Tag Archives: ISIS

InCity Book Review

But first …

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Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World

By Jay Sekulow, (2016, First Howard Books, 310 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

If you dislike Muslims, you’ll love this book. If you were looking for an even-handed description of the Middle East turmoil, reading Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World, will be a severe disappointment. That was this writer’s opinion after reading Jay Sekulow’s Unholy Alliance. In this book, Sekulow postulates the unlikely theory that “Muslim jihadists” such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS are conspiring with Iran and Vladimir Putin’s Russia to take over the world.

Sekulow wants the reader to believe that Sunni terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are, or could be, allied with Iranian Shiites to seize the planet. That the Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting each other for 1,400 years argues against this.As support for his belief in a pan-Muslim terrorist conspiracy, Sekulow says Shiite Iran is the major backer of the Sunni Hamas movement in the West Bank. That is an exceptional case, as Hamas is in the belly of Israel, and Israel is a major target of Islamic extremists today.

Sekulow ardmits that Iran is fighting Al-Qaeda in Syria, and asserts later that Al-Qaeda directs its overseas operations from Iranian sanctuaries. The idea that Iran is knowingly allowing Al-Qaeda to direct its Syrian followers from Iranian territory to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guards supporting Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, is absurd.

Chief Counsel of ACLJ

Sekulow is the Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative version of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The ACLJ was founded in 1990 by law school graduate and evangelical minister Pat Robertson to protect constitutional and human rights worldwide,” says Wikipedia. “ACLJ generally pursues constitutional issues and conservative Christian ideals in courts of law.”

This book reads like a law review article. Sekulow sources his book with Teutonic thoroughness, citing 1,460 endnotes in the186 pages in the body of the book. There are 119 pages – or 38% of the total – devoted to acknowledgments, notes, appendixes, and the index.

“Unholy Alliance” is like another tome reviewed here, “Trouble in the Tribe”. (See http://incitytimesworcester.org/steve-parked-%F0%9F%9A%99-in-roses-space-incity-times-book-review/.) In “Trouble in the Tribe”, we noted how the author dumped a great deal of specific information into endnotes, “which should have been better served in the main text, or attached as footnotes on the pages where they are cited.” In Unholy Alliance, there is a whole page for one endnote, and a large mass in commentary in the others that would better serve the reader being attached as footnotes. Unlike “Trouble in the Tribe”, “Unholy Alliance” makes little pretense at being an evenhanded analysis.

Sekulow analyzes the Muslim faith. He provides examples of how British Islamic groups prefer Islamic tribunals using Sharia law to British courts, and the terrible injustices which take place in those tribunals, particularly against women. He implies that America’s Muslim population has the same plan for the U.S. This book was published in September 2016, before Donald Trump’s surprising upset. Trump’s election makes the possibility of American courts adopting Sharia law remote.

He quotes sections of the Koran which, taken out of context and the times in which they were written, make the Muslim faith look absurd and blood thirsty. Sekulow acknowledges that critics of Judaism have done the same type of misrepresentation of the Jewish bible. He excuses this by saying essentially that the Koran was intended as a “universal and timeless” document, while the Jewish bible is a history book.

Dubious Sources

Some of the sources cited by Sekulow are at best dubious. This is another reason the author may have avoided footnotes. To find who the references are for some of these, you must turn several hundred pages forward to look up the endnote. On the other hand, if there were footnotes naming these sources, the questionable nature of some of Sekulow’s sources would become immediately known to the reader.

To illustrate this, we did a computer analysis of Chapter Nine “Iran and Al Qaeda”. The last time America launched a preemptive invasion in the Middle East, George W. Bush and the neocons linked Al-Qaeda to Iraq.

We plugged into an Excel spreadsheet the 141 sources cited by the author in 132 endnotes in Chapter 9. We then sorted the data by two sequences: by the source cited in the endnote; and by the year in which the source originated. We found:
• 51% of the sources were dated 2009 or prior. For some reason, Sekulow relied on older historical information. There were only four sources from 2012, two cites from one source dated 2014, and three from 2016.

• One out of five endnotes (28 in total) cited Ronen Bergman’s book “The Secret War with Iran.” One PBS broadcast was cited seven times. The 2004 9/11 Commission Report was cited 17 times. The 13 sources dated 2013 included four marked “opinion” in its web locations, and seven endnotes were from three sources.

• Most disturbing of all was Sekulow’s frequent cites to the Weekly Standard, the neoconservative magazine that clamored for the disastrous 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. One such article, cited in five endnotes, was co-authored by William Kristol, America’s foremost neoconservative. There were 23 sources dated 2015; sixteen of these, or 70%, derived from the Weekly Standard. The same people who bought us the war in Iraq are now ginning up for a war in Iran.

