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Show Details for the week of May 25th, 2015

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On this week’s show we talk with Gareth Porter and Adam Johnson.

Our interview with Gareth will focus on his two most recent articles: The Misfire In Hersh’s Big Bin Laden Story and How The US Treasury Department Promotes Israel’s Propaganda Lines

Our interview with Adam Johnson will focus on his recent article “White House Reveals ‘Boots on Ground’ in Syria, but Media Too Giddy Over Special Ops Porn to Notice,” which states: “The White House announced on Saturday that a team of Delta Force soldiers had gone into sovereign Syrian territory to kill an alleged ISIS  ‘commander’ and a few dozen other faceless bad guys.

At the start of the show we will be reading parts of Ray McGovern’s article titled How to Honor Memorial Day

More about this week’s guests:

Gareth Porter (@GarethPorter) is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy.  His latest book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, was published in February 2014. Gareth has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is also the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, ‘Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War’, published by University of California Press in 2005, “without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade.” He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Adam Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) just wrote the piece “White House Reveals ‘Boots on Ground’ in Syria, but Media Too Giddy Over Special Ops Porn to Notice,” which states: “The White House announced on Saturday that a team of Delta Force soldiers had gone into sovereign Syrian territory to kill an alleged ISIS  ‘commander’ and a few dozen other faceless bad guys.
“Per usual, the media would retell the narrative based entirely on Pentagon and White House action movie prose. Just as with the bin Laden raid narrative — that later turned out to be mostly false — this tale involved some unbelievably compelling details: ‘rescuing a Yazidi slave,’ ‘hand-to-hand combat,’ ‘women and children as human shields,’ ‘precise fire’ (that, of course, avoided these women and children), and a body count, ’40 extremists,’ that would make Jack Bauer blush.”To the New York Times‘ credit, it did issue one of the most passive-aggressive ‘we could not independently verify these claims’ disclaimers in journalistic history:

“A Defense Department official said Islamic State fighters who defended their building and Abu Sayyaf tried to use women and children as shields, but that the Delta Force commandos ‘used very precise fire’ and ‘separated the women and children.’ The official said the operation involved close ‘hand-to-hand fighting.’ (The accounts of the raid came from military and government officials and could not be immediately verified through independent sources.)

“No, of course they couldn’t!

Show Details for the week of May 18th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • The Saudi attack on Yemen is using Billions of dollars worth of US-supplied weapons. Is the US-Saudi relationship contributing to instability in the region? We talk with William Hartung
  • The White House Military proposes a ban on the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and a restriction on the availability of others. How does this impact the problem of police-community relations? We talk with Justin Hansford

More about this week’s guests:

William Hartung is a senior advisor to the Security Assistance Monitor and the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He just wrote the piece “It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair,” about the White House “summit” with leaders from Arabian Peninsula monarchies which states: “In its first five years in office, the Obama administration entered into formal agreements to transfer over $64 billion in arms and defense services to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, with about three-quarters of that total going to Saudi Arabia. And new offers worth nearly $15 billion have been made to Riyadh in 2014 and 2015. Items on offer to GCC states have included fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, radar planes, refueling aircraft, air-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, artillery, small arms and ammunition, cluster bombs, and missile defense systems.”

Hartung is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011) and the co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton, of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations. From July 2007 through March 2011, Mr. Hartung was the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute. He also worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams. Bill Hartung’s articles on security issues have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles TimesThe Nation, and the World Policy Journal. He has been a featured expert on national security issues on CBS 60 MinutesNBC Nightly Newsthe Lehrer Newshour, CNN, Fox News, and scores of local, regional, and international radio outlets. He blogs for the Huffington Post and TPM Café.

Recent news coverage: A representative of Doctors Without Boarders has a piece in the Washington Post on Thursday: “The Saudi-led blockade is devastating Yemen.” Earlier this week, AP reported: “Iran’s navy said Tuesday it will protect an aid ship traveling to Yemen.”

Justin Hansford is an Assistant Professor at the University of St. Louis School of Law. Professor Hansford’s research incorporates legal history, legal ethics, critical race theory, human rights, and the Global Justice Movement in a broader attempt to interrogate injustice in society. He has a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a founder of The Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives. He joined the law faculty after clerking for Judge Damon Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and he has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to study the legal career of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Living just 10 minutes from Ferguson, Hansford has been at the forefront of legal organizing and advocacy in the aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown. He co-authored the Ferguson to Geneva human rights shadow report, accessible at http://fergusontogeneva.org/(link is external), and accompanied the Ferguson Protesters and Mike Brown’s family to Geneva, Switzerland to testify at the United Nations. He has served as a policy advisor for proposed post-Ferguson reforms at the local, state, and federal level, testifying before the Ferguson Commission, the Missouri Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission, and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

As a result of his work in Ferguson, Hansford has been featured in the USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Ebony, and the Globe and Mail, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, National Public Radio other national and local news outlets. He has been honored by the National Bar Association as one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40, selected as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar by the Aspen Institute, and recently was named by Revolt TV as one of the 25 New Leaders of Social Justice.

