Tuesday, January 30, 2007

January 29, 2007

Lowell has not been seen on video since late November 2006. Since then the Pan Moslem Coalition militia forces have forced an incursion on the United States, using an international petroleum boycott as leverage. By doing so, they secure and insure the safety of the troops who have been mandated to scour ever last inch of the mountainous region from northern Georgia to southern Virginia, including part of Tennessee, where Lowell is thought to be hiding out. This unprecedented effort by Muslim forces has once again caused people to question why the United States itself has failed to produce Lowell -- and to wonder whether it ever will.

While the feds generally get their man in the movies or on television, it is very difficult when that person is hiding in an extremely rugged, isolated and lawless area and -- one must assume -- sheltered by a heavily armed local population.

Meanwhile, although the PMC forces have launched a bold attempt to secure Lowell, and have done so without U.S. permission, they have not launched the necessarily major military operation capable of enveloping and systematically searching the entire Appalachian region -- an operation that would require not just a few hundred men, but more likely tens of thousands of troops and which would likely result in heavy combat with the those residing in the area. The Muslim nations, therefore, will continue intelligence and covert special operations forces efforts, -- for the most part in North Carolina, and for how long is anyone's guess-- , but if they are going to catch Lowell, they will have to wait patiently for one of those operations to produce a lucky break -- or for Lowell to make a fatal operational security blunder.

The parallels between the hunt for Lowell and bin Laden are obvious -- though it must be noted that Lowell is a U.S. citizen who has not been charged with any crime, and is therefore afforded some protection by the U.S. government, even if the Feds secretly wish the PMC forces found their man and left town with him, flying him back to Nusa Kambangan in the dead of night. Note the difficulty the U.S. military has finding bin Laden in Pakistan, and then ask yourself how PMC forces, with zero previous experience along the Appalachian Trail will do. Finding a single man in a large area with rugged terrain is a daunting task, even when a large number of searchers and a vast array of the latest high-tech surveillance equipment are involved. It is something that even the U.S. Government has failed at.

Point in case:

This very principle was demonstrated by the U.S. manhunt for so-called "Olympic Bomber" Eric Rudolph, who was able to avoid one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history, who like Lowell, hid in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, one is presumed the have taken a page from the former, with similar effect. The task force looking for Rudolph at times had hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement officers assigned to it, while some of its search operations involved thousands of law enforcement and volunteer searchers. The government also employed high-tech surveillance and sensor equipment and even offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Rudolph's capture.

And yet however familiar they were with the local terrain, Rudolph's capture in May 2003, more than five years after he was listed on the FBI's most-wanted list, was not the result of the organized search for him. Rather, he was caught by a rookie police officer on a routine patrol who found Rudolph rummaging for food in a dumpster behind a grocery store. The officer did not even realize he had captured Rudolph until he had taken him to the police station for booking.

Now consider that even though massive contingencies of Pan Moslem troops wait offshore to accept the delivery of their anticipated human parcel, the boots on the ground number in the hundreds (or perhaps less), and they lack any kind of substantiative logistical support.

The terrain in craggy Safed Koh range that runs along the Pakistani-Afghan border is tough and remote, but it is nothing compared to the terrain in the Smoky Mountains, or the Blue Mountains to the north. Certainly, the peaks that dot the Appalachians are only half as high as any peak in the Safed Koh range. Nevertheless, the Appalachians, in all, cover an area roughly the size of the United Kingdom. And it is not only hostile terrain that provides Lowell shelter. In the Great Smokies, there are many people who are not happy to see any kind of government agent -- not to mention strangers of the foreign sort, especially those who speak another language and who practice what they think may be a militant religion.

Make no mistake, the presence of Pakistani military forces, Malay sharp shooters, Indian scouts, etc. is quite resented in these areas, and while there appears to be some mutual cooperation between the locals and the occupying force, nary a slip of any real information that would lead to the capture of Lowell -- or any of his officers -- is likely to pass between them.

Aside from the terrain -- a formidable obstacle in and of itself -- Pan Moslem forces are hampered by the strong, conservative Christian conviction of the people in the Carolinas, and throughout the South East. There is a reason why this part of the world is considered part of 'The Bible Belt'. This Christian conviction extends beyond average citizens to include some members of the local police, U.S. military and intelligence agencies -- especially those at the operational level in the region.

Additionally, and perhaps just as important, many in the U.S. government and military do not want to kill their own people. The challenge is to eliminate the militia members with ties to the Christian separatist group PURE while causing very little collateral damage to the rest of the predominantly Christian population -- and some in the U.S. government say that by 'looking the other way' while a small contingent of PMC special forces units scour the territory may be just the way to accomplish that. At the very least, it puts the onus of being 'the enemy' on foreign forces, and not on the Feds, who after dealing with the Rudolph hunt, know the job is impossible anyway. Also, it allows the U.S. to leave its troops in Iraq, where Bush believes there is a greater need for them, regardless of any incursion by foreign militia, and which he probably perceives as a mere metaphorical fly on an elephant's back.

It must be remembered that the American occupation in Iraq did not simply create a training ground for members of Al Qaeda, but also helped to forge alliances between U.S. Soldiers sympathetic to PURE and members of the British armed forces who might enjoy ties to militant aspects of the British National Party back in the U.K.

Lest anyone forget, most of the men responsible for the effort that took down the Petronas Towers were Europeans, after all.

It is thought that it was during the early stages of the war in Iraq, that Lowell (and other members of the U.S. military) trained and fought alongside similarly minded European 'Christian Separatists'. Forging deep and common ties, there are now some in the U.S. government (specifically within the security apparatus) who remain sympathetic, if not outright loyal, to their friends in the white Christian Separatist movement, and specifically to groups like PURE, that have been known to describe themselves as Neo-Con Nazis (when they think they are out of range of the Press).

The areas where Lowell and his men are likely to be hiding are remote and insular. Visitors to the area are quickly recognized and identified -- especially if they happen to have brown skin, wear turbans and go by names like Mostafa, Hamid or Shahrooz. Moreover, residents who spend too much time talking to such outsiders are naturally suspected of being spies and while they are not usually killed (sometimes they simply 'disappear'), they often suffer excommunication from their community, ending up at one or another of the several refugee camps that now pepper North Carolina's piedmont (to the east of the search area). These conditions have served to ensure that the Christian Separatists maintain a superior human intelligence (and counterintelligence) network in the area. It is a network that also stretches deep into the heart of Appalachia and throughout the Southeast, but also throughout the local U.S. military installations, and even, presumably, to cells in Europe.

That said, although PURE's operational security and the Christian intelligence network have been able to keep Lowell out of the enemy's hands thus far, they have lost a number of operatives via extraordinary rendition at the hands of PMC special forces, who are supremely capable in this respect. This human bounty is thought to be flown to one of several black sites in the Indian Ocean, despite noticeable grumblings from Humanitarian groups.

PURE will presumably learn from the mistakes made by the men it has lost and one can imagine that in the very near future, the group will better secure the methods it uses to communicate with the outside world. This increased security, however, could result in unintentional increased insulation, which combined with the Pan Moslem Coalition's efforts against it, could result in a reduction in operational ability and effectiveness.

The tension between operations and security poses a significant problem for an organization that seeks to maintain and manage a global militant network. By opting to err on the side of security, Lowell and the others could escape capture indefinitely, though they would remain operationally ineffective. However, should they attempt to become more operationally active and effective -- and decrease their security measures to do so -- they will provide the Muslim world with more opportunities to get the one break it needs to find Lowell.

Ya Hala Terry!

My good friend, my Celtic brother! At last you have come up for air. Please post again as soon as possible, and continue to do so frequently. We need to keep in touch with each other or your Lebanese buddy will go cray-zee up here in the woods. It actually gets boring sometimes, –most of the time, in fact.

And Jasper!

But ah, Jasper, Jasper, Jasper. What is going on with you? This is Siraj, you're talking to, not some policy wonk.

Interesting rant, at any rate, Jasp. But, please, before you condemn the entire Muslim world for merely defending itself from very real Christian Crusader threats, you should first consider the fact that many in the Muslim community refer to President Bush as 'the 13th Imam', because as it turns out Bush has done more than even many Islamic leaders to advance the interests of the Shi'a brand of Islamic political leadership throughout the Mid East. They have also been known to refer to random American politicians and pundits as a 'donkey's ass', but I think '13th Imam' has a much more dignified ring to it. Still, hardly the legacy, I must imagine, that America's 43rd President desires for himself.

