Isha khan’s Weblog

BDR Revolt: A deadly strategic game plan
May 21, 2009, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Bangladesh

BDR Revolt: A deadly strategic game plan

By Shah Mohammed Saifuddin

Since the independence, Bangladesh Rifles, the first line of defense, have been combating smuggling, human trafficking, drug trafficking and other illegal activities along the border and have made supreme sacrifices to protect the lives and properties of the people from enemy invasion with great courage and valor. Bangladesh Rifles have earned worldwide recognition for its determination, patriotism, and professionalism when they successfully repelled a large invasion by Indian border security force at Roumari point in 2001.

Despite its performance and patriotism, the members of Bangladesh Rifles got little attention from successive governments to alleviate the problem of poor pay and benefit structures allowed for them. Nevertheless, they continued to discharge their duties with utmost sincerity and took part in all nation building activities maintaining professionalism and discipline.

On 25th Feb, 2009, the nation was shocked at the news that some BDR members had revolted and killed many officers who were on deputation from Bangladesh army to protest against poor pay and benefit structures and alleged corruption by the late Director General.

The mutineers asked the government to implement a set of demands on a priority basis to address the problems of the members of Bangladesh Rifles. Some of these demands are as follows:

1.withdrawing army officers from all command posts of BDR and recruiting new officers from BCS cadres

2.allowing full rationing for BDR members

3.sending BDR personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions

4.revamping salary structures and promotion procedures

5.allowing defense allowances for BDR members

6.procuring more transportation vehicles to guard the long porous border with India and Myanmar

7.increasing the quality of food and

8.improving educational and medical facilities for the family members of soldiers

Because of defense strategy and lack of manpower, it will not be possible to withdraw army officers from the command posts of BDR, but the rest of the demands deserve due consideration because these are logical and should have been given to the BDR members a long time ago for they put their lives in danger to safeguard the frontiers of the country. It is, therefore, hoped that the government will take appropriate measures to remove the grievances of BDR members to stop the occurrences of similar incidents in the future.

Now, let us examine whether there are any political motivations behind this unfortunate incident that shocked the entire nation.

The revolt: actors involved, motivations and methods employed

The relationship between Awami League and the defense forces of the country has never been cordial because of latter’s security outlook that anticipates no security threat from India and considers defense expenditures needless. A few clauses of the 25 year friendship treaty that virtually eliminated Bangladesh’s sovereign right to seek assistance from other friendly nations to expand and modernize its armed forces and the subsequent step motherly attitude of the government and the formation of Rakkhi Bahini had cerated widespread resentment among the army officers. Instead of taking appropriate measures to remove the legitimate grievances of the army officers, the then government continued with their suppressive and discriminatory policies to neglect, humiliate and alienate the armed forces, which ultimately led to the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members at the hands of a few young army officers.

Awami League has never forgotten the incident nor forgiven the armed forces for the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and left no stone unturned to avenge the incident in 1975 by creating divisions in the armed forces through various political machinations.

The comments of LGRD minister after the BDR mutiny is a testament to the fact that his party still holds grudges against the army for the death of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other four prominent leaders of Awami League in 1975 at the hands of a section of army officers. He said, “If the trial of Bangabandhu and four national leaders killing cases were held in time and the offender were brought into justice, the Pilkhana tragedy was not take place” (Feb, 28, 2009, The Daily Star). Does it not show the deep resentment of the current government against the army for the incidents in 1975?

After the political change in 1/11, the military backed government had thrown many Awami League leaders into jail for their alleged involvement in financial scandal and abuse of power, which, many believe, has caused further deterioration in the relationship between the armed forces and Awami League. After the elections, Awami League’s virulent verbal attack on the army for its role in 1/11 is a testament to the fact that they wanted to weaken the army so that the latter could never repeat a 1/11 like situation to bring about political changes in the country.

India has its own agenda to diminish our defense capability because it needs a subservient military in Bangladesh to easily establish total domination on 4096 km Indo-Bangla border and use our defense and intelligence resources to its advantage to quell ongoing insurgencies in its North East region. India’s abortive misadventure inside Bangladesh territory in 2001 forced them to reorganize their security policy vis a vis Bangladesh and emphasize the need to search for new avenues to play larger role in the matters related to defense of Bangladesh and neutralize Chinese influence on our defense forces. But this could only be accomplished through active cooperation from a friendly government in Bangladesh to create tension within our defense forces to break their morale and make it imperative for Bangladesh to seek Indian help in reorganizing the defense system.

So, the BDR mutiny may be the case of a teamwork between a foreign external intelligence agency and some political elements within the country to set the stage for the departure of the army officers from Bangladesh Rifles to weaken it and to tarnish the image of the army before the whole nation to break their morale.

The assertion that some local political elements and India are working together to weaken the security systems of Bangladesh may be true because the government’s quick decision to grant general amnesty to all rebellious members of Bangladesh Rifles without assessing the ground reality and to not allow any military action to quell the rebellion, which gave the mutineers enough time to put forth a set of demands and flee in groups from the BDR headquarters seems to be a preplanned strategy to instigate a rebellion, break the chain of command, kill large number of officers, and to ensure safe exit for the mutineers.

If the local and foreign conspirators who planned, directed, and implemented the rebellion are not identified and the rebellious members of BDR who broke the chain command are not brought to justice such occurrences of rebellion may be repeated in other security forces to destabilize the entire nation and create a situation for external powers to intervene in the name of peacekeeping.

