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[They are also the groups that helped with the Bersih demonstrations and violence in Malaysia]
WASHINGTON — Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states.
(source: http://www.nytimes.com - Published: April 14, 2011)
The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables.
The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.
No one doubts that the Arab uprisings are home grown, rather than resulting from “foreign influence,” as alleged by some Middle Eastern leaders.
“We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based advocacy and research group. “That training did play a role in what ultimately happened, but it was their revolution. We didn’t start it.”
Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.
“We learned how to organize and build coalitions,” said Bashem Fathy, a founder of the youth movement that ultimately drove the Egyptian uprisings. Mr. Fathy, who attended training with Freedom House, said, “This certainly helped during the revolution.”
Ms. Qadhi, the Yemeni youth activist, attended American training sessions in Yemen.
“It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons,” she said.
But now, she said, it is clear that results can be achieved with peaceful protests and other nonviolent means.
But some members of the activist groups complained in interviews that the United States was hypocritical for helping them at the same time that it was supporting the governments they sought to change.
“While we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us,” said Mr. Fathy, the Egyptian activist.
Interviews with officials of the nongovernmental groups and a review of diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that the democracy programs were constant sources of tension between the United States and many Arab governments.
The cables, in particular, show how leaders in the Middle East and North Africa viewed these groups with deep suspicion, and tried to weaken them. Today the work of these groups is among the reasons that governments in turmoil claim that Western meddling was behind the uprisings, with some officials noting that leaders like Ms. Qadhi were trained and financed by the United States.
Diplomatic cables report how American officials frequently assured skeptical governments that the training was aimed at reform, not promoting revolutions.
Last year, for example, a few months before national elections in Bahrain, officials there barred a representative of the National Democratic Institute from entering the country.
In Bahrain, officials worried that the group’s political training “disproportionately benefited the opposition,” according to a January 2010 cable.
In Yemen, where the United States has been spending millions on an anti-terrorism program, officials complained that American efforts to promote democracy amounted to “interference in internal Yemeni affairs.”
But nowhere was the opposition to the American groups stronger than in Egypt.
Egypt, whose government receives $1.5 billion annually in military and economic aid from the United States, viewed efforts to promote political change with deep suspicion, even outrage.
Hosni Mubarak, then Egypt’s president, was “deeply skeptical of the U.S. role in democracy promotion,” said a diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Cairo dated Oct. 9, 2007.
At one time the United States financed political reform groups by channeling money through the Egyptian government.
But in 2005, under a Bush administration initiative, local groups were given direct grants, much to the chagrin of Egyptian officials.
According to a September 2006 cable, Mahmoud Nayel, an official with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, complained to American Embassy officials about the United States government’s “arrogant tactics in promoting reform in Egypt.”
Gamal Mubarak, the former president’s son, is described in an Oct. 20, 2008, cable as “irritable about direct U.S. democracy and governance funding of Egyptian NGOs.”
The Egyptian government even appealed to groups like Freedom House to stop working with local political activists and human rights groups.
“They were constantly saying: ‘Why are you working with those groups, they are nothing. All they have are slogans,’ ” said Sherif Mansour, an Egyptian activist and a senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa at Freedom House.
When their appeals to the United States government failed, the Egyptian authorities reacted by restricting the activities of the American nonprofit organizations.
Hotels that were to host training sessions were closed for renovations. Staff members of the groups were followed, and local activists were intimidated and jailed. State-owned newspapers accused activists of receiving money from American intelligence agencies.
Affiliating themselves with the American organizations may have tainted leaders within their own groups. According to one diplomatic cable, leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt told the American Embassy in 2009 that some members of the group had accused Ahmed Maher, a leader of the January uprising, and other leaders of “treason” in a mock trial related to their association with Freedom House, which more militant members of the movement described as a “Zionist organization.”
A prominent blogger, according to a cable, threatened to post the information about the movement leaders’ links to Freedom House on his blog.
There is no evidence that this ever happened, and a later cable shows that the group ousted the members who were complaining about Mr. Maher and other leaders.
In the face of government opposition, some groups moved their training sessions to friendlier countries like Jordan or Morocco. They also sent activists to the United States for training.
(from Global Research, December 27, 2012, by Nile Bowie)
The opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, is headed by Anwar Ibrahim, who once held the post of Deputy Prime Minister in Mahathir’s administration, but was sacked over major disagreements on how to steer Malaysia’s economy during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Today, the political climate in Malaysia is highly polarized and a sense of unpredictability looms over the nation. Malaysia’s current leader, Prime Minister Najib Razak, has pursued a reform-minded agenda by repealing authoritarian legislation of the past and dramatically loosening controls on expression and political pluralism introduced under Mahathir’s tenure. Najib has rolled back Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, which allowed for indefinite detention without trial, and has liberalized rules regarding the publication of books and newspapers. During Malaysia’s 2008 general elections, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition experienced its worst result in decades, with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition winning 82 parliamentary seats. For the first time, the ruling party was deprived of its two-thirds parliamentary majority, which is required to pass amendments to Malaysia’s Federal Constitution. In the run-up to elections scheduled to take place before an April 2013 deadline, figures from all sides of the political spectrum are asking questions about the opposition’s links to foreign-funders in Washington.
Protestors form a human chain in the city center of Kuala Lumpur during April 2012 protests in support of the Bersih coalition.
The question of foreign-funding
Malaysia’s former PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has long captured the ire of officials from Washington and Tel Aviv, and though he’s retired, he has channeled his energies into the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, which recently hosted an international conference in Kuala Lumpur calling for a new investigation into the events of 9/11 and has sought to investigate war crimes committed in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan. Mahathir has been an ardent critic of Israel and organizations such as AIPAC, and has recently accused US-based organizations the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Open Society Institute (OSI) of holding a concealed intention to influence Malaysia’s domestic politics through the funding of local NGOs and groups directly linked to Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition.
In an article the former prime minister published in the New Straits Times, a leading mainstream newspaper, Mahathir accuses financier George Soros and his organization, the Open Society Institute, of “promoting democracy” in Eastern Europe to pave the way for colonization by global finance capital. Mahathir acknowledges how OSI pumped millions into opposition movements and independent media in Hungary, Ukraine and Georgia under the guise of strengthening civil society, only to have like-minded individuals nominated by Soros’s own foundation come to power in those countries.
The former prime minister has also pointed to how Egypt (prior to Mohamad Morsi taking power) has cracked down on NGOs affiliated with NED, namely groups such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Freedom House, which are all recipients of funding from the US State Department. In Malaysia, high-profile NGOs and media outlets have admittedly received funding from OSI and satellite organizations of NED. Premesh Chandran, the CEO of the nation’s most prominent alternative media outlet, Malaysiakini, is a grantee of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and launched the news organization with a $100,000 grant from the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), another organization with dubious affiliations to the US State Department.
Malaysiakini has come under pressure from local journalists for the lack of transparency in its financial management and hesitance in revealing the value of its shares. Additionally, Suaram, an NGO promoting human rights, has borne heavy criticism over its funding and organizational structure. The Companies Commission of Malaysia launched investigations into Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, a private company linked to Suaram, and found it to be a conduit for money being used to channel funds from NED. Suaram has been instrumental in legitimizing allegations of a possible cover-up of the murder of a Mongolian fashion model, Altantuya Shaaribuu, who was living in Malaysia in 2006 and associated with government officials that have been linked to a kickback scandal involving the government’s purchase of submarines from France. Senator Ezam Mohd Nor, himself a recipient of Suaram’s Human Rights Award, has accused the organization of employing poor research methods and attempting to disparage the government:
“Malaysians have the right to feel suspicious about them. They have been making personal allegations against the Prime Minister [Najib Razak] on the murder of Altantuya and many other cases without proof… their motive is very questionable especially when they are more inclined towards ridiculing and belittling the ruling government.”
The German Embassy in KL has reportedly admitted that it has provided funds to Suaram’s project in 2010. Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman followed by making strong statements to the German Ambassador and declared that Germany’s actions could be viewed as interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.
Since 2007, Bersih, an association of NGOs calling itself the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, staged three street protests in which thousands of yellow-clad demonstrators took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur demanding electoral reform. After coming under heavy scrutiny for obfuscating funding sources, Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenevasan admitted that her organization receives funding from the National Democratic Institute and the Open Society Institute. Sreenevasan herself has been the recipient of the US State Department’s Award for International Women of Courage, and was present in Washington DC in 2009 to receive the award directly from the hands of Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While Sreenevasan’s organization claimed to be non-partisan and apolitical, members of Malaysia’s political opposition openly endorsed the movement, and some were even present at the demonstrations.
Anatomy of Malaysia’s political opposition
Malaysia is a multi-cultural and multi-religious state, and both the ruling and opposition parties attempt to represent the nation’s three largest ethnic groups. Approximately 60 per cent of Malaysians are either ethnic Malay or other indigenous groups and are mostly listed as Muslim, while another 25 per cent are ethnic Chinese who are predominantly Buddhist, with 7 per cent mostly Hindu Indian-Malaysians. The United Malays National Organization, the Malaysian Chinese Association, and the Malaysian Indian Congress head Barisan Nasional. The opposition, Pakatan Rakyat, currently controls four state governments and is led by Anwar Ibrahim’s Keadilan Rakyat, the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP), and staunchly Islamist Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).
While a large percentage of urbanites with legitimate grievances are quick to acknowledge the government’s shortcomings, many are hesitant to back Anwar Ibrahim due to his connections with neo-conservative thinkers in Washington and general disunity within the opposition. Ibrahim maintains close ties with senior US officials and organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2005, Ibrahim chaired the Washington-based Foundation for the Future, established and funded by the US Department of State at the behest of Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, thanks in large part to his cozy relationship with Paul Wolfowitz.
While Ibrahim was on trial for allegedly engaging in sodomy with a male aide (something he was later acquitted of), Wolfowitz and former US Vice-President Al Gore authored a joint opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal in support of Ibrahim, while the Washington Post published an editorial calling for consequences that would affect Malaysia’s relations with Washington if Ibrahim was to be found guilty. Ibrahim enraged many when he stated that he would support policy to protect the security of Israel in an interview with the Wall Street Journal; this is particularly controversial in Malaysia, where support for Palestine is largely unanimous. Malaysian political scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar writes:
“It is obvious that by acknowledging the primacy of Israeli security, Anwar was sending a clear message to the deep state and to Tel Aviv and Washington that he is someone that they could trust. In contrast, the Najib government, in spite of its attempts to get closer to Washington, remains critical of Israeli aggression and intransigence. Najib has described the Israeli government as a ‘serial killer’ and a ‘gangster’”.
Members of Barisan Nasional have addressed Ibrahim’s connections to the National Endowment for Democracy in the Malaysian Parliament, including his participation in NED’s ‘Democracy Award’ event held in Washington DC in 2007. Independent journalists have uncovered letters written by Anwar Ibrahim, two of which were sent to NED President Carl Gershman in Washington DC that discussed sending an international election observer team to Malaysia and general issues related to electoral reform. A third letter was sent to George Soros, expressing interest in collaborating with an accountability firm headed by Ibrahim. Pakatan Rakyat’s Communications Director, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, verified the authenticity of the documents. This should come as little surprise, as Ibrahim’s economic policies have historically aligned with institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, in contrast to Mahathir, whose protectionist economic policies opposed international financial institutions and allowed Malaysia to navigate and largely resurface from the 1997 Asian financial crisis unscathed.
