Friday, March 16, 2007

The Killing, Ver 1.0 (JIHAD ME)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Something Heavy Going Down, Part II

Something Heavy Going Down, Part I includes comments from a Seattle Times article interviewing John Skilling in the wake of the February, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center. Skilling, according to the article, was the "head structural engineer" for the World Trade Center, and one of "the world's top structural engineers." The article ends with this:

Although Skilling is not an explosives expert, he says there are people who do know enough about building demolition to bring a structure like the Trade Center down.

"I would imagine that if you took the top expert in that type of work and gave him the assignment of bringing these buildings down with explosives, I would bet that he could do it."

There are a great many kooks out there with a great many conspiracy theories. So, when I stumbled across Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories, by David Ray Griffin, I checked his sources.

Some of the information he presents is from interviews with the New York Fire Department, conducted in the months following the 9/11 attack. The transcripts of those interviews were published by the New York Times: New York Times oral histories: transcripts of interviews from 9/11.

Those interviews tell quite a story. Read some of them, as you have time.

For the purposes of this post, I will present excerpts from some of the transcripts. Key quotes from these excerpts are collected at the very end of this post.

As you are reading this, please pay attention to the titles of the witnesses being interviewed. These are experienced members of the New York Fire Department, some of whom have risen to high rank.

Battalion Chief Brian Dixon

File No. 9110166
Interview Date: October 25, 2001
Transcribed by Laurie A. Collins

MR. CAMPBELL: Today's date is October 25th. The time is 12:41 p.m. This is Patrick Campbell, fire marshal of the Fire Department of the City of New York. I'm conducting an interview regarding the events of September 11th. I'm here with Battalion Chief Brian Dixon in his office. Also present is --

MR. STEPONAITIS: Fire Marshal Stephen Steponaitis, Fire Department.

MR. CAMPBELL: You can identify yourself too.

CHIEF DIXON: Battalion Chief Brian Dixon.

Q. Chief, we're conducting an interview, just like I said, regarding the events of September 11th. What we're looking for is from the time that you became aware of the incident up until any time during the day. We're looking for people you'd seen, just what you noticed around you. You can just go on on your own.

. . .

A: . . . Ganci was just figuring out where they were putting people. I was watching the fire, watching the people jump and hearing a noise and looking up and seeing -- it actually looked -- the lowest floor of fire in the south tower actually looked like someone had planted explosives around it because the whole bottom I could see -- I could see two sides of it and the other side -- it just looked like that floor blew out.

I looked up and you could actually see everything blew out on the one floor. I thought, geez, this looks like an explosion up there, it blew out. Then I guess in some sense of time we looked at it and realized, no, actually it just collapsed. That's what blew out the windows, not that there was an explosion there but that windows blew out.

Firefighter Christopher Fenyo

File No. 9110295
Interview Date: December 11, 2001
Transcribed by Nancy Francis

BATTALION CHIEF KENAHAN: Today's date is December 11, 2001. The time is 12:31. This is Battalion Chief Dennis Kenahan of the Safety Battalion of the Fire Department of the City of New York. I'm conducting an interview with Christopher Fenyo of Engine 35 in the quarters of Engine 35.

Q. Chris, just tell us what you saw on September 11th.

A. This is Firefighter 6th Grade Christopher Fenyo. . . .

. . .

There was an explosion at the top of the Trade Center and a piece of Trade Center flew across the West Side Highway and hit the Financial Center, and Arthur went to hook up with another chauffeur to the Financial Center.

. . .

About a couple minutes after George came back to me is when the south tower from our perspective exploded from about midway up the building.

. . .

At that point a debate began to rage because the perception was that the building looked like it had been taken out with charges. We had really no concept of the damage on the east side of 2 World Trade Center at that point, and at that point many people had felt that possibly explosives had taken out 2 World Trade, and officers were gathering companies together and the officers were debating whether or not to go immediately back in or to see what was going to happen with 1 World Trade at that point. The debate ended pretty quickly because 1 World Trade came down.

Battalion Chief Dominick DeRubbio

File No. 9110064
Interview Date: October 12, 2001
Transcribed by Laurie A. Collins

MR. CUNDARI: The time is 10:15, and this is George Cundari with Murray Murad from the Fire Department of the City of New York. I'm conducting an interview with the following individual.

Q. Please state your name, rank, title and assigned command.

A. My name is Battalion Chief Dominick DeRubbio. I'm assigned to Division 8. I'm doing the 25R group in Battalion 21. That morning I was surplus, so I was assigned to the field comm. unit.

. . .

A. . . . After a while we were looking up at the tower, and all of a sudden someone said it's starting to come down.

Q. This would be the north tower coming down?

A. This would be the first one.

Q. Or the south tower?

A. This one here. It was weird how it started to come down. It looked like it was a timed explosion, but I guess it was just the floors starting to pancake one on top of the other.

Paramedic Daniel Rivera

File No. 9110035
Interview Date: October 10, 2001
Transcribed by Laurie A. Collins

MS. BASTEDENBECK: Today is October 10th, 2001. The time is 1520 hours. My name is Chris Bastedenbeck. I work for the New York City Fire Department. I'm conducting an interview with the following individual.

Please state your name, your rank, your title, where you're assigned.

PARAMEDIC RIVERA: Daniel Rivera, paramedic. I'm assigned to Battalion 31, Station 36 in Brooklyn.

Q. I'd just like you to give me the events of September 11th, 2001.

. . .

A. . . . Then that's when -- I kept on walking close to the south tower, and that's when that building collapsed.

Q. How did you know that it was coming down?

A. That noise. It was a noise.

Q. What did you hear? What did you see?

A. It was a frigging noise. At first thought it was -- do you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear "Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop"? That's exactly what -- because I thought it was that. When I heard that frigging noise, that's when I saw the building coming down.

Q. What did you do?

A. Run. . . .

. . .

A. . . . Then the next thing you know, the next building collapsed. I was right in front of that building.

Q. So you were still over there when the second building collapsed?

A. Right, because I ran back. Not too bright of me, of course. I ran right back in, and I was right -- I could actually touch the building when it collapsed, the second time when it collapsed.

But again, I was prepared because I heard that same noise. It was like a waterfall noise. That's when I ran.

Firefighter Edward Cachia

File No. 9110251
Interview Date: December 6, 2001
Transcribed by Laurie A. Collins

CHIEF KENAHAN: Today's date is December 6th, 2001. The time is 2 p.m. This is Battalion Chief Dennis Kenahan of the New York City Fire Department, Safety Division. I'm conducting an interview with Ed Cachia of Engine 53.

Q. Please state your recollections for September 11th.

. . .

A. . . . As my officer and I were looking at the south tower, it just gave. It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit, because we originally had thought there was like an internal detonation explosives because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down.

With that everybody was just stunned for a second or two, looking at the tower coming down.

Chief Frank Cruthers

File No. 9110179
Interview Date: October 31, 2001
Transcribed by Elisabeth F. Nason

MR. RIGNOLA: This is Salvatore Rignola. I'm here with my partner Fire Marshal Cliff Krug. Today's date is Wednesday, October 31, 2001. The time is approximately 9:50. I'm at 9 Metrotech, 7th floor, speaking to Chief Cruthers, who is the Citywide Tour Commander. Chief, I'm going to ask you some questions about the events that happened on September 11, the year 2001.

Q. Tell me when you initially received the alarm and how you responded and where you went.

. . .

A. . . . There were some units there, along with a Battalion Chief and I gave them some instructions as to what to try to do. And while I was still in that immediate area, the south tower, 2 World Trade Center, there was what appeared to be at first an explosion. It appeared at the very top, simultaneously from all four sides, materials shot out horizontally. And then there seemed to be a momentary delay before you could see the beginning of the collapse.

Firefighter James Curran

File No. 9110412
Interview Date: December 30, 2001
Transcribed by Elisabeth F. Nason

BATTALION CHIEF MALKIN: December 30, 2001. The time is now 1233 hours. This is Battalion Chief Malkin of the Safety Battalion. I'm conducting an interview today with Firefighter sixth grade James Curran of Ladder Company 8. We are in the quarters of Ladder Company 8. There is nobody else in the room. This interview is in regards to the events of September 11, 2001. What follows is the interview with Fireman Curran.