Severe Disappointment

As we said at the beginning of this book review, if you dislike Muslims, you’ll like this book. If you were looking for an even-handed description of the Middle East turmoil, reading “Unholy Alliance” will be a severe disappointment.

Steve parked in YY …Turkey faces blowback from allowing infiltration to Syria

By Steven R. Maher

There is a famous saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Like Syria earlier this decade, Turkey is finding out the hard way that the enemy of their enemy can quickly turn into their enemy.

The United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Shortly thereafter, foreign fighters began to flood the country.

“Senior Iraqi intelligence officers believe an Islamic militant group which has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Irbil and a spate of deadly attacks in Baghdad, Falluja and Mosul is receiving significant help from Syria and Iran,” the Guardian, a respected British newspaper, reported on February 19, 2004. The Guardian recounted that Iraqi insurgents were “given shelter by Syrian and Iranian security agencies and have been able to enter Iraq with ease” and were “suspected of training suicide bombers and deploying them against US forces in Iraq and Iraqis considered to be collaborating with the US-led authorities.”

Jihadist Highway

At the time, Syrian President Bashir al-Assad was backing the Iraqi insurgents to drive the United States out of the Middle East. When the Arab spring unfolded in 2011, the Jihadists began using Turkey as an infiltration route to unseat Assad. Their efforts were made easier by the knowledge – and the networks set up – to use Syria to infiltrate Iraq.

Turkey’s Prime Minister wanted to see Assad toppled. As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 4, 2014, Turkey allowed the setting up of a “jihadist highway” that “let foreign militants slip across its border into Syria.” ISIS terrorists were allowed to use Turkey’s territory to rest, recuperate, and launch attacks against Syrian forces.

The chickens came to roost with this week’s bloody suicide bombing on Turkey’s main airport, the same airport used by foreign Jihadists to enter Turkey on their way to fight in Syria.

Lesson learned

One lesson to be learned from this is the danger of “blowback.” This was a term America became familiar with after 9/11, when it was used to describe the U.S. supplying arms to Afghans fighting the Soviet Union, who then created Al-Qaeda to war against the U.S. The Syrians saw their country destroyed by the blowback of their government’s support of terrorists to attack U.S. forces in Syria, and Turkey is now facing a very bloody blowback from their government’s decision to set up the “Jihadist highway.”

Another lesson to be learned is that the United States cannot put boots on the ground in the Middle East and engage in direct combat with ISIS.

That will only inflame the Middle East further, unite warring Jihadist factions against the U.S., and motivate some of America’s enemies to befriend each other. The U.S. should stick to its current strategy of using Special Forces, drones and air power to degrade ISIS.

Gordon Davis’ Paris column is posted here …

Paris and the Targeting of Civilians

By Gordon Davis

The killing of scores of Parisians on November 13, 2015, is sad and a symptom of the corrupting culture in which we all live.

Every premature death is tragic, especially when civilians are killed in wars in horrific ways. The people in Paris have my condolences and sorrow. The fascists who committed these murders should be arrested and punished.  ParisianLives Matter.

The targeting of civilians in war has its  modern beginnings in World War II. In 1937 the fascists from Japan committed the “Rape of Nanking.” This was followed by the bombing of Guernica by the German fascists in the Spanish Civil and then the so called blitz bombings of London. The Americans killed 100, 000 civilians in the fire bombings of Dresden. The atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima have been characterized as terrorist and crimes against humanity. CivilianLives Matter.

This year drone attacks have killed thousands in “collateral” damage. The civil wars in Syria, Nigeria, Kenya, Yemen, and Palestine/Israel have killed thousand more.  AllLives Matter. 

The civilians who died in conflicts outside of Europe and America, many connected to the Parisian attacks, do not get the same value as has the Parisians killed yesterday. ISIS kills Muslim people, too.

The price to pay for peace in the world is steep and the price to pay for the endless wars is steeper.

All of this talk of striking ISIS or some other group is useless rhetoric designed to placate an angry, nationalistic public. France, Britain, Russia, and the United States do not want to send in millions of soldiers to occupy a country for a generation,.as they did in Germany and Japan.

The American effort to build up an anti-ISIS Syrian rebel army was worse than a joke. The 5,000 fighters trained by the Americans joined ISIS. I don’t think a draft would be viable in the United States, despite the chicken hawks.

