Beyond the Cusp

June 18, 2014

The Terror Plagued Planet Earth

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Recent news has displayed a planet gone mad with terrorist threats spanning wide areas and multiple continents with varying levels of violence and horrors. Across Europe there have been attacks on Jewish targets including assaults on a Jewish school where three young children and the Rabbi father of two of the children in Toulouse, France; a bombing assault upon a tour bus outside the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria; an attack on a Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium; and during the revolutionary period of unrest in the Ukraine there were numerous reports of attacks on Jews and Jewish targets such as synagogues. While these attacks were the most news worthy, there has also been a steadily increasing amount of both reported and unreported anti-Semitic attitudes and resulting actions many of which have not risen to the point of being reported other than be polls and studies which have reported these general increases across Europe and the entire globe. On another front in Europe have been the reports of governmental concerns over the increasing numbers of youths who have answered the call to arms in Syria and the serious repercussions which their return may present to these nations and their public order. But Europe is far from alone in feeling the repercussions of terrorism which are spreading across every continent.

 

Africa has been the place of many serious terrorist developments, most of which have not received much in depth or even mention in Western news programs. There are daily clashes in Somalia as the numerous militaristic leaders test their neighbors and defend their areas and keep their own kind of vigilante justice. There was the vicious military style attack in Nairobi, Kenya where shoppers were quizzed on Muslim prayers and Quran quotations murdering those who failed their tests. The violence between northern and southern Sudan continues despite the attempts to separate the two areas by recognizing that southern Sudan as its own separate nation. There has also been the terror across Nigeria committed by Boko Haram which recently broke into the news cycle with the abduction of over two hundred girls from a school. This large kidnapping of the school girls was simply one of a string of such crimes of varying lesser abductions. These abductions by Boko Haram are part of another source of terrorism which is the source of much of the problems in Africa, namely the struggle between Christianity and Islam for preeminence with the greatest areas of violence being in regions which are being contested between the two religions.

 

The strongest area of terrorism and Islamic violence is obviously in the Middle East, North Africa and the Asian areas neighboring the Middle East. The current news has covered the onslaught by the terrorist group ISIS, which was rejected and expelled from membership by al-Qaeda over their overt and extreme violence, has assaulted all of the nation of Iraq which is outside the control of the Kurdish northern enclave currently closing in on the capital city of Baghdad. The onslaught by ISIS which had been fighting largely in Syria turned their attentions and struck into Iraq. Some have claimed the reasons that ISIS has attacked Iraq are due to the transference of supplies, fighters and other support for the forces defending Bashir al-Assad in Syria across Iraq from Iran with the cooperation of the Iraqi government. There has been a steady and destructive level of terrorism resultant from the Arab Spring which has actually resulted in a trail of violent events which have turned this wave of change into something more resembling an Arab Winter as we anticipated when the initial flare-up struck in Tunisia and spread to Egypt. This has resulted in spawning extreme cases of violence not only in Tunisia but also in Egypt as governments were overturned in successive years with Mubarak being deposed followed by his replacement backed by the Muslim Brotherhood being ousted by a military coup one year after being elected. Egypt has suffered far less violence than has Libya which has a weak government which replaced ousted dictator Gadhafi. There has also been a steady level of violence in Yemen with much of the violence a result of al-Qaeda fighters against the government. There is the violence against the government supported by the United States and their allies by the Taliban both within Afghanistan and also out of the tribal areas of Pakistan.

 

In the Far East of Asia there are areas of violent terrorism with the most prevalent areas are the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Also originating in Pakistan was the horrific attack which lasted three days on the neighboring nation of India’s city of Mumbai. Then there has been terrorist violence from Chechnya and Russia and terrorist against China originating in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, both of which go mostly unreported. Across the Americas the frequency of terrorist attacks are less reported, or should we say less identified. To this day the government of Argentina is still attempting to find and arrest the perpetrators of the two assaults on Buenos Aires where within a couple of years the Israeli Embassy was bombed on March 17, 1992, where twenty-nine were murdered and another two-hundred-fifty were injured; and the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish Community Center on July 18, 1994, in which eighty-seven people were killed and over a hundred people were injured. Both terror attacks are still being investigated with strong evidence that the bombing of the AIMA Center was committed by high level persons coordinating the efforts from out of Iran. There is also a terrorist stronghold located in a town in an area referred to as the Tri Border Area where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay borders meet. It is reported that this area is a hub for activities of organized crime groups, terrorist groups, and narcotics traffickers who operate beyond the reach or interventions by law enforcement officers. The largest city controlled by these lawless forces is Ciudad del Este. There are reports that Mexico has become another place which has areas in which terrorists are harbored by drug cartels and that these groups share capabilities, training, resources, smuggling routes into the United States and terror tactics designed to minimize opposition by the utilization of terrorist acts and other means of intimidation.

