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Mar. 7 2010 — 4:44 pm | 231 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Reports: Pakistan Arrests ‘American Al-Qaeda’

According to the Associated Press, the American-born spokesman for Al-Qaeda (Adam Yahye Gadahn) has finally been arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers in the southern city of Karachi, two officers and a government official said Sunday; the same day that Adam Gadahn also appeared in a video urging U.S. Muslims to attack their own country.

The many faces of Adam Gadahn

The many faces of Adam Gadahn

Thank God that bumbling idiot has been arrested.

The arrest of Gadahn is a major victory in the U.S.-led battle against Al-Qaeda and will be taken as a positive sign that Pakistan is cooperating more fully with Washington. Furthermore, AP reported that it also follows the recent detentions of several Afghan Taliban commanders in Karachi.

Adam Gadahn grew up on a California farm, and was home-schooled until the age of 17. He later converted to Islam and his family in California has said they last heard from him in 2002. In 2004, the FBI identified him as part of an Al-Qaeda cell that was planning attacks aimed at disrupting that year’s presidential election in the United States.

In October 2004, he began appearing in disguise in Al-Qaeda videos. Gadahn finally dropped the disguise in 2006.

Is that Adam Gadahn eating Doritos?

Is that Adam Gadahn eating Doritos?

As one of the token white guys (and Muppet-like propagandist) for the brainless idiots known as Al-Qaeda, it is a relief that we will not have to see any more of his future nonsensical (and pathological) videotaped rants on the Internet anytime soon.

If the reports of his arrest in Pakistan are true, let us all collectively breathe a sigh of relief and hope that we never have to hear the name ‘Adam Gadahn’ ever again.

Although AP and Reuters had both reported that it was Adam Gadahn, CBS News is now reporting that it may have been another high-level American Al-Qaeda operative.CBS News mentioned a New York Times report which sourced American and Pakistani officials who reported “that the man arrested was Abu Yahya Mujahedeen al-Adam, and describes him as an Al-Qaeda commander who was born in Pennsylvania.”

Well, it seems that the facts are still coming out of Pakistan on this one.

Personally, I still hope they caught Adam Gadahn…

UPDATE- 7:19pm EST Well, it seems that there are conflicting reports now as to the true identity of the American arrested in Pakistan.

Feb. 25 2010 — 7:28 pm | 1,878 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Goodbye to Boner from ‘Growing Pains’

According to Entertainment Tonight, Vancouver police have found the body believed “by police to be that of Andrew Koenig, the missing “Growing Pains” actor last seen in Vancouver on Feb. 14, has been discovered by state authorities.”

Actor Andrew Koenig, 41 years old

Actor Andrew Koenig, 41 years old

The Vancouver Police Department tells ET that they are investigating the discovery of the body, found today in Stanley Park around noon.

A news conference is scheduled for tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, and Koenig’s parents — “Star Trek” star Walter Koenig and his wife Judy — will be present. The police search had been underway since Feb. 18.

Koenig, 41, memorably played Mike Seaver’s buddy “Boner” on the hit ’80s sitcom “Growing Pains.”

For those of us who grew up with the Seavers in the 1980s, the shenanigans of Mike Seaver and his BFF Richard Milhous “Boner” Stabone (1985-1989 and in the series finale in 1992) were some of the best from the sitcom era of the 80s.

Before today’s discovery, Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron said, “I am very concerned to hear of the disappearance of my old friend Andrew Koenig,” says Kirk Cameron in a statement.  Both Cameron and Koenig co-starred on Growing Pains, which aired from 1985-1992. “I can remember many of the fun times we had on the set of Growing Pains. I am praying for his family during this time of distress and for his safe return.” BonerStabone

Mr. Koenig, 41, had not been seen since Feb. 14. “Andrew, if you’re reading this, please call me,” Cameron added. “Mike and Boner could always work things out when they put their minds to it. I’m praying for you, pal. Hope to hear from you soon.”

