A Professor's RANT: Mathematics of Terrorism 101

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by Joseph Quillan

International law is an arcane science, or so it seems when Canada engages in piracy by kidnapping foreign nationals on the high seas in an effort to please the Big Brother south of the border.

With headlines glaring "Canadian Navy Captures Al Qaeda Suspects at Sea," what Canadian wouldn't shudder with joy and think, "WOW, we even made the New York Times. Good job Canada! Top of the heap. u2018If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere . . .'"

Then, mention "kidnapping." Surely all would deduce with impeccable logic . . . "Hey, this is war."

Nothing pleases the Forces of Good in Washington more than having an unlimited supply of drones ready to lift their shirts and have their buttons pushed.

"Fear not Canada! . . . the Forces of Good are with you." One day you might even learn what the secret evidence is that keeps the Evil Ones locked up on Gitmo.

In the meantime, "Stiff upper lip. It's a war you know. . . terrorism and all that." . . .

"And don't forget, the Creature has spoken."

Now, where piracy ends and the Axis of Good begins may confuse we simple folk, so let's have a go at it at shall we?

A Prime Example

According to the mass media, and abiding by secretly amassed "secret evidence," these Evil Ones are guilty. Just like John Walker "Taliban" Lindh who finally admitted to the heinous felonies of "provid[ing] my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to November" and "during the course of doing so…carr[ying] a rifle and two grenades."

Oh, oh.

The Argument

Serves him right though; he should have known that the US negotiations with the Taliban for an oil pipeline across Afghanistan where going nowhere, and that the US and Britain would have to attack Afghanistan in October of 2001, thereby making him an enemy combatant. The guy obviously is a little bit behind the times.

You know . . . Taliban no longer neutral; old US ally al Qa'ida, now enemy; old enemy Soviet Northern Alliance, now friend . . . and so on.

The Equation

Now I suppose it wasn't always so – that to be a Taliban was to be al Qa'ida – after all the "registry" of volunteers who left their names at "the base" before shipping out with US cash and Stinger missiles to fight the Soviet backed tribes in the North, was already well established long before the Taliban was even a twinkling in some school boy's eye.

But who's a terrorist? Who's the enemy? And Who's on third base.

al Qa'ida, Taliban . . . Who cares?

Syllogistically – or simplistically – we could say:

Taliban = al Qa'ida = Terrorist

The equation many seem to accept.

Special Exclusions

But don't tell Bush that negotiating with Taliban = negotiating with al Qa'ida = negotiating with terrorists = ??? . . . . Traitor, perhaps?

After all, if Taliban = al Qa'ida, and al Qa'ida = USS Cole, Khobar Towers, Nirobi and Kenya . . . then doesn't negotiating with Taliban in circa 2001 = TRAITOR?

Oh, but let's not forget . . . Bush is a patriot. He wouldn't ever do anything unpatriotic, nor could he have possibly known that Taliban = al Qa'ida prior to 9/11.

But "Taliban" John, that's different. Lindh should have known that:

Joining the Taliban to fight the Northern Alliance = joining al Qa'ida = working for Bin Laden = WTC = 9/11 = violation of US Presidential decree on "enemy combatants" = US Justice Department writ = 20 years in jail.

Daahhh! No brainer.

This Lindh guy's obviously an idiot . . . Not to mention just plain evil for lying around in that dank prison fort with his hands tied behind his back, bullet in the leg or whatever, doing nothing to help CIA hero "Mike" Spann from getting bitten to death after running out of bullets during his interrogation of a bunch of tied-up "Jihadis."

Pity Walker didn't get his when the US took-out most of those tied-up evil monsters with 500 lb'ers and a little help from their Northern Alliance brethren.

