Rev. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi

January 24, 2013

Written by BALDEV SINGH
ZoneAsia-Pk

Dear Oprah,

I am writing this letter because I think of you as an enlightened person. This letter is about the statements you made during the show you dedicated to the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. During that show, you compared Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with Mahatma Gandhi.

In one of your statement you said something like “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s sacrifice.” Oprah, what about those countless unknown and unsung heroes, who preceded Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. They too suffered hardships and sacrificed their lives for freedom and justice for the black people. As a matter of fact, black people revolted against slavery and started struggling for freedom the moment they were captured in Africa and the chains of slavery were put around their necks. Since that moment black people have expressed their suffering, sorrow, helplessness and burning desire for freedom and justice through their songs. That is the reason why black people have contributed so much for the creation and development of new music.

The mentality or thinking, which was responsible for slavery, made it sure that the history of slavery and their struggle for freedom and justice is not known to the world. And if this story has to be told, then it must be told the way that “mentality” wants it to be told. There are people even today who think that slavery was benign and slaves were happy and contented with their situation. These people also justify colonial rule by saying, “It was necessary to civilize the uncivilized.” On the contrary, it is our conviction that a civilized man doesn’t deny another man’s humanity. He doesn’t enslave another man or subjugates another man in any form or manner- politically, economically, socially and religiously.

Deliberate efforts have been made to blot out the history of slavery and black peoples’ struggle for freedom and their contribution to human society in all walks of life. For instance, you go to any major city in the USA, you find all sorts of museums, but you don’t find the one about slavery. The US Congress was very enthusiastic about Jewish holocaust museum in Washington D. C. However, the same Congress has been unwilling so far to establish a museum about slavery. Moreover, what about a holocaust museum of native Americans, the Indians? Whereas Jewish holocaust took place in Europe, the slavery of blacks and the genocide of the native people took place in the USA. I leave it for you to draw your own conclusion. However, I believe that it takes moral courage to look into the eyes of evil and not just empty moral rhetoric.

The emergence of independent Africa had a major positive impact on the “black civil rights movement” in the United States and the anti apartheid movement in South Africa. It boosted the morale of these movements and brought worldwide recognition to Dr. Martin Luther King and Mr. Nelson Mandela. That’s why, who knows how many “great men” were lynched in the United States and how many were tortured to death in solitary cells in South Africa before Dr. Martin Luther King and Mr. Nelson Mandela, respectively.

During that show, you compared Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with Mahatma Gandhi. I think your information about Mahatma Gandhi is probably based on the writings of European and Hindu “myth makers” (historians). Had you known the truth about Mahatma Gandhi, you wouldn’t have said that Dr. Martin Luther King was following the policy of the great Mahatma Gandhi.

I think it is disgraceful to compare Dr. Martin Luther King with Mahatma Gandhi. For example, whereas Dr. King represented the aspirations of all black people, Mahatma Gandhi represented the interest of only high caste Hindus who constituted 10-12% of the Indian population. Whereas Dr. King appealed to all Americans to rise above their prejudices of race, religion and gender to form a just society, Mahatma Gandhi was the mastermind behind the partition of India into two nations, one Hindu and the other Muslim. Here are some facts about Mahatma Gandhi.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the state of Gujrat in Baniya caste whose occupation is business. After obtaining a law degree from England he returned to India. However, after a short stay he decided to move to South Africa where he thought he could make more money. A large number of Indians from Gujrat State were brought to South Africa as indentured servants. Being a caste conscious Hindu, he looked down upon the natives. He used to say:

I can see why a white man discriminates against an African, but why against us. We Indians have the same values, the white man has.

Besides his law practice he worked for the British army recruiting Indians during the Boer War and the Zulu rebellion. He was the commander of an ambulance corps made up of Indians.

The Bolshevik revolution of 1914 in Russia inspired worldwide nationalist movements against colonialism and dictatorships. To sabotage Indian national movement, the British colonists brought Gandhi to India. What the “myth makers” don’t tell is that the Indian National Congress Party, which was later controlled by Gandhi was set up under the patronage of the British Government and it was dominated by high caste Hindus, who constituted only 10-12% of the Indian population. Anybody who was considered a threat to the interest of the British or high caste Hindus was thrown out of the party. The high caste Hindus, who had control over the Indian economy, also wanted to usurp political power after the departure of the British. But there was one formidable obstacle in their path to achieve this objective. And that obstacle was the Muslim majority states of Punjab, Bengal, Sindh, Blouchistan and Northwest Frontier.

To exclude these Muslim dominant states from the Indian union, the Hindu leaders of Congress Party headed by Gandhi started making provocative statements to instill doubt and fear in the minds of Muslim population that their future in independent India under the control of Hindu majority was not safe. Muslim leaders started asking for constitutional guarantees to safeguard their future, which the Hindu leaders were not willing to provide.

Frustrated, Muslim leaders asked for partition of the country to create a Muslim state. They did not see the trap that “high caste Hindus” had laid for them. They fell into that trap without realizing the impact their demand would have on the future generations of people of the Indian subcontinent. The stage was set for the partition of India into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. Gandhi and his associates congratulated each other for accomplishing their objective while holding Muslims responsible for the partition of the country. This is the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi for which future generations of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis would pay dearly, God knows for how long!

The cruel and deceitful nature of Gandhi was revealed when he counseled Hindu and Sikh refugees, who came to see him in April 1947, after they were driven out of their homes following a terrible massacre of Hindus and Sikhs in the Ravalpindi area of Punjab. Gandhi asked them to go back to their homes, as he exhorted them that he wouldn’t accept the partition of the country. He kept repeating like a parrot, “I won’t allow the partition of the country. The country would be partitioned only over my dead body.” You can imagine the level of his depravity, because his Congress Party had already accepted with his blessing the partition of the country as a condition for Independence. And a few months later on August 15, 1947 the Indian union was divided in two nations, one Muslim and the other Hindu.

The claim that Gandhi won freedom for India peacefully without shedding a drop of blood is the biggest fabricated lie of the 20th century.

Up to the start of World War II, the British government categorically rejected the demand for the independence of India in the immediate future. However, the situation changed dramatically after the war. The war was so devastating to the British power that their government found it impossible to build the infra structure and economy of the homeland while coping with the growing national liberation movements in the colonies. The British government wisely decided to grant freedom to its colonies.

It wasn’t Gandhi’s movement which drove the British out of India, it was the impact of second world war, which made it impossible for the British to hold on to their Empire. Shortly after the independence of India, other colonies in Asia, Africa and Caribbean gained their independence peacefully. So what is so unique about India’s independence? Had there been no World War II, India would still be a British colony!

The other story that the “myth makers” do not tell is that the Independence of India was marked by one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century. Two Indian states, Punjab and Bengal, were partitioned at the time of independence causing untold suffering and loss of life and property. In Punjab almost all the Hindu and Sikh population of about five millions were forced to leave their homes and properties on the Pakistan side where their ancestors had lived for hundreds of years. Similarly, about five million Muslims were forced to vacate their home and properties on the Indian side.

In the ensuing communal frenzy and carnage, may be as many as one million people perished and thousands of women were kidnapped and raped. About one third of the population of Punjab was engulfed in the inferno created by the independence of India. Of the total population of about five and half million Sikhs, about 40% were rendered homeless due to Independence. The population of Bengal was much higher than that of Punjab and you can imagine the human suffering there! The claim that Gandhi won freedom for India peacefully is a cruel joke on Punjabis and Bengalis.

