politics, history and the war on terror
Monday, July 12, 2004

Italian police believe they have captured the mastermind behind the March 11 Madrid attacks. Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, also known as "Muhammad the Egyptian" has been very chatty in phone conversations prior to his arrest as well as while in custody. Much is known about Ahmed's travels in Europe over the past five years. His movement about the European continent demonstrates the inherent weaknesses of democracies; the inability to deport illegal aliens, the reluctance to investigate radical religious groups and, especially in Europe's case, the ability to move from nation to nation without coming under suspicion.
In Germany in 1999 and 2000, Mr. Ahmed served 16 months in a detention center, feigning different Arabic accents and pretending to be a "stateless Palestinian" seeking political asylum.

In Madrid in 2001 and 2002, he befriended a group of radical Muslims, some of whom were involved in the March 11 bombings and were killed in a suicide operation while trying to escape the police.

In a Paris suburb in 2003, he eked out a living as an illegal construction worker and house painter. In Milan in 2004, he lived in an apartment in a tidy, upscale neighborhood, where he seemed to spend most of his day watching Arabic-language movies and news on satellite television.
Ahmed also unearths the depths terrorists will go to recruit for their "holy" cause, including the inclusion of criminals, resorting to phony marriage and flattering the young to convince them to martyr themselves.
He declares that nationality does not matter in holy war, that he has converted drug dealers and criminals to the faith and that Muslims are allowed to marry Christians as a means of acquiring false documents. He describes the ease of buying false documents but stresses quality, saying, "If you don't know who used them, it is dangerous."

He takes what he calls a "beautiful photo" of Yahia Ragheh, a 21-year-old Egyptian he is grooming to become a suicide bomber — and who was arrested with him — and tells him that it will be sent to his family and other militants after his death. He boasts that while the Americans possess nuclear weapons, he has seen "something in the form of a hair dryer" that causes "the most horrible death possible" by suffocation.
While America and Europe share many of these weaknesses, Europe has done little enact new laws and methods to prevent the next attack. America has attempted to close holes in its security by measures such as the passage of the Patriot Act, increased maritime security and airline security legislation. These actions have been looked on with disdain by the Europeans as being too intrusive to personal freedoms and little progress has been made to tighten European security.

But Europe's weakness does not stop with security problems. Europe also suffers from an old problem, with a new twist: the rise of anti-Semitism coupled with the increased immigration of Muslims from the Arab world. The European Union has gone so far as to suppress its report on the rise of anti-Semitism due to the conclusion that "Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined". France has been a hotspot for anti-Semitic violence, and has experienced incidents such as a bombing of a synagogue, an attack on a Jewish sports club and just this weekend, an attack on a woman and her child who were only suspected as being Jewish.
"One of them said, 'She's a rich kid.' And then he added, 'There are only Jews in the 16th,'" the police spokesman said. "Nothing in the name of the young woman or where she lives has any Jewish character," the spokesman added.

The attackers cut the victim's clothing, slightly wounding her in the process, and cut off a lock of her hair, "as a souvenir," one of the attackers is reported to have said. After slashing the stroller, the six attackers overturned it. The baby fell to the ground and suffered a mild bruise, the police said.
About 20 people saw what happened, but none came to the aid of the victim, the police said, adding that only two passengers approached afterward.
The Scotsman provides further details that were left out of the International Herald Tribune's report:
They then cut her hair, using their knives “to keep a souvenir” and opened her shirt, also with knives, then drew swastikas on her belly with marking pen.
No one came to the aid of a woman and child being attacked? A train full of people was silent? It is understandable they may have feared for their lives, but only two witnesses approached the woman and child after the thugs left the scene? This type of behavior is inexcusable. But perhaps we should not be surprised by the lack of action, as it seems that few in France actually care. And Europe seems to fair no better. In a recent poll requested by the European Commission, the majority of the respondents believe Israel is "biggest threat to world peace" (followed by, big shock here, the United States).

In the end, why should the riders on that train care about this woman and her child? She was only Jewish, right? Or at least they thought so. When you turn your back on your fellow countrymen because of race, religion or appearance, the day will come when some will turn their back on you.

Posted by bill roggio @ 8:00 AM