Tag Archives: Osama bin Laden

2011 American of the Year: Seal Team 6

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The United States Navy ‘SEAL’ teams are the Navy’s principal special operations force. The ‘SEAL’ acronym stands for Sea, Air, and Land, and each of these factors was on display on May 2nd, 2011.

On that day, the Navy’s “SEAL Team 6”, it’s Special Warfare Development Group, got revenge for America and exorcised a ghost that had haunted the nation for two decades, particularly in orchestrating the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. On that day, they killed Osama bin Laden.
“Operation Neptune Spear” was led by the C.I.A. and included their own agents, U.S. Army Airborne Rangers, and Seal Team 6. Their target was a compound in the Bilal Town section of the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan where intelligence gathered over the previous 9 months had led to the conclusion that Osama bin Laden, the murderous leader of the al Qaeda Islamofascist terrorist group, was living.
The mission was to be a “kill or capture” one in theory, but information developed from the intel had led most to feel that those inside the compound would not allow themselves to simply be captured. The American team was ready for a fire-fight.

In discussions between the President and leadership within the National Security Council, it was decided to leave the Pakistani government in the dark as to the planned raid. There was a complete lack of confidence in their government’s ability to keep such a plan a secret.
Approaching the compound using newly designed helicopters, the SEAL team dropped in and made their attack. They came under fire as they entered the main building, and in the end there were five people killed, including bin Laden and his son. Watching from the White House Situation Room, President Obama said “We got him!”
The identities of SEAL Team members are supposed to remain classified for many reasons, including the potential for retaliation against individual members and their families for actions such as this raid on the bin Laden compound. The President came under scrutiny for releasing some of this information in the aftermath of the attack.
Here we will not concern ourselves with the individuals, and will absolutely respect their necessary anonymity. What we will do is recognize this group and their actions in avenging 9/11 and ridding the world of one of it’s worst-ever terrorists. For their heroic actions in May, we recognize the entirety of the group known as ‘SEAL Team 6’ as the 2011 American of the Year.

9/11: Are we expected to forgive?

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One of the most basic foundations for any person of faith is the notion put forth by 18th century English poet Alexander Pope in that “to err is human, to forgive divine“, and that we should love even our enemies. But how far does that go?

Are the families and friends of those killed in the Islamofascist terror attacks against America on September 11th, 2011 expected to forgive the terrorists who carried out the attacks and those who helped plan it, including people like the now-deceased Osama bin Laden?
Are the families of Holocaust victims to be expected to forgive their Nazi captors and murderers, including Adolf Hitler? The families of Sharon Tate, the Labiancas, and their other victims expected to forgive Charles Manson and his followers? The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman expected to forgive O.J.?
Would the widow of murdered Philly cop Danny Faulkner, Maureen, and his fellow Philadelphia police officers be expected to forgive Mumia Abu-Jamal? Would all of the jPhilly police officers’ families who had their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, parents, friends and co-workers taken from them in recent years, even over the department’s history, be expected to forgive those who murdered or were otherwise responsible for the deaths?
There is an easy answer to what is basically one question: should we be expected to forgive people for the very worst things that they could possibly due to us and our loved ones. That answer is an unequivocal, resounding, empowering “Yes“.
In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew (18:21-22), Peter approaches Jesus and asks him “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?” Peter is asking Christ what are the limits, how much can some one wrong us before it is okay not to forgive. Jesus’ answer: “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven!”
Jesus has just told Peter that there is no limit to forgiveness. A great number and variety of crimes against us, “seven” crimes against us, is not enough for unforgiveness, we need to be prepared to forgive at least as many as “seventy-seven“, some unimaginable number, of crimes against us.
In the Bible’s book of Sirach, 27:30 into 28:1-7 reads as follows:
“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’S vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Should a man nourish anger against his fellows and expect healing from the LORD? Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins? If he who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; of the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.”
Jesus Christ taught: “You have heard that it has been said that you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies: do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that persecute you.”
Remember who we are when considering this question that, for many humans, seems so difficult on it’s face in those worst situations. Remember that we are Christians, called to be like Christ, called to learn from his Word and his example lived. We are called to be more, to be better. We are called to love.
Now, does this mean that we are to be pushovers, stepping stones? Hardly. Remember, we are called to “forgive” and to “love”, but we are never told to forget. On this, the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 on our nation, we are specifically reminding one another not to “Never Forgive!” but instead to “Never Forget”, and this is entirely appropriate.
Grieve your losses and bury your dead. Question your enemies and protect your families, homes, property, neighborhoods, and nations. But you will never, ever heal from any wrong or hurt, any lie or misdeed, any rape or murder or genocide, from any hate unless or until you forgive.
That means to fully forgive in your heart, all the way through. Pray, reflect, read the New Testament, seek spiritual guidance. Do whatever you need to do in order that you can find a way to truly forgive those who have wronged you and yours. Then do the smart thing, never forget. Do not leave yourself or yours: family, community, nation, open to such a crime or hurt again.
To err and lie and mislead is human, unfortunately. To commit crime, rape, murder, genocide is a monsterly abomination inspired by Satan himself. But to forgive, even in the face of those worst atrocities, is divine. It is from God, is taught by Jesus Christ, and is what is expected of His followers in all circumstances. God bless you.

