The Guardian gives a platform to a 'self-confessed terrorist'; using CiF to defend the killing of US troops
The Guardian has lent its Comment is Free pages to a dangerous man who 'supports the right of Muslims' to kill U.S. troops
The title of this piece is a summary of events that no doubt sensationally portrays what has happened between the Guardian, Tarek Mehanna and Ross Caputi. But this scenario is worthy of serious contemplation for the security services, justice system and for all the individuals involved.
To bring you up to speed, Tarek Mehanna was recently found guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans overseas and of giving material support for terrorism. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. While his lawyers tried to represent him as a modern day Martin Luther King or even more spuriously, Nelson Mandela - a jury of his peers returned the verdict of ‘guilty’, acknowledging his role in criminal conduct.
It is reported that Mehanna travelled to Yemen in December 2004 to seek training at a terrorist camp, after which he planned to go to Iraq and fight against U.S soldiers. The judge in the case stated that he was “concerned about the defendant’s apparent absence of remorse” and when Mehanna was sent down, his family and friends delivered him a standing ovation.
I have my own concern about lack of remorse based on a recent Guardian Comment is Free article written by an Iraq War veteran who, as free as he walks, insists that what he did in Fallujah was ‘terrorism’ and writes openly in the Guardian, “I, too, support the right of Muslims to defend themselves against US troops, even if that means they have to kill them.”
This shocking statement from Ross Caputi is the kind of dangerous nonsense from someone tied up with the Stop The War Coalition, who recently introduced Noam Chomsky at an event and who seems to have become a Guardian poster boy since his article entitled, ‘I am sorry for the role I played in Fallujah’.
Firstly, if Caputi is indeed adamant about his role in ‘terrorism’ then one wonders why he hasn’t marched himself down to the local police station, courtroom or military tribunal demanding the ‘justice’ he so vehemently campaigns for on behalf of convicted terrorists. It seems the Iraq vet thinks he can alleviate this double standard by writing a groveling letter of apology to The Guardian, where he apologises for attacking Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda operatives who he claims were ‘defending their city’. In reality, these groups were attacking as many Iraqi civilians and security forces as they were coalition forces in the city and just to be clear, The Guardian is not, despite what its editors may think, a part of the justice system or somewhere Caputi should be able to alleviate his guilt publicly.
Next, Caputi goes on to write about the murder of his friends in a romantic fashion – glorifying their killers, “How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends?” He classes himself as an ‘invader’ and ‘aggressor’ but makes no mention of the fact that it was al-Qaeda who fought in amongst civilians, oppressing them, using home and mosques and civilian areas as munitions stores. I’m inclined to agree with one of his opening statements where he claims he had no idea what was going on in Fallujah – it appears he still does not.
By no means am I excusing the killing of civilians and the use of depleted uranium or white phosphorus as weapons, by the way. But it is important to keep a level head on these issues and perhaps through no fault of his own and some would argue understandably, Caputi cannot. When reading his work, it is evident to anyone with even a vague sense of the importance of factual evidence and strategic realities that Caputi cannot reconcile the geopolitical and moral imperatives with the memory of the war in his own mind.
He links to the ‘Iraq Body Count’ website which in fact does little to back up his claims that U.S. troops were mainly to blame for civilian deaths. They played a major role for reasons given earlier, as well heavy-fire tactics used during the invasion years – but insurgents and post-invasion criminal violence caused the lions share of civilian deaths. The website, the very same that Tony Blair cites in his recent memoir, states, “Killings by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period”. Yet these are the forces that Caputi supports when he writes, “I’m not afraid to profess my support for Tarek Mehanna, or to advocate for his ideas”.
Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. sentenced Tarek Mehanna to 17 years in prison (less than the 25 called for by the prosecution) and while Ross Caputi’s confused and dangerous rants can be dismissed as the misguided, angry and stress-related consequences of war, it is less apparent why The Guardian should see fit to print such a piece which not only advocates terrorism and supports a convict, but is also factually flawed and fuels incitement to violence against foreign troops abroad.
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