Sadly, Boner is gone…On behalf of a generation of sitcom television; rest in peace, Boner…

Feb. 1 2010 — 12:32 am | 964 views | 1 recommendations | 1 comment

Life of a Muslim De-Radicalizer

He is a lifelong Texan, registered Republican, die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan and professional Muslim ‘de-radicalizer’ all-in-one. Especially in light of both the recently-foiled Christmas day airline bombing plot in Detroit and earlier high-profile arrests of 5 young American Muslim men in Sargodha, Pakistan; the current debate within the chattering class of our political zeitgeist is revolving around ensuring that young impressionable Western Muslims are not radicalized within the dark recesses of cyberspace and the Internet.

This is where professional de-radicalizers like Mohamed Elibiary come into play.

As founder and president of The Freedom and Justice Foundation in Dallas, Mr. Elibiary has recently found himself serving the American Muslim community by helping to serve families and communities who are concerned about some of their youngsters naively falling prey to the lure of a ‘new jihadi cool’; a sociopolitical term coined by former CIA forensic psychiatrist Dr. Marc Sageman to categorize some of these young impressionable men who seek to perform acts of criminal vigilante terrorism contrary to every normative mainstream teaching of Islam.

“There are two major approaches to de-radicalization,” Mr. Elibiary recently told me during an exclusive interview. “We have to present our youth with better conduits to voice their dissent more effectively in order to fix geopolitical challenges facing the Muslim world” and thus reduce the feelings of disenfranchisement which could possibly lead to potential radicalization.

“All this [professional de-radicalization] stuff started about five years ago,” he further told me as he recalled a 2008 story when he was called by a Texas imam about an Egyptian-American young man who was en route to Pakistan after the traumatizing death of his father. Immediately, Mr. Elibiary was quickly connected to the sister of this young man by the imam and he found out that the young man was flying “over the Atlantic” on an airplane at the moment he received this frantic phone call.

“I was literally on K Street [in Washington DC] when I received the phone call,” recalled Elibiary about the 2008 incident. Immediately, he learned from the sister in Texas that the young man’s mother and another sister were living in Cairo, Egypt at the time.

Mohamed Elibiary immediately thought of a plan.

He told the sister in Cairo to immediately fly to Dubai and meet the brother during his layover for the next segment of his flight to Pakistan. At the airport in Dubai, she met her brother and immediately told him that his mother in Cairo was “completely distraught” and that if he did not accompany her back to Cairo that their “mother would probably die” very soon. With familial obligations now trumping any idiotic extremist tendencies, the young man immediately abandoned his plans for Pakistan and flew back home with his sister to their mother’s home in Egypt.

During this whole concocted ordeal, Mr. Elibiary was here stateside and immediately reached out to his contacts in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and said that “the Bureau was fully cooperative” during the whole plan to intercept the young woman’s brother at Dubai International Airport.

When speaking further about the professional de-radicalization process, Mr. Elibiary also highlighted that the concept of a ‘cognitive opening’ lies at the psychological heart of the de-radicalization process in many cases.

Professor Quintan Wiktorowicz of Rhodes College has written extensively on this subject and says that “the first step to radicalization is a ‘cognitive opening’, which is the first crack opening a person has to extremist ideas.”

According to Professor Wiktorowicz, the phenomenon of a ‘cognitive opening’ can be the “result of social, economic, and/or political discontent from various kinds of alienation, discrimination, and/or victimization.” Furthermore, he goes so far as to include personal issues (such as a death in the family) to being a potential ‘cognitive opening’ for potential radicalization as well.

The common thread of these radicalization experiences is that they precipitate an internal personal crisis that “shakes certainty in previously-accepted beliefs and renders an individual more receptive to the possibility of alternative views and perspectives,” according to Professor Wiktorowicz.sargodha5

Most recently, Mohamed Elibiary was also at the forefront of the recent case of 5 young American Muslim men who were arrested by law enforcement authorities in Sargodha, Pakistan. At the very beginning of this case, he was quickly contacted by their families and representatives when they realized something was afoul when their sons did not return to their homes in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Elibiary was immediately called by the families’ representatives who had stated that the family representatives had just stepped out of a conference room and that “we got a [farewell] video” from one of the five men arrested in Pakistan.