Predictions for 2010

I don’t own a crystal ball, nor do I have any special psychic powers or connections to the Almighty that would grant me privileged insight.

But I do understand a little bit about what is going on in the world, and it’s a challenge to look ahead and try to figure out what a new year may bring.

The following are 10 predictions that I am willing to make for the new year that we just began. Every year brings with it major news developments, exciting sporting accomplishments, political intrigue, public scandals, celebrity gaffes, natural disasters, and other headlines.

We can take a look back at the end of 2010 and see how I faired with these:

1) Israel-Iran War: There is just no way that Israel can allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. If the mullahs are not overthrown and Ahmadinejad kicked out on his apocalpyse-desirous butt within the first few months of the year, Israel cannot wait much longer. It’s a bit of an upset that the Israelis have waited this long. This will be huge.

2) American Congress: The Republican Party will make major inroads in both Houses of Congress in the 2010 mid-term elections. Probably not enough to take over either House, unless of course the Obama administration continues to bury the U.S. in debt and continues to take over private industry. My bet is the Dems up for election will paint themselves moderately enough to salvage a slight Dem majority.

3) Terrorism in the West: There will be a moderate-to-major successful Islamofascist terrorist attack somewhere in either Great Britain or the United States this year. The radical Islamists have sworn to keep coming at us, they continue to make actual attempts, and we keep getting lucky most times. Our luck will run out somewhere, some time.

4) American Financial Debacle: Unemployment will continue to rise, credit will continue to remain tight, the housing market will continue to stagnate. The policies that the Obama administration is utilizing simply do nothing to spur ongoing economic growth. There will be calls for more stimulus, just what we need (sic). At some point in the year the Fed will raise interest rates to stave off inflation, worsening many areas of the economy. The stock market will end the year lower than the final 2009 levels.

5) Natural Disaster: The world has been rocked in recent years by major tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, more so than at any time. Or does it just seem that way because we now have 24-hour news coverage? In any event, the U.S. got away without a major hurricane striking the mainland in 2009. We won’t be as lucky in 2010, and look for at least one other major event elsewhere in the developed world this year.

6) The Sports World: Predicting champions is the longest of long shots, but here goes. The Super Bowl will see the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New England Patriots. How’s that for a homer pick? Want another one? Okay, the Philadelphia Phillies will defeat the New York Yankees in a World Series rematch. The Chicago Black Hawks will win the Stanley Cup by downing the New Jersey Devils. The Cleveland Cavaliers will upend the LA Lakers for the NBA title. Kansas wins the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

7) Olympics Incident: The Winter Olympics are being held in Vancouver next month. The largest sporting event on earth remains the greatest attraction for television, athletes, fans – and terrorists. Watch for some attack or attempted attack at some venue. If Vancouver lucks out, or makes it’s own luck with tremendous security, the real challenge is next. London hosts the 2012 Summer Olympics, and that one should be a real security challenge.

8) Celebrity Deaths: We all know there will be some. The usual suspects this time around include Billy Graham, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Dick Clark, Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kirk Douglas, Betty Ford, Nelson Mandela, Jerry Lewis, Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden and Abe Vigoda, who I personally think may never die. But the real challenge is predicting the younger folks who really shouldn’t go, but who end up in accidents or overdoses or as homicides/suicides. Put me down for a couple on the longshots: Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

9) Science and Sci-Fi: There will continue to be no proof of intelligent life on other planets. No flying saucers or other beings will visit/invade the earth. The H1N1 virus will fade from the headlines amid warnings from the medical community that some major disease will eventually break out among humans that will indeed cause a worldwide crisis, and they will be right – eventually. By the way, your life can already be tracked via things like GPS on your cellphone and via your debit/credit card usage. This will become even more invasive in the coming year.

10) Weight Loss: Okay, here is the biggie. Yours truly will lose weight, a great deal of it, and get in the best shape that I have been in since my police academy days two decades ago. This is the one that I hope actually comes through for me. Well, this and the Republicans making strong Congressional gains. I am starting the effort this coming week. Wish me luck.

So there go ten areas where I am willing to go out on the limb with some general and specific predictions. It will be a great year for some, a terrible year for others, the last year on earth for some, the first year for others.

In short, in the end it will be pretty much like any other year. It’s all ahead of us right now. It will be interesting to take a look back in 11 months or so and reflect on this article with the knowledge of the reality of what actually occurred.