Findings of the army report

The army formed its own 20 member probe committee on 2nd March, led by Lt. General Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, to investigate into the gruesome murder of army officers by the rebels at BDR headquarters on 25th Feb, 2009 and this probe committee acted separately from the committee formed by the government to investigate into the same matter. After investigating for more than two months, the committee has made the summary of their report public for the sake of transparency of their work. The army report published in various newspapers identified the following reasons for the BDR mutiny:

1. Wrong impression about the facilities of the army

2. Lack of transparency in establishing and running BDR shops

3. Delay in payment of duty allowances for the 2008 national elections

4. Misunderstanding about lease and contracts of different works in the BDR headquarters

5. Wrong impression about the BDR’s director general Shakil Ahmed, and his wife Nazneen Shakil and Dhaka sector commander Mujibul Haque’s alleged in irregularities

6. Delay made by the Home and Finance ministries in resolving BDR problems

The army report on BDR mutiny did not find any convincing evidence of any direct or indirect militant links simply because of the fact that the extremists did not have the elaborate network and manpower to plan and execute a mission deep inside the military establishment of Bangladesh with a pinpoint accuracy to kill almost 15% officers of Bangladesh army within the space of 24 hours as the previous democratically elected government had already dismantled the countrywide terror network of JMB, the most powerful extremist group in the country and executed its top masterminds as part of continuous effort to fight terrorists for which Bangladesh has partnered with international community and received high praise from across the world.

Criticism of the army report

In investigating such a complex and dangerous incident that paralyzed the entire defense system of the country, the investigators should have proper authority to contact, interrogate, and collect information from people who had direct or indirect contacts with the rebels before and after the mutiny to explore local and external linkages. They also should have followed a similar structured method described below to accomplish the investigation process:

1. Identifying and defining the scope of the problem

2. Setting and determining the scope of the investigation objectives

3. Assembling adequate manpower with appropriate skills and experience to form a committee

4. Identifying target population for interrogation/questioning

5. Verifying and confirming collected information for accuracy

6. Submitting the findings and recommendations to the government

But the military investigators had to narrow down their scope of investigation to exclude exploring the possibility of political and external connections because of lack of proper government authorizations to contact and interrogate certain people. Many believe, the restrictions on the investigators may have been imposed to protect the local and external conspirators who had teamed up to play havoc with the defense system of the country.

Even though the army report did not find any convincing links of politicians and external powers to this sad episode that shook the entire defense system of the country, the involvement of some elements within the government and some foreign intelligence agencies should not be ruled out because, as per the report, the government imposed restrictions on investigators to limit their power to collect necessary evidence, verify obtained information, and confirm information sources to identify, investigate, establish and confirm involvement of political and foreign elements in the mindless killing of the officers at the BDR headquarters.

The events in the BDR headquarters were meticulously planned by some powerful quarters to use BDR against army to kill as many officers as possible to leave no able hands to lead this force in order to achieve the goals of destroying the border defense system of the country, avenging the incident in Roumari in 2001, proving BDR as an indisciplined force to create a situation to make it imperative to reorganize it with the help of a certain neighbor and creating a permanent mistrust and suspicion between the two forces entrusted with the responsibilities of protecting national security..

The political connections to the incident are visible from a series of events, including a section of politicians and media launched a vituperative attack on the army for its role in the events on and after 1/11 to instigate anti army sentiment across the country; the government did not order 350 RAB personnel, who reached the gate of BDR headquarters at 10:10 am, for an action against the mutineers, who were yet to be organized and set up heavy arms at the gates of the headquarters; the government ordered the 46th brigade of Bangladesh army, who reached the gates of the BDR headquarters at 10:50 am, to go out of sight from the headquarters which gave the rebels enough time to organize themselves to kill and torture more people in the BDR complex; the mutineers were given a chance to contact the media to propagate unfounded accusations against Bangladesh army; and a list was prepared in advance to torture and kill the wives of the army officers.

Even though the army report attributed the failure of Juba League’s president Jahangir Kabir Nanak and general secretary Mirza Azam in the negotiation with the rebels to surrender arms and release the hostages to lack of professionalism, the thing that is still bugging a lot of people is the reason why the prime minister chose these two fellows who had no prior experience in crisis management and had a criminal record of killing 11 Innocent civilians by setting fire to a double decker bus near Sheraton hotel in 2004. Let me quote the passage from the report published in a newspaper( The New Nation, Jun, 3, 2007), where one of the top Awami League leaders, Mr. Sheikh Selim, disclosed the cold blooded murder of innocent civilians by Nanak and Azam:

“He also disclosed that AL’s front organisation Juba League’s president Jahangir Kabir Nanak and general secretary Mirza Azam were involved in killing 11 people by setting fire to a double-decker BRTC bus near Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in 2004. Both Nanak and Azam held a meeting at Juba League office in the evening on that day and made a plan to commit the arson. “I protested the incident to our party chief and told her the politics cannot be done in such a way,” the investigators said quoted Selim as saying.”

Although the investigators were able to confirm the involvement of a local Awami League leader, Torab Ali, in the mutiny, they, however, were unable to establish a link between him and his partners in the political circle due to absence of government authorizations to contact and question the top ruling party leaders. This, many believe, may have been done to conceal the political connections to the mutiny and the subsequent murder of scores of brilliant army officers.

