Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The sound of freedom

The world’s tallest building will be built in Dubai. One of the contractors bidding on it is Osama bin Laden’s father. In the business world, they call that vertical integration.

Putin appoints as deputy leader of the Chechnya the 27-year old son of the guy who was just blowed up. Ramzan Kadyrov is already in charge of the secret police and so is quite the shit in his own right. His appointment is thus a double fuck-you to Chechnya.

Another quote I missed, in February, Mark Kimmitt, M.M., asked by an Arab reporter about low-flying US helicopters frightening Iraqi children [for best effect, play Ride of the Valkyries while reading the following]:
“What we would tell the children of Iraq is that the noise they hear is the sound of freedom. ... We would recommend that you tell the same thing to the children of Iraq, that that helicopter noise you hear above you ensures that they don't have to worry for the future.”
That could be taken two ways.

Tony Blair met with the Chinese premier today. Guess who got all the questions about human rights abuses?

Sometimes you err to one extreme: According to US News & World Report, last April (which could mean 2004 or 2003), the FBI accidentally put on the daily “threat matrix” one Don Emilio Fulci, a millionaire who formed a terrorist group. He turned out to be a character in a video game.

And sometimes you err to the other extreme: This was front-page news in the Sunday Times, but oddly no one else seems to have picked it up, not even British papers. You’d think it would have raised the shitstorm to end all shitstorms. I give it unedited.

Sunday Times (London)
May 9, 2004

Briton trained as 9/11 hijacker
Christina Lamb

A FORMER waiter in a Manchester curry house was recruited by Al-Qaeda and trained as a hijacker in preparation for the September 11 attacks.

The British Muslim was enlisted at a mosque in Oldham and attended terrorist training school in Pakistan. But he had second thoughts about his suicide mission as he flew to America and surrendered to the police after gambling away thousands of pounds given to him by Al-Qaeda.

The FBI’s counter-terrorism taskforce questioned the 29-year-old man for three weeks at Newark, New Jersey, in the spring of 2000. There, agents refused to believe his claim that terrorists were planning to fly passenger jets into buildings, even though he passed lie detector tests.

Other hijackers were entering the United States at about the same time and enrolling at flight schools to learn the skills that they would need, only 18 months later, to carry out the world's most audacious acts of terrorism.

The failure to investigate the Briton's claims was one of a startling series of missed opportunities that have emerged in inquiries by a US commission examining the September 11 attacks. His case has now been reopened amid wrangling between the FBI and British authorities.

The man, whose name is being withheld by The Sunday Times because his life is under threat from militants, was brought back to Britain in 2000 by two FBI agents and handed to British security officials at Heathrow airport.

He was then questioned by Special Branch and released. The FBI believes that the British authorities failed to follow up the case or to pass on any relevant intelligence. An urgent request to find the man after September 11 was ignored, although Special Branch officers have said they went back to him and took "appropriate action". The FBI has now asked for him to become a witness in its investigation.

Born in Britain, he grew up in his family's home village in Pakistan before returning to Oldham when he was 16. After sixth-form college he worked at a restaurant but became addicted to gambling, running up debts of £15,000.

He was approached at his local mosque by a recruiter who offered him money in return for carrying out "a job". He accepted, even when he realised what was involved.

"If your life has no colour and a mullah says you can be a hero by dying, why not?" he said in an interview. "I think there are a lot of frustrated Muslim youths in Britain who feel the same way."

He travelled to Lahore, where he was taught how to carry out a hijacking and was familiarised with the inside of a Boeing cockpit. "I knew they wanted me to do some kind of operation in which I would die, but my life was such a mess that in my mind I was already dead," he said.

"At that time, if they had told me to strap a bomb to my body and blow myself up I would have done it as easily as taking a glass of water to drink."

On his return to Britain he was given a further £5,000 and then sent to New York, where he was told that he would be met at the airport.

But he had got married and during the flight thoughts of his wife and baby helped to change his mind. He gave his contact the slip and instead of going through with his mission, he took a bus to Atlantic City, where he lost his money in casinos and then gave himself up.

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