Monday, November 26, 2007

Fighting Terror Is Not the Same as Fighting Crime

Here's an excerpt from an interesting piece in last Friday’s Detroit News:

Dearborn man accused of providing support to Hezbollah

Paul Egan / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- A Dearborn man who has spent three years behind bars awaiting trial is expected to plead guilty in federal court Dec. 6 to providing support to the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Fawzi Mustapha Assi, 47, was stopped in 1998 while attempting to depart from Detroit Metropolitan Airport with global positioning equipment, night vision goggles and a thermal-imaging camera.

The former Ford Motor Co. engineer was released on an electronic tether soon after his arrest and fled to Lebanon. He returned to the United States and surrendered in 2004.
Assi was the first person indicted under a 1996 anti-terrorism law that made it illegal to knowingly provide money or materials to terrorists. The U.S. State Department designated Hezbollah a terrorist group in 1997.

Those who follow the Detroit-Dearborn are already aware that in most instances of criminal charges or investigations of people suspected of assisting terrorism, the favored beneficiary is almost always Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is very popular amongst the Lebanese Shia population of Dearborn. We have seen Hezbollah's supporters demonstrating openly, and vocally, in support of the Army of Allah. During one demonstration last summer thousands of Dearborn residents loudly declared Hezbollah Big Cheese Sheikh HassanNasrallah to be “Our leader!”

We've also seen a heap of examples of criminal activity intended to benefit Hezbollah, from fraudulent FBI and CIA agents, to marriage fraud, bribes paid to ICE officials, a local resident running around Hemlock Park with an AK-47, tax evasion, flight from prosecution, money laundering, mortgage fraud, and cigarette smuggling.

There are people who believe that the “so-called” war on terror is either completely non-existent, or, at best, exaggerated.

It can’t be a war, they say, because the people attacking us are not nation-states, the way Japan and Germany were in 1941.

Therefore, every act of terrorism can only be investigated and prosecuted as an individual criminal act, without regard to all the connected dots that lead to highly organized, and extremely dangerous terrorist organizations and paramilitary groups, nor to the states behind them, e.g., Afghanistan, Syria, Iran.

This rule about only going to war against nation-states seems awfully arbitrary to me.

In human history, the rise of the nation-state is fairly recent, while warfare goes all the way back. If you’ve got an army, weapons, and a will to make war on someone, then it seems right to me that that someone has a right to make war in self-defense. Whether your defending your tribe, your extended family, your kingdom, your city-state, your right to self-defense should be the same.

By the same token, those who support armies that are sworn to make war on us aren’t merely criminals. They are themselves national enemies, because they have made common cause with our country's enemies. They aren't committing their crimes to get rich, but to assist a foreign army to destroy its foes--whether the foe is our ally, Israel, or us.

Which is why money laundering for Hezbollah, or cheating on your taxes to give the proceeds to Hezbollah, or smuggling cigarettes to earn money for Hezbollah, while they are still only criminal acts, are very similar to treason, or acts of war.

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