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November 8, 2007

The Anti-Americanism of the Israel-Firsters


by Michael Scheuer

"Too soon old and too late smart." That saying was one of my Dad's favorites, and one he used when one of us in the family re-made a past mistake, having not learned from the first error. I am guilty of that in regard to the current game being played by Commentary's Gabriel Schoenfeld and his Goebbels-wannabes at the National Review, the American Thinker, and other organs of the Israel-first media. Mr. Schoenfeld has accused me of leaking information to the media about an Islamist fighter/ideologue who was rendered to Egypt from Croatia in 1995. On the basis of this supposed action on my part, Mr. Schoenfeld compares me to Philip Agee and argues that the accused Israeli spy Larry Franklin did nothing worse than I did. Even for Commentary, the sweep of this "Big Lie" is impressive.

Now, let us settle first things first. Even a mediocre former CIA officer – and I like to believe that I was at least that – will do a Google search to find out what is available in the open-source world on the subject a journalist wants to speak to him or her about. This is especially true when the journalist is a European who, these days, is likely to be anti-American, especially on the subject of rendition. The Google search I did on the 1995 rendition in question, turned up all of the information that is contained in the article that has Mr. Schoenfled and his acolytes in their current let's-hang-Scheuer-to-clear-Larry-Franklin snit. A few examples follow from a quick search using Google News.

– "Talaat Fouad Qassem, 38, a known leader of the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group), an Egyptian extremist organization, is arrested and detained in Croatia as he travels to Bosnia from Denmark, where he has been been living after being granted political asylum. He is suspected of clandestine support of terrorist operations, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He also allegedly led mujaheddin efforts in Bosnia since 1990. In a joint operation, he is arrested by Croatian intelligence agents and handed over to the CIA. Qassem is then interrogated by US officials aboard a US ship off the Croatian coast in the Adriatic Sea and sent to Egypt, which has a rendition agreement with the US. An Egyptian military tribunal has already sentenced him to death in absentia, and he is executed soon after he arrives. [Associated Press, 10/31/1995; Wash Post, 3/11/02, A01; Mahle, 05, pp. 204-205; New Yorker, 2/8/05] " (CRHC)

– "A second and more sophisticated form of cooperation aims at impeding Islamist activity in Western countries, and using legal means to track down fugitive activists with the minimum of fuss. The third form of security cooperation involves the collaboration of Egyptian and Western security authorities in executing sensitive operations, including the tracing or arrest of Islamists, possibly across international borders, as in the case of Talaat Fouad Qassem." Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 October 1998, Issue No.400.

– "With Bosnian war hostilities drawing to a close in September 1995, Anwar Shaaban and his Italian-based Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya cohorts were free to turn their attention and resources to issues of "more critical" importance. In late September, one of the most important Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya leaders hiding in Europe – Abu Talal al-Qasimy (a.k.a. Talaat Fouad Qassem) – was captured by Croat HVO forces as he attempted to cross through Croatian territory into Bosnia-Herzegovina. Within days, the Croats quietly rendered al-Qasimy through U.S. custody into the hands of Egyptian authorities. At the time, a government official in Cairo noted, "[Al-Qasimy's] arrest proves what we have always said, which is that these terror groups are operating on a worldwide scale, using places like Afghanistan and Bosnia to form their fighters who come back to the Middle East… European countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, England and others, which give sanctuary to these terrorists, should now understand it will come back to haunt them where they live." By, Evan F. Kohlmann, The Afghan-Bosnian Mujahideen Network in Europe, (2004)

There are a dozen or more other pre-2007, open-source descriptions of this operation available (citations on request), so we can safely assume that nothing new has been revealed in 2007, and Mr. Schoenfeld, et. al are either unaware of the Google news search capability, or they are playing for bigger game than a creaky and unimportant former CIA officer like me.

The truth is, of course, that Mr. Schoenfeld and his allies are not dumb people, they are simply anti-American. Their tarting-up of the rendition operation described above is just part of their ongoing attempt to discredit the case and to try to convince Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are identical, and so spying on America for Israel – and suborning American citizens to commit treason – is really an okay and even admirable activity. Time will tell what the final verdicts will be, but Mr. Schoenfeld, et. al are clearly guilty of trying to create an environment in which the U.S. public accepts the idea that engaging in espionage against their own country on Israel's behalf is consonant with the duties of American citizenship.

Finally, I wish to directly refute Mr. Schoenfeld's claim that I "cast aspersions on American Jews." I do not cast aspersions, I forthrightly damn, and pray that God damns, any American – Jew, Catholic, Evangelical, Irish, German, Hindu, hermaphrodite, thespian, or otherwise – who flogs the insane idea that American and Israeli interests are one and the same. The nation-state of Israel is an intolerable burden to the treasury and security of the United States, and Washington's current relationship with Israel – sanctioned by the AIPAC-funded political leaders of both parties – is one of several factors that are leading to full-scale American participation in other peoples' religious wars, religious wars that David Horowitz's recent "Islamofascist Awareness Week" manifestly wants to bring to the streets of the United States.

 

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Michael Scheuer is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.

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