Good and Bad Examples

Now we all know converting from Christianity to Islam is just plain bad . . . Just take a look at that Cassius Clay fellow, changing his name to Mohammed Ali, and refusing to kill "Gooks" in Vietnam along with good Christian folk like special forces hero Senator Bob Kerrey. But hey, all that stuff about Kerrey is just a mistake . . . Spilt milk at best. No sense in giving back the Bronze Star after all this time just because the killed Gooks entered into his after-action report turned out to be old women and children, or because some other Navy Seal guy along on the hunt happens to repeat this nonsense about women and children . . . A misguided liar, obviously.

But for all you action heroes, take heart: it is OK to be American if it is the Israeli armed forces you work for. And killing American sailors is OK if the President says so because . . . hey, it's Israel stupid. And any American in the IDF that refuses to obey the attack order deserves a secret tribunal and life sentence, incommunicado, or better yet death . . .

Oh. But that's just a bucket full of anti-Semitic conspiracy horse manure. After all, it definitely might just could have been that old Egyptian rust bucket horse boat, the El Quseir, threatening Israel with immanent destruction 15 miles out in the Mediterranean. Fog of war and all that . . . You know, like the British soldiers hanged in the olive garden.

"Begin and Shamir had both headed the first two terrorist organizations to operate in Palestine during the 1940s. Shamir had led the Stern Gang while Begin led the larger Irgun Zvi Leuhmi. The two groups worked in tandem and were responsible for introduction of terrorist techniques into Palestine including car bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings of military vehicles and the lynching of British soldiers in the olive groves outside of Jerusalem. They were responsible for the near destruction of the car-bombed King David Hotel and for the massacre of civilians at the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem."

Must admit, those two 50 cal machine guns on the USS Liberty look pretty damn intimidating. And that big, strange antenna looking thing, perched between that Egyptian looking flag and the 10 foot high Arabic-looking "GTR5" plastered on the bow . . . must have been some kind of secret death-ray gun the Egyptians were cooking up to zap Israel from 50 miles away. That's why the Israelis had to remove the markings from their planes once their cover was blown during their first surveillance overflights a few hours earlier. And those "half-naked" undercover underwear-wearing fake Egyptian commandos pretending to lay about the deck tanning themselves under crystal blue skies . . . I mean, will they stop at nothing?!!

But what's this got to do with terrorism anyway? This is not about Israel; it's about terrorism.

Most Israelis like most Americans don't seem to have a clue, or perhaps don't care, how political interests manipulate perceptions of reality, or how much beyond their control this "reality" really is . . . but for heaven sakes why the Mad Tea Party?

Terrorism begets terrorism, and strength is not derived from injustice. A soldier is not a soldier who fears no death from an enemy too weak to fight back; and justice is not justice when justice for him is not justice for me too. Cowardice strikes out, then hides behind tower walls from those who may strike back, and watches others fall.

Nothing to fear but fear itself

I must admit that I've never much feared terrorism, or the terrorists I am told I should fear. But on the other hand, I don't fear cars either, even though they do more damage to life and limb than all the terrorists combined, terrorists as defined by those who have appointed themselves to protect us from terrorism . . . 9/11 included.

I suppose, however, that's why laws have grown fussy, why we need even more watching than we did before, and why we have to replace all those little states with one Big One where we will all live in safety, happiness, and harmony. Just like Uncle Tony has promised.

I know. I know. There's the big bad Bomb and those little bad Bugs to worry about, and it's governments we're really after . . . The right wing nationalists . . . You know, the ones that always trick us into believing they're socialists before revealing their true colors . . . Nazis, like Saddam Hussein.

Those are the ones we're really after. That's where terrorism really starts.

So you're either with us or against us, and may a thousand points of light unite and protect us from those who hate freedom and democracy.


I could, I suppose, be wrong about a thing or two . . . Hell, maybe even everything. But damn it all to heck, why don't some of those Neocons up in Washington help straighten out us simple folk. They should know we can't handle all this conspiracy stuff . . . It twists the mind and makes us crazy.

Joseph Quillan, Ph.D. [send him mail] author, ranter, and researcher, writes from Oakland California.

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