August 19, 2006

One of the alleged would-be mass murderers caught

Posted in Germany, War on Terror at 11:41 pm by billdawson

German television ARD is reporting that one of the two suspected would-be bombers of regional German trains has been caught. According to the report, he was caught during the early morning hours today at the main rail station in the German city of Kiel.

If the guy they arrested is one of the two, then he gets around pretty good. Kiel is in the far north of Germany, whereas Koblenz and Dortmund — where the bombs were found on 31. July — are in the middle-west. If you look at this map, Kiel is up in the area numbered 24 whereas Koblenz is in 56 and Dortmund in 45.

Prosecutors say both DNA and fingerprint evidence matches with the man arrested today in Kiel. He is a 21 year-old student from Lebanon who has lived in Kiel for two years.

ARD also reports that the prosecutors are convinced that the two are not lone-wolves (they don’t use that term), but rather must be part of a larger, structured organization.

I now see there is an english report here.

UPDATE: as I look at earlier reports of the 31. July bombing attempts more closely, I notice that it wasn’t quite right for me to point out Dortmund and Koblenz as places where this man could have been.  Police believe the two bombs were placed on the trains in Cologne.  You’ll see that (with the german spelling “Köln”) in area 50 of this map — still quite far from Kiel.

Two would-be mass murderers on the loose in Germany

Posted in Germany, War on Terror at 12:13 am by billdawson

You can boost your bank account to the tune of 50,000 EUR if you help the German authorities capture the two young men who planted bombs on German trains on July 31st. At the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung you can see video footage of the news conference today whereat the captured explosive devices were shown to the media. The video includes security camera footage of the two would-be murderers.

For From the article at Expatica:

The discovery of the two suitcase bombs coincided with the latest conflict in the Middle East. “We believe that it is possible that the perpetrators wanted to see signals in the direction of the Middle East,” said Ziercke.

He also revealed that in one of the bags containing the bombs police found a note written in Arabic along with a telephone number in Lebanon and – similar to a shopping list – the name of a yoghurt that is manufactured in Lebanon but is also available in Germany.

Opposing the US on the Iraq doesn’t necessarily buy you much security.

August 17, 2006

Just say the word

Posted in EU, War on Terror at 12:08 am by billdawson

No, not Sussudio.  I mean “Islam”, or “Muslim”, or derivations thereof.

I checked in with the Bundesministerium des Innern (the German interior ministry), as I am sometimes wont to do, and read a press release about their renewed efforts to combat terrorism.  The release was issued jointly by them, the Brits and ministers of a few other EU countries.  You can see the Home Office’s recap here.

Neither the BMI’s nor the Home Office’s release mentions the word “Islam” or “Muslim” or “Mosque” or “Imam”.  The latter two would have been particularly relevant because the ministers insist they will be working hard to get at the roots of radicalization and recruitment.  According to the BMI release, the Finns (current holders of the EU presidency) will begin a process of regular meetings of experts to investigate the causes of radicalization.  This will include exchanging experiences with radicalization in various environments such as prisons and places of worship.

I can help them along.  They don’t even need to call a meeting with me or issue any press releases thereafter.  Here goes:

  • The terrorism you are combating is not some sort of general phenomenon.  It is Islamist.
  • Radicalization occurs within muslim communities.
  • The radicalizers are muslims.
  • The radicalizees are usually already muslims, or they convert to islam.
  • Focus on muslim communities.
  • I repeat, focus on muslim communities.
  • It’s okay to admit that you are focusing on muslims.  We already know you are doing it, or at least we certainly hope you are.  If you are not, you are not doing your job.
  • By “focus” I don’t mean kow-tow.  I mean investigate.

At least the EU’s official Counter-Terrorism Strategy document (PDF) does mention “Islam” one time amongst its 14 pages.  And it refers to Al Qaeda as follows:

This strategy focuses on countering radicalisation and recruitment to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the groups it inspires, given that this type of terrorism currently represents the main threat to the Union as a whole.