An issue that concerns secular and non-Muslim Malaysian voters is the role of the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) as part of the opposition. In sharp contrast to the moderate brand of Islam preached by UMNO, the organization’s primary objective is the founding of an Islamic state. The PAS has spoken of working within the framework of Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy, but holds steadfast to implementing sharia law on a national scale, which would lead to confusing implications for Malaysia’s sizable non-Muslim population. The debate around the implementation of Islamic hudud penal code is something that other Pakatan Rakyat coalition members, such as figures in the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party, have been unable to agree on. The PAS enjoys support from rural Malay Muslims in conservative states such as Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu in northern Malaysia, though they have very limited appeal to urbanites. While certain individuals in PAS have raised questions about NGOs receiving foreign funding, Mahathir has insinuated that PAS’s leadership has been largely complicit:
“They [foreign interests] want to topple the government through the demonstration and Nik Aziz [Spiritual leader of PAS] said it is permissible to bring down the government in this manner. They want to make Malaysia like Egypt, Tunisia, which were brought down through riots and now Syria…. when the government does not fall, they [Pakatan Rakyat] can appeal to the foreign power to help and bring down, even if it means using fire power.”
Despite claims of being non-partisan and unaffiliated with any political party, the country’s main opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, fully endorsed the Bersih movement.
Feasibility of ‘regime change’ narrative
It must be acknowledged that the current administration led by Prime Minister Najib Razak has made great strides toward improving relations with Washington. At a meeting with President Barack Obama in 2010, Najib offered Malaysia’s assistance to cooperate with the United States to engage the Muslim world; Najib also expressed willingness to deploy Malaysian aid personnel to Afghanistan, and allegedly agreed on the need to maintain a unified front on Iran’s nuclear program. Najib has employed a Washington-based public relations firm, APCO, to improve Malaysia’s image in the US and has seemingly embraced American economic leadership of the region through his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Some would argue that Najib is perhaps the most pro-American leader Malaysia has ever had – a stark contrast to the boldness of Mahathir. Despite Najib having good rapport with formal Western leaders, it is clear with whom the thank-tank policy architects, Zionist lobbies, and foundation fellows have placed their loyalties.
Sentiment among Malaysia’s youth and “pro-democracy” activists, who constitute a small but vocal minority, tend be entirely dismissive of the ‘regime change’ narrative, viewing it as pre-election diversionary rhetoric of the ruling party. While bogeymen of the Zionist variety are often invoked in Malaysian political discourse, it would be negligent to ignore the effects of Washington-sponsored ‘democracy promotion’ in the global context, which have in recent times cloaked mercenary elements and insurgents in the colors of freedom fighting, and successfully masked geopolitical restructuring and the ushering in of neo-liberal capitalism with the hip and fashionable vigor of ‘people power’ coups. As the United States continues to militarily increase its presence in the Pacific region in line with its strategic policy-shift to East Asia, policy makers in Washington would like to see compliant heads of state who will act to further American interests in the ASEAN region.
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room; the real purpose of America’s resurgence of interest in the ASEAN bloc is to fortify the region as a counterweight against Beijing. The defense ministries of Malaysia and China held a landmark defense and security consultation in September 2012, in addition to frequent bilateral state visits and enhanced economic cooperation. It was the father of the current leader, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, who made the landmark visit to Beijing to normalize relations in 1974, and under his son Najib, Sino-Malaysian relations and cooperation have never been better. Following the global economic crisis of 2008, Najib looked to Beijing to revive Malaysia’s export oriented economy, emphasizing increased Chinese investment into Malaysia and expanding the base of Sino-Malaysian trade in areas like education and student exchange, finance, infrastructure development, science and technology, yielding lucrative and mutually beneficial results. China has been Malaysia’s largest trade partner, with trade figures reaching US$90 billion in 2011; Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner among ASEAN nations.
In asking the question of regime change in Malaysia, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar reflects on Washington’s moves to bolster its military muscle and dominance over the Asia-Pacific region:
“Establishing a military base in Darwin [Australia], resurrecting the US’ military alliance with the Philippines, coaxing Japan to play a more overt military role in the region, instigating Vietnam to confront China over the Spratly Islands, and encouraging India to counterbalance Chinese power, are all part and parcel of the larger US agenda of encircling and containing China. In pursuing this agenda, the US wants reliable allies – not just friends – in Asia. In this regard, Malaysia is important because of its position as a littoral state with sovereign rights over the Straits of Malacca, which is one of China’s most critical supply routes that transports much of the oil and other materials vital for its economic development. Will the containment of China lead to a situation where the hegemon, determined to perpetuate its dominant power, seek to exercise control over the Straits in order to curb China’s ascendancy? Would a trusted ally in Kuala Lumpur facilitate such control? The current Malaysian leadership does not fit the bill.”
‘Backwards’ and forwards
Pakatan Rakyat, the main opposition coalition pitted against the ruling party, has yet to offer a fully coherent organizational program, and if the coalition ever came to power, the disunity of its component parties and their inability to agree on fundamental policies would be enough to conjure angrier, disenchanted youth back on to the streets, in larger numbers perhaps. What is ticklishly ironic about reading op-eds penned by the likes of Wolfowitz and Al Gore, and how they laud Malaysia as a progressive and moderate model Islamic state, is that they concurrently demonize its leadership and dismiss them authoritarian thugs. Surely, the ruling coalition has its shortcomings; the politicization of race and religion, noted cases of corrupt officials squandering funds, etc. – but far too few, especially those of the middle-class who benefit most from energy subsides, acknowledge the tremendous economic growth achieved under the current leadership and the success of their populist policies. Najib’s administration would do well to place greater emphasis on addressing the concerns of Malaysia’s minorities who view affirmative action policies given to Malay ethnicities as disproportionate; income status, not ethnicity, should be a deciding factor in who receives assistance. The current administration appears set to widen populist policies that make necessities affordable through subsides and continue to assist low-income earners with cash handouts.
Najib has acknowledged the need for broad reforms of Malaysia’s state-owned enterprises over concerns that crony capitalism may deter foreign investment; this should be rolled out concurrently with programs to foster more local entrepreneurship. To put it bluntly, the opposition lacks confidence from the business community and foreign investors; even the likes of JP Morgan have issued statements of concern over an opposition win. It should be noted that if Islamists ever wielded greater influence in Malaysia under an opposition coalition, one could imagine a sizable exodus of non-Muslim minorities and a subsequent flight of foreign capital, putting the nation’s economy in a fragile and fractured state. And yet, the United States has poured millions into ‘democracy promotion’ efforts to strengthen the influence of NGOs that distort realities and cast doubt over the government’s ability to be a coherent actor.
Malaysia does not have the kind of instability that warrants overt external intervention; backing regime-change efforts may only go so far as supporting dissidents and groups affiliated with Anwar Ibrahim. No matter the result of the upcoming elections, Najib appears to have played ball enough for Washington to remain more or less neutral. According to Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenevasan, Malaysia’s electoral process is so restrictive that a mass movement like Bersih is required to purge the system of its backwardness. These are curious statements, considering that the opposition gained control of four out of 13 states in 2008, including Selangor, a key economic state with the highest GDP and most developed infrastructure. In response, Najib has adhered to Bersih’s demands and has called for electoral reform, forming a parliamentary select committee comprising members from both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional. As elections loom, Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenavasan is already dubbing them “the dirtiest elections ever seen” – unsurprising rhetoric from a woman being handed her talking points by the US embassy
Tony Cartalucci (Activist Post)
Wall Street and London’s hegemonic ambitions in Asia, centered around installing proxy regimes across Southeast Asia and using the supranational ASEAN bloc to encircle and contain China, suffered a serious blow this week when Western-proxy and Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s party lost in general elections.
While Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition party, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) or “People’s Alliance,” attempted to run on an anti-corruption platform, its campaign instead resembled verbatim attempts by the West to subvert governments politically around the world, including most recently in Venezuela, and in Russia in 2012.
Just as in Russia where so-called “independent” election monitor GOLOS turned out to be fully funded by the US State Department through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Malaysia’s so-called election monitor, the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, is likewise funded directly by the US through NED. Despite this, Western media outlets, in pursuit of promoting the Western-backed People’s Alliance, has repeatedly referred to Merdeka as “independent.”
The BBC in its article, “Malaysia election sees record turnout,” lays out the well-rehearsed cries of “stolen elections” used by the West to undermine the legitimacy of polls it fears its proxy candidates may lose – with the US-funded Merdeka Center cited in attempts to bolster these claims. Their foreign funding and compromised objectivity is never mentioned (emphasis added):
Allegations of election fraud surfaced before the election. Some of those who voted in advance told BBC News that indelible ink – supposed to last for days – easily washed off.
“The indelible ink can be washed off easily, with just water, in a few seconds,” one voter, Lo, told BBC News from Skudai.
Another voter wrote: “Marked with “indelible ink” and voted at 10:00. Have already cleaned off the ink by 12:00. If I was also registered under a different name and ID number at a neighbouring constituency, I would be able to vote again before 17:00!”
The opposition has also accused the government of funding flights for supporters to key states, which the government denies.
Independent pollster Merdeka Center has received unconfirmed reports of foreign nationals being given IDs and allowed to vote.
However, an election monitoring organization funded by a foreign government which openly seeks to remove the current ruling party from Malaysia in favor of long-time Wall Street servant Anwar Ibrahim is most certainly not “independent.”
The ties between Anwar Ibrahim’s “People’s Alliance” and the US State Department don’t end with the Merdeka Center, but continue into the opposition’s street movement, “Bersih.” Claiming to fight for “clean and fair” elections, Bersih in reality is a vehicle designed to mobilize street protests on behalf of Anwar’s opposition party. Bersih’s alleged leader, Ambiga Sreenevasan, has admitted herself that her organization has received cash directly from the United States via the National Endowment for Democracy’s National Democratic Institute (NDI), and convicted criminal George Soros’ Open Society.
The Malaysian Insider reported on June 27, 2011 that Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevassan:
“…admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — for other projects, which she stressed were unrelated to the July 9 march.”
A visit to the NDI website revealed indeed that funding and training had been provided by the US organization – before NDI took down the information and replaced it with a more benign version purged entirely of any mention of Bersih. For funding Ambiga claims is innocuous, the NDI’s rushed obfuscation of any ties to her organization suggests something far more sinister at play.
Photo: NDI’s website before taking down any mention to Malaysia’s Bersih movement. (click image to enlarge)
The substantial, yet carefully obfuscated support the West has lent Anwar should be of no surprise to those familiar with Anwar’s history. That Anwar Ibrahim himself was Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1998, held lecturing positions at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, was a consultant to the World Bank, and a panelist at the Neo-Con lined National Endowment for Democracy’s “Democracy Award” and a panelist at a NED donation ceremony - the very same US organization funding and supporting Bersih and so-called “independent” election monitor Merdeka – paints a picture of an opposition running for office in Malaysia, not for the Malaysian people, but clearly for the corporate financier interests of Wall Street and London.
