Saturday 10 September 2011

Ten Years Later: The Other Victims of 11/9

Statutory warning: This article is a statement of my views, and while it is not meant to offend anyone in particular, its subject matter is contentious and may cause distress, anger or recriminations amongst certain readers. As always, I am in no way responsible for any fights, disagreements, or fallings-out caused by any discussion on this article. Thank you.

Ten years ago, as we all know, four planes were (according to the official narrative, to which we will adhere for the purposes of this article) hijacked by nineteen young mostly Saudi Arabian men wielding knives and “box-cutters” (an implement which I confess I’d never heard of before this incident), in order to be used as kamikaze guided missiles. These men were mostly based in Germany and the US, where some of them trained as pilots, and were led by one Mohammad Atta.

(Let me repeat that for the purposes of this article I will stick to the official story, which I do not necessarily accept. I will just note that there are, shall we say, problems and contradictions that leave some room for doubt.)

One aeroplane crashed into a field, possibly due to actions taken by the passengers on board. One slammed into the military centre of the Empire, the Pentagon. And the remaining two rammed the two boxlike towers of the World Trade Centre, demolishing both, as well as (very mysteriously) another third building a block away. Overall, just under three thousand people (2977 victims and 19 perpetrators) of various nationalities were killed.

This terrorist attack was allegedly, as the ultra-right wing rag India Today declared (not all that long before demanding that India join in the occupation of Iraq), a Jihad Against The World (see? I even remember the headline!) Anyway, the details of that little episode are too well known to dwell on at length, so I won’t. I’m not even going to describe in excruciating detail where I was and what I was doing at the moment I got to know of the planes hitting the WTC towers, and what my emotions were afterwards, something which seems to be de rigueur for this kind of exercise. I’ll spare you all that, not the least because there have been other things before and afterwards that have affected me more.

This being the tenth anniversary, there is going to be a lot of stock-taking, discussion and palaver on the wherefores and earth-shaking repercussions of that episode. I’m OK with something being discussed on a tenth anniversary – normally, it should provide enough distance in time for something to be analysed as history and not a raw wound (though a nation which is incapable of comprehending the metric system should surely place more stress on the twelfth anniversary, or the hundred and forty-fourth, shouldn’t it? Sorry, couldn’t resist that snark). However, in this case, it seems that the discussion is still all about the thing that happened ten years ago, and not the reasons for it or the results of it.

The causes, really, aren’t that far to seek. They aren’t difficult to find out because the alleged perpetrators themselves made no effort to hide them, going to great lengths to explain their position – and it really doesn’t need much thought to intuit those causes anyway. They can be expressed in one single word: blowback.

Blowback for the fervent and unconditional support to the zionazi pseudostate in Occupied Palestine, blowback for propping up venal dictators in Muslim countries, blowback for treating Muslims like dirt; blowback for every slight, real or imagined (and imagined slights are perfectly real to those doing the imagining), the Muslim world has had to suffer at the hands of the West since the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Payback, as someone said, is a bitch.

Since the root cause can be expressed in one single word, I won’t go on about it much longer. As it is, a fair amount of discussion will dwell on it, so let’s move on to what’s left, pausing just long enough to mention that there’s more than a little likelihood that a certain nation was well aware that the attack was about to happen but made no attempt whatsoever to inform its putative ally, the victim[1].

So in this, my annual 11/9 blog article, something that has become a bit of an annual ritual over the last few years, and which has pissed off its fair share of people, I’ll focus on the consequences, and more especially, on the victims. And since there are enough people to talk about the consequences to the nation at the receiving end of those attacks, I’ll just make two observations about it and then move on to the main thrust of my article.

The first observation is, of course, that if we assume that Osama bin Laden was the actual author of the attacks (despite the fact that nation after nation has been devastated in the name of destroying his group, he was never charged with them) – if we assume that, then there’s no denying the logical conclusion. That conclusion is that Osama bin Laden has won. Even if he was actually killed by a SEAL team in Pakistan, as advertised, and despite all the holes in that story, he has won. Even if he died of kidney failure ten years ago, he has won. There’s no escaping that.


If we accept the idea (as stated by George W Bush and repeated ad nauseam by many, many people) that the 11/9 attacks happened because “they” hate “our” freedoms, then having forced “us” (you know what I mean by “us” in this case) to abandon those freedoms means “they” have won. With colour-coded terror alerts (remember them?), virtual strip-searches at airports, and allied tokenism of the Security State, not to speak of phone tapping, etc, what “freedoms” are there to hate? Not much, it seems to me![2]

Even if we do not accept the “they hate our freedoms” hypothesis, the alternative, that Osama bin Laden meant to entangle the Empire in a ruinous war without end, still means he won. As he himself said[3]:

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written ‘al-Qaeda’, in order to make generals race there and to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations."

