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Scroll down to end for important statement on the arrest of Prof. Sami al-Arian
The Transformation of Saddam Hussain
by Buut Shikan (Idol Breaker)

Why does Saddam Hussain fight? Can we understand this complex personality who is evil incarnate for the Bush administration?

Much has been written about the terrible actions Saddam has committed against Iran, against the Kurds and against the Shi'ites. He is not alleged to have committed any crimes against America but America wants to punish him for what he has allegedly done against Iran, the Kurds and the Shi'ites. America is very conveniently generous in its sympathies.

Is it skeptical to say that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? As far as I know, American law, Islamic law, international law are all based on this presumption of innocence.

If there is evidence against Saddam, why is it not presented while he is free to defend himself? No such verifiable evidence has ever been presented against Saddam Hussain. We only have the word of Sharon, Bush, Christopher Hitchens and "hojjat al-Islam" Qazvini's for it. All these "honorable" men say, he did do terrible things; so for the sake of discussion, let's accept it.

But don't people change? Can we think of any great person who never changed, for the better or for the worse? No such instance can be cited. [Perhaps our readers will cite some such.]

There are some standards, universally acceptable, by which a person can be judged. Let's try to apply them to Saddam Hussain. [I like to break my points into numbered items for ease in reading. Essays are difficult to read in the TV/computer generation.]

1. Corrupt people, especially dictators, like to live in luxury, if the choice is between death/disgrace and luxury. Saddam was urged by the U.S. to go into exile and live comfortably (perhaps in a palace in Saudi Arabia or at a dacha in Russia). He declined. That's not the sign of a corrupt person. [The Shah of Iran was a corrupt person: He took that choice and left his government for overseas.]

2. Dictators are also cowards. They are used to bullying their people but when faced with the weapons of a superpower, they bow down and lick the boots of the superpower. Mubarak the dictator of Egypt is a coward. He dare not decline any order from the White House although he tortures the sons and daughters of Islam. Musharraf of Pakistan is a coward. He said "yes sir" on getting just a phone call from the White House. He went ahead and betrayed Pakistan's closest and trustworthy allies to please Bush. Saddam, in spite of threats of destruction from the White House, has shown no cowardice. He is certainly no coward.

3. Even the toughest rulers when faced with overwhelming military force will surrender. This can be called "discretion" or simply "fear of human power." In the case of Saddam Hussain, the imbalance between his forces and those of his opponents is startling, to say the least. The military force he is facing is the strongest in the world. Anything the Iraqis have is bound to face American firepower of such destructive potential that the disparity boggles the mind. Yet, Saddam does not surrender. He is definitely not in fear of human power.

Who then is the real Saddam Hussain? What keeps him so strong and willing to face overwhelming odds. Perhaps he sees himself as Salahuddin (Saladin) waiting to liberate Jerusalem. His opposition to the terrorist entity known as Israel is unambiguous.

Perhaps he sees himself transforming gradually into Husain who sacrificed himself at Kerbala in defiance of overwhelming odds. Of course, no one today has the purity and goodness of Imam Husain. The comparison is not to be taken in a literal sense. My effort is to apply the symbolic value of Imam Husain to human beings who at a certain stage of their development can become strong enough to stand defiant before human power. Can human beings achieve greatness? Can great beauty emerge from darkness and great human weakness?

Yeats wrote about the Irish patriots who were hanged by the British but who refused to bow down in front of British power even when they were about to be put to the gallows. One of them Yeats had despised. When he saw the despised man fearless, for the sake of God and Ireland, he wrote his poem, "a terrible beauty is born."

No one knows how the saga of Saddam Hussain will end. Will he continue the way he is going, willing to accept death instead of humiliation? In that case, his place in the history of the oppressed people, the Arab masses, the Islamic resurgence is assured.

Wasn't it the sage Imam Ghazzali who wrote that those who are seen as pious worshipers of God might end up in the last row of the believers by the time they die, while those who are seen as in the last row, might be in the front row of Islam by the time they die.
The Muslim World in Turmoil

News is coming in from around the Muslim world. The masses of the world community have emerged strongly and totally against U.S.-British-Israeli attack on Iraq.

1. In Palestine today, both in Gaza and in the refugee camps, there were huge pro-Saddam and anti-U.S. demonstrations. In the occupied holy city of Jerusalem, peaceful worshipers were attacked by the Israeli police with tear gas when they protested against the invasion of Iraq.

2. In Pakistan, in tens of thousands of mosques around the country, at the appeal of the Islamic coalition and the jihad movement, imams condemned the U.S. invasion and the crimes of Sharon and Blair against the Muslim nations. Numerous small protests were held. [The city of Lahore is preparing for a mammoth pro-Iraq, anti-U.S. demonstration on March 23, which may compare with the unprecedented anti-war demonstrations in Karachi and Lahore.]
The U.S. embassy and consulates in Pakistan have announced that they are closing down for "security' reasons.

3. YEMEN gave the first three martyrs to the peaceful anti-war movement on March 21 when tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in the city of Sana. In their attempts to close down the U.S. embassy, they clashed with police. Three demonstrators were martyred by the police while one of the police was also killed.