Q. Take it away.

. . .

A. . . . We started filing out and following the line of the building. I got just to underneath the north walkway. A guy started screaming to run. When I got underneath the north bridge I looked back and you heard it, I heard like every floor went chu-chu-chu. Looked back and from the pressure everything was getting blown out of the floors before it actually collapsed. . . .

Captain Karin Deshore

File No. 9110192
Interview Date: November 7, 2001
Transcribed by Elisabeth F. Nason

INVESTIGATOR TAMBASCO: Today is November 7. I'm Mike Tambasco with the World Trade Center Task Force. We are doing an interview with Captain Karin Deshore of Battalion 46 into the events of September 11 at the World Trade Center. Interview time is beginning at 0549 a.m.

Q. Captain, would you be good enough to tell us your story?

. . .

A. . . . I had no clue what was going on. I never turned around because a sound came from somewhere that I never heard before. Some people compared it with an airplane. It was the worst sound of a rolling sound, not a thunder. I can't explain it, what it was. All I know is -- and a force started to come hit me in my back. I can't explain it. You had to be there. All I know is I had to run because I thought there was an explosion.

I ran about 10, 12 feet up this little grassy hill and by then this force and this sound caught up with me already. I threw myself behind the last support column of the pedestrian overpass. It became pitch dark. The sound got worse, the force just kept passing me. At times I thought it was like an orange light maybe, coming past me.

I was unaware what was happening. I thought it was just a major explosion. I didn't know the building was collapsing. I was sitting with my left side towards the support beam, total darkness, total noise. I felt beyond alone. I felt desolated. I felt like, all I could say was people think about their families and whatever. All I kept saying to myself within me I don't want to die, I don't want to die, I don't want to die.

I can't tell you how long it was before it died down. I just felt like the darkness the loneliness and being alone was the worst thing I ever experienced in my life and not being able to breathe. There was no air. Whatever this explosion was simply sucked all the oxygen out of the air. You couldn't breathe and the feeling of suffocation, I can't explain no further on that.

. . .

Somewhere around the middle of the World Trade Center, there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash. Then this flash just kept popping all the way around the building and that building had started to explode. The popping sound, and with each popping sound it was initially an orange and then a red flash came out of the building and then it would just go all around the building on both sides as far as I could see. These popping sounds and the explosions were getting bigger, going both up and down and then all around the building.

I went inside and I told everybody that the other building or there was an explosion occurring up there and I said I think we have another major explosion. I don't know if we are all going to be safe here. I told them I can't force you, but I don't know if we are going to be safe here. I'm going to try to get as far away from this building as possible. Unbeknown to me, a half a block down was the water.

. . .

So here these explosions are getting bigger and louder and bigger and louder and I told everybody if this building totally explodes, still unaware that the other building had collapsed, I'm going in the water. I said I can swim. . . .

Again, I didn't see what was happening behind me, but knowing of all the explosions I thought here was another explosion coming and this sound again and this wave of this force again. I just jumped on the boat, closed the door with my left hand and just sank down to my knees. Here whatever it was just came right at us again.

Firefighter Kenneth Rogers

File No. 9110290
Interview Date: December 10, 2001
Transcribed by Elisabeth F. Nason

BATTALION CHIEF KENAHAN: December 10, 2001. The time is 10:48 a.m. This is Battalion Chief Dennis Kenahan of the Safety Battalion of the New York City Fire Department. I'm conducting an interview with Kenny Rogers, Firefighter first from Ladder 16 in the quarters of Ladder 16.

Q. All right Kenny, please give me any information you have regarding the events of September 11.

. . .

A. . . . Meanwhile we were standing there with about five companies and we were just waiting for our assignment and then there was an explosion in the south tower, which according to this map, this exposure just blew out in flames. A lot of guys left at that point. I kept watching. Floor after floor after floor. One floor under another after another and when it hit about the fifth floor, I figured it was a bomb, because it looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing. I was there in '93.

Firefighter Richard Banaciski

File No. 9110253
Interview Date: December 6, 2001
Transcribed by Elisabeth F. Nason

BATTALION CHIEF KENAHAN: December 6, 2001. The time is 3:30 p.m. This is Battalion Chief Kenahan of the Safety Battalion of the Fire Department of the City of New York. I'm conducting an interview with Rich Banaciski of Ladder 22.

Q. Please tell us the events of September 11 as you recall them?

. . .

A. . . . We were there I don't know, maybe 10, 15 minutes and then I just remember there was just an explosion. It seemed like on television they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.

Assistant Commissioner Stephen Gregory

File No. 9110008
Interview Date: October 3, 2001
Transcribed by Nancy Francis

MR. McALLISTER: This is Kevin McAllister from the Bureau of Administration. It's October 3rd, 2001, 1540 hours. I'm with Jim Drury from the Bureau of Investigations and Trials and with Commissioner Stephen Gregory of the Bureau of Communications. We're in Commissioner Gregory's office and we are now commencing the interview.

COMMISSIONER GREGORY: On Tuesday, September 11th, I was sitting in my office, it was just shortly before 9:00 o'clock, having a cup of coffee, and I heard on the scanner in my office on the PD SOD frequency police units frantically screaming about a plane that had just crashed into the World Trade Center. . .

. . .

A. . . . I know I was with an officer from Ladder 146, a Lieutenant Evangelista, who ultimately called me up a couple of days later just to find out how I was. We both for whatever reason -- again, I don't know how valid this is with everything that was going on at that particular point in time, but for some reason I thought that when I looked in the direction of the Trade Center before it came down, before No. 2 came down, that I saw low-level flashes. In my conversation with Lieutenant Evangelista, never mentioning this to him, he questioned me and asked me if I saw low-level flashes in front of the building, and I agreed with him because I thought -- at that time I didn't know what it was. I mean, it could have been as a result of the building collapsing, things exploding, but I saw a flash flash flash and then it looked like the building came down.

Q. Was that on the lower level of the building or up where the fire was?

A. No, the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That's what I thought I saw. And I didn't broach the topic to him, but he asked me. He said I don't know if I'm crazy, but I just wanted to ask you because you were standing right next to me. He said did you see anything by the building? And I said what do you mean by see anything? He said did you see any flashes? I said, yes, well, I thought it was just me. He said no, I saw them, too.

I don't know if that means anything. I mean, I equate it to the building coming down and pushing things down, it could have been electrical explosions, it could have been whatever. But it's just strange that two people sort of say the same thing and neither one of us talked to each other about it. I mean, I don't know this guy from a hole in the wall. I was just standing next to him. I never met the man before in my life. He knew who I was I guess by my name on my coat and he called me up, you know, how are you doing? How's everything? And, oh, by the way did you... It was just a little strange.

Q. On the television pictures it appeared as well, before the first collapse, that there was an explosion up on the upper floors.

A. I know about the explosion on the upper floors. This was like eye level. I didn't have to go like this. Because I was looking this way. I'm not going to say it was on the first floor or the second floor, but somewhere in that area I saw to me what appeared to be flashes. I don't know how far down this was already. I mean, we had heard the noise but, you know, I don't know.

Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick

File No. 9110001
Interview Date: October 1, 2001
Transcribed by Elisabeth F. Nason

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER DRURY: We can begin by stating your name and your rank.

MR. FITZPATRICK: Tom Fitzpatrick, Deputy Commissioner for Administration, assigned to the Commissioners office.

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER DRURY: Just for the record, its Monday, October 1, 2:40 p.m., conference room 8N6 at headquarters.

MR. FITZPATRICK: On the morning of the event I was in my office and I was alerted by Commissioner Feehan and one of the secretaries outside that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I looked out the window, saw a slice in the side of the north tower, and then Bill came down the hall and said let's go. So we responded from headquarters.

. . .

A. . . . We looked up at the building straight up, we were that close. All we saw was a puff of smoke coming from about 2 thirds of the way up. Some people thought it was an explosion. I don't think I remember that. I remember seeing, it looked like sparkling around one specific layer of the building. I assume now that that was either windows starting to collapse like tinsel or something. Then the building started to come down. My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV.

it actually looked -- the lowest floor of fire in the south tower actually looked like someone had planted explosives around it because the whole bottom I could see -- I could see two sides of it and the other side -- it just looked like that floor blew out.

