Was Man Haron Monis a terrorist or just a criminal?

December 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A number of people have asserted that Man Haron Monis was not an Islamist terrorist but a just a deranged criminal. Terrorist are of course a sub-set of criminals, but putting that aside, what is the evidence for whether this was a terrorist event.

The argument against is that Man Haron Monis was already before the courts on attempted murder and sexual offending. This was not someone who had led a blameless life and suddenly committed crimes after being radicalised. He was  someone facing a lengthy spell in jail, and perhaps thought better to go out in a blaze of publicity – maybe like our Phillip Smith – someone with nothing to lose.

But I don’t think that argument holds up, for multiple reasons. In order:

  1. He was actually free and at large. He shouldn’t have been of course, but he was.
  2. His previous convictions on the letters is directly related to his extreme political views
  3. He displayed a jihadist flag in the window of the cafe
  4. He demanded an ISIL flag be delivered to the cafe
  5. He demanded that the media broadcast his actions as an attack on Australia by ISIL
  6. He demanded that the PM be put on the line to him
  7. He made no demands about his court cases or convictions

While I understand why people would prefer to think it was not a terrorist incident, I think they are being naive. Certainly it was not a co-ordinated attack with multiple people. But sadly that is no longer the sole threat. ISIL is very different to other groups in that they have encouraged supporters to do whatever attacks they can manage, without authorisation or endorsement.

The article on news.com.au provides some thinking on what he may have planned to do:

Queensland barrister Patrick Van Grinsven, who spent 21 years with the police and 12 years of them as a counter-terrorism-qualified specialist negotiator, said police would have been concerned it was providing him with the tools for a horror show.

“If he got the ISIS flag, he could use that to make a very dramatic statement indeed,” said Mr Van Grinsven, who has trained closely with the NSW negotiators on the scene at Martin Place.

As for the media broadcasting his supposed request that Australia was under attack by ISIS, the police requested they not relay his demand for the same reason.

“This person may have been trying to set up an international stage,” said Mr Van Grinsven.

“It could be as serious as trying to do a live execution. We have seen others prepared to do that. This goes through negotiators’ minds.”

It is awful that two innocent people lost their lives. But it could have turned out even worse.

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Majority of Americans think CIA harsh interrogation methods justified

December 17th, 2014 at 2:28 pm by Lindsay Addie

A Washington Post-ABC News poll asking Americans about the Senate report in CIA interrogation methods post 9/11 has some revealing conclusions.

NB: I’ve paraphrased some of the questions for reasons of brevity.

When asked if they thought the report was fair?
Fair: 36% – Unfair 47%

Did the CIA intentionally or not mislead the White House?
Intentionally mislead: 54% – Did not mislead: 33%

Was the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists torture?
Yes: 49% – No: 38%

Did the CIA’s methods produce important information?
Yes: 53% – No: 31%

Which of these statements comes closer to your own opinion: (It was wrong to release this report because it may raise the risk of terrorism by increasing anti-American sentiment) OR (It was right to release this report in order to expose what happened and prevent it in the future)?
Yes: 52% – No: 43%

Do you think there should or should not be criminal charges filed against officials who were responsible for the CIA interrogation activities?
Should: 34% – Should not: 57%

All in all, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?
Justified: 59% – Unjustified 31%

Looking ahead, do you feel that torture of suspected terrorists can often be justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?
Often or sometimes justified: 58% – Rarely or never justified: 39%

So a majority of Americans according to the poll are happy to see some kind of rough treatment meted out to terrorist suspects. Even though they think the CIA lied to the White House. Also of particular interest is the reaction of voters across the political spectrum. This is covered here. The chart is too large to reproduce here but it shows that across many demographics except the liberal Democrats there it is accepted that use of torture in some shape or form is justified. That includes moderate/conservative Democrats.

With the events in Australia and Pakistan in recent days there is a greater opposition than ever to terrorist attacks. It is too soon to accurately assess how these events will frame the debate on terrorism and how terrorists should be treated in captivity. Has what is morally acceptable in dealing with terrorism changed especially after the Taliban slaughtered 130+ innocent children? I think it probably has.

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Taliban massacre children at Pakistan School

December 16th, 2014 at 11:14 pm by Lindsay Addie

The BBC reports on this very disturbing incident.

At least 100 people, 80 of them children, have been killed in a Taliban assault on an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistani officials say.

Five or six militants wearing security uniforms entered the school, officials said. Gunfire and explosions were heard as security forces surrounded the area.