9/11: Not the first attack on America, won’t be the last

“The British are Coming!” “Remember the Alamo!” “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” “9/11”

All of these phrases are now burned by history into the collective American consciousness, automatically bringing us back to times when our nation was under attack right here on our own soil.

However, the first three are actually a bit misleading in that regard. Neither the British attacks in the Revolutionary War, the Mexican attack in Texas, or the Japanese attack in Hawaii happened in an official state of the Union.

In the first, the United States was not a fully formed, world recognized, independent nation, but instead was fighting for some type of independence from the British empire. It shouted a warning among the American colonists that British troops were approaching, and is usually specifically related to the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

It also hearkens us back to a time when British ‘red coats’ were firing on Americans, burning homes and businesses, and marching across the land that we now know as the United States of America.

The battle at the Alamo mission also was not fought on what was then technically United States soil, but was fought between the Republics of Mexico and Texas in the aftermath of the Mexican revolution. It was a decade before Texas would officially become a U.S. state.

The Texan forces fighting for their independence from the Mexican government where vastly outnumbered, yet fought off the Mexican troops valiantly before finally being overrun and massacred. The incident rallied Texans to eventual victory, and ultimately to statehood.

Again, the Japanese sneak attack in Hawaii did not technically take place on an official state in the Union. On December 7th, 1941, Hawaii was an annexed American territory and the site of an extremely strategic naval base located at Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese bombs and kamakazi pilots virtually wiped out the American Pacific Naval fleet that morning, it not only sparked our entry into World War II, but also showed the importance of Hawaii to our interests, resulting in full statehood by 1959.

Most people alive today know full well of the events of 9/11 as they relate to more attacks on American soil, attacks this time on an official state (New York) as well as on the seat of our government (Washington, D.C.), along with a thwarted attack that ended in the loss of American lives in Pennsylvania.

Here in Philadelphia and along much of the American east coast, today is a dark, gloomy day on which the rain pours from the skies. I will refrain from talk of it being tears for the lives of the nearly 3,000 victims lost that day. The only reason that I point out the bleak weather conditions today is to relate how stark the contrast it is with that absolutely gorgeous late summer morning, now eight years ago.

America awoke and began it’s commute to work on that Tuesday morning with little thought of the radical Islamic assault that was fully planned and already operational. Despite repeated threats and actual attacks leading up to that day, most Americans had their heads in the sand regarding men such as Osama bin Laden and groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda. We were virtually untouchable and absolutely indestructible as a nation. All that went away in just a couple of hours.

Despite the magnitude and suddeness of those attacks, the loss of all of those lives, the televised attacks on and collapse of the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, a jet airplane ramming through the core of our national defense at the Pentegon, the grounding of American air traffic for almost a week, and the subsequent wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan we seem to have learned little.

The radical Islamists who attacked us that morning were not representatives of any particular nation. We were not attacked that morning and at other times by Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iran, or Libya, or Egypt, or any single Middle Eastern or Arabic nation or group of nations. We were attacked by radical groups operating within those nations who are inspired by the Koran and their faith to conquer the world on behalf of Islam.

In past wars and battles, whether fought to form the United States as with Britain, to expand the United States as with Mexico, or to defend the United States as with Japan the enemy was usually an easy to define nation-state. It had borders, populations, armies, resources, and allies that were usually easily definable.

To win, you had to defeat the other guys in head-to-head physical combat. There was a measure of ideology that needed to be defeated as well, but ultimately if you won the physical battles and suppressed the enemy troops and their leaders, you were the clear winner.

I put it to you that it is no different now. We still need to win that physical battle. But as with those past conflicts, this is also a war of ideologies, and we must also win on that front to ever have a long-lasting peace. This war must be fought and won on two fronts, both of which we must be willing to support and sustain if we want to win.

On one hand we must support and sustain the ideological war that is raging within Islam itself. There are moderate forces within that religion, the 2nd largest on the planet with an influence over approximately 1.5 billion people, or almost 1 in every 5 people on the planet.

The radical forces calling for that religion to control the world not only religiously, but also sociologically, financially, politically is growing. We must support in every way the forces within Islam that want to maintain it as a part of the whole where the world is concerned, not as a world domination ideology.

On the other hand, we must be willing to back that financial and rhetorical support up with our armed forces. The radical Islamist groups are heavily armed, well equipped, and train regularly.

And their numbers and influence are growing, as is their technology. It is just a matter of time before nuclear weapons are in the hands of radical Islamic terrorist regimes. Once that happens, these groups will use these weapons to further their agenda in Israel, Europe, and here in America. Until such elements are effectively wiped out, we are going to have physical battles to fight.

There will be a number of remembrances across the country and around the world today on the 8th anniversary of those radical Islamic attacks on September 11th, 2001. There will be a few television programs this evening that will recall the events of that day. If you have not yet seen them, I can highly recommend four different films that you need to watch.