Photo: Taken from the US National Endowment for Democracy’s 2007 Democracy Award eventheld in Washington D.C., Anwar Ibrahim can be seen to the far left and participated as a “panelist.” It is no surprise that NED is now subsidizing his bid to worm his way back into power in Malaysia. (click image to enlarge)
In reality, Bersih’s leadership along with Anwar and their host of foreign sponsors are attempting to galvanize the very real grievances of the Malaysian people and exploit them to propel themselves into power. While many may be tempted to suggest that “clean and fair elections” truly are Bersih and Anwar’s goal, and that US funding via NED’s NDI and convicted criminal, billionaire bankster George Soros’ Open Society are entirely innocuous, a thorough examination of these organizations, how they operate, and their admitted agenda reveals the proverbial cliff Anwar and Bersih are leading their followers and the nation of Malaysia over.
As Bersih predictably mobilizes in the streets on behalf of Anwar’s opposition party in the wake of their collective failure during Malaysia’s 2013 general elections, it is important for Malaysians to understand the true nature of the Western organizations funding their attempts to politically undermine the ruling party and divide Malaysians against each other, and exactly why this is being done in the greater context of US hegemony in Asia.
Anwar & Bersih’s US State Department Backers
The US State Department’s NED and NDI are most certainly not benevolent promoters of democracy and freedom. A quick look at NED’s board of directors reveals a milieu of corporate-fascists and warmongers:
- William Galston: Brookings Institution (board of trustees can be found on page 35 here).
- Moises Naim: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (corporate funding here).
- Robert Miller: corporate lawyer.
- Larry Liebenow: US Chamber of Commerce (a chief proponent of SOPA, ACTA, and CISPA), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
- Anne-Marie Slaughter: US State Department, Council on Foreign Relations (corporate members here), director of Citigroup, McDonald’s Corporation, and Political Strategies Advisory Group.
- Richard Gephardt: US Representative, Boeing lobbyist, Goldman Sachs, Visa, Ameren Corp, and Waste Management Inc lobbyist, corporate consultant, consultant &now director of Ford Motor Company, supporter of the military invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.
- Marilyn Carlson Nelson: CEO of Carlson, director of Exxon Mobil.
- Stephen Sestanovich: US State Department, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, CFR.
- Judy Shelton: director of Hilton Hotels Corporation & Atlantic Coast Airlines.
- Francis Fukuyama: Neo-Con, pro-war, pro-hegmonic PNAC signatory
- Zalmay Khalilzad: Neo-Con, pro-war, pro-hegmonic PNAC signatory
- Will Marshall: Neo-Con, pro-war, pro-hegmonic PNAC signatory
- Vin Weber: Neo-Con, pro-war, pro-hegmonic PNAC signatory
The NDI, which Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevasan herself admits funds her organization, is likewise chaired by an unsavory collection of corporate fascist interests.
- Robin Carnahan: Formally of the Export-Import Bank of the United States where she “explored innovative ways to help American companies increase their sale of goods and services abroad.” The NDI’s meddling in foreign nations, particularly in elections on behalf of pro-West candidates favoring free-trade, and Carnahan’s previous ties to a bank that sought to expand corporate interests overseas constitutes an alarming conflict of interests.
- Richard Blum: An investment banker with Blum Capital, CB Richard Ellis. Engaged in war profiteering along side the Neo-Con infested Carlyle Group, when both acquired shares in EG&G which was then awarded a $600 million military contract during the opening phases of the Iraq invasion.
- Bernard W. Aronson: Founder of ACON Investments. Prior to that, he was an adviser to Goldman Sachs, and serves on the boards of directors of Fifth & Pacific Companies, Royal Caribbean International, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Chroma Oil & Gas, Northern Tier Energy. Aronson is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which in turn represents the collective interests of some of the largest corporations on Earth.
- Sam Gejdenson: NDI’s profile claims Gejdenson is “in charge of” Sam Gejdenson International, which proclaims on its website ”Commerce Without Borders,” or in other words, big-business monopolies via free-trade. In his autobiographical profile, he claims to have promoted US exports as a Democrat on the House International Relations Committee. Here is yet another case of conflicting interests between NDI’s meddling in foreign politics and board members previously involved in “promoting US exports.”
- Nancy H. Rubin: CFR member.
- Vali Nasr: CFR member and a senior fellow at the big-oil, big-banker Belfer Center at Harvard.
- Rich Verma: A partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP - an international corporate and governmental legal firm representing for Verma, a multitude of conflicting interests and potential improprieties. Setptoe & Johnson is active in many of the nations the NDI is operating in, opening the door for manipulation on both sides to favor the other.
- Lynda Thomas: A private investor, formally a senior manager/CPA at Deloitte Haskins & Sells in New York, and Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte in London. Among her clients were international banks.
- Maurice Tempelsman: Chairman of the board of directors of Lazare Kaplan International Inc., the largest cutter and polisher of “ideal cut” diamonds in the United States. Also senior partner at Leon Tempelsman & Son, involved in mining, investments and business development and minerals trading in Europe, Russia, Africa, Latin America, Canada and Asia. Yet another immense potential for conflicting interests, where Tempelsman stands to directly gain financially and politically by manipulating foreign governments via the NDI.
- Elaine K. Shocas: President of Madeleine Albright, Inc., a private investment firm. She was chief of staff to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations during Madeleine Albright’s tenure as Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nation, illustrating a particularly dizzying “revolving door” between big-government and big-business.
- Madeleine K. Albright: Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm – directly affiliated with fellow NDI board member Elaine Shocas, representing an incestuous business/government relationship with overt conflicts of interest. Albright infamously stated that sanctions against Iraq which directly led to the starvation and death of half a million children “was worth it.”
The average Malaysian, disenfranchised with the ruling government as they may be, cannot possibly believe these people are funding and propping up clearly disingenuous NGOs in direct support of a compromised Anwar Ibrahim, for the best interests of Malaysia.
The end game for the US with an Anwar Ibrahim/People’s Alliance-led government, is a Malaysia that capitulates to both US free trade schemes and US foreign policy. In Malaysia’s case, this will leave the extensive economic independence achieved since escaping out from under British rule, gutted, while the nation’s resources are steered away from domestic development and toward a proxy confrontation with China, just as is already being done in Korea, Japan, and the Philippines.
Stitching ASEAN Together with Proxy Regimes to Fight China
Image: Lemuel Gulliver on the island of Lilliput, having been overtaken while asleep by ropes and stakes by the diminutive but numerous Lilliputians. Western corporate-financier interests envision organizing Southeast Asia into a supranational bloc, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), to use the smaller nations as a combined front to “tie down” China in a similar manner. Unlike in the story “Gulliver’s Travels,” China may well break free of its binds and stomp the Lilliputian leaders flat for their belligerence.
That the US goal is to use Malaysia and other Southeast Asian nations against China is not merely speculation. It is the foundation of a long-documented conspiracy dating back as far as 1997, and reaffirmed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as recently as 2011.
In 1997, Fortune 500-funded (page 19) Brookings Institution policy scribe Robert Kagan penned, “What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment,” which spells out the policy Wall Street and London were already in the process of implementing even then, albeit in a somewhat more nebulous manner. In his essay, Kagan literally states (emphasis added):
The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. And it is poorly suited to the needs of a Chinese dictatorship trying to maintain power at home and increase its clout abroad. Chinese leaders chafe at the constraints on them and worry that they must change the rules of the international system before the international system changes them.
Here, Kagan openly admits that the “world order,” or the “international order,” is simply American-run global hegemony, dictated by US interests. These interests, it should be kept in mind, are not those of the American people, but of the immense corporate-financier interests of the Anglo-American establishment. Kagan continues (emphasis added):
In truth, the debate over whether we should or should not contain China is a bit silly. We are already containing China — not always consciously and not entirely successfully, but enough to annoy Chinese leaders and be an obstacle to their ambitions. When the Chinese used military maneuvers and ballistic-missile tests last March to intimidate Taiwanese voters, the United States responded by sending the Seventh Fleet. By this show of force, the U.S. demonstrated to Taiwan, Japan, and the rest of our Asian allies that our role as their defender in the region had not diminished as much as they might have feared. Thus, in response to a single Chinese exercise of muscle, the links of containment became visible and were tightened.
The new China hands insist that the United States needs to explain to the Chinese that its goal is merely, as [Robert] Zoellick writes, to avoid “the domination of East Asia by any power or group of powers hostile to the United States.” Our treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia, and our naval and military forces in the region, aim only at regional stability, not aggressive encirclement.
But the Chinese understand U.S. interests perfectly well, perhaps better than we do. While they welcome the U.S. presence as a check on Japan, the nation they fear most, they can see clearly that America’s military and diplomatic efforts in the region severely limit their own ability to become the region’s hegemon. According to Thomas J. Christensen, who spent several months interviewing Chinese military and civilian government analysts, Chinese leaders worry that they will “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.”
Indeed, the United States blocks Chinese ambitions merely by supporting what we like to call “international norms” of behavior. Christensen points out that Chinese strategic thinkers consider “complaints about China’s violations of international norms” to be part of “an integrated Western strategy, led by Washington, to prevent China from becoming a great power.
What Kagan is talking about is maintaining American preeminence across all of Asia and producing a strategy of tension to divide and limit the power of any single player vis-a-vis Wall Street and London’s hegemony. Kagan would continue (emphasis added):
The changes in the external and internal behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s resulted at least in part from an American strategy that might be called “integration through containment and pressure for change.”
Such a strategy needs to be applied to China today. As long as China maintains its present form of government, it cannot be peacefully integrated into the international order. For China’s current leaders, it is too risky to play by our rules — yet our unwillingness to force them to play by our rules is too risky for the health of the international order. The United States cannot and should not be willing to upset the international order in the mistaken belief that accommodation is the best way to avoid a confrontation with China.
We should hold the line instead and work for political change in Beijing. That means strengthening our military capabilities in the region, improving our security ties with friends and allies, and making clear that we will respond, with force if necessary, when China uses military intimidation or aggression to achieve its regional ambitions. It also means not trading with the Chinese military or doing business with firms the military owns or operates. And it means imposing stiff sanctions when we catch China engaging in nuclear proliferation.
A successful containment strategy will require increasing, not decreasing, our overall defense capabilities. Eyre Crowe warned in 1907 that “the more we talk of the necessity of economising on our armaments, the more firmly will the Germans believe that we are tiring of the struggle, and that they will win by going on.” Today, the perception of our military decline is already shaping Chinese calculations. In 1992, an internal Chinese government document said that America’s “strength is in relative decline and that there are limits to what it can do.” This perception needs to be dispelled as quickly as possible.
Kagan’s talk of “responding” to China’s expansion is clearly manifested today in a series of proxy conflicts growing between US-backed Japan, and the US-backed Philippines, and to a lesser extent between North and South Korea, and even beginning to show in Myanmar. The governments of these nations have capitulated to US interests and their eagerness to play the role of America’s proxies in the region, even at their own cost, is not a surprise. To expand this, however, the US fully plans on integrating Southeast Asia, installing proxy regimes, and likewise turning their resources and people against China.
