Assume the Position
Saturday, November 02, 2002
Some evidence to support the story that the Russians will bury the Chechen terrorists wrapped in pigskin which is currently appearing all over the place. I was suspicious of the story, and still am to some degree. In June of 2001, Movsar Barayev's uncle, the ruthless guerrilla warlord Arbi Barayev, was killed by the Russians in Alkhan-Kala.
THE Russian military paraded the body of Chechnya's most feared warlord on national television yesterday. His death was one of Moscow's biggest prizes in nearly two years of fierce fighting in the North Caucasus.His body was identified by by his relatives,
"The Chechen side has officially confirmed, that special Islamic commander Arbi Barayev has become a martyr," the Kavkaz Center internet side announced.and given to them for burial.
The body of Arbi Barayev, one of the warlords of the Chechen gunmen who was killed by Russian military yesterday, was handed over to his relatives for burial on Tuesday. According to the command of the joint grouping of Russian troops in Chechnya, it has been finally established that the matter concerns precisely Barayev. He was identified by relatives and former members of his bandit formations.So, I suspected the reported change in disposition of terrorist corpses was mostly wishful thinking. But now there is a brief Interfax item which lends some credence to the story:
Russian Duma bars transfer of terrorists' bodies to relatives
If the Russians follow through with that, it won't matter whether they actually use pigskin shrouds or not—the propaganda purpose will be served because the relatives will have no evidence to deny the rumor.
Friday, November 01, 2002
Whose lie is it anyway? Here is a brief story from Interfax, "Terrorists claimed to have had about 100 kamikaze accomplices outside theatre."
MOSCOW. Oct 31 (Interfax) - The terrorists who took several hundred people hostage in a Moscow theater claimed that they had about 100 kamikaze accomplices outside the theater, who were ready to take part in the terrorist act.Stories like this are tough to interpret which makes them wonderful fodder for conspiracy theorists.
The absense of a rash of suicide bombings in Moscow after the theater was stormed tends to discredit 1, but the "second phase" could be a long string of bombings that just hasn't started yet, or the bombers got discouraged after seeing the outcome at the theater. 2 seems most likely since it requires the least rationalization. 3, of course, is the standard conspiracy theory line and has to overcome the ample evidence of Barayev's other statements including the NTV interview.
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Democrats routinely display their double-standard on racism and the public often lets them get away with it. Remember Willie Horton? Well, a New Jersey Democrat running for Congress is now running a campaign ad picturing accused sniper John Allen Muhammad.
John Allen Muhammad, accused in the sniper killings, has made his political debut. His image is appearing in a gun control commercial that an underdog Democrat hopes to ride to victory in New JerseyAlthough the Republicans complain about the ad exploiting the sniper shootings, nobody (as yet) is accusing Sumers of racism. Just imagine the outcry if a Republican was using a picture of John Lee Malvo in ads about lax border security.
Additionally, if the Willie Horton ads were racist, consider that Muhammad (unlike Horton) hasn't yet been convicted of murder.
UPDATE Nov 1, 2002: Jayson Rylander seems to agree, calling the ad, "despicable" and saying "I'm not sure the Willie Horton ad was as racist as people said, but if that was, then so is this." Jason also provides a link to a copies of the ad at The Smoking Gun.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Comments disabled until YACCS stablizes. Besides, they aren't used very much, so I doubt anyone will miss them for awhile.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Time to put on your tinfoil hats. John Hawkins is back in town and his latest ACPOTI entry takes a look at the Vox NYC crackpots who make Indymedia seem like a C-Span roundtable discussion.
Newsworthy Inventions. I recently titled a piece "GROUND ZERO® Update — All the news that's fit to invent" which explained that the news media essentially created the idea that the FBI was searching the Ground Zero facility in connection with the DC-area sniper. Now Howard Kurtz has a "Media Notes" column in the Washington Post with an interesting item in the same vein.
When China was holding a Navy crew hostage last year, the Associated Press quoted Edward Briar, an analyst with the Military Research and Study Group, as saying that President Bush "is already beginning to look a little weak, a little ragged. An apology would be unseemly and embarrassing for the nation."Here is the October 22, 2002, list of 40 stories between January 13, 2000, and September 8, 2002. (No telling how long that link will work, wire service stuff seems to disappear fairly quickly from news sites.) Newton was fired on September 16, 2002, and the New York Times ran a story October 22, 2002, the same day AP sent out the corrections:
The issue of possibly fabricated names did not arise until shortly after the Sept. 8 article, which was on federal statistics on violent crime.The minimal press this story has received seems to indicate it's been intentionally downplayed so that there's little evidence that Newton or his fabrications ever existed. Nothing really conspiratorial, just the in-house media nudge, nudge, wink, wink 'you don't want to make a big deal out of this' kind of thing.