The army says most of the school’s 500 students have been evacuated. It is not clear how many are being held hostage.

A Taliban spokesman says the assault is in response to army operations.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters are thought to have died in a recent military offensive in North Waziristan and the nearby Khyber area.

A school worker and a student interviewed by the local Geo TV station said the attackers had entered the Army Public School’s auditorium, where a military team was conducting first-aid training for students.

Live updates are here.

What an evil bunch the Taliban really are.

UPDATE: The BBC are reporting the death toll is now 141 of which 132 are children

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Terrorism is bad but let’s not forget family violence

December 16th, 2014 at 2:50 pm by Lindsay Addie

While the media attention has been focused on the events in Sydney and tragic events at the Lindt Café another tragedy has been playing out in Philadelphia.

A former US marine has allegediy murdered six members of his own family.

Police near Philadelphia were hunting a former Marine reservist who authorities say shot and killed six family members and wounded another in a Monday rampage that left dead bodies in three different homes.

A SWAT team storming of a house in Pennsburg, where Bradley William Stone, 35, was believed to be holed up, turned up nothing, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, and authorities said Monday evening that they did not know his whereabouts.

“As I stand here right now, we do not know where he is,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said shortly after 6 p.m.

The events that transpired makes very sad reading. What makes it more tragic is the accused’s ex-wife has been living in fear of hear life and had warned that Bradley Stone was capable of becoming extremely violent.

Speaking at an evening news conference, Ferman said the rampage began around 3:30 a.m., when Stone allegedly shot and killed Patricia Flick, the sister of his ex-wife, Nicole Stone, at her home in Souderton, also killing Flick’s husband, Aaron Flick, and her 14-year-old daughter, Nina Flick. Her 17-year-old son, Anthony Flick, was receiving treatment at a hospital in Philadelphia for a head wound.

Nicole Stone’s mother, Joanne Hill, and grandmother Patricia Hill were killed next at their home in nearby Lansdale. Investigators were alerted by a hang-up call to emergency dispatchers, Ferman said.

Then, around 5 a.m., Stone went to Nicole Stone’s apartment, located in the Harleysville section of Lower Salford Township, around 5 a.m., investigators said. Brad Stone broke in through a glass door, shot and killed Nicole Stone, and fled with their two children, the woman’s neighbors said. Authorities said Stone then delivered the two children, who were unharmed, to a neighbor in Pennsburg.

Currently the accused is still at large.

Yes terrorism offends decent people and should be eradicated but family violence like that in Philadelphia is also totally unacceptable and shouldn’t be forgotten.

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Two hostages dead in Sydney

December 16th, 2014 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

Police confirmed three people have died and four others were injured during the police operation that brought the siege at Lindt cafe to an end just after 2am today after more than 16 hours.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed two hostages and a lone gunman were killed and a total of 17 hostages were held throughout the siege.

Terrible that two innocent lives were lost, but am relieved that it wasn’t much higher. The Police did the best they could in a very difficult situation.

There was no word on the fate of the gunman, earlier identified as 50-year-old self-styled sheik Man Haron Monis.

Monis was known to police and as a self-styled preacher of Islamic State on bail for accessory to murder, as the gunman who was holding 15 terrified hostages in Sydney’s Lindt cafe.

On bail!

The 49-year-old, originally from Iran who lived in southwest Sydney, had previously sent offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, calling them ‘murderers’, The Daily Telegraph says.

He had a sawn-off shotgun and was a fringe Islamist, The Australian and Sky News reports.

I think countries such as Australia, and NZ, need to have much more stringent immigration criteria – I don’t mean banning people on the basis of their religion, but asking prospective migrants a detailed set of questions to ascertain if they hold extreme views, and would be happy living in a secular country.

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says it would naive to think that an attack similar to the Sydney siege couldn’t happen in New Zealand.

Three people, including the gunman, are dead after the Martin Pl siege ended in a volley of gunfire shortly after 2am local time this morning (4am NZT).

“I think you have to say yes,” Key said. “There is always that risk, there’s that risk everywhere in the world. There’s the risk that there’s a person who is somehow attracted to the teachings and kinds of messages and propaganda that these people are peddling.” …

Key said the events in Sydney only showed how dangerous IS was, even if it wasn’t directly involved. 

“As I said, they’re extremely well-resourced, we believe they’re the most highly-resourced terrorist group in the world. 

