Islamic Group Has Mastered Victimization Game, Critic Says

by Randy Hall for CNSNews

The Republican lawmaker who sparked a storm with comments about Muslims and the need to tighten immigration laws is the latest target of an Islamic advocacy group's "victimization game," a political analyst said Thursday. It's a game that the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has "mastered," said Daniel Pipes, a critic of the group and director of the Middle East Forum.

CAIR is calling on Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) to apologize for writing in a letter to constituents that says, "we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt" strict immigration policies.

Pipes said CAIR was "perpetually on the prowl for any incidence of anti-Muslim sentiment, real or imaginary, spontaneous or provoked, major or minor." The organization's goal, he said, was "to make the United States like so many other countries - a place where Muslims, Islam and Islamism cannot be freely discussed. It is imperative for Americans to retain their freedom of speech about Islam -- as it exists in relation to other religions -- and resist these many demands for remorse."

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said Thursday the organization had "a long history of disagreement" with Pipes.

"He's free to have a hostile view towards the American Muslim community," Hooper said. "He's free to say, as he did to the American Jewish Congress on Oct. 21, 2001, that the growth and enfranchisement of American Muslims is a threat to this country. He's free to do all these things, and we're free to defend against defamatory attacks on our faith and community."

In his Oct. 2001 address, Pipes said: "I worry very much, from the Jewish point of view, that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims, because they are so much led by an Islamist leadership, that this will present true dangers to American Jews."

Amplifying later, Pipes said: "You must note that this was spoken to a Jewish audience. I make the same point respectively to audiences of women, gays, civil libertarians, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, atheists, and scholars of Islam, among others, all of whom face 'true dangers' as the number of Muslims increases."

The latest CAIR controversy began when Rep. Goode wrote a letter in response to a constituent's concern about reports that Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, may take the oath of office with his hand on the Koran rather than the Bible. "When I raise my hand to take the oath on swearing-in day, I will have the Bible in my other hand," Goode wrote. "I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district, and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration, there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," he said. "I fear that in the next century, we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped," Goode wrote.

According to Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan, the letter was sent in error to the chairman of a Sierra Club group in central Virginia, who had written to Goode about environmental issues. The Sierra Club member then made the letter public.

The national legislative director of CAIR, Corey Saylor, called the remarks "Islamophobic" and said they "send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office."

The call for an apology from isn't the first time CAIR has pressed for action regarding the Ellison issue. When radio talk show host Dennis Prager wrote in a commentary last month that the Minnesota Democrat should not be allowed to take the oath of office using a copy of the Koran, CAIR called for Prager to be removed from the governing council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "No one who holds such bigoted, intolerant and divisive views should be in a policymaking position at a taxpayer-funded institution," it said of Prager. Despite the Muslim group's letters to the museum's council chairman, Fred Zeidman, to President Bush and to members of Congress who serve on the museum board, Prager remains on the council, although the museum's board did vote Thursday to distance itself from his remarks.

Prager told Cybercast News Service he did not understand how such activities fit CAIR's mission "to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."

"I don't believe it's a moral organization," Prager said of CAIR. "It says it represents Muslims, but it has caused more friction than love between Muslims and non-Muslims. It seeks to find Islamophobia among the American people, the most tolerant, open people in the world."

CAIR has sought apologies and other specific actions from several individuals and organizations during 2006, with mixed results.

Earlier this month, the group called on Wal-Mart to stop selling the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game because it promoted a message of "religious intolerance." The nation's largest retailer is still selling the product.

In October, CAIR complained to KDWB-FM in Minnesota after the radio station broadcast a segment entitled "Muslim Jeopardy" that had such contest categories as "Infamous Infidels" and "Smells Like A Shia." After the station managers apologized for the skit, the group thanked them for "reacting positively" to the situation.

Ken Murray, the mayor of Redding, Calif., drew the organization's wrath in September, when he told an audience attending a 9/11 commemoration ceremony: "Either the Judeo-Christian philosophy will survive, or the Islamic philosophy will survive." CAIR called on Californians to repudiate Murray's comments.

The group succeeded in March in having a four-minute video entitled "Hadji Girl" pulled from the youtube.com website.

It also received an apology in February from Bill Handel of KFI-AM after the California talk show host made what it called "insensitive remarks" about a human stampede that killed more than 300 people during a pilgrimage in Mecca.

CAIR has also targeted President Bush several times during the past 12 months. In January, the group warned him to avoid using "loaded and imprecise terminology" when referring to Islam in his State of the Union address.

In August, the group criticized Bush for saying America was "at war with Islamic fascists" after U.K. authorities arrested 24 British Muslims suspected of plotting to bomb transatlantic flights. CAIR said the president's "hot button" terminology put the name of Islam and the Muslim community at risk.

One month later, Bush told a group of military officers that five years after the 9/11 attacks, "the terrorist danger remains." CAIR said that by focusing on al Qaeda, the president granted "undeserved legitimacy to extremists."

[Of course, anyone who is at all informed knows full well what CAIR is all about. Don't be fooled by their public rhetoric. CAIR is nothing more or less than the propaganda arm of Islamofascism in America....an Islamic Pravda. - Martel]


Can Infidels Be Innocents?

by Daniel Pipes

Three so-called fatwas came out in July condemning the 7/7 attacks in London.

* British Muslim Forum: "Islam strictly, strongly and severely condemns the use of violence and the destruction of innocent lives." (July 18, 2005)

* 120 Canadian Imams: "Any one who claims to be a Muslim and participates in any way in the taking of innocent life is betraying the very spirit and letter of Islam." (July 21, 2005)

* Fiqh Council Of North America: "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives." (July 28, 2005)

Non-Muslims can be forgiven if they assume these references to "innocent lives" might include those traveling on the Underground and bus lines in London. But apparently the term "innocent lives" has a much more restricted in application, as a fascinating article in The Times (London) makes clear.

Titled Undercover In The Academy Of Hatred, it is based on the covert research by Ali Hussain of the newspaper's Insight team. Ali joined the Saviour Sect in June, a few weeks before the 7/7 bombings and took along his tape recorder. What he heard is hair-raising.

"It is imperative for Muslims to instill terror into the hearts of the kuffar...I am a terrorist...as a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist...they will build tall buildings and we will bring them down...the bombings were a good start...and Allah should bless those involved" - Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the Saviour Sect.

He also heard two speakers discuss whom they consider to be innocent.

Zachariah, referring to the London passengers: "They're kuffar [infidels, kafirs]. They're not people who are innocent. The people who are innocent are the people who are with us or those who are living under the Islamic state."

Omar Bakri Mohammed, the sect's leader, who on July 20 publicly condemned the deaths of "innocents," but at the Selby Centre in Wood Green, north London, on July 22 referred to the 7/7 bombers as the "fantastic four" and explained that his grief for the "innocent" applied only to Muslims: "Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar."

Whatever else we may glean from this article, one thing is clear. Muslim statements condemning the killing of "innocents" cannot be taken at face value but must be probed to find out who exactly are considered innocent and who not. In brief, can infidels be innocents?

Anjum Chaudri (a.k.a. Anjem Choudhury) is a follower of Omar Bakri Mohammed and UK leader of the radical al Muhajiroun, appeared on the BBC program HARDtalk where the following exchange took place with the host, Stephen Sackur:

Sackur: I just wonder why you won't condemn it when your own leader, Omar Bakri, said quite simply, "I condemn the killing of innocent people," on the 20th of July. Why won't you say what he said?

Chaudri: No, at the end of the day innocent people - when we say innocent people we mean Muslims. As far as non-Muslims are concerned, they have not accepted Islam, and as far as we are concerned, that is a crime against God.

Sackur: I want to be clear about what you are saying – this is very important – you are saying that only Muslims can count as innocent people?

Chaudri: As far as far as Muslims are concerned , you are innocent if you are a Muslim – then you are innocent in the eyes of God. If you are a non-Muslim, then you are guilty of not believing in God.

Comment: "When we say innocent people we mean Muslims." – One cannot put it more clearly or starkly than that.

In a bellicose interview in Lebanon (where he may feel he has nothing to lose in being more candid), Omar Bakri Mohammed publicly came close to confirming the above sentiments. He was questioned by Sanaa al Jack of Ash-Sharq al-Awsat:

(Q) you said that you are against killing innocent people and have nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda Organization. Now you are calling for jihad. How do you explain your position?

(A) I have often repeated that I am against the killing of innocent people anywhere in the world but who are the innocent? I keep the answer to myself

(Q) Who do you define as innocent?

(A) The innocent people are specified by Islam. I denounce killing innocent people regardless of who kills them. However, who are the innocent? I do not have to explain this issue.

(Q) Does this mean that you support killing those whom you consider guilty and those whom Islam as you understand it describes as not innocent?

(A) I support what the Sunni Muslim youths in Lebanon believe in.

(Q) What about killing in general?

(A) Sister, I do not say that I support killing in general. You said that.

(Q) But you alluded to a classification of innocent people. Does this mean that you support jihad in certain areas because of things that are being done against Islam?

(A) Do you think that the Palestinian resistance is not right?

(Q) I am not giving an opinion, I am asking about your point of view.