To my knowledge only in two places, the United States of America and Ireland, the force of arms drove out the British colonists. Everywhere else the British freed the colonies peacefully. On what ground it is claimed that Gandhi won freedom for India peacefully without shedding a drop of blood.

The claim that Gandhi worked for the uplift of Dalits (untouchables) is also a myth.

Gandhi was a Hindu revivalist, who upheld every aspect of Hinduism including the caste system, which is the essence of Hinduism. His writings, speeches and statements confirm this.

I don’t believe the caste system to be an odious and vicious dogma. It has its limitations and defects, but there is nothing sinful about it. Harijan, 1933.

I believe in Varnashrama (caste system) which is the law of life. The law of Varna (color and / or caste) is nothing but the law of conservation of energy. Why should my son not be scavenger if I am one? Harijan, 3-6-1947.

He (Shudra, low caste) may not be called a Brahmin (uppermost caste), though he (Shudra) may have all the qualities of a Brahmin in this birth. And it is a good thing for him (Shudra) not to arrogate a Varna (caste) to which he is not born. It is a sign of true humility. Young India, 11-24-1927.

According to Hindu belief, he who practices a profession which does not belong to him by birth, does violence to himself and becomes a degraded being by not living up to the Varna (caste) of his birth. Young India, 11-14-1927.

As years go by, the conviction is daily growing upon me that Varna (caste) is the law of man’s being, and therefore, caste is necessary for Christians and Muslims as it has been necessary for Hinduism, and has been its saving grace. Speech at Trivandrum, (Collection of Speeches), Ramanath Suman (1932).

I would resist with my life the separation of “Untouchables” from the caste Hindus. The problem of the “Untouchable” community was of comparatively little importance. London Round Table Conference 1931.

I call myself a Snatana man, one who firmly believes in the caste system. Dharma Manthan, p 4.

I believe in caste division determined by birth and the very root of caste division lies in birth. Varna Vyavastha, p 76-77.

The four castes and the four stages of life are things to be attained by birth alone. Dharma Manthan, p 5.

Caste means the predetermination of a man’s profession. Caste implies that a man must practice only the profession of his ancestors for his livelihood. Varna Vyavstha, p 28, 56, 68.

Shudra only serves the higher castes as a matter of religious duty and who will never own any property. The gods will shower down flowers on him. Varna Vyavastha, p 15.

I have noticed that the very basis of our thought have been severely shaken by Western civilization which is the creation of the Satan. Dharma Manthan, p 65.

How is it possible that the Antyaja (outcastes) should have the right to enter all the existing temples? As long as the law of caste and karma has the chief place in the Hindu religion, to say that every Hindu can enter every temple is a thing that is not possible today. Gandhi Sikshan, Vol. 11, p 132.

The caste system can’t be said to be bad because it does not allow inter-dining and inter-marriages in different castes. Gandhi by Shiru, p129.

If the Shudar (low caste) leave their ancestral profession and take up others, ambition will rouse in them and their peace of mind will be spoiled. Even their family peace will be disturbed. Hind Swaraj.

The superiority of caste and race is deeply imbedded in the psyche of upper caste Hindus irrespective of their upbringing or the level of education or the place where they live. For example, in the words of a socialist leader, Madhu Limaye, “Nehru practiced both racism and casteism, despite his modern upbringing and outlook” (Telegraph, Calcutta, November 21, 1987).

In a revealing passage about his “making”, Nehru wrote, “Behind me lie somewhere in the sub-conscience, racial memories of hundred or whatever the numbers may be, generations of Brahmins. I cannot get rid of that past inheritance” (Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography, (1936), Delhi, 1980, p 596.).

Sir V. S. Naipaul is a Nobel laureate in literature. His Brahmin ancestors were brought as indentured servants to Trinidad long time ago. He grew up in Trinidad and has spent most of his life in England. In his earlier work An Area of Darkness, 1964 he was unforgiving of India. Later the “Brahmin” in him stirred up and came out spewing hatred and venom. He condoned the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in June 1984, when Indira Gandhi ordered a military attack on the Golden Temple complex on the day when thousands of Sikh pilgrims had gathered there to celebrate the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev (A Million Mutinies Now, 1990). In 1992 he justified the destruction of a 400 hundred-year-old mosque (Babri Masjid) by Hindu mobs lead by Bhartiya Janta Party (a fascist Hindu party) because of the mistreatment of Hindus by Muslim rulers centuries back in the past. He has become the darling of Hindu fascist organizations.

Mahatma Gandhi, whose Baniya (Vaisha) caste is two steps lower than the uppermost Brahmin caste, was a vigorous defender of the caste system.

“The caste system, in my opinion, has a scientific basis. Reason does not revolt against it. It has disadvantages. ………Caste creates a social and moral restraint……I can find no reason for their (castes) abolition. To abolish caste is to demolish Hinduism. There is nothing to fight against the Varnasharma (caste system). I don’t believe the caste system to be an odious and vicious dogma. It has its limitations and defects, but there is nothing sinful about it” (Harijan, 1933).

Gandhi’s calling “Untouchables”, as Harijans is a cruel joke on the Untouchables by an insensitive and depraved man.

Harijan literally means “child of God”. However, in India this label is used for the illegitimate children of temple girls (anchoress) fathered by priests. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the leader of the Untouchables, vehemently opposed Gandhi’s use of Harijans for the Untouchables. Recently, Ms Mayawati, a leader of the Untouchables asked rhetorically, “If we are Harijans then what are the upper castes like Nehru, Gandhi and Patel? Are they bastards?”

That Gandhi was an “apostle of peace” is not true.

Gandhi was a “Hindu revivalist” and “Hindu politician” combined in one, who used nonviolence as a tool for political objectives. He used to coerce others to concede to his demands by threats of “going to fast unto death”. He was no pacifist as is shown by his stand on the issue of Kashmir.

“One naturally thought that he would offer a nonviolent solution to the Kashmir issue and raise his moral stature. But no! He proved to be a false prophet. Seervai has documented that nonviolence with him was a political weapon. (H. M. Seervai, Partition of India, Legend and Reality, Bombay, 1989, p 172-173). He sanctioned the use of armed forces and laid the foundation of Kashmir problem which continues to haunt the subcontinent till today” (Sangat Singh, The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 258.)

According to Seervai, in a meeting with Viceroy Lord Wavell on August 27 1946, Gandhi thumped the table and said, “If India wants bloodbath, she shall have it and that if bloodbath was necessary, it would come about in spite of nonviolence.” Wavell was dumbfounded at these words coming from the mouth of “apostle” of nonviolence.

Gandhi was a very cunning man. He was not satisfied with the title of “apostle of peace”, he also wanted to project himself as a holy man, which for a Hindu required the practice of celibacy. He was a married man and proclaimed to be celibate at a relatively young age under forty. However, he used to test his celibacy by asking young girls to lie over him to find out whether he was in full control of his sexual feelings. I leave up to psychologists and psychiatrists to analyze what was in Gandhi’s mind and what happened to the emotions of those poor girls! He was always surrounded by women.

So what is Gandhi’s legacy to mankind?

The obvious one is the partition of subcontinent into “Hindu India” and “Muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh”. These three nations are a “living hell” for minorities. For example, India which claims with pride to be the biggest democracy in the world has killed more Indians in the last fifty years than the British colonists killed in 300 years. More than 95% of those killed by Hindu governments are Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Dalits (Untouchables). While the populations of these countries are groaning under the weight of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, ignorance and disease, India and Pakistan have built nuclear weapons. The next nuclear war will most probably be fought over the disputed territory of Kashmir in spite of the fact that neither India nor Pakistan has ever asked the Kashmiris what they want.

