Musings, Original or Not

After reading a number of intelligent comments by one of our regulars, I wandered over to his profile and discovered Archonix’s blog. I’m glad I did; I recommend a visit to The Unoriginal Muse.

For example, there’s this one, The reason I got a blog:

     I spend a fair bit of time (perhaps too much time) browsing around blogs. I make comments. Sometimes these comments turn in to essays, and it’s not really fair to post them on other people’s blogs.
Anyway, I posted this one here, on a Silent Running post about PC idiocy, and I think I may have got the thread closed. Just in case Murray gets an attack of the common sense and deletes it, I’m archiving it here for posterity.

You’ll have to go over there to read the rant itself. Just a hint: it’s about neo-paganism.

Act II, Scene 3, “Heavy Hangs the Head”

Thanks to our commenter, Stoutfellow for the update:

     Thousands of Jordanians rallied in the capital and other cities shouting “Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!” a day after three deadly hotel bombings that killed at least 59 people. Officials suspected Iraqi involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Al Qaeda’s Iraq branch.
As protesters in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world denounced the Jordanian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, security forces snared a group of Iraqis for questioning and officials said one of the bombers spoke Iraqi-accented Arabic before he exploded his bomb belt in the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The main demonstration in Amman lasted for more than an hour. But honking vehicles, decorated with Jordanian flags and posters of King Abdullah II, cruised Amman’s streets until late in the night, as passengers chanted “Death to al-Zarqawi, the villain and the traitor!” and anti-terrorism slogans.

The first two scenes in Act Two were accomplished off-stage. Your can bet that many of the “suspected” ( they’re suspect because they’re alive and because al-Reuters says so) terrorists were rounded up in Scene I. For Scene II, there were lots of people to be organized into this demonstration against Zarqawi’s attempts to rent space in Amman. No room in the inn for you, bud. Loud and clear.

Meanwhile, the King addressed the nation:

     King Abdullah II, a strong U.S. ally, vowed in a nationally televised address to “pursue those criminals and those behind them, and we will get to them wherever they are.”

This is great news. Meanwhile, you can ponder what Shakespeare might have done with modern media…

Heavy Hangs the Head That Wears the Crown

Walid Phares has some ideas why Jordan may be the focus of a coming wave of terrorism.

  • This is the clash of the Hashemite kingdom (Jordan) versus the wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. King Abdallah’s ancestors were considered the legitimate rulers of the holy places until Western Arabia was taken over by the Saudi clan. The Hashemite remnant, with the help of the British, established Transjordan. As Phares puts it :
         The result: two fundamentally opposing views of Islam and the world.

    The Hashemites ruled as monarchs, proposed a moderate form of religious belief, and allied themselves with the West. The wahhabis have spent generations and billions tearing the world apart in Allah’s name. (ed. note: In other words, the bad guys got the oil)

  • Phares says that al-Quaeda grew out of the Cold War, aligning itself against the West in the process.
         While bin Laden pledged to destroy America and the infidels, King Hussein remained a faithful ally of the West and a proponent of a peaceful settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. After his passing, his son, Abdallah, pledged to resume his father’s anti-terrorism stance.

  • Jordan didn’t participate in the first Iraqi war, nor did they help in the removal of Saddam Hussein. They also opened their borders to fleeing refugees, mostly Sunnis, which has attracted the anger of the Shi’ites.
  • On the other hand, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, which certainly annoyed the jihadists.
  • But here are two main reasons for the attack:

    First, the Hashemite kingdom has actually managed to counter radical Islam and to negate the fundamentalist doctrines of the Wahhabis. Moderate clerics are supported by the government. They have also opposed Syria’s occupation of Lebanon.

    Second — and, in my opinion, most fundamental to all of this — is Abu Massab al-Zarqawi. Terrorist extraordinaire and…a Jordanian. Phares says that Zarqawi wants to “teach the apostate monarch and his Western educated queen a lesson.”

    Homecoming for Zarqawi is necessary. Opening his office in downtown Amman with the requisite bombing party, Zarqawi is elbowing more room for his terror network, crowded as it is by now in Iraq. Two years ago, Zarqawi tried to use a biochemical attack in Jordan. It failed, but it also exposed to plain view Syria’s role in aiding and abetting Zarqawi, since the plotters originated there.
    But now he thinks Jordan has been softened up sufficiently to begin the real denouement. Kill off the tourist trade (so to speak), destabilize the economy, work up resentment against Jordan’s role in establishing stability in the region, start a civil war, and —poof!— there goes another Iraqi ally. And here comes Wahhabi power grab, via Jordan’s errant son, Zarqawi.

We can only hope there will be a Shakespearean fifth act with all the bad guys lying dead on the stage while the Hashemite king explains in some version of Arabic blank verse why it ended badly for the villains. Any other ending does not bode well for the West.

This may be a long and tiresome play, but it must be got through. The curtain should be rising on the second act any day now.

Hat Tip:Jihad Watch

Turkey Rides the Tiger

In recent years, as a part of a determined effort to gain entry into the European Union, Turkey has undertaken a series of governmental reforms. The most significant of these has been a change in the historic role of the Turkish military in governmental affairs. As reported in the Financial Times on August 6, 2004 (via BIA Net):

     Turkey is poised to appoint the first civilian head of its National Security Council, the country’s highest policy-setting body, which for years has been dominated by the armed forces.
The appointment, expected to be announced later this month, is an important step in Turkey’s push to join the European Union.
Two senior diplomats have been named as candidates for the post of secretary-general of the NSC after the general who has held it for the past year was appointed Second Army commander on Thursday.
EU governments have in effect demanded that Turkey put a civilian in charge of the council to reduce military interference in political affairs.