Not convinced? Read on:

1) The Bush administration has long allowed US corporations to circumvent the economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic during the previous administration. Oil service companies, including Haliburton, continue to conduct business in Iran, while the shops and bazaars are awash in American goods. With oil selling at record prices, Iran is awash in money, and it owes thanks for this to the United States.

2) Pressure by the US on other regional powers to democratize has resulted in the emergence of Shi'ite power throughout the region. Among the chief beneficiaries are the oil-rich Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia. Long disadvantaged by the conservative Wahhabi-dominated Saudi government, the Shi'ites now exercise real political power for the first time in the history of the State.

Qatar has even established a separate legal court for the Shi'ites, and the Sunni rulers of Bahrain have good reason to worry about how US. pressure will translate into increased power for their country's Shi'ite majority population.

3) Even the Syrians are benefiting from President Bush's politics. American assaults on the Syrian government have accomplished the almost impossible task of increasing Bashar al-Assad’s popularity and the credibility of his government.

Jasp, the United States has been funding Mid East dictators and tyrants for decades now, not to mention arming and training henchmen for even the worst of them. You know that –we've even talked about this in relation to Israeli security. Well, nw that Bush is pushing for the democratization of the Mid East, how do you think these new democracies should defend themselves? Given the US track record, isn't it fair to assume that any emerging republic may want to build an atomic arsenal, if only to protect themselves from the likes of the United States?

Unfortunately there is no such thing as perfect diplomacy. So, what are you going to do now? Torch the White House? I’ll let you know when these kids I’m riding with airlift out of here to storm the capital, lol.

On a lighter and more personal note, how's your novel, Smash Faced Detectives, coming? Anytime for punch-drunk comedy in these dire times? The first draft was fabuloso, and I'd hate to think my favorite All-American has gone stone-cold serious on us. You know, if you stop laughing about all this nonsense, then the terrorists have won. That's my philosophy anyway, and I have a 'tent-side' view of the action!

peace, my friend–


P.S.: As for why Lowell isn't yet rotting in a prison in Nusa Kambangan, the intelligence gatherers at Stratfor point out in their most recent report a number of reasons why it is nearly impossible to secure him.

Article reprint follows in my next post. Read it and tell me what you think!

Monday, January 29, 2007


Yo Jasp back.

Geez, Siraj, frankly, dude, I'm not Christian or anything, of course, but I totally get how some people might think those cartoons are way too offensive. Mang, they got me riled up! Now I'm ready to go kick some Islamic illustrator's ass, if only because Jesus was a Jew, and fuck 'em if they think they can kick Jews around and get away with it.

Terry, bro, at least you make some sense, even if I don't exactly FEEL your concept of Judeo-Christian values. You sound like you’ve even read the Torah. And you suggest that you went to Sunday school. But you sound more like you have an intellectual or historical understanding of these scriptures. Not everyone is as academic about this stuff as you are. You know, dude, religion isn't just another philosophy class for the rest of the world. It's LIFE. I feel God smacking my ass every time I catch a wave, you dig?

Annika, baby...I am so sorry. I know I said I was going to get up there, but it's been impossible. Just know, whatever happens, I appreciate what you're doing for my fellow countrymen and the American refugees. Say hi to your mom for me.

Now let's talk about these fucktard screwball ideologists on both sides of the aisle.

Personally, suicide bombers irritate me most, because for all their troubles, Palestinians are still way better off than the other Arab shithole countries. Geez, if you're smart enough to turn a human being into an explosive device, isn't there something better you can do with your BRAIN?

Siraj, bro, I love you, man, but you really are beginning to sound to me like you're suffering from Stockholm syndrome. When did you become an apologist for Islamofacist terrorism? It seems to me about the same time Al Jazeera hired you. Honestly, mang, your enthusiasm over American vulnerability makes me not only uncomfortable to read it, but also uncomfortable with our friendship. I don't care if it is your job and you are embedded with good kids. THEY’RE INVADING OUR COUNTRY.

Sweet kids they may be, but they are not your friends, and if you think for a moment that they are, then you've overlooked this new paradigm of peril we are up against. THE LINES HAVE BEEN DRAWN. First they want to push Israel off the map. Now they're invading the USA. Do you think they're going to leave anytime soon? Not until you and I are holding palm frans and cooling badass motherfucker sheiks from the hot mid day sun.

By the way, the oil embargo on the United States –that I can live with. What pisses me off is the idea that these Moslem nations want us to believe that after all these years of being their customers, we're somehow manipulating them. Fuck em. We PAY for that OIL. If the Moslems have it bad, then it's cause their own TYRANNICAL governments are STEALING THEM BLIND. And I wouldn't be surprised if they had, because from what I can see, they've been gouging us for DECADES.

People want to think the boycott of petroleum exports to the U.S. by OPEC nations is just about cars, or about the distribution of goods, or about simply limiting our ability to travel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Islamofacists don't care where you want to holiday or how you get there. They don't care if you get 12 miles or 120 miles to the gallon.

The boycott is actually all about restricting INFORMATION.

Think about it: If they can turn the lights off, then they think they can restrict access to the Internet. If they do that, they prevent us from communicating with one another. And by doing that, they hope to divide us. Surf's up, it's all about access to information. The Islamofacist Military Complex does not want Christians to have access to the Internet, to satellites, cell phones or any device that might deliver the TRUTH. It's not in their interest give their enemies access to the TRUTH. It's not even in their interest to give their own people access to the truth. That's why in their own countries, Moslem tyrants are arresting BLOGGERS instead of TERRORISTS. Duh.

Siraj, I know you're a Lebanese American, and you like to draw a heavy underscore underneath your Lebanese heritage. I know you were raised as a Muslim. I can understand why you sympathize. But check it, bro:


And now that the Islamofacists have driven a stake hold into North Carolina, some people say now they're going to stay there and use it as base of operations to launch further attacks.

Think. Your parents. They came to THIS COUNTRY for FREEDOM. Security is freedom.

I know you're going to twist that around and say it sounds dark and ORWELLIAN, of course you would. But dude, if we are not secure then we are not truly free. Duh. Think. Say what you want about walls, but they keep the bad guys out.

Seriously, the PMC has had a lock down on US territory since JANUARY FIRST! Iranian Islamofacists held the US embassy for 444 days back in 1979. So, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Coalition decides to stick around, even after they airlift Lowell to Cowabunga in the Indian Ocean.

To be honest I'm not even sure that they're even still looking for Lowell anymore. In fact, at this point, I'm no longer convinced there is an Oliver Lowell! Maybe he's a FICTIONAL CHARACTER invented by Indonesian spies? And that's why the PMC forces in the Appalachian Mountains haven't found him yet.

You follow me? Nobody had never even heard of Oliver Benjamin 'Bing' Lowell before July 27th. Suddenly he's a global SUPERSTAR. Well, maybe the Malaysian government destroyed the Petronas Towers themselves, you know, as a way to induce fear in an increasingly pluralistic society and maybe also as a way for a marginal society to win greater influence throughout the Islamic world.

Then by identifying this Lowell character as the cause of all this mayhem, and labeling him a super villain name like 'CHRISTIAN CRUSADER', and "the leader of an international group which goes by the name PURE," these Moslem powers have conjured up the perfect criminal whose mere presence on the planet seems to justify swift, strong action.

Well, I believe that more than I believe some a few grunts learned how to fly a passenger jets over the Indian Ocean well enough to aim them perfectly into two buildings in Kuala Lumpur.

Isn't it more reasonable to assume that a coalition of OPEC tyrants figured out that if you demonize Christians, war is the perfect way to maintain profits after peak oil, not to mention distract uppity populations stuck in the 17th century from asking dangerous questions, like: 'Why can't I download harcore porn?'

Hell, if I was a leader of a Moslem kingdom, and I witnessed how well Bush and Cheney crippled democracy and controlled the country in post 9/11 America, and how they helped their friends get richer by sending troops to Iraq, I know I'd take a page out of that book. Isn't it obvious? The oil embargo and the US incursion is all part of a strategic effort to perpetuate global jihad as a perpetual conflict. And to think we we're such suckers for showing them sympathy after 7/27.

