Geek Mythology

November 23, 2008

Frontline Pakistan

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 6:27 pm

I have just read an interesting book by the Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain. This is a very relevant book if one wants to understand the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. When Barack Obama enters office in January next year Pakistan and Afghanistan will be a major issues for him to deal with when it comes to foreign policy. When I was in Berlin in July and heard Obama speak he was really selling his idea of moving the war to Afghanistan and creating a troop surge there. The US war in Afghanistan is closely linked with Pakistan and therefore I think its important to look deeper into what has been happening inside of Pakistan. Obama has said that he will not hesitate to enter into Pakistan should American intelligence tell him that they have spotted targets there. But once you start to analyze the situation within Pakistan you start to realize exactlly how problematic this situation could become for the new president.

The book begins by speaking about the Reagan administrations foreign policy and how obbsessed it was with erradicting the percieved communist threat. When Russia invaded Afghanistan in december of 1979 America became determined to give them their own version of the Vietnam war on the Afghan battlefields. Soon a plan was drawn up to pour in millions of dollars into the conflict by covertly funding the Mujaheddin fighters who took up the battle against the Soviets. The CIA ran this operation by channeling the money and weapons through Pakistan. Pakistan became the launching pad for this anti-communist war. The Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI, distributed the American millions to different jihadist groups who where functioning within Afghanistan. But many of these recruits where drawn from the Pakistani population as well. Some where taken directly out of the madrasas (religious learning centers) that are run inside of the country.

The author of the book writes “Pakistani madrasas were once considered centers for basic religious learning, mostly attached to local mosques. The more formal ones where used for educating clergy. The development of simple, sparse religious schools into training centers for Kalashnikov toting religious warriors was directly linked with the rise of militant Islam. Many of the religious parties operating the madrasas turned to militancy courtesy of the US-sponsored jihad in Afghanistan. ”

So the USA both directly and indirectly promoted militancy, and the culture of jihad. There where “special textbooks published in Dari and Pashto by the University of Nebraska -Omaha and funded by USAID, with an aim to promote jihadist values and military training. Millions of such books where distributed at Afghan refugee camps and Pakistani madrasas, where students learnt basic math by counting dead russians and Kalashnikov rifles. The same textbooks would later be used by the Taliban in their madrasas”. A fourth-grade mathematics text noted that “If a Russian is at a distance of 3,200 meters from a Mujahid, and that Mujahid aims at the Russian’s head, calculate how many seconds it will take for the bullet to strike the Russian in the forehead?”. Many of these more radicalized madrasas would rally behind Bin Ladin and the anti American cause he represented.

This set the trend that would lead to a collaboration between the Pakistani intelligence agency and the jihadi warriors. This alliance continued after the Russians where ousted from the country and had to admit defeat. Later, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and enjoyed the continuing support of the ISI and even the American government. After the 9/11 attacks all this would change. The former president of Pakistan, the general Musharraf, recieved a phone call from George Bush asking him if they where with the Americans or against them in the new war on terror. Musharraf agreed and this would come to mean that his government would have to perform an about face in their alliance with the Talibans in Afghanistan. Their former allies who they had been supporting since the early 80s now over night, where supposed to be their arch enemies. This ofcourse created huge problems since a large part of Pakistanis intelligence agency was still collaborating and had deep connections with many of the Taliban. Musharaf had to now tone down the previously fostered militancy and religious extremism. But according to the author the madrassas in Pakistan are harbouring fighters in the war against the Americans in Afghanistan and also creating new ones. Another reason for the growth of this movement is that Musharraf has supported the religious right to counter the liberal opposition, thereby secular democratic influences have been marginalized.

