Thursday, August 27, 2009
On May 15, the United States removed Libya from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. It now looks like a bad decision.
The resumption of diplomatic ties with the U.S. should have never occurred as has been evidenced by Moammar Gadhafi’s recent hero’s welcome and support for Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence agent and lone man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 in Lockerbie, Scotland.
If you are supporting terrorists, in my book you are a terrorist. Although Gadhafi has made a concerted effort to scam his way back into the good graces of the international community, his transparent support for the Pan Am 103 bomber is a clear demonstration that he is the same man he was in the 1970s when he established terrorist training camps on Libyan soil, provided terrorist groups with arms, and offered safe haven to terrorists.
He aided Spain's ETA, Italy's Red Brigades, and Palestinian groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Libya was also suspected of attempting to assassinate the leaders of Chad, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).
Gadhafi’s regime was also implicated in the 1989 bombing of a French passenger jet over Niger in which 171 died. In 1986, Libya sponsored the bombing of a Berlin disco popular among U.S. servicemen, killing two U.S. soldiers.
Gadhafi is planning to attend the United Nations General Assembly next month. In doing so, he intends on setting up camp in Englewood, N.J., just across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan.
New Jersey was home to 38 victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing. Allowing him stay here while visiting the U.N. is a disgrace and a slap in the face, not only to those who died from New Jersey, but to all the victims from Flight 103.
At 11 a.m. on Aug. 30, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes will hold a rally in protest of Gadhafi’s expected stay.
Every American should join him to send Gadhafi and others like him a message: Terrorists and sponsors of terror are not wanted in the United States.
Posted by BERNARD B. KERIK at 10:27 PM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In 2005, Germany's high court ordered the release of a Syrian-born Mamoun Darkazani, who was being held in a German prison in connection with the 2003 Madrid bombings. He was also allegedly seen in a 1999 wedding video with two of the 9/11 suicidal attackers, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah.
Spanish authorities investigating al-Qaida, along with 41 other suspects, including Osama bin Laden, indicted Darkazani. He was released because a German federal court thought it would be illegal for him to be extradited against his will.
A notorious Spanish terrorist, Inaki de Juana Chaos, a member of the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna terrorist group, or ETA, was sentenced to 3,000 years in prison for the murder of 25 people in the 1980s.
He was released after 21 years, benefiting from a 1973 law that allowed reductions of sentences for good conduct. His good conduct in prison included making death threats to prison governors. In a letter written after one of the killings, he said of the victims: "Their tears are our smiles, and in the end we will roar with laughter."
In 1985, four armed Palestinian terrorists hijacked the cruise ship, Achille Lauro, killing a defenseless elderly man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, and then dumping his body overboard.
As the hijackers attempted to escape, then-President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. fighter jets to intercept the plane carrying the terrorists. Their plane was forced to land in Signolia, Italy, where they were taken into custody.
They were sentenced to 25 years for kidnapping and murder but later released for good behavior.
European nations as a whole, have committed to fighting global terror and have talked a good game, until it comes to having the backbone and courage to stand strong in the face of threats or political influence.
The recent release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the lone man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland, is just another example of a European nation cowering to terror.
There were 270 victims of that attack, and the person responsible was released, only to receive a hero's welcome in Tripoli, Libya.
This raises two questions: Why was he released? And should we be revisiting our decision to remove Libya from the U.S. State Department’s list of terror sponsoring states?
His sentence alone was totally outrageous! A 27-year sentence equaling 36.5 days in prison for each person he killed. However, it’s far worse since he only served eight years, meaning that he only served 10.8 days per person that he killed.
Were the lives of Susan Cohen and Joanne Hartunian’s daughters or Bert Ammerman’s brother worth no more than 11 days of al-Megrahi’s time?
Scottish officials said that they were bound by Scottish values to release al-Megrahi because he had prostate cancer and was diagnosed to only have months to live.
Were they not bound by Scottish values to ensure that he was held accountable for the murders he committed? If not, that is a disgrace.
One of my all time favorite movies is “Braveheart” – the major motion picture directed by Mel Gibson, which was based on the life of Sir William Wallace, one of Scotland's greatest heroes.