It is astounding that the military investigators did not even try to explore external connections to the mutiny because such an impeccable operation to carryout large scale killings of army officers was not the work of a bunch of youngsters, but rather the work of a professional organization who had inside information to plan and execute such a flawless military mission at the heart of the nation’s defense establishment to take out all the intended targets and ensure safe exit for all those who took part in it.

There is a growing fear of Indian involvement in the BDR revolt and the mass killing of the army officers at the BDR headquarters because of the comments of Mr. Pranab Mukharjee who said, “I had to go out of my way to issue a stern warning to those trying to destabilise the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh that if they continued with their attempts, then India would not sit idle.” (OUTLOOK, Mar, 16, 2009) , which is another way of saying that India would have approved a direct military intervention if developments in Bangladesh had gone against their strategic interest.

The same report also said, “New Delhi had conveyed it was willing to take counter-measures in Dhaka, direct intervention included.” Now the question is why did the Indian minister issue such a warning to Bangladesh? Did he not believe the people and the security forces of Bangladesh are capable enough to protect their own prime minister? Or did he want to conceal India’s own involvement in the mutiny through intimidation? Whatever the case may be, India’s over enthusiasm in our internal affairs has raised some serious suspicions about its intentions with regard to our national security.

The order to put Indian air force on a stand by mode (, mar, 2, 2009) and deploy para commandos from Agra to West Bengal (The Times of India, Mar, 4, 2009) to deal with emergency situations can also be construed as Indian attempts to interfere in our internal affairs using the tensions created after the mutiny, and if we combine this with the comments of Mr. Pranab Mukharjee then a strategic scenario emerges where Bangladesh is being destabilized with the intent to force herself into a long term bilateral security arrangements to pave the way for India to play greater roles in the matters of Bangladesh’s security and defense. And the proof of it can be found in a report in The Telegraph, a Calcutta based newspaper, where India offered to send a peace mission to give security to the Calcutta-Dhaka-Calcutta Moitree express and termed it as the first international bilateral peace mission by India after its peace mission in Sri-Lanka (The Telegraph, Feb, 27, 2009).

Another report from the same newspaper that said “Details of the talks were not immediately available but the US has been keen that India plays a stabilising role in the South Asian region. It is in this context that the Indian effort to send a peace mission, not only for the security of the train service between Dhaka and Calcutta, but also in a larger context, preferably on an appeal from Dhaka, will be internationally acceptable to Washington.”(The Telegraph, Feb, 28, 2009) is detrimental to our national security because it proves, in light of recently concluded Indo-U.S. Strategic agreement, there is ample international support for India to play larger role in South Asia, in general, and Bangladesh, in particular. This is what many have been saying for a while that the bilateral task force, military exercise between Bangladesh and Indian armed forces and the revolt by the BDR members are all part of a grand design to make the security forces of Bangladesh subservient to the strategic and political interests of India and Awami League.

External linkages to the BDR revolt can also be found by the seizure of various fire arms, equipment and other military gadgets at the BDR headquarters that are not used by any security agencies in the country (The Daily Star, Mar, 3, 2009). Experts believe such sophisticated military gadgets were supplied by external sources to perform the killings of the army officers in the BDR headquarters complex.

Concluding observations

With the growing suspicion of involvement of some elements within the government in the well orchestrated revolt at BDR headquarters firstly, to rid BDR of army officers for the purpose of weakening our border security and secondly, to kill the brightest army officers with an ultimate plan to destroy our defense system, the government is feeling the heat from both the army and the people of the country.

Sensing the impending danger of being exposed, a certain quarter has revived the old arms smuggling case and is frantically trying to associate the opposition parties, the intelligence agencies, and even Pakistan and its external spy agency, ISI, with ULFA to convince the public of the existence of a nexus among the nationalistic forces and defense establishment of the country, Pakistan and United Liberation Front of Assam with a sole purpose of falsely accuse them of sponsoring terrorism and masterminding the carnage at the BDR headquarters. In order to make their case more convincing and deal a heavy blow to our national defense, they even dragged China, the largest arms supplier and trusted defense partner of Bangladesh, into this complex scenario.

Gruesome murder of the army officers, prompt announcement of general amnesty by the prime minister without properly understanding the ground reality, unabated media propaganda to humiliate the army, reluctance of the government to order for a military action against the rebels, decision to send Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Mirza Azam, who have criminal records of killing 11 innocent civilians, as negotiators, stern warning by Indian minister Pranab Mukherjee of military intervention against Bangladesh, and the subsequent deployment of Indian troops along the border suggest the involvement of powerful local and external elements in the BDR revolt to accomplish a diabolical plan to inflict enormous damage upon the defense system of Bangladesh.

The army investigators should have done an exhaustive investigation into the possibility of involvement of political and foreign elements in the BDR revolt to expose the real conspirators for the sake of our national security, but unfortunately the army report made no attempts to do so probably because it had no mandate to explore political and foreign connections, or the Indian threat of military intervention might have forced them to confine their investigation to only a small area just to identify the BDR jawans who were involved in the killings of the officers and bring charges against them.

Lastly, the defense forces of the country should know that similar attempts to incite rebellions in other security forces will be attempted in future if the real culprits are not exposed and punished with iron fist.