When America invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks thousands of Al Qaeda fighters fled from the US bombardment in the Tora Bora mountains and crossed into the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan by bribing local Afghan warlords. Once they had crossed over the border they cold easily melt in among the sympathetic locals.The US didnt have enough troops to cover the borders and many of these troops where not acclimatized to the altitudes that they where fighting in. Some ISI officers in Pakistan arranged for safe passage for the foreign fighters to enter the country, while the Pakistani army attacked and killed some of the fighters trying to cross over. Others where caught by local warlords and sold for hefty prices to the CIA. Many of these captured Al Qaeda fighters would later end up in Guantanamo bay. In these areas there was a strong anti American sentiment and a strong pro Bin Ladin one. There was also an increasing hostility among the local Pakistanis against the Americans that made tracking down the Al Qaeda fugitives at the outset very difficult. Once across the border many of these Al Qaeda men recieved help in leaving the country while some remained in Pakistan hidden in the busy city centers.

The ISI set up an anti terrorist branch together with the FBI and the CIA. By being supplied with lots of new and modern surveilance equipment and large monetary funds it became easier to capture Al Qaeda members hiding out in the Pakistani cities. Musharraf had great success in capturing several high level Al Qaeda operatives in the country which seriously wounded the network. But there was a backlash to these successes. Thousands of Islamic guerillas, who had been trained by the ISI and where now fighting in Kashmir would become frustrated with Musharrafs new anti terror policies and become willing recruits to join in new cells. Musharraf faced a major problem when it came down to capturing Bin Ladin. If he did this then he would recieve massive respect and back up from America but he would on the other hand suffer a huge backlash within his own country since many people living there saw Bin ladin as a hero.

In 2004 there where 7000 Pakistani troops combing the lawless tribal regions looking for Bin ladin and other Al Qaeda fugitives. This area, Waziristan, was known as Pakistans “wild west”, and was the most likely place where he could be hiding out. This same area had been used by the CIA and the ISI during the 1980s as a base for covert operations against the Russians. Therefore this area was by no means new for the old fighters who at one time had been funded by the US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.The local tribesmen where very reluctant to let the military or the Americans into their territories and this tension finally escalated into a undeclared war. Its interesting to note that NO FOREIGN INVADERS, be it Alexander the great, Genghis Khan or the British empire has been able to control Waziristan. The area has served as a buffer between two empires since the elventh centrúry. This area is perfect for guerilla warfare, since it contains many small mountain forts left behind by the British colonists. The men who live in these areas are “born fighters” learning to shoot at very early ages. Smuggling, drug trafficking and gun running is common. The Pakistani suffered great opposition from these tribal warriors, and they took major losses. Soon the area became a full on battle ground between those tribes supporting the Pakistani army and those who went against it. This would in turn set in motion a long string of revenge killings of all those who had cooperated with the Pakistani army. These militants have now established rigid Islamic rule in the Waziristan region.

November 21, 2008

The Looming Tower

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 3:00 pm

This is a short summary of the pulitzer prize winning book “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright. It is an excellent account of the events that led up to the 9/11 attacks. Read the book in its entierty if you have the time. I can especially recommend this book to all “Loose Change” and “Zeitgeist” conspiracy theorists who are out on that wild goose chase claiming that the US had something to do with the planning of these attacks. Check your facts:

Afghanistan has often been called the empires graveyard because several empires have met their doom there. The British did in the 1800s, and the Russians followed the same fate when they invaded the country in 1979. When Osama Bin ladin orchestrated the two bombings of American embassies in Africa in Nairobi and Dar El Salam in 1998 his intention was to draw America into the quagmire that is Afghanistan. They were also meant to serve as a distraction while the major 9/11 attacks where being prepared. The first stage in the American reprisals was when America bombed the factory in Khartoum that they claimed was manufacturing chemical weapons.This factory later showed to be producing regular and veterinary medicine. Sudan therby lost one of its major producers of medicine. The Clinton administration also fired six cruise missiles towards jihadi training camps in Aghanistan. What these operations really suceeded in doing was to paint Bin Ladin as the great freedom fighter. On the streets of Kenya and Tanzania you could see children wearing Bin ladin tshirts, even though these countries had been hit hard by his organisation.

