Say What??

Here's a frightening bit of info: in Iraq, terrorists kidnap between 30-40 people a day. They then demand ransoms, which, one would guess, goes to buy weapons, etc. for the insurgent groups.

Am I the only one wondering why I have never seen this in a news story until today? I mean, we're talking mostly civilians here. Can you imagine if Israel or the U.S. were kidnapping 30-40 people a day??? Instead of having a "dead soldier" count, CNN would have an "Israeli-kidnapped" count. "Today, 33 more civilians were kidnapped today by the Israeli military, bringing the total this year to 957." Can you imagine the backlash??

Why do the insurgents in Iraq and the radical Muslim terrorist groups get a free pass? What about the Taliban, still alive and well in Afghanistan? They are killing innocent people every day. Where is the "media accountability" there?

While I titled my first Middle East-themed blog "The Truth is Out There", which was taken from the old X-Files TV series, I will close today's blog with another famous quote from the same place.

Trust no one.

Middle East Updates

Just to keep you updated:
  • Israeli airstrike on south Lebanese village of Qana kills at least 56 Lebanese, almost all of them women and children, in deadliest strike in 19-day war.
  • Israel suspends airstrikes on south Lebanon for 48 hours and guarantees 24-hour safe passage for residents to leave the area in face of widespread outrage over Qana attack.
  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was in Jerusalem, decides to cut short a Mideast mission and return to Washington Monday.
  • Rice telephones Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to say she would stay in Jerusalem to work on a peace package, rather than make a planned visit to Beirut. Saniora says he told her not to come.
  • The U.N. Security Council meets in emergency session and approves a presidential statement calling for an end to violence in Lebanon and deploring Israel's airstrike of civilians in Qana, but stops short of condemning Israeli attack.
  • Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, demands immediate cease-fire in Lebanon, warning Muslim world will "not forgive" nations that stand in the way of stopping the fighting.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says campaign to crush Hezbollah could last another two weeks.
  • Lebanon says it no longer would negotiate a U.S. peace package without an unconditional cease-fire.
  • Some 5,000 protesters in Beirut attack a U.N. building and burn American flags, shouting: "Destroy Tel Aviv! Destroy Tel Aviv!"


A Big Day

And a sad day. Israel bombed an apartment house in Qana, Lebanon, killing 56 people, with most of them being women and children. Israel has responded to the outcries from the world by suspending its air attacks for 48 hours.

While I fully support Israel, I cannot say that I understand things like this. If you read your Old Testament (and I strongly urge you to if you want to have a broader understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict) then you know that violence and wars and the residual killings of women and children were commonplace even in the time of Moses and Joshua. But, does it make it easier to stomach?

One could argue successfully that Hezbollah has been killing innocent civilians before and after the Gaza withdrawal by Israel, and that they just got a taste of their own medicine. Even now, as Israel tries (obviously not always successfully) using guiding technology to perform surgical air strikes, Hezbollah lobs bombs aimlessly at Israel, not taking into account the consequences of residual civilian casualties. Where is the outcry from the world and the U.N. about these actions?

But, in the end, all of that doesn't matter to the families of the people killed today. I think of my wife and children, and how completely and utterly devastated I would be tonight if they had been 3 of the 56 people killed today.

While Israel and Hezbollah fight out this centuries-long battle over a relatively small piece of land, there is a father in Qana tonight who has lost everything. He cries for the woman he loved deeply and mourns his little daughter, who he probably considered his "little princess." And he wails out loud knowing that his son, who he was trying to raise up to be a good man, is perhaps buried under tons of rubble, maybe with his favorite toy laying close-by.

This is the reality of war. Right now, I could give a damn about who is right and who is wrong. Right now I just pray for everyone in the line of fire--and everyone left behind to grieve.

More Information on Hezbollah

If you want more info on Hezbollah I urge you to check out this blog: http://chatterboxchronicles.blogspot.com/2006/07/who-is-hezbollah.html

She has obviously done a great deal of research, and has a a lot of detailed info, including maps (which, of course, a geek like me really digs).


al-Qaida Gets Immediate Action

Note that 2 days after al-Qaida called for Muslims to "target the Jewish and American interests everywhere" that there was a shooting by a Muslim at a Seattle Jewish community center. 1 person killed and 6 injured. Before opening fire, the shooter exclaimed "'I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel."

Think it can't happen where you live?

What Is Hezbollah?

While the Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah has been operating for more than 20 years, few people know any real facts about it or its goals. In the spirit of keeping things short and sweet, here are some bullet points about this organization.
  • Hezbollah means "Party of God"
  • Has occupied Lebanon since it's founding in the early 1980's. Has, for all intents and purposes, taken over and held hostage the Lebanese government.
  • Supported by Iran and Syria, among others. Support includes money and arms.
  • Believes Israel does not have the right to exist, especially in Palestine. Meaning, Israel, according to Hezbollah, does not have the right to Israel.
  • Fierce opponent of the West (that's you and I) and hater of all things and people who are not Islamic (again, you and I).
  • Conducts frequent terrorist strikes on Israel from Lebanon.
  • Carried out the 1983 suicide bombing that killed 241 American Marines in Beirut.
  • Also carries out kidnappings of Western hostages. Terry Waite was one of these.
  • Remember the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847? That was also Hezbollah.
  • Like most criminal groups, Hezbollah funds and operates numerous community service programs in Lebanon for good PR, including schools, hospitals, and agricultural services. It also has it's own satellite TV station (TerrorTV??).
  • Hezbollah does not operate solely in Lebanon. Intelligence sources say that, like al-Qaida, it has multiple cells in Europe, South America, Africa, and North America.
  • A telling quote is from their political platform, first published in 1985: "Rather, the complete destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of Islamic rule over Jerusalem is an expressed goal."