(A) I am against killing innocent people and I repeat this everywhere. This is my personal position.

[Devilish double-speak! These fork-tongued agents of chaos are living among us and are committed to the long term strategy of all Islamofascists everywhere...patiently waiting in silence and hiding until the time is right to strike. The fact that these loving followers of The Religion Of Peace have not been tenderly kicked out on their collective asses is a mute testimony to the weak-willed worthlessness of Western politicians. - Martel]


Sex In The Park - The Latest Doings Of The Danish Imams

by Henrik Bering


Copenhagen - You have to hand it to them: Few men in recent history have been more successful in creating mayhem than the small group of Denmark-based imams who turned the appearance of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper into a world event. In a recent Egyptian opinion poll of nations seen as most hostile, Denmark registered third, right behind the United States and Israel, an impressive score for a small Nordic country that is normally known for its pacifism and humanitarian efforts.

Pretending to be on a mission to create understanding and dialogue, the imams set out from Denmark for the Middle East last December, where they spread false rumors of the Koran being burned on the streets of Copenhagen and otherwise did their best to incite violence against their host nation, resulting in attacks on embassies, trade boycotts, and flag burnings. They were later caught on hidden camera by a French documentary filmmaker, bragging about their exploits.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, this band of bearded brothers have continued to enjoy great success at getting their names into the headlines; their activities have been followed with particular interest by the Jyllands-Posten, the paper that originally published the cartoons and has had to live under a strict security regimen ever since. As always, there is an element of Monty Pythonesque farce in these imams posturing as holy warriors while being welfare-state spongers, and constantly tripping up in their own lies. Farce, that is, if it were not so deadly serious.

First a bit of good news: As reported in the Jyllands-Posten, Sheikh Raed Hlayhel, who has been in Denmark since 2000 and was the prime instigator behind the cartoon protest, recently announced that he had had it with Denmark and was leaving to settle down in his hometown of Tripoli in Lebanon. "And I am not coming back," he fumed, as if depriving the country of some tremendous cultural asset.

As a commentator noted, Hlayhel has not exactly been a model of successful integration. Having received his religious training in Medina in Saudi Arabia--where he imbibed pure, unadulterated Wahhabism--Hlayhel applied for asylum in Denmark and was at first denied. But as his young son suffers from spina bifida, and the Danish authorities felt the boy could not get the proper treatment in Lebanon, he was allowed in on humanitarian grounds.

Hlayhel thus did not have Danish citizenship and did not speak a word of Danish. But in Denmark's fundamentalist parallel society, Arabic will do just fine, especially when you preach jihad. The center of Hlayhel's activities was the Grimhøjvej mosque in the small town of Brabrand in Jutland, which has been closely monitored by Danish intelligence.

Among the users of the mosque were Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane, the so-called Guantánamo Dane--a holy warrior of Danish/Algerian parentage who was caught by American troops in Afghanistan--and Abu Rached, who has been identified by Spanish prosecutors as one of al Qaeda's main operatives in Europe.

What prompted Hlayhel's decision to pull up his tent pegs? He lost his lawsuit against the Jyllands-Posten for having printed the cartoons. And in matters like these, family considerations are clearly secondary. About his invalid son, who was receiving free care from the Danish national health system, Hlayhel stated, "His Muslim identity is more important than his treatment. I think all Muslims should live in a Muslim country. Farewell Denmark."

But before the Danes get too relieved, intelligence experts cited in the Jyllands-Posten warned that the sheikh can still make mischief from the Middle East. In his last prayer in Denmark, Hlayhel denounced the pope, warned against repetitions of the cartoons, and threatened retaliation: "We are people who love death and will sacrifice ourselves before Allah's feet. Do not repeat the tragedy, or else it will become a tragedy for you and the whole world."

Meanwhile, Hlayhel's fellow demagogue Ahmed Abu Laban, a Palestinian refugee who came to Denmark in 1984 and who is also not a Danish citizen, has written a book about the traveling imams' achievements entitled The Jyllands-Posten Crisis, which has come out so far only in Arabic and has been published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri al-Youm.

Laban rails against a new group in Denmark called the Democratic Muslims, which was created in the wake of the cartoon crisis and whose leader, Naser Khader, he describes as "a rat" and "an apostate." This, according to a scholar cited in the Jyllands-Posten, amounts to a death threat, as in the fundamentalist view apostasy is a capital crime. Democratic Muslims are further characterized in the book as "such nice people, clean shaven, very clever, who are ready to have sex in the park, whenever they feel like it." The phrase "sex in the park" is common Arab code for homosexuality, which in sharia law also merits a death sentence.

Laban's name has been linked to Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who in 1993 was behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center; to Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the planners of 9/11; and to Mohammed al-Fizazi, who was responsible for the 2003 Casablanca bombing. Laban at one point also claimed knowledge of an imminent terror operation on Danish soil.

His purpose with the book is to strengthen his own claims to leadership in the highly competitive world of extremist imams. Laban has also threatened in the past to leave Denmark, but, alas, thought better of it.

Downy bearded youth was also represented in the traveling cartoon road show in the person of 28-year-old Ahmed Akkari, who makes up for his tiny stature and squeaky voice with his great persistence. Akkari was born in Lebanon but has obtained Danish citizenship and is fluent in Danish. Among his political prognostications is that the leader of the Democratic Muslims would be blown up, should he ever become a government minister.

Most Danes were of the impression that Akkari had left the country last year to settle with his girlfriend in Lebanon, as he, too, felt insufficiently appreciated in Denmark. But lo and behold, when Denmark arranged for an evacuation of 5,000 people during this summer's war in Lebanon, who was among the rescued but Akkari, his girlfriend, and his little daughter. The Jyllands-Posten carried a telling photograph from the rescue operation with Akkari seen against the Danish flag gently wafting in the breeze--the very flag that he and his friends had caused to be burned all over the Middle East.

Predictably, Akkari found fault with the caliber of the Danish rescue mission. In the Extra Bladet, a Danish tabloid, he stated indignantly, "You should write about the horrible plane the Danish Foreign Ministry first wanted to send us home in. It was Jordanian and so old that it was life threatening."

In letters to the editor, Danes wondered the obvious: Why would a man who has so much to complain about want to return? They were also astounded by the number of Danish resident aliens found in Lebanon during the evacuation. There were calls to investigate how many were actually living in Lebanon while claiming unemployment benefits in Denmark. Predictably, the Danish liberal press deemed such questions crass and insensitive towards people who had been so massively traumatized by Israeli bombardments, but the issue will be debated in parliament in December.

Finally, the Danes have learned that Abu Bashar, a Syrian cleric living in the regional capital of Odense and working as a prison chaplain, has been fired after complaints from inmates at Nyborg State Prison that he was inciting hatred of Denmark, and after his statement in an article in the Fyens Stiftstidende that "Denmark is the next terror target."

Bashar's claim to fame stems from the cartoon crisis, when he showed a photograph of a man in a pig's mask on BBC television, and afterwards slipped it in among the material being presented by the touring imams in the Middle East, though it had nothing to do with the cartoons. It turned out to be a photo of a French comedian in a pig-calling contest. Bashar later claimed that he was misinterpreted and that the photo had been sent to him anonymously, showing how Muslims were insulted in Denmark. His forked tongue has severely damaged his credibility here.

To no one's surprise, Bashar claimed that his firing from his prison job was political. However, as a man who did not hold grudges, he was willing to forget the incident, if he could have his job back part-time, with disability pay. His knee was troubling him something awful. Sorry, no go.

The question remains why the Danish government puts up with these scoundrels and does not simply boot them out. France has rid itself of more than 20 extremist imams, as has Germany, while Spain and Italy each have deported four, and Holland three. Denmark so far has kicked none out. Surely, enough is enough.


Allah’s England

by Daniel Johnson

In some ways, the new anti-Semitism is much like the old. Consider Jenny Tonge, a legislator from the Liberal Democratic party who gained notoriety two years ago by empathizing publicly with Islamist suicide bombers. She thereby distinguished herself even among the ranks of her fellow Liberal Democrats, who have seized on resentments against Israel and the U.S. with all the zeal of a third party struggling to get noticed in a two-party system. Removed from her party post, though by no means disgraced, she was subsequently honored with a peerage. This summer’s war in Lebanon enabled her to go a crucial step beyond extolling suicide bombers by attacking not only Israel but Jews in general. “The pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world,” she said in a speech at a party conference in September. Pausing for effect, she added: “its financial grips.” Another pause. “I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party.”

A second example comes from the other side of the political spectrum. Sir Peter Tapsell, a senior Conservative member of parliament, claimed at the height of the Lebanon crisis that Blair was colluding with President Bush “in giving Israel the go-ahead” to commit “a war crime gravely reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw.” ...

Not only do the Tapsells and Tonges go unreprimanded these days, they are admired and imitated. The loathing of Israel, once confined to oppositional groups, has penetrated to the very core of the British establishment. At the height of the Lebanon war, two peers of the realm reportedly came to blows within the hallowed precincts of the House of Lords. Apparently, Lord Janner, a prominent spokesman for Jewish causes, said something about Israel’s right to self-defense that so enraged the octogenarian Field Marshal Lord Bramall that he was moved to assault his seventy-eight-year-old interlocutor. One might have supposed that, like misogyny, anti-Semitism had ceased to be a characteristic vice of the English upper class; this incident suggests that it is back with a vengeance.