The Taliban leader Mullah Omar was now forced to ask himself wether to let Bin Ladin stay in his country or not. Being allied with America this was a difficult choice. But eventually he would choose to let him stay in Afghanistan. The Saudis, who also supported the Taliban tried to have Bin Ladin extradited but Mullah Omar would not comply. The next hit would be the attack on the USS Cole. An American battleship stationed in Jemen. This proved to be a huge success for Bin Ladin causing there to be a massive upswing in recruits and cash donations to the Jihadi training camps in Afghanistan. But the American revenge did not come to Afghanistan as he had planned. Therefore it was necessary to orchestrate an even bigger attack. Due to an ongoing conflict between the CIA and the FBI much of the relevant information concerning the identities of the future plane hijackers would go unoticed by those who needed them most.

By the time the bombers of the African embassies where put on trial in America all 19 of the 9/11 operatives where living in America and planning their mission. There was an awareness that something big was about to happend within the major intelligence organisations in America (something on the scale of Hiroshima). But due to the lack of cooperation within the different agencies the perpetrators could not be traced. The agent Kenneth Williams even sent an email in july to his FBI bosses saying that Bin Ladin might send his protgees into the country to train at pilot schools for some kind of organized attack. His advice was to make a list of all suspect individuals in the countries flying academies. A decision was made within the agency that it would be too time consuming and costly to review all the 30000 individuals that this list contained.

The attack finally happend on the morning of the 11th of september 2001. Almost 3000 Americans lost their lives in the building, many of them having to have to jump to escape the burning flames. the fires burned for over 100 days. From all over America caravans of people came to the scene to aid in the cleaning of the area and helped to search for survivors. Among the dead where citizens from over 62 nations and representatives of all the worlds different religions and ethnic groups. By the 6th of october American and British airforce planes would be bombing taliban positions in Afghanistan. Most of the Al Qaida warriors had fled the training camps and moved on to positions within the Tora Bora mountain range. There they fought against hostile Afghani troops and where repeatedly bombed by American B 52s. They successfully killed about 18 of Al Qaidas top leaders and about 100 of their troops. But Bin Ladin had managed to escape across the border into Pakistan which was seen as a huge failure for the American administration.

In March 2002 Operation Anaconda was launched in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan with troops from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Norway combing the mountains looking for the perpetrators. They are still looking.

November 17, 2008

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 10:19 am

November 16, 2008

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 11:21 pm

November 15, 2008

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 11:39 am

Tonite Valeria and I are giving a talk for the students of Beckmans college of design. We will be talking about art and the consumer culture and showing films from our performances and foto documentation of our installations. After our talk there will also be a question and answer session. Its an open talk so if you want to check it out then come down to Knast tonite at Upplandsgatan 7 at 6 oclock. Peace….

November 10, 2008

“I love that line!!!”

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 10:15 am

Wow I love youtube. Now that I have posted the John Carpenter documentary I have to share another powerfull film with you. As I said in the early 80s when I was growing up in New York there was quite an explosion in the horror genre. It became very popular amongst teenagers with slasher flicks like Halloween and Friday the thirteenth. The main actor in the Halloween films was Doctor Samuel Loomis played by Donald Plesance. The psychiatrist who was chasing the slasher Michael Myers. He would later become such an iconic figure that he would be cast to narrarate the classic horror documentary “Terror in the aisles”. This movie is basically just a huge collage of random great clips from all of the greatest horror movies of all time with Plesance and Nancy Allen guiding the viewer through the material, speaking about the psychological mechanisms behind the attraction and repulsion of horror films.

This film came out in the mid 80s and I remember going to see it on Central Avenue with my brother and these two Swedish kids, Johan and Anders Börjesson who where brothers who we used to hang out with and play Dungeons and Dragons. We would also love to watch scary movies on friday and saturday nights. It was when we saw this film that one of the kids, Johan, burst out “I love that line!!” at the top of his voice when the clip is played from Carpenters “The Thing” of the runaway head and the one guy slowly says in total shock and disbelief “…you gotta be fucking kidding me…”. This was extra funny because the movie itself focuses alot on the horror movie audience and its reactions to whats happening on the screen. So everyone in the theater when we where watching it was really going nuts, screaming, cheering and yelling at the screen. Its an interesting film, giving more of an entertaining analysis of why we are drawn to horror and fear. Im posting the first two parts of the film here, but I really recommend that you look at all the the parts on youtube, I think that there are around 24 parts in total.

