Tag Archive: Osama bin Laden


American secret commandos are carrying out raids in 70 countries–just today. By the end of the year, the number will probably be close to 120.

Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission.  Now, say that 70 times and you’re done… for the day.  Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries.  This new Pentagon power elite is waging a global war whose size and scope has never been revealed, until now.

After a U.S. Navy SEAL put a bullet in Osama bin Laden’s chest and another in his head, one of the most secretive black-ops units in the American military suddenly found its mission in the public spotlight.  It was atypical.  While it’s well known that U.S. Special Operations forces are deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and it’s increasingly apparent that such units operate in murkier conflict zones like Yemen and Somalia, the full extent of their worldwide war has remained deeply in the shadows.

Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency.  By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120.  “We do a lot of traveling — a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said recently.  This global presence — in about 60% of the world’s nations and far larger than previously acknowledged — provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.

The Rise of the Military’s Secret Military

Born of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran, in which eight U.S. service members died, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in 1987.  Having spent the post-Vietnam years distrusted and starved for money by the regular military, special operations forces suddenly had a single home, a stable budget, and a four-star commander as their advocate.  Since then, SOCOM has grown into a combined force of startling proportions.  Made up of units from all the service branches, including the Army’s “Green Berets” and Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commandos, and Marine Corps Special Operations teams, in addition to specialized helicopter crews, boat teams, civil affairs personnel, para-rescuemen, and even battlefield air-traffic controllers and special operations weathermen, SOCOM carries out the United States’ most specialized and secret missions.  These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

One of its key components is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killingsuspected terrorists.  Reporting to the president and acting under his authority, JSOC maintains a global hit list that includes American citizens.  It has been operating an extra-legal “kill/capture” campaign that John Nagl, a past counterinsurgency adviser to four-star general and soon-to-be CIA Director David Petraeus, calls “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine.” This assassination program has been carried out by commando units like the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force as well as via drone strikes as part of covert wars in which the CIA is also involved in countries like Somalia,Pakistan, and Yemen.  In addition, the command operates a network of secret prisons, perhaps as many as 20 black sites in Afghanistan alone, used forinterrogating high-value targets.

Terror in the Name of God

 

Since the capture of Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo terrorist and murderer, at least two critical issues have emerged. The first is his sanity, or lack thereof. The second is that Breivik’s assaults may have been ideologically motivated. According to Breivik’s logic, the murder of 76 people was necessary to challenge the Muslim takeover of the West. It was also an act directed at some of the people who, in his mind, were making the conquest possible: liberals or, more specifically, the Labor Party.

But as important as these issues may be for determining his status as a terrorist, there is another important point to consider about the ruthlessness of his intents and actions. Breivik, like the vast majority of terrorists in the world, was a male.

On the surface of things, this may be a rather obvious and seemingly trite point to make given the horrific nature of his actions. For most analysts, what matters is that he’s a fundamentalist Christian, a terrorist, a racist, a murderer and possibly insane.

But in his own mind, Breivik is also a patriot. He is a man committed to the defense of his nation from the external threat of the “Other” — in this case, the Muslim other. According to Breivik, Norway, and the West more generally, are locked in a struggle with two possible outcomes: a West dominated by Islam or free of its presence.

Sound familiar? It is. Much like bin Laden and his associates, the ideas and visions circulating in Breivik’s mind closely resemble the cosmic battle imagined in the minds of al Qaeda fighters: the fear, the external threat, the internal traitors, the violent resistance, the utopian future. Breivik, like bin Laden, is nothing short of the archetypal extremist whose ghastly deeds reveal the malevolence of passion when mixed with fear and hate.

But Breivik, like bin Laden and a long list of others, is a man. And like the many men before him guilty of pitiless crimes against humanity, he acted in a way that begs us to consider the relationship between such violence and his notions of manhood.

Why, in other words, do some men seem to find violence as a reasonable course of action when dealing with a perceived threat?