UPDATE: I knew I should have dropped by Media Minded before finishing that up. He mentioned it the day the corrections first came out and then followed-up on October 23, 2002, with a link to Slate's Explainer on the chances of Newton being sued over the fabrications.
Monday, October 28, 2002
Via Instapundit, whose site was running from an alternate for some time but is now back online, comes notice of a must read for anyone following the Bellesiles Arming America saga. Professor Jerome Sternstein completely devastates Jon Wiener and his defense of Bellesiles in The Nation. Just a brief taste of Sternstein on the "smear tactic" "hatchet job" Wiener tried to do on Professor Lindgren before you go read the whole thing.
The most egregious example of Wiener's smear tactic is his treatment of Professor Lindgren, Bellesiles's most formidable critic. Wiener begins his hatchet job on Lindgren by implying that he had interviewed him personally. "Who is James Lindgren?" Wiener asks ominously, and then responds, "He told me he has no connection to the NRA. . . ." This phrasing suggests that Wiener had an extensive personal interview with Lindgren, and also subtly insinuates that Lindgren could have an NRA connection that he may not have told Wiener about.
A bit more about Mark D. Yates, Ground Zero USA (US), Berkeley and Associates Inc. (US), Trans Global Security International (UK), Sulayman Bilal Zain-ul-Abidin [Francis (Frank) Etim prior to conversion to Islam], Sakina Security Services (UK), and the Ultimate Jihad Challenge (UK) for those who didn't follow the link to the December 2001 MSNBC story. Mark Yates is pretty much a flamboyant self-promoter [When did he start prepending "DR" to his name, anyway? Bet it stands for Director of Research or something.] and has various supporters and detractors in law enforcement and private security circles in the UK and US. He apparently knows his field, but seems to push the tolerable limits of exaggeration as is readily demonstrated by describing himself as an "unsung hero" in that press release.
He had himself and his team filmed in Kazakhstan while "escorting Major Nicholai Shekel, a former member of the KGB and now a serving member with the Ukrainian state security" and he wrote "Men In Black: The Bodyguard Training Manual", which is billed as the "Official Training Manual Of The Law Enforcement Bodyguard Association International." Mark Yates happens to be the founder and president of LEBAI.
There is supposedly a recognized organization, the International Bodyguard Association, and in addition to having a problem with counterfeit association ID and fake diplomas", they say,"An Englishman, Mark Yates who was also expelled from the Association reversed the letters I.B.A. to B.A.I. and pre-titled them with the words Law Enforcement to establish his commercial concern the Law Enforcement Bodyguard Association International."
For all that, however, Mark Yates and his various companies seem to provide satisfactory training and protective services to their clients.
Sulayman Bilal Zain-ul-Abidin, on the other hand, is another story. He seems to be an ineffective wannabe either actually supporting or just exploiting fellow British Muslims and their jihad dreams. Born Francis Etim, he converted to Islam in 1979.
Sakina Security Services was apparently founded by Muhammad Jameel sometime prior to 1999.
Britain's Sakina Security Services is providing one outlet for that action by training Muslims in self-defense and outdoor survival strategies and offering community-based personal security services.In June 2000, this BBC story still associates it with Jameel (emphasis mine).
The UK Government is being urged to investigate claims that young British Muslims are being trained and armed to fight abroad.Still no Etim/Zain-ul-Abidin, but that first emphasized line is the Mark Yates connection. From the October 2001 Telegraph and December 2001 MSNBC stories, Etim attended one of Trans Global Security International's courses in southern Wales where Yates was instructing. The MSNBC piece also says,
The following month [April 2000 --lp], the Hindu newspaper of India quoted a Sakina Security representative who identified himself as Sulayman Balal (Zain-ul-abidin's first and middle names) as saying that "a few people" had signed up for the first "Ultimate Jihad Challenge" in April. He described the two-week course as taking place on a "1,000-acre, state-of-the-art shooting range in the United States."So now we have the connection: Zain-ul-Abidin, who normally goes by his given name of Frank Etim unless he's being Muslim, got his security and weapons training in a course conducted by Yates. He was then, or later became, an associate of Muhammad Jameel and recruited for Sakina Security Services by at least running the website. This did not seem to be a profitable enterprise, but it did get him arrested after September 11, 2001.
October 3, 2001 - Unidentified man (Zain-ul-Abidin) arrested.
A man held by anti-terrorist police in London is still being questioned by detectives.October 4, 2001 - Sakina Security Services website shut down.
A London-based website offering young Muslims the chance to train for holy wars abroad has been removed from the internet.
October 4, 2001 - Zain-ul-Abidin charged.
