Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump's aiding Israel to establish apartheid regime will cost him many supporters

Published on Mar 23, 2017

An Arab delegation has met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to protest against the world body’s withdrawal of a report that condemned Israel’s acts against Palestinians.

The delegation included Palestinian, Omani and Iraqi ambassadors to the U-N. The Palestinian envoy said in the meeting that the delegation does not accept methods that are not in the culture of the United Nations.

Riyad Mansour added that bullying tactics and intimidation pushed the UN to retract the report. The report published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia accused Israel of establishing an apartheid regime and slammed its racial oppression of Palestinians.

The head of the body resigned in protest at the report’s withdrawal. Rima Khalaf’s resignation has drawn widespread condemnation.

Col. McGrеgor (USArmy), "If you face armored units of the United States and Russia, the Americans will be defeated"

Col. McGrеgor (USArmy), "If you face armored units of the United States and Russia, the Americans will be defeated" - a brigade of Russian tanks are moving to Lithuania. NATO split, controversy and doubt what to do, but take the initiative in the hands of Americans. Repeatedly say the words "don't doubt our willingness to defend your country" come true in Lithuania. It deployed 4 of 32 battle groups of the United States. Lithuania feels more secure, and she manages to mobilize the military 6000 – one brigade with additional units that protect Vilnius.
(On the right the emblem of the second cowpolka of the US army)
But there is something that was very difficult to imagine: the battle groups of the brigade of the United States Russian break in a few days. This is one of the scenarios that were presented to the Committee on military Affairs of Congress the hero of the war in Iraq, retired Colonel Douglas MacGregor. The document is 20 + pages laid on the table chiefs at the Pentagon 3 years ago. In 2015 it was discussed in Congress. Today it is only possible to note with satisfaction that under Obama the idea of the Colonel was buried, and weapons manufacturers in the United States. God willing, they and Trump will not reform the USArmy as proposed by McGregor. And it's this:
McGregor has attracted attention is not accidental. He is a veteran of the First Gulf war, commanded 2 cavalry squadron (regiment), which in 23 minutes broke bonebright Iraq. But the controversial ideas of this military cause some confusion in the US army, which is undergoing a period of great reforms. The number of troops is reduced from 600,000 to 450,000, or even 420,000, and that means closing bases, reducing units. This means that thousands of people lose their jobs.
The U.S. military leadership is in a hurry to emphasize that "smaller forces can do more" that the fighting capacity is not reduced, and the measures of the Baltic countries, such as dislocation of the mouth of American military Stryker armored vehicles – is adequate, but McGregor disagrees.
"The parade of vehicles Stryker anyone in Moscow will not disappoint. The little Russians are doing well, but they are very successful destabilisateur or conquer neighboring countries since the time of Peter the Great. And what is our response? A small part of the armoured trucks," said the Colonel.
According to him, the concept of the battle groups of the brigade of the United States ineffective, too bulky, she can't fight without serious logistical support. And when you consider that in Europe the us military was only 30 000 out of 300 000, it is difficult to expect that the Pentagon reduce spending by any means, allocate a huge help. MacGregor criticizes the obsolete armament of the U.S. army and its leaders, which supposedly is guided by narrow personal interests and squanders money. That is why in the report of 21 pages – both scenarios in which defending Lithuania against a Russian attack battle group brigade of the United States befalls a sad fate.
"Then, in February 1991, at the battle of 73 easting (Battle of 73 Easting, the battle along the vertical grid lines 73) we won. If braabracada Iraq was better trained and armed, such as Russian, it would have ended differently. If you face armored units of the US and Russia, the Americans will lose. No, "lose" is the wrong word. They will be defeated," said the American.
Lithuania can successfully protect new unit
McGregor is not only criticism of the reforms of the American army, during the eight years he created and presented the structure of the new unit – Reconnaissance-strike group. It should be more - total 5 500 soldiers, commanded by a General. But the new unit is characterized by greater mobility. Instead of three regular battalions of the brigade's four combat squadrons, squadron fire support, logistics, and small staff. It is assumed that headquarters is smaller officers, and the division is accountable only to senior management. In addition, the new unit does have other weapons.
If the standard battle group bonebright – only American arms – 87 Abrams tanks, 160 armored vehicles, Bradley, for a new division of McGregor offers a technique created in other countries. Partly because America is not the first year you cannot create a new bonemachine means of self-propelled artillery, although it spent one billion dollars. On the other hand, foreign technology sometimes already established, it's better and easily implemented.
First of all, it is proposed to refuse from consuming a lot of fuel tanks, and replace them with 350 tracked German Puma armored vehicles, some of which will be armed the same as the tanks with guns of 120 mm. the Rest will be with guns 30 mm – what is planned to equip the new armored vehicle of the Lithuanian army. According to McGregor, the German Puma armored car is one of the best in the world, the production line can be transferred to the United States, and the cost of fuel these machines will be much smaller.
In addition, Reconnaissance-strike group would be armed not currently used towed guns and mobile mortars AMOS and mobile missile systems of volley fire MLRS. Air support will have 12 Apache attack helicopters and two dozen TARES drones that can destroy targets at 200 km.
All this would enable the unit to instantly turn around in Lithuania in the area of 100 km and quick to respond to threats from all sides, and most importantly - Reconnaissance-strike group would operate independently and without additional logistics support from ten days to two weeks, or to cover the distance of 1800 km. Experts say that it is the speed when you try to save the territory is one of the most important elements in the defense of the Baltic States. American politicians and attracts the argument of McGregor that a new unit would cost US cheaper than the current one. According to McGregor, in the other two scenarios in which Lithuania protect the new Reconnaissance-strike group, one of them stopped the attack of Russia, and two others were able to defeat the attackers, the Russians, even when they had more troops and equipment.