That Hindus are peace loving people and coexist peacefully with non-Hindus is also not true.

When Taliban destroyed Lord Buddha’s statue in Afghanistan, there were worldwide protests against this heinous crime against humanity. The most vociferous demonstrations and protests were held in India. However, how little did the Hindu mobs realize that the first damage to the statue was done by Hindu rulers of Afghanistan during the frenzy of Hindu revival? Buddhism flourished as a major religion in India for several centuries. During the Hindu revival, Buddhists were given three choices like Jews and Muslims during the Spanish Inquisition. Either convert or leave the country. Large number of Buddhists fled to neighboring countries. Those who resisted were killed, Buddhist monasteries were destroyed, monks were murdered, and nuns were raped. Buddhist literature was burned and their religious centers were converted into Hindu centers. The famous place in Bihar State where Lord Buddha is supposed to have received his light (knowledge) is still under the control of Hindus in spite of the protests of international Bhuddist community.

The “myth makers” keep repeating that Hindus have lived peacefully with Muslims, Christians and others for hundreds of years. What they don’t tell you is that during that period Muslims or the British ruled over the Indian territory. But look at the attitude of Hindus towards non-Hindus when Hindus were the rulers? During the revival of Hinduism they eradicated Buddhism from the land of its birth. All other progressive movements, which opposed the caste system were either crushed or subverted.

Immediately after independence in 1947, the so-called secular and liberal Hindu rulers lead by Jawahar Lal Nehru adopted an Indian Constitution, declaring “Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains” as Hindus with the stroke of a pen. Sikhs have been protesting against this heinous crime ever since. No Hindu leader worth the name has ever protested against this abominable injustice to the minorities. Imagine! How would the minorities react if the US Congress were to pass a law declaring all minorities as Christians?

The word Hindu is not found in any Hindu religious text or any other ancient writing. People who lived on the western side of Hindu Kush (killers of Hindus) mountains gave this name to the natives of India. The word Hindu means black, slave, robber, thief and a waylayer.

From my discussions with Americans about the caste system over the years, I have the impression that most of them think that caste system is like segregation or apartheid. Caste system may look like segregation or apartheid on the surface, but if one were to scratch the surface one would find that the Brahmnical caste system is the worst oppressive and exploitative system that exists on planet earth. Slavery and segregation in America and apartheid in South Africa have ended in a relatively short period, but the heinous caste system, which has been practiced in India for thousands of years, is still going strong. It is because the caste system was invented, taught, practiced and ordained by the Brahmnical (Hindu) religion.

Under segregation and apartheid the black people were denied their rights and had very few opportunities for advancement in comparison to white people. However, a black person under those circumstances could become a doctor, a teacher, and a minister or choose whatever occupation was available to them. Whereas the caste is stamped on you the moment you are born. There was no escape from this watertight multistory building with no stairs or ladder. You are born and die in the same caste, no matter how good or bad a person you are.

For example, a person born in a scavenger’s family would also be a scavenger in spite of his great intelligence. He couldn’t choose any other occupation. So a scavenger’s descendents remained scavengers for thousands of years. This destroyed the creativity of the Indian population. No wonder the Hindu civilization, which is as old as the Chinese civilization has made insignificant contribution to the development of human society in comparison to the Chinese civilization.

It is a mistake to think that Nazism was the product of Hitler’s sick mind. The roots of Nazism lie in the Hindu caste system. European colonists were intrigued by the Hindu caste system. They were astonished how Brahmins, who formed about 5% of India’s population, were able to exploit the rest of Indians for thousands of years by asserting their caste and racial superiority. The British used the same Brahmnical strategy, they proclaimed their racial and intellectual superiority over Indians to control their vast Empire in India. At the pinnacle of British rule, there were only about 200,000 British personnel in India. Who you think managed the Empire? They were the brown-Englishmen (subjugated Indians) who managed the Empire.

European writers like Max Muler were also fascinated by the Hindu caste system. They admired the way the Brahmins maintained the caste and racial superiority over thousands of years. Why shouldn’t the Europeans assert their racial and intellectual superiority the same way over black, brown, tan and yellow people? So people like Max Muler planted the seeds of racial superiority on the European soil. Others like him nurtured the seedlings, and the plants came into full blossom under Hitler. It is no coincidence that the Nazis used swastika, a propitious Brahmin symbol, as the emblem of the Nazi party.

I am willing to debate these issues with any one, anywhere, and on any stage.

Authors Note: An article Gandhi as a racist by Dr. Velu Anamlai (USA) published in Sikh Virsa, June 1997, was consulted for writing this letter.)


Victim’s family ‘open’ to Aafia’s repatriation in ‘exchange’ for Davis

March 2, 2011

KARACHI: Family members of one of Raymond Davis’ victims, Faheem, said they are open to exchanging Davis for Dr Aafia Siddiqui.


A man holds an image of U.S. national Raymond Davis while chanting slogans during a rally against Davis in Islamabad February 28, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

Faheem’s family, including his brother Waseem, father and uncle, were addressing the media at the residence of Siddiqui’s sister Dr Fauzia’s residence in Karachi. They had arrived in the city to meet with Siddiqui’s family.

Faheem and Faizan, killed by Davis in Lahore, were neither robbers nor had any criminal record, said Waseem while addressing the media. The weapons had been planted on them later to implicate them, he asserted.

Before the Americans can even talk about repatriating Davis, they need to release Aafia, said Dr Fauzia.

Meanwhile, Siddiqui’s mother added that it was the right of the families of Davis’ victims to ask for monetary compensation or demand Siddiqui’s release.

Faheem’s family, however, said they would resist pressure by the US and Pakistan government to accept blood money as compensation.

Earlier, Faheem’s family was received at Karachi airport by supporters of a rightwing political party that had invited Faheem’s family to Karachi.

The supporters chanted slogans against Davis and demanded he be hanged.

The government’s efforts to release Davis will be resisted at every level, said Pasban president Altaf Shakoor while addressing the gathering at the airport. He condemned the US authorities for ‘falsifying facts to get the killer released.’


An American Honor Killing: One Victim’s Story

March 1, 2011

By NADYA LABI / PEORIA

Noor al-Maleki Faleh al-Maleki Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office The parking lot outside the Department of Economic Security where Noor al-Maleki was killed

“Dude, my dad is here at the welfare office,” a 20-year-old woman named Noor al-Maleki texted a friend on Oct. 20, 2009. Noor was at the Department of Economic Security (DES) in Peoria, Ariz., helping Amal Khalaf fill out paperwork for food stamps. Noor was living with Khalaf, a maternal figure whom she’d known since childhood.

Noor was estranged from her parents, who disapproved of what they considered her American ways – a fondness for tight jeans and makeup, and a reluctance to accede to their plans for her. Those plans included an arranged marriage to a man in Iraq. Her father, Faleh al-Maleki, was furious when Noor abandoned the marriage, later becoming involved with one of Khalaf’s sons. A few weeks before he turned up at the DES office, according to Khalaf, the father warned her that if Noor continued living with her family, “something bad would happen.”

He meant it. Faleh, who had become a U.S. citizen two months earlier, told his son that he went to the DES to apply for benefits; he had lost his job. But after apparently seeing the two women there, he stalked out. Khalaf went outside to talk to him but couldn’t find him. It was a sunny day, in the mid-80s, so Noor suggested going to a Mexican restaurant across the parking lot for a drink.

