Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Middle East Media Sampler 2/27/13: 1st World Trade Center Bombing 20th Anniversary

1) It's been more than 20 years 

Jonathan Tobin writes in The Day the War on America Began:
Exactly 20 years ago on this date, a terrorist attack at the World Trade Center took the lives of six people and injured more than a thousand others. The tragedy shocked the nation but, as with other al-Qaeda attacks in the years that followed, the WTC bombing did not alter the country’s basic approach to Islamist terrorism. For the next eight and a half years, the United States carried on with a business-as-usual attitude toward the subject. The lack of urgency applied to the subject, as well as the disorganized and sometimes slap-dash nature of the security establishment’s counter-terrorist operations, led to the far greater tragedy of September 11, 2001 when al-Qaeda managed to accomplish what it failed to do in 1993: knock down the towers and slaughter thousands. 
All these years after 9/11 and the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden, are there any further lessons to be drawn from that initial tragedy? To listen to the chattering classes, you would think the answer is a definitive no. Few are marking this anniversary and even fewer seem to think there is anything more to be said about what we no longer call the war on terror. But as much as many of us may wish to consign this anniversary to the realm of the history books, the lessons of the day the war on America began still need to be heeded. 
The truth is that the war on America didn't begin with the first World Trade Center bombing. It began two and a half years earlier. El Sayyid Nosair was an associate of those who carried out the bombing. He also was the killer of Rabbi Meir Kahane.

In the wake of the World Trade Center bombing, the New York Times reported Trade Center Blast Prompts Kahane Case Review:
It was not clear to what extent the disciplinary action and the reopening of the Kahane investigation were part of an effort to pressure Mr. Nosair to divulge information that could help in the bombing case. A senior law-enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, maintained that Mr. Nosair had been thrust into the bombing investigation because of his contacts with others under investigation. 
Federal agents, meanwhile, continued to trace the flow of foreign money into bank accounts of two of the arrested suspects, Mohammed A. Salameh, a 25-year-old illegal immigrant who was born in the West Bank, and Nidal A. Ayyad, 25, a chemical engineer who was born in Kuwait.
Throughout the Nosair investigation, Chief Borrelli has insisted that the assassination was the work of a gunman acting alone. While he said yesterday that he remains convinced that no one else was directly involved in the killing, he allowed for the first time that Mr. Nosair might have been involved in a terrorist organization that had ordered the rabbi executed for his hard-line approach toward Palestinians in Israel. 
It took two and a half years until Nosair's connection to others was investigated. Until the World Trade Center attack, authorities insisted that the Kahane murder was an isolated incident. However as the New York Times reported a few months later in RENO SEES GROWING EVIDENCE AND MAKES CALL; New Charges Give U.S. 2d Chance to Try Kahane Suspect:
And when Mr. Nosair was arrested on Nov. 5 in the Kahane shooting, a search of his home in Cliffside Park, N.J., turned up formulas for the construction of bombs, political tracts and documents, video and audio tapes advocating the destruction of symbolic statues, tall buildings and buildings of political significance, the indictment said. 
Investigators have said that the reams of materials, all in Arabic, sat in boxes untranslated until the bombing of the World Trade Center, and that the emergence of associates of Mr. Nosair as suspects led them to reopen the Kahane case. 
Think about that. There was potential evidence at Nosair's house but no authorities bothered translating it. There was an assumption that Rabbi Kahane had brought his fate upon himself. It is incredible that many documents at Nosair's house were not analyzed. Had authorities done that they might have prevented the first World Trade Center bombing!

