Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, who went to Britain from his native Somalia when he was 11 or 12, was shocked by a Taser gun and arrested by police today in Birmingham, England, for his role in the oddly botched July 21 London bombings.
When Omar was arrested in the Hay Mills area of Birmingham today, police found him with suspicious backpack (rucksack) or a package. A bomb squad reportedly carried out a controlled explosion of the pack.
Omar was taken to the high-security Paddington Green police headquarters in London. After his arrest, three other men were arrested in Washwood Heath, another section of Birmingham.
As seen on TV. Omar was one of at least four men involved in the harmless July 21 detonations, police said, and he was seen on closed circuit TV cameras carrying a backpack. Another July 21 bomb suspect is Muktar Said-Ibrahim, 27, a native of Eritrea.
I have the feeling the bombers in the July 21 incidents "chickened out" at the last moment, but set off the detonators to confuse their fellow conspirators. They abandoned their original murder plan three days after British Muslim clerics declared that such bombings would send Muslims to Hell.
Four suicide bombers set off the separate July 7 attacks, killing more than 50 innocents and sending themselves to a rather ghastly eternity.
The Cubans made a deal with themselves in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell: We won’t try to overthrow the Cuban Communist dictatorship now because it will be so much easier to do when Fidel Castro is dead and the totalitarians have lost the national symbol.
Castro was 65 years old then, and the Cubans figured he probably could not last more than 15 more years. The Cubans already had lost 32 years of freedom. Why risk our lives now, they asked, when Castro could be dead and gone tomorrow?
Well, Castro’s coming close to the 15-year mark. That will be next year. But this year, Cuba’s natives are restless.
Here’s one version of the draft Iraq constitution. Perhaps this is only the Bill of Rights, but what I don’t see is: The structure of government. Is there a president? Is there a legislative assembly? How often will elections be? How would a Supreme Court be chosen? I guess the drafting commission answers those questions elsewhere.
Omar, of Iraq the Model, has posted his translation of key parts of the proposed Iraq constitution.
Omar is disturbed by certain of its provisions, and says he would vote “No” on it in its current form. But it really doesn’t look so bad.
Omar is troubled particularly by the document’s declaration that:
“Islam is the official religion of the state and it is the main source of legislations and it is not allowed to make laws that contradict the fundamental teachings of Islam and its rules (the ones agreed upon by all Muslims)….”
'The main source.’ One of the key phrases here is that Islam is “the main source” of legislation. The fact that it doesn’t say Islam is “the only source” of law gives the democratic government some flexibility.
The constitution also says the government must not make laws that “contradict the fundamental teachings of Islam and its rules (the ones agreed upon by all Muslims).” The key phrases here are “fundamental teachings of Islam,” and rules “agreed upon by all Muslims.” I’m not sure if this part is translated precisely, but I’ll assume it is. If so, the government has wide latitude in lawmaking.
Specific legislation is one thing. “Fundamental teachings” are another. In most cases, it can’t be impossible to fashion reasonable laws to fit into Islam’s fundamentals.
A few rigid rules. All Islamic rules are one thing. Rules “agreed upon by all Muslims” are a relatively small subset of Islamic rules. So again, how difficult could it be to write reasonably enlightened laws that don’t contradict the rules all Muslims agree on?
In the best of secular, democratic worlds, Iraq’s constitution would not declare Iraq an Islamic republic. But as long as the document does not turn over the constitutional interpretation of what is Islamic to unelected Islamic clerics, this system can work democratically.
Democratic Iraqis will be well served by this document as long as the Iraqi people have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, independent courts and, very important, regular free elections to replace representatives whose legislation and policies contradict the fundamental principles of the Iraqi people themselves.
Iran, the poor model. Iran, Iraq’s theocratic neighbor, declares itself an “Islamic republic.” But Iran’s constitution guarantees an Islamic dictatorship. In Iran, the mullahs of the Guardian Council apply their dictatorial interpretation of Islamic law on all Iranians. And the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is appointed for life. Iran elects a president for window dressing, but the Supreme Leader is the real ruler.
Iraq’s proposed constitution looks nothing like Iran’s disastrous document. Iraq is on the path to democracy.
Update: According to Al-Jazeera, words in brackets (presumably the parentheses we see) in the draft constitution are words that face opposition on the drafting committee.
We can blame the police, and we can’t blame them. But a 27-year-old innocent man is dead.
Fifteen days after the deadly July 7 London bombings and a day after the duds, undercover anti-terror police thought Jean Charles de Menezes looked suspicious, wearing a heavy, padded coat in summer.