Walking slightly ahead of Noor, Khalaf glanced to her side and saw a gray jeep bearing down on them. Faleh was in the driver’s seat. Khalaf saw him turn the wheel sharply and head toward her and Noor. She made eye contact with him, throwing her hands in the air and yelling, “Stop!”

Faleh kept going, plowing into the women and speeding off. Khalaf never felt the impact. She awoke on the ground to strangers huddled over her.

Khalaf couldn’t see Noor, gasping for breath as blood gushed out of her mouth. The jeep had rolled over her. She suffered a head injury and multiple facial fractures, among other injuries. She never regained consciousness.

On Feb. 22, Faleh al-Maleki was convicted of killing his daughter, committing aggravated assault against Khalaf and leaving the scene of a crime. His defense attorney argued that he had intended to spit on Khalaf and accidentally ran over the two women. Prosecutors had pressed a first-degree murder charge. They characterized his actions as an “honor killing,” a controversial term that refers to a family member or members killing a relative, usually a girl or young woman, whose behavior is judged to have tarnished the family honor.

“Some families think that the women of the family represent their reputation,” Rana Husseini, a Jordanian journalist who has spent nearly two decades campaigning against the practice and author of the book Murder in the Name of Honor, explains. “If a woman has committed a violation in their point of view, they believe if they kill her, they have ended the shame.

Blood cleanses honor.” According to the most recent U.N. Population Fund estimate, which is more than a decade old, 5,000 such killings occur worldwide each year. Experts believe the real number is actually much higher.

The jury found Faleh guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree murder, finding that he didn’t plan the act in advance. They also found the existence of aggravating factors, which means he could face up to nearly 46 years in prison. The evidence presented at trial made clear, however, that Faleh was influenced by a warped sense that Noor had impugned his family’s honor.

Most honor crimes take place in villages in the developing world, however, not in the parking lot of a nondescript American welfare office. The U.S. is supposed to be the melting pot, where immigrants assimilate into the larger culture, discarding much of their native selves. But some communities – like Faleh’s – have stubbornly resisted that transformation. Noor’s murder was an anomaly, but the attitudes that facilitated it don’t spring from the brain of a single deranged man – they are deeply rooted in an Iraqi community that insists on its right, its American right, to believe in the justifiability of practices like honor killings.

A Bloody History

The exact origins of honor killings are not known; the practice likely existed among different ancient cultures. Among northern Arabian tribes, the practice predates Islam in the 7th century. In a typical honor killing, the victim is judged to have engaged in a transgression that can encompass just about anything – from wearing Westernized dress to becoming a target of gossip to balking at an arranged marriage to being raped. The murder is often a collective family decision, with the father, a brother or male cousin carrying out the act; rarely, a female relative like the mother does the killing.

The crimes occur most commonly in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Without decent statistics, it’s impossible to ascertain which countries are the worst offenders, but Husseini points to Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq. In those countries and elsewhere, honor killers are treated with lenience; they often get a slap on the wrist if they plead honor as a mitigating circumstance.

It used to be that an honor killer in Jordan could plead a “fit of fury” defense – similar to the crime-of-passion defense in Western penal codes – and do little or no time at all. In 2009, Jordan toughened the application of its laws, making it harder for honor killers to invoke the fit-of-fury defense. To elude even the light penalties that often exist for honor killings, however, families sometimes delegate the bloody task to male juveniles.

Islam doesn’t sanction honor killings, and the practice is not limited to Muslims. The crimes also occur in Christian communities in the Middle East and in non-Muslim communities in India. Last July, for example, after a number of Hindu girls were killed for dating out of caste, the Indian Prime Minister convened a commission to investigate whether harsher laws are needed to curb the crimes.

The majority of crimes, however, do occur in Muslim communities, and some of the perpetrators seem to believe that killing for honor is their religious duty. Strict attitudes toward sexual behavior in Islam – sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and Iran – don’t discourage that mind-set.

Americans would like to believe that a Phoenix suburb, with concrete strip malls that look like any other in the U.S., except that some storefronts have writing in Arabic, is a far cry from a rural village in Jordan or India. But is it?

The practice has followed immigrants from countries like Yemen and Iraq to the West. Phyllis Chesler, an emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the City University of New York, has documented 40 attempted and successful honor crimes in North America and Europe between 1989 and 2008; 10 of those were in the U.S. According to Layli Miller-Muro, executive director of the U.S.-based Tahirih Justice Center, which provides free legal service to women fleeing violence, her nonprofit organization has received a number of calls in the past several years from young women who fear being killed for honor because they refused an arranged marriage.

New Land, New Ways

More than 36,000 Iraqis have settled in the Phoenix area in the past four decades, according to Farouk al-Hashimi, chairman of the Iraqi Cultural Association in Glendale, Ariz. They arrived in three waves: the first consisted of largely educated, upper-middle-class Iraqis in the 1970s and ’80s, the second was dominated by refugees of the first Gulf War, and the latest has been people displaced by the recent war. The second group comprised Shi’ite soldiers of limited education, al-Hashimi says, adding, “They struggle to adapt to American thinking and American standards.”

Among the second wave, Faleh seemed eager to accept America on its own terms. After living in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia, he resettled with his family in Dearborn, Mich., in 1994. He got a job as a truck driver, often leaving home for days or weeks at a time. Back then, Faleh’s and Khalaf’s families were, as Khalaf says in Arabic, “like one big family.” Both families are from Basra in southern Iraq, and they lived within doors of one another in Dearborn.

Wearing a black-and-white sheer scarf over her hair, with a similarly colored tunic over black pants, Khalaf is sitting at her home. She has largely recovered from the fractured pelvis and femur that she sustained during the attack. Her son and Noor’s sweetheart, Marwan al-Ebadi, a skinny 21-year-old with tattoos running up his left arm, is translating, while her husband listens.

When the Ebadis moved to Glendale in 1999, the Malekis followed, living with them for a couple of months. In Arizona, according to his friends and family, Faleh became a heavy gambler, often borrowing money from friends. He rejected their suggestions that he go to a mosque. His wife got a job simulating the role of Iraqis in training exercises at a U.S. military base in California.

Despite embracing aspects of American culture, the Malekis didn’t allow their children the same latitude. They expected the children to speak Arabic at home, dress modestly and be obedient. “They all basically had a cage around them. They had so much stuff to talk about, and they couldn’t,” Khalaf recalls. “Once they said something, they got hit.”

During her teenage years, Noor began asserting herself. She was striking, with long, dark hair and tawny eyes, and she flirted with the idea of modeling – a taboo for a good Muslim girl. She worked hard at school, getting good grades and writing for the school newspaper, but she also wanted to hang out with her friends and have fun.

Faleh felt his control slipping away. He told Thamer al-Diney, his friend and a fellow truck driver who had lived with him in the Saudi camps, “Noor gives me a hard time. She tires me.” Al-Diney advised Faleh to take Noor back to Iraq. According to al-Diney, Faleh responded, “I will take her, marry her [off] and say, ‘Stay here.'”

When Noor was 17, Faleh took her to Iraq, marrying her to a man who wanted to emigrate to the West. Noor went along with her father’s plans at first, but she returned to the U.S. after half a year, without the husband, stalling on the paperwork to facilitate his green card. “In her mind,” al-Ebadi says, “she wasn’t married.”

Noor’s parents saw matters differently, and her relationship with them deteriorated. In May 2008, Noor got into an accident in her father’s car; he tried to press criminal charges against her for theft. He told the police that he’d argued with Noor because he’d seen a photograph of her with men he didn’t know. In Noor’s interview with the police, she explained that she was in the process of moving out of the family home. Over the speakerphone on Noor’s cell phone at the police station, Faleh told Noor that he wanted her to return home because of how her being gone “would look on the family.”