“This type” means “Islamist”.  But, as the counter-terrorism strategy also notes, one of the EU’s goals is to develop a “non-emotive lexicon for discussing the issues.”

October 28, 2005

The bloodied hands

Posted in Israel, War on Terror at 4:59 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

News organizations are so ridiculous. Look at the captions for these two photos, selected from the result of this search (hat tip LGF).



If I’d been asleep since, say, 1948, and then saw these photos and captions today, wouldn’t I assume that these people’s hands were bloody because they actually received injuries as a consequence of the Israeli attacks? Why don’t Reuters and AFP tell it like it is?

A Palestinian man raises his hand after deliberately dipping it into the bloodied remains of an Islamic Jihad leader …

August 24, 2005

The UK’s other terrorists score a victory

Posted in Animal Rights, UK, War on Terror at 1:54 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Grave desecration is rightly considered one of the most hateful and despicable of crimes. However, nothing is too low for the domestic terrorists in the UK who have successfully employed desecration for blackmail. I was going to say that this story almost defies belief, but it really doesn’t, does it? It’s all too believable. In fact, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often:

Victory for the fanatics

A family that breeds guinea pigs for medical research announced yesterday that it was to close its farm in a final attempt to get back the remains of a relative whose body was dug up by animal rights extremists.

It seems to me that it is not at all a big jump from desecrating graves to murdering humans. That’s the logical next step for the “Animal Rights Militia”, and I’ve no doubt that it’s coming up. Reacting to the ARM’s succcess, one supporter shows us that these people can be just as fanatical as your neighborhood Islamist:

A spokesman for Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs, a campaign group set up in 1999 to lobby for the farm’s closure, said: “This is the most fantastic day of my life. It’s a victory for the animals and it’s a fundamental victory for the animal rights movement. I feel so unbelievably proud to be part of the movement.”

This brand of terrorism does not yet threaten society to the extent that Islamists do. But they should be fought against just as hard.

August 4, 2005

“70,000 prisoners in secret US prisons worldwide”

Posted in Amnesty International, Der Standard, Detention, Media, War on Terror, Yemen at 4:17 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]
Standard70000That is the translated headline of an article that appeared yesterday (03. August 2005) at the Austrian daily newspaper, Der Standard’s web site: “70.000 Gefangene in geheimen US-Gefängnissen weltweit”. The article then begins with this paragraph:

Die USA halten laut einem Bericht der Menschenrechtsorganisation amnesty international (ai) etwa 70.000 Menschen in geheimen Gefängnissen gefangen. Die Gefängnisse befänden sich außerhalb der USA an unbekannten Orten. According to a report from the human rights organization amnesty international, the USA holds 70,000 people in secret prisons. The prisons are located outside the USA in undisclosed locations.

This is a gross (and transparently deliberate) mischaracterization of the facts on many levels. I — probably unlike the vast majority of Austrians who happened to come across the article — decided to dig a bit to figure out where they got this information. First of all, the real purpose of the article is to discuss a press release today from Amnesty International titled “USA/ Jordan/ Yemen: Secret detention centres”. That press release and the longer report that it refers to tell the stories of Salah Nasser Salim ‘Ali and Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah, two men who were apparently sent by the US to secret prisons in other countries. Neither the press release nor the longer report contains any reference to “70,000”.

After discovering that fact, I was tempted to just label this an outright fabrication. But I knew that there must be some document somewhere that contains this figure of “70,000”, so I started looking around.


Indeed, a May 2005 report from Amnesty titled “Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power” contains the long table shown here to the left. Note that the final value in the table is 70,000 and that it refers to an estimate of the total count of detainees held during the “war on terror” (which, we should remember, has been underway for at least three and one-half years.) Der Standard’s (or the Austrian Press Agency’s) use of this figure is therefore ludicrous for many reasons:

  • By headlining the figure, they are suggesting that this is new information. In fact, the information was mentioned by Amnesty International three months ago in a much-discussed report.
  • In the first paragraph, by mentioning that the figure of 70,000 is “according to a report from … amnesty international”, they are deliberately and misleadingly suggesting that the figure is from the same report that they then go on to discuss in the rest of the short article. In fact, the figure does not appear anywhere in the 04. August 2005 Amnesty press release or report. But no reader could be blamed for concluding that Amnesty has just now discovered that 70,000 prisoners are being held by the US in secret prisons worldwide.
  • Even if the article made clear that the “70,000” is old and from a different report, it would still be a complete mischaracterization of Amnesty’s own use of that figure. As noted above, the Amnesty table of detainee figures makes it clear that the “70,000” is a total count of all detainees held at any time throughout the War on Terror. The Der Standard article uses the present tense (halten … gefangen / “hold prisoner”). It would be too forgiving to say that this merely implies that the U.S. currently holds 70,000. The truth is, it asserts that this is the current total.
  • Even if the Der Standard article made it clear that the figure of “70,000” refers to a total head count throughout the War on Terror, it would (if I may repeat myself) still be a complete mischaracterization of Amnesty’s own use of that figure. The Der Standard article insists that the Amnesty report shows that 70,000 detainees are held in secret prisons. Never mind the fact — noted earlier — that the Amnesty report which they are really reporting on (04. August 2005) does not even contain the figure of 70,000. If we forgive them that oversight and recognize that they really meant to refer to a three-month old Amnesty report, we still must note that Amnesty most certainly does not assert that these 70,000 detainees are/were held in secret prisons. Look closely at the table: the majority of current detainees that they list are at known facilities. The rows of data that refer to what some call “ghost detainees” (or “rendition” detainees) are the rows that begin with “Worldwide…”. They list 40 detainees at CIA facilities, 150 “secret transfers” and an estimate of “several thousand” held by other governments for the USA. By the way, I would argue that the latter figure does not represent “secret facilities” — but even if I allow that, the total is “several thousand.” Not only does Amnesty not assert that there are 70,000 detainees in secret prisons, they do not even assert that there are 70,000 current detainees in total.

What shall we conclude about Der Standard’s article? Based on my review of the available information, it would be difficult to conclude anything other than that it is an outright lie. And since the lie concerns the United States, the War on Terror, the war in Iraq and the administration of a certain George W. Bush, I can only conclude it is a lie told for political reasons.

By the way, I should mention that the article refers to the Austrian Press Agency (APA) as a source. I could not find the original APA release (they scroll off their web site quite quickly), so I don’t know if it mentions the “70,000” in addition to the real news, which was the new report from Amnesty. For that reason, I checked several other Austrian news web sites (see references below) because they, too, could have made use of the APA release. I was unable to find anything at all at these other Austrian sites as of 12:15 pm today. Recall that Der Standard published their article yesterday.

Finally, you might find this question interesting: where did Amnesty International themselves get the 70,000 figure referred to in their 13. May 2005 report? If you look at the top of the table of figures, you’ll notice a reference to footnote 11. The footnote refers to five different sources but contains no links:


With a little luck, I found them all on the web and I link to each of them below at the end of the “References” section. I’ve read them all, and I can tell you exactly where the 70,000 figure comes from. At the DOD 10 March 2005 briefing, Colonel Pete Champagne, Army Deputy Provost Marshal, says:

I note that some of you in the audience today were also at the hearing. And I’d just like to start off my remarks by just noting that one of the senators today said you need to put this issue in proper context. When you consider the fact that we’ve had about a million servicemen deployed over the last couple of years in the global war on terrorism, and there’s only been about 300 cases of detainee abuse, and we’ve handled over 70,000 detainees, that equates, if you do the math, to less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Of course the department doesn’t condone any incident of abuse, and we’re aggressively pursuing any allegation of abuse.

How ironic that Col. Champagne uses the figure to highlight something positive. Five months later, the figure has landed in a Der Standard headline in the form of a deliberate lie.


The Der Standard article that piqued my interest: “70.000 Gefangene in geheimen US-Gefängnissen weltweit” (03. August 2005).