In 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the capstone to Kagan’s 1997 conspiracy. She published in Foreign Policy magazine, a piece titled, “America’s Pacific Century” where she explicitly states:
In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region.
To “sustain our leadership,” “secure our interests,” and “advance our values,” are clearly hegemonic statements, and indicates that the US’ goal for “substantially increased investment,” including buying off NGOs and opposition parties in Malaysia, seeks to directly serve US leadership, interests, and “values,” not within US borders, but outside them, and specifically across all of Asia.
At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, U.S. commitment there is essential. It will help build that architecture and pay dividends for continued American leadership well into this century, just as our post-World War II commitment to building a comprehensive and lasting transatlantic network of institutions and relationships has paid off many times over — and continues to do so.
The “architecture” referred to is the supranational ASEAN bloc – and again Clinton confirms that the US’ commitment to this process is designed not to lift up Asia, but to maintain its own hegemony across the region, and around the world.
Clinton then openly admits that the US seeks to exploit Asia’s economic growth:
Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia.
Of course, the purpose of an economy is to meet the needs of those who live within it. The Asian economy therefore ought to serve the needs and interests of Asians – not a hegemonic empire on the other side of the Pacific. Clinton’s piece could easily double as a declaration by England’s King George and his intentions toward emptying out the New World.
And no empire is complete without establishing a permanent military garrison on newly claimed territory. Clinton explains (emphasis added):
With this in mind, our work will proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.
And of course, by “advancing democracy and human rights,” Clinton means the continuation of funding faux-NGOs that disingenuously leverage human rights and democracy promotion to politically undermine targeted governments in pursuit of installing more obedient proxy regimes.
The piece is lengthy, and while a lot of readers may be tempted to gloss over some of the uglier, overtly imperial aspects of Clinton’s statement, the proof of America’s true intentions in Asia can be seen clearly manifested today, with the intentional encouragement of provocations between North and South Korea, an expanding confrontation between China and US proxies, Japan and the Philippines, and with mobs taking to the streets in Malaysia in hopes of overturning an election US-proxy Anwar Ibrahim had no chance of winning.
Clean and Fair Elections?
While the battle cry for Anwar Ibrahim, his People’s Alliance, and Bersih have been “clean and fair elections,” in reality, allegations of fraud began long before the elections even started. This was not because Anwar’s opposition party had evidence of such fraud – instead, this was to implant the idea into people’s minds long before the elections, deeply enough to justify claims of stolen elections no matter how the polls eventually turned out.
At one point during the elections, before ballots were even counted, Anwar Ibrahim declared victory - a move that analysts across the region noted was provocative, dangerous, and incredibly irresponsible. Again, there could not have been any evidence that Anwar won, because ballots had not yet been counted. It was again a move meant to manipulate the public and set the stage for contesting Anwar’s inevitable loss – in the streets with mobs and chaos in typical Western-backed color revolution style.
One must seriously ask themselves, considering Anwar’s foreign backers, those backers’ own stated intentions for Asia, and Anwar’s irresponsible, baseless claims before, during, and after the elections – what is “clean and fair” about any of this?
Anwar Ibrahim is a fraud, an overt proxy of foreign interests. His satellite NGOs, including the insidious Bersih movement openly funded by foreign corporate-financier interests, and the equally insidious polling NGO Merdeka who portrays itself as “independent” despite being funded directly by a foreign government, are likewise frauds – drawing in well-intentioned people through slick marketing, just as cigarette companies do.
And like cigarette companies who sell what is for millions essentially a slow, painful, humiliating death sentence that will leave one broken financially and spiritually before ultimately outright killing them, Anwar’s US-backed opposition is also selling Malaysia a slow, painful, humiliating death. Unfortunately, also like cigarettes, well-intentioned but impressionable people have not gathered all of the facts, and have instead have based their support on only the marketing, gimmicks, slogans, and tricks of a well-oiled, manipulative political machine.
For that folly, Malaysia may pay a heavy price one day – but for Anwar and his opposition party today, they have lost the elections, and the cheap veneer of America’s “democracy promotion” racket is quickly peeling away. For now, America has tripped in mid-pivot toward its hegemonic agenda in Asia, with Malaysia’s ruling government providing a model for other nations in the region to follow, should they be interested in sovereignty and independent progress – no matter how flawed or slow it may be.
Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at
Land Destroyer Report, Alternative Thai News Network and LocalOrg. Read other contributed articles by Tony Cartalucci here.
Petikan berita/gambar dari pelbagai sumber:
- The Star
berita dipetik dari Kosmo:
Lelaki mengamuk ditembak mati
PUTRAJAYA – Seorang pengikut ajaran sesat yang menggelarkan dirinya sebagai Imam Mahdi mati ditembak ketika menceroboh kawasan Kompleks B, Jabatan Perdana Menteri (JPM) di Presint 1 di sini semalam.
Kejadian menggemparkan selama 20 minit yang bermula pukul 2.30 petang itu mengakibatkan Khalil Afandi Abd. Hamid, 47, mati setengah jam kemudian ketika dirawat di Hospital Putrajaya. Dia terkena dua das tembakan di tangan dan bahagian bawah perut.
Rakannya yang turut menceroboh premis itu, Muhdalina Ahmad, 28, cedera apabila terkena tembakan di paha. Ketika itu mereka membawa bersama senjata tajam seperti pedang samurai, keris dan tiga bilah pisau.
Beberapa saksi memberitahu, Khalil Afandi yang pada mulanya memakai jaket berwarna hijau kemudian membukanya dan dalam keadaan tidak berbaju, dia menjerit mahu menggulingkan kerajaan dan bertakbir beberapa kali.
Ia merupakan kejadian pertama penceroboh ditembak mati sejak pusat pentadbiran negara berpindah dari ibu negara ke sini pada 1998 iaitu 14 tahun lalu.
berita dari Utusan:
Polis gagalkan cubaan amuk
Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah, Ibu Pejabat Polis Kontinjen Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Ku Chin Wah berkata, dalam kejadian pukul 2.30 petang itu, kedua-dua suspek berjumpa anggota polis bantuan yang mengawal pintu masuk kompleks itu untuk meminta kebenaran masuk ke pejabat Perdana Menteri.
“Apabila tidak dibenarkan, dengan tiba-tiba lelaki yang mengaku sebagai Imam Mahadi itu mengeluarkan pedang samurai sebelum mengacukan kepada anggota polis bantuan bertugas.
“Kedua-dua mereka terus bergerak sehingga ke kawasan blok B1 sebelum mengamuk dengan memecahkan cermin beberapa kereta yang berdekatan dengan blok itu,” katanya dalam kenyataan yang dikeluarkan di sini hari ini.
Utusan Malaysia difahamkan, lelaki yang tidak berbaju itu dikatakan memberitahu mahu menggulingkan kerajaan dan bertakbir beberapa kali.
Kejadian itu menyebabkan orang ramai dan penjawat awam tidak dapat memasuki bangunan tersebut apabila pintu pagarnya ditutup oleh pihak polis bagi mengelak sebarang kejadian yang tidak diingini.
Serentak itu, Chin Wah berkata, sepasukan anggota Unit Kereta Peronda (MPV) Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Putrajaya dikejarkan ke tempat kejadian.
“Anggota-anggota MPV yang sampai cuba memujuk, tetapi diserang oleh kedua-dua suspek dan mereka kemudian ditembak oleh anggota polis berkenaan.
“Suspek perempuan cedera di paha kanan manakala lelaki pula di bahagian tangan dan ari-ari bahagian kiri,” katanya.
Beliau berkata, kedua-dua suspek ditangkap dan dihantar ke hospital untuk rawatan dan butir-butir suspek serta motif kejadian dalam siasatan.
“Suspek lelaki disahkan meninggal dunia semasa dalam perjalanan ke Hospital Putrajaya,” katanya.
Sementara itu, Ketua Polis Daerah Putrajaya, Asisten Komisioner Abdul Razak Abdul Majid pada sidang akhbar di pejabatnya berkata, berdasarkan maklumat awal, mangsa dikenali sebagai Khalil Afandi Hamid, 47, manakala suspek wanita adalah Muhdalina Ahmad, 28.
Katanya, kedua-dua suspek yang menganggur itu dikatakan mengenali satu sama lain sejak seminggu lalu dan Muhdalina adalah bekas pelajar Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM).
“Kami juga dimaklumkan bahawa lelaki terbabit memiliki seorang anak manakala suspek perempuan mempunyai dua anak,” katanya.
Ketika ditanya adakah kedua-dua suspek mempunyai kaitan dengan jaringan pengganas, beliau berkata, perkara itu masih dalam siasatan polis.
“Begitu juga dengan dakwaan suspek adalah seorang penulis blog yang dikatakan mengutuk pihak berkuasa,” katanya.
Man killed and woman injured after running amok at PM’s Department
PUTRAJAYA: The daily routine at Complex B of the Prime Minister’s Department turned chaotic when a man and woman, seemingly harmless as they approached the entrance, suddenly whipped out samurai swords.
The two damaged cars and attacked policemen before being shot. The man, identified as Khalil Afandi Abd Hamid, 37, later died at the Putrajaya Hospital.
When they showed up at the entrance of the office at 2.30pm yesterday, an auxiliary policeman rushed out to stop them from entering but was instead taken hostage.
“The man held the samurai sword to the policeman’s neck and walked past the security post before releasing him,” said Putrajaya OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Razak Majid.
“The duo then ran amok and smashed the windows of a Hyundai Accent and a Perodua Kancil parked in the open air car park of the complex,” he said, adding that the rampage lasted about five minutes before an anti-crime squad arrived.
ACP Abdul Razak said the two were very aggressive and even attacked members of the squad by smashing the front windscreen of their vehicle.
At the same time, two officers arrived in another vehicle and attempted to apprehend the duo but they, too, were attacked.
“One of the officers then fired three shots, hitting the man in his left arm and groin, while the woman was shot in the thigh.
“The suspects were immediately rushed to the Putrajaya Hospital for treatment but the man died 15 minutes after arrival,” he said.
Witnesses said the suspects, who had arrived in a car, initially looked calm as they walked towards the entrance.
However, as they got closer to the security post, the man started shouting, apparently complaining about the services of a government agency. They suddenly whipped out the swords and started swinging them, causing passers-by to run helter-skelter.
ACP Abdul Razak said they have yet to establish the motive, but suspected the two could be related to a deviationist sect.
Initial investigations showed the pair had only known each other for about a week and added that Khalil’s wife had come to the hospital after being informed of the incident.
“The wife said the man had declared himself as Imam Mahadi’,” he said.
Imam Mahadi is mentioned in several sunnah as the promised messiah who will arrive to reestablish uprightness before the day of judgement.
The husband of the woman also visited her at the hospital.
The female suspect, a 28-year-old mother of two, is being detained for further investigation.
ACP Abdul Razak said police recovered the two samurai swords from the scene.
The complex is located about 100m away from the Perdana Putra Building which houses the Prime Minister’s Office.
