Where It All Began

Sayyid Qutb in an Egyptian Prison

Islamic fundamentalism of the jihad variety began a little more than half a century ago with Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the founder of the Islamic Brotherhood, which gave birth to al Qaeda. He is the author of several seminal works including Social Justice (1949) and Milestones (1964). He also is credited with a 30-volume commentary on the Qur’an called In the Shade of the Qur’an. Early in his career, he spent two years in the United States teaching college in Washington, DC; Greeley, CO; and Stanford University.

About American women he wrote:

The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs – and she shows all this and does not hide it. [I always thought this was a global phenomenon]

He did not have much good to say about the tastes of the average American:

The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other. The American’s intoxication in “”jazz” music does not reach its full completion until the music is accompanied by singing that is just as coarse and obnoxious as the music itself. Meanwhile, the noise of the instruments and the voices mounts, and it rings in the ears to an unbearable degree… The agitation of the multitude increases, and the voices of approval mount, and their palms ring out in vehement, continuous applause that all but deafens the ears.

I wonder what he would think of Hip-Hop. He seems not to have liked African-Americans very much.

In the end, I think that Qutb was not very comfortable in his own skin. For one thing, although an Egyptian, his ancestry is part Indian—and we know what happened between the Hindus and the Muslims in India and Pakistan in 1948 (Hint: widespread massacres). In the end, Gamal Abdel Nasser had him imprisoned and hanged in 1966 as a threat to the emerging Egyptian nation state. Qutb and his followers were enemies of nationalism in general and advocated an Islamic government that transcended the borders of existing nation states.

Many of the Islamic terrorists of our day are inspired by entities that pay homage to Qutb, including al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Things I Don’t Really Want to Write About

Subject A

Subject A

It is difficult for me not to write about certain subjects, especially when I am so upset about them. But then, I have to think about you, my readers. However strong I feel about certain things, what if I really don’t have anything to add about what has already been said?

Anyhow, on to the list, in no particular ordure [SIC]:

  1. Presidential Elections. Let’s face it: Even the pundits whose job it is to opine on the political scene either have nothing new to say, or else they are in the business of influencing opinions.
  2. Donald Trump. You know what I think about the Cheeto-haired beast. ’Nuff said!
  3. Awards. Whether it’s the Oscars or the Nobel Prize for Literature, it’s all about politics, usually who hates whom.
  4. American Conservatism. It seems to be segueing into National Socialism (Nazism).
  5. Police Violence. Black lives do matter! All Americans matter!
  6. Terrorism. Everything we do emboldens the terrorists, so let’s just get on with our lives.
  7. Guns. Since when does a “well-regulated Militia” mean that crazy people get to play with Bushmasters?
  8. Ecology. Even if the Earth is on the point of being irretrievably poisoned, we gotta dig coal and chop down trees, no?

There are probably a handful of other subjects which aren’t worth ranting about, mostly because of the seemingly irresolvable split between the Union and the Confederacy. Occasionally, I will still blab out a post when I know I should keep my mouth shut. Please forgive me in advance!

Belgian Cats Against Terrorism

General Bonkers Will Explain the Situation

General Bonkers Will Explain the Situation

When Brussels was placed under a terrorism alert in November, security officials requested that the public remain silent regarding ongoing counter-terrorism operations lest they alert potential targets of police raids. So how did the Belgians react? With cat pictures … hundreds of them! All relate in one way or another to the terror alert, but with a sense of humor that no one knew the Belgians had.

They Said to Stay Inside!

They Said to Stay Inside!

These are just three images for your enterrainment. For more images, I suggest you click here.

All Clear Yet?

All Clear Yet?


I wish to thank Martine for bringing these pictures to my attention.

The Brussels Airport Attack

Patrick Smith On the Brussels Airport Attack

Patrick Smith on the Brussels Airport Attack

I don’t do this very often, but I want to quote in its entirety Patrick Smith’s well reasoned attack on the “We Need More Security at Our Airports” argument from his website, Ask the Pilot:

I WAS AFRAID OF THIS. The minute I learned of the double bombing at the Brussels airport check-in lobby earlier today, I knew how the conversation would go. Sure enough, even before the morning was out, we were hearing calls for tighter security in airports.

First, a little history. Although airplanes themselves are historically the choicest target, attacks inside terminals are nothing new. For instance:

In 1972, the Japanese Red Army murdered 26 people in the arrivals lounge at Israel’s Lod Airport (today’s Ben Gurion International).

In 1985, the Abu Nidal group killed 20 in a pair of coordinated ticket counter assaults at Vienna and Rome.

In 2002, a gunman shot three people near the El Al airlines ticket counter at LAX.

And most recently, in January, 2011, a suicide bomber at Moscow’s busy Domodedovo airport killed 35 people.

“Aviation security experts have been warning” read an Associated Press story after the Moscow attack, “that the crowds at many airports present tempting targets to suicide bombers. Arrivals halls are usually open to anyone.”

Now, in the wake of Brussels, we’re hearing this again. The implication is that our airports aren’t yet secure enough, and that only more barricades and checkpoints and scanners and cameras and guards standing around with automatic weapons will make them so. There’s talk from supposed security experts asking if perhaps terminals need to be closed off to everybody except ticketed passengers and employees, with security checkpoints moved literally onto the sidewalk.