[History will remember these politicians as the Quislings of this generation. Appeasement is the name of the game. And, in a move so typical of the progressive establishment, the aggressor is portrayed as the victim and the victim is portrayed as the oppressor. What's next I wonder? And who will be the first of these gutless wonders to propose another 'Final Solution'? - Martel]



The Future Belongs To Islam

Mark Steyn

Sept. 11, 2001, was not "the day everything changed," but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On Sept. 10, how many journalists had the Council of American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britain in their Rolodexes? If you'd said that whether something does or does not cause offence to Muslims would be the early 21st century's principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.

This is about the seven-eighths below the surface -- the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and that call into question the future of much of the rest of the world. The key factors are: demographic decline; the unsustainability of the social democratic state; and civilizational exhaustion.

Let's start with demography, because everything does:

If your school has 200 guys and you're playing a school with 2,000 pupils, it doesn't mean your baseball team is definitely going to lose but it certainly gives the other fellows a big starting advantage. Likewise, if you want to launch a revolution, it's not very likely if you've only got seven revolutionaries. And they're all over 80. But, if you've got two million and seven revolutionaries and they're all under 30 you're in business.

For example, I wonder how many pontificators on the "Middle East peace process" ever run this number:

The median age in the Gaza Strip is 15.8 years.

Once you know that, all the rest is details. If you were a "moderate Palestinian" leader, would you want to try to persuade a nation -- or pseudo-nation -- of unemployed poorly educated teenage boys raised in a UN-supervised European-funded death cult to see sense? Any analysis of the "Palestinian problem" that doesn't take into account the most important determinant on the ground is a waste of time.

Likewise, the salient feature of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia is that they're running out of babies. What's happening in the developed world is one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history: most of us have seen a gazillion heartwarming ethnic comedies -- My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its ilk -- in which some uptight WASPy type starts dating a gal from a vast loving fecund Mediterranean family, so abundantly endowed with sisters and cousins and uncles that you can barely get in the room. It is, in fact, the inversion of the truth. Greece has a fertility rate hovering just below 1.3 births per couple, which is what demographers call the point of "lowest-low" fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. And Greece's fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain 1.1. Insofar as any citizens of the developed world have "big" families these days, it's the anglo democracies: America's fertility rate is 2.1, New Zealand a little below. Hollywood should be making My Big Fat Uptight Protestant Wedding in which some sad Greek only child marries into a big heartwarming New Zealand family where the spouse actually has a sibling.

As I say, this isn't a projection: it's happening now. There's no need to extrapolate, and if you do it gets a little freaky, but, just for fun, here goes: by 2050, 60 per cent of Italians will have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, no uncles. The big Italian family, with papa pouring the vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs. As Noel Coward once remarked in another context, "Funiculi, funicula, funic yourself." By mid-century, Italians will have no choice in the matter.

Experts talk about root causes. But demography is the most basic root of all. A people that won't multiply can't go forth or go anywhere. Those who do will shape the age we live in.

Demographic decline and the unsustainability of the social democratic state are closely related. In America, politicians upset about the federal deficit like to complain that we're piling up debts our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. But in Europe the unaffordable entitlements are in even worse shape: there are no kids or grandkids to stick it to.

You might formulate it like this:

Age + Welfare = Disaster for you;

Youth + Will = Disaster for whoever gets in your way.

By "will," I mean the metaphorical spine of a culture. Africa, to take another example, also has plenty of young people, but it's riddled with AIDS and, for the most part, Africans don't think of themselves as Africans: as we saw in Rwanda, their primary identity is tribal, and most tribes have no global ambitions. Islam, however, has serious global ambitions, and it forms the primal, core identity of most of its adherents -- in the Middle East, South Asia and elsewhere.

Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare.

We are witnessing the end of the late 20th- century progressive welfare democracy. Its fiscal bankruptcy is merely a symptom of a more fundamental bankruptcy: its insufficiency as an animating principle for society. The children and grandchildren of those fascists and republicans who waged a bitter civil war for the future of Spain now shrug when a bunch of foreigners blow up their capital. Too sedated even to sue for terms, they capitulate instantly. Over on the other side of the equation, the modern multicultural state is too watery a concept to bind huge numbers of immigrants to the land of their nominal citizenship. So they look elsewhere and find the jihad. The Western Muslim's pan-Islamic identity is merely the first great cause in a world where globalized pathologies are taking the place of old-school nationalism.

For states in demographic decline with ever more lavish social programs, the question is a simple one: can they get real? Can they grow up before they grow old? If not, then they'll end their days in societies dominated by people with a very different world view.

Which brings us to the third factor -- the enervated state of the Western world, the sense of civilizational ennui, of nations too mired in cultural relativism to understand what's at stake. As it happens, that third point is closely related to the first two. To Americans, it doesn't always seem obvious that there's any connection between the "war on terror" and the so-called "pocketbook issues" of domestic politics. But there is a correlation between the structural weaknesses of the social democratic state and the rise of a globalized Islam. The state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood -- health care, child care, care of the elderly -- to the point where it's effectively severed its citizens from humanity's primal instincts, not least the survival instinct. In the American context, the federal "deficit" isn't the problem; it's the government programs that cause the deficit. These programs would still be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a cheque to cover them each month. They corrode the citizen's sense of self-reliance to a potentially fatal degree. Big government is a national security threat: it increases your vulnerability to threats like Islamism, and makes it less likely you'll be able to summon the will to rebuff it. We should have learned that lesson on Sept. 11, 2001, when big government flopped big-time and the only good news of the day came from the ad hoc citizen militia of Flight 93.

There were two forces at play in the late 20th century: in the Eastern bloc, the collapse of Communism; in the West, the collapse of confidence. One of the most obvious refutations of Francis Fukuyama's famous thesis The End Of History -- written at the victory of liberal pluralist democracy over Soviet Communism -- is that the victors didn't see it as such. Americans -- or at least non-Democrat-voting Americans -- may talk about "winning" the Cold War but the French and the Belgians and Germans and Canadians don't. Very few British do. These are all formal NATO allies -- they were, technically, on the winning side against a horrible tyranny few would wish to live under themselves. In Europe, there was an initial moment of euphoria: it was hard not be moved by the crowds sweeping through the Berlin Wall, especially as so many of them were hot-looking Red babes eager to enjoy a Carlsberg or Stella Artois with even the nerdiest running dog of imperialism. But, when the moment faded, pace Fukuyama, there was no sense on the Continent that our Big Idea had beaten their Big Idea. With the best will in the world, it's hard to credit the citizens of France or Italy as having made any serious contribution to the defeat of Communism. Au contraire, millions of them voted for it, year in, year out. And, with the end of the Soviet existential threat, the enervation of the West only accelerated.

In Thomas P. M. Barnett's book Blueprint For Action, Robert D. Kaplan, a very shrewd observer of global affairs, is quoted referring to the lawless fringes of the map as "Indian territory." It's a droll joke but a misleading one. The difference between the old Indian territory and the new is this: no one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue. Today, with a few hundred bucks on his ATM card, the fellow from the badlands can be in the heart of the metropolis within hours.

Here's another difference: in the old days, the white man settled the Indian territory. Now the followers of the badland's radical imams settle the metropolis.

And another difference: technology. In the old days, the Injuns had bows and arrows and the cavalry had rifles. In today's Indian territory, countries that can't feed their own people have nuclear weapons.

But beyond that the very phrase "Indian territory" presumes that inevitably these badlands will be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today's "Indian territory" was relatively ordered a generation or two back -- West Africa, Pakistan, Bosnia. Though Eastern Europe and Latin America and parts of Asia are freer now than they were in the seventies, other swaths of the map have spiralled backwards. Which is more likely? That the parts of the world under pressure will turn into post-Communist Poland or post-Communist Yugoslavia? In Europe, the demographic pressures favour the latter.

The enemies we face in the future will look a lot like al-Qaeda: transnational, globalized, locally franchised, extensively outsourced -- but tied together through a powerful identity that leaps frontiers and continents. They won't be nation-states and they'll have no interest in becoming nation-states, though they might use the husks thereof, as they did in Afghanistan and then Somalia. The jihad may be the first, but other transnational deformities will embrace similar techniques. Sept. 10 institutions like the UN and the EU will be unlikely to provide effective responses.

We can argue about what consequences these demographic trends will have, but to say blithely they have none is ridiculous. The basic demography explains, for example, the critical difference between the "war on terror" for Americans and Europeans: in the U.S., the war is something to be fought in the treacherous sands of the Sunni Triangle and the caves of the Hindu Kush; you go to faraway places and kill foreigners. But, in Europe, it's a civil war. Neville Chamberlain dismissed Czechoslovakia as "a faraway country of which we know little." This time round, for much of western Europe it turned out the faraway country of which they knew little was their own.