Complex B houses, among others, the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu).
news from Bernama:
Man brandishing samurai sword shot dead
PUTRAJAYA: The police shot dead a man who went on a rampage wielding a samurai sword, while accompanied by a woman brandishing a similar sword, outside the Complex B of the Prime Minister’s Department this afternoon.
The Prime Minister’s Office is located in Complex A.
Putrajaya police chief ACP Abdul Razak Abdul Majid said unemployed Khalil Afandi Hamid, 47, died on the way to the Hospital Putrajaya.
He said that in the 2.30pm incident, Khalil Afandi and the 28-year-old woman — a former student of the International Islamic University Malaysia — tried to enter the guardhouse but were prevented by an auxillary policeman.
“At that juncture, the armed man trained the sword at the neck of the policeman before the duo entered the premises and began slashing the windscreen of two cars belonging to employees of the Prime Minister’s Department,” he said in a news conference at the Putrajaya police headquarters here today.
He said a patrol car unit arrived later to try and calm the two suspects but were also set upon by the duo.
“At that juncture, a member of the patrol unit fired three shots which hit Khalil Afandi’s right hand and abdomen while the woman sustained a gunshot wound in the right leg,” he said.
Abdul Razak said while the man died on the way to the hospital, the woman was reported to be in stable condition at the hospital.
Initial investigations revealed that Khalil Afandi, who is survived by a son, had declared himself as ‘Imam Mahadi’, while the woman is a mother of two.
The dead man and the woman, who is also unemployed, were believed to have acquainted with one another, just last week.
On an allegation that they were bloggers, Abdul Razak said it was being investigated.
THE Bersih rallies have quickly established themselves as something of a ritual in Malaysia’s political calendar. The script goes something like this: thousands of protesters declare that they are going to march through Kuala Lumpur to demand electoral reform; a twitchy government and protest leaders spend days haggling over a suitable venue; the protest goes ahead in defiance of police demands; violence ensues, hundreds are arrested; government issues some apologies; everyone goes home. The only significant variant is the political impact. Last year it was huge—this year it will probably be very little.
Bersih means “clean” in Malay, and the Bersih movement is made up of a coalition of NGOs and civil-rights organisations that want the electoral system cleaned up so as to allow all parties a fair chance of winning elections. At the moment many claim that the electoral system is heavily rigged in favour of the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), which has been in power continually ever since the country’s independence from Britain began in 1957. The Bersih rallies have thus become inextricably linked to the cause of the opposition, led by Anwar Ibrahim.
The Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28th certainly attracted more people than last year’s version, perhaps as many as 80,000 (although the police put the figure at about half of that). As there will almost certainly be a general election in the coming months, perhaps the high level of interest wasn’t that surprising. But by comparison last year’s rally, despite a relatively smaller number of protesters, achieved a terrific political impact.
At the time the government of Najib Razak badly mishandled the whole situation. Thousands of riot police were captured by video cameras and smart-phones laying into the unarmed protesters in order to disperse them; water cannon were fired into a hospital and more than 1,600 people were arrested. The use of state violence was a huge embarrassment to the government, confirming in many peoples’ minds the impression that the prime minister was indeed a repressive ogre of Malay nationalism and not the reforming liberal that he had claimed.
Stung by widespread criticism in the international press, Mr Najib’s government was forced to apologise for much of its behaviour. Subsequently it repealed a slew of outdated and repressive laws to win back its reforming credentials. A parliamentary committee was also set up to look into proposals for electoral reform. In all, a clear victory to Bersih.
This year it was more of a score-draw. Certainly, towards the end of the rally there was another eruption of violence, and the police were once again seen deploying water cannon and tear gas against the demonstrators. They arrested more than 400 of them. Once again there were reports of police brutality, and once again the prime minister had some quick explaining to do. This time Mr Najib felt obliged to apologise personally to a local reporter who had been beaten up by the police (he was one of several). Once again, these ugly scenes do little to bolster Mr Najib’s claims to be a different kind of reform-minded leader.
However, this year there were problems on the Bersih side too. Some protesters attacked and overturned a police car and it seems that about 20 police officers were wounded. This, of course, played into the government’s hands, allowing Mr Najib to claim that “The police were victims. They became targets and were beaten.” The leader of Bersih, Ambiga Sreenevasan, conceded that some people will think that “the rally had gone wrong” because of the unruly behaviour of a few protesters. The violence may even tarnish the broader movement for democratic reform, a bit. And Mr Anwar had some explaining of his own to do. He was caught on video near one of the police barricades talking to one of his colleagues; critics allege that he was inciting supporters to push aside the barriers. Mr Anwar himself says this is nonsense.
Either way, it is clear that Bersih won’t be able to dominate the moral high ground—at least not on the score of one weekend’s theatrics—as they did last year. The campaign for electoral reform goes on, but Mr Najib emerges from this year’s fracas with his reformist credentials essentially intact, not much worse for the wear.
After my little brother, Ahmad Ali posted his blog posts on Bersih 3.0, he had received a number of comments from Bersih supporters disagreeing with him. But of course, that is expected since not everyone sees eye to eye with each other on everything. We all have our own opinions, and we are free to voice it out as long as we say it politely and willing to respect the opinions of others too. The comments are nicely written, explaining in detail why they do not agree with him. They are being polite and assertive; as how it should be in a healthy discussion. I find it interesting to how he answered them and that among others helps him to think beyond his age.
On the other hand, my little sister received two shocking comments from a reader of her blog. What my sister did was simply stating her point of view on this whole affair but as the result, she was labelled as a ‘typical BN’ and was insulted further by the accusation that she was paid by the Barisan Nasional(BN). The question now is what happened to the ‘freedom of speech’ the Bersih 3.0 demonstrators were fighting for? They wanted the press freedom in the mainstream media (meaning the freedom of speech) but the very person who went to the street fighting for freedom of speech insulted my sister just because of her different opinion. If they believe that ‘freedom of speech’ is only about agreeing with what they think is right, then they are what they claimed how the BN government is.
I used to have very high respects for the oppositions leaders and supported the first Bersih but the current events changed my mind. Now I do not understand what Bersih and the oppositions are really fighting for. And what happened during and after Bersih 3.0, including the attitudes of the Bersih 3.0′s demonstrators makes me even wonder what their true intentions are. Clean and free election and press freedom? I was sad to read an article in one of the main alternative media entitled, ‘Kereta polis meluru laju, langgar peserta BERSIH’, which twisted the incident while everyone (who cares to find the truth) can clearly see that the man (as shown in the picture of the article) jumped up onto the car to attack the car and he was not hit by the car as reported. Since that article was from a media which was regarded as unbiased and ‘clean’ by Bersih and the oppositions; their supporters just swallowed the story and refuse to watch various videos on YouTube (maybe claiming those videos has been edited by BN) to see how the accident really happened. Even a demonstrator who was near the Dataran Merdeka during the incident would says that, “I was there” hence I know what really happened- even though the accident happened in front of Sogo. If this is an example of press freedom that they are fighting for, then they are just as bad as how they claimed BN to be. Please listen to Micheal Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’, first look at our faults and changed before telling others to do so. As my little brother wrote in his post, Bersih 3.0 Violence – The End Justifies The Means? two wrongs don’t make a right.
On my previous post I had included a video of Mr. Benji Lim’s outburst in the middle of a press conference. It is clear that he was trying to voice out his opinion that the Bersih 3.0 demonstration had been ‘hijacked’ by the oppositions who turned it into a political event and endangered the lives of the demonstrators. What happened to him after the outburst? He had been forced out of the press conference by two men clearly against his will for his last words were, “I am a citizen too”. Again, what had happened to the ‘freedom of speech’ that they are fighting for? And I wonder what will they say if the same incident happens during the prime minister’s press conference?
Freedom of speech means that everybody is free to say what ever they want to say; hence we cannot dictate others to say what we want them to say. So it seems like the ‘press freedom’ that Bersih is fighting for is nothing about the freedom of speech but it is all about reporting what ever they wish, no matter if it is a white lie as long as it is them who lie. Thus, I think that a complete freedom (in all aspect of our life) would only result in anarchy and chaos. There need to be rules to guide us, so that we’ll always be on the right path. Of course, the person who commented on my sister’s blog may claim that it is her right to accuse and insult anyone. And soon smokers would be demanding to smoke in the ‘non-smoking’ areas. And someone may say that this article must be written by another ‘typical BN’
The writer, Aiman Amani says: I am 17 and among my hobbies are sketching, writing, collecting stamps, coins, bank notes, stickers and seashells. And my blog is where I write about myself, things that goes on around me or things that I wish to share with everyone
I received two comments for my post, ‘Bersih 3.0… A peaceful demonstration?’ saying:
were you there AA … why are you lying about things you did not see….everything was peaceful until police started gassing people…peaceful marchers….you are typical BN …just put your side of pictures on the media…LIARS..I was there. The police were the thugs.”
“Tell us why a police car ran into the crowd …a boy has been warded because of this….how dare you twist the story…how much did they pay you?”
Please read: ‘We would have stayed peaceful if they haven’t sprayed us-Bersih 3.0 supporters.’ I wrote the above post to answer the above comments with video showing what happened before and after the incident.
Those comments really caught my attention. I am not a Barisan Nasional (BN) member; infact I am not even a BN’s supporter (after what happened, nor am I a Pakatan Rakyat’s supporter, either). I did not write the article (or any other articles) on BN’s instruction. I am just writing my point of view about the demonstration as a peace loving citizen of Malaysia. So, why should BN pay me? It is sad that there are people who sacrificed their time, comfort and safety to join a street demonstration to fight for a clean and free election when they actually do not understand what is freedom of speech. Now it makes me wonder, what exactly are the demonstrators demonstrating for?
The police were the thugs???
I also want a clean and fair election, even though I am not eligible to vote at 14 years old. Bersih is free to fight for a good cause but my complain is, why must they held a street demonstrations and disobey the law? And after looking at how the crowd provoked the police on the night before the event, I asked myself if all the demonstrators really wanted Bersih 3.0 rally to be peaceful?Please read: ‘Bersih 3.0:In Videos-Police Brutality/Video Keganasan Polis?’
I was accused as a ‘typical BN’. So, for some of the Bersih 3.0 violent street rally demonstrators, those who do not agree with them are the ‘typical BN’ or paid by BN. And anyone who is sensible enough not to support the violant acts done by the demonstrators are BN supporters? Even my little brother understands that, ‘matlamat tidak akan menghalalkan cara’, Please read his blog post: Bersih 3.0 Violence – The End Justifies The Means? Odd… I thought that they are demonstrating for a fair and clean election and not for ‘Anti-Barisan Nasional’. Or are BN’s member right when they claim that Bersih 3.0 is actually the oppossitions’ rally?
Now, what did those plants do to justify their conditions after the event? Are they supporting BN or did they help BN and SPR to cheat in the past elections? Or maybe they are PDRM’s agents who provoked the demonstrators that started the riot; I wonder….
A fair and clean election means no cheating during the elections. If they claim that BN cheated in the pasts elections, so why did the opposition party that was accused to cheat in their own party elections by their own members and ex-leaders was also leading the rally? If the PR leads the country, can we be sure that all the elections are clean and free? But for some Bersih demonstrators, no other political party cheats but BN; so those who were not satisfied were paid by BN…….