4. There was a second day of demonstrations in Cairo and Amman including clashes with police. The Mubarak dictatorship is getting nervous because the whole population opposes the war on Iraq while Mubarak supports it. [Mubarak allowed U.S. warships to pass through the Suez without allowing any discussion in his rubberstamp "parliament" and clamped down on demonstrations at the Suez canal.]

5. Although Karzai signed up to support the U.S. attack, AFGHANS RALLIED IN KABUL to oppose the invasion.

6. Numerous demonstrations have erupted against the war in Indonesia. Indonesians have given the U.S. embassy 48 hours to close down.

7. SUDAN's people by the thousands condemned the invasion.

8. Even IRAN's spiritual leader Khamene'i has spoken against the U.S. attack but Iran made it clear that it would not do anything against the U.S.

9. Numerous anti-war demonstrations took place in LEBANON after Friday prayers.
[We are waiting for reports from other countries.]
Sis. Hamdiyeh from South Carolina sent the following two stories
40,000 pounds of Explosives and Napalm Dropped on Tiny Safwan Village
"Dead bodies are everywhere," a US officer reported by radio. Later in the day, the American firepower was turned on Safwan Hill, an Iraqi military observation post a couple of kilometres across the border. About six hours after US marines and their 155mm howitzer guns pulled up at the border, they opened up with a deafening barrage. Safwan Hill went up in a huge fireball and the Iraqi observation post was obliterated.
"I pity anybody who's in there," a marine sergeant said. "We told them to surrender."
The destruction of Safwan Hill was a priority for the attacking forces because it had sophisticated surveillance equipment near the main highway that runs from Kuwait up to Basra and then Baghdad. The attacking US and British forces could not attempt to cross the border unless it was destroyed.
Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by US Navy aircraft which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a US officer told the Herald.
A legal expert at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva said the use of napalm or fuel air bombs was not illegal "per se" because the US was not a signatory to the 1980 weapons convention which prohibits and restricts certain weapons. "But the US has to apply the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and take all precautions to protect civilians. In the case of napalm and fuel air bombs, these are special precautions because these are area weapons, not specific weapons," said Dominique Loye, the committee's adviser on weapons and IHL. When dawn broke on Safwan Hill, all that could be seen on top of it was a single antenna amid the smoke. The marines then moved forward, their officers saying they were determined to push on as quickly as possible for Baghdad.
Kurds attack militant Islamists

SULAIMANIYA (Reuters) - An Iraqi Kurdish faction controlling part of northern Iraq says it has launched an offensive to crush an Islamist group that both it and Washington have accused of having links to al Qaeda. A senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which runs part of the Kurdish enclave it helped wrest from Baghdad in 1991, said on Saturday PUK forces were determined to wipe out Ansar al-Islam during the U.S.-led war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Ansar al-Islam (Supporters of Islam) holds a string of villages near the border with Iran.
"We have begun attacking their positions with rockets. There is no way that we can move south during the liberation with them in place, we have to be able to protect our backs," the PUK official said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the area, which runs up against a chain of jagged mountain peaks alongside the Iranian border. PUK says it was unable to get permission to attack Ansar al-Islam's positions from across the frontier.
Washington accuses Ansar al-Islam of working with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network to produce chemical weapons in its mountainous hideout and of having ties to an al Qaeda figure it believes played a part in the killing of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan last year. The PUK, which is coordinating with U.S. intelligence officials in northern Iraq, blames the group -- which has several hundred mainly Kurdish fighters -- of directing a string of attacks on its officials, including an attempt on the life of its prime minister.
The clash comes as U.S.-led forces bombard Baghdad and cities near the fringe of Kurdish-held territory. PUK officials have indicated the early stages of the war would be a likely time to move against the group. In Oslo, a Norwegian court ruled on Friday that police could detain a former leader of Ansar al-Islam, Mullah Krekar, for four weeks in an anti-terrorist investigation.
Krekar, who has had refugee status in Norway since 1991 and denies any links with terrorism, told an Oslo court he was no longer leader of Ansar al-Islam.
He has launched an appeal against his detention.
22 Mar 2003
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From Badi Ali, North Carolina
Here is the statement on the arrest of Sami Al-Arian with an updated list of signatories.
Statement by the Blue Triangle Network on the Arrest of Professor Sami Al-Arian

The Blue Triangle Network expresses grave concern over the arrest of Professor Sami Al-Arian in Tampa, Florida and four others on terrorism-related allegations. Professor Al-Arian has undertaken a hunger strike in jail to protest his arrest, and this too is a cause for concern.

After his arrest, Al-Arian made this statement: "I'm crucified today because of who I am: a stateless Palestinian, an Arab, a Muslim, an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights, but more significantly a persistent defender of civil and constitutional rights on the home front."

Whether or not the government is able to prove that Professor Al-Arian, or the others indicted, carried out any of the specific acts of which they are accused, the central issue here is this: the unlimited power of the government to single out a person for his or her political stance, conduct unlimited covert surveillance and then bring criminal charges. To be blunt, that is just what a police state looks like.