Here is Hansford’s testimony before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Background: The New York Times reports: “President Obama on Monday will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others, administration officials said.”

Guest Quote: “This seems like a step in the right direction. But remember, neither Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, nor Eric Garner were killed with grenade launders or tanks. Racial targeting and anti-black police violence can survive demilitarization. At the base, the danger is that this is a way to ‘deracialize’ the debate, and make it about anything other than race. But even so, militarization plays a role in the eagerness police have to use force in black communities, and the use of militarized tactics in SWAT raids of the type that killed Ayanna Jones in Detroit. It limits police officers’ ability to relate to people as individuals, or to find ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Currently, many American police see minority communities not as citizens but as enemies and targets. Militarization makes it worse.”

Show Details for the week of May 11th, 2015

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This is the final week of the Pledge Drive for KPFT. The Monitor has a goal of $800. Please help us reach that goal by calling in your pledge of support at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.

Our guest this week on The Monitor  is J. Michael Springmann. You can get a copy of his book Visas for Al Qaedea: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World by calling in your pledge of $100 at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.

Topic: They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind. How the U.S. trained Muslim terrorists at least as far back as 30 years ago and how this impacts us today – an interview with J. Michael Springmann.

About our guest:

J. Michael Springmann, a career official with both the Commerce and State departments. He was economic/commercial officer in Stuttgart (1977–1980), a commercial attaché in New Delhi (1980–1982), a visa officer in Jeddah (1987–1989), a political/economic officer in Stuttgart (1989–1991), and, finally, an economic analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1991). He recently published the book Visas for Al Qaedea: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World.

Quote: “During the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda.”

From the book description:

“Thousands of American soldiers and civil servants have lost their lives in the War on Terror. Innocent citizens of many nations, including Americans killed on 9/11, have also paid the ultimate price. While the US government claims to stand against terror, this same government refuses to acknowledge its role in creating what has become a deadly international quagmire. Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World sets the record straight by laying the blame on high-ranking US government officials.

During the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda.

J. Michael Springmann, a former US diplomat, names individuals and organizations that deny culpability. He analyzes the effects of a nebulous war on the US economy and infrastructure. After thirteen bloody years, Springmann exposes hypocrisy and deceit wrapped in a sullied flag of patriotism and honor.”

Reflections on the 911 Terrorist Attacks, Washington Examiner, September 10, 2011, Michael Springmann , former head of the Visa Bureau at the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah , Saudi Arabia said that he was repeatedly ordered by high-level State Department officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants. His complaints to higher authorities at several agencies went unanswered. In a CBC interview, he indicated that the CIA was indeed complicit in the attacks.

You can also get any of the books we have already offered this drive. These are:

The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror by John Kiriakou available to you for a pledge of $120. Kiriakou was is a former CIA analyst and case officer, former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former counterterrorism consultant for ABC News, blogger for Huffington Post, and author. He was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror details his years with the CIA and the beginning of his legal problems when John told ABC News in an interview in December 2007 that the CIA was torturing prisoners, that that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that the policy was approved by the President.  John was driven to ruin by the Justice Department because of these revelations.

For a pledge of $50 you can get The Islamist Phoenix by Loretta Napoleoni. She is the bestselling author of Maonomics, Rogue EconomicsTerror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. She is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on counter-terrorism and money laundering. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks.Here is an excerpt

For a pledge of $60 you can get Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. She is Writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of sixteen books about environment, landscape, community, art, politics, hope, and memory. You can read some of her writing about the topic here

For a pledge of $85 you can get The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah. He is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli Palestinian Impasse, and co-founder and director of the widely acclaimed publication The Electronic Intifada. Based in the United States, he has written hundreds of articles and been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years. He is the recipient of a 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship. Any of these books will enrich you understanding of the topics they each handle. All three authors are going to be on The Monitor in the upcoming weeks.

Show Details for the week of May 4th, 2015

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This is week two of the Pledge Drive for KPFT. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show for three weeks in a row. Please help us reach that goal by calling in your pledge of support at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.