Four years into the "war on terror," the Bush administration began promoting a new formulation: "the long war." Not a good sign. In a short war, put your money on tanks and bombs. In a long war, the better bet is will and manpower. The longer the long war gets, the harder it will be, because it's a race against time, against lengthening demographic, economic and geopolitical odds. By "demographic," I mean the Muslim world's high birth rate, which by mid-century will give tiny Yemen a higher population than vast empty Russia. By "economic," I mean the perfect storm the Europeans will face within this decade, because their lavish welfare states are unsustainable on their post-Christian birth rates. By "geopolitical," I mean that, if you think the United Nations and other international organizations are antipathetic to America now, wait a few years and see what kind of support you get from a semi-Islamified Europe.

The question for today's Europe is whether the primary identity of their fastest-growing demographic is Muslim or Belgian, Muslim or Dutch, Muslim or French.

That's where civilizational confidence comes in: if "Dutchness" or "Frenchness" seems a weak attenuated thing, then the stronger identity will prevail. One notes other similarities between revolutionary America and contemporary Europe: the United Empire Loyalists were older and wealthier; the rebels were younger and poorer. In the end, the former simply lacked the latter's strength of will.

Europe, like Japan, has catastrophic birth rates and a swollen pampered elderly class determined to live in defiance of economic reality. But the difference is that on the Continent the successor population is already in place and the only question is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be.

If America's "allies" failed to grasp the significance of 9/11, it's because Europe's home-grown terrorism problems had all taken place among notably static populations, such as Ulster and the Basque country. One could make generally safe extrapolations about the likelihood of holding Northern Ireland to what cynical strategists in Her Majesty's Government used to call an "acceptable level of violence." But in the same three decades as Ulster's "Troubles," the hitherto moderate Muslim populations of south Asia were radicalized by a politicized form of Islam; previously formally un-Islamic societies such as Nigeria became semi-Islamist; and large Muslim populations settled in parts of Europe that had little or no experience of mass immigration.

On the Continent and elsewhere in the West, native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Time for the obligatory "of courses": of course, not all Muslims are terrorists -- though enough are hot for jihad to provide an impressive support network of mosques from Vienna to Stockholm to Toronto to Seattle. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists -- though enough of them share their basic objectives (the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America) to function wittingly or otherwise as the "good cop" end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in. And in a more profound way it rationalizes what would otherwise be the nuttiness of the terrorists' demands. An IRA man blows up a pub in defiance of democratic reality -- because he knows that at the ballot box the Ulster Loyalists win the elections and the Irish Republicans lose. When a European jihadist blows something up, that's not in defiance of democratic reality but merely a portent of democratic reality to come. He's jumping the gun, but in every respect things are moving his way.

You may vaguely remember seeing some flaming cars on the evening news toward the end of 2005. Something going on in France, apparently. Something to do with -- what's the word? -- "youths." When I pointed out the media's strange reluctance to use the M-word vis-à-vis the rioting "youths," I received a ton of emails arguing there's no Islamist component, they're not the madrasa crowd, they may be Muslim but they're secular and Westernized and into drugs and rap and meaningless sex with no emotional commitment, and rioting and looting and torching and trashing, just like any normal healthy Western teenagers. These guys have economic concerns, it's the lack of jobs, it's conditions peculiar to France, etc. As one correspondent wrote, "You right-wing shit-for-brains think everything's about jihad."

Actually, I don't think everything's about jihad. But I do think, as I said, that a good 90 per cent of everything's about demography. Take that media characterization of those French rioters: "youths." What's the salient point about youths? They're youthful. Very few octogenarians want to go torching Renaults every night. It's not easy lobbing a Molotov cocktail into a police station and then hobbling back with your walker across the street before the searing heat of the explosion melts your hip replacement. Civil disobedience is a young man's game.

In June 2006, a 54-year-old Flemish train conductor called Guido Demoor got on the Number 23 bus in Antwerp to go to work. Six -- what's that word again? -- "youths" boarded the bus and commenced intimidating the other riders. There were some 40 passengers aboard. But the "youths" were youthful and the other passengers less so. Nonetheless, Mr. Demoor asked the lads to cut it out and so they turned on him, thumping and kicking him. Of those 40 other passengers, none intervened to help the man under attack. Instead, at the next stop, 30 of the 40 scrammed, leaving Mr. Demoor to be beaten to death. Three "youths" were arrested, and proved to be -- quelle surprise! -- of Moroccan origin. The ringleader escaped and, despite police assurances of complete confidentiality, of those 40 passengers only four came forward to speak to investigators. "You see what happens if you intervene," a fellow rail worker told the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. "If Guido had not opened his mouth he would still be alive."

No, he wouldn't. He would be as dead as those 40 passengers are, as the Belgian state is, keeping his head down, trying not to make eye contact, cowering behind his newspaper in the corner seat and hoping just to be left alone. What future in "their" country do Mr. Demoor's two children have? My mother and grandparents came from Sint-Niklaas, a town I remember well from many childhood visits. When we stayed with great-aunts and other relatives, the upstairs floors of the row houses had no bathrooms, just chamber pots. My sister and I were left to mooch around cobbled streets with our little cousin for hours on end, wandering aimlessly past smoke-wreathed bars and cafes, occasionally buying frites with mayonnaise. With hindsight it seemed as parochially Flemish as could be imagined. Not anymore. The week before Mr. Demoor was murdered in plain sight, bus drivers in Sint-Niklaas walked off the job to protest the thuggery of the -- here it comes again -- "youths." In little more than a generation, a town has been transformed.

Of the ethnic Belgian population, some 17 per cent are under 18 years old. Of the country's Turkish and Moroccan population, 35 per cent are under 18 years old. The "youths" get ever more numerous, the non-youths get older. To avoid the ruthless arithmetic posited by Benjamin Franklin, it is necessary for those "youths" to feel more Belgian. Is that likely? Colonel Gadhafi doesn't think so:

There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe -- without swords, without guns, without conquests. The fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the American mainland was attacked for the first time since the War of 1812. The perpetrators were foreign -- Saudis and Egyptians. Since 9/11, Europe has seen the London Tube bombings, the French riots, Dutch murders of nationalist politicians. The perpetrators are their own citizens -- British subjects, citoyens de la République française. In Linz, Austria, Muslims are demanding that all female teachers, believers or infidels, wear head scarves in class. The Muslim Council of Britain wants Holocaust Day abolished because it focuses "only" on the Nazis' (alleged) Holocaust of the Jews and not the Israelis' ongoing Holocaust of the Palestinians.

How does the state react? In Seville, King Ferdinand III is no longer patron saint of the annual fiesta because his splendid record in fighting for Spanish independence from the Moors was felt to be insensitive to Muslims. In London, a judge agreed to the removal of Jews and Hindus from a trial jury because the Muslim defendant's counsel argued he couldn't get a fair verdict from them. The Church of England is considering removing St. George as the country's patron saint on the grounds that, according to various Anglican clergy, he's too "militaristic" and "offensive to Muslims." They wish to replace him with St. Alban, and replace St. George's cross on the revamped Union Flag, which would instead show St. Alban's cross as a thin yellow streak.

In a few years, as millions of Muslim teenagers are entering their voting booths, some European countries will not be living formally under sharia, but -- as much as parts of Nigeria, they will have reached an accommodation with their radicalized Islamic compatriots, who like many intolerant types are expert at exploiting the "tolerance" of pluralist societies. In other Continental countries, things are likely to play out in more traditional fashion, though without a significantly different ending. Wherever one's sympathies lie on Islam's multiple battle fronts the fact is the jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you're not shy about taking on the Israelis and Russians, why wouldn't you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Spaniards?

"We're the ones who will change you," the Norwegian imam Mullah Krekar told the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet in 2006. "Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children." As he summed it up: "Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours."

Excerpted from America Alone by Mark Steyn - Regnery Publishing © 2006

[My Comments - 'Nuff said! - Martel]



Congressman Criticized For Muslim Letter

by Frederic J. Frommer for The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A Republican congressman has told constituents that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected and follow the lead of a recently elected lawmaker who plans to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in.

Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., made the comments in a letter sent earlier this month to hundreds of constituents who had written to him about Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress. Goode's letter triggered angry responses from a New Jersey congressman and an Islamic civil rights group.

In the letter, Goode wrote, "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran." Goode said the U.S. needs to stop illegal immigration "totally" and reduce legal immigration.

Goode added: "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."

Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college. He did not return telephone messages left Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., wrote to Goode on Wednesday saying that he was "greatly disappointed and in fact startled" by Goode's letter. "I take your remarks as personally offensive to the large community of Muslim-Americans I represent in the Eighth District of New Jersey," Pascrell wrote.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Goode to apologize. "Representative Goode's Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office," CAIR's national legislative director, Corey Saylor, said Tuesday night. "There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry."

Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan said Wednesday that no apology was forthcoming.

"The only statement the congressman has is that he stands by the letter," Duncan said.