“They’re using the internet in a way that’s never been seen before, to build this outreach capacity and to target the very sort of people that we’ve seen in Australia overnight; to tap into people and to use them as a domestic terror threat type of organisation,” he said. 

“I don’t think we should stop the things that we’re doing. I think we should continue to standup to ISIS and actually, it just demonstrates how dangerous they are.” 

The gunman at the centre of the Sydney siege is among a number of homegrown terrorists being targeted by IS, Key said.

The attack was an act of “cowardice”, and New Zealand’s hearts went out to all Australians, he said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy isn’t it? Our hearts and thoughts go out not only to the families of the victims and the hostages, but actually to all Australians. 

“Australia’s our nearest neighbour, they’re our greatest mates, we consider ourselves to be very similar in the way we go about our lives. 

“I think Australia will be really hurting, and indeed the world is as we see some people lose their lives in an utter act of cowardice, and so close to Christmas,” Key said on Firstline. 

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Will US Drone attacks now come under closer scrutiny?

December 13th, 2014 at 2:27 pm by Lindsay Addie

 

Mural in Sanna, Yemen - (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Mural in Sanna, Yemen – (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

With the furore over the CIA interrogation techniques during the George W Bush administration still ongoing attention is starting to shift to using US Drones to attack and kill terrorists.

Lauren Fox from the National Journal discusses the various arguments.

As Republicans prepare to take leadership over the Senate Intelligence Committee, the panel’s oversight work will shift from spending considerable resources to ensure the release of the backwards-looking torture report to a committee that incoming Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said will deliver oversight in “real time.”

“We are not going to be looking back at a decade trying to dredge up things,” Burr said about his future on the committee, just before Feinstein released her report.

Members of Congress are divided over whether the president’s highly secretive drone-strikes program needs more congressional scrutiny. Some criticize the program’s legal rationale, while others have concerns about killing combatants who may have valuable information.

One issue is that a dead terrorist suspect isn’t as good an information source as a live one.

Details about how drones are used to kill terrorists remain unknown, a fact leaders on Capitol Hill harbor concerns about. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is in line to be the next Senate Foreign Relations chairman, said it’s an area ripe for oversight.

“I have always wondered why there isn’t more concerns about how that is carried out, but I don’t think anyone would want to do that as retribution,” for the torture report’s release, Corker said. “I think people genuinely want our country to be secure, but at the same time it is pretty amazing that those kinds of decisions are made amongst such a small group of people.”

The Obama administration strongly defends the drone program. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling for more information to made available by the CIA.

“We could be going down the same road all over again, but with killing instead of torturing,” says Chris Anders, senior legal counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The kinds of people that were involved in the horrors of this torture report are still around. It is hard to believe they have become better managers or more careful about remaining within the law in subsequent years.”

Fighting terrorism is always a messy business and there is a fine line between what is morally acceptable and the steps needed to actually defeat the perpetrators of terrorist acts.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released detailed data of US drone strikes between 2004 and May 2014. This article and the spreadsheet can be found here.

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Significant increase in deaths linked to terrorism

November 19th, 2014 at 1:08 pm by Lindsay Addie

The New York Times has a story on the latest terrorism statistics. They cite two studies which have researched the statistics for 2013.

Pointing to a geographic imbalance, the report by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace said five countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria — accounted for four-fifths of the almost 18,000 fatalities attributed to terrorism last year. Iraq had the bloodiest record of all, with more than 6,300 fatalities.

This data will not surprise anyone. According to Vision of Humanity’s research these are the raw statistics.

  • 17,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks last year, that’s 61% more than the previous year
  • 82% of all deaths from terrorist attack occur in just 5 countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
  • Last year terrorism was dominated by four groups: the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIL, and al Qa’ida.
  • More than 90% of all terrorist attacks occur in countries that have gross human rights violations.
  • 40 times more people are killed by homicides than terrorist attacks.

The New York Times also states that in the four years starting in 2007, worldwide attempts to defeat terrorism only managed to achieve ‘modest decreases’.

Vision of Humanity cite the principal causes for terrorism

The three main factors associated with terrorism are state sponsored violence such as extra-judicial killings, group grievances and high levels of criminality. Poverty rates, levels of schools attendance and most economic factors have no association with terrorism. Most terrorist attacks use explosives; since 2000 only 5% were suicide attacks.

It is certain the 2014 terrorism statistics will be even worse.

[UPDATE]: Vision of Humanity uses the following definition of terrorism

The definition of terrorism used by the Global Terrorism Index is: “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation”.