It’s as though Osama bin Laden tapped on the outside of a plate glass window with a knife, and the Empire promptly dived headfirst at him through that plate glass window, handily slicing open its own throat. 

Either way, Al Qaeda has won. Even as it survives only as a chain of decentralised franchises, as an idea and not as a united organisation, it has won.

The second observation is about the victims of the original attack. Of those 2977 people, those who died aboard the planes and in the World Trade Centres were undoubtedly innocent (not so the Pentagon people, because they were part of the cause of the attacks in the first place, and because that was a legitimate military target according to the rules the Pentagon – which claims that a TV station is a legitimate military target – itself set). Yes, it was a tragedy that they died, but it’s been ten years, and normally that’s enough of a mourning period for most people. Keeping on scraping the wound raw, claiming the world “changed” (how did it? Was terrorism invented on that day when the chickens of the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad came home to roost?) and making their deaths an excuse for Operation Endless War is an insult. It’s an insult to them, it’s an insult to logic, and it’s an insult to common humanity – including their families.

Let me explain what I mean. Suppose your girlfriend has been brutally raped and murdered by a person who’s a worshipper of the Great God Zog. And then suppose your local government puts together a posse to hunt down and kill all worshippers of the Great God Zog, even those who patently had nothing to do with the crime. Suppose years have passed, and you want to move on with your life, but you are constantly reminded of your loss, and you are being constantly sickened by the crimes being committed as an alleged revenge for that loss. How would you feel? Not too happy, I’ll warrant.

I don’t think the families of the 11/9 victims, who were certainly not all Americans, are all that happy.

And, in any case, they weren’t the only victims. Far from it.

So here I go talking about the other victims of 11/9; the victims nobody wants to talk about. There are so many of them – all over the world, killed, wounded, dispossessed, imprisoned, all in the name of “fighting terror”. I can scarcely begin enumerating them, so let me focus on the one nation that was the first affected by the “revenge for nine-eleven” frenzy: Afghanistan. And, because the Afghan tragedy is hardly comprehensible in its awfulness, let’s just tell the tale of a quasi-fictional Taliban warrior, one of those Pashtun tribesmen who have fought the Empire to a standstill, and try and think of just why he does it.

We have to give him a name, so let’s call him Hanifullah. He’s young, in his late teens to early twenties, at the age when he’s at his physical peak, the age when he should probably be a farmer or student and perhaps beginning a family. Instead, he’s a hardened warrior, ready and willing to take life and give his own. Why?

Let’s get the Big One out of the way first: he’s not doing it because he sympathises with the 11/9 hijackers. In fact, it’s virtually certain that he has never even heard of the 11/9 attacks – 92% of the young men of his age-group in Afghanistan haven’t[4].

For a moment, set aside your prejudices, and imagine that you’re Hanifullah.

You were born, let’s say, in the early nineties, just after the Communist government of Dr Najibullah was finally overthrown by CIA-paid mujahideen who promptly began blasting one another to pieces as they fought for power. Your early years would have been a fairly nightmarish experience, without functioning schools or hospitals or basic facilities. Your father’s farm would have been raided by the local warlord, your ten-year-old sister perhaps abducted, raped, and forcibly married to one of the so-called “freedom fighters”. If your father had wanted to take his farm’s produce to the local market, he’d have to pay toll at so many roadblocks manned by different warlord groups that he might as well let the harvest rot in the field. And so on.

Then one day, when you’re about five years old, suddenly there is this black-turbaned force of bearded young insurgents who drive away the warlords, smash down the roadblocks, and establish some kind of security. Not great security, just the kind that comes out of the barrel of a gun, but still, security. Maybe the new rulers force your mother and sister into shuttlecock burqas, but at least they don’t have to fear being gang-raped if they go out to draw water from the well. And you, well, you still probably don’t have a school, but there aren’t shells falling on your head while contending warlords squabble over portfolios.

What does your father think about this? And the other people of his age group? While women in the cities are virtually imprisoned at home, what do they (living in the villages, where most of your people live) think? Here’s what:

They are not particularly for example interested that what they see as a miniscule minority of women in Kabul or the other cities may no longer go to university. They are very interested in their daughter getting through adolescence without being raped by some western-supported warlord’s levies.[5]

And then there comes another nation, out of nowhere, for reasons utterly incomprehensible to your ten-year-old brain. They drop immense bombs from high-flying aeroplanes on your village, and claim that it is “a significant emotional event” to anyone in the vicinity. The warlords return, and set up their own private fiefs and their own private armies. And before you know it, things are just as bad as before.

What does your father do? He keeps his head down, tries to survive, but just keeping his head down is no longer enough.

