Tag: terrorism


the jinn in the machine

October 5th, 2011 — 9:29am

(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

A kettle which has been just on the edge of simmering for a good long time now finally began to boil over earlier this week, as violent protests erupted in Qatif, a city in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia that like almost every city in that region of the nation is majority Shia.  And like almost every other city in the Shia-dominated eastern edges of Saudi Arabia – it sits directly on top of the world’s largest remaining easily-accessible oil reserves.

Instability has been built into the region since the founding of the Saudi Kingdom, a geopolitical reality that bodes disaster for American geopolitical goals in the region.  Namely, securing access to the lifeblood of Western civilization:

The Shia of Saudi Arabia, mostly concentrated in the Eastern Province, have long complained of discrimination against them by the fundamentalist Sunni Saudi monarchy. The Wahhabi variant of Islam, the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia, holds Shia to be heretics who are not real Muslims.

The US, as the main ally of Saudi Arabia, is likely to be alarmed by the spread of pro-democracy protests to the Kingdom and particularly to that part of it which contains the largest oil reserves in the world. The Saudi Shia have been angered at the crushing of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain since March, with many protesters jailed, tortured or killed, according Western human rights organisations.

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Comment » | Arab Spring, counterinsurgency, economics, islam, news, politics, Saudi Arabia, terrorism

click click, bang bang

September 15th, 2011 — 3:35pm


(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

UPDATE: Another shooting occurred outside Phoenix, AZ at about 10:30pm Friday night, this time the victim died either of his wounds or after the gunshot caused him to crash into the highway median.   It seems notable that this attack also occurred along I-10, the same highway as the earlier incident outside LA.

Last night on the George Washington Parkway, a bullet shattered the back window of an SUV just after midnight.  All the way over on the Left Coast on Interstate 10, at approximately 3am, an unidentified victim was shot through the door of their vehicle and rushed into surgery.

Two isolated incidents on opposite ends of the country does not a big deal make, but given what al-Qaida’s top American spokesman urged prospective terrorists in the U.S. to do back at the start of the summer, they’re still worth noting.

Large, symbolic attacks are no longer necessary – al-Qaida’s mission statement has long-since congealed in the blood of its victims.  There’s little to no reason to carry to carry out large-scale attacks that require time, planning, and risk – especially when the DC Sniper already sketched out such an effective blueprint in the DC metro area almost a decade ago for small-scale attacks then in a way are even more effective than massive one-shot attacks.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that in early June, al-Qaeda’s American-born spokesman “Adam the American” released a video in fluent English imploring Muslims living in the United States to “buy guns and start shooting people.”  He explains his reasoning further in the video:

Muslims in the West have to remember that they are perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders, and to do major damage to the enemies of Islam waging war on their religion, sacred places, and brethren.  This is a golden opportunity…

“The way to show one’s appreciation and thanks for this blessing, is to rush to discharge one’s duty to his [community] and fight on its behalf with everything at his disposal.  And in the West you’ve got a lot at your disposal. Let’s take America as an example, America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms…

So what are you waiting for?

Comment » | books, current affairs, domestic terror, terrorism

top 10 reasons you shouldn’t be afraid of al-Qaeda

September 9th, 2011 — 7:29am

(read the book free online - help launch the Kickstarter - read the Reddit AMA)

10. After the bungled Glasgow International Airport attack, one of the terrorists was apprehended by a Scottish cabby who kicked a burning terrorist in the balls so hard he tore a tendon in his foot.

9. The Times Square Bomber, Faisal Shazhad, locked the keys to both his get-away car and his house inside the car-bomb he rigged.  The car bomb consisted of a bunch of fireworks stuck in a bucket, and a bunch of fertilizer.  Inert, non-explosive fertilizer that only served to muffle the blast.

8. While terrorist “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was hiding out in the Philippines, he kept a low profile by renting a freaking helicopter and making fly-overs of the building where the “cultural dancers” he wanted to date worked. They were impressed enough to allow him to take them on a date. He chose the local Wendy’s.

7. Terrorists in the cell caught by an FBI-NYPD sting in the Bronx were called “intellectually challenged” by their lawyer, said they were high when they were arrested, and claimed that the FBI entrapped them with fried chicken.

6. On 9/11, the terrorists who flew out of Logan – after having spent years preparing, months training, and tens of thousands of dollars on the attack – made it onto their flight with just six-minutes to spare.

5. Part of this close-call may have been due to being up late the night before.  Hotel records show the night before they carried out what they saw as a sanctified assault against the forces of Evil – they rented a porno together.

4. The aforementioned Glasgow International Airport attack was originally thwarted by another unusual hero.  The height of the airport’s doorway – the terrorists never bothered to check if it would allow clearance for the jeep they were driving, so they got stuck. Their bomb detonated anyways, lighting one of them on fire – the attack’s only serious injury (unless you count the cabby as well).