Amnesty International: “USA/ Jordan/ Yemen: Secret detention centres” (04. August 2005). This is the press release which, I believe, prompted the Der Standard article. The press release then contains a link to the longer report (also dated 04. August 2005) that details the stories of Salah Nasser Salim ‘Ali and Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah. Neither the press release nor the longer report contains any reference to “70,000”.

Amnesty International: “Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power” (13. May 2005). This is the report that contains “70,000”. Note that it is three months old, yet Der Standard uses this figure in a headline that suggests it is news.

Other publications referring to the 04. August AI report on their web sites:

Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Amerikaner Unterhalten ‘geheime Gefangenenlager’” (04. August 2005). Like the article in Der Standard, this article discusses the Amnesty International releases dated 04. August 2005. It contains no mention of “70,000” in its title or body.

Other publications whose web sites were checked but which did not contain any stories concerning the 04. August 2005 AI report (as of 12:15 p.m. 04. August): Salzburger Nachrichten, Die Presse, Kleine Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Note that three of those are Austrian and therefore clients of the APA, which Der Standard cites as a source for their article.

Here are links to the references in footnote 11 of Amnesty International’s 13. May 2005 report:

United States Department of Defense: “Department of Defense Briefing on Detention Operations and Interrogation Techniques” (10. March 2005). Colonel Champagne’s comment — “When you consider the fact that we’ve had about a million servicemen deployed over the last couple of years in the global war on terrorism, and there’s only been about 300 cases of detainee abuse, and we’ve handled over 70,000 detainees,… — could perhaps be the source of Amnesty’s figure of 70,000. Note that the briefing took place five months ago.

Washington Post: “US to expand prison facilities in Iraq” (10. May 2005). The article mentions that there are over 11,000 detainees in Iraq. It does not refer to the detention facilities as “secret.” The ICRC regularly visits facilities in Iraq.

United States Department of Defense: “Detainee Transfer Announced” (26. April 2005). This is the source of the figure of 520 detainees at GTMO.

International Committee of the Red Cross: “Operational Update” (29. March 2005). This is the source of these figures: 300 detainees at Bagram and 250 detainees at Kandahar. The article also mentions an “unknown number” held “outside any legal framework.”

New York Times: “Rule change lets CIA freely send suspects abroad to jails” (06.03.2005 — the article is archived and available for a fee. Perhaps you can find it elsewhere for free on the web if you search on the title.). The article mentions that there are 100 to 150 “rendition” detainees via the CIA, and 60 via the DOD.

July 24, 2005

Muslims in Egypt Protest Invasion of Iraq

Posted in Egypt, Iraq, War on Terror at 1:08 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

At least I assume that’s the reason behind the attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh.

In all seriousness, some guy interviewed on CNN International — I guess he was an Egyptian journalist or an Egyptologist or something important like that (he had an Arab name) — did indeed blame the invasion of Iraq. Though he half-heartedly conceded that some attacks such as the one in Luxor (1997) occurred long before the invasion of Iraq, he asserts the existence of a general instability in the region caused by the American invasion of Iraq.

Readers will no doubt recall how quiet and stable the region was prior to 2003.

July 21, 2005

Be on the lookout for Red Ken and a backpack

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 5:13 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

From a Times Online article re attempted bombings today:

Dr Brighton added: “It may be an attempt by people to cause panic, maybe people with similar ideas or ideological sympathy with the people that did the recent bombings…The nature of the incidents doesn’t appear to be anything like as serious.”

Everybody be on the lookout for sightings of a Galloway or a Livingstone with a backpack on.

July 13, 2005

It took a massacre, but they’re finally sounding tough

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 1:59 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]The Times Online headline reads: “Clarke to rid Britain of ‘preachers of hate’“.  Clark is the British Home Secretary.  Read the article and contrast his tone there to the tone in the “No 10 Dossier“.  I’d say at least the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have taken off the kid gloves.  Good for them.

By the way, will he be able to say “preachers of hate” after the proposed anti-religious-hatred law passes?

July 11, 2005

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 10:05 pm by billdawson


[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

I’ve read through all four PDFs of the “leaked No 10 dossier“. That was some really painful reading. I would say nine-tenths of the opinions and recommendations can be summarized by this: the British government needs to make things easier and better for Muslims.