Steven A. Cook, writing in Slate on October 28th of this year, was enthusiastic about the ongoing process of Turkish reform and its eventual accession to the EU:

     At long last, the Turkish republic is beginning talks to enter the European Union. More than three centuries after Ottoman armies were stopped at the Gates of Vienna, and 42 years after signing an association agreement with what was then the European Economic Community, Europe may finally be opening for Turks, even though it will likely take a decade or more before Turkey finally joins. It is an astonishing irony of the Turkish political system, which is officially secular, that this triumphant moment belongs to the Islamist-leaning Adelet ve Kalkinma (Justice and Development Party) and its two leaders, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
Since capturing an outright majority in the Turkish Grand National Assembly in late 2002, AK has undertaken an impressive array of reforms that have gone a long way toward razing the authoritarian institutions of the Turkish state. Indeed, after ramming seven reform packages through parliament over the course of two years, the European Commission determined in October 2004 that Turkey had met all the legal requirements to begin accession talks.

Reining in the military has become the top priority of the Turkish government in its effort to become fully Europeanized. Yet there has to be a certain ambivalence among the mandarins of the West about this project — after all, the military is the only Turkish institution that can reliably maintain order and rein in the extremists, thus guaranteeing “stability” in Turkey’s dealings with the West.

Kemal Attaturk established the modern Turkish state out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after the Great War. Though he was a very popular Turkish nationalist, not all his reforms sat well with the public. The adoption of the Latin alphabet, the elimination of the hijab, the relentless secularization of the state — all of these were rammed down the throats of the populace by his authoritarian rule.

Since then, Turkey has retained its status as a modern secular state through occasional military coups, and the military has guided the state with a firm hand during the periods of civilian control. Give that up, and what would we face? An Islamic Republic? The Turkish equivalent of Osama bin Laden?

The reformers hasten to reassure us that we have nothing to fear: the Turkish military is not really bowing out. It will simply be a kinder, gentler military. As noted in Civilitas Research on August 11th,2004,

     Moderates took the upper hand for the next six years in the reshuffle of senior personnel in the Turkish military last Friday, as all four armies got new commanders and hardliners were retired off or pushed out of the limelight.
The first was that of General Aytac Yalman, described by Ker-Lindsay as “a hardliner” both on the Cyprus problem and on other matters.
Yalman was the Land Forces (armed forces) commander, a position which is essentially one step below the Chief of General Staff.
The current Chief of Staff is General Hilmi Ozkok, who is widely regarded as a moderate.
As expected, Ozkok took the opportunity to replace a hardliner with a moderate, Yasar Buyukanit, Commander of the First Army of Turkey’s four armies.
“This means that Buyukanit is now in line to succeed General Hilmi Ozkok in 2006 when Ozkok retires, so the moderates retain the upper hand,” explained Ker-Lindsay.

Europe is to be reassured: the moderates will remain in charge, the foolish and volatile populace will be restrained, and stability will be maintained. We can all go back to sleep.

The Left discovers a strange new respect for the military whenever the soldiers stop killing babies and climb on board a progressive cause. In this case the cause is the EU, and for its sake Steven Cook is quite enthusiastic about the Turkish military:

     The emerging conventional wisdom concerning recent developments in Turkey holds that the broad support within Turkey for EU membership constrained the military’s ability to oppose the political reforms Europe requires. This left the officers with no choice but to submit to a significant diminution of their traditional political influence. In fact, however, it is hardly game over for Turkey’s military establishment.
While the Islamists are basking in the glow of the European Union’s recent decision to move forward with membership negotiations, the military may actually have triumphed in its decades-long struggle against Islamists. Reforms aside, the national-security state in Turkey remains deeply embedded, affording the Turkish military ample means to influence and, if necessary, to intervene in the political arena. The General Staff, for example, remains outside the control of the civilian minister of defense. And while the Turkish prime minister formally presides over military promotions and retirements, the officers actually maintain exclusive control over personnel matters. This makes it all the more difficult to establish civilian control of the military, which is a hallmark of democratic polities. Additionally, the service codes of the armed forces, which direct the officers to defend the country and the republic from internal and external threats, remain intact. While this seems noncontroversial and is, indeed, a guiding principle of armed forces all over the world, Turkish commanders have a tendency to interpret threats to the political order rather broadly.

So, when the Turkish army intervenes in civilian affairs to confront a threat, its suppression of democracy will at least be constrained by “the service codes of the armed forces.” That’s a relief.

If only our elite pundits had the same enthusiasm for the service codes of the American military.

As I have noted previously, Turkey’s entry into the EU is not assured, even if it meets the stringent European requirements for reform. European public opinion generally opposes the admission of Turkey; recent polls suggest that the support for it in Austria is less than 10%.

But leaving that aside for a moment — assuming that annoying public opinion can be overcome — what does Europe face if it takes in an overwhelmingly Islamic country, one that has to maintain its secular modernity via military control?

Instead of having to deal with borders and customs and passport controls, Turks will be able simply to take the ferry across the Bosphorus and travel to any place in Europe that strikes their fancy. The militant Islamists in Turkey — and, yes, there are quite a lot of them — will be free to join their brethren in all parts of Europe. They can even grab a torch and help burn France down.

