every day -- evidence that more and more criminals are getting into the game."

"Criminals are getting into the game" ... you could say that about the religious terrorists as well. They're mostly just criminals.

Hopefully the information terrorists don't start studying Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin to soon, or we might find them announcing to the world that they are simply getting their due from the greedy capitalist pigs of America as well.