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Adams: part of the family
Sinn Fein’s role in the war on terrorism; New York attack cops walk free; and how the is kidnapping international suspects
Eamonn McCann, 10 Apr 2002
Gerry Adams has been summoned to appear before a US congressional committee to answer questions about the presence of three Irish Republicans in the area of Colombia controlled by the Farc. At the time of writing, Sinn Fein says they havn’t received the summons and won’t comment until they do. I’d have thought they wouldn’t have needed the actual document in their hands before deciding that the appropriate response is, Farc Off.
But then, as we’ve had reason to mention hitherto, if there’s one thing only that Sinn Fein agrees with all of the other Northern parties on, it is that it’s wrong, or at least ill-advised, to talk back to an American administration.
There they all were on the Paddywack weekend, when you couldn’t throw a stone in Washington without hitting one of them even if you weren’t aiming carefully, lining up to be patronised by a vicious cretin who lacks the capacity to frame a coherent sentence and loves the thought of killing people. Trimble, Adams, Durkan et. al., slack-jawed with delight to be lectured by George Bush on the morality of using violence for political ends. Next they’ll be taking lessons in table manners from Hannibal Lecter.
On that form, the liklihood is that Adams will make his way meekly to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the presence of Irish Republicans in Columbia from representatives of a regime which has armed men stationed in a hundred countries around the globe, which is prosecuting violent conflicts in, at least, Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Yemen and Georgia, which is openly preparing an armed assault on Iraq and whose main ally in the Middle East, Israel, is involved in horrendous racist violence against the people of Palestine. Will Adams riposte with a single word about any of this when queried as to the reason Jim Monaghan was in Colombia?
Not when Sinn Fein feels the need constantly to reestablish its credentials as a paid-up supporter of the War Against Terrorism.
Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, 24, a Pakistani, arrived in Jakarta in Indonesia in mid-November last to deliver money left by his late father to his second wife, Iqbal’s step-mother. Having handed over the inheritance, Iqbal stayed on. He had family and friends in the area. He had travelled and was living openly under his own name.
On January 9th, Indonesian police called at Iqbal’s lodging and arrested him. On January 11th, he was hustled aboard an unmarked, US-registered Gulfstream V jet parked at a military airport in Jakarta and flown to Egypt. There had been no legal proceedings of any kind. His family and friends do not know where in Egypt he is being held, or what, if anything, is alleged against him.
This story was carried in the Washington Post at the end of February. The paper quoted
diplomatic and intelligence sources, saying that it was one of “dozens” of cases since September 11th in which the US had arranged the secret transportation across frontiers of people whose names had come up in investigation of Al Qaida. They had been taken to countries whose intelligence services had a close association with the CIA and which practiced torture on prisoners.
The Post quoted an unnamed US diplomat: “After September 11, these sorts of movements have been occurring all the time. It allows us to get information from terrorists in a way we can’t do on US soil.”
Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed is another such “terrorist”. A Yemeni microbiology student, he was flown to Jordan from Pakistan on October 11th, having been handed over in shackles by the Pakistani secret service, SIS, to the CIA in the middle of the night at a remote corner of Karachi airport. Again, there were no charges, no extradition warrant, no formal procedure of any nature.
On January 19th, armed US officials seized five Algerians and a Yemeni in Bosnia after the Bosnian Supreme Court had ordered their release from detention because the local authorities could offer no good reason why they had been detained in the first place. The six were bundled into a van, taken to an airport, chained and flown to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Senior Bush administration officials have been frank about their intention to “try” Guantanamo detainees from whom “confessions” have been obtained before tribunals of military officers which will have the power, in secret, to order executions.
The Washington Post story didn’t break entirely new ground. Over the past decade, US agents have shipped a number of suspected Islamist militants captured in parts of Africa, Central Asia and the Balkans to Egypt for
“interrogation” and a trial of sorts. Some have been put to death. None of this prevented September 11th.
The masthead of the Black Panther Party newspaper used to include a definition of a pig.
“A Pig is an ill-natured beast who has no respect for law and order, a foul
traducer who’s usually found masquerading as a victim of an unprovoked attack.”
The words came back to me as I read at the beginning of March that three New York cops who had tortured Abner Louima have been set free.
A federal Appeal Court threw out the convictions of Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder for taking part in an attack on Abner in which he was sodomised with the handle of a toilet plunger. A fourth cop, Justin Volpe, who had pleaded guilty, remains in prison.
The four, from the 70th precinct in Brooklyn, had seized Abner from the street in August 1997 and brought him to the station house where his shoes, trousers and underpants were ripped from him before he was held down and brutally assaulted. After the wooden handle of the plunger was pulled out from his anus, it was rammed into his mouth, smashing all his front teeth. He was to spend two months in hospital and remains disabled.
Two weeks after the attack, a crowd estimated by the New York Times at between 30,000 and 50,000 marched in protest across Brooklyn Bridge. “The only reason the cops came to trial at all was because Louima lived to tell his story and because working people and people of colour came out on the streets to demand justice,” says Ray Laforest of the Haitian Coalition for Justice. “This new ruling is a shock and an outrage. It’s because politicians and the media have turned the cops
As regular readers will know, we are death down on conspiracy theorists here. So we don’t say there’s any conclusion to be drawn from the death of Michael Nasser in northern Brazil a fortnight ago.
Nasser was the third man who might have given evidence against Ariel Sharon for crimes against humanity to have died this year.
A Belgian court is set to rule on whether Sharon can be indicted in relation to the massacre of more than 1,700 Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. Israeli troops under Sharon held the perimeter of the camps while Christian Falangist militiamen went about the slaughter with hatchets, knives and guns. Sharon and some of his former Falangist friends have since fallen out. A number have spoken to Belgian investigators trying to build a case.
On New Year’s Day, one of these, Jean Ghanem, drove his car into a tree. He lingered for two weeks in a coma before dying. Three weeks later, former Falangist leader Elie Hobeika was blown to bits when a bomb exploded under his car – just 24 hours after he’d agreed to testify. Michael Nasser was a close associate of Hobeika’s from 1982. He was shot dead by a lone gunman using a pistol with a silencer.
These guys moved in murky territory, where spooks and lethal grotesques lurk behind every awning. Who knows what dubious deadly games they were playing, or whom they’d angered along the way, severally or together. Maybe the evidence they might have given against Sharon had no bearing on their deaths. Or maybe it did.
Then there was the chap who failed the £100 question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
The question was: Which of the
following was one of Santa’s
reindeers? – Rover, Rudolph, Olive or Bambi?
Olive, says our guy, confidently.
Eh?, queries the startled quizmaster. Try again. And keep in mind the old Xmas song, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer… Again, which was it: Rover, Rudolph, Olive or Bambi?
Olive, our hero repeats. Final answer, Olive.
Wrong, he’s told. It was Rudolph. You go home with nothing. Whatever were you thinking of? Didn’t we more or less tell you it was Rudolph?
Ah, but I went for the other one, explains our man.
What other one?
Olive. The other reindeer.