Relying on the military to hold Turkey in check is not a wise strategy for a purportedly democratic institution. But, in the case of Islamic countries, it is democracy that is most to be feared. Algeria and the FLN are the precedent that everyone keeps in mind.

This is the primary conundrum of our time — absent a lengthy American military occupation, can true democracy emerge in an Islamic country? The auguries are not good.

But, eventually, the will of the people needs to be heard, even the will of Muslim people. And what if their will is to raise a Caliph to whom they would give absolute power, one charged with the task of utterly destroying the infidel?

This is something that we really ought to know.

Then we could gird our loins, take up shield and buckler, and prepare for the grim task ahead.

Hat tip: MZ.

Al-Reuters Suspects It Was Terrorists

More Islaamofascist butchers killed fifty-three fifty-seven innocent people in Jordan today and injured one hundred and fifteen more. These murderers self-exploded at three hotels in Amman, one where a wedding was taking place.

Al-Reuters described the killers as “suspected suicide bombers.” Umm, what proof do they need that these are not “suspects” but are in fact dead terrorists? What is the threshold of evidence here? Perhaps these idiots are supposed to reassemble themselves and write out confessions and then Al-Reuters would be willing to jettison the “suspected” adjectival description? Surely no other news organization has as many deliberate ‘duh moments’ as this activist organization passing itself off as a news agency.

On the other hand, Jordanian law enforcement doesn’t appear to live in the lah-lah land where Reuters dwells:

     Jordanian police spokesman Captain Bashir al-Da’jeh told Al Jazeera television: “At 9 this evening, there were three terrorist explosions in three hotels in Amman. There are a number of dead and wounded. They are believed to have been carried out by suicide bombers.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah blamed a “deviant and misled group” for the attacks, in a statement carried by Petra. “The attacks targeted and killed innocent Jordanian civilians,” he said.

“Deviant”?? How about degraded and not deserving of being included in humanity? How about you have your very efficient secret police do a round up, your Highness? Or let the Israelis do it for you.

Meanwhile, folks, there is a button on the sidebar. Click it and you get the email for al-Reuters. Drop them a friendly note, and be sure to send us a copy, either through the comments or email. We’ll assemble them into a post if we get enough…be sure to write in your usual erudite and elegant style.


Grantmann, one of our commenters, provided an interesting link in response our post on National Public Radio’s spew skew of the news. It’s a site called CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), and is devoted particularly to the way the MSM in general kinks anything about the Palestinian –Israeli conflict. They have a long list of newspapers and examples of egregiously blatant spin. It’s enough to make a body dizzy.

In perusing the long list of “mistakes,” one of my favorites — and there are many examples of bias and euphemism — was this gem:

     In its October 27th article on the terrorist attack in Hadera, the Washington Post exhibited poor news judgment. The paper ran only one photograph with the article, a small color photo of the mother of the bomber holding a picture of her son.
Other major dailies, including the Baltimore Sun and Washington Times published large, page-one color photographs of the bomb scene and Israeli victims. The New York Times, for example, ran a similarly large black-and-white photo inside. But Washington Post readers get none of the readily available visual evidence of Israelis as victims of Palestinian aggression. Instead, the Post chose to publish a photo sympathetic to the terrorist.

CAMERA noted what the Post did correctly:

     The article did a good job of including context and comments from both Israelis and Palestinians, and in describing the gruesome scene of the terror attack.

And then it gives the essential issue that conservatives face when dealing with the MSM:

     But throughout the article is the recurrent problem the Washington Post has with whitewashing terror groups by describing them euphemistically.
The article studiously avoids using the word “terrorist”. Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group formally listed as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department and Israel, is referred to twice as a group with a military wing, once as a group with a military leader, and once as having a military presence. Terror attacks are called “operations” and “offensive operations,” as well as “attacks” and “suicide bombings”. The only time they are described as “terror” attacks is when Israeli officials are being quoted.
Islamic Jihad is a terror group that intentionally targets non-combatants. It is not a “military” group representing a state who attack only combatants or who abide by internationally accepted rules of war. Israeli non-combatants are not legitimate “military” targets.

There follows a short list of “Action Items” that readers can take to make the WaPo aware that we’re aware.

Then there’s the update, five day after the story.

     UPDATE: Nov. 1, 2005: Post Editor and Ombudsman Agree Photo Was Poor Choice
In her Oct. 30 column, the new Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell notes that she
got a number of phone calls and letters from readers distressed over The Post’s use Thursday of a small picture of the grieving mother of the suicide bomber who killed at least five people and himself in Hadera, Israel. They were incensed that the Post would highlight her grief and not the sorrow of those who lost loved ones in the bombing. The paper’s Middle East coverage often draws criticism, most of which I don’t agree with, but in this case I side with the readers. And so does [ executive editor] Downie.
In contrast, Foreign Editor Keith Richburg responded to numerous letter-writers with a note not about the substance of their concerns, not about the bad news judgment involved in publishing the photo of the bomber’s mother, but only with a question about how they had heard about the photo. He appears to be more concerned with assessing if the complaints are part of a letter-writing campaign than whether the complaints are valid.

This is an invaluable site. I suggest you bookmark it so you can keep up with the on-going atrocities. Meanwhile, please send us anything your hear on NPR: time, date, station, and a paraphrase if you don’t have the full quote. You’ll be doing us all a public service. Perhaps our voices added together will create another hassle when the next funding cycle starts.