Our guest this week is John Kiriakou. He was is a former CIA analyst and case officer, former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former counterterrorism consultant for ABC News, blogger for Huffington Post, and author. He was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. He was the first person to pass classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013, and served his term from February 28, 2013 until 3 February 2015 at the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

We have John’s book The Reluctant Spy:  My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror, available to you for a pledge of $120. This is John Kiriakou’s first book, co-authored with Michael Ruby. Please show your support by calling 713-526-5738 or donating at http://www.kpft.org

The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror

The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror details his years with the CIA and the beginning of his legal problems when John told ABC News in an interview in December 2007 that the CIA was torturing prisoners, that that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that the policy was approved by the President.  John was driven to ruin by the Justice Department because of these revelations.

The national debate on waterboarding and other forms of torture got a second wind early in Obama’s presidency, and John clearly feels proud to have played a small part in that debate. In a larger sense, this is not an American conversation that has ended. If we have learned anything since 9/11, we have learned anew that a tension exists between protecting our national security and ensuring the human rights guaranteed according to the will of our Founding Fathers when they authored the U.S. Constitution.

Our challenge, in a world of unprecedented threats, is to strike a balance between the polarities—to find that place where the national security and human rights can live reasonably, if not comfortably, side by side. It won’t be easy. But then, it never was.

The Reluctant Spy is a fascinating book, which will give you chills when you realize that what John Kiriakou experienced at the hands of the Justice Department could happen to anyone.  The book rose to #5 on the Washington Post political bestsellers list in March 2010.

We have three other book options for you to pick from at different pledge level:

For a pledge of $50 you can get The Islamist Phoenix by Loretta Napoleoni. She is the bestselling author of Maonomics, Rogue EconomicsTerror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. She is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on counter-terrorism and money laundering. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks.Here is an excerpt

For a pledge of $60 you can get Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. She is Writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of sixteen books about environment, landscape, community, art, politics, hope, and memory. You can read some of her writing about the topic here

For a pledge of $85 you can get The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah. He is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli Palestinian Impasse, and co-founder and director of the widely acclaimed publication The Electronic Intifada. Based in the United States, he has written hundreds of articles and been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years. He is the recipient of a 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship. Any of these books will enrich you understanding of the topics they each handle. All three authors are going to be on The Monitor in the upcoming weeks.

Show Details for the week of April 27th, 2015

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This is week one of the Pledge Drive for KPFT. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show for three weeks in a row. Please help us reach that goal by calling in your pledge of support at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.

We have three book options for you to pick from at different pledge level:

For a pledge of $50 you can get The Islamist Phoenix by Loretta Napoleoni. She is the bestselling author of Maonomics, Rogue EconomicsTerror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. She is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on counter-terrorism and money laundering. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks.Here is an excerpt

For a pledge of $60 you can get Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. She is Writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of sixteen books about environment, landscape, community, art, politics, hope, and memory. You can read some of her writing about the topic here

For a pledge of $85 you can get The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah. He is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli Palestinian Impasse, and co-founder and director of the widely acclaimed publication The Electronic Intifada. Based in the United States, he has written hundreds of articles and been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years. He is the recipient of a 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship. Any of these books will enrich you understanding of the topics they each handle. All three authors are going to be on The Monitor in the upcoming weeks.

Show Details for the week of April 20th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Hillary Clinton makes her candidacy for President official. How much space is there on the American left to criticize her track record or to express concern about her foreign policy positions? We talk with with Stephen Zunes
  • Saudi aggression in Yemen – what is the US role in this conflict and what is really going on there? We talk with Sheila Carapico

More about this week’s guests:

Stephen Zunes

Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

He is the author of scores of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, international terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, strategic nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)

Stephen writes about Middle East-related topics frequently. Even though we are discussing Yemen with our second guest, Stephen’s recent articles are well worth a read: How U.S. policy contributed to Yemen’s chaos and Powerful nonviolent resistance to armed conflict in Yemen

He has also been discussing Hillary in his writings for several years. Here is an article from 2007 – Hillary Clinton on International Law: When it comes to human rights around the world, Hillary Clinton is little more than Bush Lite.

Sheila Carapico is a professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond in Virginia. She is the author of Civil Society in Yemen: The Political Economy of Activism in Modern Arabia and Political Aid and Arab Activism: Democracy Promotion, Justice, and Representation

She recently wrote the piece “A Call to Resist Saudi (and U.S.) Aggression in Yemen,” which states: “Saudi Arabia is an oppressive, reactionary regime historically resistant to progressive movements in Yemen and elsewhere. It is also a linchpin in the U.S.-NATO military industrial complex and the endless war on terror. This war risks regional escalation and conflagration. Already, autocratic leaders of Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Pakistan (whose citizens are skeptical) seem to have agreed to join the fight, with Egypt reportedly preparing to send 40,000 ground troops. Arab League leaders meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last weekend ordered the Houthis to surrender and pledged to create a joint Arab military force. The pretext of the ‘legitimacy’ of the Gulf Cooperation Council-anointed administration is a figment of hegemonic imagination. Public opinion inside Yemen is kaleidoscopic and mercurial, but few accept this excuse for intervention.