At that point a debate began to rage because the perception was that the building looked like it had been taken out with charges.

It was weird how it started to come down. It looked like it was a timed explosion

At first thought it was -- do you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear "Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop"? That's exactly what -- because I thought it was that.

It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit, because we originally had thought there was like an internal detonation explosives because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down.

there was what appeared to be at first an explosion. It appeared at the very top, simultaneously from all four sides, materials shot out horizontally. And then there seemed to be a momentary delay before you could see the beginning of the collapse.

everything was getting blown out of the floors before it actually collapsed

Somewhere around the middle of the World Trade Center, there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash. Then this flash just kept popping all the way around the building and that building had started to explode. The popping sound, and with each popping sound it was initially an orange and then a red flash came out of the building and then it would just go all around the building on both sides as far as I could see. These popping sounds and the explosions were getting bigger, going both up and down and then all around the building.

One floor under another after another and when it hit about the fifth floor, I figured it was a bomb, because it looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing. I was there in '93.

It seemed like on television they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.

You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That's what I thought I saw.

My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV.

Farooq Muhammad

The New York Times, after a battle, obtained transcripts of interviews conducted with firefighters and other emergency personnel regarding the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. They published those transcripts online.

Here is an excerpt from one:

File No. 9110180

Interview Date: November 1, 2001

Transcribed by Nancy Francis

LIEUTENANT FEILER: Today's date is November 1st, 2001. The time now is 1035 hours, and this is Monty Feiler of the New York City Fire Department, World Trade Center Task Force. I'm conducting an interview with the following individual:

Q. Please state your name, rank, title and assigned command.

A. My name is Farooq Muhammad. I'm an EMT. Presently I'm on light duty at BHS. I normally work at Battalion 58.

Q. Of the New York City Fire Department. We're conducting the interview at the BITS office regarding the events of September 11th, 2001. . . .

. . .

Q. Is there anything else that you want to add before we conclude, anything that you think is important, that you want to reiterate?

A. Well, I'd like to reiterate the fact that, as a Muslim who works for the Fire Department, that I can say that, as far as my family is concerned, as far as my friends who happen to be Muslims are concerned, that this is no way, you know, this no way reflects Islam. Islam does not teach this. Islam is a religion of peace and it teaches brotherhood amongst all people and races. Regardless of what religion they are, you're supposed to treat them with respect, just like you would treat your own mother or father with respect. What you would want for yourself, that's how you treat them.

I think not only was this an attack on the United States, but the people who did this also attacked Islam because now here you are with millions of people in the world thinking that Islam is something that's of violence, when really it isn't, when really it's these people who chose it as a means to get their -- whatever they did, you know, to get that done, not to actually portray the true Islam. It's just something that they tried to use to manipulate. That's what a lot of people do, unfortunately, and a lot of people out there who claim to be Muslims do manipulate people into thinking that killing innocent people is good when Islam clearly teaches you that it's something that's not tolerated by God and never will be and it shouldn't be tolerated by any Muslim.

So I'd like to let people know that, hopefully, I just hope that people could realize that. People could just do some research on their own instead of just listening to somebody who says that, oh, no, Islam teaches hatred or violence. Hopefully, they could research on their own and find that, no, it's the opposite. It teaches peace and love for all humanity, whether they're Jewish or Christian or Buddha or whatever, rich or poor, men, women or children. It actually teaches respect for the most vulnerable, for the weakest, poorest people. You treat them equal, as you would anyone. There's no like you're better than me or I'm better than you because I'm Muslim. It just doesn't work that way.

It just hurts me that this happened, just like a slap in the face, that's how I see it. For good-hearted Muslims who follow the true message all over the world, I feel this is like a slap in the face, and as an American, I hope that as a nation we could conquer this terrorism, I really do hope that, because my family came here many, many years ago for a better life, to live the American dream. I was born here, raised here. I'm an American citizen. This is my home. I plan on keeping this as my home for as long as I live. I mean, I'm an American. Where am I going to go? This is my home. I truly hope that together Americans can overcome this and that peace could be a part of our daily lives instead of having to worry about getting on the train or traveling or driving in your car worrying about some kind of terrorist attack, or opening your mail, worrying about getting sick.

LIEUTENANT FEILER: Okay. On behalf of the Fire Department, I want to thank you for participating in this. Can I just get the time, please?

A VOICE: 11:00.

LIEUTENANT FEILER: We'll conclude the interview at 11:00 o'clock. Thank you.

Let me make this crystal clear: I don't care who you are.

If you are a hero, I will sing your praise.

And, if you are a criminal, I will expose you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blog Trek: The Undiscovered Ideologies

Captain’s Blog, Cyberdate 20070313

With the arrival of several of our sister ships along the Neutral Zone, Cyberfleet Headquarters now considers the area adequately patrolled, and has made a strategic decision for Cyberfleet to be more proactive in learning about our new foe.

This decision comes in the wake of startling new discoveries being made by Cyberfleet Headquarters.

First is the discovery that our new foe, the Morg, are in fact not one species, but are several related species, which seem to war with each other at least as enthusiastically as they do with unrelated species. This has offered us glimmers of hope, as we now understand that the Morg are a threat to themselves every bit as much as they are a threat to the Federation. Furthermore, there are persistent reports of related species that do not share the Morg's imperialistic ideology. Many of these species, it seems, are rather indifferent to those around them, and several are even reported to be friendly to the Federation!

While this discovery has offered us a silver lining to the dark cloud now hanging over the Federation, another dark cloud may be appearing on the horizon. Cyberfleet Headquarters has received unconfirmed reports that some other species, which we thought the Federation had been on close and friendly terms with, may in fact be collaborating with the Morg. Cyberfleet Headquarters has not shared any details with the fleet, so our senior officers on patrol are left with the impression that these unconfirmed reports may be little more than rumors. Ominously, however, Cyberfleet Headquarters is taking this matter seriously enough that the fleet has not only been notified of this possiblity, but even directed to explore it -- cautiously.

It is not without apprehension among the crew that the UCS Weblog now leaves the relative security of Federation Cyberspace on a mission of reconnaissance against a shadowy array of enemies, while at the same time holding open the hope of diplomacy in making the acquaintance of new allies. It can truly be said that we are going where no blogger has gone before as we seek out these undiscovered ideologies.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jihad, Inc. Part II

The purpose of this post is to give you some idea of how big the world trade in illegal narcotics is, and what countries it involves, within the context of this blog.

From an undated report of the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, entitled Major Heroin Producing and Trafficking Countries


The breakdown of governance in Afghanistan during more than 20 years of civil conflict created the conditions within which it became the world’s leading supplier of opiates in the 1990s. Whilst over 90% of the heroin trafficked into Europe in recent years has originated in Afghanistan, Afghan opium production is no longer just an issue for the West: opiate addiction rates are rising in neighbouring countries and increasingly in Afghanistan itself.

. . .


Pakistan no longer has any significant opium production (5 tonnes in 2001, down from 181 tonnes in 1992), but remains a major smuggling route for Afghan opiates. It borders the main poppy growing regions of Afghanistan (Helmand and Nangarhar). Opiates are trafficked through Pakistan to Iran and Europe. Pakistan is also a major transit country for acetic anhydride, the chemical precursor used to process opium into heroin.

. . .


Turkey is a key transit and heroin processing country for opiates en route to the UK from Afghanistan. Up to 80% of heroin used in the UK is believed to transit through Turkey.

. . .


Lying between Afghanistan and Turkey, Iran is a key transit country for drug traffickers. Iran makes vigorous efforts to tackle the drugs trade and has the world’s highest seizure levels. Iranian law enforcement agencies have been involved in violent skirmishes with traffickers along its border with Afghanistan for more than twenty years. These skirmishes have claimed the lives of more than 3100 law enforcement officers. Iran has invested about $250 million in border reinforcements, but long stretches of border remain porous.

. . .