Karo Baltijos regione scenarijai: naujosios Žvalgomosios smogiamosios grupės veiksmai © Organizatorių nuotr.

Had forgotten what a serious opponent
Of course, such radical methods of reforming the armed forces of the United States based on scenarios of attacks on the Baltic States are not only admiration, but also resentment. "McGregor intimidates the army. His suggestions in the future become more easy and quick with indignation. He seemed to come to the zoo and hit the gorilla in the face," said one representative of the U.S. army.
It is McGregor in 2001 proposed to conduct a military operation in Iraq at minimum cost and at lightning speed. And although the generals did not like this idea, it was partially implemented, as the USA defeated Iraq in a lightning attack, not a long military campaign. "He's a pain in the ass, but that doesn't mean he's wrong. Serious people take it seriously," said Brigadier General mark Kimmitt.
However, another well-known military man, Lieutenant-General G. R. McMaster, says that his former colleague McGregor did not appreciate the challenges of logistics. "Yes, a new unit will be able to fight without providing a week or two, but if you have to fight longer, what then? If the task is not only to win the battle, but to stay for a longer time? This will require and more and more soldiers," said McMaster. But McGregor said that this is one of the reasons of all troubles – the United States too much time and attention given to wars in which it was necessary to "rebuild the country" but have forgotten what it means to fight with the enemy with the same capacity.