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A moving standing ovation

October 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Canadian Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers receiving a standing ovation in the Canadian House of Commons.

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A terrorist attack in Canada?

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At least 30 shots are fired inside the main building of Canada’s Parliament Hill, after a gunman shot and wounded a soldier at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa.

Ottawa police are hunting multiple gunmen in the shooting incidents near the Canadian war memorial and nearby Parliament Hill.

A Canadian soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa early today (NZ time) and a gunman was shot dead in a nearby parliament building, media and witnesses reported. Buildings remained locked down.

At least 30 shots were fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital, starting around 10am local time (3am NZT).

Canadian media outlets are reporting the soldier was Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist serving in Hamilton from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment.

Officials have named the gunman shot dead as 32-year-old, Canadian-born, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Reuters has reported Mr Zehaf-Bibeau was was a Canadian convert to Islam, according to US officials. He is from Quebec and has criminal convictions for drug possession and parole violations.

Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attacks. 

Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a ”dynamic, unfolding situation.”

Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.

“Condolences to family of the soldier killed, and prayers for the Parliamentary guard wounded. Canada will not be terrorised or intimidated,” cabinet minister Jason Kenney said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a caucus meeting in parliament when gunfire erupted in the building, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun.

Harper was later safely removed from the building, and parliament was locked down.

Fantino said parliament’s head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), had shot a suspect dead.

“All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,” Fantino said. “He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased.”

The Sergeant-at-Arms should him dead personally! Wow. One always thinks of those roles of nominally being in charge of maintaining order – not active duty. He is being feted justifiably as a hero. Mr Vickers is 58 years old.

It is somewhat sickening that these attacks are spreading to countries like Canada and Australia, and being done by people born in those countries.

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Beheadings planned in Sydney!

September 18th, 2014 at 2:32 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

HORRIFIC details have emerged of a plot to behead an Australian and upload it to social media in a deliberate attack against the country.

While the claims remain unconfirmed, Channel Seven reports one the men charged in this morning’s raids in Sydney planned to kidnap a random Australian, execute them by beheading in a public place, possibly Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD, and film the act and post on social media.

Further reports have emerged terrorists planned to drape the victim in an Islamic State flag.

The man, charged for serious terrorism related offences, is due in a Sydney court later today.

Beyond appalling.  And how was this stopped:

The operation is understood to have been given the green light after months of surveillance of Australians believed to be linked to extremist terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

People may want to reflect on this. We’re not talking about the Middle East. We’re not talking New York. We’re not talking London. We’re talking Sydney.

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Bad terrorist – didn’t file his expense claims

May 30th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Who knew terrorists had to fill out expense reports?

According to a letter obtained by Associated Press, al Qaeda was beset by the kind of managerial problems that afflict companies around the world.

Al Qaeda chiefs required lower-level terrorists to attend meetings on time, return phone calls promptly, follow orders, fill out expense reports properly and not bitch about managers in public.

Who knew that even terrorist groups, had bureaucracies?

The 10-page letter lays out in embarrassing detail the problems al Qaeda chiefs were having managing a particularly difficult terrorist in the group’s North African division.

Moktar Belmoktar, an Algerian-born terrorist in his 40s, clashed with his superiors on numerous occasions, mostly over procedural matters.

I wonder if he obliged to file a strategic plan, listing the desired outcomes, his planned outputs and necessary inputs?

The letter criticises Belmoktar for accepting a less-than-impressive 700,000 euros in ransom for Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler in 2008, when the going rate was $US3 million.

He also broke union rules!

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The London attack

May 23rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

A cub scout leader confronted terrorists just seconds after they had beheaded a soldier asking them to hand over their weapons and warning them: “It is only you versus many people, you are going to lose.”

Well done Ingrid Loyau-Kennett.

Cub scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett selflessly engaged the terrorists in conversation and kept her nerve as one of them told her: “We want to start a war in London tonight.”

Mrs Loyau-Kennett, 48, from Cornwall, was one of the first people on the scene after the two Islamic extremists butchered a soldier in Woolwich, south east London.

She was photographed by onlookers confronting one of the attackers who was holding a bloodied knife.

Give her a medal.

“I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British soldier and I said really and he said ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan they have nothing to do there.”

It is worth recalling that the 9/11 attacks preceded the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it was not Afghanistan as their excuse, it would be something else.