Sexual Torture
May 18, 2009, 1:13 pm
Filed under: MidEast, USA

What is Acknowledged and What Remains Unknown

Sexual Torture


“Removal of clothing was authorized by the Secretary of Defense [Rumsfeld] for use at GTMO [Guantánamo] on December 2, 2002,” acknowledges the recently released U.S. Senate Armed Service Committee report on the use of harsh interrogation techniques. It also reports that the use of prolonged nudity proved so effective that, in January 2003, it was approved for use in Afghanistan and, in the fall of 2003, was adopted for use in Iraq.

“Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody”

The Senate report came out shortly after a secret International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report on CIA torture techniques used as part of its detention program was leaked by Mark Danner of the “New York Review of Books.” These reports provoked a storm of media attention, much of it focused on the use of waterboarding (or what the ICRC more aptly calls “suffocation by water”) and, in particular, its use on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times and Abu Zubaydah 83 times.

The media paid less attention to the host of what the ICRC calls the other “methods of ill-treatment.” The Senate report identifies these techniques as: use of military dogs, stress positions and physical training, sleep adjustment/sleep management, sensory deprivation and removal of clothing. The ICRC identifies them as: prolonged stress standing, beating by use of a collar, beating and kicking, confinement in a box, sleep deprivation and use of load music, exposure to cold temperature/cold water, prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles, threats, forced shaving, deprivation/restricted provision of solid food and prolonged nudity.

These reports, together with the recent release of Bush-administration “torture memos,” helped focus national attention on a shameful, if not illegal, aspect of mad king George’s War on Terror. However, these reports are “official” documents based on revelations of a very limited number of sources. The information gathered, while invaluable, is limited by these sources.

The limited sources limit the public’s knowledge of the full scope of the torture committed by American intelligence agents, military officers and private contractors. Focusing on the issue of sexual torture, which includes prolonged nudity, reveals what has been made public but also what has yet to become publicly acknowledged.

Failure to publicly acknowledge the full scope of sexual torture, along with all the other “harsh” interrogation techniques, creates a sanitized, “official,” history. Americans will never know what torture was committed in their name, nor be able to hold accountable those who ordered and executed these actions unless they go beyond “official” sources.

* * *

The ICRC conducted interviews with fourteen “enemy combatants” from eight countries. The detainees were arrested over a nearly three-year period, from March 2002 through May 2005. Eleven of the detainees were subject to prolonged nudity “during detention and interrogation, ranging from several weeks continuously up to several months intermittently.”

The ICRC recounts what it calls the “alleged” experiences of seven detaineesm subject to prolonged nudity:

• Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – kept naked for one month in Afghanistan.

• Abu Zubaydah– kept naked for two-and-a-half weeks in Afghanistan after recovering at a Pakistan hospital; he reports subsequently being repeatedly provided with clothing and then stripped naked for weeks at a time.

• Walid Bin Attash – kept naked two weeks in Afghanistan and again for a month in a second but unknown detention facility.

• Encep Nuraman (aka Hambali) – kept naked for four or five days in Thailand and a week in Afghanistan, followed by intermittent periods of being clothed and naked.

• Majid Khan – kept naked for three days in Afghanistan and seven days in his third place of detention.

• Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep – kept naked three to four days in Thailand and nine days in Afghanistan.

• Unnamed detainee – kept naked for two to three months in Afghanistan and then faced intermittent periods of being clothed and naked.

The sources of these reports were interviews with the detainees.

The Senate report provides a far different assessment on what it calls “removal of clothing.” It makes clear that the use of prolonged nudity found strong support within the CIA and military as an interrogation technique. It reports that nudity was imported into Iraq, especially Abu Ghraib prison, from Afghanistan and GTMO.

It states that this technique served a number of critical interrogation purposes, including to “humiliate detainees,” to “renew ‘capture shock’ of detainees” and as an incentive for good behavior. It use was extensive, as indicated by two of the many officers interviewed. COL Jerry Philabaum, the Commander of the 320th MP, reports seeing “between 12-15 detainees naked in their own individual cells.” CPT Donald Reese, the Commander of the 372nd MP Company, acknowledged that prolonged nudity was “known to everyone” and it was “common practice to walk the tier and see detainees with clothing and bedding.” Other officers made similar statements.

Like the ICRC report, the Senate report draws extensively on interviews, but these interviews are with Army officers from the Military Police and intelligence. In addition, the Senate report draws on a number of publicly released military report, most notably by Major General George Fay, known as the Fay Report. One of its quotes is remarkably candid, perhaps more revealing than originally intended: detention created an “environment that would appear to condone depravity and degradation rather than humane treatment of detainees.” The report also makes a single passing reference to Major General Antonio Taguba’s report on Abu Ghraib.

* * *

The first “enemy combatants” arrive at Guantánamo on January 11, 2002, nearly a year before Rumsfeld officially authorized the use of sexual torture. According to a CBS timeline, a “U.S. Air Force plane from Afghanistan touches down at Guantanamo carrying 20 prisoners, marking the start of the detention operation.” [CBS News Gitmo Timeline, August 24, 2004] In the Senate report, SMU [Special Mission Unit] TF [Task Force] Commander [name blacked out] states that when he “took command [of Guantánemo] he ‘discovered that some of the detainees were not allowed clothes’ as an interrogation technique [blacked out] said he terminated the practice in December 2003 or January 2004.”