Donbass, East Ukraine On Its Way To Becoming Own Country By Default

Donbass, East Ukraine On Its Way To Becoming Own Country By Default

From Activist Post, by Brandon Turbeville
After having fallen prey to Western machinations of destabilization and civil war, it is apparent that there may now be irreparable differences between the East and West portions of Ukraine. With the East of Ukraine more in line with Russia and the West more in line with Western Europe, all compounded by years of civil war and outright persecution and atrocities committed by the fascist Ukrainian forces, the DPR and LPR are showing signs of going their separate ways and breaking away from West Ukraine in a more final fashion.
When Crimea voted to reunite with Russia after a long separation, many suspected the DPR and LPR would follow suit. In fact, there was a movement within both republics to do the same. However, geopolitical and diplomatic concerns on the part of Russia prevented such a vote from ever solidifying a “reunification” with Russia.
A vote to reunify with Russia in the same fashion as Crimea would have no doubt caused a diplomatic emergency between Russia and the warmongering West. Indeed, it may have even caused military confrontation. However, after time passed and the impasse between East and West Ukraine has become more pronounced, it appears that East Ukraine is making moves toward becoming its own country even without formal recognition. East Ukraine – DPR and LPR (Donbass)– may very well become their own nation by default and by natural progression of events.
Eastern Ukraine (Donbass) has, for at least a year, begun working on setting up the framework of a governmental system, complete with a political framework, the seizing of banks, and the operation of various industries. Greater centralized military structure, as necessitated by the current conflict, has also become a reality.
Ironically, it appears Donbass is more so on its way to becoming its own independent country as a result of the actions of the fascists of East Ukraine than perhaps it would have been if simple neutrality and peace would have been observed by Kiev. Every act of force by Kiev has served to push Donbass further and further away from Ukraine and more toward independence. These acts of force are also pushing Donbass toward greater cooperation with Russia, whose involvement in Crimea, political opposition to Western destabilization, and involvement in East Ukraine (still vociferously denied by the Kremlin) is the only reason Western forces did not simply roll over separatists and establish NATO bases on Russia’s border in 2014.
In February, in a possible message to the West and a probable step forward in supporting the independence if not the “reunification” with Russia, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would be recognizing all “administrative acts” coming from the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. These administrative acts include the issuance of IDs, passports, and other personal documents. While not an official recognition of the DPR/LPR governments, this announcement is obviously a step in that direction.
East Ukraine has been under what amounts to an economic blockade since early in the conflict which began in 2014. However, Kiev stepped up the pressure recently by allowing fascist activists from preventing coal produced in West Ukraine from entering East Ukraine, thus preventing Eastern communities from a vital source of income. Donbass is now under a full economic and transportation blockade which Russia has repeatedly called for an end to.
On March 1, the Donbass Republics essentially nationalized over 40 types of “enterprises” or industries. These enterprises range from large-scale to mid-range. This essentially broke up much of the economic power wielded by Ukrainian oligarchs, particularly Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man.
The nationalization was also inspired as a result of Kiev having backed out of a deal that would have seen the businesses that were seized pay taxes to Kiev while Kiev continued to pay pensions and other social benefits to residents of the Donbass Republics. However, Kiev eventually stopped paying those pensions and froze the bank accounts of Donbass residents. Thus, Donbass was presented with the impetus for seizing the enterprises as they were essentially funding the war against their own territory by allowing the oligarch-owned businesses to pay taxes to Kiev. There were also concerns related to oligarchy as a concept but, more acutely, oligarchical influence in the DPR and LPR itself by virtue of the financial influence held by the oligarchs whose businesses were seized.
Shortly after the nationalization, Kiev officially ordered an official travel blockade against the Donbass Republics. As Deutsche Welle reported,
Ukraine on Wednesday announced a transport blockade on the rebel-held east of the country, escalating a political crisis that has the hurt the economy on both sides and threatened a fragile ceasefire.
The move comes after separatists confiscated dozens of strategic-Ukraine industries earlier this month in response to a rail blockade imposed by right-wing Ukrainian nationalists and war veterans since January.
“It will be in place until the occupiers return stolen Ukrainian industry to Ukrainian jurisdiction,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told the country’s national security council in Kyiv.
Only humanitarian deliveries by Ukrainian organizations, the United Nations and the Red Cross would be allowed to cross the contact line, the national security council said.
The decision to block all rail and road traffic heading from the east marks a dramatic reversal for Poroshenko, who had previously sought to end the nationalist blockade.
Earlier this week, security forces clashed with activists and some right-wing lawmakers blocking the rail lines. The forces implementing the blockade say the trade helps fund rebels.
Economic links between government and rebel-held territory have largely held during three years of conflict. But the rail blockade has disrupted trade and vital coal shipments from the east to industries in territory controlled by the government.
Donbass activists and representatives are claiming that the blockade is revealing tensions inside Western Ukraine between Poroshenko’s government and the fascist forces continuing to provoke hostilities. However, at the end of the day, Poroshenko’s government and the fascists on the ground appear to be on the same page now that the blockade has been codified and legitimized by Kiev.
The Donbass separatists, however, appear unfazed. “Kiev can do whatever it wants on its side of the demarcation line. We don’t care. We aren’t changing our position,” said Alexander Zackharchenko, separatist leader.
Yet, while the blockade of the shipments of coal was designed to boycott and break the backs of the people of Donbass, the blockade is a double-edged sword, since East Ukrainians will also be deprived of much-needed coal to heat themselves. But it seems Donbass has gotten around the Kiev boycott by finding another market for their coal – Russia, leaving Kiev literally in the cold to live with the consequences of their blockade.
Zachkarchenko announced on March 14 that Donbass had shipped 90 wagon loads of coal to Russia, a claim that a Russian spokesman would neither confirm nor deny. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin, would only say that Russia was attempting to “relieve the suffering of the people” in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman stated in early March that Ukraine was losing $73-147 million per month due to the trade blockade and stated that the coal shortage that has resulted from the blockade is damaging the metallurgy industry and serving to further cripple the Ukrainian economy. Russia has also called for an end to the blockade and labeled Kiev’s actions as standing in opposition to all common sense.
But now that Donbass has found another trading partner, it appears that Kiev and the powers that back it have made a strategic miscalculation to say the least.
Indeed, it appears that with each act of aggression on the part of Kiev and the West, Donbass is not frightened back into subservience but, quite the opposite, it is being pushed further and further away both into the Russian orbit and into independence.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