[My Comments - Any enemy of CAIR is a friend of Western Civilization. Bravo Congressman Goode. This friend of liberty salutes you! - Martel]



Al Qaeda's Western Recruits

Along the ungoverned border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda is training would-be jihadists from the West to attack their home countries.

by Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau And Mark Hosenball


Dec. 25, 2006 - Jan. 1, 2007 issue - For the past year, a secret has been slowly spreading among Taliban commanders in Afghanistan: a 12-man team of Westerners was being trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan for a special mission. Most of the Afghan fighters could rely only on hearsay, but some told of seeing the "English brothers" (as the foreign recruits were nicknamed for their shared language) in person. One eyewitness, a former Guantánamo detainee with close Taliban and Qaeda ties, spoke to NEWSWEEK recently in southern Afghanistan, demanding anonymity because he doesn't want the Americans looking for him. He says he met the 12 recruits in November 2005, at a mud-brick compound near the North Waziristan town of Mir Ali. That was as much as the tight-lipped former detainee would divulge, except to mention that Adam Yahiye Gadahn, the notorious fugitive "American Al Qaeda," was with the brothers, presumably as an interpreter.

Another Afghan had more to say on the subject. Omar Farooqi is the nom de guerre of a former provincial intelligence chief for the Taliban; he now serves as the Taliban's chief Qaeda liaison for Ghazni province, in eastern Afghanistan. He says he spent roughly five weeks this past year helping to indoctrinate and train a class of foreign recruits near the Afghan border in tribal Waziristan, and among his students were the English brothers. The 12 included two Norwegian Muslims and an Australian, along with nine British subjects, says Farooqi. Their mission, Farooqi told NEWSWEEK, will be to act as underground organizers and operatives for Al Qaeda in their home countries—and their yearlong training course is just about finished.

U.S. and British security agencies have known this threat would come sooner or later. While saying he could not confirm the English brothers' case specifically, a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office (unnamed as a matter of standard policy) calls it "common knowledge" that jihadist recruits have been traveling from Britain to Pakistan for indoctrination and training. The existence of a Qaeda pipeline between those two countries has grown harder to deny with every new terrorism story that has broken since the suicide bombings in London that killed 52 subway and bus passengers on July 7, 2005. Each new case that emerges features at least one or two suspects with ties to Pakistan—such as an alleged plot that began before 9/11 to bomb financial buildings in New York, Newark, N.J., and Washington, and this past summer's alleged plot to blow up airline flights from Britain to the United States.

A few weeks ago Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, director-general of the British security service M.I.5, publicly disclosed that British authorities are monitoring 200 networks and 1,600 individuals "actively engaged in plotting or facilitating terrorist acts here and overseas." A "substantial" fraction of those 1,600 people have connections to Pakistan, says a British official, declining to be named because the subject is sensitive. The M.I.5 chief added that her investigators had identified nearly 30 separate plots "that often have links back to Al Qaeda in Pakistan, and through those links Al Qaeda gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here."

Indeed, while often thought to have become mostly an inspiration to jihadists around the world, Al Qaeda appears to be gaining strength along the unruly Afghan-Pakistani border. Within the past year, M.I.5 has produced detailed reports about a group of British men, ethnic Pakistanis, who traveled to jihadist training camps in Pakistan by way of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Afghanistan, according to a counterterrorism official in London who requested anonymity because of the sensitive subject. And the scariest part is not what M.I.5 knows but what it doesn't know: there's no way the authorities can watch more than a tiny percentage of the 400,000 British residents who visit Pakistan every year.

U.S. security agencies are no less worried. American intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that their people are definitely concerned about terror suspects and operatives shuttling back and forth between Britain and Pakistan. One particular worry is that under current practice, British visitors to the States are not required to apply in advance for temporary visas, which are routinely granted to any British passport holder who is not on a watch list. In other words, the door is wide open for Britain's growing ranks of young jihadists, even those who have attended Qaeda training camps, if they are unknown to intelligence agencies. U.S. officials are discussing how the visa system could be tightened. "For the most effective background checks on passengers, the United States needs information and assistance from the country where the traveler resides," says Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke, adding that such help should be "routine."

While the Americans talk, Al Qaeda is pressing on with its training plans, Farooqi says. He confidently described those plans to a NEWSWEEK correspondent at a mud-brick house in Paktia province, not far from the Pakistan border, mentioning the English brothers almost in passing as an example of the jihad's recent successes. The specifics of his story could not be independently corroborated. But one gunman among the dozen or so guarding the house, with most of his face hidden by a black-and-white kaffiyeh, appeared to be a European with light-colored eyes; Farooqi later confirmed that the guard was one of the brothers. An open notebook lay on the carpet where Farooqi sat, and the NEWSWEEK correspondent caught a fleeting glimpse of scrawled names and phone numbers, including several that were preceded by the United Kingdom's country code: 44.

Farooqi says he first met the brothers, all of them in their 20s, soon after they reached Waziristan in October 2005. He recalls one of them, known as Musa, telling him that the 7/7 bombings in London "were just a rehearsal of bigger acts to come." A few, he couldn't say how many, had arrived in Pakistan by air, but most had taken a clandestine overland route across Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, escorted by a network of professional smugglers. As NEWSWEEK has reported previously, Al Qaeda uses the same underground railroad to transport Iraqi bombmakers and insurgent trainers to share their skills with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to Farooqi, the brothers' travel arrangements were made by Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, one of Al Qaeda's top operations men and a liaison with insurgents in Iraq. (His name has also cropped up in an ongoing British criminal trial in which seven London-area defendants of Pakistani descent are accused of conspiring to bomb British targets with homemade explosives. Prosecutors have alleged that Abdul Hadi's deputy even visited Britain and prayed at a mosque near London with one of the suspects.) The transcontinental journey took a month to complete, but Farooqi claims the brothers left no official traces of their passage, slipping past every border-control post without showing any travel documents. Once they get home, there may be no record that they ever visited Pakistan.

That's something a British Qaeda operative would certainly want to keep secret. A newly issued International Crisis Group report on the tribal areas says the militants have been able to "establish a virtual mini-Taliban-style state there" where they can "provide safe haven to the Taliban and its foreign allies." In the words of a senior Western diplomat in Islamabad, who asks to remain nameless to avoid offending his hosts: "The Pakistanis simply don't control the territory in any meaningful way, and that means a common enemy has a place [to operate]. You have to assume Al Qaeda will make the most of it." Before September 11, Al Qaeda had no network inside Pakistan and only limited contact with Pakistani militants. Now the group has close support on both sides of the border.

Inside Afghanistan, Taliban field commanders depend on regular visits from their Qaeda paymasters. Guerrillas in eastern Ghazni province say the Arab money teams ride in from the direction of the Pakistan border astride motorcycles driven by Taliban fighters. The Qaeda men ask each local commander what weapons, money and technical assistance he needs—and then deliver the aid that is required. According to Zabibullah, a senior Taliban official who has been a reliable source in the past, Al Qaeda has more than 100 specialists, mostly Arabs, helping support Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

Still, Al Qaeda took no chances with the English brothers' safety. They received much of their training behind mud-brick walls in the sprawling compounds that are typical of Pakistan's tribal areas. The idea was to keep the men hidden from U.S. and Pakistani reconnaissance planes. Farooqi says the recruits were taught a wide variety of subjects, from religious and ideological doctrine to the art of molding, assembling and detonating state-of-the-art Iraqi-style shaped-charge IEDs. They learned how to make and use suicide-bomb vests, how to rig car bombs, how to motivate other men to sacrifice their lives for the jihad and how to maintain communications with Al Qaeda on the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. They're not meant to be suicide bombers themselves, Farooqi says; they are far too valuable to waste. The recruits that M.I.5 was tracking also seemed bound for bigger things than cannon fodder.

Some counterterrorism experts argue that Al Qaeda has become only a figurehead, with no real control over the local terrorist cells it has spawned around the world. The English brothers—and the Pakistan pipeline—are signs that the organization is still in action. Farooqi says he believes, based on overhead conversations, that Al Qaeda is planning for the very long term, a decade into the future. He says the terrorist group is talking about gradually fielding more than 1,000 operatives in Europe over the next 10 years. From what he has heard, only 10 percent of those jihadists are in place so far. Based on information from M.I.5, the British Home secretary, John Reid, recently warned that a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom could be highly likely during the holidays.

The English brothers completed their Waziristan stay in October, Farooqi says, but before going home, they had one final assignment. Their Arab handlers separated them into several smaller groups and sent them into Afghanistan to see the jihad firsthand, embedded with Taliban units in Khowst and Paktia provinces. The unit commanders were warned to avoid putting them in any danger. After that, the brothers were supposed to return to Britain the same way they got to Pakistan. That means most of them could be getting home any day now—if they aren't there already.

With Zahid Hussain in Islamabad and Emily Flynn Vencat in London




Mujahedin Fighters Return To Spain From Iraq (AFP)

17 December 2006

MADRID - Mujahedin fighters have returned to bases in Spain after gaining combat experience in Iraq and are now a potential threat to European security, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Sunday. According to El Pais the fighters worked alongside cells controlled by late Al Qaeda senior leader and Jordanian extremist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, killed in June.

‘They are the new Trojan horse of Al Qaeda and its satellites on our territory and they are already preparing themselves,’ deputy director of the European police network Europol, Mariano Simancas, told El Pais. ‘They represent a serious threat for the countries of the European Union,’ Simancas added.

El Pais quoted anti-terrorist sources as saying that an unspecified number of formerly Spanish-based Algerians and Moroccans who had gained experience in handling arms and explosives in Iraq had now returned.