In some ways having terrorists just jump out and stab someone to death is possibly more scary than bomb attacks. You can detect bombs, but there is little defence against an attacker with a knife – except a gun!

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Islamic Terrorism

April 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by a radical brand of Islam but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups, US officials said after interrogating and charging Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with crimes that could bring the death penalty.

Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room, where he was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during his attempted getaway. His older brother, Tamerlan, 26, died after a fierce gunbattle with police.

The Massachusetts college student was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was accused of joining with his brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.

The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the US for about a decade, practiced Islam.

Two US officials said preliminary evidence from the younger man’s interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religious extremism but were apparently not involved with Islamic terrorist organisations.

In one sense it is more concerning they were not dupes put up to it by a terrorist group, but decided to turn to terrorism based solely on their religious beliefs.

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims, and it goes without saying that the vast majority do not practice or support terrorism. Just mindlessly ranting against an entire religion achieves nothing.

And of course there have been terrorists motivated by other religions – Northern Ireland, for one.

But to my mind there is a difference with terrorism done by extreme Islamists. It is that religion seems to be the sole reason for the terrorism.

Most terrorism involves territorial disputes. Northern Ireland was part-religious but partly an fight over the partition or Ireland.

Terrorism in Kashmir is linked to control of disputed territory. Religion is part of it, but not all of it.

Other factors involved in why people turn to terrorism can be extreme poverty, lack of education etc.

But when it comes to terrorism involving relatively well off, well educated citizens, with no territorial dispute – the sole factor often is just their belief in an extreme version of Islam. And to be frank that is scary.

Tony Blair and the IRA managed to find a political settlement that has almost stopped terrorism in Northern Ireland. The same has happened in other areas.

But I’m at a loss to know how you stop people like the Tsarnaev brothers concluding that their God wants them to blow up children who are watching the Boston Marathon. When a religion doesn’t unambiguously condemn violence and killing, and many priests promote rewards in the afterlife for those who kill in God’s name – no wonder. When Iran’s mullahs hand out fatwas encourging people to kill the likes of Salman Rushdie, it is no surprise that you have others decide that killing people for their God is a good idea.

Christianity has it faults, and a chequered history. But the number of Christian priests who in modern times ever call for someone to be killed is almost zero – the odd lunatic excepted. But sadly in Islam, all too many religious and political leaders (and the two are linked) do preach violence in God’s name.

The solutions are not easy. Just condemning 1.6 billion Muslims for the sins of a few is not a solution – just prejudice. But neither is there merit in ignoring the problems and almost unique challenges of Islamic terrorism. The lack of a central authority in Islam, and the inability to modernise their teachings, makes change very challenging.

In the end the only practical long-term solution is to encourage moderate Muslim leaders, to speak out and condemn the extremists, and make clear that terrorism is evil and sinful – no matter what.

But I have to admit I am pessimistic. I don’t see an end to religious terrorism in my lifetime.

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Another terror plot

April 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

Canadian security forces have thwarted an al Qaeda plot to blow up a rail line between Canada and the United States, police and intelligence agencies say.

US security and law enforcement sources said the suspects had sought to attack the railroad between Toronto and New York City. Two men had been arrested after raids in Toronto and Montreal.

With this plot and the recent terrorism in Boston, it seems a very bad time to be arguing that there should be no capability to do intercept domestic communications in New Zealand. One professor was recently in print saying that this would make us a totalitarian state in a hysterical rant.

Of course any domestic spying must be strictly controlled and have rigorous oversight.  But those who argue New Zealand never has and never will have domestic threats are dangerously naive.

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The Boston killers

April 21st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing lay hospitalised under heavy guard as people across the area breathed easier and investigators tried to piece together the motive for the deadly plot.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, was reported in serious condition and unable to be interrogated the morning after he was pulled, wounded and bloody, from a boat parked in the backyard of a home in Watertown, Massachusetts. 

The capture came at the end of a tense day that began with his older brother, Tamerlan, dying in a desperate getaway attempt.

President Barack Obama said there are many unanswered questions about the Boston bombings, including whether the Tsarnaev brothers – ethnic Chechens from southern Russia who had been in the US for about a decade and lived in the Boston area – had help from others.

“When a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right,” Obama said. 

“That’s why we take care not to rush to judgment – not about the motivations of these individuals, certainly not about entire groups of people.”

However, Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau told CNN the early indications were that the brothers did act alone.

That appears to be the case. In fact it seems the (deceased) older brother probably put his younger brother up to it.