This is something I worried about years ago, when I was a columnist for Salon. Just wait, I wrote, until the next big attack takes place at the check-in counter or at baggage claim. They’ll be turning our airports into fortresses.

As, if by moving the fences, they can’t get us. The only thing moving security curbside would actually do, of course, is shift the perimeter — and the busy choke point of passengers — to a new location. This means nothing to an attacker, whose so-called “soft target” has simply been relocated from one spot to another, no less convenient one. But it would mean immense amounts of hassle for everybody else.

Thus, it’s precisely the wrong line of thinking. It’s reactionary in the purest sense, and it plays directly into the terrorist’s strategy — a strategy that encourages a response that is based on fear instead of reason, and that is ultimately self-defeating.

The reality is, we can never make our airports, or any other crowded places, impervious to attack. And while maybe you wouldn’t mind living in a society in which every terminal, shopping mall, sports venue and subway station has been militarized and strung with surveillance equipment, count me among those who would.

When Terrorists Control the News Cycle

It’s All a Matter of Timing

It’s All a Matter of Timing

I first discovered this during the Iraq war starting around 8-10 years ago. The forerunner of ISIS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq, never had to go all out against their American enemies: One attack every few days would keep the news cycle forever buzzing. By the time the story was ready to go to an inner page, there would be a new improvised explosive device (IED) that caused American casualties, and the fearmongering would start up again at full volume.

The bombing in Jakarta was, I really believe, such an incident. Of the seven deaths, five were up the suicide bombers themselves, so the butcher’s bill was negligible. Or it could be as little as the guy in France who attacked a police station with a meat cleaver, only to be met by a hail of bullets from the flics.

Key to this strategy is (1) maintaining a high level of fear (and ISIS knows that Americans are a bunch of scaredy cats) and (2) repeat every couple of days, preferably in a new part of the world. Next time, maybe Iceland or Paraguay or Bermuda. Make people think the ISIS baddies are everywhere and all-powerful. That serves as a potent recruiting aid to bring in new fighters and their molls, especially since there are so many millions of young suburbanites around the world who have little or no moral compass.

I think the best way to combat this strategy is to steer clear of the news: Don’t let it control your life. And feel free to sneer.

Twenty Years in the Middle East

Do We Know Our Way About the Middle East Any More Now Than in 1995?

Do We Know Our Way About the Middle East Any More Now Than in 1995?

North Africa, the Middle East—in fact, the entire Islamic world—remain a giant mystery to us because we prefer to continue with our deadly combination of naiveté and sophisticated weaponry. Are we culturally aware of the peoples of the Islamic world? Are we teaching Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi in our schools to the generation that will take up the burden laid on our shoulders by the Bushes, Cheneys, Rumsfelds, and their discredited Neocon advisers?

The problem is, we are babes in the woods … where there are no woods. They know all about us, but we still know squat about them.

We are not winning anyone’s hearts and minds with our ignorance and fecklessness. What we are doing is creating a war zone that looks to be getting worse each year, despite the much-vaunted Arab spring. Given enough time, perhaps the entire population of the countries between Morocco and Iraq will cross over the border into Europe. (Fortunately, it’s too difficult to sail a flimsy raft full of refugees across the oceans.) Then there won’t be a Middle East, just a Muslim Europe—which is certainly not where the nations of Europe want to be.

Macedonian Police and Syrian Refugees

Macedonian Police Holding Back Syrian Refugees

It’s difficult to predict what will happen, especially since all we seem to be doing is committing random mayhem in the name of combating “terrorism.”

So who is to blame? Everyone. The United States for being willfully stupid. The Arabs and North Africans for thinking that Islamic fundamentalism is the answer … to everything. The Europeans, for letting themselves be overrun. It doesn’t look good.

 

 

Riding the News Cycle Without a Helmet

Follow the News Cycles If You Must ... But Don’t Get All Tangled Up in Them

Follow the News Cycles If You Must … But Don’t Get All Tangled Up in Them

In yesterday’s post (“Terrorism Made Easy”), I suggested that the news orgies indulged in my the media—especially cable news—make it extraordinarily easy for terrorists to get us all in a dither with a minimum amount of effort.Today, I plan to go one step further: Stay away from the news as much as possible. It’ll only mess you up.

Now there were times when the news affected my travel plans: I would not go to Guatemala during the dictatorship of Efraín Ríos Montt in the 1980s, I would not visit Peru during the Sendero Luminoso insurgency of the 1980s and early 1990s, and I would not go to El Salvador today because of the Mara Salvatrucha criminal gang. Oh, and there’s some parts of Mexico I would shy away from because of the narcotraficantes (namely the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Sonora, Monterrey, and Michoacán).

That said, I lose track of Middle East skulduggery because there is so much of it that I confuse the incidents one with the other. Nor is it important to know the number of car bombs in Baghdad, the casualties at Kobani, the Hamas-Israel pissing match, the piracy and banditry of Somalia, the endless repercussions of Benghazi, or even the weirdness of North Korea’s non-interaction with the world. Because I read the paper, I have a rough idea of what is happening. The details are just a tad excessive.

