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Two sides of the Saudi coin?

Friday, May 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — sunni / salafi hope, shia fear, when the us weighs saudi oil against iranian nukes — what say the sufis? ]
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Context one:

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Context two:

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Having said that, returning to the Saudi visit:

Hayder al-Khoei is less than enthused:

Counter-messaging by violin, cello and cigarette

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — long a chain smoker, painful on the ear when he attempted the violin, never tried the cello ]
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No, I don’t smoke any more, haven’t for more than a decade. But I still think of cigarettes as potential sacraments, as when a soldier in the trenches at the Somme passes one to his dying mate.. sacramentals, to be precise. So I can take pleasure in this conjunction of violin and cigarette in defiance of the Islamic State:

and:

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The potential for grace is more easily seen in music than in smoking, to be sure — Ameen Mokdad with his violin in Mosul surely found it, as did Karim Wasfi with his cello in Baghdad. In these times in which the President scatters bombs around the place with one hand while planning to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts with the other, you might like to visit the Facebook page of Karim Wasfi Center For Creativity – Peace Through Arts, or listen to one or more of these videos..

Karim Wasfi — Interviewed by NPR’s Renne Montagne:

Iraqi cellist Karim Wasfi plays music on bomb explosion site:

Karim Wasfi, cello sonata and lecture at Geneva Centre for Security Policy during Geneva Peace Week 2016:

Iraqi Violinist Ameen Mokdad Plays Concert In Defiance Of ISIS | NBC News:

Ameen Mokdad, Viaggio:

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Music as sacrament is nicely illustrated by John Eliot Gardiner‘s quoting Bach immediately after Sara Mingardo sings O selger Tag! in the DVD of Bach Cantata BWV 63, “Christen, ätzet diesen Tag”:

Wherever there’s devotional music, God with his grace is present.

Recitatives — O selger Tag! is an example — are by definition “musical declamation of the kind usual in the narrative and dialogue parts of opera and oratorio, sung in the rhythm of ordinary speech with many words on the same note”. Arias are the stellar “diva” vocal parts for solo, duet etc, and recitatives the mere handmaidens that carry us from one aria or chorus via narrative to another. How extraordinary, then, the devotion Sara Mingardo‘s musicianship manages to pour into this recitative as performed in rehearsal above!

Love and terror, a two-way street

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — better to fall in love and out of terror ]
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One can perhaps sympathize with the bumbling jihadist Mark Taylor, lonely in Syria and in need of female companionship: no wonder he appeals on an “Islamic marriage” datng site:

I need a righteous practicing Muslim lady who wants to do Hijrah [immigrate] here inshallah

It may be, however, that he’s the one who should be making hijrah away from Syria and jihad..

I say this because Bruce Hoffman‘s Atlantic piece from 2001 shows that love can transform terrorists into a, well, less destructive member of society. When Arafat wanted to de-fang members of Black September, he invited a hundred beautiful young women to a meet-up:

here, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.

I imagine Mark Taylor would face serious prison time if he did indeed return — a far cry from $3,000 and an apartment with gas stove, refrigerator, and television — but hey, conjugal visits? I dunno.

Love may lure some unfortunate women into terrorism — but it can also draw dedicated fighters out of it. It’s a mighty forceful force, is all I’m saying.

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Sources:

  • NZ Herald, Bumbling Kiwi jihadist Mark Taylor who is fighting for Islamic State in Syria
  • The Atlantic, All You Need Is Love
  • Ouroboroi noted in passing

    Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — the poor FBI gets tangled, as does President Trump with his drug of choice ]
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    As if in answer to the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” — itself a succinct ouroboros:

    The FBI closely monitors online communities that discuss ISIS, at times running so many undercover accounts that agents end up investigating one another: An FBI policy guide, obtained and published by The Intercept, notes that online investigations have “previously resulted in resources being wasted by investigating or collecting on FBI online identities,” or employees working undercover.