Noor returned home, only to argue once more with her parents. Soon after, Khalaf told the police, she found Noor sleeping in a van in the driveway and took her in. Noor’s parents went looking for her, but they didn’t find her. Meanwhile, Noor began exploring how to get an order of protection against her father.

By summer’s end, Noor had learned that her mother was casting spells on a doll that was supposed to be her. “You may refer to me as Layla Diab,” she wrote to al-Ebadi, informing him that she was changing her name. (Al-Ebadi was in prison for having hit Noor; he insists it was an accident.) Noor explained, “This way when my crazy mother does witchcraft or whatever evil it is she does, it won’t affect me.'”

The Manhunt

Fortunately, a Phoenix suburb differs from an Iraqi village in at least one sense. While their counterparts abroad might look the other way, the police and prosecutors in Arizona pursued Faleh aggressively.

As soon as Faleh sped off, the Peoria police were on the case. Lead detective Chris Boughey and his partner met with Ali, Faleh’s oldest son, who initially said that he hadn’t spoken to his father since before the assault. The next day, another detective called Noor’s mother, Seham, as she was driving home from California. Seham was so difficult to interview – she kept yelling at the officer that Khalaf was a liar – that the police asked a local Muslim leader to act as an intermediary.

Within a week, Faleh was apprehended when he tried to enter the U.K. He had headed to Mexico and then flown to London. He was extradited to the U.S.

In an interview with Boughey and another officer, Faleh characterized the incident as “kind of an accident,” saying he “lost control.” He insisted that he loved Noor, saying that he had pictures of her on his cell phone to prove his claim.

Faleh told the officers that in his culture, his daughter should not have left the house and was not supposed to be “Americanized.” He added, “I know the culture is outside, and we are inside, we are outside. You see what I’m saying?”

When Boughey probed deeper, Faleh admitted that he had wanted to “scare” Noor. Boughey then asked if he tried to hurt Noor. Faleh looked down, sighed and nodded his head in agreement. According to the police transcript of the interview, he made a final attempt to explain himself, comparing Noor’s behavior to part of his house being on fire and asking the detective, “So we burn all the house, let the house burn or we try to stop the fire?”

The Peoria police said they were investigating the extent to which family members were involved, but to date, no charges have been brought against anyone other than Faleh. Both Ali and Seham initially denied speaking to Faleh after he ran over Noor, just before 2 p.m. But records of his cell phone showed five calls between Faleh’s phone and Ali’s between 1:16 p.m and 2:30 p.m. In a similar time frame, there were 12 calls between Faleh’s phone and the phone Seham told police she was using in California. Faleh also called a male relative in Detroit. And about 15 minutes after the crash, he called his cousin in Phoenix.

In the days following his disappearance, police learned that Ali and Seham had filled a prescription for Faleh, an insulin-dependent diabetic, and stopped by the workplace of the cousin.

Faleh also admitted to Boughey that he called the cousin for money; the cousin sent someone over the border with $1,900.

While they appeared to have helped Faleh escape, did the family members know beforehand that Noor was in danger? During a phone call in Arabic to her husband at the jailhouse (Faleh didn’t know the police were taping his calls), Seham scolded him for killing Noor, saying, “You rushed into it, Faleh. Honestly, you rushed into it.”

Aftermath of a Murder

“The whores … burned us,” Faleh said in another jailhouse conversation with his wife. He added, “They destroyed me.” Seham responded, “May God seek revenge on them, God willing.”

Seham reassured her husband that “the people are not letting you down. They know you are a good-hearted person and have nothing.” At a later point, Faleh urged her to round up Iraqis from his tribe to protest his imprisonment at the American consulate. “No one hates his daughter, but honor is precious, and nothing is better than honor, and we are a tribal society that we can’t change,” Faleh said. “I didn’t kill someone off the street; I tried to give her a chance.”

At her husband’s advice, Seham tried to drum up support and raise more than $100,000 in cash for a lawyer. She met with the imam at al-Rasool Mohammed, a Shi’ite mosque in Peoria popular among the Iraqi immigrants, many of whom speak limited English. Seham attended the mosque a few times, but she stopped going when no money was forthcoming. She also petitioned the Iraqi Cultural Association, without success.

It is easy for the community to distance itself from Faleh now that he is a convicted murderer. But who spoke up for Noor when she was reportedly being brutalized at home and forced into an arranged marriage? Did any of Faleh’s contemporaries defend her right to dress herself how she wished? Why is Khalaf’s husband so quick to insist that Noor was a virgin and never involved with his son? Why do the teenage girls at al-Rasool mosque scold Noor for violating the precepts of their religion?

The attitudes that fueled Faleh’s rage are widespread in his community. It is no coincidence that Faleh believes that Iraqis in the U.S. and abroad will judge him more kindly if they think it’s an honor killing. “Connect it to honor,” Faleh advised Jamal from jail.

Asked whether the community has taken away any lessons from Noor’s murder, the owner of an Iraqi grocery store in Peoria nods, explaining, “They don’t want their daughters to become like Noor.”

Saher Alyasry, a mother in her mid-30s praying at al-Rasool mosque, speaks out firmly, in Arabic, while her teenage daughter, rocking a newborn, translates. “I think what he did was right. It’s his daughter, and our religion doesn’t allow us to do what she did,” she says. “A guy who cares about his reputation, he should do that because people will start talking about him if he doesn’t.” When asked if honor is more important than love, she responds, “Yes. What’s the point of loving her if she’s bad?”

According to the police report, as Noor lay in a coma, every time Seham touched her daughter, Noor’s heart rate spiked. She was unplugged after her doctors informed the family that she was clinically brain dead. Only then did she reach a place where her family could no longer hurt her.


Memo # 3 US Ambassador Cameron Munter – 31 December 2010

January 7, 2011

by Ahsan Waheed

From Cameron Munter
US Ambassador to Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan
To: Under Secretary of State for South Asia
Department of State
Washington, DC
Date: December 31, 2010
Re: Pakistan the first quarter

Having been in Pakistan since October, I am forwarding a brief review of my first personal impressions.

1) View about America: Survey after survey has shown that the populace at large has very unfavorably views US government and policy. The perception in the corridors of power is very different. Given their propensities to focus on conspiracy theories most of them have a notion of US influence in Pakistan that far exceeds our real capabilities. Sometimes I feel as the “Governor General” from a bygone past caught in a historic time warp. From the highest office down to midlevel functionaries, perception becomes reality, when it comes to viewing US as the kingmaker. This mostly helps us in stacking the deck of cards in our favor but also works against us at times when diplomacy is seen as failing. The dilemma for our policy is incongruence between our objectives and the popular sentiment of the people in Pakistan. Changing this is not merely a matter of perception and has to be more than a public relations exercise. It will require a significant change in our strategic trajectory.

2) The Social divide: Having served in Iraq I have experienced the divide between the elites and the common citizen, which is quite typical of the Middle East and South Asian countries. In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights. My first private party at a key ministers residence, the opulent lifestyle was in full contrast to the plight of those serving us. White gloved waiters were standing with ashtrays so that the corpulent minister and guests could smoke their Cuban cigars at will, and with utmost disdain flicker the ash at random intervals to be caught by the gloved waiter with unsurpassed skill. Alcohol, which is, otherwise not in public display in this Islamic country was flowing from an open bar. Our hosts were shocked that most of the American guests did not drink. I was taken aback at the presence of so many blond Pakistani women, on inquiring was told by our bemused social secretary about the miracle of peroxide and modern hair coloring which seems to be the fashion statement of the day for well groomed (sic) modern Pakistani women. As we pulled out to leave, the sight of an army of drivers was something to behold, huddled in the frigid night until the wee hours, for the masters to terminate their fracas. Service is legitimate but this smacked of servitude, opprobrium reminiscent of attitudes of European aristocracy and our own experience with slavery.