“I’ll call the Bureau,” Mr. Elibiary responded and immediately was in touch with the Washington Field Office of the FBI to let them know that the American Muslim families of the 5 men wanted our law enforcement agencies to know about their sons’ disappearance.

The one major silver lining for this case in Sargodha, Pakistan was that the concept of ‘community policing’ worked very well. More than a “week and a half” after Mr. Elibiary first received the families’ phone call, CNN reported the fact that the young men’s families went directly to their mosques and Muslim civil rights organizations on the morning of December 1, 2009, shortly after discovering their sons were missing almost two weeks earlier.

“The path for a lot of these kids is essentially like at-risk gangbangers, who want to stand up for their community, to address grievances of the global Muslim community more effectively than they’ve seen the elder generation address them since 9/11,” Mr. Elibiary told CNN’s Anderson Cooper shortly after the arrest of the five young men in Pakistan.

“For over three years, there was been a ‘virtual war’ going on between mainstream Muslim scholars who are trying to block the extremist message in Western countries, which has not been reported in the West,” Mr. Elibiary continued to tell me during our exclusive interview on his work as a professional de-radicalizer.

When asked further what the American Muslim community can do to ensure that our children are not future potential pawns for extremist propaganda; he highlighted obvious and everyday civic duties that we do in our lives like, “Taking your kids with you when you go to vote, while you go sight-seeing at the state capital or visiting your congressperson.”

“That is the best way that we can help bring about positive change in America; not 5 random guys aimlessly going into a war zone somewhere” in the forgotten hinterlands of Pakistan.

Jan. 19 2010 — 12:47 am | 523 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Were Guantanamo ‘Suicides’ Actually Murder?

According to an advance exclusive feature-length article by journlist Scott Horton that will appear in the March 2010 issue Harper’s Magazine (available on newsstands the week of February 15), several U.S. Army whistle-blowers have bravely come forward to set forth newly unpublished facts regarding the June 2006 reported ’suicides’ of 3 Guantanamo Bay inmates which may shed more light on these incidents.

A few days after his inauguration, on January 22, 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at Guantánamo Bay “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.”

With only a few days left until that self-imposed deadline, the Obama administration has failed to fulfill this promise thus far.

According to the upcoming Harper’s exclusive article, journalist Scott Horton outlines a compelling whistle-blower narrative of “crimes that occurred during the Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriously—and may even have continued—a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006.”

Late in the evening on June 9, 2006, three different prisoners at Guantánamo Bay died suddenly and violently at virtually the same time.

None of the three inmates- 37-year-old Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, 30-year-old Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and 22-year-old Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani- had ever been charged with a crime; although all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block- known as Alpha Block- reserved for particularly “troublesome or high-value prisoners”.

According to journalist Scott Horton, the commander at Guantánamo at the time- Rear Admiral Harry Harris- then declared the deaths “suicides” at the time of their near-simultaneous deaths in June 2009.

Over two years later, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)- which has primary investigative jurisdiction within the naval base- issued a report supporting the “suicide account originally advanced by Admiral Harris, now a vice-admiral in command of the Sixth Fleet”, according to the Harper’s magazine article.

Recently though- after several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests- the official NCIS report was carefully cross-referenced and deciphered by professors, students and faculty at the law school of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and their findings, released in November 2009, shed new light on these June 2006 ’suicides’ at Guantanamo Bay.

According to the NCIS report, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall.

The NCIS report further stated that “each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat”.

Most astonishingly, according to the Harper’s article, “we are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated“.

The NCIS report further proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously that same June evening in 2006.