Central Asia

There is only very small-scale cultivation of opium poppy in Central Asia, but successful drug control in Afghanistan could lead eventually to displacement of cultivation into remoter areas where law enforcement is more limited.

Opiates are trafficked out of Afghanistan to Central Asia and Russia (where demand has risen rapidly). Tajikistan is a major transit route. Opiates are also trafficked through Turkmenistan to Turkey via the Caucasus or Iran. There was no hard evidence that large quantities of opiates trafficked on these routes are destined for Western Europe and the UK.

. . .

The Balkans

The Balkan Route is the main transit route for drugs entering Europe from South West Asia.

Heroin from Afghanistan is a significant problem in the UK. What many people perhaps don't know is that it is a growing problem on the other side of the Atlantic.

From an article in the Pakistan News Service: PakTribune entitled More heroin from Afghanistan pouring into U.S. cities, dated Sunday January 07, 2007 (0101 PST):

Almost 90 percent of the world's opium is made from poppies grown in Afghanistan. Once refined, most of the heroin is shipped throughout Europe. As a result, the Afghan drug trade has been portrayed primarily as a European problem, rather than an American one.

But internal drug-enforcement reports indicate that U.S. authorities are seizing more Afghan heroin at U.S. ports and from low-level dealers in American cities.
The reports contradict the public statements of drug enforcement officials, who maintain that the amount of heroin reaching the United States from Afghanistan hasn't increased.


U.S. Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, a Republican who represents suburbs north of Chicago, said the Bush administration had been slow to respond to indications that more heroin from Afghanistan was coming to the United States. U.S. law enforcement officials also have told him privately that Afghanistan's share of the American heroin market is growing, he said.

"More heroin is definitely coming in from Afghanistan," said Kirk, who's visited Afghanistan as a reserve naval intelligence officer. "The problem is the official reporting lags as to what we're actually seeing in the streets."

The increase in the U.S. supply of Afghan heroin is further evidence that Afghanistan is awash in illicit opium and plagued by official corruption.

According to the article, the DEA officially denies this, but privately acknowledges both the growth and connection even in the local communities certain countries in Asia.

But a DEA internal analysis found that 14 percent of the heroin seized in the United States in 2004 originated in Afghanistan, compared with 8 percent the year before. DEA officials refused to provide 2005 figures, saying they were still preliminary.


In Minneapolis, the DEA noted that Afghan, Pakistani, Turkish and Lebanese dealers in the city are "very active" in selling heroin from Afghanistan.

This one is my favorite. I feel like I'm getting the information straight from the horse's mouth. Al Jazeera points out the tremendous money being made by narcotraffickers in an article entitled Who’s profiting from Afghan Opium trade?, dated 10/2/2006 3:55:00 PM GMT:

According to Vienna based UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2006 harvest will be of the order of 6,100 tonnes, 33 times its production levels before the U.S. invasion (3200 % increase in 5 years).

The UN said that this year's contribution of the drug trade to the Afghan economy is of the order of 2.7 billion, but avoided mentioning the stunning fact that over 95 percent of the revenues generated by this lucrative contraband accrues to business syndicates, organized crime and banking and financial institutions. A very small percentage accrues to farmers and traders in the producing country, according to Global Research website.

For some inexplicable reason, Al Jazeera does not mention this illegal narcotics trade as a source of revenue for terrorists. However, the analysis of how much it is really worth is interesting.

Based on wholesale and retail prices in Western markets, the earnings generated by the Afghan drug trade are colossal. In July 2006, street prices in Britain for heroin were of the order of Pound Sterling 54, or $102 a gram.

"Afghan heroin sells on the international narcotics market for 100 times the price farmers get for their opium right out of the field".(US State Department quoted by the Voice of America (VOA), 27 February 2004).

According to the structure of British retail prices for heroin, the total proceeds of the Afghan heroin trade would be of the order of 124.4 billion dollars, assuming a 50 percent purity ratio. Assuming an average purity ratio of 36 percent and the average British price, the cash value of Afghan heroin sales would be of the order of 194.4 billion dollars.

The first figure shows that the cash value of these sales, once they reach Western retail markets are in excess of 120 billion dollars a year.

That is a tremendous amount of money, nearly all of which goes not to the producers, but to the traffickers. Even a fraction of that can buy a lot of jihad.

There are powerful business and financial interests depending on narcotics, and that's why geopolitical and military control over the drug cultivation is as strategic as oil.

Interestingly, they seem to think that Western governments either control it or want to, the same way I think bin Laden and his buddies are cashing in on it. However, I don't think bin Laden is the only one cashing in on it, any more than I think he's the only one cashing in on Saudi oil production.

A big share of this multi-billion dollar revenues of narcotics are deposited in the Western banking system.

But an important point is that this "illicit" trade cannot survive unless the main actors involved in narcotics have "political friends in high places."

Two very true statements, very true indeed!

The accusation of corruption is, of course, aimed at the United States:

Revenues from the CIA sponsored Afghan drug trade are huge. The Afghan trade in opiates constitutes a large share of the worldwide annual turnover of narcotics. (Douglas Keh, Drug Money in a Changing World, Technical document No. 4, 1998, Vienna UNDCP, p. 4. See also United Nations Drug Control Program, Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1999, E/INCB/1999/1 United Nations, Vienna 1999, p. 49-51, and Richard Lapper, UN Fears Growth of Heroin Trade, Financial Times, 24 February 2000).

According to IMF estimates, global money laundering is between 590 billion and 1.5 trillion dollars a year, representing 2-5 percent of global GDP, a big share of global money laundering is linked to the trade in narcotics.

Wow! That's a lot of zeros: USD 590,000,000,000 to 1,500,000,000,000!

Key phrase: "a big share of global money laundering is linked to the trade in narcotics."

According to 2003 figures, drug trafficking constitutes "the third biggest global commodity in cash terms after oil and the arms trade." (The Independent, 29 February 2004).

Hence, the above figures show that most of the revenues linked to the global trade in narcotics are not appropriated by "terrorist" organisations and warlords, as claimed by the U.S. officials and the American President George W. Bush.

Actually, no it doesn't show that, not at all.

Clearly, that's too much money to keep in a cave in Afghanistan somewhere, or even in a villa in Turkey. That kind of money has to be laundered, banked, invested. So, yes, there are "legitimate" business concerns that are being fueled by drug money, absolutely. And, certainly not every dollar of that is going to Al Qaeda, or any other player in the world of drug-traffickers. Lots of fingers are in the pie.

But 1) it is unclear who is getting the biggest piece of that pie, so we can't rule out terrorists as the major recipient of drug profits; and 2) don't think Khawarij terrorist bandits aren't getting their slice!

In a article entitled Terrorists: Swimming in Saudi Money, dated November 8, 2005, Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu addresses more widely the financing of terror, touching on the drug trade as well:

In describing his guerrilla army, Mao Tse-tung used an aquatic analogy: "Guerrillas are the fish, and the population is the sea in which they swim."


But the terrorists have applied his metaphor assiduously to the financial sphere, for the modern Islamofascist terrorist movement swims in the rich waters of international finance. Far from being poor, ignorant peasants as many in the West fancifully envision the terrorists, these men and their organizations are highly sophisticated, technologically aware, and extraordinarily adept at moving money within the intricate web of international financial institutions.

That is worth repeating: terrorist "organizations are highly sophisticated, technologically aware, and extraordinarily adept at moving money within the intricate web of international financial institutions."

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects of these terrorists is that many of the most virulently anti-Western have matriculated in British and American institutions of higher learning. More than one detainee in Guantanamo has an advanced degree in international finance from schools such as the London School of Economics. Admission standards may have changed, but one does not reasonably expect to find a simple Afghani opium farmer conscripted by the Taliban to be on the roster of distinguished graduates.

So for the modern terrorist money – and lots of it – is the ocean in which they swim and without which they will cease to live. Post-9/11, one of President Bush’s stated objectives was to dry up that ocean and deny the terrorists the funding needed to carry out their horrific attacks. These sorts of financial tracking operations are done by analysts in front of computer screens pouring over endless printout sheets. It is mostly thankless work that is conducted in the back offices of CIA, Treasury, FBI, and Homeland Security. Information is obtained by liaison to foreign countries intelligence agencies and banking establishments – thus bringing in State Department, and though signal and information intercepts - that means the Pentagon and National Security Agency.