It is still a very distressing case. The two killers were relatively well integrated it seems, but the older brother appears to have become a radical Islamist. Hopefully we may learn from the surviving brother if there was a specific trigger that led to this.

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Boston Marathon explosions

April 16th, 2013 at 7:33 am by David Farrar

Fox News reports:

The Boston Marathon headquarters has been locked down after two explosions were reported near the finish line, a spokesman told Reuters.

Witnesses reportedly heard two booms near the finish line inside the Fairmount Copley Plaza Hotel that sounded like two claps of thunder. 

The Associated Press says there are reports of injuries. 

Unless this is a freak accident, this is a terrible criminal event – to target marathon runners. One can only assume they wnted to kill or injure as many people as possible.

There are first hand reports on Twitter of horrific injuries, legs blown off etc.

My prayers and thoughts are with the victims, and with the United States today.

UPDATE: Two or three dead so far. My emotions are torn between profound sadness and massive anger. What should have been a day of joy has become a day of tragedy. May those responsible be found and removed from civilisation.

UPDATE2: The NY Post is reporting 12 dead and 50 injured. Note no other media are reporting this many dead. Two dead and six critical is the latest on CNN.

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The extent of the extremism

September 24th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I think we often try to comfort ourselves that the “extreme” faction of Islam is just a few thousand uneducated poor and/or jobless Muslims. But the sad reality is that the extreme faction has wide-spread support from leaders down. They are definitely still a minority, and rejected by most Muslims, but they are not a trivial number.

We see this, in this story on NZ Herald:

A Pakistani official on Saturday placed a US$100,000 bounty on the head of the maker of an anti-Islam film that has sparked a wave of violence and anger, as Muslims mounted fresh protests worldwide.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour also called on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to join the hunt and help accomplish the “noble deed.”

Bilour spoke to reporters in the northwestern city of Peshawar a day after violent nationwide demonstrations against the “Innocence of Muslims” film left 21 people dead and more than 200 injured.

“I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000,” Bilour said, urging others to shower the killer with cash and gold.

“I also invite Taliban and Al-Qaeda brothers to be partners in this noble deed,” he added. “I also announce that if the government hands this person over to me, my heart says I will finish him with my own hands and then they can hang me.”

Even worse, neither his Government nor his party are taking any action against him. They are saying that his statement are personal views, not Government policy, so no need to do anything!

I think we are understanding how Osama managed to live in Pakistan for so long, undetected.

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Greens compare US to terrorists

May 3rd, 2011 at 8:31 am by David Farrar

Green co-leader Russel Norman tweeted:

Call me old fashioned but aren’t we different to terrorists because we don’t assassinate people and we adhere to rule of law?

As most of the world celebrates, the Greens demonise the United States.

Does Dr Norman think that the US should have knocked on the front door of the highly fortified compound, and asked bin Laden to come out and surrender? That would have probably resulted in a death toll of hundreds – and possibly lead to bin Laden escaping.

When will the Greens realse that heading up a terrorist army is not the same thing as being some thug who held up a dairy with a gun.

The US action was legal under US law. It was authorised, and bin Laden was a legitimate military target. Again, he was not some bank robber, but head of a global army of terrorists.

Also Dr Norman misses the key point of terrorists. Terrorists deliberately attack civilians and the more dead civilians the more sucessful they deem their attack to be. In military operations, the more dead civilians, the bigger the failure it has been.

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Don’t call the terrorists names

October 14th, 2010 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

John Key announced on Tuesday:

New Zealand has designated a further seven international terrorist groups under the Terrorism Suppression Act, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The entities are: Indian Mujahideen, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the military wing of Hamas (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), the Real Irish Republican Army, the Continuity Irish Republican Army, the New Peoples Army/Communist Party of the Philippines, and Hizbollah’s military wing (The Islamic Resistance).

“These designations help implement our international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, which is aimed at preventing the activities of terrorists,” says Mr Key.

“All seven of the entities have carried out various terrorist acts, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Sounds entirely sensible. I mean who could object to that? No-one right?

I spoke too soon.

Enter the Green Party:

One of my aims, as a Green MP, has been to get New Zealand to specialise in international peacemaking, using Norway as a model.

Norway has used its good offices, and specialist advisers, to sponsor peace talks in Sri Lanka, Sudan, the Middle East, and the Philippines.

It has been able to play this mediating role because it has not declared any of the parties to the talks as terrorist organisations. …

Yesterday John Key followed suit, putting these two organisations on New Zealand’s terrorist list.