The disclosures about prolonged nudity received little public discussion. Compared to the many far worse techniques employed, most notably “suffocation by water,” head beating, kicking, stress positions, uses of dogs and sleep deprivation, sexual torture seems rather modest. But its purpose was, along with the other techniques, clear. As the ICRC notes, it “was clearly designed to undermine human dignity and create a sense of futility … resulting in exhaustion, depersonalization and dehumanization.”

However, drawing upon other sources paints a different picture, one far less sanitized and much more sadistic. What is not known is whether these additional techniques were approved by U.S. military and civilian leaders or were the improvised actions of frontline officers and contractors? A few examples illustrate these techniques.

The best single source on the use of sexual torture at Abu Ghraib remains the Taguba report. In the report’s executive summary, the following “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” are identified as having been used at the prison:

* forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;

* forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;

* videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;

* forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;

* forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear;

* forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;

* arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;

* positioning a naked detainee on a MRE [meals ready to eat] Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;

* placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female soldier pose for a picture;

* sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.

Why did this part of the Taguba report not appear in the Senate report? Its absence speaks to the way official reports are sanitized and an “inside the Beltway” history is written. [see “Sexual Terrorism: The Sadistic Side of Bush’s War on Terror,” CounterPunch, May 13, 2008]

The U.S. and international press revealed disturbing episodes of sexual terror used by American forces. For example, The Associated Press reported that a former inmate, Dhia al-Shweiri, was ordered by American soldiers to strip naked, bend over and place his hands on a wall; while not sodomized, he says he was humiliated: “We are men. It’s OK if they beat me,” al Shweiri said. “Beatings don’t hurt us; it’s just a blow. But no one would want their manhood to be shattered.”

Scotland’s “Sunday Herald” reported that a former Iraqi prisoner claimed that there is a photo of a civilian translator raping a male juvenile prisoner; he stated, “They covered all the doors with sheets. I heard the screaming, … and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

London’s “Independent” reported on the experience of Hayder Sabbar Abd, immortalized as the man in the hood in infamous Abu Ghraib photo of Lynndie England. Abd alleges that he was ordered to masturbate as Ms. England “put her hands on her breasts,” which he couldn’t; and to simulate fellatio with another prisoner, which he appears to have done.

The “Sydney Morning Herald” noted: “Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man’s face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider’s written account.”

* * *

Sexual torture served two purposes on those subjected to such abuse: to physically harm and to emotionally scar. It was intended to break male inmates. It sought to inflict both pain and shame, to make the recipient suffer and loathe himself. Sexual torture attempted to break the victim both physically and spiritually, to leave scars on (and inside) the body and in the psyche.

With Obama’s election, the U.S. military has probably ceased employing “harsh interrogation techniques.” Unfortunately, given Obama’s pragmatism, the Congress’ complicity, the military’s bureaucratic zealotry and the CIA’s (and private contractors’) immorality, one can only wonder what would happen if another September 11th occurred.

The full scope of “harsh interrogation techniques” used during the War on Terror is unknown. Nor is it fully known who within the Bush administration approved the use of such technique, not who within the U.S. military and intelligence community (along with private contractors) used such techniques. Answers to these questions should be the first task of any “official” investigation of the War on Terror. And those undertaking the investigation should use a far wider assortment of sources than those deemed “official.” Only then will the American people understand what was done in their name and, hopefully, how to stop it from happening again.

David Rosen is the author of “Sex Scandal America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming” and can be reached at

Christianity- Islam and the Crusades
May 16, 2009, 8:09 am
Filed under: Religion

Christianity- Islam and the Crusades

Khalil Rahman

The First Crusade was planned by Pope Urban II and more than 200 bishops at the Council of Clermont. It was preached by Urban between AD 1095 and 1099. He assured his listeners that God himself wanted them to encourage men of all ranks, rich and poor, to go and exterminate Muslims. He said that Christ commanded it. Even robbers, he said, should now become soldiers of Christ. Assured that God wanted them to participate in Holy War, masses pressed forward to take the crusader’s oath. They looked forward to a guaranteed place in Heaven for themselves and to an assured victory for their divinely endorsed army. The pope did not appoint a secular military supreme commander, only a spiritual one, the Bishop of Le Puy. Initial expeditions were led by two churchmen, Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless. Peter was a monk from Amiens , whose credentials were a letter written by God and delivered to him by Jesus. He assured his followers that death in the Crusades provided an automatic passport to Heaven.

When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem on the 14th July 1099 , they massacred the inhabitants, Jews and Muslims alike, men, women and children. The killing continued all night and into the next day. Jews who took refuge in their synagogue were burned alive. Muslims sought refuge in the al-Aqsa mosque under the protection of a Christian banner. In the morning Crusaders forced an entry and massacred them all, 70,000 according to an Arab historian, including a large number of scholars. The Temple of Solomon was so full of blood that it came up to the horses’ bridles. The chronicler Raymond of Aguiliers described it as a just and wonderful judgment of God . Even before the killing was over the crusaders went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre “rejoicing and weeping for joy” to thank God for his assistance. Muslim prisoners were decapitated, shot with arrows, forced to jump from high towers, or burned. Some were tortured first. Neither was this an isolated incident. It was wholly typical. When the crusaders took Caesarea in 1101 many citizens fled to the Great Mosque and begged the Christians for mercy. At the end of the butchery the floor was a lake of blood. In the whole city only a few girls and infants survived. Soon afterwards, there was a similar massacre at Beirut. Such barbarity shocked the Eastern world and left an impression of the Christian West that has still not been forgotten in the third millennium.