    That’s from a fascinating long read in The Atlantic: How Two Mississippi College Students Fell in Love and Decided to Join a Terrorist Group. There’s a soo a quote in there, not terribly striking or controversial on its own, but useful to me as an indicator of one general context in which the Talmudic saying used to justify preemptivew strikes can be sued — a saying I’ll be exploring in a future LapidoMedia post — Get up early to kill him first (Ha-Ba le-Horgekha Hashkem le-Horgo, Sanhedrin 72.):

    American1s expect their government to prevent violence before it happens: Their shared national nightmare is the plot that goes undiscovered before an attack or the known sympathizer who gets away. Faced with such high stakes and uncertainty, the FBI is left to teeter between catching people before they act and walking along with them until they violate the law.

    Of minor note also, here’s FBI Director Comey echoing Martin Dempsey on the apocalyptuc nature of ISIS:

    ISIS, said Comey, is “putting out a siren song through their slick propaganda, through social media, that goes like this: ‘Troubled soul, come to the caliphate. You will live a life of glory; these are the apocalyptic end times. You will find a life of meaning here, fighting for our so-called caliphate. And if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are.’”

    Again, nothing particularly new, let alone actionable, here — just another possible footnote for some future writing that I wanted to capture in passing.

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    The FBI’s version of a-Ba le-Horgekha: Rise up early to arrest him first — indeed, there’s an eerie echo of “rise up early” in the Atlantic report’s “but the FBI arrested the pair at the airport early in the morning.”

    This is preeemptive arrest rather than preemptive killing — and again, the concept itself deserves scruitiny: how often does this preemptive approach involve entrapment, with Federal agents leading potential recruits farther down the path of radicalization than they would have traveled without Federal support ad encouragement? A fairly random sample:

    What happened next in Booker’s case illustrates what many experts say is a major shortcoming in how the US government is responding to the threat of Islamic extremism.

    Rather than viewing Booker’s alarming statements as a cry for help from a young man with recognized mental health issues, federal agents sought to build a criminal case against him.

    They introduced an undercover operative who told Booker he’d help him join the Islamic State group, but that Booker would first have to prove his devotion to the cause, according to federal documents.

    A second undercover operative was introduced, this one posing as a religious leader seeking to conduct terror attacks in the US. After months of discussions, Booker volunteered to carry out a suicide truck bomb attack at a Kansas military base. Federal agents helped him produce his own martyrdom video.

    Returning to the Atlantic piece, there’s another option:

    There may have been another path for Jaelyn and Moe. When the government or its partners identify ISIS sympathizers online, especially people without criminal backgrounds like these two, they could intervene and deter crimes from committed. This is the approach that “has risen to the top of the heap of counterterrorism issues domestically right now,” Greenberg said: what’s known in the counterterrorism world as “off-ramps.”

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    Oh, and there’s the human reality that a terrorism case may be a terrorism case, but the world continues to flow all around it:

    The spring after Moe was arrested, his mother, Lisa, died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Then, last December, another member of the Dakhlalla family died: Taqwa, the 2-year-old daughter of Moe’s older brother Abdullah, suffocated in her sleep when a heater malfunctioned in her bedroom. She was just old enough to have met her young uncle before he was arrested.

    A terrorism case in the family offers no especial sanctuary from other forms of suffering.

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    Let’s close with another ouroboros caught in passing, this one from the New Yorker, How Trump Could Get Fired:

    Rarely venturing beyond the White House and Mar-a-Lago, he measures his fortunes through reports from friends, staff, and a feast of television coverage of himself. Media is Trump’s “drug of choice,” Sam Nunberg, an adviser on his campaign, told me recently. “He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. His drug is himself.”

    Ouroboroi — serpents biting their own tails — are inherently noteworthy, as I never tire of saying. To have oneself as one’s drug is a fne example of the genre.

    JM Berger’s latest, 2

    Friday, April 21st, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — rushing to keep up with the prolific JM ]
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    JM Berger sets his latest work in context:

    Extraordinary!


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