The Sunni versus Shi’a sectarian narrative misrepresents Yemenis’ multiple proclivities for partisan, regional and class-based leadership. If anything, the escalating war pits the billionaire royal elites of the Gulf against the downtrodden of the Peninsula. Bombardments are both terrifying and deadly. Attacks on al-Mazraq camp for internally displaced persons in Hajjah governorate, a dairy factory near Hodeida and other locations have left dozens of non-combatants dead, according to human rights groups. The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, says ‘the country seems to be on the verge of total collapse.'”

Show Details for the week of April 13th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • A Muslim perspective on secularism and governance – an interview with Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im
  • The “Militant Wahabism” of al-Shabab, the Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy – an interview with Abdi Ismail Samatar

More about this week’s guests:

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (from Sudan) is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na’im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. Professor An-Na’im directed the following research projects which focus on advocacy strategies for reform through internal cultural transformation:

  • Women and Land in Africa
  • Islamic Family Law
  • Fellowship Program in Islam and Human Rights
  • The Future of Sharia: Islam and the Secular State

These projects can be accessed through Professor An-Na’im’s professional website »

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.

Abdi Ismail Samatar (from Somalia) is Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, a research fellow at the University of Pretoria, and member of African Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World in general and Africa in particular. He is currently looking at the the link between democratic leadership, public institutions, and development in East and South Africa. Other themes in his research include Islam, social capital and ethnicity in the Horn of Africa, and environment and development.

Quote: “The brutality of al-Shabab is simply staggering. Its latest atrocity is the outright killing of over 100 students at Garissa University [in Kenya]. But what people also need to understand is the insidiousness of the Kenyan government and it’s actions in Somalia, which al-Shabab uses as a pretext to rally people in Somalia. If Kenya and the international community are serious about defeating al-Shabaab it can only be done by well resourced professional Somali security forces. The international community has failed to help Somalis build such a force. In addition Kenya and Ethiopia must withdraw their troops from Somalia as well as their efforts to gerrymander politics in that country by supporting certain factions in Somalia. The regime in Mogadishu is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent and can not galvanize the Somali people. The international community, including Africans, have been not only oblivious to the plight of the Somali people, but have turned them into a disposable political football since the collapse of their state in 1991. For years the world watched warlord terrorists rape, loot and kill Somalis with impunity. The U.S. actually backed the warlords against the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), which was trying to bring some stability to the country. In 2005, the UIC defeated the warlords and created peace in Mogadishu for the first time in years and without any help from the international community. Rather than engaging with the UIC, the U.S. and its African clients considered them as terrorists and Ethiopia was given the green light to invade and dismantle it. Ethiopian forces took over Mogadishu on December 25, 2006, and the prospect of a peaceful resurrection of Somalia perished. The brutality of the Ethiopian occupation has been documented by human rights groups. Resisting the Ethiopian occupation became the rallying cry for all Somalis. Some of the toughest challengers of the Ethiopian war machine were segments of the UIC militia known as al-Shabab. Their valour endeared them to many Somalis and this marked the birth of al-Shabab as we know it today. Had the international community and particularly the West productively engaged the UIC, I am confident that al-Shabab would have remained an insignificant element of a bigger nationalist movement. Kenya’s original rationale for invading Somalia was to protect its citizens and tourist-based economy from al-Shabab’s predations. For many this argument seemed reasonable as al-Shabab was accused of kidnapping several expatriates from Kenya. According to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, there were credible reports that the Kenyan government had planned on gaining a strong sphere of influence in the lower region of Somalia long before the al-Shabab-affiliated incidents.”

Background: Samatar’s piece “The Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy.” The New York Times reported last week: “Kenyan fighter jets bombed two training camps of the Shabab militant group in Somalia, defense officials said on Monday, the first military response to the attack on a university last week that killed nearly 150 students. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, had vowed to respond ‘in the severest way possible’ to the massacre at the university. Military officials said it was difficult to assess the damage because of heavy cloud cover. Kenya has carried out bombing raids in Somalia after terrorist assaults in the past, and the Shabab militants, knowing what was coming, have often abandoned their camps after major attacks.”