‘But they are doing nothing for the moment. They are biding their time, which complicates things when it comes to making arrests,’ one unnamed expert told El Pais.

Two years ago, Simancas told a parliamentary investigation into the March 11, 2004 Madrid bombings that Islamic terrorism was an ongoing major security threat and that it was not possible to know ‘100 percent’ where radical groups might strike.

In midweek Spain arrested 11 suspected Islamist militants in Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta on suspicion they were planning attacks ‘of a terrorist nature.’

[My comments: Of course, not a WORD is breathed about the West's idiotic "open borders" policy which is what allows this practically unrestricted flow of human traffic in the first place. We can't talk seriously about "security threats" until we close our porous borders and stop the enemies of civilization from traveling about freely in the Western world. Yet the liberal 'idiotigensia' in Europe and America has a love affair with the Utopian dream of open borders and loathes any security effort which smacks of "racial profiling". So we are presently at an impasse, hamstrung by a poisonous political correctness. Meanwhile, our borders continue to leak like a sieve and our security is compromised. But hey, at least 'The Wandering Arab' is free to visit any port-of-call. Such blatant stupidity only encourages greater brazenness and will inevitably lead to disaster. - Martel]


Terrorism's Triple-Border Sanctuary: Islamist World Terror From Argentina, Brazil And Paraguay

by Thomas Muirhead

Since the demise of two of the world's more supportive regimes, that of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, which finally drew to its inevitable close with his recent capture, Islamic terrorism's traditional sources of income and harbour are dissipating. Terrorism is being forced to adapt and adopt new channels of revenue and new havens within which to scheme. A recent example of this, which is rapidly attracting attention away from the long-established hotspots of Central Asia, the Sudan etc., is the infiltration of known terrorist cells into the region known as the triple border in South America. This area provides such groups with both the desired seclusion, due to the wild inhospitality of the Patagonian desert, and the means to fund their organisations, due to the rampant smuggling and increasing narcotic trafficking which pass over the three borders.

Since the terror of September 11, governments of many countries, not merely the occidental West, have altered their views towards terrorism and its supporters. Attempts to reduce the part played in these organisations by national governments across the world have been undertaken by many international leaders, most adamantly George W. Bush. The most obvious of these attempts is that of the dismantling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. An international coalition recognised the open support of terrorist groups by that regime and condemned such support. The regime had to change or be destroyed. Although not so openly encouraging as the Taliban, Saddam's Iraq was doing little to eradicate the training camps and other terrorist cell establishments within their borders and were in no way hostile to any members of such organisations. Whether this was the primary cause of the 'liberation' of Iraq is irrelevant, it has resulted in the destruction of an enthusiastic backer. Apart from these illuminated examples of the international War on Terror, countless pressure has been placed on most governments assumed to either consciously support terrorism or prone to turning a blind eye. Countries from the extremes of Pakistan to Great Britain have introduced new legislation amending everything from immigration policy to the right to habeas corpus in an attempt to hinder the progress of terrorist groups. The flow of funds from national governments and international organisations has slowed significantly due to the threat of military intervention if evidence of collaboration is unearthed.

This rescinding of terrorism's established backers has forced these groups to find new grounds in which to flourish. African countries such as Sudan are well known for being chaotic, unstable lands where a man can easily go about his business unperturbed, but a disquieting addition to the list of 'safe' regions where organisations can reside undetected is the triple border area of South America. It surrounds the meeting point of the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, encompassing the cities of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), and Foz de Iguazu (Brazil). In this area terrorists have found paradisiacal circumstances. Throughout his reign from 1954-89 the Paraguayan dictator, General Alfredo Stroessner actively encouraged the growth of a contraband based economy centred in the border town Ciudad del Este, which, as a result, has grown from a small village named after him called Puerto Stroessner to a city of 200-250 000 people. This has been based mostly on illegal trafficking of everything from pirated cd's, to arms, drugs and laundered money. It is hardly surprising that little has been done to curb illicit trade when the sentiments shown by Paraguayan officials as recently as 1998 show a lax attitude to the illegitimate shenanigans; "It's not really contraband--it is commerce of all types, if the buyers sneak their purchases into another nation without paying taxes, that's the problem of the buyer, not the seller here." as Interior Minister Jorge Garcete put Paraguay's official position.

Terrorists, unfortunately, are rarely stupid. They have recognised the vast advantage of one of the world's largest and unrestricted black markets being populated by a community of between 15,000 and 20,000 persons from, or descendants of persons from, Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon and Syria, as well as West Bank and Gaza. An indicator of the established nature of the community is the two Arabic-language television channels. Quite clearly a flourishing trading community and large Arab population makes transient Arab men a commonplace occurrence. For government organisations intent on tracking and curtailing terrorists made up mostly of men from Middle Eastern, Arabic countries, such a region must hold innumerable difficulties. As well as providing human camouflage, the area is notoriously under-policed and law enforcement agencies from the surrounding countries are infamously tolerant of fattened envelopes. The geographical set up allows easy access to two large, powerful, market countries and a third, poor, malleable country. These countries also provide large, uninhabited (almost uninhabitable) areas in which operations could take place unbeknownst to anyone. Examples include the close at hand Paraguayan Chaco, recognised as one of the least populated, most inhospitable environments on earth, or the Brazilian rainforest, with an abundance of hidden refuges.

In reaction to the growth of terrorist connections in the area all three of the countries involved have begun to take the situation seriously. All three have made border controls tighter and the issuing of visas has become a more thorough affair. In recent years, the antiterrorist departments of the three countries' police forces (the so-called "Tripartite Command") have worked jointly to exert stricter controls on the activities of foreign nationals in the area. However the biggest real threat to the operating cells in the area is the new found interest the United States is taking in the area. Paraguay's foreign minister, Jose Antonio Moreno, recently stated that 40 FBI agents had arrived in Paraguay and were headed to Ciudad del Este. It has also been suggested that US troops are working with the respective national military in both training and active faculties. We can only wait and see if these acts will prove sufficient to curb terrorist activity in the region.

There have been some successes though. Evidence of many different groups has been uncovered by the varied international intelligence agencies concerned with the development of the area. A list that contains amongst its members organisations such as Hizballah, Al- Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Gamaat, Al Islamiyya, to name a few. Without doubt the two most prominent of these are the Lebanese Shi'ite Islamist movement Hizballah, and the Sunni Islamist group that requires no introduction, Al-Qaeda.

A number of prominent Hizballah activists have been captured, although most manage to escape justice and hide in Brazil. In February 2000 Paraguayan authorities arrested Ali Khalil Mehri, a 32 year-old Lebanese businessman. He is an example of the new members of these groups who work under nominally legal identities in varying places and send the money back to the organisations. He was accused of running a pirated software operation worth millions of dollars a year. Evidence was discovered in his shop in Cuidad del Este, of money transfers to Lebanon, as well as terrorist propaganda for the extremist group Al-Muquwama, a wing of Hizballah. He escaped to Brazil whilst on bail.

Assad Ahmad Barakat, the alleged ringleader of Hizballah's financial network in the Triple Border is residing untouchable in Brazil. However two of his employees, Mazen Ali Saleh and Saleh Mahmoud Fayed have been arrested. The raid uncovered documents showing regular contributions of $25,000-50,000 to Hizballah as well as videos and literature meant to encourage the creation of suicide bombers. Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has been quoted as saying that he "is one of the most thankful for the contributions Assad Ahmad Barakat has sent from the Triple Border". Carlos Cálcena, Asuncion's public prosecutor for drug trafficking and terrorism, has claimed that Barakat's contributions to Hizballah has totalled up to $50 million dollars since 1995. The ambassador of Lebanon for Argentina and Paraguay, Hicham Salim Hamdam, recently acknowledged that Barakat had sent funds to Hizballah, but stressed that it was intended for "humanitarian aid for orphans of Muslims killed in action."

Al-Qaeda has also been found to be operating in The Triple Border. According to Brazilian police and military intelligence sources Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Khalid Sheikh passed through the region in or around 1995. Although many residents of the area claim that there are no terrorists in the area, and certainly no connection to Al-Qaeda this remarkable story seems to refute this. A week before the attacks on September 11th a young Moroccan, Abdel Fatta, residing in the area of the triple border handed a letter to his lawyer with instructions for it to be delivered to the United States embassy. The letter contained a warning of attacks that were going to take place on the 11th of September. The young man was a recent Al-Qaeda operative who had a change of heart around the time of the attacks and gave himself up. He remains in jail in Brazil on other charges. He must have been a very well informed young Arab resident if Al-Qaeda doesn't happen to be active in the region.

A worrying development in the workings of both these organisations was recognised by the Argentine Secretariat of State Intelligence when they, "detected the presence of agents from the organization of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden in the border area, and had discovered that, for the first time in history, extremist Sunni and Shi'ite groups were working together in Ciudad del Este and Foz do Iguacu." Such collaboration signifies a leap from the stern ideologies that kept the distinct sects of Islamic terrorism from any form of interaction. We can only hypothesise as to the reasons behind this compromising of beliefs, but it is possible that the end of damaging the shared enemy target overrides the ideological differences present in the means.