Except, do you really think Bush and Cheney are going to sit on their asses much longer before they start carpet-bombing the Blue Ridge Mountains? HOLYGEEZ. THEY'RE ISLAMOFASCISTS, –AND THEY'RE IN AMERICA! They're in violation of international law. DO WE REALLY NEED TO WAIT ONE MORE MINUTE BEFORE WE BOMB THEM?

Siraj, I just hope you are not caught in the crossfire. Yeah, I know you survived 7/27 and the collapse of the Petronas Towers. I know you were inside when they fell. But ask yourself how well you're going to do after Uncle Sam delivers the ragheads your with a highly enriched uranium chicken samosa.

Dude, CNN is hiring in Atlanta. I looked it up on monster. If you can get a job at Al Jazeera, you can get a job at CNN, for sure. So, if I were you, I'd call your boss on the Satfon and tell him to get you the hell out of Boone before it goes Boom!

Clean, shaved, well behaved, but will kick ass if I have to–

The Jasp

Sunday, January 28, 2007

PS – this one isn't half bad!
T. touching down– finally right?

Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth, too. My computer died a while back, and given the frequent brown outs, and I thought I would just wait until the energy crisis and the economy sorted itself out. It's for that same reason, also, that the Internet cafes up here are always filled to capacity, Siraj, and I can never seem to get any screen time. But here I am, at last... kind of hard to believe what's happening with you in North Carolina right now, but we live in a strange world, and it gets stranger with each passing day. Of course, you must be feeling that more than anybody.

Anyway, I saw those images, too, and also the original so-called anti-Muslim cartoons published back in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten. I think such images are born out of existing conflict, not the origin of it. I certainly do not think that the cartoons do their publishers any favors, as they only serve to distract otherwise rational men from focusing their energies on the main point. The result ends up being international quibbling, when injured parties should instead be engaged in some kind of productive debate.

I'm not a humanist but I do think that as modern societies are pluralistic by nature, therefore modern governments must exercise secular policies. It's fine to have and hold values that lead one to develop a fulfilling and moral life. But I think it's wrong for anyone push their personal set of religious values onto those who do not share the same faith.

You know what especially irks me: When my fellow citizens argue that America was founded upon Judeo-Christian values. How can it be so? It's a historical fact that the country was founded because its citizens didn't want to pay taxes. Even Jesus counseled his followers to pay taxes and told them to "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).

Clearly, few people in 1776 gave a damn about what Caesar wanted, and they certainly didn't want to pay their taxes.
Which is not to say they were wrong to revolt, only that numbskulls today can't stand up for Judeo-Christian values and then turn around and cherry pick only the ones that suit them. But they do, and that's why they're numbskulls, and self-centered one's at that. St. Paul in Ephesians 6:5-9 said, 'Slaves, obey your masters' –and I'm by no means a biblical scholar, but are we all going to take up slaves now? Or become slaves? Gotta love those Judeo-Christian values.

I think that if America is to stand for anything, then it should stand for fairness. Stand strong and play to win, but play fair. Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t think there’s more to it than that.

You can't even say the U.S. was founded on the Ten Commandments regardless of our perception of what values our forefathers held, they were keeping themselves busy killing Indians and taking their land. I think people confuse the Constitution with The Declaration of Independence, because of the mention of 'Nature's God' in the Declaration of Independence. One could in fact argue: Just exactly what did they mean by the phrase? Did they mean Jesus? Nah, I think not.

At any rate, there is no mention of God in the United States Constitution. Conversely, nowhere in the Bible is a Bill of Rights or is The Rights of Man enumerated. One had no rights in biblical times, only directives and imperatives demanded on a frequently enslaved individual by an equally often and arguably delusional tyrant.

Therefore, what I'm getting at is: these cartoons, offensive as they may be, serve to remind those of us sitting on the sidelines, that religion has no place in government. The only place for religion is your heart, your brain and within the community of believers of which you are a part of. But don’t use your good book to tell me how to live, and I won’t impose mine on you and yours. Don't even get me started on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all the other crap we tell our children just so we can enjoy the perverse fun of watching their little hearts break when they realize the world is not what it seems, and their parents are liars.

But above all please, please don’t send me off to fight your battles because you think you have a direct line to God, or Allah, or whatever you want to call him/her/it. And while we're at it, let's not argue if 'God' and 'Allah' refer to the same supreme being or not. Both God and Allah refer to the god of Abraham: That alone makes them the same God. Happy to solve another world crisis for ya'.

As far as I'm concerned, God's name is unknowable and so men invent nicknames, simply because it makes communicating with Mother Nature easier. Zing!

Yes, the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were a cheap shot. I believe their intention was to stir up controversy of the highest magnitude and the publishers certainly got what they asked for. But the fact that mere cartoons so inflamed the world also tells us that some people –many people– will take just about any old thing and use it as an excuse to present themselves as victims. Even a cartoon –well, how ridiculous is that?

Someone flew airplanes into the World Trade Center on 911 and into the Petronas Towers on 7/27. It’s fair to ask why. I think it's even fair to ask 'Why did they do it?' And it is by all means reasonable to want to blow the bad guys up to smithereens. But it is never fair to riot because a cartoon offends. There's a lot in life that is offensive. Get over it, people.

What I find particularly disingenuous about those original protests is that there is already a long history of cartoons from the Arab world that reek of ugly anti-Semitism. So why does anyone care if Jyllands-Posten comes along and publishes this stuff? Why does the the Muslim world go mad? You can say the Western press likes playing with fire, loves provocation, but the Protestors have demonstrated themselves experts in flame throwing. –And for what? Tit for tat, yes. But an eye for an eye –no. Cheap shots deserve to be defended by another cheap shot, or returned with a shrug of the shoulders, not a violent riot.

Want to demonstrate how down you are protecting the Prophet’s back? Go get a job (or create one), feed your children, take the revolution back home and throw the bastards and tyrants out of their castles. Then come back to me and we can discuss honor.

In effect, both the publishers at Jyllands-Posten and the demonstrators used the cartoons to engage in mere international quibbling. It is obvious that both parties hoped to gain a rhetorical advantage through distraction. We'll see if the same thing happens in Canada with this new material. I hope not.

Rational men –and honestly, I am not always one– are better than that. Alas, the world has a deficit of rational men. –Not to mention a deficit of available computer time at Internet Cafes, too! I have to run, and I don't know when I'll have an opportunity to post again. It's been nice venting!

Nobody panic –I'm just stepping out for an espresso– ha!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

btw, Annika, have you seen these so-called anti-Christian cartoons for yourself? Here's a scan I received from an Al Jazeera International coordinator here in the states (I'm sorry but the scan itself is not very good, still you can get the gist of the subject matter):

Anyway, on a more serious note: more and more it looks as if Oliver Lowell’s fate depends on what happens here in Boone.

Salamo Alaykom! It is very, very good to hear from you! Of course, I've heard all about those anti-Christian cartoons and the the riot that they caused at the Rogers Centre. Did you know that they're causing similar uproars among Christian populations all over in predominantly Moslem countries? I've even heard protesters have taken to the streets back in Kuala Lumpur, to what end I can't figure, though.

The images themselves actually seem kind of quite innocuous to me, but then I was raised in a secular Muslim household. So, it's like, okay, someone is making fun of Jesus, and so what? Isn't the all powerful Christian God a big enough deity to stand up to a bit of light hearted cartoonage? I mean, it's not like those anti-muslim illustrations published back in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten. I wasn't riled by those images, either, but those illustrations did appear to me to be consciously designed so as to bait the local Islamic community and cause a furor, which of course they did, ça va sans dire.

These new cartoons, however, while anti-Christian, simply don't strike me as significantly inflammatory. Sure, they're offensive, I guess, and people have every right to be angry about them. But so what, –they're just cartoons, right? Thing is, I don't think the publishers of these cartoons actually thought anyone outside their immediate readership would actually see them, and I say that because the publication they appeared in isn't even available in English or even French; it's only published as an Arabic language journal.

That's my two cents anyway.

btw you're absolutely right: I do share a bit of sympathy for the Pan Moslem Coalition, and especially, specifically, these young, sincere soldiers I'm embedded with now. The PMC is the injured party, and they are just after their man, so who can blame them. That's the way I see it.