3) Hypocrisy a new dimension: I was stunned to hear form a very senior political functionary about US interference in the internal affairs of the country. When pointed out that this interference could be curtailed if the Government of Pakistan would refuse to take Billions of Dollars in US aid annually, his response was that monies were for services rendered in the fighting terrorism. Purloin of developmental funds to support the prodigious lifestyle of the ruling elite seems to be the normative. This can be only rationalized as a self-entitled narcissism of a collective of people with a rapacious appetite to loot the country.

4) The common man: My contact has been limited but even with limited exposure they continue to amaze me. In abject poverty and mired in the maelstrom of illiteracy they display a dignity and authenticity that is in stark contrast to the capriciousness of the pseudo westernized elites. Hospitable to a fault and honest despite being in the vortex of poverty the common everyday people of Pakistan display great ingenuity to survive against formidable odds, a gristle of the soul, that must come from a past rooted in spiritual life of a different sort.

5) Democracy: In Pakistan democracy has taken a dimension that borders on mockery of true representative government. The elected representatives come almost exclusively for the elite and privileged class. Rather than representing the populace they are more like local regional ‘viceroys’ representing the federal government and their own vested interests in the regions. Most are in politics not with a sense of public service but more to maximize the opportunity to make money, which they do with total disdain. The mainstream political parties are oligarchies controlled by the founding patriarchs or their heirs. One wonders if this is the model, we seek to perpetuate? Given my background as a history professor I have my druthers.

6) Alchemy of change: The polarization in the society makes significant change likely in the near future but given the deficit of leadership and organization it is not inevitable. This situation is unlikely to be remedied in the short term. If such a leadership were to emerge then conflict between the polarized segments would likely ensue. Under these circumstances we will not be able to count on the Military as a stabilizing force. The Military though a disciplined and well led, is a egalitarian body with much of its leadership and rank coming from middle, lower middle and poor classes. Their support of any move to perpetuate the rule of the elite will be at their own peril. The current military leadership is unlikely to prop the existing structure if such a conflict was to occur and possibly may even be catalytic toward such change. This is in stark departure form the past.

Pakistan is a fascinating place the contradictions are glaring but the promise is great, ironically what may be good for Pakistan may at least in the short term not be good for furtherance of our policy goals. We need to take a long view and it may be worthwhile to cut our losses, uncouple from the ruling elite and align our self with popular grassroots sentiment in the country. This would change our perception in the short term and when change does come we, for a change, will be on the right side.


India invades Pakistan again, who will the US support?

January 6, 2011

Jeffrey Souter

The Pakistani government’s decision to halt the flow of NATO supplies into Afghanistan through the Torkham Gate during the first week of October has led many Americans to believe that Pakistan is not fully committed to the fight against militant extremism.

That notion is insulting. Pakistani support of U.S.-led efforts in Afghanistan is complicated. Pakistan has more than 147,800 troops deployed conducting combat operations in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.

The Pakistan army has lost more than 3,200 soldiers in recent fighting against Taliban forces along their border with Afghanistan, with another 6,400 injured. They sustain an average of 10 casualties each day, not counting the Pakistani civilians killed by suicide bombers. Pakistan is committed to this fight, but maybe not fully committed to the United States. It is right to be cautious.

To understand the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, one must look at it from a Pakistani perspective as well. When the Soviet Union was fighting in Afghanistan 25 years ago, the United States hailed the Afghan Mujahedeen as freedom fighters, struggling for the right to practice their faith free of an oppressive atheist government.

The United States provided material support to the Mujahedeen through Pakistan in an attempt to keep the Soviet Union engaged and bleeding. The Pakistani government convinced its populace that the Soviets were a threat, and that the Mujahedeen were worthy of support and admiration. After the Soviets left Afghanistan, the United States also disengaged from the area, setting the conditions we are struggling with today.

Soon after working with Pakistan to fight the Soviets, we passed the Pressler Amendment and cut off all foreign aid to Pakistan. The United States is a fair weather friend to the average Pakistani, interested in engagement when something is to gain. The damage caused by this policy still affects attitudes today.

Why should the average Pakistani citizen reject the former Mujahedeen and support U.S.-led military action against them? The government of Pakistan is making the case that the Taliban are no longer the famed Mujahedeen, that they abandoned their cause and are now a threat.

This war must be a Pakistani war to the Pakistani people, and the wishes of the United States should not factor in. The employment of the Pakistan army against fellow Muslims is sensitive. Any hint of U.S. pressure threatens the legitimacy of Pakistan army operations in the eyes of the Pakistani populace.

It is safe to assume the Torkham Gate border closure was in response to the accidental fratricide incident that occurred Sept. 30.

In an incident barely covered by U.S. media, a U.S. attack helicopter illegally (accidentally or otherwise) crossed into Pakistani airspace and fired on a position thought to be occupied by militants.

The position was actually occupied by six Pakistani soldiers, and U.S. action killed three and wounded three. These men are our allies in the war on terror, and this incident sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan.

A delegation of high-ranking Pakistani officers traveled in late August to meet with officials at U.S. Central Command in Florida. After nearly 24 hours of travel, before boarding their final flight, one of the generals remarked, “I am glad this is our last flight,” or words to that effect.

A passenger complained about the remark, and the delegation was detained for hours by the TSA. The delegation left the United States in protest despite efforts from the Pentagon, and the Pakistani media ran stories for weeks about the grave insult.

While this issue did not receive attention from the U.S. media, the Pakistani government was once again caught between the emotions of its people and its relationship with the United States.

Combine these Pakistan-specific incidents with recent threats to burn Qur’ans and the protests against the construction of an Islamic Center in New York City, and you have a relationship that is difficult for the Pakistani government to convince its people to support.

Pakistan remains a key ally, and they remain dedicated to the fight against the Taliban and militant extremism.

Before we criticize Pakistan’s commitment to the United States, we should ask ourselves how committed we are to Pakistan. What will our relationship be in five years, after we draw down our forces in Afghanistan? We continue to invest heavily in India’s tech and service sectors, so who will we favor in 15 or 25 years? If India invades Pakistan again, who will we support?

From the Pakistani perspective, maybe they aren’t the ones with commitment issues.

Jeffrey Souter, a major in the U.S. Army, is a student at the Fort Leavenworth Command and General Staff College who specializes in Middle Eastern studies. He worked at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan in 2009.


Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World

January 3, 2011

By Fred Branfman

Greatly expanded U.S. military Special Ops teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins create a threat to our security.

“[General McChrystal says that] for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” — “The Runaway General,” Rolling Stone, 6/22/10

The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America’s military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more “enemies,” as Gen. McChrystal suggests — posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military’s policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.

The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing — though directed and financed by the C.I.A. — has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now has changed dramatically.

What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims — through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.

Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale “mechanized assassination.” As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: “For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war.”

This combination of human and technological murder amounts to a worldwide “Assassination Inc.” that is unique in human affairs.