A man has been charged in London under the Terrorism Act with training others how to use weapons.October 5, 2001 - Zain-ul-Abidin remanded in custody.
A London man charged under the Terrorism Act with training others to use weapons has been remanded in custody for a further week.As I said, the enterprise didn't seem very profitable. Though Sakina Security Services was supposedly bankrolled by big-money Muslim backers, Zain-ul-Abidin was working as a "kitchen assistant" (some other reports call him a "kitchen porter" and others a "chef") and didn't make an application for bail. At the end of October, The Telegraph did it's previously linked October 28, 2001, major story; and as Zain-ul-Abidin's January 2002 court appearance neared, MSNBC did the previously referenced stories on Ground Zero USA and Mark Yates.
January 4, 2002 - Zain-ul-Abidin in court (arraignment?).
A kitchen porter has appeared briefly at the Old Bailey, charged with weapons offences.Everything stayed pretty quiet and Ground Zero had been fairly well cleared by local, state and federal authorities by the time Zain-ul-Abidin came up for trial in July 2002. Then, ABC News' Brian Ross (who would later pull the depleted uranium smuggling stunt) brought the discredited story back to life on July 25th with the scary report, "Preparing for Jihad … in Alabama - Islamic Militant Training Camp Allegedly Operating in Alabama." There was nothing new in his story and it was mostly tabloid bunk (yes, you will find bullet-ridden stuff at a facility used for SWAT training), and the following day both NBC and the Associated Press nail ABC News: "…an investigation uncovered no evidence that a camp near Marion was used as a terrorist training camp…ABC News said the camp could have possible ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network."
What they all failed to explain is that there was no overnight investigation of the Ground Zero facility. It's status had been determined long before July 2002 and ABC News' tabloid reporting. Most people apparently missed or didn't pay much attention to the earlier, more thorough reports or the discrediting of ABC New's report, and so, along with help from Pravda, Ground Zero USA in Marion, Alabama, ("not far from Maryland," according to Pravda) became known as a terrorist training facility, even though nobody can say that any terrorist or wannabe terrorist ever set foot there.
Back to former porter/kitchen assistant/chef/alleged supporter of terrorism Zain-ul-Abidin. When we last heard from him, he had plead "not guilty" to the two charges against him. So, how did the trial go?
August 9, 2002 - Zain-ul-Abidin was found "not guilty" on both counts.
He had gone to a police station voluntarily to complain that he did not feel safe after a newspaper carried an article about what he was doing.He is now apparently suing the Metropolitan Police Service (probably for whatever passes for malicious or frivilous prosecution in Britian).
He described the prosecution as a "joke" and said he was a scapegoat for "anti-Islamic" feeling.So, until that unidentified "Sainsbury's security guard" (who may have trained at Ground Zero on a trip coordinated by Frank Etim/Zain-ul-Abidin) goes on a terroristic rampage or something similar, the story should have ended in August. That it jumped to fore again with the DC-area sniper just shows that you can't ever kill a good urban legend.
The relevant provision of the British Terrorism Act of 2000 (apparently including current amendments) concerning the "terrorist offense" of "weapons training" says.
"It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section in relation to instruction or training to prove that his action or involvement was wholly for a purpose other than assisting, preparing for or participating in terrorism."That pretty much explains the result of Zain-ul-Abidin's trial.
I have no doubt that terrorists and wannabe terrorists have probably used legitimate firing ranges as as well as legitimate flight schools and rental car agencies in the US. That doesn't make them all terrorist training camps, terrorist flight academies and terrorist transportation providers; especially when alleged terrorist wannabes have supposedly "enlisted in the United States Army Reserve to receive training in U.S. military tactics and weapons" to further their terroristic aims. Even the planned terrorist training camp in Oregon that forms part of the indicitment of Earnest James Ujaama is questionable, but the alleged conspirators apparently had no plans to try and pass it off as a legitimate facility. Although Zain-ul-Abidin was found not guilty of the charges against him he may be a terrorist supporter or terrorst wannabe, but it seems Yates and his business were used (I'd put a low probability on "willingly and knowingly used" even if security training may be considered a bit shady; and it was his UK training that may have had some terrorist wannabes in the class, no evidence for any in the US training at Ground Zero) just like the various flight schools were used.
UPDATE: I forgot this was a new week. Here are the links to last week's archived posts regarding the resurrection of the whole Ground Zero flap in connection with the DC-area sniper: GROUND ZERO® Again and GROUND ZERO® Update — All the news that's fit to invent. (They are in the same weekly archive so both links go to the same page.)
UPDATE 2: Fixed a few typos and edited the final line to stress that if there were any terrorist wannabes trained by Yates, the only reference shows they were in his UK courses and not the US courses at Ground Zero.