Plus –speaking as an American– I would like to believe that when and if Lowell is caught, that even the residents of Boone will cheer these Muslim lads who bring him to justice. By and large, the people I've met In North Carolina are good, decent American people, and they also happen to sympathize with the victims of the 7/27 attacks in South East Asia, –just as these young men I travel with now sympathize with America's loss on 9/11.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Siraj, sweetie!

I'm sooo sorry that I haven't posted to you sooner. I know you were probably wondering what was going on with me, and that an update from the Great White North is probably overdue. Well, yep, you would be right, mister. But OK, here's my excuse, and you have to admit, it's a good one: I started doing volunteer work at a shelter. I'm serious! I know, I know –it's totally unglamorous, but I really, really enjoy it, even if it's really hard work as well.

Given your immeasurably immense inside sources, you probably already know that in order to offset the boycott and resulting US petrol deficit, me and my fellow Canadian citizens have graciously made arrangements to send some of our own homegrown electricity down to the States. I couldn't bare to live with myself knowing I was warm and cozy while Jasper, Terry and your fellow Americans were freezing to death this winter.

Anyway, despite our efforts to keep the lights in New York, that fact alone hasn't stopped a stream of US refugees (predominantly from the New England and the Great Lakes regions) from crossing our southern border into Canada.

Siraj, we are undergoing a human deluge!

Some Americans are said to be en route to Alaska, but to my eyes it doesn't look like anyone is really leaving once they get here. As a result, Toronto is taxed to the limits in every way you can imagine.

I wasn't doing much more than going to the gym since I got back, so when it became evident the city was being flooded with Americans, naturally I signed up to volunteer at a nearby shelter. I've actually been working at a place called Sojourn House since January 2nd. Sounds peaceful doesn't it. Well, we have so many people walking through the doors looking for help that everyone –me included– is working 16 hour days, 7 days a week!

A friend of mine is volunteering at the Matthew House and they have the exact same situation: They're over-burdened, under staffed and there are too many people in need.

We try to help as many as we are able, but we just can't help everyone. Sigh. It really breaks your heart to send them back out in the cold, especially since so many people traveled on foot to get here, and they often arrive famished and frost bitten. Not surprisingly the Americans are filling up Toronto's hospitals too. It's terrible, terrible humanitarian crisis that nobody was prepared for.

Well, we don't really send them back into the cold. That would be utterly cruel. No, we send everyone we can't accommodate over to the Rogers Centre, which is a huge stadium in downtown Toronto. You may have heard abut it cause that's where the Toronto Blue Jays play.

Unsurprisingly, they are having the same problems over there that they had at the The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans during in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And the Rogers Centre is huge! I heard a 31 story office building could fit inside it when the roof is closed! Nevertheless, it’s packed with people.

And unfortunately, –this being January and winter–, everyone is pretty much stuck inside all the time. It must be unbearable. I remember that the Houston Astrodome housed something like fifteen thousand evacuees. Well, we probably have something like a quarter of a million Americans in and around the Toronto environs, that just arrived since Christmas! So, you can imagine, we have already reached super saturation in this city.

Although I don't know how many people are actually in the Rogers Center itself. –Maybe twenty to thirty thousand people? I can not overstate how dreadfully overcrowded and awful it is said to be inside. I heard the toilets are perpetually backed up, and that's just about all anyone ever talks about when you see an interview on TV with someone whose being housed there.

It blows my mind to see what's happening. Not only are there too many people in there, and a lack of basic human services, but a lot of them are really angry, and just about anything will set them off.

Point in case: A little local magazine published by members of Toronto's Islamic community published an article the other day that featured some anti-Christian cartoons. Well, it completely blew up and the Americans got all huffy about it that they nearly blew the roof off the stadium. The Toronto Star reported that the RMCP arrested three hundred angry yanks in an ensuing riot. A lot of people got hurt and a couple of people are still in critical condition. I think a few people actually posted some footage on YouTube from during the riot, if you wanted to see it for yourself.

And, yes, are jails are full of American's too.

Anyway, that's the reason why I haven't found time to post here. And to be honest, I have to get some shut-eye right now or I'm going to collapse. Forgive me. I'm having my period on top of everything; I'm PMS'ing; and in between the exhaustion and the cramps I feel like I could be getting sick myself.

As far as our politicians go, though, I have to admit that I couldn't be more proud of our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, than I am now. Everybody thinks Mr. Harper has really, really stepped up to the plate and demonstrated almost heroic leadership. At the very least, he's managed to keep the lights on in Canada, and even help out the lower 48 with our energy surplus.

Mind you, my father thinks a new Dark Ages may be upon us, at least for the States. To be honest, actually, a lot of Canucks are kind of praying you all go black and never come back, serve some of you arrogant bastards right, is the general point of view. I feel for you guys, but I have to admit, sort of like a sex fantasy you might secretly entertain that's too, er, exotic and maybe even so dangerous that you really don't want to come true, it's still kind of exciting to think about it.


Annika Satanica :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

From Al Jazeera
4:32 MECCA TIME, 1:32 GMT
By Siraj Talal


Announces intention to expand Strategic Petroleum Reserve
United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush, speaking about 'a future of hope' announced his intention to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a way to strengthen America's energy security.

The 20-year effort to increase the emergency stockpile from its current capacity, 691 million barrels, to 1.5 billion barrels would provide enough oil to compensate for a loss of nearly 100 days of net oil imports, almost double today's reserve criteria.

This move is unsurprising in light of the recent embargo and reflects the president's belief that oil-rich regions such as the Middle East will continue to be unstable and that in an increasingly unstable world, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a much-needed insurance policy.

Last night's State of the Union was also notable because it was the first address in which a sitting US President addressed a female Speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi...(More)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My friends, you are looking at video of Boone, North Carolina, from earlier this evening when Sherpa Team stopped at a roadside diner. I had a cheeseburger, something I’ve not had since quitting Cozy and leaving for Malaysia last May. Given the rationing troops and civilians alike must suffer, imagine our surprise to find this little mountain diner offered not only 'All American Cuisine' featuring 'Down Home' Country and Southwestern Cooking', but a selection of wines from Chateau Morrisette and Villa Appalachia –and even a selection of boutique brewery domestic beers! Being a fancier of Dogfish Head beers, myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find this out-of-the-way restaurant offering more than one variety.

The United States truly is a great nation, and the human race owes a tremendous deb to cows and hops.

Somewhere along the way –without anyone saying anything– interaction with the locals has become a daily occurrence. Command calls ahead; we show up with a generator and pay for our meals and leave a bit of gasoline behind; everybody's happy. Needless to say, nobody believes we are under any immediate threat from the U.S. military.

Apparently, however, Coalition forces are not the most desired neighbors. Many residents evacuated the region when international conflict with the Christian Identity Group, PURE, had brought Pan Moslem Forces into their backyards. To offset any feelings of animosity by the local populations, military action by Pan Moslem Counter Crusader Forces has been accompanied by humanitarian airdrops, including a substantial quantity of fuel, a gift to the townspeople here, I suppose, for putting up with horny, hungry, lonely, itchy, smelly, noisy invaders in their backyard. Nevertheless, I'm told shelters as far to the east of the Mountains as Winston-Salem in Forsyth County are filled to capacity.

Many communities resemble ghost towns, but those people that do remain are quite friendly, or at the very least put on a smile when we pass.

I would say that given the fuel shortage, the PMC's presence is well enough received. Although, fuel or no fuel, our convoys are still the only vehicles we see on the roads here, apart from local and state police. As a result, they have become a novelty with the children in the area.

The American kids, believe it or not, love the troops, even if their fathers are in Iraq, or actually at home packing Winchesters in case an Indian knocks on the front door.

I can't blame the adults if they are fearful. There is laughter aplenty, but a palatable tension nevertheless vibrates through these hazy gray mountains. These men are on a mission and would shoot you dead if you stood in their way of accomplishing it. I can vouch from personal experience that one is constantly thinking that the next sound you hear is potentially a rifle shot shattering the still winter air, right before your head blows open.

And still no sign of Lowell, or indeed anything I would categorize as associated with the Christian Identity. From what one reads overseas, you'd believe that the South was a unified amalgam of Crusaders, Nazis, Klansmen, Storm Troopers and Christian Extremists, –but that is so far from the truth one wonders how the cliché sustains itself? I am beginning to think that perhaps there has been a miscalculation on the part of the intelligence.

