Apr 25, 2010

Another Reason to Keep Gitmo Open...

Not ending it, but mending it!

From the BBC this morning!

Eleven suspected Somali pirates have been charged in a US court over two attacks on US naval vessels.

The charges include piracy, attacking to plunder a maritime vessel, and assault with a dangerous weapon. The men did not enter a plea and spoke only to say they understood proceedings against them, AP news agency reported.

After they were captured, the group was kept aboard US Navy vessels off the Somali coast while officials decided what to do with them.

At the Virginia courthouse, one suspect was on crutches and had his head bandaged, while another was in a wheelchair and had one leg bandaged because it had been amputated below the knee, AP said. The US government said the injuries resulted from the men's alleged battle with the Navy.

Five of the defendants were captured on 31 March after they allegedly fired at a US Navy ship from their boat, west of the Seychelles. According to court documents, they apparently mistook the guided-missile frigate USS Nicholas for a merchant ship. The other six were arrested in waters near Djibouti on 10 April after allegedly shooting at the USS Ashland, an amphibious vessel.

Both incidents involved US warships taking part in an international anti-pirate effort off the east coast of Africa.

The US legal process comes after Kenya - Somalia's neighbour - said it was planning to stop piracy trials, arguing that it was an international issue and they should not be left to bear the burden alone.

Pirates operating off the African coast have intensified attacks on shipping in recent years and have expanded their reach towards India, despite patrols by the US and other navies.

With piracy increasing, some have called for international courts to be set up to deal with the problem. Last year, the US charged a Somali teenager with piracy after he allegedly tried to seize a US ship in the Indian ocean.

Apr 7, 2010

Anwar al-Awlaki

U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric

I'll certainly support this project, going for it in a big way!

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.

But the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing in February that such a step was possible. “We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community,” he said. “If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that.” He did not name Mr. Awlaki as a target.

The step taken against Mr. Awlaki, which occurred earlier this year, is a vivid illustration of his rise to prominence in the constellation of terrorist leaders. But his popularity as a cleric, whose lectures on Islamic scripture have a large following among English-speaking Muslims, means any action against him could rebound against the United States in the larger ideological campaign against Al Qaeda.

The possibility that Mr. Awlaki might be added to the target list was reported by The Los Angeles Times in January, and Reuters reported on Tuesday that he was approved for capture or killing.

“The danger Awlaki poses to this country is no longer confined to words,” said an American official, who like other current and former officials interviewed for this article spoke of the classified counterterrorism measures on the condition of anonymity. “He’s gotten involved in plots.”
The official added: “The United States works, exactly as the American people expect, to overcome threats to their security, and this individual — through his own actions — has become one. Awlaki knows what he’s done, and he knows he won’t be met with handshakes and flowers. None of this should surprise anyone.”

As a general principle, international law permits the use of lethal force against individuals and groups that pose an imminent threat to a country, and officials said that was the standard used in adding names to the list of targets. In addition, Congress approved the use of military force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. People on the target list are considered to be military enemies of the United States and therefore not subject to the ban on political assassination first approved by President Gerald R. Ford.

Both the C.I.A. and the military maintain lists of terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and its affiliates who are approved for capture or killing, former officials said. But because Mr. Awlaki is an American, his inclusion on those lists had to be approved by the National Security Council, the officials said.

Apr 4, 2010

Eugene Terreblanche Hacked to Death on His Sleep

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- The right wing, white supremist leader, Eugene Terreblanche was probably one of the most divisive and least likable characters in recent South African history.

Not many people in South Africa would disagree with that. One newspaper editor called him "a violent racist" others have called his far right wing views "distasteful in the extreme."

However, his apparent murder on his farm has left many South Africans cold and fearful that this beautiful but deeply troubled country is again in the grip of racial hatred.

Terreblanche's killing comes soon after a senior figure within the ruling African National Congress, Julius Malema, was barred by a judge from singing the anti-apartheid song, "Kill the Boer" or "Kill the farmer."

The court ruled the song was tantamount to "hate speech." But the ruling party and its allies came out in defense of the song's violent lyrics, saying it reflected their heritage and struggle for freedom against the white apartheid government.

And then the man who represented the worst of that old, apartheid South Africa is bludgeoned and hacked to death on his farm. He was apparently attacked while taking an afternoon nap.

The connection was bound to be made; the coincidence just too much for racially sensitive South Africans.

They are asking -- did that song incite two young men to kill the archetypal "Boer?" Was his death more than a criminal incident over unpaid wages?

And will there now be reprisals against black South Africans by the small number of Terreblanche supporters, who will see him as a martyr?

For many here, the atmosphere now smacks of those scary, dark days before South Africans voted for a new democratic South Africa in 1994 -- when the white man and the black man were so suspicious of each other that many thought this country's transition to democracy would be violent and bloody.

But South Africans were led out of the twisted spectre of racial hatred by Nelson Mandela -- whose leadership and calm management prevented a potentially explosive conflict.

Mandela is now an old man, who cannot be expected to quell another rising tide of hatred and it is now left to a new generation of South African leaders to heed the lessons which he taught them 16 years ago.

But the bonds of nationhood that Mandela strived to build are still fragile and many in South Africa fear that Terreblanche could be even more divisive in death than he was in life -- and tear apart a nation still struggling to let go of the past.