As we have briefly seen above the new location is not only providing the terrorist organisations with a place of refuge but an increasingly lucrative source of income. Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State stated, "We know, from close cooperation with your law enforcement officials, that Hizballah members in the tri-border engage in document forgery, money laundering, contraband smuggling. We understand that there may be reason for concern about involvement in weapons and drug trafficking." This apprehension as to drug trafficking is further confirmed by Asa Hutchinson, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,

"The two major terrorist organizations in the tri-border area are Hizballah and the Islamic Resistance movement known as Hamas. It is suspected that their illegal activities range from producing counterfeit U.S. currency to smuggling illegal substances through the tri-border area." It seems that even the resident criminals are becoming aware of the market share being taken by such groups. In an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, former Brazilian drug tsar Walter Fanganiello Maierovitch claimed that Osama Bin Laden was setting up an al-Qaida cell in the triple border region.

These illicit trades are very lucrative and allow vast funds to be channelled back to the centres of the organisations. This seems to be another recent change in the workings of these religion based fundamentalist groups. They are willing to compromise their ideological objections to such an extent as to encompass otherwise forbidden behaviour as the drug trade. The flow of money and the access it can buy must justify the means.

It seems that the face of terrorism has been forced to change. I do not wish to suggest that the fall of the Taliban and the capture of Saadam have immediately required all Islamic terrorists to find new homes. The process has been underway for years now and the lack of traditional sources of harbour for these groups has brought it to our attention that they have expanded their networks and horizons. Does this new awareness of the terrorists locations mean that the legs of the organisations are being methodically cut away or does it signify something much more ominous? Does it bring to our attention the emergence of well-organised, flexible, international coalitions of terrorists, more akin to organised crime than liberation armies? Should we be relieved or threatened by Islamic fundamentalism's new home?



Letter From Londonistan: In The War On Terror Britain Still Thinks It's 1999

by Irwin M. Stelzer

Myths are not the stuff of which sensible policy is made. So it is important to scotch the myth that Britain and America have similar and equally effective responses to the terrorist attacks they have suffered. The hard fact is that America has decided that it is engaged in a war, while Britain has decided that it is confronted with what the leader of the Tory party (historically the foreign policy tough guys) calls a "criminal conspiracy" and the Economist calls a "'war on terror,'" complete with quotation marks. Put differently, 7/7 has evoked a policy response very different from 9/11.

It is, of course, true that the citizens of New York and London reacted similarly to the attacks on them: with remarkable courage and heightened civic solidarity. But similar reactions by individuals caught up in the terrorist storm do not necessarily make for similar reactions by governments. President Bush responded to the destruction of New York's World Trade Center by proclaiming through a bullhorn, "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us." And they did--the Taliban no longer control Afghanistan. Tony Blair, a stalwart when confronted with the idea of taking the attack on terror to wherever terrorism flourished, responded to the bombing on London's tube with eloquent appearances before the television cameras and the House of Commons, by convening meetings with leaders (although exactly who they lead remains uncertain) of the Muslim community to enlist their aid, and with his ministers to begin preparation for legislation that will be introduced, but not until some time in October, after the long, leisurely summer parliamentary recess. Bush critics wish that the president possessed Blair's eloquence; Blair critics wish that the prime minister possessed Bush's willingness to act.

One reason for the widely different responses is that America was attacked by foreigners, whereas Brits were horrified to learn that they had been attacked by fellow citizens. Americans know it is "us" against "them," whereas Brits know that "they" are also "us." Pete Hamill, that astute observer of New Yorkers, had it right when he wrote in his wonderful Downtown: My Manhattan, "Where I come from, the rules were relatively simple. . . . Don't look for trouble, because in New York you can always find it. But don't back off either."

As Robert Conquest once observed, "Our cultures, our histories, grasp us with a thousand invisible fingers." British history and culture are different, and hence have produced a different reaction to terror. British history is replete with instances of the defiance and eventual defeat of those who would destroy the country, and with examples of the famous stiff upper lip that makes American-style shouting extraordinarily difficult. But more recent history has tended to equate defiance with a shrug and an ability to show that "we can take it," rather than with an accompanying willingness to destroy the enemy on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields--well, you know.

British culture now dictates a confused response to terrorists. Start with the unwillingness of the majority of the British people to recognize that they are indeed in a war. The flak-jacketed, heavily armed men and women lining my road to Heathrow last week were cops, not troops. America is at war, Britain is playing cops and criminals. These are very different things, with important implications for policy. Just as the Clinton administration decided to respond to terror attacks as if they were bank heists--he sent the FBI overseas--Britain has insisted on applying the law and procedures of the criminal justice system to terrorists. The entire panoply of legal procedures that prevent detention, deportation, and arrest of Muslim clerics calling for the blood of Britain's infidels is available to the as-many-as 3,000 terrorists whom the authorities estimate live in Britain, many trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or with actual battle experience in Iraq. Whatever rights U.K. law doesn't confer are available to the fledgling jihadists as a result of Blair's decision to sign on to Europe's Human Rights Act. Britain makes available to terrorists and preachers of mayhem, often at government expense, an entire industry of human rights lawyers and support groups. These resources will remain available to those who challenge the new powers the government will seek to curb the preaching of violence. The government also provides substantial housing and health care benefits to many men who reciprocate by trying to destroy it.

As if the decision to treat terror as a criminal matter did not place a large enough impediment in the path of the security forces, we have the infatuation of the British establishment with multiculturalism, and the pride with which its members and the left-wing press point out that 300 languages (soberer sources put the number at half that) are spoken in London.

The consequences of this equation of multiculturalism with the virtue of tolerance began with a refusal of the Blair government to get control of Britain's borders. As a result, there are hundreds of thousands--no one, including the government, knows for sure just how many--of illegal immigrants roaming around Britain. And many of these are not at all like the Mexicans who come to America to find work. They are attracted by the generous welfare payments to which they seem to have immediate and unrestricted access, and in many cases by the freedom to preach jihad. Britain, after all, is the country in which Abu Hamza al-Masri preached jihad to Zacarias Moussaoui. One of the attendees at a July 10 lunch the queen gave for some 2,000 World War II veterans in the garden of Buckingham Palace--84-year-old Colonel Peter Hodgson, who fought his way across Europe--probably violated the spirit of the celebration when he told reporters, "This hopeless government . . . let bad ones into the country and we have no idea who they are."

More important to radical Muslims is the unwillingness of the Blair government to extradite illegal immigrants and terrorists who are wanted by the authorities in their home countries. London is known in international security circles as Londonistan because of the haven it offers international terrorists--men who in some instances entered Britain illegally but cannot be deported because the Human Rights Act prohibits extraditing wanted criminals if they might be treated harshly in their home countries. That indeed is their likely fate in Morocco, Egypt, and other countries eager to apply home-grown justice--including what Pakistan's government calls "intensive interrogation"--of the sort that makes British elites squeamish.

But neither is the United States an acceptable deportation destination, since the Human Rights Act does not allow extradition to a nation that allows the death penalty. Deportation to France also seems to be off the table. The Economist reports that "Islamists" responsible for the 1995 bomb attacks on the Paris metro, "to French disgust, later found refuge in London." Whether last week's deal with Jordan--Britain is to extradite bad guys wanted in Jordan in return for a promise by the Jordanian government to treat returnees tenderly, and not execute them--will withstand judicial scrutiny and become a model for further such deals is difficult to determine.

So British policy remains: easy entry for potential terrorists; benefits for them while they are in the country; and relative safety from deportation and detention as enemy combatants. Little wonder that Britain's security services say another strike, more lethal than the one last Thursday, is a virtual certainty.

PROVIDING HAVEN FOR TERRORISTS is apparently a small price for the London glitterati to pay for the advantage of feeling proud of their multiculturalism. Their children are sheltered from the massive influx of Muslims into some schools, and their own neighborhoods and social services are unaffected by the pressures created by an unassimilated immigrant population.

And continued belief in multiculturalism by the elites suits many Muslims just fine. Unlike immigrants who come to America in pursuit of the American dream, many Muslims come to Britain and other European countries determined not to assimilate into cultures they despise. They insist that neither British food is served, nor traditional British tolerance practiced, in the schools their children attend, demands the authorities find reasonable. Many of those children, unlike first-generation Americans, hold to their traditional ways with greater tenacity than their parents. This is especially true of young Muslim men eager to maintain their traditional dominance over women, a role threatened by the fact that Muslim girls are outperforming boys in school and in the workplace. Why Blair thinks that he can reach this group through the mostly moderate Muslims that constitute the outreach "network" or "task force" that he has established is unclear.

Indeed, Blair seems to share the view of all of the policymakers with whom I have spoken. They believe that the planners of the 7/7 attack had as their goal inducing a draconian reaction by the government so that Muslim youths will be further alienated from British society. As the ever-consistent Guardian put it two days after the attack, "Whitehall's national community tensions team . . . always recognized that a public backlash could be as damaging to civic life as the terrorists' bombs. Particular concern focused on any mischievous linking of the words Islam and terrorism." The alternative to this "softly, softly" approach would be the extensive use of wartime-like measures such as detention. This would fly in the face of the belief of British officials that a crackdown would "play into the hands of terrorists" by alienating young Muslims even more than they now are.