In the meantime, I can tell you that above all the children desire souvenirs from the soldiers, perhaps an Indian rupee or some Baba Green Mango candy. They also want to know how we are doing, or so it seems as they are always asking the soldiers, 'what’s up dudes'.

By the way the mountains are flush with marijuana plants. We’ve stumbled on many of them. Too bad the winter has killed them off or I'd be high off my ass instead of cold as ass. Maybe after this is all over, we four can all take a holiday down to the Blue Ridge Mountains and harvest some of this pot. Hopefully, I’ll be able to remember where I’ve been, and where it's planted!


Friday, January 19, 2007

January 18, 2007, 9:20PM

Canadian foreign minister says document 'wrongly includes some of our closest allies'
Ronald Macintyre for the Toronto Star
Published: 19 January 2007

Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from the United States, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged that they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some US interrogation techniques as torture.

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.

The document - made available to Reuters and other media outlets - embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.

Under "Definition of torture" the document lists US interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners. It also mentions the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where a Canadian man is being held.

Related Stories

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Spokeswoman says president, in Mallorca, prodded Saudi king on issue
Updated 7:38 a.m. ET, Wed, Jan. 17, 2007

Mallorca, Spain - In a hastily arranged summit, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah told President Bush he was worried any action by the President to interrupt or expel Coalition Combined Forces from the US territory would not only prolong the current conflict, but further impact oil prices on the world economy, the White House reported.

Nevertheless, after their talks Bush said he was hopeful that given his authorization for what the administration now calls 'limited cooperation', OPEC would lift the embargo and authorize oil distribution to the United States.

But the talks ended without any commitment from the king about resuming oil transportation to the United States.

The kingdom holds the world’s largest oil supplies and is a major voice in decisions by OPEC.

Worries about dwindling strategic reserves and the effect the embargo has had on the US economy have shot to the front of Washington's political conversation. in the midst of this circumstance, the White House seemed eager to portray Bush as dealing with the internationally potent issue even as he came under blistering criticism from the voices around the world.

Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary, Dana Perino, traveling with the president on Air Force One as they returned from Mallorca, offered a brief description of talks that Bush and the king had after dinner Tuesday night at a hotel owned by the Saudi Royal family.

“He (King Abdullahh) said that he understands the situation Bush is in,” Perino said. But “he (the king) is worried about future meddling by Christian extremists and how they can negatively affect economies around the world.

“The president said there’s a hope that as a result of these conversations that OPEC would be encouraged to authorize an increase in production and distribution,” Perino said.

She declined to provide more detail, saying they were private conversations.

Clinton: Bush ‘begging the Saudis’

Bush’s approach was sharply criticized by Hillary Rodham Clinton while taping a show on Tuesday night at the MSNBC studios in New York.

“President Bush is over in the Gulf now begging the Saudis and others," to resume oil production. "How pathetic,” she said. “We should have an energy policy right now putting people to work in green-collar jobs as a way to stave off the recession, moving us towards energy independence.”

But as early as last week Bush had promised to talk with the king about ending the embargo, and about managing what every one assumes will be soaring oil prices once the embargo is lifted, and to underscore that they (high prices) would threaten an already battered U.S. economy and hurt American families.

Strained ties haunt Bush visit to Mallorca

In response the Saudi king acknowledged on Tuesday that many producers already are working at maximum capacity and that demand for oil has outstripped supply, partially because of rising purchases by India and China.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali Naimi, said that OPEC would lift the embargo, –and the kingdom would raise production levels– only when the international community justifies it and that today’s inventory seemed normal, so therefore they were under no pressure to make a decision 'one way or the other'.

No Meetings scheduled for OPEC until March

As of the time of this publication, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has announced it will not meet again until the end of March in Caracas, Venezuela, and regardless what ensues between now and then, only then will they consider lifting the US embargo.

OPEC oil accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s needs, and OPEC ministers often follow the lead of the Saudis when discussing whether to increase production to take the pressure off rising prices.

Bush arrived at the Balearic island resort on Sunday, a warm sunny day as it turns out, and was greeted at the bottom of the stairs of Air Force One by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who also attended the talks, as did leaders from the Norway, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The President returned to Washington earlier this morning.

Special Report

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


You'd never guess: I am emailing this dispatch from a Starbucks in North Carolina with WiFi access. The folks here seemed thrilled to see us. I would have thought the opposite. But when the convoy rolled up with a generator and powered up the coffee machinery for the first time since the New Year, not a single barista could squelch a smile. No milk to be had, though, but I was very happy with a triple espresso –and now I feel fully refueled for the first time in ages. Anyway, I’m also pretty sure we’ve cleaned them out of tea.

We still sleep in the mountains but every once in a while we run into town now, you see. When we do, everyone tries to keep a casual profile. Although I'm not sure how that works: Can you really keep a low profile with a machine gun strapped to you your back?

At any rate, –and as I've mentioned before–, the men of the unit I'm attached to have seen action in remote, harsh regions of Kashmir, are experts of Himalayan terrain, and therefore thought experts in mountain and cold weather warfare. The Appalachian Trail in January is like a warm afternoon walk to these men. They seem to enjoy the job and think nothing of the weather. I on the other hand am frozen much of the time.

Any way you look at it though, it is a unique experience. It may also be one for which I am far from qualified for, but which will certainly qualify me for anything I do in the future by the time all is said and done.

The incursion drags on, obviously. Two weeks and the troops have fired nary a shot, which is fortunate. The Indians say they like the Americans they've met, but sometimes we run into a hillbilly and they look at me like we’ve discovered an alien life form.

Recently, I have heard some things that make me uncomfortable. There are whispers among the men that it had always had been the intention (of some in their governments) to attempt an usurpation of the American Imperial hand at the first available opportunity. And that the July 27 attacks –and the destruction of the Petronas Towers by Christian crusaders–, provided Islamic leaders with the opportunity to move ahead with an action that some had thought forever impossible.

“We could wait another century, even two,” one of the soldiers confessed to me over crackers and canned Dal, “But at this point, why?” he laughed.

You must understand that the United States is widely seen among these men as having had a major role in the crisis in the Central and South East Asian. Previous muck ups in regards to Middle East diplomacy has only added fuel to fire, now that all these countries are allied, and share a common Islamic currency.

Realize, many present opponents of the United States were once not just allies of the U.S., but instruments by which Washington wielded power. Oh, take for instance, President Reagan's statement, regarding the Islamic opposition to the Soviets on March 20, 1984 (in a proclamation published in the Federal Register) that "we stand in admiration of the indomitable will and courage of the Afghan people who continue their resistance to tyranny. All freedom-loving people around the globe should be inspired by the Afghan people's struggle to be free and the heavy sacrifices they bear for liberty."

Eh, I wonder how that liberty feels now?

Does it make your head spin, Jasper? First crusaders knell the tallest towers in the world, in order to make a statement. Now a collation of Islamic countries cross American borders with the expressed intention of kidnapping an American citizen, and happen to blow up Cinderella Castle along the way, by accident of course, but making a statement nonetheless.

Whatever happened to just talking? You know, with words?


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another dispatch from America, or to America?

My waking hours are lately filled with a kind of tense boredom. With few adrenalin filled moments, which I am finding I require more and more of in order to maintain some kind of personal equilibrium. Now I know why men smoke. Cigarettes kill time, and such small joys are all some people have in this world whilst they wait for death. Plus, it is a communal activity, drawing people together for conversations.

Smoking is what warriors do in between sorties. Which is not to say I'm smoking –or a warrior– only that I'm bored out of my mind, when I'm not freezing my ass off, of course.

Meanwhile elements of Team Sherpa leadership have begun to put me to use, which is hardly ethical, but it otherwise keeps me warm and keeps me busy.

As happens they do not have an American guide, and since I am an American the troops are using me to interact with the locals. In the last couple of days I have met twice with local law enforcement, including the mayors of Banner Elk, Boone and Todd –of Avery, Watauga and Ashe Counties, respectively.

I suppose there is some useful intelligence one can gain from such meetings, even if the Mayor of Todd is not receiving direct communications from either Washington or the Christian resistance. For my own part, I am simply happy to speak with someone whose native language is English.

As for Team Sherpa: The cooperation and efficiency between the Indian and Indonesian military personnel is quite amazing. Of course, I have been privy to individually voiced concerns. For instance: The Indians have expressed a fear that this Indian/Indo-led action in the United States will distract attention from Pakistani behavior in South East Asia’s own backyard.

