Archive for March, 2010
New York- I posted a new video on my still nascent youtube channel about covering a mass guerrilla funeral on August 17th, 2006 in Srifa, South Lebanon after the U.N. mediated ceasefire. My driver Kamal was from the neighboring village and was curious to revisit the area and check on the homes of his two brothers and their families who hadn’t left. Israeli UAVs buzzed overhead as the town buried its martyrs. Thirty coffins were interred in a mass grave which was then covered over with concrete slabs to seal the dead men into the soil for eternity. The heat and wretchedness of the event was the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced.While virtually all media accounts of the war described it as strictly between the IDF and Hezbollah, on the ground in South Lebanon, Harakat Amal-the armed wing of the “Movement of the Disinherited” and Hizb-i-Shuy’ui-i-Lubnani-the armed wing of the Lebanese Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) fought the IDF in united front to defend South Lebanon and the Litani river from the invading forces. The Israeli invasion enhanced social cohesion amongst groups that had fought one another and which there had often been a great degree of animosity. The LCP had once fought Amal in the context of the civil war and Amal had once battled Hezbollah. The LCP’s local party headquarters had been demolished by the IAF if one needs context as the LCP cadres’ participation in the conflict. What fascinated me was the Guevarist theme of the LCP fighters.
A few years later I was leafing through Gilles Kepel’s Beyond Terror and Martyrdom at Kramer Books in Dupont Circle when I happened to see a reference on page 71 stating that, “Che Guevara was rumored to be from southern Lebanon.” Of course I haven’t heard this reference anywhere else. The wikipedia entry on Guevara says he’s Castilian, Basque, and Irish.
In a strange personal footnote to my experience, while photographing the event there was a gangly European photographer who I assumed was either Dutch or Scandanavian. He stood out even more because it was standing in the raised plow of a backhoe photographing from above. I wondered briefly who he was and how he knew about the funeral. A few weeks later I was back in New York walking with a friend exiting the turnstile of the West 4th street subway, the same super tall Dutch looking guy from Srifa was coming through the next turnstile the other way into the station. I didn’t bother to tell my friend because knowing he knew nothing about the international journalism scene, my shock would be lost on him. A year later when the NOOR photo agency was founded around the time of the annual Perpignan festival, I pieced it together to realize it was Kadir van Lohuizen that had crossed my path in South Lebanon and the West Village in the course of a month in 2006. Weird. I seriously doubt he recognized me that evening in the subway.
“While the Arab Middle East is political Islam’s ideological and historical core, South Asia and Southeast Asia, concentrated in the Indonesian archipelago, make up the modern demographic core of the Muslim world. Advocates of political jihadism have been adept at exploiting pre-existing territorial and ethnic grievances, both perceived and real, in these highly complex and fragmented states. Terror networks in these tumultuous mega-regions have also been cleverly calculating in their agitation of simmering disputes that have arisen from the communal tensions of religious difference that have existed in varying degrees since the region’s violent Cold War-era decolonization.
To better understand the social fabric of terrorism in South and Southeast Asia, The Jamestown Foundation held a panel entitled, “Terrorist Trends in South Asia,” as a component of its annual terrorism conference on December 9th, 2009 at the National Press Club, “The Changing Strategic Gravity of al-Qaeda”. The contents of that panel, including full transcripts, question and answer sessions, executive summaries, slide presentations, panelist biographies and the full transcript of keynote speaker Bruce Riedel’s presentation.”
New York- The new issue of Militant Leadership Monitor is online over at the Jamestown site. In our 2nd issue, I have another article on a recently killed Abu Sayyaf leader named Albader Parad who was recently taken down in a firefight in Jolo with Philippine marines. The death of Parad may yield the eventual decline of the ASG and could be significant to the future of U.S. involvement in the southern Philippines.
Other articles in this issue include:
• A profile of AQAP leader Said al-Shihri by Murad Batal al-Shishani
• A profile of AQIM leader Abedelmalek Droukdel by Camille Tawil
• A profile of radical Jamaican cleric Sheikh al-Faisal by Chris Zambelis
• Briefs by me on the capture by Iran of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi and capture by Pakistan of Afghan Taleban leader Mullah Abdul Salam