Below are a few thoughts on some specific parts of the documents. Note that page numbers refer to the PDF page number, not the printed page number that is visible in the scanned documents.

The documents are full of the obligatory and politcally-correct reference to the notion of the “small minority”. Everything is always qualified by reminding us that we’re talking about a “small minority” of Muslims who are extremists. I really wish people would stop saying that. Of course it is a minority: if it wasn’t there would be all-out civil war in Britain and in many other countries.

The second document tries to record just how tiny that minority is. On p. 1 it mentions that an ICM Poll “published by the Guardian on 15 March 2004 recorded 13% of British Muslims as thinking that further terrorist attacks on the USA would be justified.”

Depending on what the subject is, I would agree that sometimes 13% can be considered a small minority. But if 13% of a 1.6 million member religious community think that indiscriminate murder is justified, my first reaction is not “phew, thank God that’s a ‘small minority'”, but rather, “uh oh, that’s a whole hell of a lot of bad people.” And if you look closely at the poll you see it’s actually a full 15% of those under 34 years of age who believe al-Qaeda attacks against the United States are justified. And the Muslim population in Britain is very young.

(Note: the actual question on the poll, which you can find here, was: “Would you regard further attacks by Al-Qaeda, or similar organisations, on the USA as justified or unjustified?”)

On p. 2 of the second document, we’re warned that we might offend some Muslims if we use the term “Islamic fundamentalism”. In other words, we should stop calling a thing by its name:

Policy objectives include persuading young Muslims that they can be Muslim and British, and that Islam is not regarded with hostility. In this context, the term “Islamic Fundamentalism” is unhelpful and should be avoided, because some perfectly moderate Muslims are likely to perceive it as a negative comment on their own approach to their faith.

P. 13 of the second document contains praise of the mainstream muslims:

The mainstream Muslim community has been vocal in its public condemnation of extremism. For example, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed sympathy with the people of Spain after the Madrid bombings…

That was mighty big of them. And I seriously question the accuracy of the assertion made there. Is is really true that mainstream muslims have been vocal condemning extremism? Or is it more like they are vocal condemning terrorism? I’m sure everytime there is a terrorist attack they do come out and condemn it. But what about if an Imam preaches about the re-establishment of the caliphate? Do they raise a fuss like they should? I seriously doubt it.

On p. 14 I am glad to see this note of caution: “But it is important to identify moderates correctly — some of those who are influential in the extremist world purport to be moderates.” (Ken Livingstone skipped that page.)

P. 9 of the third document contains a nice reminder for those who are so insistent on pointing to Iraq policy as the clearest cause of terror: “up to 80% [of polled Muslims] disapproved of the war in Afghanistan.”  Personally, I don’t hold out any hope for people who are against the war in Afghanistan.

Many parts of the documents (see esp. p.2 of the second document) contain the familiar refrain about British foreign policy being a factor in the disaffection experienced by British muslims. The fact that this matter is brought up so often within the documents makes me worry that the touchy-feely side of western governments is too often ready to help make terrorism pay. (The fact that billions were alotted to the Palestinians at G8 is an example of what I’m talking about.) If I were a British islamicist, I would read through these documents and think, “We can really push them on the foreign policy stuff — a little terror here, a little terror there, and an army of do-gooders in social services and other government branches who are always on the lookout for the ‘root causes’ of our disaffection. That’s a nice combo we can use.”

Hopefully I’m wrong about that. But if I were to have written the document, the entire discussion of foreign policy would have been one small paragraph:

Apparently the foreign policy of HMG is seen as a contributor to the anger and disaffection experienced by British muslims. The Muslim community should be reminded again and again that unlike so many others among the ummah throughout the world, British Muslims can peacefully express their disagreements in public and can affect change by exercising their right to vote. They should be further reminded that any among them who publically suggest or carry out non-democratic and/or violent means of affecting change shall be watched closely, considered threats to the community and, when necessary, dealt with severely.

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