9/11” was perhaps the best documentary on the day of the attacks made to date. This and “United 93” are probably the two best films ever made to this point. “World Trade Center” is also a well made dramatic depiction of the New York attacks. Finally, the documentary film “Obsession” tells the full story of the radical Islamic problem across the world today.

9/11 was not the beginning of this world-wide ideological struggle, and we will not likely see the end any time soon, if ever. There will be further dates to remember, catch-phrases to live in infamy.

Today we should remember those who lost their lives that day, as well as those who fought and continue to fight for victory in the continuing ideological struggle against the forces of radical Islam. Those forces are still out there, still bent on that same world domination, and the United States of America continues to stand as the best defense against their aggression.

Islamism Series: Back to Afghanistan

For a land-locked nation that is basically a pile of rock and sand, Afghanistan holds some serious sway in the international community. The reasons are many, but they are sometimes difficult to grasp until you look more closely.

Afghanistan is bordered on the west by an Islamic nuclear-power wannabe ruled by a mad President in Iran, and on the east by the already nuclear-powered and increasingly fractious Pakistan.

There is even a small slice of northeastern Afghanistan that borders up against a Communist behemoth known as China. Along its northern borders lie a trio of former Soviet states in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Its land-locked status means that it has virtually no natural water supplies. There are no seas against which it borders, no rivers running through it, no lakes in which water has gathered. In short, there is very little of the life-sustaining, not to mention economy-sustaining water that is necessary for a country and people to survive, let alone thrive.

The median age is less than 18 years, which might make you wonder where are all the adults? Many of them are simply dead, as the average life expectancy is only a little over 44 years.

Because of the poor economic conditions there is a high risk of infectious diseases and wide-scale problems with other illnesses such as malaria, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, and ‘bird flu’ influenza strains.

So why does everyone care so much about a country that is so desolate and so inhospitable? Simply because of its strategic location as a ‘buffer zone’.

Afghanistan was founded in 1747 when Ahmad Durrani was able to organized the native Pashtun tribes into one people. For a long time it served as a buffer between the Russian and the British empires before gaining independence from Britain in 1919.

In the 1970’s, the Soviets propped up a Communist government there, and then directly invaded the country in 1979 to put down rebellions from various native Afghan tribes and groups. This led to a decade-long war in which the rebels emerged victorious thanks to aid from the international community, most notably the United States (see the film ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’.)

In the aftermath of the Soviet-Afghan war there was continual civil war in the country, with the Taliban finally emerging with control in the mid-1990’s. The population is 99% Muslim, and the Taliban demanded observance of a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. They also allowed the use of Afghan territories by Osama bin Laden and his radical Islamic followers, which al Qaeda used to operate terrorist training camps.

Following 9/11, the U.S.-led coalition invaded, destroyed the terrorist camps, and drove the Taliban from power. This began a process of attempting to install a democratic government and elected leadership, which ultimately led to the current democratically-elected government of Hamid Karzai (pictured). Many felt that the U.S. lost focus from this important rebuilding program when it switched gears and invaded Iraq.

With the Afghan situation appearing under control, President Bush redeployed many American forces to topple the regime of dictator Sadaam Hussein in Iraq. As noble as removing the evil Hussein from power may have been, it did allow the Taliban to begin slowly regrouping and regaining some influence in Afghanistan.

The new American President Barack Obama inherited both the Iraq and Afghanistan situations when he took office. It is his position that Iraqi defense forces and the Iraqi government are becoming strong enough that they will soon be able to stand on their own, and is planning to slowly draw down U.S. presence in that area. At the same time he plans to increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

There is an upcoming international conference on Afghanistan that will take place at The Hague and which will be attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with leaders from all of the world nations having a stake in Afghanistan’s short and long term future.

With both the historical and current instability in that region of the world, and with their significant strategic locations, successful democracies in both Iraq and Afghanistan are worthy and important efforts. The Afghans absolutely need and deserve more U.S. support, not just military but also economic and in other areas. But the Iraqis cannot be abandoned to fend for themselves to the point where the loss of 4,000 American lives over a half decade ends up being for nothing.

President Obama is basically taking us back to Afghanistan, and that is a good and necessary thing. But at the same time we need to be very careful in the process of drawing down in Iraq.

In the ‘big tent’ meeting at The Hague, two groups with a stake in Afghanistan’s future which will not be represented are the Taliban and al Qaeda. But the groups who do meet should not forget their presence or their interest.

Radical Islamic forces are still fighting in both countries to undermine the American-led efforts, convinced that if they just wait us out we will eventually retreat to our own homeland and leave these Middle East countries with little defense against their continuing Jihad.

NOTE: This is a continuation of the Islam Series, all items of which can be read by clicking the below tag