US Threatens to Cut Funding For Kiev Terrorism After Putin Weaponizes Diplomacy

US Threatens to Cut Funding For Kiev Terrorism After Putin Weaponizes Diplomacy

Russian diplomacy is now an existential threat to the entire world
8 hours ago | 
Warmongers and psychopaths from around the world wrote tearful Facebook status updates after it was revealed that Congress is looking to cut U.S. military aid to Ukraine to just $150 million — less than half of the $350 million Kiev received from Washington in 2016.
What could prompt the Republican-led Congress to do something so reasonable?
Starts with a "P", ends with an "utin".
As our least-favorite British tabloid, the Independentexplains:
Putin has finally managed to weaponize diplomacy.

"Totally normal!!"
Talking with people and then changing their minds — because what you said was persuasive? This is probably an uncommon experience among Democrats. But yes, we agree — for the rest of us, this is "totally normal!!"

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Month in Pictures: February 2017

The Electronic Intifada 
3 March 2017

Palestinians mourn over the body of Obeid Sufi, 25, during his funeral in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on 25 February. Sufi was among three workers who died after inhaling poisonous gas inside a tunnel under the border between Gaza and Egypt. Ashraf AmraAPA images

During the month of February, a Palestinian died at an Israeli hospital where he was being treated after being shot by soldiers months earlier.

Muhammad Jallad was on his way to a chemotherapy session on 9 November when he was shot while crossing a street in the village of Huwwara in the northern occupied West Bank. The army claimed he was attempting to attack soldiers with a screwdriver.

An elderly man was shot in the foot and pelvis by soldiers at the same location on 28 February. The army claimed that Hussein Hassan Qawariq, 72, did not obey the soldiers’ commands before he was shot.

A Palestinian woman was shot and injured by a security guard at the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem one day earlier. The army claimed she was walking in the vehicle lane at the checkpoint while carrying a bag in a “suspicious manner” and did not heed the guards’ orders to stop.