For me, I’m going to start writing our two “local” stations and let them know why they get no money from me. No email, just a nice, long, friendly snail mail.

National Palestinian Radio

National Palestinian RadioWell, we all know about NPR. Or at least most of us do. I long ago stopped listening to its feature programs — the persistent drumbeat of liberal claptrap on Morning Sedition and Weakened Condition was just more than I could take. Not to mention All Things We Care To Consider.

But, since NPR is the only source of top-of-the-hour radio news without commercials during my drive home, it is my habit to listen to the evening headlines in the car. And tonight I was well-rewarded for my efforts.

As far as I can tell, NPR does not have online transcripts of its news broadcasts. When you look at their site, the “News” section seems to be clips from “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” And, by the way, I dare you to contemplate the “Opinion” tab on their sidebar without experiencing a whole-body shudder.

Since my personal stenographer was unable to accompany me in the car, you’ll just have to take my word for what follows.

During the 6:00 PM news, NPR’s Pentagon correspondent — it might have been Korva Coleman, but I’ll call her Radio Chick — reported that the Pentagon was revising its rules about the treatment of detainees in “the so-called ‘war against terrorism’.”

Mind you, this isn’t al-Reuters; this is a non-profit tax-exempt public service brought to you in part by Your Tax Dollars at Work. This is National-friggin’-Public-Radio, the media service that has yet to find a Palestinian it doesn’t love.

Well, Ms. Radio Chick, tell me this: how many so-called “family members” did you lose when the so-called “terrorists” allegedly flew jets into the so-called “World Trade Center” on that oh-so-tragic day that some people call “September 11th”?

Welcome to National So-Called Radio.

Assad Sack

What will happen when Baby Assad falls? That’s the main floating question. Seldom do you see any proposals that Assad be propped into place and pressured to change his ways.

Maybe we ought to rethink that. According to Big Pharaoh, there is a group waiting to fill the vacuum created by Assad’s topple, and it’s not anyone you’d invite home for dinner. BP says, quoting from the Pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat (Don’t bother unless you read Arabic or like to look at ads in English, some of which have very attractive women with a little un-muslim décolletage) that if Assad goes, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood will step in.

Wonderful. Our choices are either Assad or the Islamic version of the Mafia. Or perhaps that would be sliming the mob. Let’s just say some very bad dudes are pulling on the base of Baby’s statue. Here’s what Big Pharaoh quotes as signs that Syria wants a change — and he says that these signs are the solution which would avoid the total loss of Syria. Supposedly Syria is signaling its willingness to do three things:

     1. Leave Lebanon alone.
2. Help Mahmoud Abbas and stop undermining his authority by supporting terrorists against Israel.
3. Stop or at least try to stop the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq and terminate any terrorist operations and logistics inside Syria.

In the old “trust-but-verify” routine, these signs could be tracked fairly easily. We could:

  • See what Lebanon is saying lately about Syrian intelligence and terrorist interference. Fortunately, there’s a large amount of Lebanese news in English.
  • The situation with Mahmoud Abbas would be harder to verify. Again, though, this change would likely be reported in the Israeli press.
  • Boots on the ground and American intelligence will be all too willing to share the news when Syria suddenly gets cooperative on the border problem.

If Big Pharaoh is correct, this would be a definite improvement over the state of affairs that has existed to this point. You know, I’ve always felt a bit sorry for Baby. As Malvolio says, some of us “are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” Unfortunately for Baby, he’s in the third category, one which doesn’t usually end well. One can only hope that — as is claimed for some of our Supreme Court justices — he can “grow in office.”

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For a fun look at Big Pharaoh’s website, see today’s post: “Good News for Americans and Jooooooz. As he well knows, though, having the French on our “side” — however it comes about — is bound to make Americans nervous. What if we start singing their “Surrender Boogie Blues”? Saints preserve us — and maybe they will, since France done gave up all of hers, even crazy old Joan of Arc can’t co-exist with the EU “Constitution.” Or maybe that should be “EU.”

Update on the Somali Pirates

According to today’s edition of The South African Star,

     Pirate smiled as he fired bazooka at cruise liner
Mahe, Seychelles – A World War 2 veteran wielding a camera found himself facing a smiling attacker armed with a grenade launcher. Another holidaymaker escaped injury because she was taking a bath, and not in the ship’s stateroom where an explosive landed.
Passengers of the Seabourn Spirit yesterday described moments of panic and luck after docking in the Seychelles after pirates in speedboats chased their luxury cruise liner at sea.
Yesterday, a day after the attack off the coast of Somalia, a maritime watchdog report warned of an increased risk of violent hijackings off Somalia, where the number shot up from one last year to 19 between January and September this year.
The British-based International Maritime Bureau said the number of pirate attacks worldwide in the first nine months of the year fell to 205 – their lowest level in six years. This was an 18% drop from the 251 cases in the same period last year.
According to Charles Forsdick, a Durban passenger on the Seabourn Spirit, some holidaymakers were lucky to escape with their lives in the weekend attack.
“It was a very frightening experience,” Charles Supple, of Fiddletown, California, recalled.
The retired physician and World War 2 veteran said he started to take a photograph of a pirate craft, and “the man with the bazooka aimed it right at me and I saw a big flash”.
“Needless to say, I dropped the camera and dived. The grenade struck two decks above and about four rooms further forward,” Supple said.
“I could tell that the guy firing the bazooka was smiling.”
The gunmen never got close enough to board the cruise ship, but one member of the 161-person crew was injured by shrapnel, according to the Seabourn Cruise Line.