The Second Crusade was proclaimed by Pope Eugene III in 1145. It was preached by St Bernard, a leading Cistercian theologian who declared that “The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified”.

The initial object of this second crusade was to recapture Edessa which had fallen to the Muslims in 1144. Initial contingents were lead by military commanders like the bishops of Metz and Toul. On the way, traveling by sea, the Crusaders besieged the then Muslim city of Lisbon . After four months the garrison surrendered, having been promised their lives and their property if they capitulated. They did capitulate and were then massacred. Only about a fifth of the original Crusader force got as far as Syria , where the real crusade started. It proved a failure, at least partially because tactical targets were selected for religious rather than military reasons. A military tactician might have gone for Aleppo , but the Crusade leaders agreed on mounting an attack on Damascus , apparently because they recognized its name as biblical. The leaders argued amongst themselves until the crusade collapsed in 1149, having failed to take Edessa or Damascus . The whole thing had been a disaster.

The third Crusade. Having proclaimed a jihad in 1186, Saladin re-took Jerusalem for the Muslims the following year. Once the battle was over no one was killed or injured, and not a building was looted. The captives were permitted to ransom themselves, and those who could afford to do so ransomed their vassals as well. Many thousands could not afford their ransom, and were held to be sold as slaves. The military monks, who could have used their vast wealth to save their fellow Christians from slavery, declined to do so. The head of the Church, the Patriarch Heraclius, and his clerics looked after themselves. The Muslims saw Heraclius pay his ten dinars for his own ransom and leave the city bowed with the weight of the gold that he was carrying, followed by carts laden with other valuables. As the unransomed prisoners were lead off to a life of slavery Saladin’s brother Malik al-Adil took pity. He asked his brother for a thousand of them as a reward for his services, and when he was granted them he immediately gave them their liberty. This triggered further generosity amongst the victorious commanders, culminating in Saladin offering gifts from his own treasury to the Christian widows and orphans. “His mercy and kindness were in strange contrast to the deeds of the Christian conquerors of the First Crusade”

The Fourth Crusade was preached by Pope Innocent III and lasted from 1202 to 1204. Although intended to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims by way of Egypt , the crusade was hijacked by the Venetians and directed against the Christian cities of Zara and then Constantinople , which offered a softer target and richer pickings. Constantinople was taken, the Emperor deposed, and Baldwin of Flanders was set up in his place. The victorious crusaders amused themselves in the usual way, even though this was the capital of Christendom.

The fifth Crusade. This Crusade was preached by Pope Innocent III but undertaken in the reign of Pope Honorius III. It was lead by Cardinal Pelagius of Lucia, and lasted from 1217 to 1221. Although ultimately intended to recover Jerusalem the main force was initially directed against Egypt . Damietta was besieged. Saladin proposed a deal. He would cede Jerusalem , all central Palestine , and Galilee if the crusaders would spare Damietta . This offer was rejected by Pelagius, despite military advice.

Damietta duly fell to the Christians. The surviving inhabitants were sold into slavery, and their children handed over to the Christian priests to be baptised and trained into the service of the Church. But Saladin soon recovered Damietta by force.

The Sixth Crusade was proposed by Pope Gregory IX, but found few takers, previous crusades having proved such failures. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II organized his own crusade while under sentence of excommunication, and pursued it between 1222 and 1229. Despite the pope’s machinations and much to his embarrassment Frederick’s military and strategic skill led to a negotiated settlement under which Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem came under Christian control.

The Seventh Crusade lasted from 1248 to 1254. It was initiated under Pope Innocent IV, Jerusalem having been lost to the Moslems again in 1244. It was led by King Louis IX of France ( St Louis ) who started by attacking Egypt . Once again Damietta was captured, and once again the Sultan offered to exchange it for Jerusalem . Once again the offer was rejected. And once again the Muslims won Damietta back by force of arms. Louis himself was captured, and had to be ransomed for 400,000 bezants. After his release he went to the Holy Land , but failed to recover the holy cities, and so gave up and went home.

The Eighth Crusade was proposed by Pope Gregory X, but not organized until a later reign. It lasted only from 1270 to 1271, and was initially led once again by St Louis . It collapsed after Louis died of disease while attacking Carthage (modern Tunis ).

The Ninth Crusade continued St Louis ‘s eighth crusade. It was led by Prince Edward between 1271 and 1272. Edward, the future English King Edward I, reached the Holy Land . Like earlier crusades, this one fizzled out, a total failure.

Pope Pius II was so keen to revive the Crusades that he went himself, but hardly anyone else could be coerced into going with him. He waited near the coast at Ancona in the summer of 1464, hoping for others to turn up. Sixtus IV made a couple of efforts at organizing crusades against the Turks, but nothing came of them. Leo X planned another one in 1515, but nothing ever came of it either. Clement XI hoped to launch a Crusade early in the eighteenth century but he too failed to win much backing.

[NY Sun: Islam and Muslims are expected to be a priority for Pope Benedict XVI, but he has been publicly quite muted on these topics during his first nine months in office.