First, someone comes along and claims part of your father’s farm. This someone has money, your dad doesn’t, so he can’t bribe the new courts for a judgement. Therefore, he has to lose half his farm and think he’s lucky not to have lost it all. Then, the local warlord demands that he grow poppies to produce opium. Then, just when he’s done that, the occupying forces come along and destroy that opium. To top it all, they break down your door in the middle of the night, slap your dad around, scream in an incomprehensible language at everyone while basically ripping apart your house looking for who knows what, and then (if you’re lucky) depart without killing or arresting anybody. On their way out, they shoot your dog and then fire a rocket through your neighbour’s house. And maybe they repeated what they did in Iraq, kill entire families and cover it up with air strikes[6], or kill someone for fun and remove his fingers as a trophy[7]. Or bomb families from drones piloted from halfway round the world [8], just as they might murder boys your age from helicopters – boys gathering wood – and call them terrorists[9].

All of this while you’re an adolescent.

Now tell me – would this not have an effect on you? If this were a Hollywood movie, with the enemy a foreign occupier, what would your father – or you – be expected to do?

The answer’s simple; pick up the gun, that’s what. 

And since your entire nation is awash with guns due to a civil war stoked by the same people occupying your land, guns are simple to come by. In fact, given the actual situation, it’s hard to see what you could do except pick up the gun. Democratic elections that are a joke? Justice that’s up for sale to the highest bidder? Give me a break.

Also, after living your entire life with war around you, except for a magic period of relative tranquillity under a regime where you at least had some measure of peace and security, on whose side would you be? On the side of the urban elite, who have access to the slush money the occupiers throw about? On the side of the people who buy everything, including justice? Or on the side of villagers like yourself, who have vowed to throw out the occupation and what you see as its collaborationist traitor cabal? Which?

And if that makes you a Talib, that’s a price you might think worth the paying.

Imagine an entire nation of Hanifullahs. None of them has heard of 11/9. None of them cares either way about Al Qaeda or anything of the sort. They have much more pressing problems, the foremost being the need to survive, and to throw off the incredibly corrupt government[10] the foreign occupiers have imposed on them, backed by an equally corrupt police and army. And with a cultural ethos of resistance against foreign occupation, why would they ever quit fighting?

Answer: it’s their nation, and they won’t.

But, like human beings everywhere, even Hanifullah and his brethren have hopes and dreams, and would like nothing better than to be left alone to follow those hopes and dreams. Having them destroyed in the name of preventing a repetition of an episode that none of them has ever heard of isn’t reasonable to him. And since his entire nation has been destroyed – and continues to be destroyed, on a daily basis – he will continue to fight, and his children will continue to fight after him.

And now imagine a world of Hanifullahs – people from nations which had nothing to do with 11/9, at all, but which have borne the brunt of the “reaction” to it. Iraqis, Palestinians, Yemenis, Pakistanis, Somalis, Libyans, and so on and on and on. Why would any of them retain any sympathy at all for the direct victims of 11/9, always assuming they even knew of them in the first place? In their place, would you?

Even the Hanifullahs aren’t the only victims. The Bradley Mannings[11] of the world are victims. The people in whose name these wars are being fought are victims, including those who have been brainwashed into supporting lies and military expeditions in the name of freedom. The prisoners of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib are victims. The soldiers who have been hoodwinked into giving life and limb and morality to the war machine are victims. The people who have had to lose their freedom of speech, or have given it up out of fear, are victims.  

Just after the 11/9 attacks, a German magazine said “We are all Americans.” Today, as a result of the response to those attacks, not only are we not all Americans, not even the majority of Americans are “Americans”. Not in the sense the magazine meant.

One way or another, we are all victims. One way or other, we are all Hanifullahs instead.


Further reading:

Friday 9 September 2011

The Grime Of The Terror Warriorist

It is a wild-eyed terrorist gang
They boardeth planes by four and three.
“I am off to fly to hell,” they quoth
“And who flieth now with me?”

The planes fly off to slam into buildings;
And murder most within:
In flame and smoke the cry is raised
In screams and pain and din.

He ordered the invasion of Afghanistan,
"Far across the sea," quoth he.
"There is an evildoer sitting in
An evildoin’ country.

“Bombs will fall and the tanks will roll
The B52s will do their thing
And in Kabul will sit quite soon
An anointed newfound king. “

The Karzai sat on his throne:
As his country went to hell;
But he said nothing, for he was
Under UNOCAL’s magic spell.

Meanwhile the Ship of War,
Set sail with guns loaded up
As the Captain sipped his booze
From a fancy Spode teacup.

One war was just not enough
His advisers told him well
This was the chance to send old enemies
To rot and stink up hell.

Closer and closer, every day
Iraq to be blown up soon
Those idiots who ask for peace
Are wishing for the moon.

They did for Saddam in three short weeks
The WMDs could not be found
But the focus now on was
The oil beneath the ground.

Meanwhile the dead-ender terrorist scum
Right fearsome to behold
Came swarming out to shoot and scoot
And our hero began to scold.