Readers should be aware that what witnesses were calling a “bazooka” was most likely an RPG launcher.

But the most interesting part of the article is this:

     Captain Sven Erik Pederson fired a sonic weapon at the pirates. The acoustic weapon, developed by the US Navy, projects a blast of air strong enough to knock a man off his feet. The blast kept the attackers at bay long enough for the liner to reach full speed and change course.

Wouldn’t you like to have one of those?

I invite the experts on military weapons among our readers to comment with more details about these “sonic weapons.”

New Orleans and Paris

Warehouse BurningSo what do they have in common besides their French names? A lot of volcanic lawlessness, looking for places to flow; water and lava seeking their own level.

September brought floods to one, and it flowed with grievances and finger-pointing.

November brought flames to the other, and it burned the fuel of hatred and revenge.

Both elements –the fire and the rain — gave criminals their chance to destroy and burn, while choirs of useful idiots sang dirges for these predators they call “victims.”

So what could follow now except perhaps the most breath-takingly “DUH” headline of the year?


Oh, wait. Here’s another one, vying for mindlessness:


This is journalism. This is cutting edge. These headlines are so far beyond trifling you’d think the media would be embarrassed. But the sad thing is, they probably don’t even see the dark hole of nothingness at the heart of their statements. Here, we have an example of Nabokov’s poshlost.

Shows you how a word can turn up just in time to describe what’s going on.

Do you think the print media has any clue about the reasons for their precipitous decline? Should we tell them? Nah.

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Submissions of similarly silly headlines are welcome. Send them in and we’ll post updates here!

Bill Gates and The Zionist Entity

Bill Gates Visits IsraelOkay, this time we have the pictures to prove it. Bill Gates is not a muslim. Or if he is, he sure is one sly guy.

Gates of Vienna’s sitemeter is often cluttered with searches for two things: “how make simple bomb at home” (or a variation thereof) and “Bill Gates muslim” (the latter mostly originating in the Middle East during the night). Once and for all, everyone, Bill Gates is still the same geeky agnostic he ever was. If money is heaven, then he resides there, halo on head.

Here’s our proof of Gates’ infidel-ity (sorry. Pun Attack). He was in Israel for a day, lavishing praise and shaking Zionist hands:

     Israel’s status as a high tech super power was confirmed last week by none other than Bill Gates.
During a whirlwind 24-hour tour to the country, the Microsoft founder and chairman praised the country’s universities for its high level of education, the local high tech community for its achievements in fields such as information security, and cited the high rate of computer literacy among Israelis as a prime factor in the country’s success.
“Israel is a major player in the high tech world, which explains the considerable contribution of the country not only in the field of high tech startups but also through the R&D centers for companies like Microsoft, Intel and Motorola. We’re super-satisfied with the contributions of our R&D center in Haifa,” Gates said, referring to Microsoft Israel, which employs 400 people and focuses on marketing, sales and R&D. “The quality of the people here is quite fantastic.”

Well, there goes his chances for the seventy two raisins.

Meanwhile, we still do have your bomb recipe on file in the archives. Only it’s a bombe; no shrapnel but the sugar content could do you some haram.

Hat Yarmulke tip: Gindy Blogspot

Jamaat ul-Fuqra in Virginia, Part 2

My initial report on Jamaat ul-Fuqra generated considerable reaction from people all over the country, particularly those who might find themselves within the blast radius — so to speak — of one of the known compounds.

I received a lot of enquiries, additional information, and tips about Jamaat ul-Fuqra. One source reported that there was yet another “Muslim compound”, this time near Meherrin, Virginia. Another said that the people at that location “came out and danced in public on September 11th.” I had never heard about any JF activity in Meherrin before. When the opportunity came I drove up there.

Meherrin turned out to be a tiny hamlet in southern Prince Edward county, about 26 miles east of Red House as the crow flies. Its “business district” consists of two gas stations/convenience stores on US 360, a post office, a body shop, and little more. I stopped in at one of the stores on the highway and struck up conversations with some of the people I found there.

I asked Dave, an employee at Southside Virginia Community College, if he had heard of any Muslim groups in the area.

“Oh, yeah,” he replied, “I know the place you mean.” He waved his arm to indicate it was to the west of us. “It’s called ‘Muslims of the Americas’. They got a sign right out by the road.”

This was intriguing news: as you may remember, Muslims of the Americas (MOA) is a front organization for Jamaat ul-Fuqra. As reported by SATP in 2002:

     Muslims of the Americas, a tax-exempt group established in the US in 1980 by Gilani, operates communes of primarily black, American-born Muslims in many states in the US, including in Binghamton in New York, Badger in California, York in South California and Red House in Virginia. JF is reportedly linked through court documents to the Muslims of Americas.

I had not prompted Dave with the name of any group; he volunteered “Muslims of the Americas.” So I knew my sources had been correct.

As a reminder to those who have not read the earlier JF posts:

     Although [Sheikh] Gilani, the reclusive chief of Fuqra resides in Lahore, Pakistan, most JF cells are located in North America. Fuqra members have purchased isolated rural properties in North America to live as a community, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture. The group has set up and funded rural communes that the US authorities allege are linked to murder, bombings and other felonies throughout the US and Canada. Currently, there are half a dozen Fuqra residential compounds in rural hamlets across the US sheltering hundreds of cadres, some of who have reportedly trained in the use of weapons and explosives in Pakistan.