The Army whistle-blowers in the Harper’s article- Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision at Guantanamo Bay- have disclosed evidence in exclusive interviews with Harper’s Magazine that “strongly suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths.”

Furthermore, the whistle-blowers’ accounts also “reveal the existence of a previously unreported ‘black site’ at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred” that June night over three years ago.

According to the Harper’s article, Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman deployed to Guantánamo with his friend Specialist Tony Davila, who grew up outside Washington, D.C., and who had himself been a private investigator. When they first arrived at Camp Delta, Mr. Davila told journalist Scott Horton that soldiers from the California National Guard unit they were relieving introduced him to some of the curiosities of the base.

The most noteworthy of these curiosities “was an unnamed and officially unacknowledged compound nestled out of sight between two plateaus about a mile north of Camp Delta, just outside Camp America’s perimeter.”

This unnamed compound was not visible from the main road, and the access road was chained off.

The Guardsman who told Mr. Davila about the compound had said, “This place does not exist,” and Army Sergeant Hickman, who was frequently put in charge of security for all of Camp America, was not briefed about the site.

A friend of Sergeant Hickman’s had nicknamed the compound ‘Camp No’ with the idea being “that anyone who asked if it existed would be told, ‘No, it doesn’t’…”

Both Sergeant Hickman and Specialist Davila further told Harper’s that they had concertedly “made a point of stopping by whenever they had the chance; once, Hickman said, he heard a ’series of screams’ from within the compound [named 'Camp No']…”


(Courtesy of Harper's Magazine)

Immediately after the June 2009 deaths of the 3 Gitmo inmates- according to independent interviews by Harper’s journalist Scott Horton with soldiers who witnessed the speech- Army Colonel Michael Bumgarner (head of Camp America at the time) told his soldiers that “you all know” three prisoners in the Alpha Block at Camp 1 committed suicide during that night by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death.

But then Bumgarner told those soldiers assembled “that the media would report something different” regarding the deaths of the 3 Guantanamo Bay inmates.

According to the whistleblowers’ accounts, Colonel Bumgarner told his soldiers that the media “would report that the three prisoners had committed ’suicide’ by hanging themselves in their cells”.  Furthermore, it was reported by Harper’s that the servicemen were reminded during this speech to “make no comments or suggestions that in any way undermined the official report”.

Finally, the soldiers and sailors were ominously reminded during that speech that “their phone and email communications were being monitored” to ensure that nothing except the ‘official’ cause of deaths were being relayed to the American media from Guantanamo Bay.

Additionally, when later presented by journalist Scott Horton with the ’suicide’ letter supposedly left by one of the three Guantanamo inmates, the father of one of the dead inmates carefully studied the suicide note from his son and replied: “This is a forgery.”

Outside autopsies were then commissioned by the families and Swiss pathologist Dr. Patrice Mangin, for his part, expressed particular concern about one of the victim’s mouth and throat, where he saw “a blunt trauma carried out against the oral region.”

The official U.S. autopsy report mentions an effort at resuscitation, but this, in Dr. Mangin’s view, did “not explain the severity of the injuries…He also noted that some of the marks on the neck were not those he would normally associate with hanging.”

One of the Army whistle-blowers in the Harper’s Magazine article -U.S. Sergeant Joe Hickman- ended his tour of duty in March 2007 and ended his distinguished Army career. During his time there, Mr. Hickman was selected as Guantánamo’s “NCO of the Quarter” and was even awarded a commendation medal. When he returned to the United States, he was promoted to staff sergeant and worked in Maryland as an Army recruiter before eventually settling in the Midwest.

But he could not forget what he had seen at Guantánamo Bay. When Barack Obama became president, Mr. Hickman now decided to act.

“I thought that with a new administration and new ideas I could actually come forward, ” he told journalist Scott Horton.

“It was haunting me…”

Mr. Hickman had seen a 2006 report from Seton Hall University Law School dealing with the deaths of the three prisoners, and he followed their subsequent work. After President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, he called Mark Denbeaux, the professor who had led the Seton Hall team.