In the late 1200s, Wallace fought passionately for Scotland’s freedom from English rule, and eventually died for his cause. Be it legend, rumor or actuality, Wallace knew more that 800 years ago that you had to fight for freedom and that that fight could never end.
Here we are in 2009 fighting an enemy that despises those very freedoms that Wallace fought for and that we so often take for granted. Be it the U.S. or U.K., Spain, Germany, Italy or Scotland, the enemy today is a global network of those like al-Megrahi who have found joy in the murder of innocent civilians all around the world.
They have no remorse for their actions, nor do they care for those left behind, and if given the opportunity to do it all over again, I promise you they would not hesitate a minute.
al-Megrahi should have remained in prison until his death. It is the least that the Scottish authorities could have done to demonstrate to the world, their determination to fight terrorism.
Releasing him is nothing but a slap in the face to the victims of Pan Am 103 and all those in the war against terror today.
Posted by BERNARD B. KERIK at 10:31 PM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
According to a number of press reports, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, stood among protesters outside a convention center in Arizona where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Aug. 17.
This appears to be the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.
In Arizona and several other states, it happens to be legal for people to purchase and carry these types of weapons without a permit. Gun-rights advocates say they are exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest; others who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.
I happen to be a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and strongly believe in our constitutional right to bear arms. However, I also have had the responsibility of overseeing the protection of several heads of state, including at one of the world’s largest gatherings — the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in September 2000.
I believe that there is no greater responsibility in this country than that of the men and women in our federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations charged with protecting the life of our president.
In order to protect the president, the Secret Service recruits other federal, state, and local agencies to assist them daily. The military supports the Secret Service through the use of explosive ordnance disposal teams and communications resources. When the president travels, an advance team of Secret Service agents works with host city and state law enforcement, as well as public safety officials, to jointly implement the necessary security measures.
Knowing and understanding the threats we face from terrorism alone is reason to ensure that the security arrangements for the president is of the highest standard. In addition to those possible threats, there are reports that the threats against this president are 400 percent higher than that of any other. If the threat and vulnerability assessments are accurate, this president and vice president should have the highest levels of security in the history of the Secret Service whether they like it or not.
There are reports that the vice president has ordered his protective detail be minimized during certain travel. We have also seen President Barack Obama mix it up with a crowd from time to time, and I assure you it was against the wishes of their detail leaders responsible for keeping them safe.
What principals like the president and vice president sometimes do not understand is that they have the responsibility to stay alive, just as the Secret Service has the responsibility to keep them alive.
If they intentionally or unintentionally interfere with or preclude the Secret Service from doing its job, they jeopardize their own lives as well as the lives of those charged with protecting them. Perhaps more importantly, they could jeopardize the stability of our country if something were to happen to them.
Allowing armed protesters to show up where the president is speaking is irresponsible and could cause a catastrophic security nightmare for those charged with protecting him.
It endangers the protective agents, the protesters, the public, and the president. It creates an immediate distraction as each armed protester then becomes a focus of observation for the agents.
Although Arizona and other states may allow the possession of these weapons, who can tell that the person carrying them at the time is not a threat to the president or others? An unidentified man who had a rifle slung over his shoulder told a reporter for the Arizona Republic, that “I still have some freedoms,” and he may be right. But freedom to create alarm and a possible threat to the president is not one of them.
Use some common sense.
That man may have no ill intent and possess his weapon legally, but what if someone not so nice takes it away? Why create scenarios where the protective agents focus is instinctually aimed at the weapon’s carriers? What if there is an accidental discharge by someone who is not that proficient with his or her weapon that creates a stampede or serious distraction?
No responsible gun owner, law enforcement executive, or public official should endorse or allow these armed protests anywhere near the president.
The president and his staff should let the Secret Service do its job, regardless of political correctness, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano should ensure that the president is protected at all cost . . . and if that includes stepping on some protester’s toes, so be it.
I’m all for the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms, but not at the cost of endangering the president. This is a dangerous practice and it must be stopped.
The job of protecting the president is hard enough. . . let’s not make it any harder for the men and women who have to do the job.
Posted by BERNARD B. KERIK at 10:40 PM