I asked Dave some more questions, but he seemed to know very little about the people at the MOA commune. He had never heard any rumors of trouble, they’d been there more than 10 years, they kept to themselves, etc. He did, however, know exactly where the commune was located, and gave me very detailed directions on how to get there.

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Dave said the place I was looking for was located on VA Rt. 633, a winding country road that turns off highway 360 just west of Meherrin. Unfortunately, the state is building a new bridge over the railroad line right at US 360, so he told me about a circuitous detour up US 15, coming in from the opposite direction.

Meherrin, Virginia

Virso and Mahareen Drive

Rt. 633 (Mt. Pleasant Road at the end near US 15) winds through open farm country. By the time the name changes to Virso Road it is running through an area of second-growth scrub, and the scattered inhabitants live mostly in trailers and double-wides. As I approached the location Dave directed me to, I saw views like this:

State Route 633

And residences like this:

State Route 633

The place is called “Virso” on the map, but the only sign of any civic presence at that location is an abandoned building by the road bearing a sign that reads “Virso Community Center.”

Watching for Dave’s “Muslims of the Americas” sign, I drove slowly through the area until I reached the dead end at the bridge construction. The only unusual thing I saw was a dirt entrance road with a street sign for “Mahareen Dr.” I could see a short distance down the road, and noted a lot of trailers arranged in close ranks, but otherwise there was nothing to see here.

I returned the way I had come. Mahareen Drive was definitely the location Dave had described.

Mahareen Drive
But no MOA sign! Perhaps it used to stand on that cinderblock pillar? And then, for some reason, the inhabitants took it down…

Mahareen DriveThere were 8 or 10 mailboxes at the entrance, each with a number, and some with the word “Mahareen”, but no other names. Other than these, the only notable feature was a prominent “No Trespassing” sign.

Who or what is “Mahareen”? Is it maybe a corruption of “Meherrin”?

I came home and googled variations that combined “Jamaat ul-Fuqra” and “Meherrin.” There are few references to be found on the internet concerning the commune near Meherrin, and all of them seem to derive from the same series of Washington Times stories in 2002, prior to the Beltway sniper incidents. From a cached version of a Washington Times article on July 1, 2002:

     Militant American Muslims operating out of rural communes in California and other Western states have targeted this rural Virginia community for an influx of members who have ties to Middle Eastern terrorists.
Law-enforcement authorities said the Muslims — mostly converts — are expected to join with radical Muslims living on 45 acres in this small Charlotte County community, 25 acres near Meherrin in neighboring Prince Edward County and on other parcels of land owned by the group’s members and supporters.

There is also a Word document from MIPT (the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, associated with the Department of Homeland Security) which contains this:

     In Virginia, Muslims of the Americas has established communes on 45 acres of land east of Red House in Charlotte County and on 25 acres near Meherrin in neighboring Prince Edward County. Additionally, a number of black Muslims have purchased smaller lots in the region and attend prayer services at the Red House commune. Law-enforcement authorities said the organization has been negotiating to purchase an additional 100 acres in Campbell County. Anywhere from 200 to 300 people, including women and children, are believed to live on the two sites, although the number varies and is hard to confirm, authorities said.

Remember that Sheikh Gilani, the founder of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, is the man that Daniel Pearl was attempting to interview when he was abducted and beheaded. The State Department reported his death on February 21st, 2002. The above-mentioned MIPT report was based on a Washington Times article dated February 18th, 2002, just three days before the announcement.

There is enough paranoia-inducing material here to brew up a whole pot of hot conspiracy stew, yet the facts on the ground are sparse. Googling “mahareen” turns up nothing definitive; it appears as a foreign word in several places (including Ireland!), and does not seem to have any particular Muslim or Arab connotations. The MOA sign is gone — yet Dave knew that name without any prompting from me, so I’m certain that it was there at some point.

Except for these slender reeds, everything is speculation.

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Speculation Alert

If John Allen Muhammad really did hole up in a JF safe house in Virginia in the fall of 2002, it was more likely to have been this one in Meherrin than the one previously reported in Red House. Meherrin is considerably closer to where he is known to have been, and it would have taken a lot less winding along back country roads to get there.

Muhammad was in the west end of the Richmond metropolitan area in October 2002, placing a call at a phone booth in the Exxon Station on the corner of Parham Road and West Broad. Looking at a map, to get to Meherrin he would have backtracked to I-64 East, gone down I-195 and the Powhite Parkway to Southside, picked up 288 for a brief jog, and then gone down Hull Street Road (US 360) all the way to Meherrin.

By my reading that’s about 75 driving miles. Depending on the time of day, if he put the pedal to the metal on 360 (as is customary in that part of the state) he could have gotten to Mahareen Drive in a little over an hour.

That’s not much of a drive to make in order to get a hot meal and real bed rest for a night or two, and maybe pick up some ammo. In addition, the Meherrin location has a much lower profile than the one in Red House.

It could have happened that way.

In any case, I hope some dedicated and experienced web sleuths who read Gates of Vienna will take up the challenge and look into Mahareen Drive.

UPDATE: Commenter Van Berthemium supplies this interesting translation:

     I have no idea what it means in the context you mention, but in Arabic mahareen (properly ماهرين māharīn) is a plural form of the word ماهر māhar “skillful one,” “clever one,” and the like.