“Bring them on,” the Leader said
From far behind the lines quoth he
“Even if we have to massacre everyone
We’ll make Iraq free.

“ Free for Halliburton, of course I meant
For Blackwater and all the rest
You’d better obey your Uncle Sam
‘Cause he always knows what’s best.”

The War At Home raged on hard
With wiretap and colour code
For you know the terrorist
May live right in your abode.

Why, the wild-eyed terror freak
May be your husband, son
In the Holy War on Terror
You just can’t trust anyone.

Terrorists here, and terrorists there
And terrorists all around
Expect a terrorist in every shadow
Behind every unknown sound.

Secret prisons in every land
Rendition flights fast flew
Jack Bauer the trainer-in-chief
Of the brave righteous crew.

And now the back-blast came, and it
Was horrible and fierce
It swept up the War on Terror
Right out of this Universe.

With Afghanistan once again
Become a warlord land
Poppies grew in every field and hollow
Opium enough to beat the band.

The Taliban came swarming back
As liberators back they came
The victory won for natural gas
Was now a brand new game.

Meanwhile Iraq in civil war
Right swiftly fell to rust
Ethnic cleansing and foreign troops
Turned the nation to ruin and dust

Now in place of victory, defeat
It was all powerful strange
Like the targets shooting back
On the firing range.

The economy began to fall
A strange and terrible sight
And in the marrow of the beast
All the great men took fright.

Meanwhile up came a hero
A General proud was he
Said he would surge the wars
To certain victory.

And too up came a Man of Peace
A messiah to the deck
Said he would salvage some kind of honour
From the whole misbegotten wreck.

So when a chance of peace
It seemed that they could see
They turned the ship the other way
Towards the Manifest Destiny.

The ship of war came sailing
Into a harbour on the flood
Swamped by death and terror
By waves of hate and blood.

Pile war on war and bomb on bomb
You’re maybe, perhaps, sure to win
Or at least you’ll end it all
With what the French call


Thursday 8 September 2011

"Let The Market Decide"

On a contact’s Multiply page, there is a discussion going on over whether a certain news network named after a vulpine animal should be banned. There, a certain creature of known ultra-right and highly racist views, which has chosen of its own volition to call itself after an intestinal parasite of platyhelminthic origin, said – among other things including an attack on “liberal cesspools” (rich coming from a creature which lives of its own volition in a stream of liquid intestinal faeces) – that

let the market decide. not some stupid petition.
silencing a media outlet is not something that exists in my america.

Obviously, this being a right-wing flatworm without a brain, one can’t expect logical argument or knowledge from it, and I’ll just point out in passing about how Al Jazeera had been blocked for years until it became suddenly politically convenient to unblock it (when it began attacking the Empire’s enemy de jour, Gaddafi, and now Assad). I’ll also point out that Al Jazeera’s journalists seemed to have a most distressing tendency to be “accidentally” bombed and shelled to death by the Empire’s forces, and that Serbian and Libyan TV stations were quite deliberately targeted to silence them. Of course, the intestinal parasite was technically right – those media outlets weren’t in what is officially American territory, its or anyone else’s. So, for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll let that pass.

Before I go on further, I’ll just talk about my views about the petition the parasite referred to. It seeks to ban Fox News and is here if anyone is interested. Personally, I wouldn’t sign it; not because I like Fox News (I never watch TV, let alone American news programmes, anyway) but because while it’s extremely nasty (remember the cheering for war against Iraq?), it’s a known outlet for right-wingnut poison, and therefore acts as a safety valve cum window into wingnut mentality. If one bans it, the wingnuts will either set up another or take over less right-wing networks like CNN.

(While I’m on the subject, I don’t like CNN either, which is just a better-disguised propaganda device and war cheerleader. I don’t like the BBC. I don’t like any – that’s any – news network, be it print or media, anywhere in the world. They all, without exception, have agendas which are dictated by money supply and political control. I depend on a cross-section of the net for my news and analyses. Most net content is free, and while it can be ideologically slanted, at least it’s not usually completely mercenary. And one can easily seek opposing viewpoints if one chooses.)   

No, the thing I want to talk about is this “let the market decide.” I’ve been hearing this kind of drivel for a long time now, and it’s time to call it. So:

First thing: news, per se, is not a consumer product. It should not be a consumer product. TRPs and ad revenues shouldn’t determine what’s fit to show or print. If the “market” (more on that in a moment) decides news, we might as well forget anything that has anything to do with reality and start producing pure fantasy to satisfy what the “market” wants. If the “market” wants UFOs, the news agencies might as well begin producing fake tales of UFOs. If the “market” seems to want a war, it might as well be all right for news agencies to promote the idea of a war. Remember the film Wag The Dog?