3. The terrorist in charge of the 1993 van-bombing of the World Trade Center waited until the night before the scheduled attack to find a Ryder van they could use, and someone willing to drive it beneath the Towers.  They were ultimately all tracked down after one of them returned to the rental agency to noisily insist that he should get their deposit back – three separate times.  The FBI was waiting for him the third time.

2. This 1993 World Trade Center cell was finally caught in Manila, where a policewoman – a grandmother wearing a flowered muumuu, hoop earrings, and rubber slippers – ran Abdul Murad down in the street, bound his hands with clothesline, and hailed a taxi to get him back to the station. Police were tipped off to his presence after he managed to light his apartment on fire.

1. A cell plotting a car-bombing in Southeast Asia were foiled when an issue arose with the guy they’d spent months recruiting and training to drive their car-bomb.  When he got into the vehicle the morning of the attack he explained there was a problem: he didn’t know how to drive stick.

Political Terrorism is a gyre that’s only set into motion when fear and panic cause the target to overreact with disproportionate violence, which draws sympathizers into the terrorist fold and creates justification for further attacks. If we don’t lose our shit – the terrorists lose.

(help launch the Kickstarter!)

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11 comments » | domestic terror, terrorism

by whatever means necessary

September 2nd, 2011 — 8:18am

(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

This September the UN will vote on whether or not Palestine should be officially recognized as a state, an aspiration that first gained international attention two generations ago.

Although statehood would largely just be a technical distinction, Israel is still bracing itself for unrest.  The IDF has reportedly begun arming settlers in the West Bank with tear gas and stun grenades and setting “red-lines” for each settlement.  The plan is that should any Palestine cross a red-line, IDF soldiers will open fire at their feet.  Given the visceral decades-old hatred between Israel and Palestine, violence in one form or another once again seems inevitable.

And should Palestine finally get recognized as a state by the UN, it would bring full-circle a series of events that first ushered the specter of international terrorism onto the world stage.  Events that would gather the world, rapt in horror, around the flickering macabre  spectacle playing itself out in their darkened living rooms.

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Comment » | current affairs, islam, terrorism

the importance of being anonymous

August 17th, 2011 — 5:25pm


(read the book free online - read the Reddit AMA)

British Prime Minister David Cameron is looking to make like an autocratic Arab dictator, and use the aftermath of the anarchistic violence that just swept across England’s streets as a reason to push through reforms curtailing internet speech and increasing online surveillance.  This follows closely on the heels of the United States passing it’s own bill drastically curtailing internet anonymity, as it forces ISPs to log massive amounts of user data.

The history of the Isles cracking down on the dissemination of dissent goes back at least to 1644, when the English Parliament re-introduced government control of printing and publishers in response to John Milton’s essay arguing  against the Catholic Church’s strictures against divorce.  Milton’s response championed free-speech above all other liberal rights:  “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

But governments across Europe had been actively trying to prevent that for centuries, as at one time or another the roster of banned books included those written by Descartes, Galileo, Hume, Locke, Defoe, Rousseau, and Voltaire.  Limiting and controlling thought is nothing new to governments, and so it was this history of official censorship and censure that in 1776 led Thomas Paine to take an important precaution when he published the argument that caused the call for American independence to fully coalesce.

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6 comments » | books, current affairs, memes, terrorism

innocents and innocence alike

August 13th, 2011 — 12:52pm

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

In one of The Dark Knight‘s pivotal scenes, Alfred descends into a strictly ordered and starkly lit Batcave as Bruce Wayne is doggedly patching himself up. After helping his employer with some stitching, Alfred realizes that Master Bruce doesn’t fully comprehend the dystopian miasma of violence that the Joker has brought upon Gotham City:

Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?

Alfred: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

It’s a fantastic scene from a cinematic standpoint, but a problem occurs when you pull the Joker out of the movie as one crazy-ass allegory for chaos and death. And especially when you make the leap of trying to fit terrorism into the framework provided by the Joker, to use the the Joker as a rubric for terrorism.

No one better proves this than the Ft. Hood shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan.

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Comment » | books, counterinsurgency, Current Events, domestic terror, islam, news, politics, terrorism

the number frightened

August 8th, 2011 — 7:51am

(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

Here’s a sad truth, expressed by a Londoner when asked by a television reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?

“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”

The TV reporter from Britain’s ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. “Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard,  more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”

- MSNBC.com’s World Blog

The ongoing riots in and around London highlight the truth behind an old Arab proverb:  “victory is not gained by the number killed, but by the number frightened.”  The formative entropy that began when a Tunisian fruit-dealer immolated himself on the street has finally rippled out across borders of the Arab world and into the West.

But this isn’t the first time an act of public violence somewhere else in the world has started a movement that ends up resonating inside the West as well.

As one century melded into the next, a different sort of terrorism began to stir in the core of the world’s great power.