So what exactly is Bersih 3.0 demonstration was all about? A fight for a clean and fair election… or was it an ‘Anti-Barisan Nasional’ demonstration?
The writer, Aeshah Adlina, 14, says: I was born on the 6th of November. I have 4 siblings. I am the second in my family. I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am currently home-schooling. My favourite colours are pink, lavender and celeste. My hobbies are writing stories, reading books, and collecting stamps. I like to eat chili con carne very much.
Bersih 3.0 was promised to be a peaceful rally but things turned ugly when the protesters went violent, broke the rules and even acted brutally towards the police. As the dust began to settle, a new question sparked, who is to be blamed?
The protesters blamed the police for the the unrest caused. They claimed that the police violent act of spraying water and shooting tear gas to the crowd sparked anger among them thus caused them to retaliate with force. But according to several videos posted on the internet, the police only shot after the protesters broke the barricades. Isn’t it what the police should have done, control the crowd and keep them from getting out of control? Surely the PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) do not want to be blame if things got really out of control like what happened in London between 6th to 10th August 2011.
Let us look back at what the DAP vice-chairman Senator Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim had mentioned in a news conference before the rally took place, by not using the locations offered by the police, the leaders of the rally were “encouraging the people to break the law” – The Star Online (DAP vice-chairman against rally (Update)) 26th April 2012.
Or is there any possibility that the violence is actually intended? The leaders of the rally claimed that they condemn the act of the protesters who broke the barriers blocking the road to Dataran Merdeka. But did they mean it? The opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had been caught on video communicating with PKR deputy president, Azmin Ali and another man (who some had claimed to recognise him as a PKR Seremban member) using hand gestures just before the man pushed the metal gate blocking the road. Does this suggest that the two PKR leaders instigated the crowd to go against the police? Please watch the video below:
Even if (as the both PKR leaders claimed) they didn’t instigated the breach, why couldn’t Anwar, as the leader, use the megaphone to call back his people? Why wasn’t there any such effort made? And why did he left the scene at that critical moment? If he knew the police would act violently, why didn’t he step down and protect his people? Why did he let his supporters down and let them walked into danger by themselves? No wonder Mr. Benji Lim expressed his anger during the PKR press conference yesterday.
Had they really wanted to organise a peaceful assembly, why couldn’t they agree with the police and settle for a stadium? In a stadium, it is much easier to control a large crowd and there is a less chances of starting violence within the assembly. With the crowd being led away from public roads and private buildings, tourists would not be scared off and this would not disrupt the sales of the shops around the city area as well; thus causing less unrest and possible damage caused. Why are they insisting on using the Dataran Medeka when the police rejects their request for their own safety? Or do they has hidden plans as been said, debated and discussed around the social media.
As a free citizen of a peaceful, democratic country, I wouldn’t want my country to be ruled by unruly mobs who would in the end cause insecurity as what happened in Egypt, Libya and several more during the Arab Spring.
The writer, Aiman Amani says: I am 17 and among my hobbies are sketching, writing, collecting stamps, coins, bank notes, stickers and seashells. And my blog is where I write about myself, things that goes on around me or things that I wish to share with everyone
Pelajar Malaysia tajaan MARA, Asyraf Haziq, diserang dan dirompak di Barking, London. Dia keluar untuk membeli juadah berbuka puasa.
Beliau kini dirawat di Royal London Hospital untuk pembedahan rahang.
Rakyat Malaysia mengiringi doa untuk beliau dan keselamatan rakyat Malaysia yang lain.
MARA-Sponsored Student Injured In London Riots
BANGI, Aug 9 (Bernama) — A MARA-sponsored accountancy student was injured during riots in North London Monday.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, however, said the Selangor-born student, Asyraf Hazlan, in his 20s, only sustained jaw injury and was currently being treated at the Royal London Hospital.
“The student was not involved in the riots, but was attacked by a group of rioters when trying to get out of a subway train. He was heading to North London to break fast with a friend when the incident occurred.
“He was also beaten and robbed but was later taken to hospital where he would probably undergo a minor surgery,” he told reporters after breaking fast with the ministry’s staff at the Institute for Rural Advancement (Infra) here Tuesday.
Mohd Shafie said Asyraf’s family had also been informed about the incident.
The minister said MARA had also taken precautionary measures to relocate its students from the high-risk areas to Leicester Square to ensure their safety.
In 1998, aged 17, my son John Walker Lindh travelled to Yemen to study Islam and learn Arabic. In April 2001 he went to Afghanistan. Then 9/11 happened. He was captured by US troops, tortured, and jailed for 20 years, an innocent victim of America’s ‘war on terror’.
Frank Lindh - The Observer, Sunday 10 July 2011
John Phillip Walker Lindh, my son, was raised a Roman Catholic, but con he was 16 years old. He has an older brother and a younger sister. John is scholarly and devout, devoted to his family, and blessed with a powerful intellect, a curious mind, and a wry sense of humour.
Labelled by the American government as “Detainee 001″ in the “war on terror”, John occupies a prison cell in Terre Haute, Indiana. He has been a prisoner of the American government since 1 December 2001, less than three months after the terror attacks of 9/11.
John is entirely innocent of any involvement in the terror attacks, or any allegiance to terrorism. That is not disputed by the American government. Indeed, all accusations of terrorism against John were dropped by the government in a plea bargain, which in turn was approved by the US district court in which the case was brought.
Despite its proud history as a stable constitutional democracy, the US has, for 10 years, been affected by post-traumatic shock, following the horrific events of 11 September 2001. I can find no other explanation for the barbaric mistreatment and continued detention of a gentle young man like John Lindh.
John is blessed with a calm and curious nature. As a child, he was more sceptical than our other two children about such things as Santa Claus. When he was 12 years old, he saw the film Malcolm X, and was moved by its depiction of the pilgrims in Mecca. He began to explore Islam and, four years later, decided to convert.
What attracted John to Islam, I think, was the simplicity of its beliefs, and the authenticity of its source documents – the Qur’an and Hadith. It appealed to his intellect as well as his heart. To me and to John’s mother, his conversion was a positive development and certainly not a source of worry. I once told him I felt he had always been a Muslim, and only needed to find Islam in order to discover this in himself. He remained the loving son and brother he had always been. There was never a breach of any kind between us.
John had always been a good student, but his study habits improved after his conversion. He immersed himself in Islamic literature, and quickly came to the conclusion that he needed to learn Arabic in order to continue his studies.
In 1998, at the age of 17, John left home in California and travelled to Sana’a, the ancient capital of Yemen, where he embarked on a rigorous course of study. He was determined not only to become fluent in Arabic, but also to pursue an education in the old traditions of Islam. He returned home briefly in 1999, and then returned to Yemen in February 2000, just before his 19th birthday. John’s mother and I supported him, emotionally and financially. He remained in close contact with us and with his sister and brother while overseas.
In September 2000, John told me he intended to continue his studies in Pakistan, focusing on Arabic grammar and Qur’an memorisation. I wrote back: “I trust your judgment and hope you have a wonderful adventure.” He arrived in Pakistan in November 2000 and enrolled in a Qur’an memorisation programme in a madrasa.
John’s letters home showed passionate enthusiasm for both Yemen and Pakistan. He loved the cultures he discovered in both countries. He was a Muslim in a Muslim world.
In late April 2001, John wrote to me and his mother, saying he planned to go into the mountains to escape the oppressive summer heat. We had no further contact from him for seven months. Unbeknown to us, he crossed the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, with the intent of volunteering for service in the Afghan army under the control of the Taliban government.
John’s mother and I grew increasingly worried as the summer passed. John had warned us that there might be gaps in his contact with us, as there were no internet cafes in the mountains of Pakistan from which to send emails. But we did not anticipate such a complete lapse in correspondence from him. We also never guessed he was in Afghanistan rather than Pakistan. John’s mother, especially, was frantic with worry as the months passed with no word from him.
At that time, the Taliban governed most of Afghanistan, and were engaged in a long-running civil war against a Russian-backed insurgency known euphemistically as the Northern Alliance. John was quickly accepted as a volunteer soldier, and received two months of infantry training in a Taliban military camp before being dispatched to the front lines.
Rohan Gunaratna, an international terrorism expert and author of the book Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror, conducted a lengthy interview with John, and prepared a written report for the American court to which John was brought for trial. Gunaratna is an expert consultant to the US government itself on terrorism matters. “Those who, like Mr Lindh, merely fought the Northern Alliance,” he wrote, “cannot be deemed terrorists. Their motivation was to serve and to protect suffering Muslims in Afghanistan, not to kill civilians.”
John described his motivation in similar terms. “I felt,” he later explained to the court, “that I had an obligation to assist what I perceived to be an Islamic liberation movement against the warlords who were occupying several provinces in northern Afghanistan. I had learned from books, articles and individuals with first-hand experience of numerous atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance against civilians. I had heard reports of massacres, child rape, torture and castration.”
To the western world, and to me as John’s father after I learned where he had been, this was misplaced idealism. John’s decision to volunteer for the army of Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban was rash, and failed to take into account the Taliban’s mistreatment of its own citizens. But his assessment of the Northern Alliance warlords was neither exaggerated nor inaccurate. The brutal human rights violations committed by the Northern Alliance were thoroughly documented in the US department of state’s annual human rights reports throughout the 90s. They did indeed include massacres, rape (of both women and children), torture and castration.
John’s impulse was to help. In doing so, he was responding not only to his own conscience, but to a central tenet of the Islamic faith, which calls upon able-bodied young men to defend innocent Muslim civilians from attack, through military service if necessary. This is not “terrorism” at all, but precisely its opposite.
From the time of the Soviet invasion in 1979, tens of thousands of young Muslim men from all over the world had volunteered, as John did, for military service in Afghanistan. It was comparable to the influx of young volunteer soldiers in support of the republic of Spain during the Spanish civil war.
These young soldiers performed heroically in the defeat of the Soviet Union. Their cause was openly supported by the American government itself, particularly during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, who took office two weeks before John’s birth in early 1981.
In March 1982, President Reagan declared: “Every country and every people has a stake in the Afghan resistance, for the freedom fighters of Afghanistan are defending principles of independence and freedom that form the basis of global security and stability.” In March 1983, he cited “the Afghan freedom fighters” as “an example to all the world of the invincibility of the ideals we in this country hold most dear, the ideals of freedom and independence”. In a March 1985 speech, he said: “They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help… They are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French resistance. We cannot turn away from them.”
Given the history of US involvement in Afghanistan, it would seem absurd to suggest that John Lindh was being disloyal to America when he went into Afghanistan in 2001 and joined the army there. If the march of history could be arrested in the spring or summer of 2001, John’s odyssey might be regarded as quixotic and unusual for a young American, but not in the least bit sinister, and certainly not criminal in nature. In fact, John’s concern about the suffering of people in Afghanistan was shared by his own government. On 21 July 2000, for example, the US department of state issued a “fact sheet” that reported that the US was “the largest single donor of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people”.