The vast majority of money transfers are accomplished by electronic means. In the early days, these systems were relatively unsophisticated and vulnerable. No longer. Today’s systems are under constant attack, but are protected by sophisticated, complex security software. It is a constant war of bits and bytes as hackers fight guardians in cyberspace. But so far sophisticated technology has been good news for the terrorists and those who support their cause, because it means that transfers are extraordinarily difficult to track. Tom Clancy’s new novel, Teeth of the Tiger, discusses electronic intercept and offers an optimistic view of American capabilities. We are not there yet. Highly encrypted software, multiple accounts in a myriad of international banking and financial institutions, and covert tradecraft, such as use of electronic "cut-outs," can preclude any but the most persistent, careful analyst from finding the money trail. This is the challenge faced by our financial specialists who try to find walk the cat backwards to the lairs of leading al-Qaeda operational leaders.

"The vast majority of money transfers are accomplished by electronic means."

Al-Qaeda also has its tentacles into many other fields that generate money: semi-precious gems, opium and heroin, illegal traffic in birds of prey, and money laundering at an international level. Tanzanite, a semi-precious stone originating in East Africa, has been handled by an informal consortium of Muslim African distributors. While Osama bin Laden was based in Sudan and Somalia he and his henchmen moved in on the Tanzanite dealers and pressured them to provide protection money for his organization. Similarly, after relocating to Afghanistan bin Laden took over the lapis lazuli mines (many of which later became the legendary "caves" in mountain redoubts) and controlled export sales of the stones. Many of these channels of funding remain open today despite serious setbacks to al-Qaeda.

Similarly, bin Laden’s gangs, along with the fanatical Taliban, controlled opium production, distribution, and sale outside of Afghanistan. This operation also included manufacture into morphine base and ultimately into heroin. The Afghanistan poppy fields were the origin of much of the world’s heroin. The local farmers, while ostensibly under the thumbs of regional "warlords" were in effect working for bin Laden and his cronies, helping to fund the terrorists.

There's money in holy war.

A lot of money.

The suicide bombers and suicide hijackers do this all for Allah (and their seventy-two virgins), but higher-ups like bin Laden have a more earthly motive, one that predates Islam: money.

Jihad is big business.

This is a fun read, from the Guardian (UK): Afghan drugs barons flaunt their wealth and power.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Something Heavy Going Down, Part I

When a big, new building is being designed and built, certain unfortunate events have to be considered and planned for.

In particular, it is understood that during the long lifetime of an expensive building, there will be fires. It is important to everyone involved, including the project's investors, that even a major fire, one that is truly catastrophic, not be able to destroy the building. First and foremost there is the human cost of such a catastrophe; if a gigantic building is destroyed by a fire, then anyone trapped inside the building dies. Beyond that, there is the liability issue of unnecessary deaths in the building if it collapses. The death or injury of people and the damage of property in neighboring structures are a liability issue, as well, in case of collapse. Finally, there is the investment; hopefully, everyone evacuates safely, the catastrophic fire is safely extinguished, and now the building itself can be restored to a money-making capacity. As a result of this, major new buildings, especially skyscrapers in America, are built such that a major fire, which sooner or later will occur, is not able to collapse the building.

This is more than just theory. For decades of American history, although there have been skyscrapers and fires, never had a skyscraper been collapsed by a fire. Then, on one day, Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, not just one, but three skyscrapers, all in the same complex, supposedly collapsed due to fires. Since then, it has never happened again.

Another thing one might take into consideration when building a skyscraper in America is the likelihood that an aircraft might crash into it. It has even been anticipated that the fuel on board an aircraft might cause a catastrophic fire after the crash.

From an article entitled February 27, 1993: WTC Engineer Says Building Would Survive Jumbo Jet Hitting It:

In the wake of the WTC bombing, the Seattle Times interviews John Skilling who was one of the two structural engineers responsible for designing the Trade Center. Skilling recounts his people having carried out an analysis which found the twin towers could withstand the impact of a Boeing 707. He says, "Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed." But, he says, "The building structure would still be there." [Seattle Times, 2/27/1993] The analysis Skilling is referring to is likely one done in early 1964, during the design phase of the towers. A three-page white paper, dated February 3, 1964, described its findings: "The buildings have been investigated and found to be safe in an assumed collision with a large jet airliner (Boeing 707—DC 8) traveling at 600 miles per hour. Analysis indicates that such collision would result in only local damage which could not cause collapse or substantial damage to the building and would not endanger the lives and safety of occupants not in the immediate area of impact."

In fact, it was believed that each of the Twin Towers was able to withstand more than one such impact simultaneously. From a statement made several months before 9/11, reported in Twin Towers' Designers Anticipated Jet Impacts Like September 11th's (numbers in brackets refer to footnotes; see the original):

Frank Demartini's Statement

Frank A. Demartini, on-site construction manager for the World Trade Center, spoke of the resilience of the towers in an interview recorded on January 25, 2001.

The building was designed to have a fully loaded 707 crash into it. That was the largest plane at the time. I believe that the building probably could sustain multiple impacts of jetliners because this structure is like the mosquito netting on your screen door -- this intense grid -- and the jet plane is just a pencil puncturing that screen netting. It really does nothing to the screen netting.

Demartini, who had an office on the 88th floor of the North Tower, has been missing since the 9/11/01 attack, having remained in the North Tower to assist in the evacuation. [6] Demartini had first worked at World Trade Center when Leslie E. Robertson Associates hired him to assess damage from the truck bombing in 1993.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center didn't just "meet" standards; an incredibly important investment, the WTC towers exceeded standards by a significant margin.

Like All Skyscrapers, the Twin Towers Were Over-Engineered

One aspect of engineering that is not widely understood is that structures are over-engineered as a matter of standard practice. Steel structures like bridges and buildings are typically designed to withstand five times anticipated static loads and 3 times anticipated dynamic loads. The anticipated loads are the largest ones expected during the life of the structure, like the worst hurricane or earthquake occurring while the floors are packed with standing-room-only crowds. Given that September 11th was not a windy day, and that there were not throngs of people in the upper floors, the critical load ratio was probably well over 10, meaning that more than nine-tenths of the columns at the same level would have to fail before the weight of the top could have overcome the support capacity of the remaining columns.

There is evidence that the Twin Towers were designed with an even greater measure of reserve strength than typical large buildings. According to the calculations of engineers who worked on the Towers' design, all the columns on one side of a Tower could be cut, as well as the two corners and some of the columns on each adjacent side, and the building would still be strong enough to withstand a 100-mile-per-hour wind. [7] Also, John Skilling is cited by the Engineering News Record for the claim that "live loads on these [perimeter] columns can be increased more than 2000% before failure occurs." [8]

Here are excerpts from the February 27, 1993, Seattle Times article (cited as a source in the first quote) Twin Towers Engineered To Withstand Jet Collision; the article was written in the wake of the first terrorist attack on the WTC:

Engineers had to consider every peril they could imagine when they designed the World Trade Center three decades ago because, at the time, the twin towers were of unprecedented size for structures made of steel and glass.

"We looked at every possible thing we could think of that could happen to the buildings, even to the extent of an airplane hitting the side," said John Skilling, head structural engineer. "However, back in those days people didn't think about terrorists very much."

The article says "Skilling ... is among the world's top structural engineers." Because of a previous incident where an aircraft collided with the Empire State Building, the design team considered the possibility of an airliner crashing into the twin towers. As mentioned in a previous quote, it was believed the buildings would survive. In a comment about the February, 1993 WTC bombing, the article states:

Skilling - a recognized expert in tall buildings - doesn't think a single 200-pound car bomb would topple or do major structural damage to a Trade Center tower. The supporting columns are closely spaced and even if several were disabled, the others would carry the load.

"However," he added, "I'm not saying that properly applied explosives - shaped explosives - of that magnitude could not do a tremendous amount of damage."

Chillingly, the article concludes:

Although Skilling is not an explosives expert, he says there are people who do know enough about building demolition to bring a structure like the Trade Center down.