The increasing shift to direct U.S. assassination began on Petraeus’s watch in Iraq,where targeted assassination was considered by many within the military to be more important than the “surge.” The killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered a major triumph that significantly reduced the level of violence. As Bob Woodward reported in The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008:

“Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of top secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups. A number of authoritative sources say these covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) responsible for hunting al Qaeda in Iraq, (conducted) lightning-quick and sometimes concurrent operations When I later asked the president (Bush) about this, he offered a simple answer: ‘JSOC is awesome.'” [Emphasis added.]

Woodward’s finding that many “authoritative sources” believed assassination more important than the surge is buttressed by Petraeus’ appointment of McChrystal to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s major qualification for the post was clearly his perceived expertise in assassination while heading JSOC from 2003-’08 (where he also conducted extensive torture at “Camp Nama” at Baghdad International Airport, successfully excluding even the Red Cross).

Another key reason for the increased reliance on assassination is that Petraeus’ announced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan obviously cannot work. It is absurd to believe that the corrupt warlords and cronies who make up the “Afghan government” can be transformed into the viable entity upon which his strategy publicly claims to depend — particularly within the next year which President Obama has set as a deadline before beginning to withdraw U.S. troops. Petraeus is instead largely relying on mass assassination to try and eliminate the Taliban, both within Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The centrality of assassination to U.S. war plans is revealed by the fact that it was at the heart of the Obama review of Afghan policy last fall. The dovish Biden position called for relying primarily on assassination, while the hawkish McChrystal stance embraced both assassination and more troops. No other options were seriously considered.

A third factor behind the shift to mass assassination is that Petraeus and the U.S. military are also determined to attack jihadi forces in nations where the U.S. is not at war, and which are not prepared to openly invite in U.S. forces. As the N.Y. Times reported on May 24, “General Petraeus (has argued) that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant groups.”

The most significant aspect of this new and expanded assassination policy is President Obama’s authorizing clandestine U.S. military personnel to conduct it. The N.Y. Times has also reported:

In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists (Military) Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies.

Particularly extraordinary is the fact that these vastly expanded military assassination teams are not subject to serious civilian control. As the N.Y. Times has also reported, Petraeus in September 2009 secretly expanded a worldwide force of assassins answerable only to the military, without oversight by not only Congress but the president himself:

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa. Unlike covert actions undertaken by the C.I.A., such clandestine activity does not require the president’s approval or regular reports to Congress. [Emphasis added]

Although sold to the American public and Congress as targeted, selective assassination aimed only at a handful of “high value” insurgent leaders, the program has in fact already expanded far beyond that. As personnel and aircraft devoted to assassination exponentially increase, so too do the numbers of people they murder, both “insurgents” and civilians.

While it is reasonable to assume that expanding the number of Special Operations commandos to its present worldwide level of 13,000 will result in increasing assassinations, the secrecy of their operations makes it impossible to know how many they have murdered, how many of those are civilians, and the effectiveness of their operations. It is not known, for example, how many people U.S. military assassins murder directly, and how many they kill indirectly by identifying them for drone strikes. Much of their activity is conducted, for example, in North Waziristan in northwest Pakistan which, as the N.Y. Times reported on April 4 “is virtually sealed from the outside world.”

More information, however, has emerged about the parallel and unprecedented mass mechanized assassinations being carried out by the C.I.A. drone programs. It is clear that they have already expanded far beyond the official cover story of targeting only “high-level insurgent leaders,” and are killing increasing numbers of people.

The CIA, of course, is no novice at assassination. Future CIA Director William Colby’s Operation Phoenix program in South Vietnam gave South Vietnamese police quotas of the number of civilians to be murdered on a weekly and monthly basis, eventually killing 20-50,000 people. CIA operatives such as Latin American Station Chef Duane “Dewey” Clarridge also established, trained and operated local paramilitary and death squads throughout Central and Latin America that brutally tortured and murdered tens of thousands of civilians, most notably in El Salvador where CIA-trained and -directed killers murdered Archbishop Romero and countless other Salvadorans.

But the present CIA assassination program in Pakistan and elsewhere is different not only because it is Americans who are themselves the assassins, but because of the unprecedented act of conducting mechanized mass assassination from the air. The CIA, as Nick Turse has reported for TomDispatch.com, is exponentially increasing its drone assassination program:

“(Drone) Reapers flew 25,391 hours (in 2009). This year, the air force projects that the combined flight hours of all its drones will exceed 250,000 hours. More flight time will, undoubtedly, mean more killing.”

There were already signs in 2009, when drone strikes were a fraction of what they are now, that they were striking large numbers of civilians and proving militarily and politically counterproductive. Most Pakistanis believe it is largely civilians who are being killed, and anti-American hatred is growing accordingly. A Gallup poll conducted in July 2009, based on 2,500 face-to-face interviews, found that “only 9 percent of Pakistanis supported the drone strikes.” A Global Research study documented the drone murder of 123 civilians in January 2010 alone.

A particularly significant indication of the drone strikes’ military ineffectiveness has come from Colonel David Kilcullen, a key Petraeus advisor in Iraq, who testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 23, 2009, that, “Since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. We need to call off the drones.”

Kilcullen’s testimony was ignored, however, and as drone strikes have not only been continued but exponentially increased, there are increasing signs that they have vastly increased the scope of the killing far beyond the claimed “high-level insurgent leaders.” The N.Y. Times reported on Aug. 14:

[The CIA has] broadened its drone campaign beyond selective strikes against Qaeda leaders and now regularly obliterates suspected enemy compounds and logistics convoys, just as the military would grind down an enemy force.

Reuters reported on May 5 that:

The CIA received approval to target a wider range of targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas, including low-level fighters whose identities may not be known, U.S. officials said on Wednesday. Former intelligence officials acknowledged that in many, if not most cases, the CIA had little information about the foot soldiers killed in the strikes.

What this means is clear: the CIA is assassinating an expanding number of “low-level” people, labeling them as “fighters,” but has little if any idea of who they really are. The history of such mechanized campaigns from the air, such as Laos where I have studied the U.S. 1964-’73 air war intensively, is that increased warfare from the air inevitably becomes increasingly indiscriminate, destroying civilian and military targets alike. As the drone program continues to expand, it will inevitably wind up killing more civilians — and, if McChrystal is right, exponentially create more people committed to killing Americans.

Numerous moral, legal and ethical objections have been raised to this program of mass assassination. Philip Alston, the United Nations special representative on extrajudicial executions, has stated that “this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions.”

The notion that a handful of U.S. military and CIA officials have the right to unilaterally and secretly murder anyone they choose in any nation on earth, without even outside knowledge let alone oversight, is deeply troubling to anyone with a conscience, belief in democracy, or respect for international law. It was precisely such behavior that made the Gestapo and Soviet secret police symbols of evil. Since the U.S. Congress has never reined in an Executive Branch that has routinely ignored international law since 1945, however, it is likely that the question of whether this program will be continued will be determined by its perceived effectiveness, not its morality.

The evidence is mounting that U.S. assassinations are so ineffective they are actually strengthening anti-American forces in Pakistan. Bruce Reidel, a counterinsurgency expert who coordinated the Afghan review for President Obama, said: “The pressure we’ve put on (jihadist forces) in the past year has also drawn them together, meaning that the network of alliances is growing stronger not weaker.”

Reidel’s striking conclusion that jihadi forces in Pakistan are stronger after six years of drone airstrikes the CIA claims are weakening them, is echoed by numerous other reports indicating that General Petraeus’ strategy of using military force against Al Qaeda, Afghan and local insurgent forces in Pakistan has pushed them further east from isolated northwest areas into major cities like Karachi, where they operate freely and work together far more closely than before. The general’s miscalculations regarding Pakistan are reason enough for him to be replaced.