The US also provided substantial economic assistance directly to the Taliban government. In May 2001, for example, the American government under President George W Bush announced a grant of $43m to the Taliban government for opium eradication. Secretary of State Colin Powell personally announced the grant himself in a press release and pledged: “We will continue to look for ways to provide more assistance to the Afghans.” The New York Times called this “a first, cautious step toward reducing the isolation of the Taliban” by the new Bush administration.
This is not to suggest the US was entirely friendly with the Taliban. In 1999, President Clinton placed the Taliban government under economic sanctions as a consequence of its human rights violations, particularly against women. But there were no hostilities between the US and the Taliban, and by 2001 relations were improving.
In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell describes a nightmarish world of perpetual war, in which two massive nations, Oceania and Eastasia, are aligned against a third nation state known as Eurasia. The alliance between Oceania and Eastasia ends, and Eastasia then begins fighting alongside Eurasia against Oceania. In what Orwell famously called “doublethink”, the population of Oceania then is taught to believe “we have always been at war with Eastasia”.
Something eerily similar happened in the US after 9/11. Thirty years of American policy abruptly changed and America swung to the opposite side. The Taliban became our enemy. “They have always been our enemy” is what people in America came to believe.
In October 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan and aligned itself with the Northern Alliance in order to oust the Taliban government. Colin Powell’s April press release was quietly removed from the state department’s website.
In early September 2001, days before the 9/11 attacks, John arrived at his military post in the province of Takhar in the far north-eastern corner of Afghanistan, near the border of Tajikistan. This was the frontline in the civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. John was issued with a rifle and two hand grenades – standard issue for an infantry soldier. He performed sentry duty and did some cooking for the Taliban troops. He never used his weapons. He served with a number of other foreign volunteer soldiers. They were called Ansar, an Arabic term meaning “helpers”.
The training camp in Afghanistan where the Ansar received their infantry training was funded by Osama bin Laden, who also visited the camp on a regular basis. He was regarded by the volunteer soldiers as a hero in the struggle against the Soviet Union. These soldiers did not suspect Bin Laden’s involvement in planning the 9/11 attacks, which were carried out in secret. John himself sat through speeches by Bin Laden in the camp on two occasions, and actually met Bin Laden on the second such occasion. John has said he found him unimpressive.
After 9/11, America’s intelligence agencies came under intense scrutiny for their failure to anticipate and prevent the attacks, and their apparent inability to track down Osama bin Laden. It is a curious fact of history that John Lindh, an idealistic 20-year-old Californian, suspecting nothing of bin Laden’s connections to terrorism, was able without difficulty to meet this notorious figure in the summer of 2001. Why American intelligence agents were unable to do so remains unexplained. John himself did not believe he was encountering a terrorist. John knew only that bin Laden had been generous in funding the military camp, and he was able to discern that Bin Laden was not a legitimate scholar or leader in the traditions of Islam.
The American invasion of Afghanistan commenced in October 2001. Few American troops were deployed in the northern reaches of Afghanistan. The Americans relied on Northern Alliance forces as their proxy, combined with aerial bombing, to displace the Taliban forces.
The front between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in Takhar where John was stationed quickly dissolved after the bombing commenced. Taliban troops fled in panicked retreat to Kunduz. They marched without stop for two days, covering a distance of 50 miles of harsh, desert terrain. The conditions were hellish. The Northern Alliance troops killed all stragglers who fell behind, often castrating them before killing them.
The soldiers at Kunduz who wished to surrender faced a terrible dilemma. For years it had been the practice of the Northern Alliance to torture and murder prisoners of war. These crimes were legendary and well known to both the Taliban soldiers and the US government.
John’s lawyers later obtained from the American government an unclassified cable sent from the US embassy in Kunduz on 20 November 2001, to Colin Powell and the joint chiefs of staff. The cable was labelled “priority”. It bore the subject line: “Kunduz representatives appeal for a bombing halt during surrender negotiations.” It said that, according to local authorities in Kunduz, Taliban soldiers trapped in Kunduz “wanted to surrender to someone who would not kill them”. This was described as a “sticking point” in the surrender negotiations. The Taliban, according to the cable, had “proposed surrendering to the US or the UN”. The cable confirmed that the American authorities had informed their counterparts in Kunduz that “neither was a realistic option and suggested that they seek the [Red Cross's] involvement if they had not done so already”.
On 21 November 2001, the regional Taliban military leader, Mullah Fazel Mazloom, entered into face-to-face surrender negotiations with General Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance. The pact was destined not to end well. Dostum was a notorious figure who had served as an officer in the Soviet occupation government. Troops under Dostum’s command were believed responsible for the mass execution of an alleged 2,000 Taliban prisoners captured near Mazar-i-Sharif in 1997. The New Yorker magazine has referred to Dostum as “perhaps Afghanistan’s most notorious warlord”, a man who is “viewed by most human rights organisations as among the worst war criminals in the country”.
Nonetheless, a bargain was reached in which Dostum demanded and received a large cash payment, then agreed to grant approximately 400 disarmed Taliban soldiers safe passage through Dostum-controlled territory to the city of Herat. John, in haggard condition after the march through Takhar, was among those 400 troops.
The Taliban soldiers had no sooner laid down their arms when Dostum breached the agreement. Instead of the safe passage they had been promised, the soldiers were loaded into trucks and diverted to the ancient Qala-i-Jangi fortress on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif. As the prisoners were being unloaded in the courtyard, John heard a loud explosion when one of the prisoners detonated a grenade that he had concealed. Two of Dostum’s men were killed in the blast.
Dostum’s soldiers quickly regained control, but they were infuriated. The prisoners were crowded into the basement of a sturdy, pink Soviet-built classroom building adjacent to a horse pasture. The “pink building”, as it became known, was at the centre of the events that unfolded over the next seven days. It was dark in the basement rooms into which the 400 men were crowded. To retaliate for the earlier attack, Dostum’s men dropped a grenade down an air duct that wounded or killed several prisoners, narrowly missing John, who spent the night crouched in a corner unable to sleep.
The next morning, Sunday 25 November, was sunny and warm at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress. Video footage shows a seemingly calm scene as the prisoners, with arms tied behind backs, are led out of the basement and made to kneel in rows in the horse pasture beside the pink building. The main sound on the film is the chirping of hundreds of birds. Dostum’s men were rough. Some prisoners were kicked and beaten with sticks. John was hit in the back of the head and nearly knocked unconscious. Nonetheless, he hoped they would be released for the agreed upon journey to Herat.
Although there were no US or British troops at the fortress that morning, two American intelligence agents were present, dressed in civilian clothes. They circulated among the prisoners, occasionally giving instructions to Dostum’s guards. One of them, Dave Tyson, was dressed in a long Afghan shirt and carried a large gun and a video camera. The other, Johnny “Mike” Spann, a former marine, was dressed in a black shirt and jeans. He was also armed. As they moved among the prisoners, they singled out captives for interrogation. They never identified themselves as American agents, and so they appeared to John and the other prisoners to be mercenaries working directly for General Dostum.
John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.
In the video, John sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality.
“Irish? Ireland?” Spann asks.
John remains silent.
“Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you’re willing to be killed here?”
Still no reply.
Tyson to Spann [for John's benefit]: “The problem is, he’s got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We’re just going to leave him, and he’s going to [expletive] sit in prison the rest of his [expletive] short life. It’s his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.”
I think it was apparent that Spann and Tyson were American agents, but because they were in the company of Dostum’s forces, unaccompanied by American troops, it clearly was not safe for John to talk to them. They meant business when they said John might be killed by Dostum, and that the Red Cross could only “help so many guys”. John was in extreme peril at that moment, and he knew it.
John was then returned to the main body of prisoners, while others were still being brought out of the basement and forced to kneel in the horse pasture. Then, suddenly, there was an explosion at the entrance to the basement, shouts were heard, and two prisoners grabbed the guards’ weapons. According to Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s account: “It was then… that Spann ‘did a Rambo’. As the remaining guards ran away, Spann flung himself to the ground and began raking the courtyard and its prisoners with automatic fire. Five or six prisoners jumped on him, and he disappeared beneath a heap of bodies.”
Spann’s body was later recovered by US special forces troops. He was the first American to die in combat in the American–Afghan war. He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.
As soon as the uprising began, the Northern Alliance guards turned their weapons on the 400 bound prisoners, killing or severely wounding scores of them. Some prisoners tried to stand and run; they were gunned down. It was a slaughter. John tried to run, but he was shot in the right thigh and fell to the ground. For the next 12 hours he lay motionless, pretending to be dead.
There were two groups of Taliban prisoners in the fortress: those who chose to fight and those who hunkered down in the basement of the pink building and tried to survive. John was in the latter group. The prisoners who fought put up a fierce resistance, looting buildings for weapons and ammunition, firing from windows, rooftops, and ditches. Using a satellite phone, Dave Tyson, who had just seen his colleague killed, telephoned the US embassy in Tashkent, shouting: “We have lost control. Send in helicopters and troops.” US air controllers stationed outside the fortress walls called in air strikes, which struck with devastating impact inside the fortress.
More air raids were staged the next day, Monday, when a massive 2,000lb bomb was dropped. It missed its intended target, the pink building, and hit Dostum’s soldiers. This “friendly fire” incident brought an end to the air strikes. For John and the other Taliban soldiers holed up in the basement of the pink building, the percussive effect of the bomb shook them to their bones and left them trembling.
By Wednesday, the last of the resisting Taliban fighters had been killed, and Dostum’s soldiers were once again in full control of the fortress. Luke Harding was allowed into the compound along with some other journalists, and he found a horrific scene: “We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale… It was hard to take it all in. The dead and various parts of the dead… turned up wherever you looked: in thickets of willows and poplars; in waterlogged ditches; in storage rooms piled with ammunition boxes.” Harding observed that many of the Taliban prisoners had died with their hands tied behind their backs.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Dostum’s troops engaged in a sustained effort to kill the Taliban survivors who remained in the basement of the pink building, which they were afraid to enter themselves. More grenades were dropped down the air ducts and RPGs were fired directly into the basement. John received shrapnel wounds in his shoulder, back, ankle and calf, in addition to the bullet still lodged in his thigh. At one point, fuel was poured down the air ducts and a fire was ignited in which some fuel-drenched prisoners were burned to death. John, choking on the black smoke, lost consciousness. He awoke with the taste of gasoline in his mouth and loud explosions in the hall, as more rockets and grenades ricocheted through the basement.
On Friday, Dostum’s troops tried yet another tactic. They flooded the basement with cold water. Unable to stand on his own, John braced himself on a stick and a fellow soldier for the next 24 hours to avoid drowning in the waist-deep water, which was full of blood and waste. The next morning no one inside the fortress thought it possible that anyone was still alive in the pink building, but 86 of the prisoners had managed to survive the week-long ordeal. One of them was John Lindh.
On Saturday 1 December, the Red Cross arrived at the fortress and the survivors, who for several days had been trying to surrender, were finally allowed to exit the basement. When they emerged into the bright sunlight, they encountered a confusing horde of journalists, Red Cross workers, Dostum’s soldiers, and British and American troops.