“I learned something from your report,” he told Professor Denbeaux, “but I know some things you don’t.”

According to media reports throughout the years, the “presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists” and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to “ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction,” according to journalist Scott Horton.

Mr. Horton further highlighted a subsequent legal ruling of U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson who noted a curious aspect of the government’s presentation in a court hearing: The government’s “citations supporting the fact of the suicides” were all drawn from outside media accounts.

According to Harper’s: “Why had the Justice Department lawyers who argued the case gone to such lengths to avoid making any statement under oath about the suicides? Did they do so in order to deceive the court? If so, they could face disciplinary proceedings or disbarment.”

As retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, the former judge advocate general of the Navy, told Harper’s in their extensive article:

“Filing false reports and making false statements is bad enough, but if a homicide occurs and officials up the chain of command attempt to cover it up, they face serious criminal liability. They may even be viewed as accessories after-the-fact in the original crime.”

Furthermore, with command authority comes command responsibility, further stated former Admiral John Huston.

“If the heart of the military is obeying orders down the chain of command, then its soul is accountability up the chain. You can’t demand the former without the latter.”

In light of the Obama Administration’s dictum to “look forward, not backward” when analyzing Guantanamo Bay and other Bush administration legal follies; are we as a nation going to continue to view these 3 Guantanamo Bay deaths in June 2009 as mere ’suicides’ or actually “pursue a course of action that would implicate the Bush Justice Department in a cover-up of possible homicides”?

Dec. 30 2009 — 3:01 am | 330 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

The Return of the Butt Bombers

Holy underwear, Batman!

Looks like the ‘Butt Bombers’ are at it again…

From the most-recent thwarted attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan, it seems that Al-Qaeda is again resorting to the ‘butt bomber’ modus operadi in trying to carry out alleged acts of terrorism.

According to ABC News, one “singed pair of underwear with a packet of powder sewn into the crotch, seen in government photos obtained exclusively by ABC News, is all that remains of al Qaeda’s attempt to down an American passenger plane over Detroit.”

The underwear with the explosive worn by alleged Northwest 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this undated photo. (ABC News)

The underwear with the explosive worn by alleged Northwest 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this undated photo. (Courtesy of ABC News)

As seen in these photos, the alleged bomb consisted of a packet of powder sewn into the briefs of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian. Al Qaeda took credit Monday for the attempted bombing, boasted of its ability to overcome U.S. intelligence and airport security, and promised new attacks.

But this is not the first time a ‘butt bomber’ has used the nether regions of their body to try and explode a suicide bomb.

In a previous column of mine, I wrote about the would-be assassin of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (head of Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism efforts) who apparently decided in October 2009 to hide his bomb in his underwear, apparently believing that cultural taboos would prevent a search in that part of his body, according to a Saudi government official close to the investigation.

In the October 2009 Saudi assassination attempt, the terrorist concealed the bomb, made of [the explosive] PETN, in his underwear, according to the official Saudi investigation.

According to CNN, “PETN is a plastic explosive that is not picked up by metal detectors — through which the would-be assassin had to pass before he was allowed to meet with the Saudi prince.”

Like the October 2009 Saudi assassination attempt, similarly, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to bring down Northwest Airlines flight 253 using the same kind of ‘PETN underwear bomb’ that was not discovered by metal detectors.

Sadly, as I had written before, after this most recent Christmas Day incident with Northwest Airlines Flight 253, there are only two things that are going come out of yet another silly and tragic episode of ‘toilet terrorism’:

1) Airport screeners will probably now invest even more money to buy latex gloves and;

2) In addition to already removing half of our clothing at the airport, young brown six-foot-four Muslim males (like myself) who fit the ‘racial profile’ will probably have to spend a little more time at the airports ‘assuming the position’ and ’spreading our cheeks’ the next time that we want to board an airplane.

Thanks a alot, Butt Bombers…

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    Arsalan is an international human rights lawyer and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com

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