He also put six other organisations on the list, including the military wings of Hamas and Hizbollah. This is plain silly, when surely the main task of countries like New Zealand is to encourage peace negotiations between Israel and the governments in Gaza (Hamas) and Lebanon (where the government includes Hizbollah ministers).

Official statement from the Green Party. They are against sanctions (which is what happens when you designate an organisation as a terrorist activity) against terrorists, because calling them terrorists hurts their feelings.

Yep, don’t block access to their bank accounts, don’t try and stop weapons being sold to them. Because you may offend them, by calling them terrorists.

According to Wikipedia the Indian Mujahideen in seven bombings have killed 203 people and injured a further 703. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has killed 211 and injured 605 in around 20 attacks. The Real IRA and Continuity IRA are the lunatics still planting bombs in Ireland and England. Keith commie friends in the Philippines want to replace a democratic state with a Maoist one party state.

It may have escaped Keith’s notice that these organisations are not that keen on peace.

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The Times Square Bomber

October 6th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Pakistani immigrant who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison by a judge who said she hopes he spends time behind bars thinking “carefully about whether the Quran wants you to kill lots of people.”

A defiant Faisal Shahzad smirked as he was given a mandatory life term that, under federal sentencing rules, will keep him behind bars until he dies.

“If I’m given 1,000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah,” he said at the start of a statement that lasted several minutes.

Worth reflecting that if he was in NZ, he would have only got a maximum 14 year sentence for attempted murder and be eligible for parole in five years.

Shahzad, a 31-year-old former budget analyst from Connecticut who was born in Pakistan, responded that the “Quran gives us the right to defend. And that’s all I’m doing.”

This is the scary thing. This was not some young impressionable teenager, or an unemployed school dropout with no future. He had a good education and good job, and then decided that his interpretation of his religion means he must kill people.

He added: “We do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have Sharia law and freedom.”

I guess the desire for Sharia law and its version of freedom is why there are so few female Islamist terrorists.

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Editorials 20 April 2010

April 20th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald supports proposed student loan changes:

Either way, it is clear that the Government, having declined to do away with interest-free student loans, must find ways to reduce the cost of the scheme.

t has to do this, first, because an alarming 41.5 per cent of the Government money placed in tertiary education goes directly to students as loans, allowances and interest subsidies. That is more than double the OECD average. Also, Mr Joyce, like other ministers, must find savings in his portfolio for this year’s Budget. This year he took a first step by proposing that student loans should be conditional on students’ success. That was reasonable, if only because it moved the loans into the same territory as living allowances to students on age, income and residential criteria, which are not available to those who failed more than half their course the previous year. In the same vein, new residents already have to wait two years for a student allowance or a welfare benefit. There seems no reason for student loans to be different, and good reason for them to be aligned. …

If any exception is to be made to the proposed stand-down period for student loans, it should be for refugees. Most, by dint of their status, arrive in this country with virtually nothing. The scheme provides those who wish to study with a degree of independence. Clearly, refugees are not comparable to the new residents who Mr Joyce suggests swoop on student loans as soon as they arrive, whether or not they are committed to their studies or to New Zealand. In effect, signing on for tertiary courses provides them with funding denied them by the two-year benefit stand-down.

I agree that the two year stand down for new migrants should exclude refugees. Refugees are admitted for humanitarian reasons, not economic reasons.

The Dom Post talks terrorism:

Hence, terrorist threats to Olympic and Commonwealth Games are not just an attack on the athletes, or host countries, but an attack on international fellowship – an attempt to stop nations and peoples co-operating and getting to know each other.

The reasons for the weekend bomb blast outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, venue for an Indian Premier League cricket match, are not yet known, but the amateurish nature of the devices that injured 17 people suggests it may have been the work of disaffected locals rather than al Qaeda, which early this year warned international competitors to stay away from the World Hockey Cup, the IPL tournament and the October Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

But, whatever the case, Commonwealth governments and sporting associations are doing the right thing by not being panicked.

And the ODT supports safer driving measures:

Something must be done about youth driving.

The statistics are oft-quoted but they bear repeating because they lie at the heart of the Government’s move, among other things, to raise the driving age to 16.

Take comparison with Australia: New Zealand drivers in the 15-19 age group suffer an average of 21 deaths a year for every 100,000 of population, compared with Australia’s rate of 13.