That's Hezbollah in a nutshell. Anyone who backs Israel would consider Hezbollah to be an enemy.

The Truth is Out There

As things heat up in the Middle East I have been talking about it with people I know. For the most part it seems folks are relying on what is coming out on CNN or Fox about the conflict, who's to blame, etc. And, as that coverage leans strickingly(and sickingly) towards supporting Hezbollah (yes, even Fox sometimes) I am getting an uneasy feeling in my gut. Sure, civilians being killed makes a great human interest story, and is a lot less complicated to explain than the conflict between Arabs (read: Muslims) and Jews that dates back thousand of years and is, in my mind, unresolvable.

But, there is news out there that is providing consise and accurate accounts about Iraq, Iran, and the conflict in Lebanon. Unfortunately, it is hard to find. While not an expert by any means on the Middle East (although I did take a very interesting Middle East politics class in college taught by an ex-PLO member), I see the need for someone to shine a light on this whole thing.

So, if you're interested, tune in every day as I will be posting stories and explanations that are readable and understandable. And short. Realizing you don't have a lot of time.

Today we start with the latest statement released by Ayman al-Zawahri, the #2 al-Qaida man. While reading this, remember that these are the same folks who brought us 9/11. Be afraid. I also dare you to find any news coverage that accurately portrays the tone of this statement. I have added a view of my comments to "clarify" his comments.

The serious events in Gaza and Lebanon prove to every sane person that the Zionist-Crusader war does not care about us and is without conscience. (Kind of the same lack of conscience one finds from a group that kills thousands of innocent people in one day as al-Qaida did on 9/11)

There are 10,000 hostages in Israeli prisons, but for three Israeli soldiers, the world was turned upside down.
(This is an interesting statement as Israel not only gave up occupation of the Gaza Strip recently but has since put up with numerous kidnappings, bombs, and assorted violence against them as their "thank you" gifts from Hezbollah for giving them back the land they asked for. Israel pretty much was growing weary of seeing its people die)

War with Israel is not subject to a treaty, a cease-fire, the Sykes-Picot Treaty agreements, patriotism or disputed borders, but it is jihad for the cause of God until the entire religion is for him only. (Put this sentence in the back of your mind and remind yourself of it as you see news coverage of Muslims calling for cease-fire. The only reason they want a cease-fire is to be able to regroup for a new attack) Jihad seeks the liberation of Palestine, the entire country of Palestine, and to liberate every land that used to be a territory of Islam, from Spain to Iraq. The entire world is an open field for us, so just like they attack us everywhere, we will attack them everywhere, and just like they united to fight us, our Muslim nation, we will unite to fight them.

The missiles and rockets that tear the Muslim bodies in Gaza and Lebanon are not completely from Israel but come from and are financed from all countries of the Crusaders’ league; therefore, whoever has participated in this crime must pay the price.

We cannot remain silent and cringe while watching these missiles pouring fire on our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon. ...(Just a reminder that Hezbollah stores their missles in people's homes in exchange for Hezbollah paying their rent. They also go into Christian neighborhoods in Lebanon and shoot missles at Israel from between the houses, knowing that Israel loses either way--if they don't retaliate their people die, and if they do retaliate, innocent people in Lebanon will likely die)

Dear Muslim brothers everywhere, today we must target the Jewish and the American interests everywhere. Not only that but we must target the interests of all the countries who participated in the assault against the Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. All of these governments and their people are fighting Muslims according to the Islamic Shariah. ...

I ask you with the obligation of jihad that is imposed on every Muslim to rise wishing for martyrdom to exasperate the Crusaders and the Zionists. (I think we all know that jihad means "holy war" although radical Muslins will tell you that it actually means "peaceful holy war"--see 1994 comments from Yasser Arafat, not known for his "peaceful" ways)

The events which are occurring shows the seriousness of the two jihadi fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, so Muslims must support jihad until the American forces leave there totally paralyzed, dragging themselves back to their country, and pay the price for attacking Muslims and for supporting Israel.

By Iraq being near Palestine it is an advantage; therefore the Muslims should support its mujahedeen
(the word "mujahedeen" refers to those Muslims engaged in a jihad) until an Islamic Emirate of jihad is established there. Subsequently, it would transfer the jihad to the borders of Palestine with the aid of God, then the mujahedeen in and out of Palestine would unite and the greatest conquest would be accomplished.

The martyr imam, as we consider him, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has said, “In Iraq we are very close to Al Aksa Mosque of the Messenger of God, so we fight in Iraq and our eyes are on Jerusalem, which can only be restored by the guiding Koran and sword of victory.”
Perhaps the events of the Zionist-Crusaders’ attack on the Muslims may push the traitors in Iraq to swallow their shame and their disloyalty, and stop justifying and supporting the American Crusaders’ presence in Iraq.
(Since the radical Muslims pushed Israel to finally retalitate, this one sentence gives us a good insight into their strategy of shoring up support of Iraqi Muslims who may be on the fence about supporting a democratic Iraq)

My Muslim nation, without a doubt it is clear to you now that the governments of the Arabic and Islamic countries are inefficient and conniving, the organizations are paralyzed and defeated, and you are all alone in the field. So proceed with the help of God and depend only on him.