And yet despite this, there are those who think that authorities are too aggressive in seeking to prevent terrorism. Matthew Continetti recently wrote in the Matter in Handschu:
Elshafay, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2007. Siraj is serving a 30-year sentence. Their conspiracy is just one of the 16 known terrorist plots against New York City that have been foiled in the decade since nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were murdered in Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. Hard to argue, it would seem, with the NYPD’s 12 years of keeping its city safe. But people do argue, intensely, and with a lack of proportion and context that is simply mindboggling. Consider: For years now, the February 9 New York Times editorial page breathlessly informed readers, New York police officers, “deploying an army of spies,” have been “spying on law-abiding Muslims” and “targeting Muslim groups because of their religious affiliation, not because they present any risk.” Such is the allegation of a motion lawyers connected with the New York Civil Liberties Union filed in federal court in early February. “New York City police,” the motion details, “routinely selected Muslim groups for surveillance and infiltration.” Which is “more than ample reason,” concludes the Times, “to be concerned about possible overreach and unconstitutional activity.” 
... At issue are the so-called Handschu Guidelines, an unwieldy set of judicial protocols that limit NYPD surveillance of “political activity.” These guidelines, named after Black Panther attorney Barbara Handschu, are the result of a class action filed against the police in 1971 and settled in 1985. “No other police department in the country is bound by these rules,” notes former director of NYPD intelligence analysis Mitchell Silber. And no other police department in the country has had to deal with such a persistent and adaptive terrorist threat, while assuring critics in activist groups and the media that no, sorry, martial law has not been imposed on the five boroughs. A federal judge recognized as much in 2003 when he modified the Handschu Guidelines to allow the NYPD freedom to uncover and disrupt incipient plots.
The scrutiny given the NYPD would be comical if it weren't so dangerous. There is still a hesitance among certain elites to acknowledge religious based violence, when the perpetrators are Muslims. Tobin is correct when he writes:
All these years after 9/11 and the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden, are there any further lessons to be drawn from that initial tragedy? To listen to the chattering classes, you would think the answer is a definitive no. Few are marking this anniversary and even fewer seem to think there is anything more to be said about what we no longer call the war on terror. But as much as many of us may wish to consign this anniversary to the realm of the history books, the lessons of the day the war on America began still need to be heeded.
My only disagreement with him is that February 26, 1993 reflected one of those unheeded lessons.

2) Iran vs. Israel

Yesterday I cited a New York Times report that the Al Aqsa Martyr brigades claimed credit for the recent rocket fired into Israel breaking the three month old ceasefire that ended Operation Pillar of Defense. However taking credit (and whatever that reflects) is not the same thing as being responsible. Avi Isacharoff reports for the Tower, Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Operating in Gaza; Grad Rocket Fired at Israel:

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps are currently in the Gaza Strip, high-level Palestinian security sources tell The Tower. The Iranians, according to our security sources, are experts in missile production, and are in Gaza to help Hamas and Islamic Jihad develop long-range missiles. Israeli security and political officials declined to elaborate, telling The Tower only that this isn’t the first time delegates from Tehran had entered the Hamas-controlled territory. ...  
This morning’s rocket attack was apparently not carried out by Hamas, but by its rival Islamic Jihad, a smaller organization believed to be largely, if not entirely, under Iran’s control. Two weeks ago one of Islamic Jihad’s leaders in the West Bank, Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi, told TheTower his group enjoys “warm and positive” ties with the Islamic republic. There are also reports in Arabic media that Fatah has claimed responsibility.
While it doesn't prove that the IRGC was behind the Grad attack, the presence of the IRGC in Gaza is notable as Israel (apparently) recently killed an IRGC commander in Syria. It would appear that Iran - nuclear weapons or not - is attempting to project its power against Israel by its proxies.

3) Has the New York Times ever tried this? 

Simply Jews and Honest Reporting note an excellent tactic employed by the New York Daily News. Pesach Benson of Honest Reporting explains:
Here’s something I never saw before: After Omar Barghouti was given op-ed space in the NY Daily News to explain the BDS movement, the paper itself slammed Barghouti with a staff-ed. It’s one thing to present dueling op-eds. But responding with a sharply worded staff editorial — which represents the paper’s official view — is much stronger. I also liked the staff-ed’s style. 
Bloggers would refer to the point-by-point refutations as a fisking.
A few years ago in defending the New York Times for publishing an op-ed by a Hamas spokesman, the paper then-public editor wrote The Danger of the One Sided Debate:
Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what’s wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.
This was silly on a number of levels. Fundamentally the problem is that the New York Times, if it is one-sided any way, it one-sided against Israel. The New York Times doesn't shine light on extreme anti-Israel opinions as much as it reinforces them. The behavior of New York Daily News is an admirable counterpoint to the dishonesty of the New York Times.

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