The radicalization of Dr. Al-Balawi

Juan Cole of Informed Consent wrote this brief history of Dr. Al-Balawi, the suicide bomber who took out several CIA agents in Afganistan, and how he came to be. He was in Afganistan allegedly helping the CIA track down primary Al Qaeda suspects. After the incident, it was reported that Dr. Al-Balawi was a double-agent, even though it is unclear just who he was supposed to be working for. Juan Cole cleared that up. It was himself, a Palestinian doctor radicalized by American led and funded atrocities in the Middle East.

<Al-Balawi's sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi's family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes, for which they never received compensation, and some still live in refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the suffering Palestinian people.

AP has a video interview with al-Balawi's Turkish wife, in which she traces his radicalization to the brutal US occupation of neighboring Iraq, including reports of the rape of Iraqi women by US troops at Abu Ghraib (where much of the torture had sexual overtones) and the US destruction of the city of Fallujah in November-December 2004.

The Arabic press is confirming that al-Balawi was further enraged by the Israeli war on poor little Gaza last winter. A physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel's brutal targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. (The Israelis were trying to destroy the fundamentalist Hamas party, which rules Gaza, and gave as their pretext the occasional rockets Hamas fired into Israel, though in fact there had been a truce for much of 2008, a truce of which the Israelis coldly took advantage to plan their war.)

The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom.

After the vicious war on Gaza was over, and the schools and hospitals lay in ruin, Israel ratcheted up a siege of the small territory of 1.6 million persons, half of them children, denying them enough services, fuel and even food for a decent life. In some parts of Gaza, 10 percent of the children are stunted because of malnutrition. Israel destroyed Gaza's airport and harbor and strictly controls what goes into the territory. Israel never says what its end game is here, and how long exactly they are going to keep the children of Gaza in what one Vatican official has called a 'concentration camp.'

In the past couple of weeks (though you would not know it from American television), two separate civilian Western aid convoys were mounted to relieve the Gazans via Gaza's small southwestern border with Egypt (the Israelis would never have allowed them to do this, and the Egyptian state wasn't happy either). One was supported with a hunger strike by an elderly Holocaust survivor. Some of those in the second were assaulted by the Egyptian police. British MP George Galloway was deported and forbidden to return to Egypt. Egypt is dragooned into supporting the illegal blockade of Gaza by the US on behalf of Israel, and is also afraid of the fundamentalist Hamas, which has resorted to terrorism.

Collective punishment of a whole population, especially one still technically occupied, is illegal in international law.

What is fascinating is the way al-Balawi's grievances tie together the Iraq War, the ongoing Gaza atrocity, and the Western military presence in the Pushtun regions-- the geography of the Bush 'war on terror' was inscribed on his tortured mind.

Morally speaking, al-Qaeda is twisted and evil, and has committed mass murder. Neither the US nor Israel is morally responsible for violent crackpots being violent crackpots. Al-Qaeda or a Taliban affiliate turned al-Balawi to the dark side. Gandhi and Martin Luther King taught us the proper response to social injustice (and it should not be forgotten that Gandhi had a significant following among the Pashtuns). But from a social science, explanatory point of view, what we have to remember is that there can be a handful of al-Balawis, or there can be thousands or hundreds of thousands. It depends on how many Abu Ghraibs, Fallujahs, Lebanons and Gazas the United States initiates or supports to the hilt. Unjust wars and occupations radicalize people. The American Right wing secretly knows this, but likes the vicious circle it produces. Wars make profits for the military-industrial complex, and the resulting terrorism terrifies the clueless US public and helps hawks win elections, allowing them to pursue further wars. And so it goes, until the Republic is bankrupted and in ruins and its unemployed have to live in tent cities.

So, yes, this al-Balawi person was going to help Jordan and the US find al-Qaeda leaders Usama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Sure he was. Walmart does better background checks on its store clerks than the CIA and Jordanian intelligence did on this guy.>

With permission.


Calling Bono: Palestinian Gandhis Exist in Graves and Prisons

Bono, the famous leader of the band U2, is renowned for advocating for peoples deprived of human rights around the world. But strangely, he has stayed away from the plight of the Palestinians, in spite of numerous invitations to come to Palestine and witness for himself the Israeli occupation and the unrelenting theft of Palestinian lands, the colonialism, it supports. Silence has been his response.


Then a column appeared in the New York Times, in which Bono wrote, 

"I’ll place my hopes on the possibility — however remote at the moment — that...people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi."

In response to his incredibly ignorant statement, ALISON WEIR, a journalist and founder of If Americans Knew, wrote this invitation, Calling Bono: Those Palestinian Gandhis....Exist in Graves and Prisons, for Counterpunch.

"Dear Bono,

Your hope has already been fulfilled in the Palestinian territories. Unfortunately, these Palestinian Gandhis and Kings are being killed and imprisoned.

On the day that your op-ed appeared hoping for such leaders, three were languishing in Israeli prisons. No one knows how long they will be held, nor under what conditions; torture is common in Israeli prisons.

