Terror Attacks Strike Four Countries In 24 Hours
Lest we have felt any temptation in recent weeks to think that the necessity of the War on Terror is lessening, the last 24 hours should be enough to disabuse us of the notion.
Just since the beginning of yesterday, Dec. 11 (a number with particular fascination to the Al Qaeda death cult), there have been major terrorist attacks in four countries. In all four cases, the forces of fundamentalist Islam have proven their determination to strike at moderate Muslim and Western interests. As the White House said yesterday, these attacks are directed by "enemies of humanity." The only option we really have is to fight them. They are not susceptible to negotiations or sweet reason.
The first attack came in Algeria, and one of two bombs that exploded in Algiers was at the United Nations headquarters in that city. According to UN sources, 11 UN personnel were killed, in the worst attack against the international organization since the Baghdad bombing that killed the UN chief emissary to Iraq and many other UN workers in 2003. A second bomb exploded outside an Algerian government building. The overall death toll in this country, which has emerged as a leading moderate Muslim state, was at least 31, and responsibility for the outrage was claimed by the Al Qaeda organization in North Africa,. It was the latest of a series of Al Qaeda operations in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, all Muslim countries aligned more or less with the West. (The UN, then led by the weak and possibly corrupt Kofi Annan, quickly pulled all its personnel from Baghdad after the 2003 bombing. The new UN Secretary General, Ban-Ki-moon, is not such a weakling. He described the Algiers bombing as "base, indecent and unjustifiable by even the most barbarous of political standards," words that were precise and correct. He immediately made it plain the UN will not withdraw from Algeria).
Then, this morning, comes word of three other attacks -- in Lebanon, Iraq and Israel.
In Lebanon, we learn that Brig. Gen. Francois al-Hajj, chief operational commander of the Lebanese Army, has been assassinated. He directed the successful campaign earlier this year against the terrorist offshoot organization, Fatah al-Islam, in a Palestinian refugee camp outside the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. That group was virtually wiped out after weeks of fighting, but the situation in Lebanon as a whole remains foreboding with both Al Qaeda and the Hezbollah organization aligned with Syria and Iran continuing to seek the ouster of the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fuad Sinoira. The assassination today of al-Hajj in a car bombing in a Beirut suburb is only the latest of many which have become the subject of an ongoing UN investigation. Evidence so far developed in this inquiry points to Syrian responsibility for assassinations such as today's. Meanwhile, just two days ago, election of a new Lebanese president was delayed for the eighth time.
In the city of Amara, Iraq, where British forces have recently been withdrawn, clearing the way for more intra-Shite strife, bombs exploded today that killed 27 persons. It is another reminder that despite gains in Iraq resulting from the "surge" of U.S. forces and the turning of Sunni sheiks to the American side, Iraq continues to be threatened by both ethnic strife and Al Qaeda.
Also today, the Israelis report that a barrage of 20 Kassem rockets have been fired out of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip at the Israeli city of Sderot and points in the Western Negev. The mayor of Sderot resigned today in protest against the failure of the Israeli government of Ehud Olmert to respond with a large enough military operation in Gaza to stop the continuing firing of rockets against Israeli territory. Again today, in the Jerusalem Post, there are contradictory reports as to whether Olmert will direct the Israeli Army to undertake a major strike at Hamas, which is increasingly in league with both Iranian and Al Qaeda elements. The Israelis sent a few tanks into southern Gaza today, killing five persons, but this will not be enough to dissuade the killers from their aggression.
The new trouble in the Holy Land comes just after, in a recent conference in Annapolis, Md., the Bush Administration sought to encourage a new round of Arab-Israeli peace talks. But it does not seem to me that peace talks can proceed when Arab terrorists continue to attack peaceful Israeli civilians with barrages of rockets.
The events of just the past 24 hours demonstrate the determination of the terrorists. On our side, we need to continue to try to destroy them. What less will suffice?
The Tribune Co. reports yet another revenue decline in the four weeks that ended Nov. 25. Publishing revenue is down against the same period a year ago 3.5%, from $428 million to $413 million, while advertising revenue is down 4.9%. Advertising revenues in some sectors, such as classified (a 26% decline) or real estate (39%) is literally collapsing.
We are still waiting for the final close of the deal under which Chicago real estate magnate and Malibu mansion owner Sam Zell is buying control of Tribune. But in the meantime, the inept CEO Dennis FitzSimons and his celebrity-loving L.A. Times publisher David Hiller, remain in commanding positions of responsibility. With all due regard to the subprime crisis and the changing newspaper business, new blood in these positions is necessary. Zell's work is cut out for him. He must realize that with failed corporate chieftains like FitzSimons and Hiller in charge, no corner can be turned.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's comments on Mormonism, reported as scheduled to appear in an article in the New York Times magazine this coming weekend, constitute the worst example of religious hatred in the developing 2008 campaign. His suggestion that Mormons believe that "Jesus and the devil are brothers" is a vile attack, designed to derail the candidacy of former Gov. Mitt Romney, the apparent chief competitor of Huckabee in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. The fact that Huckabee later apologized does not excuse his hateful language and recklessness.
I have questioned Huckabee's qualifications to be president before. This statement in and of itself makes it clear he is unfit for the presidency.
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