Like others before, it was rooted in protest against the oppressive policies of what it saw as an immoral and corrupt government. A government that was seen by many as having no right to be exercising any influence over the lives of a people and occupying its lands. A government that hadn’t been legitimately elected by its people and was seen by many as serving the interests of a wealthy elite while ignoring the moral and social degeneration going on inside the nation.

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3 comments » | Uncategorized

an American nightmare

August 1st, 2011 — 10:27pm

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

Things had been looking up for black families, back in 1963 as MLK gave his “I Have A Dream” speech about 70% of black families were headed by a married couple. But that percentage steadily began to drop, between 1970 and 2001 it declined by 34%, double the white decline, and by 2002 it had bottomed out at just 48%.

But if the War on Drugs didn’t directly precipitate the destruction of the African-American family, why did the decline in married black women triple during the first decade of the War?

In fact, the impact of the War on Drugs has been so racially biased that although only 14% of all illicit drug users are black, blacks make up about half of those in prison for drug offenses.  (When you adjust for the fact that the Department of Justice simply throws prisoners who identify as mixed race half-black and half-white out of their data, the proportion is well over half.)  A black man is eight-times as likely as a white man to be locked up at some point in his life. And by 2006 America had, proportionally, almost six-times as many blacks locked up as South Africa did at the height of Apartheid.

Our penal system has grown so massive that the U.S. criminal justice system now employs more people than America’s two largest private employers, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, combined.

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5 comments » | Arab Spring, current affairs, domestic terror, innercity violence, islam, news, politics, prison system, racial inequality, racial tension, racism, reform, revolution, terrorism, war on drugs

the more things change

June 8th, 2011 — 11:00am

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

Al-Qaeda didn’t realize it at the time, but the blueprint for their next campaign of terrorism against America had already been sketched out across the suburban roads and streets of Washington D.C. nearly a decade ago.  In the fall of 2002 the DC Sniper terrorized suburban Washington, killing ten people and critically wounding several others.

It’s taken awhile, but they’ve finally put the pieces together and in the first operational video released since Osama bin Ladin’s death are calling on Muslims in America to carry out the exact same type of attack, simple random shootings that don’t require a cell of fellow terrorists or the resources to construct a bomb – just one bullet and one victim at a time.

These random, utterly unpredictable shootings can be terrifyingly effective. If you weren’t there at the time it’s almost impossible to portray the aura of terror that settled across the beltway duringthe DC sniper’s attacks:

“As the DC Sniper methodically laid victim after victim against the silent and unflinching pavement, every element of society became clotted with the blood of his victims. The first morning of killings was followed, never more than three days later, by more deaths. Deaths which came at intersections you recognized, at gas stations you’d filled your car up at, in parking lots you’d parked in. There was no telling who would die next – no segment of society was being spared.  And so, inside the first week, the mechanics and behavior of DC-area communities began to change.

High school football teams went through plays meant for games that had been suspended indefinitely on the lifeless floors and under the sterile lighting of a gym, instead of surrounded by the smells and memories of grass and dirt and grit that high school football is meant to anoint its followers with.  For weeks, the paths of children walking to school changed from careless and curious Family Circus-esque meanderings to the tactical and strategic zigzags of hardened soldiers operating in hostile territory.

Gas stations no longer enticed new customers by offering free carwashes or lower prices but by stringing up giant tarps in front of their pumps to keep you out of sight while you waited for your car to fill, still pacing behind the tarp in an effort to be a harder-to-hit moving-target. Sitting at a dead stop in your car during rush hour wasn’t frustrating, it was out and out terrifying.

You no longer walked your dog, you ran your dog.

And, in no discernable pattern and with no unifying link, the bodies continued to fall. After the first day of four shootings, a grandfather was followed by a mother-of-two who was followed three days later by a thirteen-year-old boy followed two days later by Vietnam vet. Then came a bus driver. Victims were shot at bus stops, at gas stations, in front of their schools, in parking lots, and inside a city bus. Schools kept the blinds closed in front of every window that had them and taped colored construction paper meant for art projects in front of the windows that didn’t.

Every traffic light seemed like the pull of a trigger in a game of automotive Russian roulette. Halloween pumpkins rotted in their patches, remaining unpicked because spending time bending over in an open field to find the perfect canvas for your jack-o-lantern would mean turning a class of 3rd Graders into a gallery of shooting ducks.

You only felt safe in your own home as long as the window you were standing in front of was shuttered from the evil lurking and killing outside of it. This was terrorism at its awesome finest.”

The one man and one boy team accomplished this with the bare minimum of resources, a handful of bullets, one sniper rifle, and a used 1990 Chevy Caprice purchased on the one-year anniversary of 9/11 as an intentional tribute to that day’s attacks.

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Comment » | current affairs, domestic terror, islam, racial inequality, terrorism

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