Fearful he had explosives strapped to his chest, the plainclothes police ran after him and called on him to stop as he ran for the Stockwell Tube station. They finally cornered him in a subway train and shot him seven times in the head. An eighth bullet hit his shoulder.
No terrorist. Menezes, an electrician from Brazil, was no terrorist.
As London Mayor Ken Livingstone said July 22, immediately after the shooting:
"If you are dealing with someone who might be a suicide bomber, if they remain conscious they could trigger plastic explosives or whatever device is on them.
"Therefore overwhelmingly in these circumstances it is going to be a shoot-to-kill policy."
Softened tone. A day later, as it became clear the shooting was a mistake, Livingstone e-mailed his revised remarks but kept his focus on the real culprits:
"The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public. This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility."
It is an unhappy day in Brazil. It is an unhappy thing for everyone. The terrorists are experts at provoking unhappiness.
At 78, Fidel Castro takes a little longer than he used to, to punish Cubans who publicly protest his tyranny, but he still gets around to it.
In May, about 200 Cubans organized a two-day conference in Havana calling for Fidel Castro’s downfall and demanding political freedom.
The conference, called the Assembly to Promote Civil Society, was a first in Castro’s Cuba. The word "libertad" was used repeatedly, and so was the phrase "Abajo Fidel!" Yet no one was hauled off immediately to prison.
Castro said then that his opponents don’t amount to more than a fraction of 1 percent of Cubans. Castro’s paid yes-men called the Cuban democrats "mercenaries in the pay of the U.S.A." But then Castro seemed to change the subject.
I said in May that Castro’s relatively calm response could have been a trap. Now up to 180 other May 20-21 dissidents – and every other Cuban – have to wonder if they’re next for prison within the prison.
Charles Krauthammer says we’re moving in the right direction, but no one should expect the democracies to liberate the world from all its dictatorships at once.
We can’t take on all the totalitarians at once. Sometimes, as we did in World War II, we’ll have to use some dictators to defeat other dictators.
Deals with the devil. Says Krauthammer:
The question of alliances with dictators, of deals with the devil, can be approached openly, forthrightly and without any need for defensiveness. The principle is that we cannot democratize the world overnight and, therefore, if we are sincere about the democratic project, we must proceed sequentially. Nor, out of a false equivalence, need we abandon democratic reformers in these autocracies. On the contrary, we have a duty to support them, even as we have a perfect moral right to distinguish between democrats on the one hand and totalitarians or jihadists on the other.
In the absence of omnipotence, one must deal with the lesser of two evils. That means postponing radically destabilizing actions in places where the support of the current nondemocratic regime is needed against a larger existential threat to the free world. There is no need to apologize for that. In World War II we allied ourselves with Stalin against Hitler. (As Churchill said shortly after the German invasion of the U.S.S.R.: "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.") This was a necessary alliance, and a temporary one: When we were done with Hitler, we turned our attention to Stalin and his successors.
During the subsequent war, the Cold War, we again made alliances with the devil, in the form of a variety of right-wing dictators, in order to fight the greater evil. Here, again, the partnership was necessary and temporary. Our deals with right-wing dictatorships were contingent upon their usefulness and upon the status of the ongoing struggle. Once again we were true to our word. Whenever we could, and particularly as we approached victory in the larger war, we dispensed with those alliances.
Consider two cases of useful but temporary allies against communism: Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. We proved our bona fides in both of these cases when, as Moscow weakened and the existential threat to the free world receded, we worked to bring down both dictators. In 1986, we openly and decisively supported the Aquino revolution that deposed and exiled Marcos, and later in the ’80s we pressed very hard for free elections in Chile that Mr. Pinochet lost, paving the way for the return of democracy.
Alliances with dictatorships were justified in the war against fascism and the Cold War, and they are justified now in the successor existential struggle, the war against Arab/Islamic radicalism. This is not just theory. It has practical implications. For nothing is more practical than the question: After Afghanistan, after Iraq, what?
The answer is, first Lebanon, then Syria.
Freedom grows. The point is, we have to keep expanding freedom, and we have to be realistic. Use a dictator one day, topple him the next, as long as the list of democracies grows.
By the way, I don’t call the liberation of nations "conservative" or "neoconservative," but I understand the mishmash of terms. Liberation is, in its beginnings and ends, liberal.
Nevertheless, I won’t argue with those who want to act on the liberal impulse to free the world. Whatever you call liberalism, it’s a moral and practical imperative.