British hostage released in #Libya… so why not #ISIS hostages?

British teacher David Bolam, released after ransom paid to kidnappers

British teacher David Bolam, released after ransom paid to kidnappers

The Guardian tells us that David Bolam, a British teacher kidnapped in Libya, has been released. The UK government pointed out that the release was arranged by local factions and that the UK did not pay or facilitate the ransom that was paid. Because the UK government refuses out of principle to negotiate with terrorists and criminals. They prefer to let hostages be murdered, then launch air strikes on targets that lead to further civilian deaths, as has been the case recently with the murder of Alan Henning.

The US government also refuses to make deals with terrorists, as the recent murders of American hostages by ISIS have shown. But it seems the USA’s principles are adaptable. Five senior Taliban members were released from the US prison at Guantanamo in exchange for the US Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who had disappeared from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan on 30 June, 2009.

In August, Bolam’s captors released a video in which Bolam pleaded for Cameron to do something similar to secure his release. Cameron refused, and if someone hadn’t paid for Bolam’s release he might well have been murdered.

It’s difficult to rationalise this situation. The American government refuses to negotiate with terrorists to get its citizens back, but it was willing to release five high-ranking Taliban prisoners in exchange for Sgt Bergdahl. The UK government seems to have similar principles. How can they justify these principles, which have resulted in the murders of several American and British hostages this year? Especially when this principle is negotiable?

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Should NATO stay in Libya until 2012?


Wednesday 26 October, 2011

Now that Libya has been “liberated” from Gadaffi’s regime, the interim government is asking NATO to stay until 2012 to “stop Gaddafi loyalists fleeing” the country. What do I say to this? I say “bollocks”!

NATO’s involvement was highly controversial to begin with. Initially it was just to stop pro-Gadaffi forces from killing civilians. It went on to act as unofficial air force for the rebels, destroying Gadaffi forces who weren’t actually threatening anyone. And now the new regime want us to help stop Gadaffi’s friends escaping. But that job is not a NATO concern – if the interim government want to capture these characters, they should get off their butts and do it themselves. What next – will the ex-rebels want NATO masseuses to help relieve their stress at the end of a a hard day?

And who are the interim government anyway? It looks to me like any Libyan who didn’t like Gadaffi is automatically a “good guy”. Experience in Iraq and Afghanistan should have taught NATO the stupidity of this philosophy.

NATO should never have got involved in the first place. And the idea of NATO boots on the ground is outrageous. Let the Libyans sort out their own problems. We’ve all got enough of our own problems to deal with.

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What ya gonna do about Syria then, NATO?


Western powers, operating under the NATO flag, have involved themselves in the Lybian civil /war, on the grounds that Gadaffi is using his armed forces to terrorise and kill civilians in his own country. This is very laudable and all that; but governments frequently use terror to silence their people.

I could break open the history books to demonstrate how often this has happened without any outside interference. But I don’t need history to show I’m right – cos it’s happening right now. Look, for instance, at Syria. Yesterday (Friday 24 June) up to a thousand civilians have fled across the border to Lebanon after demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime. Troops used tear gas and live ammo to disperse the crowds of demonstrators. It is estimated that 20 people were killed by troops – at least 6 Syrians died in Lebanese hospitals after they were taken across the border. It’s very difficult to get reliable figures from inside Syria. Syrian state-run TV has claimed that the shootings were carried out by “unidentified gunmen”.

So here we have a situation very much like that in Libya – government forces are trying to kill critics and demonstrators. So will US/UK and its NATO allies going to involve themselves in Syria like they have in Libya, carrying out air strikes against government forces? And what about all the other places in the world where governments use terror to silence their critics?

I guess it depends on whether or not there’s oil in the region. Because, believe it or not, that’s why the US/UK “intervened” in Libya – and before that, in Iraq – and, before that, in _______ (insert country of choice). There’s nothing “humanitarian” about the West’s involvement in these places. It’s time to wake up and smell the crude oil.

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No-fly zone over Libya? Who the hell do these people think they are?


With the rebels in Libya taking a good battering, there are calls for the “international community” (ie. the USA and its UK lapdogs) to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, to prevent Gadaffi using his air force to bomb his citizens into submission. The Guardian has an interesting article laying out the arguments for and against taking such action.

I’m not going to reproduce the whole argument here – go check out the Guardian article, it’s a good read. No, I’m going to tell you what I think (this is my blog after all): and I say NO NO-FLY ZONE!

I know some readers will think this is an inhumane stance. The poor little rebels are taking a right pasting, we should help them out, right? Wrong! This is entirely a Libyan issue, and the rest of the world has no business poking its nose in. The rebels chose to take up arms against Gadaffi, conned by recent action in other countries in the region into thinking a revolution would prevail. That was their choice, and they chose wrong. Hell, these people have been living under Gadaffi’s rule for 40 years; they should know the crazy bastard wouldn’t go quietly, just like they should know he has substantial armed forces (armed in large part by the UK and France, 2 of the countries now agitating for “international action) and is perfectly willing to use them.