Those of us with a certain memory of fairly recent history (or those of us who have watched Sometimes In April or Hotel Rwanda) will remember the Rwandan Hutu radio station RTLM whose broadcasts urged Hutu people to wipe out the “cockroaches” (Tutsis) and told them where the “cockroaches” were hiding. Obviously, the “market” demanded a chauvinistic, violent media source to fuel ethnic hatred and orchestrate the massacre. Therefore, was it all right for RTLM to supply the market demand? According to the “let the market decide” school of thought, it should have been, and its broadcasters should be called economic geniuses and not war criminals.    

In India, we have had recent suggestions that magazines and newspapers stop publishing negative news and start focussing on good news instead. The inference is clear of course, that this is to protect the political and capitalist paymasters of the people making the suggestions – people at risk from the current anti-corruption and anti-capitalist feeling in the country. At the same time, news in this country is pretty much up for sale to the highest bidder anyway. There have been commissions on the issue; their reports have been quickly buried, never to be heard of again. News-as-a-consumer-product is just too lucrative to be abandoned.

But just because it’s lucrative, just because it’s commonly done, doesn’t make it right. Slavery was once both a money-spinner and legal. That didn’t make it right.

Secondly, if the “market” deciding means that the tastes of consumers with the highest purchasing power decide what the others are stuck with, that’s completely opposed to the democracy the proponents of the “market” typically declare they are for. Obviously, capitalism isn’t democratic – it’s directly opposed to democracy – but it would be completely egregious if money equalled power, as it does in capitalistic corporations where one man with a million and one shares can outvote a thousand with a thousand shares each. On the other hand, if the “market” means the tastes of the majority should rule the day, then a petition is a perfectly legitimate way of expressing the tastes of the majority, as long as it gets the support of that majority. There’s nothing wrong in a petition changing the position of the “market”, by the very rules of the “market”.
The third question is, does the market actually decide? What the hell is the “market” anyway? Certainly, it’s not the open exchange of goods and services. If that were the case, you’d have had a laissez faire system with zero regulation, where prices, quality, and terms and conditions were all up to the individual manufacturer or seller, where there was no such thing as consumer rights or protection, and where any larger concern could undercut your prices, put you out of business, and ultimately establish a total monopoly. The very fact that there are regulatory authorities to prevent this kind of thing from happening – and that a terrific amount of political effort goes into manipulating these regulations and regulatory bodies – means that the market, in reality, decides nothing. People do.

Therefore, anti-hate speech laws, libel laws, and the other things that go to make up the framework of media regulations and ethics (even if observed more in the breach), are directly opposed to the demands of the “market”. They are specifically designed to ensure that the “market” (including the stock market) doesn’t rule what can or should be in the media. The fact that they aren’t effective in that does not change the basic premise. As a logical extension, saying “the market should decide” is absurd.

It’s not just that it shouldn’t. It can’t.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

This Man Exemplifies Everything Wrong With the War Of Terror

So Tyranny has been defeated, once again, in Libya, and the evil dictator is on the run. The good guys have won – once again.

Or have they?

Well, Moammar Gaddafi has not only not been caught, enough of his people seem to have stuck with him to remain the nucleus of a liberation terrorist rebel army, and more than several parts of the country have stuck with him (how many times have the Glorious Liberators taken Bani Walid in the last few days, exactly? How often have they been vowing annihilation of Sirte unless it surrenders, while NATO is enthusiastically bombarding the civilians of that town? And what about the third, predominantly black, part of Libya, Fezzan? Who controls that? Why isn’t anyone talking about it? What with all those black corpses in Tripoli hospitals shot by the Glorious Liberators, I kind of doubt black Libyans will be too enthusiastic about liberation from Gaddafi tyranny.) But I digress.   

What I want to talk about is someone called Abdelhakim Belhadj, and why his story is such a perfect example of the utter immorality of the War Of On Terror in general.

Who is Abdelhakim Belhadj, anyway?

Remember that Tripoli has a new government now – sort of? Well, actually, it’s got two sets of people running it. One’s the so-called Transitional National Council, an amalgam of Western-backed “revolutionary heroes” and Gaddafi men who jumped ship and went over, many at the last possible moment. The other lot? Well, it’s Abdelhakim Belhadj.

I think it’s time we learned a bit more about him. You know, because - as I'm about to discuss - he's going to be very well known soon enough.

Also known as Abu Abdullah Assadaq, Abdel-Hakim al Hasidi, Abdel Hakim al-Hasadi and Abdel Hakim al-Hasady, he was born in Tripoli in 1966 and became an engineer before turning to jihad in an attempt to overthrow the secular regime of Colonel Gaddafi. He moved on to Afghanistan in 1988 to participate in the anti-Soviet jihad (paid for and organised by the CIA, of course, as we all know), and met, among others, that great freedom fighter (as he was then, before turning overnight into the World’s Most Evil Man), Osama bin Laden.