Curbing My Enthusiasm for the Council Winners

Watcher's CouncilFirst place in the Council entries this week went to Stratasphere for his post on the possible Wilson-CIA cover-up. This is a thorough exploration of a complicated and disturbing story:

     Let me try and remember again who was establishing a business of trade in Africa, specifically Niger? Ah, yes – Joe Wilson. And who was in Niger in early 2002? Joe Wilson. And all of a sudden this report comes into the CIA about uranium in a warehouse for Saddam, but the CIA never follows up. We are going to war, the VP is at the CIA asking questions – and a load of uranium in a warehouse is ‘misplaced’.
Thanks, Stratasphere; great research. But now I’m really creeped out.

Doc Sanity and Gates tied for second place. Especially read the good doctor’s take on the droning “Henny Penny” news claque, the ones who can’t wait to tell you the sky is falling:

     The American public is hearing voices. And like auditory hallucinations experienced by psychiatric patients, these voices whisper continual doom and gloom. They tell the American consumer that prices are too high. That the economy is tanking; that poverty is on the rise; and that everything is bad bad bad.
These voices are persistant and continual. They are unrelenting. They are often frightening. And like the command hallucinations that torment many of my patients, they are completely and totally untrue. You are bad. Life isn’t worth living. They are trying to hurt you. Don’t try, it’s not worth it.

It is very rare for such voices to say anything at all positive. They have a specific goal–and that goal is the distortion of reality


Most of us have a personal history with this kind of Chinese water torture form of news reporting. It’s not just Vietnam or the Iraq war — it’s everything: all the bad news, all the time, on everything, be it the economy, culture, religion, foreign policy, health care, the future, etc.

That’s why we at Gates got rid of TV, NPR (National Palestinian Radio, including “Morning Sedition” and “All Things We Care to Consider” — names provided by my observant second son more than twenty years ago), and WaPo. I remember the first time Wally Ballou, one of our commenters, showed us The Washington Times. It seemed like a foreign and exotic object.

Diagnosis for accumulated attention to MSM: Hallucinations. Treatment: Excise the MSM from your life. In our view at Gates, if this condition is left untreated, you begin to believe that oil is running out, the economy is on the skids, famine is coming (remember that one?) the situation in Iraq is just Vietnam writ small, and America is bad, bad, bad and ought to turn herself into the United Nations for therapy. You wouldn’t live with asbestos in your house or lead paint. So get rid of the other toxic materials, too. Start with TV news.

Go, Doc!

In the non Council area, Cathy Siepp won for her post, “And Another Thing.” At the behest of a friend, Ms. Siepp has undertaken to reveal that she has lung cancer. My favorite part of the post (which I’d read previously ) was the section that related to my own experience with cancer — only she is able to articulate precisely what I could only glimpse at the time:

     Cancer does have a couple of upsides. One is that you can put the fear of God into people with hardly any effort at all, and occasionally, I have to admit, I do this when they start waving their illusions around in front of me. “But…but…you never smoked? Not at all? So then…you lived with a smoker, right? You worked in a bar?” Etc. Mostly I just smile and answer the usual series of “no”s. But sometimes I say, “I know you’re looking for a reason why you’ll never get this, even though I did — sorry, can’t help you.”
I’ve also heard, repeated back to me secondhand, theories that, well, it was stress – she got cancer because she wrote all those articles criticizing those wonderful people at the L.A. Times. Again, it doesn’t work that way. (And none of that ever caused me stress, just for the record.)
The other advantage is people reveal themselves to you as they really are – it’s almost like a solution for invisible ink. I found that most people were just as good as I’d expected, which in the case of my friends and family is very good. Some have been even better. And a couple, but only a couple, were big disappointments. (I’d still rather be me with cancer than them without it, although obviously a better scenario would be they’d have cancer and I wouldn’t, but you can’t have everything.)

See if you’re brave enough to read it.

Second place was disturbing in a different way. Winds of Change gives the full text of an article from the German political magazine, Cicero, published last Spring, and excerpts from a second essay in the same mag. The information contained in the essays so concerned the German government that they raided the offices of Cicero — definitely a sign you’re doing something right. Dan Darling doesn’t think the articles have had much exposure in English. The first, entitled “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” gives an in-depth and graphic description of a Muslim butcher:

     Supported by Iran, gone underground in Iraq, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi has been pulling the strings of Islamist terrorism, becoming Usama Bin Ladin’s new crown prince and an unscrupulous Holy War fighter.

Notice all those connections: Iran, Iraq, and Osama. Meanwhile, the Left here at home screams when you make those connections. Interesting reactive denial, don’t you think?

Warning: parts of the article are graphic. If you suffer from PTSD, don’t go there.

But do go to see all the other posts at the Watcher’s site. Amazing stuff.

Some blogger, whose name I’ve fortunately blocked, described my enthusiasm for a recent Watcher post by Right Wing Nuthouse as “drooling” — because, of course, he didn’t agree with Rick Moran’s essay. I must ask Doc Sanity to fisk that little mental tic. Meanwhile, I shall continue drooling on the winners. Sorry, folks. Bring paper towels.

Burn, Bébé, Burn: Light Up The New Dark Ages

Robert Spencer has a good fisk of the MSM reactions to the rioting in Paris.

