Monday, May 5, 2008

Leaky Prisons, Air-Tight Internet: Yemen, Turkey, and the Islamic Way?

  • "Turkey again blocks access to YouTube over videos deemed insulting to national leader"
    International Herald Tribune (May 5, 2008)
    • "ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey once again has blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube.
    • "State-run media say a court in Ankara ordered the ban in response to videos that it deemed insulting to Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish national leader who died seven decades ago."
    • (Sound familiar? It should. Turkey blocks YouTube at rather frequent intervals - remember "Turkey blocks YouTube access" (CNN (March 13, 2008)?)
  • "U.S. Frustrated By Elusive Justice Served to USS Cole Plotters"
    FoxNEWS (May 5, 2008)
    • "It's been called 'the forgotten attack' but it's one of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.
    • "Eight years after the USS Cole was attacked by a motorboat packed with explosives, all of the six men convicted of the strike have escaped from prison, or been freed by Yemeni officials.
    • "Jamal al-Badawi, who helped organize the Cole plot, has reportedly escaped from Yemeni prisons twice. He is supposedly back in jail now, but the Washington Post reported that he has been spotted at his home and is apparently able to come and go around town as he pleases."
Yemen has a pretty good explanation for some of the Cole releases.

One batch left through a tunnel and neighboring mosque ("23 Al-Qaeda suspects escape from Political Security Prison" (Yemen Times (February 4, 2006)). A tunnel 300 meters long, coming up in a mosque: Well, accidents happen.

"Yemeni officials have said that some of the Cole defendants have been let go because they've helped authorities track down other suspected terrorists, or because they've taken part in a "dialogue and reconciliation" program to reform al-Qaeda members. "

Letting small fry go in order to capture a higher-ranking bad guy: I'm familiar enough with that approach from American jurisprudence. I understand the rationale: and admit that Yemen may have reason on its side in that case.

The "dialogue and reconciliation" program is a little closer to the edge of plausibility, in my book. But, maybe it works.

Still, it's interesting that the Cole perpetrators can't seem to be kept in Yemini prisons.

Even the Washington Post reports that there's something smelly in Yemen:
"Some Yemenis have questioned whether their government has other motives. One senior Yemeni official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Badawi and other al-Qaeda members have a long relationship with Yemen's intelligence agencies and were recruited in the past to target political opponents."
("Probe of USS Cole Bombing Unravels" Washington Post (May 8, 2008))
On the other hand, the Washington Post article may be read as an indictment of American authorities, particularly the FBI, which seems to have been insensitive to Yemini cultural values.
" 'This is a country that didn't even have fingerprint powder, and now they're dealing with the most sophisticated law enforcement agency in the world,' said Barbara K. Bodine, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen at the time. 'DNA is a complete fantasy to them.'

"Bodine said the FBI was slow to trust Yemeni authorities, and kept the U.S. Embassy in the dark as well, hampering the probe. She described the Yemeni government as generally cooperative, but said some officials dug in their heels and 'certainly didn't like us.'

"The FBI was 'dealing with a bureaucracy and a culture they didn't understand,' she said. 'Yemen operates on a different timeline than we do. We had one group working on a New York minute, and another on a 4,000-year-old history.' "
(Washington Post)
That last lines brings up a point I'm going to repeat from time to time.

The War on Terror certainly has a religious aspect: a particular flavor of Islam against everybody else, including insufficiently 'Islamic' Muslims.

However, I think that another issue is a major factor. Some cultures, like Yemen's, were living much the same way that they had for the last several thousand years - until very recently.

Then, they discovered that while they were following in the camel tracks of their ancestors, the rest of the world had developed steam engines, voting machines, the Internet, and American Idol.

That must have been quite a shock.

In a way, I suppose it's no wonder that some people who were living in the world of the Babylon and Nineveh want everyone else to go back to their 'good old days.'

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.