Part of the answer, we believe, has to do with something much larger than Breivik’s sound or unsound mind — gender. Men like Breivik all imagine their communities as uniquely feminine. This idea is effectively communicated through the language of their struggle. Breivik, for example, claimed to be defending the “honor” of the West and, in his manifesto, regularly refers to the “penetration” of Muslim armies throughout history and the “rape” of Europe.

These men also believe that, in defending some imagined “sacred community,” they are also defending manhood. Most of us think of communities as something like the family. We think of the people at the local and national levels as our brothers and sisters of sorts — people with whom we share duties and obligations. Beyond our borders, however, are the outsiders — the other families. In this sense Breivik is much like the rest of us: a modern-day tribalist.

Where Breivik and others stop being like us is how they think about the tribe. Breivik believes the west exists as an essentially pure and vulnerable tribe. An important aspect of Breivik’s actions lies in the fact that he believes the pure feminine family of the West needs protection by the warrior men of which he is a part.

A quick glance at Breivik’s 1,500 page manifesto reveals explicit antipathy for “feminism” and its role in the Islamization of Europe. He refers to the “Knights,” who will lead the revolution fighting “bravely” as men defending their civilization. The manifesto is all about a macho world waging war on “feminism” and “Muslims” at one and the same time.

Of course, this is not to say that women have refrained from the glory of human cruelty. But there is something peculiar about the fact that it is mostly men who commit the extreme violence of terrorism. For reasons rarely considered by analysts, men like Breivik seem to feel a great sense of urgency to act violently in the name of their people — imagined or real — and defend its honor and purity.

Thinking about Breivik and others like him, we might do well to think more about their manhood as much as their ideologies since, more often than not, the two seem to go hand-in-hand in the play of their madness.

George Bush believes he is on a mission from God, according to the politician Nabil Shaath. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

George Bush believes he is on a mission from God, according to the politician Nabil Shaath. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP
George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBClater this month.Mr Bush revealed the extent of his religious fervour when he met a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egpytian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.”

Mr Bush went on: “And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And, by God, I’m gonna do it.”

Mr Bush, who became a born-again Christian at 40, is one of the most overtly religious leaders to occupy the White House, a fact which brings him much support in middle America.

Soon after, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz carried a Palestinian transcript of the meeting, containing a version of Mr Bush’s remarks. But the Palestinian delegation was reluctant publicly to acknowledge its authenticity.

The BBC persuaded Mr Shaath to go on the record for the first time for a three-part series on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy: Elusive Peace, which begins on Monday.

Religion also surfaced as an issue when Mr Bush and Tony Blair were reported to have prayed together in 2002 at his ranch at Crawford, Texas – the summit at which the invasion of Iraq was agreed in principle. Mr Blair has consistently refused to admit or deny the claim.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister, who was also part of the delegation at Sharm el-Sheikh, told the BBC programme that Mr Bush had said: “I have a moral and religious obligation. I must get you a Palestinian state. And I will.”

Mr Shaath’s comments came as Mr Bush delivered a speech yesterday aimed at bolstering US support for the Iraq war.

He revealed that the US and its partners had disrupted at least 10 serious al-Qaida plots since September 11, including three planned attacks in the US. “Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded – but the enemy is still capable of global operations,” he said. He added that Islamic radicals had used a series of excuses to justify their attacks, from conflict with the Israelis to the Crusades 1,000 years ago.

“We’re facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world,” he said.

He conceded that al-Qaida, led in Iraq by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and other insurgents had gained ground in Iraq but the US would not leave until security had been established. “Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and Bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources?” Mr Bush asked.

 

 

Would you be able to defend yourself and your loved ones if someone were to physically attack you? It’s a question most of us don’t want to consider, but violence is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Thankfully, regardless of strength, size, or previous training, anyone can learn several effective self-defense techniques. Here’s how to prepare for and stay safe in common real-world violent situations.

Prevention Is the Best Self-Defense

First, remember that prevention is the best self-defense. Attackers, whatever their objectives, are looking for unsuspecting, vulnerable targets. So be sure to follow general safety tips like being aware of your surroundings, only walking and parking in well-lit areas, keeping your keys in hand as you approach your door or car, varying your route and times of travel, and other personal security precautions.