Even if these powerful countries wanted to occupy vast stretches of the Middle East, ISIS is being supported by Saudi Arabia, which sees it as a force against the Shia, and Turkey, which is using ISIS to fight the Kurds and other Turkish minorities.
 
The forces that could stabilize the world were defeated decades ago and have not yet redeveloped; progressive secular humanists no longer are a force in the Middle East and many other countries.

The forces needed to stabilize and reverse economic and political disparities, the forces needed to enforce tolerance of religious belief, and modernity for women were destroyed by the West in its fight against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 

The CIA and others preferred the likes of Hamas over the seculars in the PLO and Al Qaeda over the Afghan socialists.

Six months from now there will likely be another 9-11 or another Paris or another attack by Boko Haran.

We will all say the same thing about how sorry we all are. This system we have now is madness. I suppose the oil companies will make money from it all.

It will take generations for progressive forces in the USA and the world to develop and bring an end to this madness around us.

Paris Massacre

By Edith Morgan

This time, Paris took the hit: as I write this, on Saturday night, there are 129 dead, 352 injured – and among the injured, 99 are “critical”. The carnage was spread out over 6 sites in two Paris districts, and included various sites:

At 9:20 p.m., at the “Le Carillon “ bar, a witness heard an explosion. Ten minutes later there were two explosions just outside the Stade de France stadium, where a soccer match between Germany and France was in progress (France’s President Hollande was there and he was rushed out to safety immediately – though the game was allowed to continue)

At 9:30 p.m. the second attack took place, at La Casa Nostra restaurant on the Rue de la Fontaine, where four people died.

The worst part of this attack took place at the Bataclan Theater on Boulevard Voltaire, where up to 100 people were taken hostage by masked men with machine guns. Inside the theater, gunmen opened fire on the hundreds watching the American “Eagles of Death “ Metal group. It was at this theater that the largest number of victims died: the number is believed to be 89, at this time. One of the attackers was shot dead, and 3 blew themselves up.

Later we heard on the Sunday evening news that there were believed to be 8 terrorists involved, and seven had been killed, but the eighth was still at large. There was some mention that ISIS was involved, but it is really too early to have ascertained who was responsible, and even more difficult to answer , WHY it was done.

I am very much saddened by this, yet another attack on innocent civilians, and in a city that I have always loved – and which holds so many great memories for me: when we had to flee Germany in 1933, we landed in Paris, where we lived for three and a half years, and on the outskirts for another 3 years. We were there in June of 1940, when the Nazis invaded and threatened to destroy the city if it was defended; we (my brother, then 7, and I at 9 years  of age, and my mother) fled on foot – my father was in an internment camp somewhere in France –walked for 11 days just ahead of the invading barbarians until finally, when we reached Limoges, an armistice was signed.

I have since visited Paris in 2001 – and it is still the beautiful, vibrant, indestructible city I had remembered – despite the bombings, the occupation, the trials and tribulations of suffering through World War II: indomitable and indestructible. And I know it will be again, rising each time like the Phoenix from the ashes, and rebuilding better than ever.

Perhaps again before I grow too old I can revisit the Rue de Lacretelle, pick hyacinths and violets in the Bois de Boulogne, and see the stunningly beautiful Cathedrals Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur – and perhaps even climb partway up the Eiffel Tower.

But most of all I will remember to thank the French, who saved us several times over… and I will think of them now once again as they struggle to regain their balance. Few will try to do all we can to repay  our many debts in their hour of need.

Feeling “terrorized” …


I managed to eat a bit today … a handful of cashews, cheese and toast, a brownie. Traumatic news traumatizes me. Delivering InCity Times today, meeting all the great people of Worcester (like the sweet lady pictured below), pulled me out of my sadness and fears …

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Our BEAUTIFUL diversity is our biggest weapon against the jihadists. More fearsome than the men who use wire to behead children. More powerful than the grenades wrapped girdle-tight around the scrawny chests of brutal, lost young men and sometimes innocent children and sometimes innocent developmentally disabled adults.

When will this global nightmare end – this “World War III, in piecemeal”?

The New York Times is OFFERING FREE DIGITAL ACCESS TO THEIR COVERAGE OF ALL PARIS-RELATED EVENTS. News stories, feature stories, videos, photos, updates, op-ed columns, editorials …

This is a gift to the world!

If you have a smart phone, e-book, tablet, laptop or desk top computer go to:

newyorktimes.com or CLICK HERE. 

Remember: YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY always has FREE INTERNET ACCESS AND WI FI

– text and photo by Rosalie Tirella