Murder in Banghazi

by Eric Margolis

The British used to call it the “cost of Empire:” occasional attacks on Her majesty’s troops and legations by enraged, sword and spear-wielding natives.

Imperial troops would be rushed in and quickly put down the uprisings. In the 1920’s, Winston Churchill authorized the use of poison gas against “unruly” tribesmen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fast forward to the British Raj’s heir. This week’s attacks on US embassies in the Arab world were a deeply disturbing sign of the violent, anti-American fury boiling across the Muslim world.

The latest spasm of violence resulted the tragic murder of Christopher Stevens, the new US ambassador to Libya, an Arabic-speaking career diplomat. He was just the kind of educated, experienced diplomat America so badly needs. Having myself almost joined the US Foreign Service many years ago, I feel particular sorrow.

We don’t know yet who killed Stevens but two suspects come at once to mind: anti-western jihadists of al-Qaida in the Maghreb, or Ghadaffi loyalists seeking revenge for the US-assisted killing of their late leader, whose convoy was blasted by a US Predator drone.

Whatever the answer, more violence seems likely. The vile anti-Muslim film from California that sparked protests in Egypt, Yemen, and North Africa is only now beginning to be seen in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I watched 15 minutes of this crude piece of amateur propaganda. It slandered the Prophet of Islam and his faith in the most disgusting fashion. As of now, the real makers of this vile film are uncertain: a Coptic Egyptian convicted of bank fraud, a group of American pro-Israel businessmen, a fanatical Christian-fascist hate-monger and gun-lover.

Muslims everywhere blamed the US government for the film. In fact, Washington does not appear to have any link to the film; nor could it have prevented it under US laws.

But Republican candidate Mitt Romney lost not a moment to absurdly denounce President Barack Obama for “sympathizing” with the Benghazi attack. The stumbling Romney gave yet another example of why he may not be ready for the presidency.

The big question here is who set off this firestorm? If we were in the good old days of the Cold War, I’d say the film was made by KGB’s special disinformation department to enrage the Muslim world against the United States.

Today, the most likely culprit are far right Christian fundamentalists, who hate Islam with religious passion, and a group of neconservative businessmen trying to promote war between the US and Muslim world – and namely, Iran. A network of Evangelical broadcasters, publishers and schools churns out a steady stream of anti-Islamic fulminations.

The latest anti-US riots across the Mideast further convinced many Americans that all Muslims are violent extremists. The hate film reinforced the mistaken notion held by many Muslims that the United States is bent on eradicating their faith.

All this fits nicely with efforts by right wing ideologues to push the US into war against Iran. President Obama has so far stoutly refused to give in to war-mongering, no mean feat in an election year in which he is neck-a-neck with Romney.

This week, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, demanded Obama openly define the conditions under which the US would attack Iran. Netanyahu’s American supporters accuse Obama of “throwing Israel under a bus.” At times, it appears there are three candidates for office in Washington: Obama, Romney and Netanyahu.

Netanyahu scolded and rebuked Obama for not sending American troops and spending American treasure to attack Iran because it is a potential rival or threat to Israel. Netanyahu is now openly backing Romney for president.

In Yiddish, such behavior is called “chutzpah,” a mixture of brazen nerve and outrageous presumption.

Add all this up and we have evil memories of the hysteria and military posturing of August, 1914, the lead-up to World War I, a totally unnecessary conflict that ran out of control and wrecked Europe.

Opinion in the Muslim world, America and Canada is being manipulated by those seeking war. A few more killings, a clash in the congested Gulf, a bombing in the west, and a wider Mideast war could erupt.

One in which PM Netanyahu thinks he will be the winner. Unfortunately, he may well be right.

Note:This is a cross post . 

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  • Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqi  On September 15, 2012 at 4:51 am

    Extremists of the west in general and of America in particular must mend their ways…to keep the world safe…

  • Zubair  On September 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Thank God there were no “attacks” in Pakistan. We would have burnt our own assets like cars, basses and shops.

  • Nasim  On September 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Why Muslims are ready to be manipulated so easily. When the public opinion in Europe goes against Israel, a simple thing is publish Cartoons and then watch the Muslims demonstarting everywhere.

    Under Freedom of Expression anyone can say or publish anything they want. The poor emotional Muslim people will jump and become easy targets for CIA and FBI. In fact Muslims in their Islamic centers are trapped into stupid acts.

    Then I say to myself that it is good that stupid people are trapped because they may do something that will hurt the whole community.

    A wise enemy is always better than stupid friend.

    Nasim Hassan

  • Javed Chaudhry  On September 16, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I am attaching a copy of an article that appeared on yesterday’s Toronto Star about the person behind this ugly movie.


    U.S. ex-con identified as man behind anti-Islam movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’
    Published on Friday September 14, 2012
    Eileen Sullivan
    The Associated Press
    Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
    ALEX GALLARDO/REUTERS A cameraman keeps watch near media cameras outside the home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in Cerritos, California September 13, 2012.

    WASHINGTON—Federal authorities identified a Southern California man who is on federal probation for financial crimes as the key figure behind an anti-Muslim film that has spawned mob violence against American embassies across the Mideast, a U.S. law enforcement official said Thursday.

    There was no sign of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, at his family’s home Thursday in Cerritos, outside Los Angeles, as details slowly began to emerge about his checkered past, his connections among Southern California’s right-wing Christian organizations and his central role in the production of the film.

