Why now? On May 2—the 40th anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike gun-fight that landed her in prison—the FBI made veteran Black Panther Assata Shakur the first woman on its "Most Wanted Terrorists" list, doubling the reward for her capture to $2 million. Shakur is in exile in Cuba, and Cuba's own right-wing exiles in Miami have campaigned for her extradition. But it's the NJ State Police that seem to have brought the pressure, with Trenton putting up the extra million dollars. "She continues to flaunt her freedom in the face of this horrific crime," State Police superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said at a press conference, calling the case "an open wound" for troopers in New Jersey and around the country.
The American left's schizophrenic love-hate relationship with jihadism now manifests maddeningly regarding the Boston attacks—as exemplified in the cowardly commentaries of the grevious Glenn Greenwald. The last time we checked in on him, Glenn was condescending to the Malians that they have no right to any help from the outside world becuase it was Western intervention that got them into that mess in the first place by destabilizing Libya and setting off a domino effect. Of course, this actually means the Malians are more entitled to help in beating back the jihadists, but note the inherent double standard: the Libya intervention was bad because it unleashed jihadists, but when those jihadists seize northern Mali... it's not so bad. His screed objected to use of the inevitable "terrorist" label for the jihadist militias in Mali. What Greenwald didn't get is that by using the "terrorist" label, the media are actually giving these ultra-fundamentalist hoodlums a free ride. All the concern is for the purley hypothetical notion that Mali could be a staging ground for attacks on the West. The Malians getting stoned to death, or having their hands amputated, or the Fulani nomads who have been cleansed from their homeland? Who cares, except the guys on the West Africa desk at Amnesty International? Certainly not Glenn Greewald—who now applies similar intellectual contortions to the case of the Boston bombings...
The Assad regime's use of chemical weapons is announced as a "red line"—the favored metaphor of Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, now alarmingly accepted by the US media, at least. Israel yesterday said the line has been crossed. Brigadier-General Itai Brun, head of IDF military intelligence, told an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv: "There's a huge arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria. Our assessment is that the [Assad] regime has used and is using chemical weapons." Brun cited photographs of victims that showed them foaming at the mouth and with contracted pupils. "To the best of our understanding, there was use of lethal chemical weapons. Which chemical weapons? Probably sarin." And John Kerry, speaking at a NATO meeting in Brussels, called on the alliance to make preparations to respond in the event of chemical weapons threatening a member (meaning Turkey). (The Guardian, April 23)
Following last month's murky claims about al-Qaeda biggie Sulaiman Abu Ghaith having been sheltered by Iran, Canadian authorities now want us to believe that two guys busted by the RCMP—Chiheb Esseghaier in Montreal and Raed Jaser in Toronto—were plotting to blow up a Via Rail passenger train under the "direction and guidance" of al-Qaeda agents in ...Iran. At their hearings April 23, the men denied the charges. Iran's foreign ministry said that groups such as al-Qaeda have "no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields." (National Post, Canadian Press, April 23) This rather obvious given the bitter sectarian war on Iran's borders with Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the RCMP portrays a "state-sponsored" terror plot.
Commentary on the Boston attacks is making for some strange permutations. Voices on the left are seeking to play down jihadist involvement in the Chechen struggle—or to portray it as the result of US intrigues, with the obvious analogy to Afghanistan and al-Qaeda itself. Michael Moore's website sports a piece by FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley entitled "Chechen Terrorists and the Neocons," calling out figures such as Richard Perle for backing an "American Committee for Peace in Chechnya" as a lobby for the armed struggle against Russia—the name later "sanitized" to the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus.
With Boston under "lockdown" and a manhunt underway, leaders of the Chechen insurgency issued a statement April 19 casting doubt on police claims that the two suspects in the Marathon bombing—young brothers of Chechen origin—carried out the attacks. The official media arm of the Chechen mujahedeen, the Kavkaz Center, published a blog post that suggested a frame-up as part of a "PR campaign" to discredit the insurgency. The statement mocked the "lightning speed" at which the two suspects were identified, and called the investigation "completely muddled." From a translation by NBC News: "The news that the brothers attacked police officers, carjacked a man and did an array of other things, instead of going into hiding, looks strange at the very least." The statement argued that the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was "very far from your typical 'Islamic terrorist.' He named career and money as his main credo. What's more, he just logged onto his Russian social networking site a few hours ago." Indeed, an overview of the young man's Twitter and other social media posts on AtlanticWire notes that he listed his "personal priority" as "career and money"—but his "worldview" as "Islam." He also made some ominously foreshadowing tweets, including "I will die young."
OK, so twin bombs go off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three—including an 8-year-old child—and injuring over 100. And the Internet conspiranoia crowd, led by the indefatigable Alex Jones, jump on the attack in record time, even faster than they did with the Newtown massacre. Salon notes that on his radio show, Jones speculated the Boston blasts are linked to the price of gold: "With gold plunging, what could this signify?" He also noted that one of the 9-11 planes took off from Boston, and claimed to have predicted the attack: "I said on air that they're getting ready to blow something up. To fire a shot heard round the world like at Lexington and Concord, and then they do it at this same place on the same day!" Well, if you always predict attacks, sooner or later you're going to be right...
Japanese appeals court is expected to rule soon in a suit filed on behalf of 14 children by their parents and anti-nuclear activists in June 2011 in a district court in Fukushima arguing that the nearby town of Koriyama should evacuate its children to an area where radiation levels are no higher than natural background levels in the rest of Japan, or about 1 millisievert annual exposure. After the Fukushima accident, Japan set an annual exposure limit of 20 millisieverts for determining whether people can live in an area. The average radiation for Koriyama is below this level, but some "hot spots" around the city are above the cutoff. The district court rejected the suit in a December 2011 decision. An appeal is now before the Sendai High Court in nearby Miyagi prefecture.