Apart from avoiding confrontation, if you can defuse a situation (talk someone down from physically assaulting you) or get away—by handing over your wallet/purse or whatever they want, do that. Hand over your money rather than fight. Nothing you own is worth more than your life or health.

If violence is unavoidable, however, to really defend yourself, you’ll want to know ahead of time how to fight back effectively—it’s possible even against someone bigger or stronger than you. Here are some basic self-defense techniques that can keep you safe:

Get Loud and Push Back

 

As soon as the attacker touches you or it’s clear that escape isn’t possible, shout loudly (“BACK OFF!”) and push back at him or her (for simplicity’s sake we’re going to use “him” for the rest of the article, although your opponent could be female). This does two things: it signals for help and it lets the attacker know you’re not an easy target. The video at left from Rob Redenbach, a former trainer of Nelson Mandela‘s bodyguards, shows why this is the first thing you need to do. It may not dissuade all attackers, but getting loud will warn off those that were looking for easy prey.

The Most Effective Body Parts to Hit

 

When you’re in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try before the fight may be decided. Before an attacker has gained full control of you, you must do everything you can—conserving as much energy as possible—to inflict injury so you can get away. (This is no time to be civil. In a physical confrontation that calls for self-defense, it’s hurt or be hurt.) So aim for the parts of the body where you can do the most damage easily: the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee, and legs.

 

Su Ericksen, who writes the very helpful Self-Defense for Women website, offers techniques for striking these pressure points so you can defend yourself and get to safety. She writes:

Depending on the position of the attacker and how close he is will determine where you will strike and with what part of your body you will employ. Do not step in closer, say, to strike his nose with your hand, when you can reach his knee with a kick.

When striking a target on the upper half of the body you will use your hand. Effective strikes can be made with the outer edge of your hand in a knife hand position, a palm strike or knuckle blow for softer targets or a tightly curled fist.

Here are some photos Su offers on attacking these highly sensitive pressure points (you can view others for additional pressure points on her website):

 

Eyes: Gouging, poking, or scratching the attacker’s eyes with your fingers or knuckles would be effective, as you can imagine. Besides causing a lot of pain, this should also make your escape easier by at least temporarily interfering with his vision.

 

 

Nose: If the attacker is close in front of you, use the heel of your palm to strike up under his nose; throw the whole weight of your body into the move to cause the most pain and force him to loosen his grip on you. If he’s behind you, you can strike his nose (from the side or front) with your elbow. Either way, aim for the nasal bones.

 

 

Neck: The side of the neck is a bigger target, where both the carotid artery and jugular vein are located. You could possibly temporarily stun your attacker with a knife hand strike (all fingers held straight and tightly together, with thumb tucked and slightly bent at the knuckle) at the side of the neck. (For even more injury, you could thrust your elbow into your assailant’s throat while pitching the weight of your body forward. See the Target Focus Training video below.)

 

 

Knee: Su says the knee is an ideal self-defense target, vulnerable from every angle and easily kicked without risk of your foot being grabbed. Kick the side of the knee to cause injury or partially incapacitate your attacker. Kicking the front of the knee may cause more injury but is less likely to result in imbalance.

 

How to Maximize Damage

 

Use your elbows, knees, and head. Those are the parts of the body that are most sensitive when hit. Now here are the parts of the body used most effectively for inflicting damage: your elbows, knees, and head (they’re your body’s bony built-in weapons). This video from Elite Defense Systems in IL explains how to defend yourself against three most common attacks by using these key body parts.

Use everyday objects. Everyday objects you carry around with you or things in your environment can also be used to your advantage as weapons. Hold a key or pen between your middle and ring finger while you’re walking home in the dark for more assurance. Outdoors, you can toss some dirt or sand into your attacker’s eyes. Women are often told to spray perfume or hairspray into an assailant’s eyes. The point is, use what ever you can to make your defense stronger (for more inspiration, watch some Jackie Chan movies).