"I would imagine that if you took the top expert in that type of work and gave him the assignment of bringing these buildings down with explosives, I would bet that he could do it."

This series of posts will address the collapse of three World Trade Center skyscrapers, referred to here as WTC 1, WTC 2, and WTC 7, on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, during kamikaze-style terrorist attacks by two hijacked airliners. This series is intended to be read in parallel with the initial posts of the series Jihad, Inc.; posts from both series, as well as other related material, can be found under the label The Killing. This material will lead us to an understanding of what really happened that day, how it happened, and why.

Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom's Third Option

(References: The Power of Saudi Arabia's Islamic Leaders; Website of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.)

When we last left Saudi Arabia's Royal Family, they were quite squarely between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

First of all, let's make sure we understand in what way the Saudi government is in a predicament.

Recall how, during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Saudi Government addressed the possibility of using oil as a weapon against the United States over Israeli policy (see reference):

In September, Deputy Oil Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal stated that "Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly now prepared to use its key position as a major world supplier of crude oil to bring pressure on the U.S. government to moderate its pro-Israeli policy."

And, of course, shortly thereafter the 1973 Oil Embargo made history.

What would have happened if, twenty-eight years later (2001), the following had occurred?

In September, President of the United States George W. Bush stated that "The United States is undoubtedly now prepared to use its key position as a major military power to bring pressure on the Saudi government to moderate its pro-terrorist policy."

What would happen if some US President were to say that at some point in the future?

I could envision Mecca and Medina being trampled underfoot by a powerful infidel army.

I wonder if Allah would be pleased with that....

But, perhaps Yankee Doodle isn't tolerant enough. Perhaps Yankee Doodle is a little Islamophobic. Perhaps Yankee Doodle should make a greater effort to appreciate the diversity of our world.

Okay. Here we go. I shall endeavor to learn a little about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


From Government on the Saudi Embassy's website:

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy based on Islam. The government is headed by the King, who is also the commander in chief of the military.

The King appoints a Crown Prince to help him with his duties. The Crown Prince is second in line to the throne.

The King governs with the help of the Council of Ministers, also called the Cabinet. There are 22 government ministries that are part of the Cabinet. Each ministry specializes in a different part of the government, such as foreign affairs, education and finance.

The King is also advised by a legislative body called the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura). The Council proposes new laws and amends existing ones. It consists of 150 members who are appointed by the King for four-year terms that can be renewed.

The country is divided into 13 provinces, with a governor and deputy governor in each one. Each province has its own council that advises the governor and deals with the development of the province.

Because Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, its judicial system is based on Islamic law (Shari’ah). The King is at the top of the legal system. He acts as the final court of appeal and can issue pardons.

So, basically, the King of Saudi Arabia is the boss of the Kingdom.

1) He is at the top of the Legislative Branch, and makes the laws.
2) He is at the top of the Executive Branch, and is responsible for executing and enforcing the laws.
3) And he is clearly at the top of the Judicial Branch, and has final authority for interpreting the laws.

Wow, I feel more tolerant already!


Let's see if we can learn some more.

From Basic System of Government:

The Basic System of Government identifies the nature of the state, its goals and responsibilities, as well as the relationship between the ruler and citizens. It defines the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an Arab and Islamic sovereign state; its religion is Islam and its constitution is the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah.

(This last paragraph is clarified in the fine print.)

The King, who also acts as prime minister, ensures the application of the Shari'ah and the State's general policy, and supervises the protection and defense of the nation. The Crown Prince is appointed by the King. Members of the Council of Ministers assist the King in the performance of his duties.

The new bylaws introduced for the system in 1992 further explain that the purpose of the State is to ensure the security and rights of all citizens and residents. It emphasizes the importance of the family as the nucleus of Saudi society. The family plays a vital role by teaching its members to adhere to Islamic values.

In defining the relationship between the ruler and the people, the system emphasizes the equality of all Saudi citizens. All are equal before God and in their concern for the well-being, security, dignity and progress of their nation. All citizens are also equal before the law.

So, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the King is responsible for the application of Islamic Law, known as Shari'ah, and that includes a mandate "to ensure the security and rights of all citizens and residents".

Wow! I feel ready for a test!


I would like to devote a section of this post as a special message to his Highness, the King of Saudi Arabia, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and his closest, most trusted advisors. If you are not in that group, you are on your honor to not read the following message! Remember, Allah is watching!

So, Your Highness & Royal Company, how are things going?

Ready to come to Jesus? Maybe later?

Been practicing swimming? Not a lot of places to practice in the desert?

I understand.


You know, I think I see a way out of your predicament.

When your predecessor, Muhammad ibn Saud (may Allah be pleased with him) made his deal with his new friend Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (ditto) to spread Wahhab's beliefs about Islam, he set in motion a series of events which seems to have gotten out of control, and which now threatens the very existence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saud's descendents, and the two places in the world holiest to Islam -- places of which (and people of whom) you are the custodian! You need to bring these events back under control.

Here's what you do:

As the country's supreme religious leader and Custodian of Islam's Two Holiest Mosques at Mecca and Medina, declare that Al Qaeda are Khawarij (which everyone in the Islamic World knows is true, by the way). Declare them to be in rebellion against Allah and the teachings of Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him). Declare that their jihad is a false jihad, and that it is a severe violation of Islamic Law, since they are killing other believers. Declare that battling against the khawarij terrorists is the only true jihad in light of khawarij outrages. Furthermore, since Islamic Law is the law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, declare that anyone who supports the khawarij terrorists is a traitor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, guilty of treason, and will be dealt with appropriately.

As the King of Saudi Arabia, as the country's supreme religious leader and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, tell the Kingdom's religious leaders that they have wandered too far astray from true Islam, that they are preaching too much hatred, that they are driving people away from true Islam, and that they are converting themselves and others into khawarij. In short, tell them to get their act together.

When they appeal this through appropriate channels, and the case comes before the Kingdom's supreme religious leader and top justice of the judicial system, hear their case, then rule in favor of yourself, and offer them the choices to either 1) toe the line or 2) be arrested for treason.

Replace any leader -- religious, political or military -- that doesn't follow the new course; they all serve at your discretion.

Crack down on the all funding of and other support for terrorism. Put an end to it. Show the world that you are serious about the War on Terror, which is really a War on Khawarij Terrorists, which it is your holy duty before Allah to prosecute to the fullest of your abilities.

Once you are doing this, and so have gained credibility and prestige in the international arena, turn to the United States, and anyone else as appropriate, thank them for defending Islam's holiest places, and point out to them that, since those places are no longer threatened by invading armies, it is time for their military forces to leave the Kingdom, except for those few that you deem to be still of use to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. This will gain you further credibility and prestige in the Islamic World, especially within the Kingdom, since no one will be able to accuse you of being some infidel's puppet. The traditional, conservative Muslims will respect you. Your concern for Islam will be seen as genuine, in very sharp contrast to the "concern" of Osama bin Laden, who is making a handsome profit off his khawarij terrorist banditry.

Your Highness, you have been too tolerant, and the khawarij terrorists have taken shameless advantage of your tolerance and generosity. It is high time these khawarij terrorist bandits get put in their place!

I suggest, Your Highness, that you do it now, while there is still time....

In September, the President of the United States stated that "The United States is undoubtedly now prepared to use its key position as a major military power to bring pressure on the Saudi government to moderate its pro-terrorist policy."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jihad, Inc. Part I

The introduction to an article entitled The new economy of terror, dated Jan. 26, 2005, by Loretta Napoleoni, says a mouthful (emphasis in original):

Terrorism is business as well as politics. Loretta Napoleoni explains how its funders and sponsors support its operations by covert, sophisticated use of changes in the global financial system.

Reread that paragraph again, because it is important.

This blog has a focus on the violent spread of Islam. A major aspect of that is Islamic terrorism, so I write this post, the first in a series, in the context of jihad and Islamic conquest. However, it is not just violent elements of the Islamic world that have found out how profitable jihad can be. Terrorism is business -- big business -- and it is very lucrative.