After the mujahideen took Kabul and promptly began a full scale civil war against each other, Belhadj returned to Libya in 1990 and set up an organisation called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – which, incidentally, was banned as a terrorist organisation after the 11/9 attacks. This Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (based in Benghazi, the Freedom-Loving Capital of Free Libya, in case you forgot) carried out an anti-Gaddafi rebellion, including three attempts to kill the man (at least one of which was paid for by MI6) in the mid-nineties. By 1996, Gaddafi’s forces had essentially destroyed the LIFG, and Belhadj returned to Afghanistan, where the Taliban had captured Kabul and castrated and hanged the former president, Najibullah, and his brother, to the total and absolute lack of condemnation from the United States of America. There he met Mullah Omar, and set up two training camps, one of which was headed by one of Al Qaeda’s current top ideologues, a Libyan named Abu Yahya. Also, many of his LIFG men joined Al Qaeda with alacrity, and he had no problems with that.

By this time, obviously, he’d graduated to being an enemy of the Empire, and after the invasion of 2001 he left Afghanistan and was finally arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2004 after the CIA and MI6 (his old paymasters, both) tracked him down. They didn’t send him to Guantanamo Bay – they first sent him to a secret CIA prison in Thailand and then turned him over to Gaddafi (who back in the mid-2000s was best buddies of the same people who suddenly discovered earlier this year that he was Evil Incarnate).[source]

According to Belhadj, he was tortured during the seven years he spent in Tripoli’s Abu Selim prison, where he went “three years without a shower and one without seeing the sun.” [source] Then, after he’d allegedly “moderated” himself, he was released from prison last year, at the instance of, of all people, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (the Monster Number Two, if you haven’t forgotten). This made Belhadj so grateful that he spoke on an unreleased Al Jazeera interview in March thanking Saif Gaddafi – the same man he was trying his hardest to hunt down and kill when Tripoli fell. (Don’t expect Al Jazeera to be too eager to publicise that film just yet; that channel has sold out long ago to Qatar, the same Qatar which provided most of the rebels’ new weaponry.)

When the uprising (I won’t call it a rebellion or revolution, because those are emotionally charged words) against Gaddafi began, Belhadj jumped on the bandwagon, with his own ex-LIFG fighters (now called the Islamic Movement of Change) and other jihadists. Soon enough, he launched his own little coup d’├ętat, having the only secular military leader the rebels had – Abdel-Fattah Younis – murdered, leaving him the only possible choice as military commander of the rebels. And that’s his position today.

Oh, and he’s the military commander of Tripoli as well.

It goes as I predicted – the “rebel” movement is cracking up before the anti-Gaddafi war is even done. The Transitional National Council, the NATO-backed puppet regime populated with “democracy-loving revolutionaries” and defectors from the Gaddafi regime, has no legitimacy amongst the Islamist militia groups which did the actual fighting.

Ismail Sallabi, head of the Benghazi military council, called on the NTC to resign, castigating its members as "remnants of the Gaddafi era" and "as a bunch of liberals with no following in Libyan society". [source]

Somehow, I have trouble believing that these people, who have been fighting for an Islamic Emirate in Libya and Article One of whose draft constitution declares that Sharia will be the basis for law in the new Libya, will care all that much for a democracy where they might have to surrender all the real power that is now within their grasp. 

This is not the face of a democracy-lover

Nor do I think that the TNC will want a real democracy, somehow, one which might throw up a government which might decide the revenues from Libyan oil should benefit Libyans and not enrich foreign neocolonial vultures.

Democracy in Libya, obviously, isn’t going to happen. There will be a lot of fighting, however, over the shape of the non-democratic regime to come.

Obviously, Belhadj himself has no great love for the British and Americans who were his former paymasters, but who shopped him to Gaddafi with great alacrity when the time came. Documents left behind by Moussa Koussa, who was Gaddafi’s spy chief before defecting to Britain early in the rebellion, clearly prove Britain’s role in handing over Belhadj – who has now demanded an apology. Working on the belief that a colonial empire (even if only in its name, “Great” Britain) hates to apologise, I doubt Belhadj’s demands will be met any time soon. Also, working on the belief that an Islamic regime in Libya is liable to be more anti-Western than a puppet regime of imported “revolutionaries” and ex-Gaddafi collaborators, the West will stick its nose in. And once the people of Libya discover that they’re going to have to either sacrifice any social liberalism or become economic slaves to foreign capital (the more likely situation, backed up by a foreign occupation force), they’re going to revolt – again.

And soon enough, Gaddafi will evoke nostalgia, fond memories, and wistful sighs for how good things were.

Let’s see all the ways, then, in which Belhadj represents every single thing wrong with the War Of Terror:

1.     He’s a jihadist who was built up, trained and financed by the Empire without concern for the long-term circumstances.