Anyway, what would a no-fly zone achieve? Gadaffi hasn’t been using his planes that much – it’s his tanks and other ground forces doing most of the damage. On the other hand, US/UK jets would have to take out Libya’s anti-aircraft weaponry, which would involve the possibility of killing Libyan civilians – and that would do Gadaffi’s image a big favour. And what if Libyan fire took out a US/UK plane? I hate to think what that could lead to… remember Iraq anyone?

My point of view is not unusual – the Guardian lists the opponents to the no-fly zone as:

Germany; Turkey; Robert Gates (the US defence secretary who would have to put a no-fly zone into practice); Catherine Ashton (the EU foreign policy chief who told Cameron to “hold your horses”); Russia; China; South Africa; Brazil

That is quite a substantial list, including permanent members of the UN Security Council. We really need to take heed of this. Gadaffi is a nasty piece of work; but there are plenty of other nasty pieces of work ruling countries who are actively supported by the “international community”. I hate it when we say “This evil dictator here needs to be stopped, but that evil dictator over there is a cool guy”. We need to be a little more consistent. And we need to sort out problems a little closer to home (such as our own evil rulers) before we launch yet another imperialist adventure. FFS.

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Yanks upset about Pan Am Flight 103? What about Iran Air Flight 655?


Just recently there’s been a lot of hoo-hah about Pan Am Flight 103 – the US aircraft bombed above Lockerbie. America is upset that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Libyan accused of planting the bomb, has been released from prison on compassionate grounds.

What I’d like to know is, how do the Yanks feel about Iran Air 655, the airliner shot down by the USS Vincennes?

For those who don’t know (or who “can’t remember”), IR655 was shot down by the USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. The air liner was in Iranian airspace at the time… and the Vincennes was in Iranian territorial waters. It was clearly an unacceptable action. Yet the US government tried to justify it by claiming that the aircraft was a hostile target. Even when the USA accepted it was a civilian aircraft, they tried to defend the attack by claiming that Captain William C Rogers thought the plane was an F-14 Tomcat fighter. 274 crew and passengers were killed, including 238 Iranian civilians. The plane was transmitting a friend or foe signal identifying it as an airliner. It was flying in a commercial air corridor. But the Yanks still maintain the attack was somehow justified. The USA defends its right to murder innocent civilians.

So come on, US citizens, tell me this: if it should turn out that the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was in revenge for the destruction of Iran Air 655, would you still bleat about it? Do you condemn the killing of Americans yet defend the USA’s “right” to kill foreign civilians?

BTW: there is compelling evidence that Megrahi did not bomb the Lockerbie aircraft. There is reason to believe that the CIA fabricated the evidence against him. So tell me: the guy is very likely innocent and is dying of cancer; do you still think he should die in prison? Will you hand Captain Rogers over to Iran so he dies in one of their prisons? Or do you think it’s okay for your country to murder innocents?

Four British residents to be freed from Guantanamo Bay… two others will stay locked up


Four British residents are to be freed from Guantanamo Bay, after being held without charge for 5 years.  They are Jamil el-Banna, a father of 5 from London;  Abdenour Samuer, who fled from persecution in Algeria and was given political asylum in the UK;  Omar Deghayes, a 37 year old man who was born in Libya and came to Britain as a child after his father was murdered;  and Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, a Saudi national with a British wife.

Although the men are not British citizens, they have long, established links with the UK.  But until August this year, the government refused them representation.  Then foreign secretary David Miliband responded to growing criticism of the government’s position, and wrote to Condaleezza Rice requesting their release.

They will be returning to Britain, except Shaker Aamer who is going to Saudi Arabia.

Jamil el-Banna, a Jordanian, was on a business trip to Gambia.  MI5 had approached him, asking him to work for them; then, a few days later they told the CIA that Banna’s travelling companion was carrying bomb materials.  This was not true, but the CIA grabbed him and flew him to Guantanamo.

Omar Deghayes had studied law at Wolverhampton University and in Huddersfield.  His family says that he condemns terrorism.  He has been blinded in one eye by a US soldier during his imprisonment.

Another UK resident, Binyam Mohammed al-Habashi from Ethiopia, is to stay in Guantánamo. The Pentagon claims he is particularly dangerous and it is determined that he face one of the military commissions established to prosecute prisoners in the camp.   And another former UK resident, Ahmed Belbacha, has not even been mentioned in the reports.

Amnesty International urgently wants to find out why these 2 men are not being freed after 5 years of being held with no charge.  And David Miliband should do what he can to get them freed.  After all, if they were truly dangerous, wouldn’t they have been tried in court by now?

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