 

Still, the nation which has suffered the most from terrorist violence has been Israel. Even if one counted all of the terrorist strikes within the United States which were attributed to other reasons, still Israel has a more frequent and violent record. This does not mean that there have been no terrorist attacks which were either initially or still had not been identified as terrorism such as the Trolley Square Mall shooting from February 12, 2007, where five innocents were murdered by Sulejman Talović and was initially not classified as a case of terrorism despite reports that the shooter continued to shout, “Allahu Akbar” as he continued to shoot people. Then there was the attack which, while not actually being the first modern age terrorist strike, were the first universally accepted and heavily witnessed terrorist attacks on the multiple targets on September 11, 2001. This one assault with multiple targets including both towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an unknown target likely in the nation’s capital of Washington DC but was forced down by a passenger assault on the cockpit crashing the plane in southwestern Pennsylvania. Another reported terrorist attack was the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013, which murdered three and caused various injuries to at least two-hundred-sixty-four innocent victims whose only act was to remain at the finish line awaiting friends or family to finish the race. There was the assault by Nidal Malik Hasan on November 5, 2009, at the Soldier Readiness Center of Fort Hood in Texas shooting murdering thirteen people and wounding twenty-nine other innocents while also shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” Despite all evidence this terrorist crime was and still is referred to as a case of workplace violence and there is no official mention of terrorism. One of, if not, the earliest terrorist attack in modern era America was the assassination of Robert Kennedy on June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles, California by Sirhan Sirhan, who was born in Jerusalem who during questioning revealed his motivations stating, “My only connection with Robert Kennedy was his sole support of Israel and his deliberate attempt to send those fifty bombers to Israel to obviously do harm to the Palestinians.”

 

Israel has been the target of terrorist activities even back before the Jewish State was even in existence. One of the major such terrorist attacks was the Hevron rioting on August 29, 1929, where sixty-seven Jews and nine Arabs were killed. Among the deceased were twelve women and three children under the age of five. After the terrorist rioting was finally subdued by British soldiers, the British forcefully removed all the Jewish residents of Hevron as a move to prevent further violence. There has been near constant terrorist attacks from the very day on which the nation’s independence was announced and made formal to the current time. The most recent and still continuing terrorist act is the kidnapping of three innocent teens. The three teens’ names are Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. Between these pair of attacks there have been nearly countless attacks so many that even some news media within Israel have pretty much stopped covering many of the terror attacks which through repetition have become less than news worthy. This includes the thousands of rockets, missiles, mortars and anti-tank rounds that have been fired into Israel with designs of murdering innocent civilians. The abduction of these three youths has infuriated much of the nation and nearly all Israelis have joined in prayers for the safe return of these poor victims who were innocent despite what some have claimed. Both CNN and BBC when reporting the abductions actually placed the word “kidnapping” within quotes. The subject has received even less coverage from many Western news sources mainly because they all made guidelines ages ago. Most people around the globe have seldom heard coverage, not to mention in depth analysis, into the rockets which often rain down onto southern Israel from Hamas controlled Gaza. The question currently heard in Israeli society is centered on the kidnapping and what should the response be if their worst fears are true. Many people are holding to hope which becomes more and more difficult as each day passes with no demand or claim of responsibility for this heinous event. Hope is the main emotion but what will that hope give way towards if we find the three missing youths bodies? What is the appropriate response to a people who would revel in the abducting of three teenage boys and further, what to do should they continue the dancing while handing out candies and sweet cakes to those who pass by? That question is an important one which will be impossible to determine, or even to have polled as many have not permitted their emotions to go far enough to reach any conclusion. All that is being pursued by much of Israeli society consists of prayers and attempted mutual comforting, all in the hope that their prayers will suffice. The question over what actions should be taken should the perpetrators of this horrid act be caught is currently a place nobody desires to go. Going into that area is beyond anyone’s desires; all they wish is for the safety of the abducted youth.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 22, 2013

