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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/18/11

Gaza: Cradle of Killing -- Americans Too

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Though most U.S. media stories treated al-Balawi as a fanatical double agent driven by irrational hatreds, other motivations can be gleaned by looking at his personal history. Al-Balawi's mother told Agence France Presse that her son had never been an "extremist." Al-Balawi's widow, Defne Bayrak, made a similar statement to Newsweek. In a New York Times article, al-Balawi's brother was quoted as describing him as a "brilliant doctor."

So what led Dr. al-Balawi to take his own life in order to kill U.S. and Jordanian intelligence operatives? His brother said al-Balawi "changed" during the three-week-long Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-2009. Al-Balawi actually volunteered with a medical organization to treat injured Palestinians in Gaza, but was promptly arrested by Jordanian authorities, his brother said.

Adding insult to injury, the Jordanian intelligence service coerced al-Balawi into becoming a spy to penetrate al-Qaeda's hierarchy and provide actionable intelligence to the CIA. We know the rest of the story. Taking full advantage of amateurish tradecraft by his CIA and Jordanian handlers, al-Balawi exacted his revenge.

"My husband was anti-American; so am I," his widow said later, adding that although her two little girls would grow up fatherless, she had no regrets.

So, what does all this have to do with Gaza? Readers, please take out a piece of paper. You will have five minutes to answer that question in three sentences or less. (Those who get their information only from the New York Times and Washington Post will be given an additional five minutes because of that handicap.)

Moribund Fourth Estate

I continue to be amazed at how many otherwise well-informed Americans express total surprise when I refer them to 9/11 "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's explanation regarding his motivation for attacking the United States, as cited on page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report:

"By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

One can understand how even those who make an honest effort to follow such key issues closely can get confused. Five years after the 9/11 Commission Report, on Aug. 30, 2009, readers of the neoconservative Washington Post were given a diametrically different view, based on what the Post called an unidentified "intelligence summary":

"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States -- which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills -- almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist....He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."

Apparently, the Post found this revisionist version politically more convenient, in that it obscured Mohammed's actual explanation implicating "U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel." It is much more comforting, if a bit of a stretch, to view KSM as a disgruntled visitor who nursed his personal grievances into justification for mass murder.

An unusually candid view of the dangers accruing from the U.S. identification with Israel's policies appeared several years ago in an unclassified study published by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board on Sept. 23, 2004. Contradicting President George W. Bush, the board stated:

"Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights."

Are we starting to get the picture of what the United States is up against in the Muslim world -- and, more important, why? An enhanced PR effort is not going to do the trick. And yet it seems as though the U.S. political/media establishment is incapable of confronting this reality and/or taking meaningful action to alleviate the underlying causes of the violence.

Eye For An Eye

Revenge has not always worked out very well in the past -- and particularly not in spirals of violence beginning in Gaza.

Does anyone remember the brutal killing of four Blackwater contractors on March 31, 2004, when they took a wrong turn and ended up in the Iraqi city of Fallujah -- and how U.S. forces virtually leveled that large city in retribution after George W. Bush won his second term the following November?

How many know of the epidemic of horribly disfigured babies born there since, believed to be the result of depleted uranium and other U.S. weaponry?

If you read only the Fawning Corporate Media, you would blissfully think that the killing of the four Blackwater operatives was the initial step in this particular cycle of violence; that it was started by fanatics who -- along with their neighbors -- got the pummeling they deserved from U.S. forces. You wouldn't know that the killings represented the second turn in that specific cycle.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
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