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What’s behind Detroit incident?

U.S. targets Yemen, harasses Nigeria

Published Jan 6, 2010 7:22 PM

It appears from statements by Obama administration officials and U.S. intelligence sources that further military attacks are being planned against Yemen. This impoverished country on the Arabian Peninsula has been bombed several times in recent weeks. Reports indicate that the U.S. is behind these actions, in which dozens of people are reported to have been killed.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. military commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, visited Yemen on Jan. 2 and met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Around the same time, embassies of three leading imperialist states — the U.S., Britain and France — were closed, purportedly in response to threats from al-Qaida.

Yemen is now being described as dangerous in the same way that Afghanistan was labeled in 2001. The notion of a “failed state,” used against Afghanistan to justify the ongoing U.S. invasion and occupation there, is now being applied to Yemen.

Commentary by a constant flow of U.S. intelligence operatives and militarists is being put forward in the corporate media to condition the people for more aggressive military action against Yemen.

Over the last eight years hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia,

Yemen, Palestine, Pakistan and other countries targeted in the U.S. “war on terrorism.” The U.S. has the highest defense budget in its history, exceeding the combined military expenditures of all other nations in the world combined.

The latest “terrorist threat” dominating the corporate media is crowding out the economic crisis inflicted upon the people of the U.S. and the world.

Meanwhile, millions in the U.S. will lose their jobs, homes, health care and education over the next year while being told that the source of their problems is in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria. The Pentagon, through the corporate media, say that instability and terrorism require greater military expenditures.

Background to the present situation

On Dec. 25, U.S. authorities arrested a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, aboard Northwest/Delta Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam after it landed in Detroit. He is alleged to have tried to carry out a terrorist attack, resulting in a small fire aboard the plane. The authorities say Abdul Mutallab was either connected with al-Qaida or was sympathetic to its aims.

This incident raises a number of serious questions. Abdul Mutallab was reportedly granted a multiple-entry visa into the United States in June 2008, but this November his father, Alhaji Umaru Abdul Mutallab, a prominent and wealthy Nigerian banker, warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria about concerns related to his son’s behavior. The senior Mutallab had served as minister of economic development and reconstruction during the mid-1970s in the federal Nigerian government, then under military rule.

Why was Abdul Mutallab allowed to maintain his U.S. visa status and board a plane bound for the United States? There have been reports that he spent time in the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, implying a connection with al-Qaida. However, no specific evidence has emerged of such links.

Corporate media reports claim that Mutallab attempted to ignite substances that could have done substantial damage to the aircraft. What were they? What if these unidentified chemicals could not cause any real damage to the plane? After all, the suspect was the only person seriously injured. Could this incident have been something other than what is being widely reported by media outlets in the U.S. and internationally?

U.S. intelligence and media spokespersons have stated that Yemen is a base for al-Qaida. However, it is also a major field of operations for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon. The Yemeni government is in a military struggle with Islamic opposition groups; the country is divided politically and regionally.

On Dec. 24 — the day before the arrest of Mutallab — the Yemeni military carried out air strikes on what the Associated Press called “suspected al-Qaida hideouts,” killing at least 30 “militants” in a remote area of the country. The strikes “were carried out with U.S. and Saudi intelligence help. ... The newly aggressive Yemeni campaign against al-Qaida is being boosted by a dose of American aid, a reflection of Washington’s concerns about al-Qaida’s presence in a highly strategic location on the border with oil-rich ally Saudi Arabia.” (AP, Dec. 25)

This same article points out that “The Pentagon recently confirmed it has poured nearly $70 million in military aid into Yemen this year — compared with none in 2008. The U.S. military has boosted its counterterrorism training for Yemeni forces and is providing more intelligence, according to U.S. officials and analysts.”

Implications for Nigeria

In Nigeria some months ago the military and police killed several hundred people in a crackdown against an Islamic group, Boko Haram, whose leader was killed by the police. There is also a flareup in fighting in the Niger Delta region between groups fighting the Western-based oil firms that dominate the area and the federal government’s joint terrorism task force.

In a significant development, several Western-based transnational oil firms are threatening the Nigerian economy because of a deal to export oil to the People’s Republic of China that will bring Nigeria $50 billion in revenue. (Nigerian Daily Trust, Dec. 21)

As a result of the Dec. 25 incident, Nigerian nationals, along with people from a number of other states, have been targeted for special scrutiny at U.S. airports and flights bound for the country. The Transportation Security Administration also targets people from Cuba, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

A Jan. 4 editorial in the Nigerian Vanguard newspaper angrily lashed out at the discriminatory policies instituted by the U.S. against Nigerian nationals. It challenged the Nigerian government to reject these new security measures imposed by the Obama administration.

This editorial says in part that “Nigerian authorities must stand up against the American posture of trying to label us a country of terrorists after the Christmas Day incident in which 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab tried to blow up a passenger aircraft as it was in landing in Detroit. Details of the case as they evolve have not shown any complicity on the part of Nigerian authorities or security lapses at the Murtala Muhammad Airport (Lagos) from which Mutallab’s flight originated.” (Vanguard, Jan. 4)

The editorial continues by pointing out that “As is their usual practice, American agencies find it convenient to blame others for everything. If they had taken the concerns on Farouk serious, the incident could have been avoided. Their first reaction was to heap the blame on Nigerians and they carried on as if the attack had the support of all Nigerians.”

Stepped up intervention and repression

These developments cannot be separated from the recent escalation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Barack Obama announced at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Dec. 1 that his administration would be sending another 30,000 occupation troops into Afghanistan. This act is being carried out despite the overwhelming popular opposition in the United States to escalation of the Afghan war.

In Detroit, the FBI assassinated an African-American imam on Oct. 28. Investigation into the incident is being obstructed on several levels, including the refusal of authorities to release the autopsy of the slain Islamic leader, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who had worked with the poor for decades on the city’s west side. The assassination has drawn protests and calls for an independent investigation.

Could Abdul Mutallab be a pawn in a scenario of international intelligence intrigue controlled and manipulated by the United States? Such threats of terrorism have been used in the past to deflect the attention of the people in the U.S. away from the worsening economic and political crisis facing the country.

Since 2001 the people of the United States have been subjected to reports of one foreign plot and conspiracy after another. At the same time, trillions of dollars have been literally stolen from them through real estate, insurance and bank fraud schemes, which the taxpayers have been forced to absorb. Unemployment rates are the highest since the Great Depression and a new upsurge in home foreclosures and evictions is forecast for 2010.

The plane incident, besides being used to intensify police presence at airports and throughout U.S. society, can also be utilized to justify and sway public opinion towards supporting the wars of occupation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and the extension of these imperialist efforts into the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and Yemen.

One thing is certain. The United States government and ruling class have nothing to offer the people other than war, intensified domestic surveillance and economic austerity. If they can bombard the airwaves with threats of terrorism, it will block any real discussion about the economic crisis in the corporate-controlled media, which is heavily biased towards the Pentagon and Wall Street.

The question of “security” will take priority over the economic crisis, which has resulted in 34 million people out of work, the foreclosure of millions of homes, the closing of hundreds of schools and the forcing of tens of thousands of university students away from their studies due to the monumental escalation of fees and cutbacks in financial assistance.