     France on FireWhy have the riots happened? From many accounts one would think that the riots have been caused by France’s failure to implement Marxism. “The unrest,” AP explained, “has highlighted the division between France’s big cities and their poor suburbs, with frustration simmering in the housing projects in areas marked by high unemployment, crime and poverty.” Another AP story declared flatly that the riots were over “poor conditions in Paris-area housing projects.”
Reuters agreed with AP’s attribution of all the unrest to economic injustice, and added in a suggestion of racism: “The unrest in the northern and eastern suburbs, heavily populated by North African and black African minorities, have been fuelled by frustration among youths in the area over their failure to get jobs and recognition in French society.” Deutsche Presse Agentur called the high-rise public housing in the Paris suburbs “a long-time flashpoint of unemployment, crime and other social problems.”

Bunkum. All of it. As Spencer notes, if it’s unemployment and poverty, where are the Catholic poor in all of this?

Not that any of the MSM are actually using the word “muslim.” That doesn’t fit the politically correct party line and there’s no way to cut it to make it fit. So “muslim youth” simply gets excised from the stories entirely. These reporters are morally and philosophically bankrupt and blind to the facts on the ground. Conveniently blind and deaf.

Meanwhile the EU’s policies are all coming home to roost. Of course, they’re settling on to burning nests, but still the prattle continues in the press, while the French government’s politically correct and morally superior decisions to allow immigrants to form non-assimilating enclaves has resulted in the ash pits that are the unintended consequences of their utopian policies.

Naturally, it is never mentioned in these odes to ethnic separation that it was really what the Europeans preferred. Otherwise, they’d have to deal with the hordes of unwashed and foreign colonials that they allowed in when they needed the cheap labor in their manufacturing sectors. Now that’s a shriveling factor in the economy and they’re stuck with third generation superfluous strangers. Strangers they really don’t want too close. That’s why enclaves like Clichy Sous Bois — large tracts of waste land on the way to the airport and safely out of the way of the tourist trade — have been encouraged to remain in place. To remind them they’re in France, the streets are given French names, as are the projects. The residents burn out businesses, gut the parking garages, trash the council housing, and the government just cleans it up. Cheaper than integrating their colonial inheritance, no?

Theodore Dalrymple’s essay, Barabarians at the Gates of Paris, was written more than two years ago. It could have been a description of things last week:

     An apartment in this publicly owned housing is also known as a logement, a lodging, which aptly conveys the social status and degree of political influence of those expected to rent them. The cités are thus social marginalization made concrete: bureaucratically planned from their windows to their roofs, with no history of their own or organic connection to anything that previously existed on their sites, they convey the impression that, in the event of serious trouble, they could be cut off from the rest of the world by switching off the trains and by blockading with a tank or two the highways that pass through them, (usually with a concrete wall on either side), from the rest of France to the better parts of Paris. I recalled the words of an Afrikaner in South Africa, who explained to me the principle according to which only a single road connected black townships to the white cities: once it was sealed off by an armored car, “the blacks can foul only their own nest.”
A kind of anti-society has grown up in them—a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust—greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years—is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

And what is the French solution to this time bomb, to this Arab Street smoldering at the peripheries of its cities? It is the Ostrich Option, or the Scarlett O’Hara Solution — i.e., “if we don’t look at this it will go away,” or, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” And now, tomorrow is here… and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow:

     The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state’s responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order. In order to placate, or at least not to inflame, disaffected youth, the ministry of the interior has instructed the police to tread softly (that is to say, virtually not at all, except by occasional raiding parties when inaction is impossible) in the more than 800 zones sensibles—sensitive areas—that surround French cities and that are known collectively as la Zone.

Mark Steyn says he’s been predicting this since 9/11 but he didn’t think things would blow up in France until 2010. As he says, “silly” him. And in a way, it’s true. Things move much more quickly now, and with more intensity than we can take in. At this rate, human beings begin to numb out. Not that France hasn’t been creating this mess for two generations — heck, they started more two hundred years ago when they invaded, captured and colonized Algiers. It’s just that once the tipping point is reached, the human brain does not seem able to keep up with the cascade of events. There are biochemical-electrical limits to what our all-too-human brains can process in a given amount of time.

But Steyn, in his famously brilliant Steynian way, brings the history back even further than I. He posits the beginnings in 732 A.D. (editor’s note: you may use C.E. if you prefer; I am an A.D. kind of girl and this is not a university here):

     The French have been here before, of course. Seven-thirty-two. Not 7:32 Paris time, which is when the nightly Citroen-torching begins, but 732 A.D. — as in one and a third millennia ago. By then, the Muslims had advanced a thousand miles north of Gibraltar to control Spain and southern France up to the banks of the Loire. In October 732, the Moorish general Abd al-Rahman and his Muslim army were not exactly at the gates of Paris, but they were within 200 miles, just south of the great Frankish shrine of St. Martin of Tours. Somewhere on the road between Poitiers and Tours, they met a Frankish force and, unlike other Christian armies in Europe, this one held its ground “like a wall . . . a firm glacial mass,” as the Chronicle of Isidore puts it. A week later, Abd al-Rahman was dead, the Muslims were heading south, and the French general, Charles, had earned himself the surname “Martel” — or “the Hammer.”

Only this time the enemy is within the walls. Or almost. Let’s see how long it takes for the French to get hard-nosed and blockade the cités which ring the real, the civilized cities in France. Ever since the French Revolution, it seems the French have only two responses: hand-wringing surrender or bloody guillotines for all. Nuanced, they’re not.

Let’s see what happens next. What will La Scarlette Chirac do when he has to get up tomorrow and actually think about it?