2.     He was paid by a Western democracy’s intelligence service (MI6) to murder a foreign leader, allegedly without the knowledge of the British foreign minister. What do you call an intelligence service which acts independently of the democratically elected government? A secret police? A private murder force?

3.     Like so many jihadists, when his purpose had been served, he was shopped to his enemies. Something he should have expected, seeing that another name for Britain is Perfidious Albion.

4.     When he became useful again, he was picked off the ground, dusted down, and morphed into a “freedom fighter” once more. Does anyone really believe that he, and the other jihadists who spent the last years fighting the Empire in Iraq and Afghanistan before turning their guns on that secular despot Gaddafi, will suddenly let go of their radical ideology and their anti-Western attitudes and turn into model democrats? No?

5.     Talking about that secular despot Gaddafi, once again, as in Iraq, Afghanistan (in the eighties), and now in Syria, the Empire is eager to overthrow secular Arab regimes to replace them with Islamic fundamentalists without a thought for the consequences (unless said consequences be laying the groundwork for a full-scale occupation). This is not brilliant long term planning.

 I suspect very strongly that when the civil war between the “freedom-lovers” starts in earnest (not very long now, but the initial shots will be blamed on Gaddafi loyalists until it can no longer be hidden – remember the “Saddam dead-enders” in Iraq?) Belhadj will once again morph into an Evil Enemy. Since most people seem to have the attention spans of decapitated cockroaches these days, it won’t even occur to them that he was a tool of the Empire – not once, but over and over again. Like, oh, Osama bin Laden, for instance.

Libya’s interesting times have just begun.

Monday 5 September 2011

The Crime Of The Serial Killer

It is an evil-eyed serial killer
He abducts one of three
“By thy hockey mask and bloodstained cleaver
Why kidnappest thou me?

“The camp-site rings with shouts and laughter
My teenage friends all within
Whooping it up with bonfire, beer
Drugs and sex and sin.”

He scolds her with his evil tongue
“There was a victim,” said he
“A juicy morsel, ye well may guess
Sky high on Ecstasy.”

He ties her with a bungee cord
Gags her to make her still
Then sits down to talk and talk
Until he’s had his fill.

The girl lay unable to move
To groan or shut her ear
And so spoke on the serial killer
That modern buccaneer.

“The victim cute, slim as a flute
Blonde hair just like a mop
Limbs thin as sticks, and on her cheeks
Of freckles she had quite a crop.

“The victim threw a wicked screw
No virgin, then, was she –
So sealed her fate by all the Laws
Of B-Movie Industry.

“Tempting fate like all good-time girls’
Snorting cocaine by the spoon –“
The gagged girl tried screaming hard
For help against this goon.

Her teenage friends sit round the fire
Guzzling beer and smoking dope –
While she lies gagged with a dirty sock
And tied with bungee rope.

The gagged girl she tried to scream
Could scarce manage a moan
The serial killer talked on and on
While whittling on a bone.

“I caught her and took her home
Tied her with clothesline strong
To the chair before the TV
And made her watch King Kong.

“While Kong ran hard, through the town
With one hand slapped copters down
In the mirror I practised my frown
Slapped peanut butter on bread
‘Tis hungry work, this kind of quirk
I have inside my head.

“By the time the film was done
She slopped with sweat and fear
She’d come off her cocaine high
And peed out all that beer.

“I decided to teach her the
Difference between right and wrong
And since I am a music lover
I told her that in song.

“And my voice trilled in my basement
As hers whined in a keen
We must have made quite a duet
Sharp and wild, lean and mean.

“I sung of this, I sung of that
While I walked all around
While she moaned, blubbered, howled
Or made not a sound.

“With dental floss, a little moss
The aid of a Bunsen flame
I forced her to take part in
A harmless little game.

“I fed her bread with peanut butter
Some of my famous stew
Of rotting cheese and garlic sauce
Onions and jackfruit too.

“But she whined, and said it stank
My example she wouldn’t follow –
I realised my teachings had
Been wasted on a head all hollow.

“She whined by day, she whined by night
She drove me to despair
Till I dragged out by the roots
Clumps of my thinning hair.”

“Umph humph umph, serial killer
Your dirty sock’s gone bust
Of all the gags you could have used
This must have been the worst.”

“Shut your mouth, you captive wench
And listen to my rants
Or I’m going to gag you again
With my dirty underpants.

“Meanwhile up rose the Great Detective
From his hotel bed rose he
Stretched his limbs, brushed his teeth
And walked down to the sea.

“And he lolled there on the beach
Half-naked girls to ogle
Watched them jump and laugh and play
Till his mind began to boggle.

“Then came a call from the Police Chief
It was a tale of woe –
The air grew chiller, with talk of a killer
Who caused the blood to flow.
A freak insane, and the police brain
Helpless watched the blood just flow.