Professor Al-Arian has been the target of U.S. government surveillance for 15 years, during which time he was known as a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights. He also attracted government attention because of his participation in the campaign against the use of secret evidence as a tool to detain Muslim and Arab immigrants in the years before Sept. 11, 2001. In the period since 9/11, Professor Al-Arian became an outspoken and eloquent critic of the attacks on civil liberties and attacks on Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants that were carried out by the U.S. Government.

Immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, Professor Al-Arian was suspended from his University of South Florida position because of his political views. Unsubstantiated accusations were made that alleged he was connected with Palestinian groups which had been labeled as "terrorist" by the U.S. government. In particular, he was singled out for using the phrase "death to Israel" during a speech. It is a long established standard in the U.S. legal system that such political advocacy is protected free speech. In the past few months, he had won some victories in his court fights to prevent the University from firing him.

After 15 years of surveillance, the government had not been able to bring any criminal charges against Professor Al-Arian. Now come the indictments and arrests of February 20.

The indictment against Al-Arian details political statements and political activity over the years. For example, the indictment states he attended an April 7, 1991 conference in Cleveland, Ohio and that allegedly "SAMI AMIN AL-ARIAN further mentioned the Gulf War, and questioned why they stopped the protests against it. He then said they should continue the protests, continue to damn America, continue to damn Israel, and continue to damn the allies of America and Israel until death." (It should also be pointed out that while the indictments of Professor Al-Arian and the others have been handed down in the name of U.S. national security, the things they are accused of doing were entirely focused in Palestine and Israel.) We must ask, why are perfectly legal political speech and activities listed in a criminal indictment? What is this meant to prove?

The government is basing its indictments on alleged evidence gathered from wiretaps authorized by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This is a court which meets in secret and whose proceedings are totally unknown to the subjects of its deliberations. For 25 years any information gathered by these wiretaps could not be used in a criminal case. This was because, until late last year, these wiretaps had been supposedly for counterintelligence purposes, i.e. for spying on people who the government said were spying on the U.S., and not for gathering evidence for criminal prosecutions. The constitutional standards that apply in criminal courts and which must be met to obtain the wiretaps, did not apply. Late last year a secret appeals court ruled that this information could now be used as "evidence" in criminal cases. The government says it can now use the "evidence" gathered over the last 15 years against Professor Al-Arian.

What does this mean in reality? A secret court can authorize secret surveillance that will be used to collect secret evidence based only on the government's claim that someone is "working as an agent of a foreign power." There is absolutely no requirement, as in a criminal court, to present factual evidence that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed in order to obtain a wiretap. Instead, the government can place people under electronic surveillance permanently without claiming that they have evidence of criminal activity.

What is wrong with this picture? Why is it legitimate for there to be a separate legal system that applies completely different standards of rights and justice towards anyone the government wants to label as a "terrorist?"

Under this system there is no protection for people targeted in this way. The restrictions on government spying on people inside this country that were put into place in the past were necessary because it had been shown that the government often blatantly fabricated "evidence" against opponents of its actions. The FBI's plots against leaders and organizations in the people's movements of the 1960's are well documented. The surveillance and disinformation campaigns waged against Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panther Party and the anti-war movement were also justified as necessary for "national security."

This has a double chilling effect. It is a warning to all political activists, as White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer stated after 9/11, "People have to watch what they say and watch what they do." It is also a threat to people from other countries that they may face criminal charges in the U.S. if they carry out political opposition to U.S. actions around the world while they are here.

These methods have been directed against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants in the U.S. in a wholesale dismantling of civil liberties. These are all measures, which, in effect, portray the Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants in this country as "the enemy within." They have made the very fact of being a Muslim cause for suspicion by law enforcement, government officials and uninformed citizens. This demonization has produced calls for mass detentions of Arab-Americans similar to the rounding up of Japanese-Americans in 1942. Such alarming proposals have been expressed by government officials and elected representatives such as U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Kirsanow and U.S. Congressman Coble.

This is cause for serious alarm for all those concerned with protecting civil liberties and stopping the repression being directed against Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants. (March 9, 2003)

Signed by:
• Blue Triangle Network
• Solidarity-USA
• South Asians against Police Brutality and Racism, New York, NY
• Lucas Martinez, Spokeperson for Libros Revoluciσn, Los Angeles, CA
• Jim Oines, Lutheran Pastor and Sanctuary Movement leader
• Catherine Podojil, Blue Triangle Network/Cleveland, OH
• The Islamic Center of the Triad, Greensboro, NC
• Muslims for A Better North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
• New Jersey Solidarity, New Brunswick, NJ
• Roman Gurrola
• Nina McLellan, Cleveland, OH
• Erin Wiegand
• Fredrick Cloyd, San Francisco USA
• Miah Arnold, Houston, Texas
• Helen McDonald, member, Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit
• Red Bandanna: Roma Against Racism
• American Islamic Institute, San Diego, CA
• Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist
* Jamaat al-Muslimeen International
To add your organization or individual name to this statement, please reply to: Blue Triangle Network P.O. Box 7451, Dearborn, MI 48121-7451(313) 942-7187

2003-03-23 Sun 08:48ct