And many indeed are alienated, either because they have been unsuccessful in work or school, or because their version of Islam precludes adopting British mores. Take that alienation of young Muslim men from British society, add jihad-preaching clerics and the uninhibited right of British Muslims to return to Britain after attending radicalizing madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, mix in the unwillingness of British leaders to seem hostile to Muslims, and you get some strange happenings--happenings that further distinguish British from American policy.

Britain, with the wreckage of 7/7 only recently cleared, even now is willing to allow Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim cleric who defends suicide bombings, to enter the country to attend an August 7 conference. This cleric has justified the killing of Israeli women because they are "militarized. . . . I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an indication of the justice of Allah Almighty." He has backed the execution of homosexuals "to maintain the purity of Islamic society," called for the killing of Jews when "the Hour of Judgment" arrives, and says that wife-beating is acceptable with "the hand, but not with the stick." He is barred from entering the United States because of terrorist connections. Absent a change of position by the Blair government, Sheikh al-Qaradawi will soon share a Manchester platform with speakers who claim that the Bush administration assisted the 9/11 terrorists, and that Israeli security had advance knowledge of the 7/7 attack but refused to tip off the British authorities.

Al-Qaradawi's reception on his last visit tells us a great deal about the differences between Britain and the United States. London mayor Ken Livingstone, a hard-left politician who blames the 7/7 bombings on U.S.-U.K. foreign policy, embraced al-Qaradawi, told him that he is "truly, truly welcome," hailed him as a "leading progressive Muslim," and denounced al-Qaradawi's critics for fanning the flames of "Islamophobia." Contrast that with New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's decision to have Yasser Arafat removed from a 1995 concert at the Lincoln Center when the Palestinian terrorist ignored a list, sent to the U.N. by the city's host committee, of countries not to be invited.

None of this is to argue that the policymaking elite is completely unrepresentative of the broader British electorate. Most Brits do understand that not all of their country's some two million Muslims (about 3 percent of the population) are terrorists, and very few have attempted to retaliate against mosques and Muslims since July 7. Like the elite, a majority now believes that Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq alongside America incited the terrorists to strike, no matter how many times Blair reminds them that several terror attacks, including the one on the World Trade Center, preceded the entry of coalition forces into Iraq.

So the prime minister is in a tough spot. Unlike Bush after 9/11, Blair after 7/7 could not count on broad support for a crackdown. He is meeting resistance to any plans to tighten the antiterrorist laws not only from the usual suspects on the left of his party, but from the Tories. He is inheriting the whirlwind of his refusal or inability to constrain illegal immigration, or close Britain's gates to newcomers from lands in which terror is preached. He has tied his hands by signing on to Europe's Human Rights Act, giving British judges a weapon with which to prevent detention and deportation. And he has contributed to the creation of a sense that multiculturalism is an unalloyed virtue.

No one surpasses my admiration for Tony Blair's principled stand on Iraq, a stand for which he has paid a high political price. Blair likes to say that his party is best when it is bold. So is he--and when he has an unconflicted view of the right and wrong of an issue. That was true when it came to Iraq: He saw what he thought was right, and he did it. But when it comes to issues such as immigration, extradition, and the application of the power of the state at home, he is torn between humanitarian and civil rights principles, and the need to wage war against Britain's domestic enemies. So although he was "totally opposed" to allowing al-Qaradawi to use Britain as a platform for his views, the prime minister felt bound by legal processes not to use the powers he has to exclude the cleric. That is just one example of the extent to which he is the prisoner of a dominant political class that is preventing Britain from responding to the threat the nation faces--and that threatens the durability of the Anglo-American alliance.

Blair is not at his best when his vision of what is right is blurred. Perhaps a summer's reflection will provide him with a clearer view of what he must do to win the battle on his home front.

Irwin M. Stelzer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, and a columnist for the Sunday Times (London).



Re-Electing The Devil
by Sean Daniels
December 6, 2006

This Sunday, Hugo Chavez recaptured the reins of power in Venezuela, winning a landslide presidential victory and revealing how anti-Americanism can be exploited on our southern front. Claiming “his real opponent” as the “imperialist government of the United States,” Chavez blasted his centrist challenger Manuel Rosales as nothing more than “an American puppet.” With 61.3 percent of the vote to Rosales’ 38.4 percent, Chavez solidified his hold over Venezuela for the next six years, claiming to have once again thwarted American power and struck a blow for “justice” – a boast seconded by Iran, which declared Chavez’s win as a victory against the United States.

For many Americans, Chavez’s hatred of America and his now infamous slander of President Bush as “the Devil” before the UN General Assembly in New York came as a shock. But Chavez has made it abundantly clear, time and again: he envisions himself as a peoples’ champion putting into motion a design to “finish off the U.S. empire” altogether, as he announced this July alongside Islamist ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Chavez’s romance with the Iran theocracy is the continuation of a disturbing trend where he has expressly embraced two of the most significant terror regimes on stringently anti-U.S. grounds. Earlier this year, he conducted his well-publicized relationship with Ahmadinejad as an act of defiance for any Western attempts to curb the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions. And, in his recent trip to Syria, he announced his steadfast friendship with Bashar Assad as a means to denounce the U.S. and criticize Israel’s “war crimes.”

While many dismiss his extravagant showmanship, Chavez’s strategy has begun to ricochet far beyond oil-rich Venezuela and succeeded in building regional and international alliances based on anti-U.S. sentiment, striking fears that the Axis of Evil will ally itself with a growing nexus of socialist power in our southern hemisphere.

Under the tutelage of presently ailing Fidel Castro, the Venezuelan president appears to be on the verge of achieving what Castro and his chief executioner Che Guevara failed to do some 50 years ago.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was first to follow Chavez’s lead. Winning election in December of 2005 and proposing stringent restrictions on the press some two months later, Morales seeks to ape Chavez’s previous autocratic, socialist “reforms” in Venezuela by nationalizing Bolivia’s oil industry and attempting to rewrite its constitution, a move that may be tearing the country in two.

Last month, two more countries fell under leftist sway. Most recently, leftist economist Rafael Correa won election in Ecuador. And, largely bankrolled by Chavez, Daniel Ortega, the infamous Sandinista leader, was swept back into power in Nicaragua. Even Mexico’s bitter divide surrounding its recent elections has led to an uneasy “peace” where leftists provoke violence and refuse to recognize the conservative President Calderon.

More troubling still, Chavez actively pursues bolstering his military might, and Russia and China are reinforcing his ambitions. As various press outlets have reported, “Venezuela recently closed deals with Russia worth roughly US$3 billion (euro2.4 billion) for 24 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, 53 military helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. Venezuela is also obtaining a license for the first Kalashnikov rifle factory in Latin America.”

In addition to this, “Venezuela will soon install Chinese-made radar and an advanced air-defense system equipped with anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down approaching enemy warplanes.” Chavez has also outlined plans to “increase the size of the army reserves from 50,000 to 1.5 million.” In a country of 25 million, this increase is sizable indeed.

While U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, chief of U.S. Southern Command, and other officials recently downplayed the prospect of “the creation of an anti-U.S. military coalition with other leftist countries in the region,” Chavez’s strategy of “cooperation” draws a new division bell between America and its enemies, extending beyond the Atlantic to one of the most unstable and anti-Western regions in the world.

Chavez’s financing of terror is also a subject of much speculation. As high-level military defectors claim, “Chavez gave $1 million to al-Qaida shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States.” In addition to this, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, accuses Chavez of “providing identification documents to individuals from other parts of Latin America and from countries overseas that can be used to facilitate entry into the U.S. in a seemingly legal manner.”

The difficulty for America in addressing Chavez’s bid to “finish off the U.S. empire” lies in his now total control of the oil wealth of Venezuela, the world’s fifth richest exporter of oil and the fourth largest supplier to America itself. It is this oil-power with which Chavez mocks this country, vilifying Americans as “cynical, hypocritical, [and] full of […] imperial hypocrisy,” even while offering New York’s poor discounted oil in a supposed humanitarian gesture of compassion and fraternity.

As President Bush recognized in his last State of the Union address, we cannot continue to fund the countries that most want us destroyed. With this, combating Chavez and his ilk comprises more than just a military option. It forces us to reconsider our oil addiction and, once again, to test our ingenuity in the face of our enemies. It is a lesson we are learning in the Middle East and will continue to face until we have freed ourselves of our dependency on those who seek our destruction.

[Might I just add that I find it truly difficult to take President Bush's rhetoric very seriously as long as his administration continues unabated on their present course, pushing their reckless "free trade" agenda and taking no action whatsoever to counter those nations who want us destroyed. If he truly believes that we cannot continue to fund our enemies, then why do we continue one more day importing multiplied billions in retail goods from China? Why don't we cut off all oil purchases from Venezuela? Indeed, why doesn't he take action to shut down Citgo in the United States? Such actions would be economic shots heard round the world and would not require one single drop of American blood to be shed. However, the beat goes on. Talk is cheap Mr. President. Your actions speak more loudly than your words. - Martel]