Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's not about a youtube video

When will people understand that, when passions are inflamed by Islamists around the world, it's not about the ostensible cause du jour whether it be Danish cartoons, a Koran mythically flushed at Gitmo, or an obscure video on the internet? It's about radical Islamists ginning up outrage in order to threaten western institutions.

Someone had to find this obscure video, translate it, and then spread word about it to get people riled up. Then those people have to be channeled into telling the crowds where and when to go to protest and attack American embassies or other symbols of western power wherever they want. One day it's in Egypt, then in Libya, today in Yemen. In 1998, it was embassies in Sudan and Tanzania.

Apologizing for a video is useless, because the video was only the tool used by terrorist groups. If they hadn't had the video, it would be something else. We are now learning that the protests this week have been planned for a while and that the ostensible cause was agitating for release of the blind sheikh in prison for the first World Trade Center bombing.
The protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was announced Aug. 30 by Jamaa Islamiya, a State Department-designated terrorist group, to protest the ongoing imprisonment of its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman. He is serving a life sentence in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

When the video started circulating, Nader Bakkar, the spokesman for the Egyptian Salafist Noor party, which holds about 25% of the seats in parliament, called on people to go to the embassy. He also called on non-Islamist soccer hooligans, known as Ultras, to join the protest.

On Monday, the brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, Mohamed al Zawahiri, tweeted that people should go to the embassy and "defend the prophet," Trager said.
Zawahiri justified al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks in an interview with Al Jazeera last month.

"If America attacks the Arab peoples and their regimes do not defend them, somebody who does defend the Arab and Muslim peoples should not be considered a criminal," Zawahiri told the television network, according to a translation by MEMRI. "We have done nothing wrong."

A U.S. official, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly, said the Obama administration is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned to mark the anniversary of 9/11.
Ya think? Of course, it was scheduled for the anniversary of 9/11. The video is a pretext and condemning it is irrelevant just as the Danish cartoons were a pretext.

Tom Joscelyn has more on the connection between al Qaeda's Sawahiri and the events in Cairo. Zawahiri and his allies have been calling for attacks on the American embassy. And the Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi called for the Blind Sheiky's release at he was sworn into office.

As Alana Goodman writes,
Based on the report, it sounds like the anti-Islam YouTube video was a secondary issue — a way for Islamist leaders to stoke anger and draw more bodies out to the embassy protest. If the storming of the embassy was organized by Gamaa Islamiyya — as opposed to a spontaneous uprising — why hasn’t the State Department’s response reflected that? It’s hard to imagine they’re not aware of the group’s activities. In June, the State Department actually issued a visa to a member of Gamaa Islamiyya — again, this is a designated terrorist organization — and met with him in Washington, as part of a delegation of Egyptian leaders.
Goodman then posts the State Department's defense at the time of letting into the country by a member of a terrorist group as part of an effort in a "new day" in Egypt when people there want to "develop relationships with us." Is the State Department really that oblivious? That's the worrying question.

And the Egyptian government is not going to do anything to stop such violent protests. That is how they came to power in the first place. Their power is built on relying on such regularly scheduled mass protests and the threat of violence. We had a clear signal two weeks ago when Egypt gave suspended sentences to 76 people indicted for attacking the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
A brief recap: On September 9, 2011, thousands of Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy, broke through the security wall and proceeded to loot it. No Israeli diplomats were present at the time, but six Israeli security guards were, and Israel was afraid they would be lynched: They had barricaded themselves in an interior room, but the mob was trying to break down the door. And not only did Egyptian police do nothing to stop the assault, but government officials in Cairo refused even to take calls from their frantic Israeli counterparts. Only after Washington intervened did the Egyptians finally send troops to rescue the Israelis.

The attack was denounced by leaders and diplomats worldwide, and ultimately, 76 people were put on trial for it, as well as for having stoned the nearby Saudi embassy–or, at least, so say various foreign media reports. Two Egyptian media sources, MENA and Al-Ahram, actually reported the indictments as being for attacking the Saudi embassy only, meaning those who attacked Israel’s embassy enjoyed complete immunity.

Either way, the charges were weighty, including “an assault against diplomatic missions” and “sabotage.” But the sentences handed down on August 26 were a joke: All the defendants received suspended sentences except for one who was tried in absentia. He was sentenced to five years, but according to Al-Ahram, less for the embassy attack than for “inciting violence against police” by authoring a book about police brutality and torture. And in any case, since he’s abroad, he won’t be serving any time, either.
So that was the message sent two weeks ago that there would be no legal penalty for attacking embassies. And no country protested this flouting of international law and custom protecting embassies. The Obama administration didn't issue a statement then to do anything to condemn this clear statement of absolution of violence.

In fact, as Evelyn Gordon reports, it was just a week after that, in early September, that the administration announced that it was going to forgive $1 billion in Egyptian debt to the United States as well as supporting a $4.8 billion IMF loan to Egypt.

Does anyone think that signals like this aren't observed in the Middle East?