Thursday, May 22, 2008

Acidland and the Terror Cell

Amnesia about social pyromania and malicious intent, as anyone who has lived there knows the Germany’s public intellectuals to hold, is reported on by World Politics Review’s John Rosenthal. So resistant to believing that there is anything threatening about the world out there that can’t be satisfied with a public rant about the US Arms Lobby or a new regulation and tax, they appear to have been flummoxed by a series of attacks brewed up from within. Not long ago, the news that a Lebanese immigrant to Germany tried to plant a bomb on a public train. Then the notion that other world views don’t think like they do, and that there might be asymmetrical reprisal on the Bundeswehr, it seems had to be banished from the mind.

I think the media are thinking far too little of the German public if they think that they have to be protected from the news. Far too little. This is a population that, not too long ago, had to accept the sort of personal hardships that come with reconstruction and the usual ways of a notion of the state as so eager to regulate people for fear of believing that they haven’t done their job properly.

The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), the Taliban-affiliated Jihadist group that took responsibility for the attack, claimed a more massive death toll: some 60 dead in both the explosion itself and a follow-on attack by Taliban forces. In a Turkish-language statement posted in the internet, the IJU also identified the bomber: "This operation was successfully carried out by the brave Cüneyt Ciftci from Germany, who has traded in his life of luxury for paradise" (source: Focus). The text was accompanied by photos of a smiling Ciftci brandishing a pistol and sitting behind the wheel of vehicle.

And what did the American public learn about all this from American
[N.B.: the German public as well] news organizations? A Factiva database search turns up a single sparse 280 word AP dispatch tentatively noting that German authorities were "checking" whether the German-born Ciftci might possibly be "linked" to the bombing. Instead, Americans were left to glean whatever more substantial information they could from the English-language website of the German weekly Der Spiegel. While Der Spiegel's March 15 article likewise studiously avoided treating Ciftci's responsibility for the attack as given, it nonetheless conceded that it was "likely": thus prompting the authors to pronounce Ciftci -- in all probability -- "the first suicide bomber from Germany." In light of the fact that Mohammad Atta and two of the three other pilots in the 9/11 attacks also lived in Germany, and indeed plotted the attacks there, the formula gives serious cause to pause. Der Spiegel dramatically described Ciftci's presumptive involvement as "Berlin's Worst Nightmare": as if the Hamburg Cell's leading role in the 9/11 attacks had not already been an even worse one or as if "Berlin" was suffering from collective amnesia and no longer remembered -- or wanted to remember -- the major German connection to 9/11.

C’mon, get happy.

But alas, hope springs eternal:
Following the emergence of the [“martyrdom”] video, Der Spiegel and the rest of the German media largely abandoned their hopeful expressions of doubt about Ciftci's responsibility. "The first perpetrator of a suicide attack from Germany," the weekly Stern now called Ciftci -- displaying the same startling obliviousness to the German role in the 9/11 attacks as Der Spiegel had previously. But when interviewed by ZDF television, Jörg Ziercke, chief of Germany's Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BKA), continued to insist that he could not confirm that Ciftci had been the bomber. "We don't have the corpse," Ziercke said, "We have to undertake an identification of the corpse." As anyone who watches the massive explosion documented in the video will be able to appreciate, there is not likely to be much of Ciftci left to facilitate this identification.

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