At least 19 Palestinians have been killed in the last six years alone during nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s apartheid wall that is confiscating Palestinian cropland and imprisoning Palestinian people. Many others have been killed in other parts of the Palestinian territories while taking part in nonviolent activities. Hundreds more have been detained and imprisoned.

Recently Israel has begun a campaign to incarcerate the leaders of this diverse movement of weekly marches and demonstrations taking place in small Palestinian villages far from media attention.

The first Palestinian Gandhi to be rounded up in this recent purge was young Mohammad Othman, taken on Sept. 22 when he was returning home from speaking in Norway about nonviolent strategies to oppose Israeli oppression and land confiscation. He has now been held for 107 days without charges, much of it in solitary confinement.

The second was Abdallah Abu Rahma, a schoolteacher and farmer taken from his home on Dec. 10, the only one to be charged with a crime. After holding him for several days, Israel finally came up with a charge: “illegal weapons possession” – referring to the peace sign he had fashioned out of the spent teargas cartridges and bullets that Israel had shot at nonviolent demonstrators. (One such cartridge pierced the skull of Tristan Anderson, an American who was photographing the aftermath of a nonviolent march, causing part of his right frontal lobe to be removed.)

The third was Jamal Jumah’, a veteran leader in the grassroots struggle, who was taken by Israeli occupation forces on Dec. 16th and is now being held in shackles and often blindfolded during Kafkaesque Israeli military proceedings.

Palestinians have been engaging in nonviolence for decades.

When I was last in Nablus I learned of a massive nonviolent demonstration that had occurred in 2001 – estimates range from 10,000 to 50,000 Palestinian men, women, and children taking part in a nonviolent march. All sectors of Nablus had joined together in organizing this – public officials, diverse parties, religious, secular, Muslim, Christian.

Modeling their action on images of Dr. Martin Luther King, they marched arm-in-arm, believing that Israel would not kill them and that the world would care. They were wrong on both counts. Israeli forces immediately shot six dead and injured many more. And no one even knows about it. At If Americans Knew we are currently working on a video to try to remedy the last part; there’s nothing we can do about the dead.

But there’s a great deal you can do, Bono. You can use your talent and celebrity to tell the world these facts. You can write a New York Times op-ed about the Palestinian Gandhis in Israeli prisons and call for their freedom. You can sing of these Palestinian Martin Luther Kings you wished for, and by singing save their lives.

For the reality is that nonviolence is only as powerful as its visibility to the world. When it is made invisible through its lack of coverage by the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, et al, its practitioners are in deadly danger, and their efforts to use nonviolence against injustice are doomed.

In the New York Times you publicly proclaimed your belief in nonviolence. Now is your chance to demonstrate your commitment."

Here is a list of those nonviolent demonstrators who were killed by Israeli forces while demonstrating against the Israeli wall being built on Palestinian land [source:]

5 June 2009: Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour, 36. Shot in the chest with 0.22 calibre live ammunition during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin.

April 17, 2009: Basem Abu Rahme, age 29. Shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile during a demonstration against the Wall in Bil’in.

December 28, 2008: Mohammad Khawaja, age 20. Shot in the head with live ammunition during a demonstration in Ni’lin against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Mohammad died in the hospital on December 31, 2009.

December 28, 2008: Arafat Khawaja, age 22. Shot in the back with live ammunition in Ni’lin during a demonstration against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

July 30, 2008: Youssef Ahmed Younes Amirah, age 17. Shot in the head with rubber coated bullets during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin. Youssef died of his wounds on August 4, 2008.

July 29, 2008: Ahmed Husan Youssef Mousa, age 10. Shot dead while he and several friends tried to remove coils of razor wire from land belonging to the village in Ni’lin.

March 2, 2008: Mahmoud Muhammad Ahmad Masalmeh, age 15. Shot dead when trying to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in Beit Awwa.

March 28, 2007: Muhammad Elias Mahmoud ‘Aweideh, age 15. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Um a-Sharayet – Samiramis.

February 2, 2007: Taha Muhammad Subhi al-Quljawi, age 16. Shot dead when he and two friends tried to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in the Qalandiya Refugee Camp. He was wounded in the thigh and died from blood loss after remaining in the field for a long time without treatment.

May 4, 2005: Jamal Jaber Ibrahim ‘Asi, age 15. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.

May 4, 2005: U’dai Mufid Mahmoud ‘Asi, age 14. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.

February 15, 2005: ‘Alaa’ Muhammad ‘Abd a-Rahman Khalil, age 14. Shot dead while throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle driven by private security guards near the Wall in Betunya.

April 18, 2004: Islam Hashem Rizik Zhahran, age 14. Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Deir Abu Mash’al. Islam died of his wounds April 28, 2004.

April 18, 2004: Diaa’ A-Din ‘Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Abu ‘Eid, age 23. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

April 16, 2004: Hussein Mahmoud ‘Awad ‘Alian, age 17. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Betunya.