A Palestinian youth from the West Bank was arrested after he allegedly injured six people during a shooting and stabbing attack in Petah Tikva, a city in Israel, on 9 February. A Palestinian citizen of Israel was attacked by a crowd of Israelis during the incident after shouting “Warning! Take cover!” in Arabic, Israel’s Ynet reported.

An elderly Palestinian man died after being run over by an Israeli settler.
Fisherman in critical condition

Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians in Gaza along the boundary with Israel and at sea, disrupting the work of farmers and fishermen. A fisherman was in critical condition after being shot in the back while being detained off Gaza’s coast on 21 February.

Gaza was hit by Israeli airstrikes on two occasions during the month, injuring two civilians and damaging agricultural land and a poultry farm on 6 February and injuring four Palestinians during multiple airstrikes on 27 February. Both incidents occurred after rockets fired from Gaza landed in southern Israel, causing no injuries or damage.

Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza tunnels during February.

Hamas authorities in Gaza accused Egypt of filling a tunnel with poisonous gas that caused three workers to suffocate to death. Another worker died when Egypt flooded the tunnel he was in.

Two more tunnel workers were killed in what the Gaza ministry of health said was an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in southern Gaza, but the Israeli military denied involvement in the reported strike.

A fighter with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, died when a tunnel used for “resistance” purposes collapsed on him.

Rafah crossing, the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, was opened for three days for entry to Egypt and one day for exit to Gaza, allowing more than 1,500 Palestinians to leave and nearly 1,400 to return to Gaza.

Rafah was closed by Egypt in October 2014 and is opened with rare exception. The crossing was partially opened only 44 days last year.

“According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, over 20,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross,” the United Nations monitoring group OCHA reported in February.
Disparate sentences

An Israeli army medic was sentenced to 18 months in prison for shooting an immobilized Palestinian in the head last year, killing him, while an Israeli who stabbed and injured another Israeli who he mistook for a Palestinian was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

Palestinian teens, one of them a minor, were sentenced to 12 years and 15 years imprisonment for stabbing attacks on Israelis. A 16-year-old Palestinian girl was sentenced to 6 years in prison after Israeli police found a knife in her bag.

Police forces evacuated two West Bank settlement outposts not authorized by the Israeli government during the month.

Israel tightened restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout the Ramallah area during the evacuation of 250 settlers from Amona. “This negatively affected the movement of tens of thousands of Palestinians, particularly those commuting between the northern and southern West Bank,” OCHA reported.

Dozens of police officers were reportedly injured during the Amona operation, according to OCHA, while a police spokesperson told media that 11 officers sustained “minor bruises and even bites” during the evacuation of nine unauthorized homes in Ofra settlement.

Meanwhile, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a bill that would retroactively legalize the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land throughout the West Bank.
Bedouin villages under threat

The Bedouin village of al-Araqib in southern Israel was demolished for the 109th time and Israel delivered stop work and demolition orders against nearly all structures in the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar near Jerusalem.

“Among the targeted structures is a donor-funded primary school made of tires and mud, which serves around 170 children from five Palestinian Bedouin communities,” OCHA reported.

“Khan al-Ahmar is one of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank, struggling to maintain a minimum standard of living in the face of intense pressure from the Israeli authorities to move to a planned relocation site,” stated Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory.

Two people, including a child, were killed during fighting in Ein al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria reported that 25 Palestinians died as a result of the ongoing war there during February.

Fifteen were said to be combatants killed during fighting alongside both government and opposition forces. Two were executed by Islamic State fighters. Another two were reportedly killed under torture in Syrian government detention, and several more were killed by sniper fire, shelling and in air strikes.