Yet, as Pakistan has officially committed itself to cooperation with Coalition, it is therefore theoretically India's ally, at least for the present. Regardless, I've learned there is a very real concern amongst these men that Pakistan unabated, may step up its adventurist activities in Southeast Asia, just as it did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan; and they do not want to find themselves stuck half a world a way in America when it Musharraf rolls troops into Delhi.

At the same time there has also surfaced a collective concern that the American War on Terror (that continues in Iraq) threatens to break up the Coalition, though it remains focused on Baghdad, by its mere existence. For the longer it prevails, the more cracks that appear between nations party to the Pan Moslem Coalition, not to mention the diversity of varying sects whose reach crosses national borders. The result is new rifts and deepening mistrust between nations, and even between allied Muslim sects within a single nation.

Nevertheless, I have to say, for an army ostensibly fighting against 'McWorld', everyone was overjoyed when I returned to camp with fifty Happy Meals from the local McDonalds. Okay, there was no meat to be had for those buns, but God Bless Ronald McDonald anyway for keeping the fries hot by running off their own generator, which was fueled by corn oil or some other biodegradable. Some of the men, I've been told, –even the Hindus among us who equate McDonald's with pure evil– have decided to keep the free toys as a kind of souvenir.

Ah, such are the spoils of war. Ha!


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Paging Jasper, Annika, Terry–

Is there anyone out there? I assume that fuel shortages are making it impossible for anyone to get online, unless of course you're rolling with Indian Special Forces. Still, when the lights come back on I do want to hear everything about what's going on in New York City. Jasper? Terry? You guys must be going crazy up there. I hope my boyz at Cozy haven't been hit too hard.

Annika, I take it you are still in Toronto. Hey, what's you're excuse? Canada still has power, right? Any news from Jasp or Terry? I need to know how you all are holding up. I know there's probably no heat in Manhattan, but if it's any consolation to anybody I am still sleeping in a tent, in a place where they get something like 58 inches of snow a year.

Anyway, still no sign of American military forces, so perhaps these soldiers do have carte blanche up here, at least for a little while.

In light of what I am assuming is a real and recent development, it now occurs to me that no amount of hard intelligence or tactical airlift would have made this operation possible without the implicit cooperation of the United States Government. In fact, Washington refuses to define the incursion by foreign forces as an act of war but rather, it is as Bush states: "...an illegal act by armed parties whose presence warrants immediate arrest by local law authorities".

I guess, as long as everybody thinks it's just a bunch of illegal immigrants running around down here, no one's going to pressure to President to do anything more than alert State Troopers to keep an eye out for 'anything suspicious'.

Plus, Santoso, really smart kid –kudos to the Indonesian education system–, points out that there were actually PMC troops in this country before the incursion, if you can believe it(!), and that even then no one tried to impede their efforts to construct several MI 17 helipads throughout the Southeastern United States, (–for reasons of logistics, relocation of troops and maintaining the integrity of the cordon and stops, and which stretches from both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico to this soggy patch of the Appalachian Mountains).

By the way, if you ever get a chance to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I really recommend it, although perhaps it is better not to travel with a military convoy


Friday, January 12, 2007


I've been recently informed that a deal has in fact been struck between the US government and the Pan Moslem Coalition member countries.

An uncorroborated source says that in a secret deal Bush has actually granted PMC forces a free pass to continue operations in the mountains for a week, maybe two, in return for ending the oil embargo. In reciprocal fashion, the Coalition has promised to lift the embargo upon their departure from US waters, but only if they are allowed to finish the job they came to do. This information is said to come directly from a source within the White House.

Washington, of course, publicly denies any cooperation with those it calls 'participants to an illegal incursion on US territory'.

But in the meantime Indian and Indonesian Army Counter Crusader Units parade through the mountains of North Carolina with seeming impunity, motivated by explicit orders to extract a group of American citizens, and no one seems hell bent on stopping them, so you figure it out.

The same source claims that as leverage –in order to insure that the Bush/Cheney nexus will execute America's end of the bargain as agreed–, Coalition forces have promised to place several teams of Super Snipers near US government installations, mostly throughout the Southeastern United States. The snipers have orders to shoot randomly and kill specifically, in order to create chaos and create internal distraction, should word arrive the President has reneged on the agreement, and Coalition Forces have to evacuate under threat of fire or capture.

Well, a deals a deal and I guess that seems fair.

Barring such a measure, and as before –Cinderella Castle notwithstanding–, the PMC has promised to limit violence against civilians and property. The bombing of cities, villages and refugee camps, is expressly prohibited.

Certainly the men I travel with still expect to meet with pockets of resistance amongst local communities, but no one wants to hurt an innocent American civilian –it hasn’t happened yet, and from what I have seen, nobody here has an itchy trigger finger and everybody here is a professional.

Everyone knows death is bad for business.

Well, if it is true, and if this deal is not an open secret yet, it will be soon. Al Jazeera has agreed to sit on the story for a few days, at least until they can root out corroborating sources. But what happens if some blogger hears about this first? I actually hope the story will be leaked, because it would be nice for these Indians and Indonesian kids to get back home without a one of them getting shot. We are already on high alert having heard there is increased movement amongst the local community Christian Identity groups, which are numerous.

Apparently there is no shortage of Christian fundamentalists who believe that Armageddon has finally arrived, and now they feel they have an obligation to help it along. Sometimes I think we all have more to fear from our own countrymen than we do from foreign forces, even they have set up a command post in your own backyard.

On that note, it seems lately like we are at the center of a series of concentric circles, and each formed band represents either a Pan Moslem Unit holding American forces at bay; or an American unit intent on keeping Coalition Cowboys from overstepping defined boundaries. It's a win-win situation for the military. Everybody sees some action, gets some experience and goes home with medals, excepting those of course who go home in a body bag.

I can't help but think that if the incursion has been so efficiently organized, as it absolutely has, and with nary a bullet fired thus far, then why are we sleeping in tents in the mountains. How come someone didn’t just book us rooms at a Residence Inn? As I see it, the incursion could have been a boost the local economy instead of a drag on the entire country.

Picture it:

The city of Boone welcomes OPEC, ASEAN and representatives from the Organization of Islamic Conference to the first Pan Moslem Coalition conference in the Carolinas. Whether you want adventure, or just want to relax, be sure to pick up a complimentary copy of the North Carolina Travel Guide for exciting ideas and restful stops in North Carolina. Now, y'all don't get yourselves killed and have a good time!

By the way, actually there has been one shot fire. One of our snipers bagged a buck. Tonight we're eating venison for dinner.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jasp, Annika, Terry –I stumbled upon this story earlier while surfing for stats. Seems important but I found no mention of it on any US News outlet. I thought you would all want to know that it looks like Bush may have concluded it a better strategy to let the Coalition finish its operation in the Appalachias before hammering their retreating troops far enough away from the continental United States so that any collateral damage is strictly an issue for target nations. So goes the thinking among the journalistas back in Doha, anyway. –SIRAJ

Thursday, 11 January 2007, 05:46 GMT

Heads of government from Southeast Asia are arriving in the Philippines for a regional summit, just a day after a series of bombs rocked the country.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting will discuss counter-terrorism and trade ties.

The need for enhanced security was underscored by Wednesday's bombs in the south, which killed seven people.

But Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo insisted that the summit, on the island of Cebu, would go ahead as planned.

Even before the bombs, security at the venue was tight, after several participating governments warned of a potential Crusader backlash to the incursion in the United States.

The summit was originally scheduled for December, but it had to be delayed for a month after a typhoon hit the region, though there were allegations the delay was also linked to a terrorist threat by members of PURE who were thought to be in the region.


Presidents, prime ministers and other delegates from the 10 nations that make up Asean are due to attend the meetings over the weekend.

Representatives from Japan, China, India, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand will also take part.

Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism will be top of the agenda, with leaders expected to sign a pact pledging closer co-operation in the fight against the global Crusader movement PURE, as well as radical regional groups such as the militant network Jemaah Islamiah.

An EU-style charter is also up for discussion.

ASEAN has been criticised for being little more than a talking shop in the past. Creating a more rules-based organisation is seen as giving it more teeth, correspondents say.

Speeding up a free trade area in south-east Asia is another priority.