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” Sept. 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI

The Vatican has confirmed that it is negotiating for permission to build the first church in Saudi Arabia . Time Magazine Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2008

Sun Mar 23, 2008, The Vatican City (Reuters) – A Muslim author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism who was baptized a Catholic by Pope Benedict said on Sunday Islam is “physiologically violent”. ]

When, Where The Pope Inspires No Hope
May 12, 2009, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Religion

When, Where The Pope Inspires No Hope

By Nicola Nasser

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to be the third pontiff to visit the Holy Land from 8 – 15 May, following in the footsteps of Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 2000, on a mission officially described as a “pilgrimage” and one of “peace and reconciliation.”

However, the Pope will be stepping into “a diplomatic minefield,” where the Catholic highest spiritual authority will be unmercifully scrutinized by the protagonists of the one hundred year old Arab – Israeli conflict for the Holy Father’s every step, word and handshake, which would force him into the defensive in an impossible balancing act that will rule out any hope his presence is supposed to inspire, especially among the down-trodden Arabs of Palestine, whether those who are “Israelis” living as second class citizens since 1948 or those Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation since 1967.

Even the pontiff’s own Catholic diminishing flock in the Holy Land seems in controversy over the timing and the itinerary of his pilgrimage. “We will ask him why he came, what he intends on saying … and why he isn’t coming to Gaza,” Father Manuel Mussalam, the pastor of the only Catholic church of about 300 believers in Gaza, out of 3000 Christians in the Israeli besieged Mediterranean strip, was quoted by AFP as asking. “We’ll tell him that this is not the right moment to come and visit the holy places, while Jerusalem is occupied,” Mussalam added.

In November 2006, long before Gaza Strip came under the control of the Islamic movement Hamas, which is cited as the casus belli for the Israeli latest three – week bloody and destructive war on Gaza as well as for the nine – year old Israeli military blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians since 2000, Father Mussalam described the situation there: “Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft… They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope and no love. These actions are War Crimes!”

Vindicating Mussalam’s statement, the World Bank reported on April 24 that a serious environmental threat is evolving in Gaza where only one tenth of water meets the world health standards, a fact that is responsible for a quarter of the disease cases, and creating a water crisis similar to that in Sudan and Congo.

Nonetheless, the Holy See is determined to rule out Gaza from the Pope’s itinerary. In a recent letter to the Vatican 40 prominent Christians from the occupied Palestinian territories appealed to the Holy See to add Gaza to his itinerary. They could not understand how the Pope has been to Auschwitz to pray for the people murdered there, “as a duty to truth and to those that suffered,” as he said, but could not similarly heal the wounds of those who are still suffering in Gaza.

The Vatican cites security reasons, according to the spokesman of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Father Peter Madros. Israel recently barred the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco, from Gaza. But security did not prevent Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General from visiting Gaza when the guns were still smoking, nor did it prevent Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, to name only a few.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, in an interview provided by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and published by on April 22, acknowledged that the Pope’s trip has undoubtedly a “political dimension”: “We mustn’t fool ourselves: there is 100% a political dimension … everything will have a political connotation. Here we breathe politics, our oxygen is politics.” But Twal has three explanations. First, “it is difficult to find a good balance and to maintain it.” Second, “imagine the negative consequences it would have on the pilgrimage industry, if the Pope himself was afraid of coming on pilgrimage.” Third, “what should be done? Wait for better times … until the Palestinian question is resolved? I’m afraid that two or three Sovereign Pontiffs will pass before it is definitively settled.”

The three reasons Twal cited are shocking, but his conclusion devastates whatever hope the papal visit might inspire: “The more the Vatican is a friend of Israel, the more it will be able to draw profit,” otherwise, “we will all lose, we Christians and we Arabs”!

When His Holiness is to meet on April 14 with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has dispelled all hopes for even the resumption of a peace process, let alone peace, both by his on-record political platform as well as by the composition of his extreme right ruling coalition, and when he will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, the spiritual capital of Christianity and Islam which his Israeli hosts are determined to Judaise as theirs only eternal capital, and to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, the Islamic Al-Buraq Wall as the Jewish Western (Wailing) Wall of the Temple, and when Israel forces his protocol team to drop from the list of his Arab audience in Nazareth the Palestinian mayor of Sukhnin, Mazen Ghanaim, because he rallied against the Israeli war on Gaza, then the itinerary of his pilgrimage could be described as anything but being apolitically balanced when Gaza is ruled out.

In his Easter message on April 12, Benedict XVI noted the world food shortage, the financial turmoil, the old and new forms of poverty, the disturbing climate change, the violence and deprivation, “the ever present threat of terrorism,” to conclude that, “it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope,” and urged his audience to spread the kind of hope that inspires courage to do good even when it costs dearly. But his oversight that did not make him mention military occupation and the long standing refugee problem emanating therefrom, as it is the case in Palestine, to where he is heading as a pilgrim, dispels any hope that he will say, let alone do, anything that would inspire hope.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territories.