Thousands march in Tel Aviv during a demonstration against house demolitions and incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel. The demonstration took place after mass demolitions in the Palestinian town of Qalansawa and in the Bedouin Palestinian village of Umm al-Hiran, during which a resident was killed by police. The demonstrators called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and public security minister Gilad Erdan to resign. Keren ManorActiveStills

A Palestinian inspects a poultry farm damaged in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City’s eastern suburb of Shujaiya on 7 February. Ashraf AmraAPA images

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (second from left) and Mohammed Al-Emadi (center), Qatar’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, preside over a ceremony marking the second phase of a Qatar-funded housing project in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, 11 February.Ashraf AmraAPA images

Owners of factories destroyed during Israel’s assault on Gaza in summer 2014 hold a protest in Gaza City demanding their reconstruction, 14 February. Ashraf AmraAPA images

A Palestinian man evacuates a child in a flooded quarter of Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, 16 February. Heavy winter rains have caused flooding across Gaza, overwhelming the territory’s fragile sewage system. Ezz ZanounActiveStills

Posters of children killed during Israel’s 2014 assault are displayed in al-Shati refugee camp, Gaza City, 16 February. Anne PaqActiveStills

Palestinian youths force open a gate in Israel’s wall during a protest marking 12 years of struggle against the wall and the occupation in the West Bank village of Bilin, 17 February.Oren ZivActiveStills

A demonstrator in the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum holds up a burning tire in front of an Israeli military jeep during a protest against the occupation, 17 February. Kafr Qaddum began organizing weekly demonstrations in July 2011 to protest the army’s closure of the main road connecting the village to the city of Nablus. Haidi MotolaActiveStills

Palestinians wait for the arrival of their family members at Rafah crossing after it was opened by Egypt to allow stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza, 18 February. Ashraf AmraAPA images

Students sit in a classroom at the school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar near Jerusalem on 22 February. Israeli authorities delivered stop work and demolition orders affecting nearly every structure in the community, including the school which serves some 170 children from five communities. Faiz Abu RmelehActiveStills

Palestinians protest on the 23rd anniversary of Israel’s closure of Shuhada Street in the West Bank city of Hebron on 22 February. Israel closed the main street and marketplace in February 1994 after an American settler opened fire on and massacred worshippers in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque.Wisam HashlamounAPA images

Palestinians shop in a new indoor mall, the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip, featuring an international retail chain, three-story bookstore and food court, on 23 February. Ashraf AmraAPA images

Palestinians hold a rally to show solidarity with Nael Barghouthi, the longest-held Palestinian in Israeli prison, in Gaza City on 23 February. Barghouti was first arrested at the age of 20 in 1978 and released in a prisoner swap in 2011 but arrested a few years later. An Israeli military court reinstated his previous life sentence plus an additional 18 years in February. Barghouti has spent more than 35 years in Israeli prison, according to the rights group Addameer. Ashraf AmraAPA images

Palestinian workers queue at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 26 February. Thousands of Palestinian workers from the south of the West Bank come to the checkpoint before dawn each day in order to be on the other side as early as possible. Anne PaqActiveStills

Palestinians gather in Manger Square in the West Bank city of Bethlehem to watch the finale of the popular TV show Arab Idol and cheer for Yacoub Shaheen, a local singer, on 26 February. Shaheen became the second Palestinian to win the singing competition after Mohammed Assaf from the Gaza Strip who won the title in 2013. Anne PaqActiveStills

US atrocities at home and abroad foster support for terrorist groups.

The Roots of Terrorism

US atrocities at home and abroad foster support for terrorist groups.