The target date for a single market is 2020, but some members want it in place five years earlier, to make sure the region does not lose out on business opportunities and investment to giant neighbours China and India.

A sticking point is Burma, whose military government has been slow to move towards its pledge of greater democracy, frustrating other Asean members.

"We welcome recent developments in Myanmar (Burma) but call for further progress toward the road to democracy," Mr Romulo said on Thursday.


Philippine security forces say the Crusader threat has now passed, but they are still taking no chances, with 8,000 police and soldiers on duty in Cebu.

"Our venues and all other concerned areas are safe and the delegates are arriving as scheduled," he said.

BBC NEWS Asia Pacific

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ya Hala!

I am rolling with an amazing crew. Too bad they happen to be invading my country.

Aside from the kids who represent Indonesia, most of the men in Team Sherpa are veterans of a 2003 Indian operation called 'Sarp Vinash', meaning 'Destroy Serpent'. Operation Sarp Vinash , the men love repeating, was a huge deal, being a division-size operation, which involved seven battalions and two brigade headquarters. In addition to the 9 Para Special Forces, six other units of the 163 Infantry Brigade spearheaded it, and 12 units of an outfit called the RR took part. These were 2/4 Gorkha Rifles, 15 Garhwal Rifles, 4 Garhwal Rifles, 16 and 20 Rashtriya Rifles.

The names of the outfits don't mean a lot to me either, but my point is that hundreds, perhaps thousands of men were coordinated in the execution of this operation, which I'm told concluded in the successful take down of a hundred or so terrorists hiding out in and around the Himalayan mountains.

Certainly, it says something of my own previous –and honestly– myopic world view. I've always pictured soldiers from developing nations as bozos with bazookas, and maybe you have too. As it turns out, the Indian Army personnel are extraordinarily competent. I am quite impressed with what I have seen, not that I possess any credentials to make judgments one way or the other.

But consider this: the men on this mission have seen action in remote, harsh regions of Kashmir; they are experts of Himalayan terrain, and therefore experienced in mountain and cold weather warfare. It seems to me that tracking down Oliver Lowell and flushing crusader terrorists out of the mountains is the job they were trained to do.

That said, Team Sherpa is not a division sized operation. They are here on a much, much smaller scale. The idea in this situation is not to precipitate a militia, but rather to execute the extraction of one principle leader, and possibly his officers, if readily available.

It is a 'GIGO' or 'Get In Get Out' operation –as the soldiers call it.

Make no mistake, there is still enormous unrest and debate back in Southeast Asia over the question of tactics. Many would have simply closed their borders to Globalization and called it a day, –and those who fervently believe that the equatorial and sub equatorial nations must actively carry out actions like the present one in order to bring the perpetrators of the July 27 crimes to justice, and stop future attacks. I think that tension is explicitly recognized in the precise organization of this response.

Of course everything could change in an instant.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

PS – Okay guys, should any of you hear that the US has sent military forces into the Appalachian Mountains, and if thereafter my posts to this blog should cease for a period of greater than 14 days, you must assume the worst. This is not an attempt to be dramatic, rather a bit of practical thinking. After all, I am traveling with a party of trained assassins, and someone is eventually going to start pointing their weapons back in our direction, if they’ve not done so already.

My demise would be very bad for the blog, but of course far worse for me. I am presently in touch with my parents, but if you suspect that something has happened to me, please do me the great favor of getting in touch with them to express your concerns. Not sure what good it would do, but it makes me feel better now to ask this of you all, Jasper, Annika and Terry.

Thank you–

My friends,

Apart from the murmur of soldiers calling home using cell phones and phone cards it is otherwise a very quiet day throughout these Blue Mountains. Too quiet, I think, and the absence of sound makes me nervous. In fact, other than the regional police force, there is little to indicate the United States is mounting any kind defense, which would be absurd if true.

On the other hand, we’ve all heard rumors that Bush is actually going to allow Coalition Forces the run of the woods up here, at least for a few days.

I don't believe it myself, but word has it that so long as Team Sherpa doesn’t march up to Washington D.C., and so long as the Coalition reimburses Disney for the damage done to Cinderella Castle, then we will be left to advance as the mission requires. Intriguing, isn't it?

The prevailing theory being –and someone let me know if you guys know more than I do, which is entirely possible at this point– that since there’s more oil in Iraq than in Watauga County, there's no compelling economic reason for the President to redirect American forces from Baghdad to North Carolina, especially when PMC forces have indicated their intent to evacuate immediately after securing their man, the occasional extraordinary extradition action notwithstanding.

But forget Bush –I want to know what can the Norwegians be thinking? I’ve yet to see another journalist out here, much less an actual embedded Norwegian reporter, but Santoso said there is a Nord with a unit in the next valley. I can only imagine how the descendants of Vikings must be pissing off the United States, not to mention their fellow EU members. Obviously the Norwegian government thinks that their support of Malaysia and Indonesia is but a small price to pay for what they hope to gain in return, namely two things:

1) Future access to the cheapest gas on the planet, from the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, and–
2) An enhanced multinational military force capable of defending the big swath of Arctic oil fields the Nords plan on laying claim to in coming years.

And by 'laying claim', I mean 'taking', as in a land grab, albeit an underwater one.

Plus, it's no secret that many sub-equatorial states think themselves entitled to a piece of the Arctic, too. What better action in this regard then, but to gain the support of a Northern territory. My bosses in Doha believe that every country that has sent soldiers on behalf of the Coalition has done so for at least one other reason than on account of the the two towers that tumbled down in Kuala Lumpur on 7/27.

My own feeling is aligned with those more politically astute than I who think this so-called defensive measure from future Christian Crusader attacks is the least of it. Of course, everyone would like to see Lowell and his club of racist wackos lined up against a wall and pinned to it with a bullet. Even the simple action of removing Lowell to a black site would give many people throughout the world the great satisfaction that the impossible was achieved in the face of resistance from the greatest imperial and military power of the day, namely the United States.

By the way, I don’t mean to imply that just because there is no present or overt indication that Bush isn’t mounting a military defense, that one isn’t being planned and executed as we speak. In point of fact, U.S. troops are already here, or at least a few miles away. As far as I'm concerned, a regiment might as well be parked outside our tents, simply waiting orders, and I’m sure that they are. As it happens, our party is within driving distance of a number of U.S. military installations: Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg, Cherry Point, Pope and Seymour Johnson Air Force Bases. So, it won't surprise me at all if tomorrow I stumble upon a bunch of fresh faced young American boys looking to kill 'an uppity rag head' for God and country.

I must admit the very real prospect of being caught shot concerns me greatly. Only yesterday they said we would be here for not more than three days. As of this morning they have revised the figure to two weeks! I am not a war correspondent; I can hardly call myself a journalist. I wouldn't even be here if half the Al Jazeera staff didn't perish in Kuala Lumpur. Not to mention the fact that six months ago I was waiting tables. I thought I was relocating from a diner situation to a corporate office space. No one told me I'd be sleeping in a tent in the middle of winter, trying to eek out war stories from an invading army.

Have I the best of luck or the worst?

About the only thing that I can find any comfort in, is in a message from Doha relaying stats that there is actually a much greater chance of an embedded reporter being shot by a local poacher hunting deer out of season than there is of being killed by American fire. Oh, well, I guess can rest easy now.

And then there is the weather. If the Lejeune marines don’t show up soon and kill us, winter certainly will!


Friday, January 05, 2007

From time to time I will post a video. Remember those embedded reporters in Iraq? Hot dusty sand sounds like a relatively comfortable environmental hazard right now. When it's not snowing here, it's raining; and when it rains, these mulchy forests smell like wet cigars. –All well and good, but you know we sleep out here. Above is cam shot of Santoso, one of the Indonesian kids I told you about. His name means 'peaceful'. And he's a big fan of Minimi belt fed 5.56mm Light Machine Guns.
Ya Hala!

I am, as they say, 'on the road'! Although, it is hardly the beatnik or Bed and Breakfast experience one might hope for. I think one might categorize my current situation as bare bones 'Survivalist'. True, I have access to a Satellite link-up, but I am also eating dinner out of toothpaste tubes.

A modern army travels on its stomach, but not this one. Thanks be to Allah it at least travels with a satellite dish, and thanks again for Al Jazeera press credentials which now allow me to utilize a multimillion dollar military space communications satellite in order to post to my blog.