    Excerpts from the movie, which the filmmaker said was called “Innocence of Muslims,” enraged Islamic protesters over its portrayal of the prophet Muhammad.

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed Thursday that the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats killed during an attack on the American mission in Benghazi. It was not immediately clear whether authorities were focusing on Nakoula as part of that probe.

    Much about the film remains a mystery, including who financed it. Several actors have come forward and claimed they were duped about their roles, and that incendiary language was dubbed over their lines.

    The permit to shoot the film, normally a public document, is being withheld at the “request of federal authorities, who have cited public safety concerns,” according to Ryan Alsop, assistant chief executive officer for Los Angeles County. He did not elaborate. Such permits normally contain little more than logistical information.

    Questions remained about whether Nakoula’s filmmaking and Internet distribution activities might have violated his federal probation and send him back to prison.

    Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers, the Internet or online user or screen names for five years without approval from his probation officer. He is still on probation, according to court records.

    The YouTube account under the username “Sam Bacile,” which was used to publish excerpts of the provocative movie in July, was used again as recently as this week.

    A convict on probation doesn’t have the same rights to free speech or against unreasonable searches, said Jennifer Granick, a criminal defence lawyer who specializes in online crimes.

    “Until you’re done with supervision, you don’t have full rights,” Granick said. “They can search you without a warrant.”

    The law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Nakoula was connected to the persona of Sam Bacile, a figure who initially claimed to be the writer and director of the film. Bacile turned out to be a false identity, and The Associated Press tracked a cellphone number used by Bacile to a home in Cerritos, where it found Nakoula.

    Sheriff’s deputies were called to Nakoula’s property overnight, though Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Nakoula was not in protective custody. He said county authorities were present because roughly two dozen reporters and film crews were waiting to interview Nakoula.

    Nakoula’s criminal record includes a 1997 conviction for possessing drugs used to make methamphetamine, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. Sheriff’s authorities testified that Nakoula was stopped in March that year after unloading boxes of pills from a U-Haul truck at a house in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Authorities stopped Nakoula later and found a receipt for the purchase of pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in meth, and $45,000 in a paper bag.

    He avoided a one-year county jail sentence by performing community service and was on probation for three years.

    Nakoula told The Associated Press that he is Coptic Christian.

    An official of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Los Angeles said in a statement Thursday that the church’s adherents had no involvement in the “inflammatory movie about the prophet of Islam.”

    The official, identified as Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox of Los Angeles, said that “the producers of this movie should be responsible for their actions. The name of our blessed parishioners should not be associated with the efforts of individuals who have ulterior motives.”

    Egypt’s Christian Coptic populace has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination and occasional violence from the country’s Muslim majority.

    Coptic Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the largest Christian church in Egypt. They make up about 10 per cent of the country’s 85 million people. Many Egyptian Christians fled to the U.S. to escape what they say is religious discrimination in the majority Muslim nation.

  • Bashir Syed  On September 16, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Response: In Quran, the answer is provided by our Creator, ALLAH, in Surah At-Tariq # 86: Ayat No’s 13 -17, says:
    13. Behold this is the word that distinguishes (Good from Evil);
    14. It is not a thing for amusement.
    15.As for them (the Evil folks),they are but plotting a scheme,
    16. And I am planning a scheme.
    17. Therefore, grant a delay to the Unbelievers: Give respite to them gently (for a while).

    What you sow, so shall you Reap!

    B. Syed
    · David Frum & Richard Perle, “AN END TO ALL EVIL: How to win the war on Terror,” Ballantine Books, New York 2003 & 2004 [it was David Frum who coined the words “Axis of Evil,” and placed them in George H.W. Bush’s Speech]

    · Noam Chomsky, “Secret, Lies and Deocracy,” Odonian Press, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 1994. [ISBN 1-878825-04-6. Pbk.]

  • Ghias ud din  On September 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you please for this quite comprehensive write up giving
    situation in various other parts of middle east and also in Bangladesh.
    With best wishes and regards,

  • Naveed Tajammal  On September 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Strangely while most of the Islamic world fumes over the latest outrage
    by the western mindset, bent upon ridiculing our religion in one way or the other.
    Saudi-Arabians have yet to turn out in the streets to agitate,one wonders why ?
    perhaps their elite is too, busy launching their proxy-wars ? and themselves keeping their,nose clean ? As another proxy player of late courtesy the oil boom,Iran, well they are busy making a movie on the prophet,with a budget allocation of $ 30 million and more.Though since the inception of idea of making it,resentment was shown,Morocco refused to have it filmed on its soil,so Iranian being,Iranian,made a mock replica of the Kaaba,and as well other old landmarks
    idols of pre-Islamic period and the maker of the movie,a majeed majeedi
    plays or Acts the role of the prophet.
    The point being was their a need for it,by the Iranians ? as movies like these would,lower the image and prestige of our prophet.
    While it is true the Jew and Christan have made tens of movies on Jesus and moses,well we are neither Jew nor Christan in our outlook.
    A red line must be drawn,beyond which the religion or its graphic projections
    must Not be Crossed !

    Naveed Tajammal,

  • Arif Khan  On September 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    My dearest YAA thanks for sharing it is dead accurate Arif Khan My love to Naveed Tajammal

  • GRK  On September 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    i fully endorse naveed bhai comments.why on earth we have to indulge in matter of faith which is a personal matter of an individual with his MAKER grk

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