Three and a half years since 9/11, the world is still beholden to the belief that it is politics or ideology that fuels armed struggles worldwide. But an analysis of five decades of modern terrorism reveals two unexpected and disconcerting truths: that the engine of the armed struggle is money, and that the deregulation of finance has allowed terror networks deeply to penetrate legitimate institutions of the international financial system.

Politics and ideology do fuel armed struggles; they always have. But, people have always fought over more down-to-earth things as well: money. Furthermore, money very often fuels politics and ideologies, so an armed struggle can arise by any mix of these three basic ingredients. Money, though, is arguably the key.

The author gives a brief historical introduction to the need for financial ingenuity in funding terrorism, before addressing the Iran-Contra Scandal as an example, of which she says:

One such operation was an illegal scheme, in which US weapons acquired by the CIA were sold to the Islamic Republic of Iran, using Israeli and Saudi businessmen as brokers, who charged handsome fees. Iranian payments were channelled through numbered Swiss accounts controlled by the Contra leadership.

She then states:

Terrorism is an expensive business. In the mid-1970s, the Italian Marxist terror group Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades), had a yearly turnover of $8-$10 million, equivalent to that of a medium-size north Italian commercial enterprise. Unlike the cash-generous United States, the Soviet Union chose to supply its favoured groups with free training, arms and ammunition. Western European groups like the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof gang had to raise their own cash. This required managerial finesse more than military expertise.

The author then presents the problem of the desire of terrorists to be free from their state sponsors, and introduces the concept of a "shell state" as a means to this freedom. The first example of a shell state given is Yasser Arafat's activity with the PLO; then, she continues:

Over the last thirty years, similar "shell-states" have blossomed in zones of war and political instability. Colombia, Peru, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Nepal and now Iraq have become breeding-grounds for these entities. After terror groups establish military control over an area, they destroy the existing socio-economic infrastructure (or what is left of it) and seek to replace it with the armed groups’ own socio-economic infrastructure, one designed exclusively to feed the armed struggle.

Notice how the author states "and now Iraq" -- this was nearly two years after the US-led invasion of Iraq as part of an ongoing War on Terror.

Later, she returns to develop the example of the PLO. As is frequently the case with criminal financial enterprises, as more wealth gets accumulated, that wealth often gradually gets invested in business operations that are more legitimate. Although the illegal activities continue, the interactions of those activities in the legal economy take on a life of their own. This is illustrated in the example of the PLO:

In 1976, following the legendary bank robbery of the British Bank of the Middle East , Arafat chartered a flight to Switzerland to invest the PLO’s share of the loot; the Christian phalange and the Corsican mafia, the other partners in the robbery, used their shares to buy arms. CIA estimates are that the PLO’s total wealth in the 1990s was $8-$14 billion. This suggests that the PLO in this period had a higher annual gross domestic product (GDP) than Arab countries like Yemen ($6.5 billion), Bahrain ($6 billion) and even Jordan ($10.6 billion).

As Palestinian wealth grew, so did its interdependence with the economy of its neighbour and enemy, Israel. In 1987, the Israeli finance minister Adi Amorai released a PLO courier who had been stopped at the Allenby Bridge, the transit point between Jordan and Israel. The man was carrying a suitcase with $1 million in cash. Amorai knew that the money would be exchanged in shekels and spent inside Israel, money that was badly needed by the Israeli economy.

Napoleoni comments on how this trend has increased with increasing globalization and deregulation; then, she addresses Osama bin Laden's financial empire:

The business empire of Osama bin Laden, whose profits bankrolled terror attacks against western interests across the Muslim world before 9/11, is a striking example of this phenomenon. His portfolio was truly transnational and highly diversified.

While residing in Sudan, bin Laden acquired 70% of Gum Arabic Ltd, a company holding a monopoly of gum arabic (80% of the world supply of this product is used to fix the print in newspapers, to prevent the solution in soft drinks from separating, and to create a protective shell around pills and sweets). By far the largest importer of gum arabic is the US, which enjoys a special price agreement with the supplier. In 1998, the Clinton administration’s decision to impose economic sanctions on Sudan was opposed by lobbies representing US importers of the product. Eventually they convinced the administration to exclude it from the list of sanctioned products. Their argument was very simple: the sanctions would hurt American importers. Why? Because the Sudanese were going to sell the product to the French, the second largest importer, who in turn would offer it to the Americans at a premium.

In this example, the story was told of how US President Bill Clinton sought to punish a state sponsor of terror, but was talked out of doing so, as the punishment would have little impact on the country that the Clinton Administration wanted to affect, Sudan, but would have significant effect on the corresponding parts of the US economy. In this example, it was successfully argued that it was in America's best interests to continue to do business with the terrorists.

As the author contends, both sides know who they are doing business with:

Terror leaders themselves are well aware of this interpenetration between the terror economy and the official economy. In the 1990s, Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa urging his followers to refrain from attacking Saudi Arabia. The reason was that revenues from legal oil industry businesses, run by Saudis who backed al-Qaida, were needed to consolidate the Islamist revolution. These revenues found their way into the new economy of terror via legal donations or dividends. This fatwa was lifted in spring 2003 when al-Qaida waged its first spectacular attack inside Saudi Arabia.

Western corporations are also often aware that they are doing business with groups that are closely linked with the illegal/terror economy. One way that Islamist armed groups have funded themselves is via smuggling of electronic products in Asia. Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and killed by Jaish-I-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) in Pakistan reported that the Sony corporation used a contraband network in the continent as a part of its regional strategy.

Notice, however, that this was clearly a matter of convenience for the terrorists in the example discussed above. Saudi Arabia's business dealings with bin Laden bought only a temporary reprieve from terror. The question that comes to my mind is this: Did bin Laden decide it was time to get back to his ideological reasons for opposing the Saudi regime, or had business gone bad?

More legitimate business concerns provide terrorists, like any other criminal organization, with a means of laundering their money:

The dependence of consumers on terror money is evident in Latin America's "triborder" region connecting Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Here, Arabs linked to the Lebanon-based groups Hamas and Hizbollah run a buoyant money-laundering business, using drug funds to purchase and smuggle duty-free products from Central America.

This affects not just Latin American economies:

There is also a close connection between the illegal/terror economy and the United States money supply. Arms, drugs, and people-smuggling are all cleared in US currency. Since the primary means of exchange in the US economy is the dollar, in particular $100 bills, the annual infusion of new US dollars is a rough indication of the rate of growth of this economy.

Using that as an indicator, it is possible to estimate the size of this terrorist and other illegal economy:

Research from the St Louis-based Federal Reserve reveals that the stock of new dollars issued in the US and permanently transferred abroad has been steadily rising since the 1960s. In 2000, as much as two-thirds of the US M1 money supply (money in circulation) has been removed from the US monetary system in this way. The amount involved, which does not include stocks of dollars held by central banks in the form of reserve currency, is equivalent to $500 billion. If this assessment is accurate, then the rate of monetary growth of the illegal/terror economy is higher than that of the US economy. Indeed, the stock of dollars held abroad is a considerable source of revenue for the US treasury through seignorage.

So, it seems, the mujahideen have many reasons to wage holy war: five hundred billion of them or so.

Subsequent posts in this series will explore the economics of terrorism, as we lead up to addressing the real reasons why -- and how -- three towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed on that Tuesday morning.

Another Riddle

"I see you are burning the midnight oil again, sir."

The figure looked up from his computer screen. He was almost surprised at his visitor's arrival -- almost, but not quite; in a strange way, he had been expecting him.

"Just learning a little about money, Alfred."

"Not about yours, I presume."

The figure smiled at the thought of investigating Wayne Enterprises in the middle of the night from the Batcave.

"No, Alfred. About somebody else's."

"This was just found at the front gate, sir."

"What is it?" Looking at it, the figure could see it was addressed only to Bruce Wayne.

"A letter for you, Master Bruce. Per your established instructions, it has already been opened."

"What does it say?"

"Perhaps you should read it, sir."

The figure glanced at Alfred, then took the large envelope, and removed a piece of paper from it. On the paper, newsprint letters, which had been cut out from a newspaper, were glued down to spell out a message:

Bought new and thrown out unread,
What once was news is trash instead.
Found by another and read for good measure,
One man's trash is another man's treasure.