February 26, 2004: Muhammad Da’ud Saleh Badwan, age 21. Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu. Muhammad died of his wounds on March 3, 2004.

February 26, 2004: Abdal Rahman Abu ‘Eid, age 17. Died of a heart attack after teargas projectiles were shot into his home during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

February 26, 2004: Muhammad Fadel Hashem Rian, age 25. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

February 26, 2004: Zakaria Mahmoud ‘Eid Salem, age 28. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

It is hard not to notice the number of teenagers who were killed during peaceful demonstrations.

It is also troublesome to listen to someone like Bono pretend ignorance and blame the victims, the Palestinians, in what is a gross display of Israeli propaganda. Bono is not that dumb, is he?


Amnesty: Israeli Detention of Palestinian Activists Must End

In an effort to curtail non-violent resistance to its 42 year occupation of the Palestinian people, in this case in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel has begun imprisoning prominent resistance leaders from various Palestinian communities. The dangerousness of these leaders to Israel's colonialism is apparently becoming more evident as their non-violent protests achieve wider international press coverage.

Amnesty International recently condemned these arrests/imprisonments which take place without charge.


The Israeli authorities must immediately release, or bring before a fair trial, three Palestinian human rights activists detained in Israel following their protests against the construction of the West Bank fence/wall, Amnesty International said on Friday.

In a letter sent to Ehud Barak, Israeli Defence and Deputy Prime Minister on Thursday, Amnesty International expressed concern that Jamal Juma', Abdallah Abu Rahmah and Mohammed Othman were prisoners of conscience, held for legitimately voicing their opposition to the fence/wall.

"These men have all been involved in campaigning against the building of this construction, much of it on the land of the occupied West Bank, and we fear that this is the real reason for their imprisonment," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "If this is the case they must be released immediately and unconditionally."

Jamal Juma' is the co-ordinator of the "Stop the Wall" campaign and a prominent human rights activist. He was arrested by the Israeli authorities on 16 December 2009. He has not been formally charged with any offence since his detention and information relating to his arrest has not been shared with his lawyer.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah, head of the "Popular Committee Against the Wall" in the village of Bil'in, was arrested on 10 December 2009. He has been charged with three offences: incitement, stone-throwing, and possession of arms.

Amnesty International said it understands the possession of arms charge relates to Abdallah Abu Rahmah collecting used M16 bullets, and empty sound and gas grenades, employed by Israeli forces to disperse demonstrators against the wall, and exhibiting them in Bil'in museum to raise awareness of Israeli practices against protestors.

Mohammed Othman, a volunteer with the "Stop the Wall" campaign, has been detained continuously since 22 September 2009. He was arrested on his return from Norway, after meeting activist groups there campaigning against the fence/wall and is being held without charge or trial in Israeli administrative detention.

Read on HERE:



On January 9, 2010, the wife of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Majida, who is a school teacher, wrote a “message” to Americans, which was frontpaged by Huffington Post (thank you Ariana for not being deceived during your recent trip to Israel). It was called, <b>A Message of Non-Violent Resistance From Within Israeli Prison</b>.

(Does anyone recall the arrest and jailing of Martin Luther King?)


On Tuesday, January 5, I attended the trial of my husband Abdallah Abu Rahmah in an Israeli military detention camp. Ofer Military Base is a dark and dehumanizing place, but I was happy to go there because it meant that I would finally see my husband.

I joined my friend Fatima, wife of Adib Abu Rahmah in the crowd of families waiting outside the gates of the base hoping to be admitted. Fatima's husband is another committed nonviolent activist from Bil'in who, like my husband, is being accused of incitement, that is, of encouraging demonstrations against the Wall. Adib and Fatima have nine children. He has been in detention for over six months now.

Diplomats from the US, Germany, Sweden and Spain who know Abdallah also came to support him.

Just one month ago these diplomats had visited Abdullah in Bil'in and had seen for themselves how Israeli settlements and the Apartheid Wall have stolen over 50% of our village's land. They promised then that they would do what they could to help our popular struggle and here they were, true to their word. The Spanish consul who represents the new president of the European union tried to shake Abdullah's hand but the soldiers wouldn't let him.

Read on HERE:


I recall videoed scenes of the weekly protests in Bil'in, West Bank. The violence of the Israeli soldiers is reminiscent of the gas and water cannons used by southern policeman and state troopers to stop segregation protests in the US. Eerie.

Israeli Jews oppose banning minarets

We all know about that ridiculous minaret ban approved in Switzerland late last year. While I oppose Islamic law and Islamism being propagated in Europe, as I support freedom both from and of religion, I oppose government bans on building a religious structure.

But what about those imperialist racist colonial Muslim-oppressing Israelis, who like the imperialist capitalist West engage in the "War on Islam?"

There's more...

Exporting Palestinian Racism to America

With all the talk about "Zionism is racism," its time to shed light on some of the [ racism] against the Jews, done by too many in the Palestinian community, which impedes the peace process.

There's more...


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