Rumors in All the Wrong Places

The horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon finishing line was timed to detonate at four hours after the start of the race which was expected and did coincide with numerous amateur runners completing the race and their friends and families waiting to congratulate them. The bombers’ plan to injure and possibly murder as many average people in order to maximize terror was successful in targeting average people and getting huge amounts of coverage by television and news cameras. The one failure was the striking terror in the hearts of the people at the scene of the terrorist strike. Instead what was witnessed was Americans at their best with people who were uninjured not running from the scene but running into the heart of the disaster area tending to the injured applying first aid and even using pieces of their clothing to apply pressure bandages and even using belts as makeshift tourniquets. What was exemplified was the best of Americans and humanity in a crisis situation with these brave people almost immediately assisting each other and not waiting for the first responders giving the world a taste of how not to be cowed by a terror threat and showing disregard for anything other than helping people who were for the most part total strangers. We witnessed people literally giving the shirt off their backs and the belts from their trousers. This is not meant to take anything away from the first responders who also arrived quickly and wasted no time rushing into the heart of the confusion and establishing a frenetic order and began transport of the injured to waiting hospital personnel who had prepared the necessary extra trauma and emergency supplies and beds to accommodate the disaster.

Unfortunately, the same praises cannot be lauded on either the mainstream media or social media both of which were full of conjecture, conspiracies and the entire host of misinformation. The number of people espousing their own hatreds blaming the government, secret clandestine organizations, or any group of people imaginable in Tweets or on Facebook were disgusting and gave examples of the worst in people. The only redeeming facts were those who derided those posting such conspiracies or assigning blame as a venue to castigate their own bigotries. Where the hatreds appearing on social media in not something new but the mere extent of these postings is what was somewhat alarming. The misinformation spread by the mainstream media prior to any actual facts is an entirely different animal. The race by the different new networks and departments to form theories and postulations as to who was behind the bombing was revealing to their prejudices and biases. The number of times there were claims of breaking news only to be followed later by more breaking news each one contradicting the previous startling statement. News reporting, especially by the news agencies that people and the public depend on for facts, should act with more restraint and discipline instead of acting in such an uncontrolled and amateurish fashion. While it is understandable that each news department has a desire to be the first to get the news right, but shouldn’t getting the news right be the first principle? What good is being first to be wrong? Apparently, the news sources placed more emphasis on making conjecture as representing news as long as it was first and might even be the first to finally get it correct. Between reporting every rumor with breathless excitement and expressing their personal biases as honest news the mainstream media managed to further destroy any semblance of trust which had possibly remained. It was my personal experience that the most trustworthy news sources ended up being some select foreign press and media sources which I have previously found to have the patience to wait for facts before jumping onto a story, any story, as long as it is a new story. Maybe they will take a lesson from this fiasco and will learn to actually verify the facts before running before the cameras only to have to retract reports as the truth eventually emerges. And may they please learn that personal conjecture is never good news and only makes them appear more amateurish than the average poster on social media. We should and do expect more from our media and hopefully they will grow and learn that actual facts are news and opinions and guessing is not doing anybody any favors, especially in an emergency situation when so many are seeking answers and expecting the plain and simple truth from their news reporting. As the old Dragnet theme stated, “The facts, just the facts.”

Beyond the Cusp

April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing Terror Attack

I had the misfortune of being available to be watching the news when the explosions occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The initial reports were about as confusing as they could be which is to be expected. The videos which were available did show two distinct explosions about a block or two apart. The confusion was palpable. The first action that caught my attention was the number of times the video caught young men, likely in their late teens, who acted reflexively not seeming to be thinking taking off their shirts to use them as pressure bandages. Their actions reflect that the promise that Americans react with generosity and when everything is going completely insane around them that many just instinctively seem to know what is required from them and commit to action without a second thought. This was also one of the comments made by British and French soldiers in World War II about the American soldiers who often acted with purpose and ingenuity even without having received orders and took actions addressing the situation with an immediacy which they found astounding. Seeing these youth take immediate action and performing the needed steps to dress wounds and offer what aid they were able before the official first responders had arrived on the scene was a promising sign that in such times our society can function as one hopes it would. That is how it should be in any society which values individuality and life. When you put those two items in the foremost place of importance you get people who become the first responders stepping up to do what is required to assist and attend to those who are in need. Watching those actions was reassuring despite the calamity of the situation which was simply horrific in nature.

