The arrests have been a major news item today. Many of the recent reports seem to be ringing changes on this U.S. Department of Justice press release:
"Two Chicago men have been arrested on federal charges for their alleged roles in conspiracies to provide material support and/or to commit terrorist acts against overseas targets, including facilities and employees of a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, federal law enforcement officials announced today. There was no imminent danger in the Chicago area, officials said, adding that the charges are unrelated to recent terror plot arrests in Boston, New York, Colorado, Texas and central Illinois.There's more - quite a lot more - to the DOJ press release.
"The defendants charged in separate criminal complaints unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago are David Coleman Headley, 49, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, also known as Tahawar Rana, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI. The complaints remained under seal temporarily after the defendants' arrests, with court approval, so as not to compromise further investigative activity...."
(U.S. Department of Justice)
The bottom line is that another terrorist attack - attacks, more likely - won't happen. Not on schedule, at least.
And that's good news.
The bad news is that some (a few, I trust) people who are convinced that they're following - and defending - Islam apparently still have that Danish paper on their hit list.
Freedom of Speech and Callouses on the SoulI don't approve of terrorism. I think I understand some of the emotions and motives involved, but that is not the same as condoning terrorism, or excusing terrorists from responsibility.
A few years ago, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, published a number of cartoons by a Swedish cartoonist. Depending on your point of view, they were clever, sophisticated, in poor taste, or a world-class example of intellectual jingoism.
They portrayed the prophet - which is unacceptable by itself, in some flavors of Islam - in a very, very unfavorable light.
But, that sort of in-your-face contempt for religious beliefs is protected by 'freedom of expression' these days, in Western countries where 'free speech' is valued.
As a devout Catholic living in America, I'm used to seeing and reading angry, disgusting, and clueless 'comic' references to my faith. It goes with the territory. I don't like, particularly when I'm forced to help pay the salary of someone who commits sacrilege. (August 5, 2008)
I've gotten gut-wrenching angry, sometimes. But I couldn't support a bunch of crazed Catholics who wanted to kill the governor: and would, if by some freak of probability such a group existed and I had information about them, cooperate with civil authorities. Yes: I'd be helping people who attack my faith. But I'd be following my faith by being a good citizen.1 And, I think, helping people who didn't know all that much about Catholicism what my faith was really about.
I'd probably be even more emotionally worked up, if there weren't so many callouses on my soul. Some of the subcultures I lived in weren't just anti-Catholic - they didn't approve of any sort of 'organized religion.' Except maybe some very non-Abrahamic ones. After a while, you almost get used to it.
Which may be why this blog isn't anywhere near as vehemently anti-Islam as some 'real American' ones are. As I said, I don't condone terrorism: But I do have some idea of what it's like to follow a faith that most people in my country either doesn't care about - or are hostile toward.
Two Chicago Men and 'Those Muslims'I think it's a good idea to remember that, after wild reactions to anti-Islamic cartoons made Muslims look like out-of-control rioters - and Islam like a repressive and dangerously violent cult - the more sane and sober followers of Islam took stock of what they believed, and how they should react to insults. And came to the conclusion that
- 'Freedom of speech' was part of contemporary culture in many parts of the world
- Violent reactions to naughty cartoons made Muslims look silly
- At best
- Following culturally-normative channels of protest were a better idea
As I've said often: 'Islam' isn't some great, homogeneous, monolithic block of people who all feel, think, and act the same way. It's prudent to remember that the loudest, most violent, craziest of any group aren't representative of the whole group.
- "Fitna Producer Geert Wilders: Alive and Well, and Facing Charges"
(January 21, 2009)
- " 'Self-Satisfied Ignorance?' Eucharist, Quran, and Atheist Book Trashed"
(August 5, 2008)
- "Freedom of Speech: It's Protected in America"
(March 27, 2008)
- "Islam, Denmark, and Freedom of Speech: a Learning Experience"
(February 13, 2008)
- "Swedish Dog Displays Blasphemous Images"
(September 19, 2007)
- "Death to the Cartoonist! Death to Swedish Dog!"
(September 18, 2007)
- "The Subway Project and 'Why Islam?' - Terrorists in the Subways! Or, Not"
(July 23, 2008)
- "Pro-Islamic Ads Coming to New York City Subways: There's a Real Danger Here, of Becoming Informed"
(July 21, 2008)
- "Two Chicago Men Charged in Connection with Alleged Roles in Foreign Terror Plot That Focused on Targets in Denmark"
The United States Department of Justice press release (October 27, 2009)
- "Danish intelligence: Planned attacks not imminent"
The Associated Press (October 27, 2009)
- "Two Chicago Men Face Terror Charges"
The Wall Street Journal (October 27, 2009)
- "Two charged by U.S. in plot to attack Danish paper"
Reuters (October 27, 2009)
- "2 Chicago men accused of plotting terror attacks"
WBBM780 (October 27, 2009)
1Which makes being a Catholic in America really interesting these days. That 'be a good citizen' thing is one of the rules I have to follow, but I also have to obey God's law.
- "Conservative? Liberal? Democrat? Republican? No, I'm Catholic"
(November 3, 2008)
- "Elections and Citizenship, Catholic Style"
A Catholic Citizen in America (September 24, 2008)