That evening John and the other survivors were taken to a prison hospital in Sheberghan. Although wet and cold from the flooding of the basement, they were transported in open bed trucks in the frigid night air. At Sheberghan, John was carried on a stretcher and set down in a small room with approximately 15 other prisoners. CNN correspondent Robert Pelton came in accompanied by a US special forces soldier and a cameraman. Despite John’s protests, Pelton persisted in filming John and asking questions as an American medical officer administered morphine intravenously. By the time he departed a short time later, Pelton had captured on videotape an interview in which John said that his “heart had become attached” to the Taliban, that every Muslim aspired to become a shahid, or martyr, and that he had attended a training camp funded by Osama bin Laden.
The CNN interview became a sensation in the US. By mid-December, virtually every newspaper in America was running front-page stories about the American Taliban, and the broadcast media were saturated with features and commentary about John. Here was a “traitor” who had “fought against America” and aligned himself with the 11 September terrorists. Newsweek magazine published an issue with John’s photograph on the cover, under the caption “American Taliban”.
Beginning in early December, President Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, members of the cabinet and other officials then embarked on a series of truly extraordinary public statements about John, referring to him repeatedly as an “al-Qaida fighter”, a terrorist and a traitor. I think it fair to say there has never been a case quite like this in the history of the US, in which officials at the highest levels of the government made such prejudicial statements about an individual citizen who had not yet been charged with any crime.
I will offer only a small sample of these statements. In an interview at the White House on 21 December 2001, President Bush said John was “the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured”. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, told reporters at a press briefing that John had been “captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands”. Colin Powell, secretary of state, said John had “brought shame upon his family”. Rudy Giuliani, New York mayor, remarked: “I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.”
John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, staged two televised press conferences in which he accused John of attacking the US. “Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” he declared.
A federal judge took the unusual step of writing to the New York Timescriticising the attorney general for violating “Justice Department guidelines on the release of information related to criminal proceedings that are intended to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced when such an announcement is made”.
Even the ultra-conservative National Review thought Ashcroft had gone too far in making such prejudicial comments about a pending prosecution. It criticised the comments as “inappropriate” and “gratuitous”, stating that in the future “it would be better for the attorney general simply to announce the facts of the indictments, and to avoid extra comments which might unintentionally imperil successful prosecutions”.
I am a lawyer, trained in the law, with more than 25 years of experience. Never have I seen or read about a case in which a person accused of a crime was so conspicuously deprived of what we call “the presumption of innocence”. On the contrary, my son was presumed guilty, not only by government officials but by the entire mainstream journalism and media establishment in America. It was – and still is – widely reported in America that John Lindh is a “terrorist” who fought against the US.
Our lives back home were completely upturned by the sudden and pervasive notoriety of John’s case. We found ourselves dodging television cameras and reporters. In the first couple of days after John’s capture, I appeared on several news programmes in an effort to explain who John was and to ask for mercy. My sense of privacy and anonymity were at least temporarily destroyed.
All of us in John’s family also were wracked with anxiety about John’s own physical and emotional wellbeing. We had no source of information about John from within the government itself. They were holding our son incommunicado, even as President Bush and other officials made repeated statements about him. Anything we were able to learn about John came from the news media, not from the government.
Happily, our neighbours, friends, co-workers and even strangers in California were uniformly warm and supportive towards me, John’s mother and our other children. One Sunday, on my way to church, a friendly stranger stopped his car and shouted to me: “How’s John?”
Another enormous source of comfort to us came from James Brosnahan, a distinguished and courageous trial lawyer in San Francisco who agreed to represent John. On 3 December, Brosnahan took up his case, and from that day forward we had a valiant defender in him and the other lawyers who worked on the defence team. It felt as if a protective shield had been constructed around John and all of us in the family.
Once John was in the custody of the US military, the US government had to decide what to do with him. The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist. They were simply ignored by their government, which made no attempt to interfere with their travel. But the 9/11 attacks changed everything, and it was the timing of John’s capture that contributed to his fate. It soon became apparent to me that, rather than simply repatriate my wounded son, the government was intent on prosecuting him as a “terrorist”.
In the days and weeks that followed, John endured abuse from the US military that exceeded the bounds of what any civilised nation should tolerate, even in time of war. Donald Rumsfeld directly ordered the military to “take the gloves off” in questioning John.
On 7 December, wounded and still suffering from the effects of the trauma at Qala-i-Jangi, John was flown to Camp Rhino, a US marine base approximately 70 miles south of Kandahar. There he was taunted and threatened, stripped of his clothing, and bound naked to a stretcher with duct tape wrapped around his chest, arms, and ankles. Even before he got to Camp Rhino, John’s wrists and ankles were bound with plastic restraints that caused severe pain and left permanent scars – sure proof of torture. Still blindfolded, he was locked in an unheated metal shipping container that sat on the desert floor. He shivered uncontrollably in the bitter cold. Soldiers outside pounded on the sides, threatening to kill him.After two days in these circumstances, John was removed from the shipping container and taken into a building at Camp Rhino. When his blindfold was removed, John found himself in front of a man who identified himself as an FBI agent and then read from an advice-of-rights form. When the agent reached the part that concerned right to counsel, he said: “Of course, there are no lawyers here.” John was not told his mother and I had retained an attorney for him who was ready and willing to travel to Afghanistan. Worried that he would be returned to the shipping container if he did not sign the form, John signed the waiver.
A lengthy interrogation followed, after which US military personnel put John back in the metal shipping container, although this time his leg restraints were loosened and he was no longer bound by duct tape or blindfolded. On 14 December, he was placed on board the USS Peleliu, where navy physicians observed that he was suffering from dehydration, hypothermia, and frostbite, and that he could not walk. On 15 December, the bullet was finally removed from his leg in a surgical procedure – more than two weeks after he had been transferred to the custody of the US military. The doctor who removed the bullet later told John’s lawyers there had been little or no healing of the wound, which he attributed to malnutrition and cold.
In June 2002, Newsweek obtained copies of internal email messages from the justice department’s ethics office commenting on the Lindh case as the events were unfolding in December 2001. The office specifically warned in advance against the interrogation tactics the FBI used at Camp Rhino, and concluded that the interrogation of John without his lawyer present would be unlawful and unethical. This advice was ignored by the FBI agent who conducted the interrogation.
Interestingly, in an 10 December email, one of the justice department ethics lawyers noted: “At present, we have no knowledge that he did anything other than join the Taliban.”
The government brought 10 counts against John in its overblown indictment. “If convicted of these charges,” attorney general Ashcroft boasted, “Walker Lindh could receive multiple life sentences, six additional 10-year sentences, plus 30 years.” The most serious count was a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the death of Mike Spann. The charge was groundless: the prisoner uprising at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress had been spontaneous and John was also a victim, not a participant.
John arrived back in the US on 23 January 2002 in chains aboard a military plane that landed at Washington Dulles International airport. The government selected Dulles so they could bring charges against John in northern Virginia, near the Pentagon (one of the 9/11 targets), where hostility against John was assured. He was flown by helicopter to the Alexandria City Jail. John’s mother and I tried to visit him that night, along with the lawyers we had retained for him, but we were turned away. We finally were able to see our son the next morning in a holding cell on the first floor of the US courthouse. His lawyers met him only briefly before his first appearance in the court that morning.
The case of United States of America v John Philip Walker Lindh was set for trial before Judge T S Ellis III. On 24 January, the judge announced he was setting a trial date for late August. We were horrified, as this would ensure that John would be on trial on the first anniversary of 9/11. It would be hard to conceive of a more prejudicial circumstance for a criminal defendant, especially in the wake of the intemperate statements attorney general Ashcroft had made in his two press conferences.
John’s lawyers filed a motion to “suppress” the statements that had been extracted him under duress at Camp Rhino. A hearing was scheduled in July 2001, which would have included testimony by John and others about the brutality he had suffered at the hands of US soldiers. On the eve of the hearing, the government prosecutors approached John’s attorneys and negotiated a plea agreement. It was apparent they did not want evidence of John’s torture to be introduced in court.
In the plea agreement John acknowledged that by serving as a soldier in Afghanistan he had violated the anti-Taliban economic sanctions imposed by President Clinton and extended by President Bush. This was, as John’s lawyer pointed out, a “regulatory infraction”. John also agreed to a “weapons charge”, which was used to enhance his prison sentence. In particular, he acknowledged that he had carried a rifle and two grenades while serving as a soldier in the Taliban army. All of the other counts in the indictment were dropped by the government, including the terrorism charges the attorney general had so strongly emphasised and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Mike Spann.
At the insistence of defence secretary Rumsfeld, the plea agreement also included a clause in which John relinquished his claims of torture.
The punishment in the plea agreement was by any measure harsh: 20 years of imprisonment, commencing on 1 December 2001, the day John came into the hands of US forces in Afghanistan. The prosecutors told John’s attorneys that the White House insisted on the lengthy sentence, and that they could not negotiate downward.
On 4 October 2002, the judge approved the plea agreement as “just and reasonable” and sentenced John to prison. Before the sentence was pronounced, John was allowed to read a prepared statement, which provided a moment of intense drama in the crowded courtroom. He spoke with strong emotion. He explained why he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban in their fight with the Northern Alliance, saying it arose from his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people who had been subjected to atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance. He explained that when he went to Afghanistan he “saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets”.
John strongly condemned terrorism. “I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression.” He had acted, he said, out of a sense of religious duty and he condemned terrorism as being “completely against Islam”. He said: “I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”
After a brief recess, the judge granted a request by John Spann, the father of Mike Spann, to address the court and express his dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. He began by saying that he, his family, and many other people believed that John had played a role in the killing of Mike Spann. Judge Ellis interrupted and said: “Let me be clear about that. The government has no evidence of that.” Spann responded: “I understand.” The judge politely explained that the “suspicions, the inferences you draw from the facts are not enough to warrant a jury conviction”. He said that Mike Spann had died a hero, and that among the things he died for was the principle that “we don’t convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Osama bin Laden is dead. John Lindh, now 30 years old, remains in prison. He spends most of his time pursuing his study of the Qur’an and Islamic scholarship. He also reads widely in a variety of nonfiction subjects, especially history and politics. He remains a devout Muslim.
As a father, I am grateful that John survived his ordeal, and I am pleased that he maintains his good-natured disposition. I am especially proud of the dignity he displayed throughout his ordeal overseas and in court.
Other than his lawyers, the only visitors John has been permitted during all his years in prison are those of us in his immediate family. We treasure these visits. We are not allowed any sort of physical contact with John, and are kept separated from him by a glass partition. We must speak via telephones, and everything we say is monitored and recorded by a government agent who sits in an adjoining room. Despite these constraints, our conversations are free-flowing and punctuated with humour.
A commentator at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University called this “a petty prosecution” that was “unworthy of a great country”. But it was more than petty, in my view; it was brutally inhumane.
My hope and prayer is that at some point rational, fair-minded officials in the American government will see the wisdom in releasing John from prison, rather than making him serve the entire 20-year sentence. His continued incarceration serves no good purpose. Releasing John from prison would help restore America’s image in the world, and particularly among Muslim people, as a humane country committed to the rule of law.
The author has donated the fee for this article to charity.