Further, young drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 in this country comprise 16% of all licensed drivers but in 2008 they were involved in around 37% of all fatal crashes and 38% of all serious injury crashes. …

Road crashes in fact are the highest single killer of 15- to 24-year-olds and the leading cause of their permanent injury.

Broadening out the international comparisons, 15- to 17-year-olds in New Zealand have the highest road death rate in the OECD and 18- to 20-year-olds the fourth highest.

The Government’s moves in the area of youth driving are widely supported as long overdue.

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Well I feel safer now!

February 11th, 2010 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand has for the first time designated four international terrorist groups which are not listed by the United Nations, Prime Minister John Key says. …

The groups are Somalia-based Al Shabaab, Spain’s Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, of Colombia.

I am sure the four groups are now in panic talks after having heard of the NZ Government’s action against them. They will probably announce their surrenders in due course.

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Muslims speaking out against terrorism

January 11th, 2010 at 1:17 pm by David Farrar

A nice initiative in Canada:

Twenty imams have issued a “fatwa” against any Muslim who would attempt to commit an act of terrorism in Canada or the United States.

Syed Soharwardy, an imam at the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre, who organized the initiative, said yesterday that any attack by foreign elements should also be considered a direct affront to the 10 million Muslims who call either Canada or the United States home.

“We want Muslims around the world who would dare to commit terrorism on our soil to know that we stand together with all Canadians and Americans.

Since the threats against Salman Rushdie several years ago, most people think of fatwas as death threats. But in fact, the imam notes, the vast majority of fatwas are condemnations or even non-binding directives that are meant to teach fellow Muslims the proper religious response to a given situation.

He said many Muslims he has spoken to say their lives have grown miserable and have suffered societal backlash because of the perceived association between violence and Islam.

But since 9/11, he added, it has become imperative for Muslims to vocally condemn violence — even though they have no personal responsibility for those acts.

Muslims who live in this country should also stop fighting the battles that they left behind when they came to live here, he added.

“We are Canadian now. This is where our energy should be directed.”

Again what refreshing common sense.

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The Press on terrorist detection

January 2nd, 2010 at 2:24 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial;

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s comment that the system had worked defied belief. Clearly President Barack Obama, for whom the botched attack has become a political liability, did not agree with her.

I think he needs a new Homeland Security Secretary. The only part of the system that worked was the courage of passengers in tackling the terrorist.

He declared that there had been a systemic failure in the US intelligence community. Given the ample warning signs about Abdulmutallab this was self-evident.

Abdulmutallab had previously lived in Yemen, a country known to have al Qaeda cells. He had paid cash for his ticket and boarded the aircraft carrying only hand luggage, which should have aroused suspicion. US intelligence authorities had intercepted messages referring to a possible attack by a Nigerian and received warnings of a terrorist attack on Christmas Day.

But most astonishing of all was that the terrorist’s father had visited the US embassy in Nigeria and spoken to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer to express concerns about his son.

This would be comical, if it was not true. I mean seriously – the guy’s dad actually pops into the US Embassy to tell the CIA that his son has joined Al Qaeda, and he is still allowed to fly. Millions of legitimate passengers are screened, delayed or refused, but the terrorist is given the all clear even after his father had dobbed him onto the CIA.

Maybe you could understand the CIA fuckup if the father had communicated by e-mail, for the father was Chairman of the Bank of Nigeria. So an e-mail starting “I cam the Chairman of the Bank of Nigeria and my son has a lot of money …” might hit the spam folder.

The incompetence of Government has no limits it seems. This is why it is so laughable that some loonies think the US Government secretly pulled off 9/11. Hell they can’t even do a no fly order for someone dobbed in by their dad, let alone pull of a giant global conspiracy.

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A first hand tale of the attempt to blow up NW253

December 29th, 2009 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

Over at the Huffington Post, Roey Rosenblith blogs a fascinating first hand account of what it was like on the flight that Al Qaeda tried to blow up.

Definitely read the whole thing to get soem idea of what it must have been like. I did enjoy his final paragraph:

In a few weeks my vacation is over. I’m going back to Uganda, to work with my Ugandan business partner Abu Musuuza, who by the way is a practicing Muslim (and I, by the way, am a seldom practicing Jew). With our American investors, Ryan Allis and Ron Boehm, our company Village Energy is going to provide light and power to as many people as we can get it to. And even though al Qaeda tried, I’ll be damned if they manage to stop me or anyone else on that flight from going out and achieving our life’s ambitions.

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