Trilateral Commission:World Shadow Government
May 2, 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: USA

Trilateral Commission:

World Shadow Government

The Trilateral Commission was established in 1973. Its founder and primary financial angel was international financier, David Rockefeller, longtime chairman of the Rockefeller family-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank and undisputed overlord of his family’s global corporate empire.
Rockefeller’s idea for establishing the commission emerged after he had read a book entitled Between Two Ages written by an Establishment scholar, Prof. Zbigniew Brzezinski of Columbia University. In his book Brzezinski proposed a vast alliance between North America, Western Europe and Japan. According to Brzezinski, changes in the modern world required it.
“Resist as it might,” Brzezinski wrote elsewhere, “the American system is compelled gradually to accommodate itself to this emerging international context, with the U.S. government called upon to negotiate, to guarantee, and, to some extent, to protect the various arrangements that have been contrived even by private business.”
In other words, it was necessary for the international upper class to band together to protect its interests, and to ensure, in the developed nations, that political leaders were brought to power who would ensure that the global financial interests (of the Rockefellers and the other ruling elites) would be protected over those of the hoi polloi.
Although the initial arrangements for the commission were laid out in a series of meetings held at the Rockefeller’s famous Pocantico Hills estate outside New York City, Rockefeller first introduced the idea of the commission at an annual meeting of the Bilderberg group, this one held in Knokke, Belgium in the spring of 1972.
(The Bilderberg group is similar to the Trilateral Commission in that it is funded and heavily influenced by the Rockefeller empire, and composed of international financiers, industrialists, media magnates, union bosses, academics and political figures.
(However, the much older Bilderberg group’s membership is strictly limited to participants from the United States, Canada and Western Europe: i.e. the NATO alliance. For more on the Bilderberg group, keep an eye out for future stories in this paper.
The Trilateral Commission was unique, though, in that it brought the Japanese ruling elite into the inner councils of the global power brokers, a recognition of Japan’s growing influence in the world economic and political arena.

“The Commission’s purpose is to engineer an enduring partnership among the ruling classes of North America, Western Europe and Japan — hence the term ‘Trilateral’ — in order to safeguard the interests of Western capitalism in an explosive world. The private commission is attempting to mold public policy and construct a framework for international stability in the coming decades.

“To put it simply, Trilateralists are saying: The people, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations.
“In short, Trilateralism is the current attempt by ruling elites to manage both dependence and democracy — at home and abroad.” Another Trilateral critic, now-retired Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), views the commission as a Rockefeller family operation through and through. According to Goldwater:
“The Trilateral organization created by David Rockefeller was a surrogate — the members selected by Rockefeller, its purposes defined by Rockefeiler, its funding supplied by Rockefeller. David Rockefeller screened and selected every individual who was invited to participate.”
David Rockefeller and Brzezinski then began the process of selecting from among the “Trilateral” nations the several hundred elite power brokers who would be permitted to join in Trilateral policymaking in the coming years.
One of the commission’s primary goals was to place a Trilateral-influenced president in the White House in 1976, and to achieve that goal it was necessary to groom an appropriate candidate who would be willing to cooperate with Trilateral aims.
Rockefeller and Brzezinski selected a handful of well-known liberal Democrats and a scattering of Republicans (primarily of the liberal-internationalist bent) to serve on the commission. And in an effort to give regional balance to the commission Rockefeller invited the then-obscure one-term Democratic governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, to join the commission.
Rockefeller had longtime ties to the local Atlanta political and economic Establishment. In fact, much of Rockefeller’s personal investment portfolio is in Atlanta real estate. (According to David Horowitz, co-author of The Rockefellers, “Atlanta is Rockefeller Center South.”)
And Rockefeller himself had once even invited Carter to dine with him at the Chase Manhattan Bank several years before, as early as 1971, the year Carter began serving as governor.
Carter very definitely impressed Rockefeller and Brzezinski, more so than another Southern Democrat, Florida Gov. Reuben Askew, also selected to serve on the commission and viewed, like Carter, as a possible Trilateral candidate.
In fact, according to Brzezinski, “It was a close thing between Carter and Askew, but we were impressed that Carter had opened up trade offices for the state of Georgia in Brussels and Tokyo. That seemed to fit perfectly into the concept of the Trilateral.”
Carter, in fact, like Askew, did announce for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination, but because of Rockefeller’s interest, Carter had the inside shot.
So much so that in a speech at the commission’s first annual meeting in Kyoto, Japan in May of 1975, Rockefeller’s man Brzezinski promoted the then-still obscure Carter to his fellow Trilateralists as an ideal presidential candidate.
From that point on, it was all cut and dried. According to Goldwater: “Rockefeller and Brzezinski found Carter to be their ideal candidate. They helped him win the Democratic nomination and the presidency.
“To accomplish this purpose they mobilized the money-power of the Wall Street bankers, the intellectual influence of the academic community — which is subservient to the wealth of the great tax-free foundations — and the media controllers represented in the membership of the CFR and the Trilateralists.”
(The aforementioned Council on Foreign Relations — is another Rockefeller-financed foreign policy pressure group similar to the Trilateralists and the Bilderberg group, although the CFR is composed solely of American citizens.)
(In his book The Carter Presidency and Beyond, published in 1980 by the Ramparts Press, Prof. Laurence H. Shoup devotes an entire chapter to demonstrating how the Trilateral-linked and Trilateral-controlled Establishment media promoted the presidential candidacy in 1976 of the then-obscure Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.)
Carter, of course, campaigned as a “populist” — as a “man of the people” — as an “outsider” with no ties to the Establishment. The fact is, however, Carter, who said he’d never lie, was an elitist, an insider, the Trilateral Commission’s “man on the white horse.”
And with the power of the commission and the Rockefeller empire and its media influence behind him, Carter made his way to the presidency, establishing the first full-fledged Trilateral administration, appointing numerous Trilateralists to key policymaking positions and carrying out the Trilateral agenda to the hilt.


The CFR and the Trilateral Commission …
dominate key positions in America’s government, military, industries, media outlets, educational foundations and institutions.