Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dirty Wars chapters 4, 5, 6, introducing Yemen, Awlkaki continued, the first assassination

Chapter four introduces the reader to Yemen, and its leader since 1990, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh has managed to stay in power for so long in part because he’s a badass, and because he ok with Yemenese engaging in terrorist activity. In fact the US actively encouraged everybody in the region to fight the mujahedeen so they weren’t really terrorists right, because they were working for us. (#sarcasm)
This was ok until the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 which both inspired a large AQ signup and forced the US to take a closer look at Yemen.  When the FBI went to try to investigate they faced a very hostile environment, but there was a lack of interest in the case in the Clinton White House, and this did not change under Bush.
Again, one has to wonder if either administration had taken the investigation seriously-Yemen was on the radar but not in a big way-could have 9-11 been prevented? If the “war on terror had been declared in 2000 in instead of 2001, would things be different?
Saleh knew he was in a dangerous position after 9-11 and he did exactly what a smart tough guy does in that situation-go kiss the Don’s ring.  He went to the Bush White House, said the things they wanted to hear, left with a ton of money, plus funding from the IMF and the World Bank. He was expected to do something for this of course, first he was to try to get some AQ suspects-an initial attempt in Marib Province does not go well.  Most importantly he allows the US to set up a “counterterrorism camp”—i.e. allow the US to operate independently in Yemen, including the use of drones.
Chapter five continues Awlaki’s story, now in the UK.  His father convinces him to try to finish his Ph.D in the US. So Awlaki goes back, is pulled out by INS,  there had been active work while he was gone to get him if he came back, but then let go. The focus of the chapter then switches to idea that Awlaki was actually a FBI double agent. Scahill presents some compelling evidence for this, it is really fascinating and if it’s been reported on previously I completely missed it.
Chapter six describes in detail the first American to be killed by a drone attack, in Yemen, Ahmed Hijazi. The focus of the attack was Abu Ali al Harithi. Hijazi would later be connected to the “Lackawanna Six”, a supposed sleeper cell in Buffalo.  This targeted assassination of a US citizen, not on the battlefield upset human rights and civil liberties’ organization. It also upset Saleh as well as members of the CIA, concerned that this was the new policy. The Bush administration response was this was a new kind of war. Deal with it. 

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