They looked at each other.

"It's another riddle, sir."

The figure read it again, this time aloud. "'Bought new and thrown out unread, What once was news is trash instead. Found by another and read for good measure, One man's trash is another man's treasure.'" He paused thoughtfully. "The answer is: a newspaper."

"But what does that have to do with money, sir?"

"'Curiouser and curiouser,'" the figure repeated words from one of his favorite stories, one Alfred had read to him many times as a child.

Friday, March 9, 2007

"Against All Enemies"

Before this blog goes any farther, I would like to share some quotes with you.

If you don't know where these quotes are from, you need to find out.

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

"Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...."

Gag Me

Friday, April 2, 2004, the Independent/UK
'I Saw Papers That Show US Knew al-Qa'ida Would Attack Cities With Airplanes'

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".


The accusations from Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who speaks Azerbaijani, Farsi, Turkish and English, will reignite the controversy over whether the administration ignored warnings about al-Qa'ida. That controversy was sparked most recently by Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism official, who has accused the administration of ignoring his warnings.

The issue ­ what the administration knew and when ­ is central to the investigation by the 9/11 Commission, which has been hearing testimony in public and private from government officials, intelligence officials and secret sources. Earlier this week, the White House made a U-turn when it said that Ms Rice would appear in public before the commission to answer questions. Mr Bush and his deputy, Dick Cheney, will also be questioned in a closed-door session.

Mrs Edmonds, 33, says she gave her evidence to the commission in a specially constructed "secure" room at its offices in Washington on 11 February. She was hired as a translator for the FBI's Washington field office on 13 September 2001, just two days after the al-Qa'ida attacks. Her job was to translate documents and recordings from FBI wire-taps.

She said said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack. "Most of what I told the commission ­ 90 per cent of it ­ related to the investigations that I was involved in or just from working in the department. Two hundred translators side by side, you get to see and hear a lot of other things as well."

May 07, 2004 Jim Hogue Interview with Sibel Edmonds
Former FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds Calls Current 9/11 Investigation Inadequate


JH: ... I have a question having to do with "mid-level" management at the FBI. Why do you think that mid-level FBI management would care enough to stop you from doing your job?

SE: This was mainly for the reason of accountability. As you know, and as the chairman for the 9/11 Commission [Thomas Kean] answered during Tim Russert's show: to this day, not a single person has been held accountable. And certain issues, yes, they were due to a certain level of incompetence. But there were certain other issues--you know they keep talking about this "wall," and not having communication. I beg to differ on that, because there are certain instances where the Bureau is being asked by the State Department not to pursue certain investigations or certain people or certain targets of an investigation--simply citing "diplomatic relations." And what happens is, instead of targeting those people who are directly related to these illegal terrorist activities, they just let them walk free.

JH: And they interrogate people who are trying to make voting safe.

SE: And that is hypocritical. I see people detained for simple INS violations. On the other hand I have seen several, several top targets for these investigations of these terrorist activities that were allowed to leave the country--I'm not talking about weeks, I'm talking about months after 9/11.

JH: And there were four major FBI investigations, not counting yours, that were squelched in Phoenix, Minneapolis, Chicago and New York.

SE: Correct.

JH: And yours was even outside of that.

SE: Correct.

JH: So, obviously, we have mid-level FBI people who have been told something. It was the mid-level FBI people who knew enough to squelch many of these investigations before they went further. So how did they know to do that? Can all of them have been incompetent?

SE: No. Absolutely not.

JH: So they got the word down from
[Director] Mueller, probably.

SE: I cannot confirm that for sure, but I can tell you that there is so much involvement, that if they did let this information out, and if they were to hold real investigations--I'm not talking about this semi-investigation they're holding under this "Joint Inquiry"--the pure show of the 9/11 Commission that has been getting the mass media's attention. If they were to do real investigations we would see several significant high level criminal prosecutions in this country. And that is something that they are not going to let out. And, believe me; they will do everything to cover this up. And I am appalled. I am really surprised. I'm taken back by seeing the mass media's reaction to this. They are the window to our government's operation and what are they doing?

JH: We've been screaming about it for a long time. And it goes on.

SE: And you see many people just turning away from these channels of mass media, and they're just turning in to alternative providers, because they just see what's happening.

JH: I have another question: when the gag order was written, it had to do with "diplomatic relations." Right?

SE: That is what Attorney General Ashcroft cited.

JH: Are you allowed to say that it's the Saudis?

SE: I cannot name any country. And I would emphasize that it's plural. I understand the Saudis have been named because fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. However, the names of people from other countries, and semi-legit organizations from other countries, to this day, have not been made public.

JH: And the information that you have been gagged on has to do with that specifically.

SE: Correct. And specifically with that and their ties to people here in this country today.

JH: I understand why you can't say anything about this, but there are several books out about the Bush ties to the Saudis and the bin Ladens in particular. And in David Griffin's book, The New Pearl Harbor, there is a very good synopsis of the ISI, which is the Pakistani intelligence service. He shows the direct connections between the CIA, the ISI, and Mohamed Atta. He makes a very convincing case that the Pakistani ISI had been helping to plan 9/11 for a long time.

I don't imagine that you are allowed to say much about that.

SE: You are correct. But I can tell you that the issue, on one side, boils down to money--a lot of money. And it boils down to people and their connections with this money, and that's the portion that, even with this book, has not been mentioned to this day. Because then it starts touching some people in high places.

JH: Can you explain more about what money you are talking about?

SE: The most significant information that we were receiving did not come from counter-terrorism investigations, and I want to emphasize this. It came from counter-intelligence, and certain criminal investigations, and issues that have to do with money laundering operations.

You get to a point where it gets very complex, where you have money laundering activities, drug related activities, and terrorist support activities converging at certain points and becoming one. In certain points - and they [the intelligence community] are separating those portions from just the terrorist activities. And, as I said, they are citing "foreign relations" which is not the case, because we are not talking about only governmental levels. And I keep underlining semi-legit organizations and following the money. When you do that the picture gets grim. It gets really ugly.

. . .

SE: Even from people from whom I've been receiving support, so many times you run across people who say, "Yeah, it's terrible. I understand. And it's very courageous what you are doing." But you know how this thing is. It's a boat you can't rock. And that is what is allowing these people to take everything this far. We need to stop saying we can't rock this boat when it needs to be rocked. Listen, we pay for this boat. We elect this boat. It's our money that maintains this boat. And we are the ultimate boss here. If this boat or some section of it needs rocking, you bet we have the right and we have the power to do it. And we have the power to demand it. Otherwise we are making ourselves powerless.

JH: And if we don't do it, we don't deserve it.

SE: Correct.

I spent some time researching Sibel Edmonds recently. To me, she sounds very credible.

If she's not -- if she's a nutcase -- then that is proof that the FBI has hired at least one nutcase; where there is one, there may be more, so we need to hear what this witness has to say about the inner functioning of the FBI.

If the FBI is an honorable, credible, competent organization, then this woman, who was screened and ultimately hired by the FBI, must have been considered by this honorable, credible, competent organization to have been honorable, credible and competent herself, so we need to hear what this witness has to say about the inner functioning of the FBI.

There is no way around this. Sibel Edmonds needs to be heard.

The best our country has to offer are serving in uniform in distant, exotic lands, trying to defend our way of life. We not only dishonor, but negate their sacrifices by allowing this to continue.

Sibel Edmonds' Website: Just a Citizen

Background by the ACLU: Sibel Edmonds: A Patriot Silenced, Unjustly Fired but Fighting Back to Help Keep America Safe (1/26/2005)

Links regarding a petition to ungag Sibel Edmonds:

Important New Petition -Speak Out

Petition for open hearings into Sibel Edmonds' case & SSP

Blog Links:

Congress Must Finally Hold Public Hearings on Edmonds Case

An Interview With Sibel Edmonds and James Bamford

"To Gag and Call it a Privilege"

Bamford, Sibel and Horton

News Links:

Lost In Translation

James Bamford: 'I support Sibel Edmonds. You should too.' Sibel Edmonds

Other Links:

Sibel Edmonds: SourceWatch

National Whistleblower Center