 

The other thing which I am always amazed by is the rapid response from news networks in their coverage. In this case the fact that the location was the finish line of the event of the day in the United States probably allowed for there to be media coverage already in place. The one mitigating point against such being readily available was that the first line runners had finished the race at least two hours earlier and those finishing at the time of the explosions were the amateur runners who average four hours to complete a marathon. That would indicate that the target neither was so much high name recognition victims nor was it for highest body count as either of those objectives would have required the bombs to have been timed for when the first larger groups of the top runners were finishing. These bombs were targeting the average people who were participating in the race for their own personal reasons such as just to share in the experience, satisfy a life’s goal, joining a group running the race, private reasons or proving they could run a marathon, a fete in and of itself. The other differences in the coverage of these situations over time have become more reserved and more careful in reporting possible scenarios. If anything, the reactions have swerved to the point where they seem to prefer finding any explanation or way of perceiving what are obviously terror motivated being blamed to any other reason no matter how far the required stretch.

 

The news develops so painfully slow and even so a piece of information just revealed which points to Middle East style motivations in these bombings beyond the fact that the two explosions were timed to affect as many people as possible with their being timed so those running from the first blast would be passing the second location when it detonated. This new information was the presence of ball bearings or shotgun pellets that were propelled by at least one of these bombs. Also, unconfirmed reports are there is a person of interest who is under observation being treated in one of the area hospitals where the injured are being treated. Hopefully we will know more by the morning but seems like for now they are simply beating the same guesses and the few actual facts to death and interviewing anybody who they can find. I knew that they were getting desperate for somebody who would present a different slant when Sherriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona was brought on for an interview. What he could possibly add is beyond my limited imagination especially from across the nation and having the same television or radio new sources as the rest of us also have available.

 

On the purely opinion and speculation front, this attack should not be too surprising other than it has not occurred even sooner. Many of those who are familiar and witnessed the Second Intifada which was launched by Yasser Arafat against the Israeli public from September 2000, have wondered how long it would be before terror attacks against the American public of a similar nature where any event which would draw crowds or places where people congregate such as restaurants or shopping malls became targets for a series of bombings possibly even including suicide bombers. This has been a fear-filled anticipation which law enforcement and those tasked with protection of the American public have likely missed many nights sleep when there were heightened times of alert of which the public were rarely made aware. Should such terror acts begin to be perpetrated on an intensified and seemingly regular cycle of violence against public areas randomly across the nation then perhaps there would be checkpoints at all events and private security checkpoints being operated by private security providing companies similar to what became the norm in Israel. One can only wonder what would be the government’s reaction in such a situation. I have always thought that efforts would become far more obvious and publically viewable once the public had begun to feel vulnerable and made their fears known. Should Americans become inconvenienced by fears over potential terror attacks in their daily lives that the government would step up security and interjection to prevent even the slightest possibility of continued terror acts, the world would likely witness an elimination of terror leadership often with drone attacks as we have witnessed with somewhat more frequency during the Administration of President Obama on a whole new level. Hopefully, if this should become an unfortunate reality one would pray that it did not become a partisan argument and we would witness all of our politicians working together to make America safe for all the people in their daily lives.

 

By the time this article gets posted we will hopefully have more known about the bombing attack in Boston. We will probably hear from President Obama at some point once the government has definitive information and hopefully even suspects and assigned responsibility for this act of blatant terror. Watching as the news unfolds over the rest of the week should prove informative. Should the spokespeople from Homeland Security or any other branch of the government refer to this as anything other than terrorism would be very damning. Such, as unlikely as it would appear, is a possibility and as proof may we look at the Fort Hood shootings by Major Nidal Hasan where there were fourteen service people and family killed and thirty two more wounded which was determined by the Pentagon to be a case of “workplace violence” and not an act of terror. Also remember the Trolley Square Mall shooting where Sulejman Talović murdered five shoppers and wounding four others before he was shot by an armed shopper. On tapes of the shooting the perpetrator can be heard yelling “Allahu Akbar” while shooting at shoppers yet this too was determined not to be a terror related event. Now all we can do is wait and judge our government as they make determinations and the official story is revealed and we are able to compare that to what we all have observed on the reports that have been shown near constantly since the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The only other actions we can all make is to pray and hope for a full and rapid recovery of those injured and a complete emotional healing of those stricken by this horrific attack.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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