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