U.S. soldiers search the remains of a destroyed house in West Muqdadiyah, Iraq, in 2007. (US Army / Flickr)
The next issue of Jacobin, “Journey to the Dark Side,” will be out February 21. Subscribe for the first time at a discount.
What makes America unsafe? Is it a welcoming attitude towards ordinary law-abiding Muslims and other disparate peoples scattered across the globe? Or is it the enactment of policies that indiscriminately and unfairly harm average people?
If you’re President Trump, it’s undoubtedly the former. Trump has spent the last few days attacking the judge who stayed his Muslim ban, claiming it “put our country in such peril” and that without the ban “we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled.”
But a recently released letter to President Obama written by alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad suggests a different conclusion.
The eighteen-page letter, dated January 8, 2015 and written while Mohammad was serving time in Guantanamo, was obtained by the Miami Herald from Mohammad’s lawyers after a court-ordered thirty-day review period to remove any sensitive information. The letter lays out Mohammad’s grievances against the United States and makes clear what we have long known from other terrorists’ testimonies: that it’s a decades-long, destructive and largely bipartisan Washington foreign policy that drives such men to commit acts of terror, not the supposedly malevolent influence of a fundamentalist version of Islam.
Mohammad’s defense attorney, David Niven, told the Miami Heraldthat Mohammad began writing the letter in 2014 during Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge, which levelled whole neighborhoods in Gaza and killed more than two thousand Palestinians in fifty days, the vast majority of which were civilians and many of which were children. Indeed, just four sentences in, Mohammad accuses Obama of having hands “still wet with the blood of our brothers and sisters and children who were killed in Gaza,” citing the horrific statistics coming out of the assault.
A large part of the letter is devoted to answering the question, “Why did 9/11 Happen? And Why May it Happen Again?” Central to the causes of such attacks, according to Mohammad, is Israel’s nearly seventy-year old occupation of Palestine and its continued apartheid policies against the Palestinian people.
“The war crimes perpetrated in Palestine since 1948, and those taking place in Gaza today, are the clearest indication of why 9/11 happened, and why it may happen again in the future,” Mohammad writes immediately after posing the question.
Indeed, resentment at Israel’s policies, and continued US support for said policies, is shot through the letter. Dozens of angry references to Israel, Gaza, and the plight of the Palestinians line its text, including Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, its slaying of four children on a Gaza beach in 2014, and its continued domination over Palestinian airspace, waters, and movement. Enclosed with the letter is a map of Palestinian loss of land between 1946 and 2010.
At one point, Mohammad strikes a Trumpian note, arguing that the United States’ substantial financial support for Israel comes at the expense of its own domestic stability.
“Do you realize that Israel is a wealthy nation with a higher per capita income than Romania, Spain, Egypt, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, while the US is an increasingly indebted country damaging its own social programs in favor of your spoiled, coddled, pampered baby, Israel?” he writes. (Mohammad isn’t totally accurate: At least as of this year, according to World Bank figures, South Korea’s per capita is income is slightly higher than Israel’s; Saudi Arabia’s is substantially higher. Still, the point stands.)
Mohammad goes on to label Obama “the president of soup kitchens and food stamps” who cuts “money from the budget for US education and health programs” while “providing money to put the tools of killing and destruction into the hands of Israel to be used against Palestinian and Lebanese Muslims.” (In his final year in office, Obama signed off on the largest military aid package to any country in history, which went to Israel).
Israel’s policies aren’t the sole focus of Mohammad’s ire. Throughout the letter, he lists off a litany of US policies that have enraged him, including:
  • The Reagan administration’s support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War throughout the 1980s, including his use of chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds.
  • US support for various autocratic, kleptocratic regimes throughout the Middle East, from the House of Saud to current Egyptian strongman Abel Fattah El-Sisi.
  • Crippling UN sanctions on Iraq, pushed first by the George H. W. Bush administration and continued and defended by the Clinton administration, which killed thousands of Iraqi children by the end of the 1990s. Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, infamously told 60 Minutes that “the price is worth it,” an incident referenced specifically in the letter.
  • The George W. Bush administration’s post-9/11 regime of torture and indefinite detention, including of minors.