I work with a really nice bookkeeper who listens to the news and all the pundits on her long drive to work. All the badness, of which there is an endless amount, has the effect of making her depressed. I suggest that she listen to nice music instead, either the classics at KUSC or new wave at KTWV.

Remember one thing about the news: They are trying to make you hooked on all this global negativity so you keep coming back for more, and maybe even buy all the crapola the sponsors want to unload on you. Skip a few news cycles. Maybe read the paper instead, or a weekly news magazine (if there still is one), or even the Internet. When things get too bad, I’d rather put on some J. S. Bach or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As my old hero Ghoulardi (about whom I will write more in the next week or so) said, “Cool it with the Boom-Booms!”

 

Terrorism Made Easy

What Would I Do If I Were a Terrorist?

What Would I Do If I Were a Terrorist?

What if I were one of the black hats for ISIS, ISIL, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week, I would have the world gelid with fear at relatively little cost to myself. Let’s face it, the “Dark Side” is a powerful draw for disaffected young people around the world. One can get an almost endless supply of young Arabs, Americans, Europeans, and Canadians who would be willing to blow themselves up—and take any number of innocent victims with them.

Given the way the news media around the world operate, any single incident is multiplied as if with endless mirrors for weeks at a time. Look at Benghazi: It’s still going strong for over two years. Then there’s the occasional beheading of an American or a European, interspersed with car bombs at Shia shrines. It doesn’t take much to have Faux News and their imitators spinning their heads in unison with a warning siren at max volume. One dire incident shades into another, and with relatively little effort, the whole thing looks like its continuous dripping evil spreading all over the world.

Great Symbolism! Really Evil!

Great Symbolism! Really Evil!

I’m not telling the terrorists what they don’t already know. The reach of our media stretches around the globe, so the bad guys know exactly how frightened, ill-informed, and chickenshit we are. I would not be surprised if the world spends ten trillion dollars in the next couple of months trying to eliminate ISIS or some other terrorist group de jour. In the process we are actually arming them.

Isn’t that what judo is all about—using your opponents’ strength against them? Hijacking their weapons while deciding on the next terrorist incident to occupy the news media, their anchors, pundits, and wingnut entertainers.

I must say: It’s really quite elegant.

 

Two Wild & Crazy Guys from Dagestan

Not Understanding American Culture Can Be Dangerous

Not Understanding American Culture Can Be Deadly

You may recall those two Wild & Crazy guys from Czechoslovakia, the brothers Yortuk and Georg Festrunk, on Saturday Night Live. As they shimmied across the stage in search of “foxes, ” they displayed an exquisite misunderstanding what the United States was all about. In the case of Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd, the result was comedy. In the case of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two Chechen brothers from Dagestan, the result was death and disorder.

In the years to come, one of the greatest dangers to America will be the failure of immigrants from cultures vastly different from our own to adapt to the prevailing culture of the U.S. Even the mother returned to Russia, leaving several arrest warrants for shoplifting in her wake. The streets of America are not paved with gold. They are fraught with dangers not understood by people who have been influenced by our popular culture without understanding the particular demons that we in the States have to contend with in our daily lives.

After the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, my parents took in two sets of refugees. The first was a mother and son who thought that, now they were in America, everything would be golden. That ended badly when Feddike, the son, was sent to a juvenile correctional facility. Next was Lászlo, a young man in his twenties, who also quickly fell afoul of the law—whereupon my mother and father resolved not to take in any more refugees from the Mother Country.

I do not mean to imply that immigration is bad, but that American culture sends misleading vibes to the rest of the world. People who are not thoughtful and who think that just being on American soil is the solution to all their problems are more likely to go astray. No, they must be ready to roll up their sleeves and start working long and hard toward their goals.

The Tsarnaev brothers should be an object lesson to American officials that they have to probe more deeply than mere external circumstances when opening the doors of the henhouse to potential predators.

The NRA Is a Terrorist Organization

Logo for America’s Newest Terrorist Organization

Logo for America’s Newest Terrorist Organization

I think it’s time to face the fact that—under the guise of allowing pudgy old white men to play with guns—the real intent of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is to facilitate the slaughter of innocents by confirmed lunatics.

The number of slaughtered innocents just went up today when a “shooter” (such a neutral term for such a hideous type of person) killed more than two dozen kids and teachers at a Connecticut school today.

Still, whatever happens, the Republican party will try to bury any negative response because so many of their supporters are pudgy old white men who like to play with guns. It doesn’t matter whether thousands of little boys and girls die under a hail of bullets, that’s just the price we pay for allowing pudgy old white men who like to play with guns to have a disproportionate say in the political process.

Perhaps what we need here is some computer matching: Camouflage clothing + body armor + assault weapons and, in general, multiple guns + young male + psychological problems + lack of education = possible “shooter.” It would take quite a bit of doing to link all that information together, but there does seem to be a pattern.

It’s a tough pattern to break. We look at ourselves as a nation of Marlboro Cowboys, whereas actually we’re a nation of psychopaths.