No other way of putting this: I’m freezing my Babylonian ass off. When we helicoptered in you couldn’t see any snow from above the trees, just dry brownish gray brush, but hey, guess what, people plan skiing vacations up here for a reason.

I wish I could tell you that at least I have a little toothpaste tube of hot cocoa, but you know what? Visiting armies from equatorial countries don’t travel with emergency rations of Hot Chocolate, and even if they did, military command has decried absolutely no cooking lest smoke curling above the scant cover give away our positions. So, yes, it's damn cold. At any rate, I always knew that I would walk the Appalachian Trail one day. I just never imagined that when I did so, I would be accompanied by an invading Indonesian military unit.

Officially, my job still remains background research, as my reports are used by others for detail in featured stories (composed by experienced reporters). I'm actually supposed to be attached to a war correspondent, but if he or she exists, I wouldn't know. I've yet to see another journalist since leaving Venezuela and arriving in Northwestern North Carolina.

In actual fact, I am embedded with one of five special counter crusader units of the Indian Army which either were airlifted to destinations in the Carolinas, or dropped in via high altitude nighttime deployment by parachute.

The unit I’m attached to goes by the name of Counter Crusader Force Sherpa (CCF–S). Theoretically, it is multi-national team acting under the auspices of Coalition Forces, who are mounting a unified effort to extract of Oliver Lowell and senior members of the Christian Identity group, PURE.

In reality, it contains a few representatives from several select Coalition member countries, a number of Indonesian kids, but is mostly made up by seasoned members of the Indian army, and who represent a mix of Hindu, Christian and Muslim religions.

Oddly, for a unified military mission, not everyone speaks the same language, although everyone seems to understand any order barked at them in English. I know how to order food and all the curse words in Malay. As you know, I also possess a reading comprehension of French and understand a fair bit of Arabizi. But it's nonetheless a confusing polyglot to me. So, how this international affiliation of soldiers are able to execute any mission is beyond me.

Despite all, –the invasion (oh that little thing)– the Blue Mountains are even more beautiful than I ever imagined them, even now in the middle of this unusually cold winter, or perhaps it only feels that way because I’ve just spent the last six months in Malaysia.

From our elevated camp, I see patrol cars pass every once in a while. Cops stop, talk to each other, smoke cigarettes, point at the hills (I don’t think they can see us), and carry on. Northwest North Carolina probably hasn’t seen this much excitement in years.

It is hard to believe that this nation is subject to a dire oil crisis, and that a few hundred, –maybe a few thousand–, heavily armed members of a cooperative foreign militia are trudging through America’s back yard hunting for one man. Nothing, it seems, will stop Americans from living their lives, except maybe the end of the world.

Even then, when that happens –when the world ends–, you can bet the usual EU suspects will mutter that the world has already ended in Europe, and that it’s been doing so for years. But mark my words: I suspect most people from New York to Los Angeles will zap a bucket of buttered popcorn, pop open a beer, pull up their favorite chair and cheer wildly as the Earth slips lazily into oblivion. Because that is what it is to be an American. I know because I am one myself, plus I am feeling like I want a heavily hopped Ale myself, right now.

Unfortunately, beer isn’t available in toothpaste tubes either.

Make no mistake, these I find myself in scary circumstances. Yes, it is also exciting but I am way out of my league.

I must try to write something a bit less frenetic when either this mission is accomplished, or the American military bombs Team Sherpa into Appalachian dust, assuming I can survive such an assault. You'll be pleased to hear –and I am glad to know– that inside of three days –so we are told– the unit will be air lifted out of here with Oliver Lowell –if you can believe it– shackled on the floor of a helicopter. There are three other teams out there who are commissioned with the actual extraction. Shiva Team is actually what they call a tactical support outfit, but I have been warned to stay out their way or risk getting my head shot off.

In the meantime, have a brewski on me, Jasp –oh, why not have a few and make me numb by proxy. –But not before I post an email to Doha. It's almost midnight now, and I still have work to do. Ah, the glamorous life of an Al Jazeera journalist; perhaps in an hour I can crawl into my sleeping bag and inspect my finger tips for frost bite.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

My Friends,

As you certainly know by now, after more than three weeks of a massive military build-up, the Pan Moslem Coalition launched a pre-emptive counter crusader strike on the United States on the morning of January 1, 2007.

You no doubt have also heard that a spokesperson for the Coalition made it clear that the 'incursion' –no one will call it an 'invasion'– only came after weeks, indeed months, spent seeking a political and diplomatic solution to the escalating tensions.

But it seems restraint hung like a thread upon an old Pakistani rug. And only after the thread broke away did a global collective rush a great army across the ocean to meet its imperial opponent, manning their forces with a thousand upon thousand martyrs who suddenly felt blessed to at last be called by God to such a fate.

That’s the official story, anyway.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Live exclusive footage from the scene: While explosions rocked Cinderella Castle, vacationing honeymooners captured the chaos on home video.

ORLANDO SENTINEL (January 1, 2007)

Pan Moslem war planes struck Disney World today, leaving a gaping hole in the side of Cinderella Castle. The operation was a diversion according to analysts, as Indonesian marine craft deployed troops on the ground along several points along the Gulf of Mexico and the Carolinas.

Residents of Orlando escaping the air raid said bombs fell near each of the city’s famous theme parks.

The president’s brother, Florida’s Gov. Jeb Bush, was taken into Coalition custody, one day before he was to leave office. He is believed held at an undisclosed location in the Florida Keys.

Charlie Crist, who succeeds Bush, assumed the Florida Governorship 24 hours ahead of schedule and said he was doing everything in his power to see that Bush was returned safe and unharmed.

Indonesian Military Chief Air Marshall Djoko Suyanto said Coalition Special Forces were moving into the Appalachian Mountains from secure South and East entry points, effectively boxing in the wanted Crusader, Oliver Lowell.

Intelligence Reports indicating Lowell's probable location are thought to be accurate.

Coalition forces did not wrest Guantanamo Bay Naval Base from American authority, as was previously thought they might attempt. Nor did they enter U.S. territory with tens of thousands of troops as strategists have said was absolutely necessary for such an operation to have any chance of succeeding.

Rather it appears they have executed a modest, even minimal operation limited to a quiet night time deployment in the early morning hours of New Years Day. Apart from the coastal units, it is thought less than a hundred members of the collective Special Forces unit (COFCOM), have dropped by air into two Northwestern counties of North Carolina for the express and singular purpose of capturing Crusader suspect, Oliver Lowell, and several of his associates.

A confidential source in Washington suggests the breach was made possible by a short term burst of telecommunications interference, which caused the temporary malfunction of several American military satellites earlier this morning.

If that is indeed the case, the source of the interference is thought to have been created by a modified Russian developed GLONASS-K satellite produced for Indonesia and launched last August, ostensibly for weather purposes, but popularly referred to among Indonesian politicians as AL-RAD (THE THUNDER).

The satellite was launched by India`s Antrix Corporation, on behalf of the
National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), Indonesia.

The multipurpose satellite is said to be capable of doing detailed imaging over every square inch of designated territory, from over 200 miles up in the sky, including being able to pick up movement on the ground of even small groups, besides being able to monitor telecommunications in the target area.

A spokesperson for the Coalition says the ground troops in Florida and Coastal Carolinas are purely necessary for additional support if U.S. forces attempt to prevent the evacuation of the COFCOM unit, once they have their man.

Indonesian aircraft also dropped 240,000 leaflets throughout Ashe and Wataugua counties in North Carolina. The leaflets were printed in English and asked locals to stay out of the way of Coalition Forces and 'just let us do our job and find our man.'

President Bush speaking from Air Force One, noted that aside from incidental property damage at Walt Disney World, there are no reported domestic casualties, at least as of yet. He did not rule out a nuclear defense, and said ICBMS have been repositioned towards several targets in the southern hemisphere.

Despite the fact that the President’s brother was taken into Coalition custody, the President stopped short of calling the breach of US sovereignty an act of war. In fact, he appears to be treating the operation rather as a peculiarly flamboyant though no less serious mix of property damage, illegal entry into the United States, and kidnapping of a government official.

In a televised address to the nation he said National Guardsmen were already en route to secure the county's borders. He also said he had complete faith that his brother would be returned 'no worse for the war', and that local law enforcement were more than well equipped to handle any necessary arrests.

Reprinted from The Orlando Sentinel Online