Leverage your weight. No matter your size, weight, or strength in relation to your opponent, you can defend yourself by strategically using your body and the simple law of physics. This is the principle behind martial arts systems like Jujitsu and other self-defense programs where a smaller person is able to defeat a larger one.

 

Tim Larkin teaches in his Target Focus Training self-defense system that striking is not about punching or kicking, it’s about throwing your body weight strategically at someone. You don’t want to be standing there trading punches or kicks with an attacker; in a violent situation, it’s critical to injure him using efficient, targeted moves. Basically, target those pressure points mentioned above, but leverage your weight to cause the most damage. (Note: The video at left is a bit long, though all of it is insightful; if you want to skip to the demonstration part showing how to use your body weight in this “point of injury” technique, scrub to about the 4-minute mark. Also note that this technique, used by law enforcement agencies, can seriously injure the attacker.)

Moves for Getting Out of or Defending Against Common Holds or Attacks

 

Wrist Hold: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is another school of self-defense, one that offers modified Jujitsu techniques that normal (or even weak) people can carry out. This video from Gracie Academy shows what to do when an attacker has grabbed your wrist. Instead of pulling back to try to get out of the hold, squat down into a strong stance, then lean forward and bend your elbow towards him all the way towards his forearm until he can no longer hold onto your wrist.

 

Front and Back Choke Holds: Similarly, this video from Ford Models suggests bending your elbow in to get out of the wrist hold, but then pushing upwards to break free. The video also offers techniques to get out of a front choke hold and a back choke hold: Swing one arm across to break the attacker’s hold then use your other arm’s elbow or hand in a knife strike position to hit the attacker.

 

Bear HugKrav Maga is the official hand-to-hand self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, with techniques to defend against realistic grabs and holds. This video shows a Krav Maga defense for when someone holds you from behind: Drop your weight and try to hit his head with your elbows or stomp his feet with your feet. If that doesn’t work, pull his fingers back to force him to release you, rotate out of his hold, and attack him with your knees/kicks. (Pulling fingers is also an effective move in a choke hold in some cases.)

 

Mount Position: If the attacker has you pinned on the floor, you can pivot to be on top with this Gracie Jiu-Jitsu technique. Hook onto his wrist with one hand and use your other hand to grab behind his elbow, trapping his arm to your chest. Then use your foot to trap his foot and leg, lift your hips and turn over onto your knees to get on top.

 

Sexual Assault: In my interview with Rener Gracie, whose grandfather established the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu method 90 years ago, he told me there are four phases to nearly all sexual attacks on women: 1) Identify an unsuspecting target, 2) Subdue the target, 3) Exhaust the target, and 4) Execute the sexual assault. We want to fight with all our might and the moves we have above in the second phase. In the third phase, however, right before an assailant executes his sexual attack, all he wants to do is exhaust the victim and gain complete control, so fighting back actually may backfire at that point, wasting energy. Gracie’s Women Empowered training program teaches women to recognize when they’ve entered that phase where they are truly trapped and are no longer in the defensive movements phase—and to feign giving in. Pretend to be compliant (kind of like playing dead for a bear). In those split moments, the predator will think you have given up and will loosen his grip, giving you a chance get away.

Resources

These are just a sampling of the kinds of self-defense moves and techniques that might protect you one day or at least help you feel safer and more confident. There’s no replacement, however, for taking a self-defense class and practicing the moves in real life.

To find a good self-defense program, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault offers theseGuidelines for Choosing a Self-Defense Course.

You’ll probably easily find self-defense classes at martial arts centers, but other resources to look into include:

If you know of any other good self-defense tips, techniques, or resources, please share them with us in the comments.


Su Ericksen is a first degree TaeKwonDo black belt and has taught self-defense workshops. She lives in the Midwest with her family and works at a large medical center in the cardiology clinic.
To read more about women’s self-defense, visit her web site: Self Defense-4-Women.com.


Established in 1925, The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy is a global organization comprised of a network of Certified Training Centers. For more information Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, the Gracie Family, or any of their specialized self-defense programs, please visitwww.GracieUniversity.com.

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