“Not scared nor bowed, ‘fore Death’s own shroud
The Great Detective kissed
Goodbye to the beach, made a farewell speech
Told the girls they would be missed.
‘Duty calls,’ said he, ‘it calls to me
You ladies will be missed.’

“Seeking a clue, he hunted through
The victims’ bedrooms three
And fluent cursed, a headache nursed
For no clue led to me.

“Down dropped the dead, the blood flowed down
The gutters red as red can be
And my prey quivered at the thought
Of their inevitable destiny.

“While the Great Detective hunted, I
Slept away the hot dry noon
And stalked the evening, dressed to kill
Baying at the moon.

“Day after day, and day after day
That victim whined at me
Whine nag whine, till in a while
I wished I could set her free.

“Bloodlust, bloodlust everywhere
My eyes began to blink
Bloodlust, bloodlust, everywhere
So many heads to shrink.

“Those dead lips did grin and mouth
Words obscene as could be!
Those slimy guts did bleed all red
All over my territory.

“All about, politicians stout
Fat with stolen food and wine
Declared that the lives of millions
Depended on ending mine.

“A little scream brought cops all running
It was such fun to see
Them gather and sweat, and look all wet
I scarce could hide my glee.

“The Great Detective too followed hard
Came crawling on my trail
With deerstalker, pipe, magnifying glass
He swore he would not fail.

“Meanwhile, hey! Each and every day
What whining I had to bear
In my basement, through my casement
Till I had no hair to tear.

“Each day I blustered, threatened, yelled
Sometimes had to strike a blow –
But weary day by weary day
My nerves were worn all low
When looking out I beheld
Someone hiding in the hedgerow.

“At first it seemed a deerstalker
Someone had left lying there
But then it moved; I saw below
A hank of greasy hair.

“It was of course the Great Detective
I knew from what I’d seen
He’d found and tracked me down
With his bloodhound sense so keen.

“I went out, I walked around
The house from the back
(Stopping a moment to watch a girl
Well, she had quite a rack.)

“I went up behind the Great Detective
Gently tapped him on the head
Imagine my surprise when the Great Detective
From sheer fright dropped dead.

“I dragged his corpse down the steps
The deerstalker followed free
Bobbing around in the air,
Like driftwood on the sea.

“Like one, a cheated lover
Who enters his girl’s house in dread
And having seen what is to see
Turns no more his head
For he knows she and a man
Lie joined upon her bed.”

“Let me go, serial killer!
Real bad I need the loo!
Besides I need to be away
A little while from you.”

“Calm down, you little fool
Tighten your sphincter a bit –
For I’m sure you’d rather tighten up
Than lose the use of it.

“Under the ‘stalker was a gibbering ghost
Of ghastly greenish hue
His bad breath, when he spoke
Made me want to spew.

“I fired up my trusty chainsaw
To cleave that ghost in twain
But he jumped on to pleasure himself
On the saw’s buzzing chain.

“Moan and groan, and nagging tone
From my victim all the while
Till the gorge rose in my mouth
All full of bitter bile.

“Sick and tired of ghost and maid
The chainsaw down I threw
Snatched up my knife, to take my life
Which felt like doggy-doo.

“Then I paused, for I had
An idea divine –
It cooled down my fevered brain
Like a draught of sparkling wine.

“I wed gibbering ghost to whining girl
With a pat upon his back
Cheered as with a joyous yowl
He pulled her through a crack.

“The crack was in the basement’s floor
Far underneath the town
With a sound like thunder, then –
The building fell right down.

“The building fell, and crashed and crumbled
Crushed everything down to earth
And I thought I heard the Great Detective’s
Ghost guffaw and howl with mirth.

“But I am a serial killer
A sequel is a must
However many times they put me down
I will not bite the dust.

“From the rubble, then, I rose
All eager for the kill rose I –
Strode out of the ruins, shrieking
My vengeance to the sky.

“A policeman there, who stopped to stare
Fell down in a swoon.
Another took to kicking out
And giggling like a loon.
‘It’s clear,' grinned he, 'full plain I see
The Devil loves to moon.'

“I strolled past them, and killed a few
Gawkers just for the fun
Chopped off their heads, and laughed aloud
Watching the others run.

“I go, now, from girl to girl
Force them to hear my speech
And ‘til it’s done, I stick to them
Much tighter than a leech.

“Now that you’ve heard my tale
In words of blood and steel
You’re bored to have heard it once?
Just think of how I feel.”

The serial killer then left the girl
Into the night went he
Looked once over his shoulder, and
Vanished behind a tree.

The girl freed herself and stumbled
Into the camp’s welcome light
Popped some pills, and soon felt better
Was higher than a kite.

The serial killer walks the night
Still seeking victims new –
I think you should be warned now
He’s coming right for you.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2011

[With no apologies whatsoever to Samuel Taylor Coleridge]