Okokok I just have to share the part of the film where Johan screamed “I love that line!!!”, hehe:

November 9, 2008

Bant Magazine

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 10:39 am

This is a six page spread that I got with my art in the Turkish music and art magazine BANT:

November 8, 2008

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 5:50 pm

This is a documentary about one of my favorite moviemakers John Carpenter. When I grew up in New York in the early 80s my parents had gotten cabel and I would stay up late at nite watching his movies like Halloween 1 and 2, Escape from New York and The Thing. Later he made other classics like They Live and Prince of Darkness. There was something in the anti authoritarian style of his movies that really got to me. A hero who was often a loner who had to battle against a corrupt government or a rampaging serial killer. Always on the edge of my seat the music(which he composed himself), the costumes and the set designs have had a profound effect on me and inspired me immensly! So watch this documentary to get a glimpse of a genius at work!

Hehe

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 2:36 pm

November 7, 2008

New interview

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 11:31 am

I have been interviewed by the Swedish magazine “Kyrkporten”. Its a magazine published by the Swedish Church and the article came out on All saints day at the end of october. I am interviewed together with author and professor Antoon Geels who has written several good books on Religion and psychology.Here is one of his books:

http://www.amazon.com/Mysticism-Psychological-Perspectives-Jacob-Belzen/dp/9042011254/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226048905&sr=8-1

Author Peter Halldorf is also interviewed. I speak about the life of one of my big sources of inspiration archbishop Oscar Romero of El salvador who was gunned down while saying mass in 1980. He was one of the main representatives of liberation theology and was a “voice of the voiceless”, and for this he paid the highest price.

Check out the article here, its on pages 17 to 19 in the online version of the magazine,

http://www.svenskakyrkansollentuna.com/upload/3690/KP%205%202008_web.pdf

Bishop Romero was assassinated by a right wing group headed by Roberto Dáubisson, who was trained at the American “School of the Americas” and was the founder of an extreme right wing party in El salvador called Arena. He helped organize together with the American government the deathsquads that terrorized El salvador during the Reagan terror war in the 80s. His nickname was the blowtorch because he used to torture people with one. Wikipedia writes that:

“On 5 December 1984, in Washington, D.C., at the Capitol Hill Club, American conservative lobbyists awarded Major Roberto d’Aubuisson a plaque honouring his continuing efforts for freedom in the face of Communist aggression, which is an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere. The closed-door dinner for 120 people, was given by the National Council for Better Education, and co-sponsored by the Free Congress Foundation; the Conservative Caucus; the Conservative Alliance; Viguerie Co.; Gun Owners of America; Western Goals Endowment Fund; Washington Legal Foundation; United States Defense Committee; American Foreign Policy Council; Public Service Research Council; The Moral Majority; The Washington Times; National Right-to-Work Committee; National Pro-Life Political Action Committee; Intercessors for America; the Young Americans Foundation; Young Americans for Freedom; and Faith Ryan Whittlesey and ex-U.S. ambassadress and Reagan presidential assistant.[11]”

These deathsquad strategies where later implemented in Iraq during the US occupation there, in the so called “Salvador option” with Shia deatsquads brutalizing the Sunni opposition. More can be read about this in the great book Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill. During an interview for Democracy now! John Pace, the Human rights chief for the UN Assistance mission in Iraq said, when asked if there are deathsquads in Iraq:

“I would say yes, there are death squads,” and “my observations would confirm that at least at a certain point last year and in 2005, we saw numerous instances where the behavior of death squads was very similar, uncannily similar to that we had observed in other countries, including El Salvador.”

By the way I am very happy that for now at least the christian right has been defeated. Bush is leaving the white house and Sarah Palin is back in Alaska licking her wounds. But they will work even harder now. They are going to organize themselves, and come back stronger in 2012. These people claim to be christian but they are in love with money and war.

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