  • The disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • Bush and Obama’s use of drones, with specific reference to the bombing of an Afghan wedding party in 2008 and the killing of innocent sixteen-year old US citizen Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki in 2012.
Ironically, despite his condemnation of Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians and his disapproval of sanctions — which he says “are the most brutal form of war because they punish an entire population” — Mohammad has no problem applying the same warped logic to the American public, claiming they “bear full responsibility for the crimes” of Israel and Middle Eastern dictators.
It would be easy to write off the letter as disingenuous grandstanding. After all, he at one point discusses Osama bin Laden’s supposed “mercy and compassion” on the basis that 9/11 killed few children and didn’t target residential homes — which, while true, is hardly enough for a moral exculpation of the heinous act of 9/11.
But this letter is hardly the first time the public has been explicitly told by perpetrators of terror that Western governments’ foreign policies are responsible for the rage behind anti-Western terrorist attacks.
As Thomas Hegghammer has pointed out, bin Laden and al-Qaeda spent the years before and after 9/11 railing against Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as other Israeli actions. His earliest public speeches in the 1980s called for a boycott of US goods over its support for Israel. In a 2008 speech, he said that “the Palestinian cause has been the main factor that, since my early childhood, fueled my desire, and that of the 19 freemen [the September 11 bombers].”
“The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon,” he said in a 2004 speech. “As I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America.”
In bin Laden’s 2002 “letter to America,” the word “Palestine” appears thirteen times, and conditions in Palestine are the very first thing bin Laden discusses — at length — in relation to the question, “Why are we fighting and opposing you?” In the same letter, he also cites the suffering caused by the Iraqi sanctions, albeit using the wildly inflated number of 1.5 million dead children.
This isn’t just true of bin Laden. The 2010 Times Square would-be bomber was radicalized over a period of years thanks to his anger over the invasion of Iraq, the Guantanamo Bay prison, and drone bombings, and complained about drone attacks on Pakistan in his trial. The Fort Hood gunman was fiercely opposed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. One of the killers of British soldier Lee Rigby said he was motivated by his “disgust” at the Iraq War. One of the Charlie Hebdo shooters was radicalized by the images of torture at Abu Ghraib. The Orlando nightclub gunman, while almost certainly partly influenced by his own conflicted sexuality, also told a 911 operator he wanted “America to stop bombing” Afghanistan. The list goes on and on and on.
Despite this, the Trump administration is continuing — or even escalating — the foreign policy excesses of the Bush and Obama administrations that have fuelled the rise of such terrorism. Under Obama, the population of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank grew by 25 percent between 2009 and 2014; now, encouraged by Trump’s win, Israel has expanded these settlements and retroactively legalized nearly 4,000 illegal homes in the West Bank.
Last month, Trump approved a commando raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of as many as thirty civilians, including the eight-year old sister of the sixteen-year old American who was drone bombed by Obama in 2012 and which saw its chief target escape unharmed. (According to The Independent, the raid was urged on by General James Mattis, who was meant to be a “stabilizing and moderating force” on the new president). Experts are already warning that terrorists will use the incident to recruit the disaffected.
It’s not as if the Trump administration is oblivious to this. Michael Flynn, his National Security Adviser (and one of the men who reportedly attended the dinner where Trump was briefed on the Yemen raid), has repeatedly stressed the inadequacy and self-defeating nature of a purely military strategy to combat terrorism, and warned in a 2010 paper that “merely killing insurgents usually serves to multiply enemies rather than subtract them.”
Yet despite this, the administration appears to have no intention of reversing course on the decades of failed foreign policy which has only served to inflame terrorism. In fact, it’s doubling down on even more extreme measures like its Muslim ban, which even Trump’s own appointees have warned will create blowback. Confirming experts’ worst fears, ISIS supporters are already celebrating the executive order as an “invaluable service” to the group, which bases its recruitment on a narrative of indiscriminate Western warfare on Muslims. Indeed Trump’s candidacy, with his Islamophobic policies and promises of war crimes to come, has already been used in terrorist recruitment videos.
Of course, such discriminatory policies will do nothing to protect Americans. As Khalid Shaikh Mohammad’s letter and the testimony of other terrorists make clear, the factors which make the United States less safe are staring us in the face. But don’t expect any American leaders to listen.