In the long run, General Petraeus’ strategy of expanding both ground and mechanized assassination throughout the 1.3 billion-strong Muslim world is likely to do the greatest disservice to his country’s interests. It is true that U.S. leaders have used local forces to assassinate tens of thousands since 1945 and that while these programs were largely ineffectual, they did not lead to attacks on American soil.

But 9/11 has changed the calculus. It is clear that in today’s wired and globalized world, marked by large-scale immigration, cheap telecommunications and airline travel, where crude technologies like car bombs or IEDs can be as easily detonated in New York as in Kandahar, and where America’s enemies are growing increasingly technologically sophisticated even as nuclear weapons proliferate and become miniaturized, it is the height of folly to foment geometrically growing anti-American hatred in the volatile Muslim world.

A growing number of military and counterinsurgency experts support Colonel Kilcullen’s belief that these assassination programs abroad are not protecting Americans at home. Both the “Underwear” and the “Times Square” bombers attributed their attempts to blow up Americans to their anger at the drone strikes. While Americans were saved by their incompetence, the U.S. may not be so lucky the next time, and the time after that. One thing is crystal clear: inflaming anti-American hatred throughout the Muslim world can only exponentially increase the numbers of those committed to killing Americans.

Such fears are increasing in Washington, as the N.Y. Times reported in the wake of the Times Square bombing:

A new, and disturbing, question is being raised in Washington: Have the stepped-up attacks in Pakistan — notably the Predator drone strikes — actually made Americans less safe? Are they inspiring more attacks on America than they prevent? As one American intelligence official said, “Those attacks (on two Pakistani Taliban leaders) have made it personal for the Pakistani Taliban — so it’s no wonder they are beginning to think about how they can strike back at targets here.”

As General Petraeus and the U.S. military “make it personal” to increasing number of people throughout the Muslim world, they are recklessly sowing a whirlwind for which many of us, our children and grandchildren may well pay with our lives for decades to come.

It is difficult for most Americans to grasp the fact that their leaders’ incompetence — Republican and Democrat, civilian and military — poses one of the single greatest threats to their own safety. But only when Americans do so will there be any hope of making America more secure in the dangerous years to come.

A clear place to begin protecting America is to abandon the assassination approach to war, ditch General Petraeus, end the military and CIA’s focus on worldwide and mechanized mass assassination, and halt its reckless expansion of U.S. war-making into nuclear-armed Pakistan and so much more of the Muslim world.

Final Note: Duane ‘Dewey’ Clarridge: The True Face of U.S. Policy Toward the Muslim World

We’ll intervene whenever we decide it’s in our national security interest. And if you don’t like it, lump it. Get used to it, world!” — Duane Clarridge, interviewed by John Pilger in “The War on Democracy”

As the N.Y. Times reported, Clarridge is presently advising CIA assassination efforts in Pakistan. (“Duane R. Clarridge, a profane former C.I.A. officer who ran operations in Central America and was indicted in the Iran-contra scandal, turned up this year helping run a Pentagon-financed private spying operation in Pakistan.”) Watch an extraordinary three-minute video interview with Clarridge that reveals the true face of U.S. policy in the Muslim world.

Fred Branfman, the editor of “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), exposed the U.S. secret air war while living in Laos from 1967 to 1971.


Yvonne Ridley slams US moral selectivity

December 29, 2010

By Yvonne Ridley

I wonder if Hillary Clinton really believes in the pompous invective that shoots from her lips with the rapidity of machine gun fire.

We had a classic example of it just the other day when she let rip in her grating, robotic monotones over a Moscow court’s decision to jail an oil tycoon.

To be fair to Clinton, she was not alone. There was a whole gaggle of disapproving foreign ministers who poured forth their ridiculous brand of Western arrogance which has poisoned the international atmosphere for far too long.

The US Secretary of State said Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s conviction raised “serious questions about selective prosecution and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations”.

Although Khodorkovsky, 47, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, 54, were found guilty of theft and money laundering by a Moscow court, critics like Clinton say the trial constitutes revenge for the tycoon’s questioning of a state monopoly on oil pipelines and propping up political parties that oppose the Kremlin.

Clinton’s censure was echoed by politicians in Britain and Germany, and Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, urged Moscow to “respect its international commitments in the field of human rights and the rule of law”.

Now while it may appear to be quite touching to see all these Western leaders express their outrage over a trial involving the one-time richest and most powerful man in Russia’s oil and gas industry, you have to ask where were these moral guardians when other unjust legal decisions were being made in US courts, for example?

So why have the Americans and Europeans rushed to make very public and official statements so quickly on a matter of oil and gas, in another country? Okay, so it is a rhetorical question!

But shouldn’t Clinton put a sock in it? The USA is still squatting in Cuba overseeing the continuing festering mess caused by one of the biggest boil’s on the face of human rights – yes, Guantanamo is approaching a decade of incarcerating men without charge or trial. At least Khodorkovsky had his day in an open court and can appeal.

Instead of sticking her nose in to other country’s courts, perhaps the US Secretary of State would care to look into her own backyard and tell us why one of her soldiers was given a mere nine month sentence earlier this month after shooting unarmed civilians in Afghanistan?

And after he’s served his sentence US army medic Robert Stevens can still remain in the army, ruled the military hearing. His defence was that he and other soldiers were purely acting on orders from a squad leader during a patrol in March in Kandahar.

Five of the 12 soldiers named in the case are accused of premeditated murder in the most serious prosecution of atrocities by US military personnel since the war began in late 2001. Some even collected severed fingers and other human remains from the Afghan dead as war trophies before taking photos with the corpses.

By comparison, just a few months earlier, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, was given 86 years for attempting to shoot US soldiers … the alleged incident happened while she was in US custody, in Afghanistan. She didn’t shoot anyone although she WAS shot at point blank range by the soldiers. The critically injured Pakistani citizen was then renditioned for a trial in New York. The hearing was judged to be illegal and out of US jurisdiction by many international lawyers.

Did Clinton have anything to say about that? Did any of the foreign ministers in the West raise these issues on any public platform anywhere in the world? Again, it’s a rhetorical question.

Of course a few poorly trained US Army grunts, scores of innocent Afghans, nearly 200 Arab men in Cuba and one female academic from Pakistan are pretty small fry compared to an oil rich tycoon who doesn’t like Vladamir Putin.

But being poor is not a crime.

Exactly how would the Obama Administration have reacted if Russian President Dmitry Medvedev criticized the lack of even handedness in the US judicial system and demanded Dr Aafia Siddiqui be repatriated? What would be the response if Medvedev called an international press conference and demanded to know why 174 men are still being held in Guantanamo without charge or trial?

Just for the record the US judicial system imposes life sentences for serious tax avoidance and laundering of criminally-received income – crimes for which the Russian tycoon has been found guilty. Sentencing will not take place until Moscow trial judge, Viktor Danilkin, finishes reading his 250-page verdict, which could take several days.

In her comments Clinton said the case had a “negative impact on Russia’s reputation for fulfilling its international human rights obligations and improving its investment climate”.

How on earth can anyone treat the US Secretary of State seriously when she comes out with this sort of pot, kettle, black rhetoric? This from a nation which is morally and financially bankrupt, a country which introduced words like rendition and water-boarding into common day usage.

My advice to Clinton is do not lecture anyone about human rights and legal issues until you clean up your own backyard. In fact the next time she decides to open her mouth perhaps one of her aides can do us all a favour and ram in a slice of humble pie.

British journalist Yvonne Ridley is the European President of the International Muslim Women’s Union as well as being a patron of Cageprisoners.


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