Whenever we think of the CIA we instantly picture “Boys in black” wearing dark Aviator Ray-Ban glasses, always chewing gum while arrogantly demonstrating their nonchalant manners, which instantly brings to your mind one word only: Ass-hole :). Their facial expressions force you to think that their IQ is definitely below an average while their manhood is defined by the size of their gun and the constant increase in muscle tissue. Finally, the fact that whenever they should go “incognito” they actually get out of their way to “stand out” in a crowd in such an obvious way that only reassures you that your opinion about their intelligence was never far from the truth. So why by any stretch of imagination would anyone give the agency the name CIA?
Sometime between the end of 1994 and 1997, when I was still operating Intra-European flights as a Flight Attendant for Delta Airlines, there was an incident that has never been broadcasted. One day, someone from the ground personnel at the International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey helped smuggle a man on board Delta flight scheduled to leave that morning for Frankfurt, Germany. The airplane has left on time and landed without any complications mainly because either the smuggler or the victim himself watched too many James Bond movies and they must have been thinking, that if the gear compartment on the airplane is good for 007 then it must be perfect for any human being. Unfortunately, shortly after take off, the fugitive has suffered horrible death – the gear area is NOT equipped with the pressurized oxygen system, which allows passengers in the cabin and the animals in the cargo area to breath at 33,000 ft. To make things worse, his body DID NOT fall out during landing in Frankfurt and both – mechanics as well as Delta pilots – have failed to find him in the gear compartment during their mandatory “walk around” check up of the machine. Two hours later the same airplane with a different crew left Frankfurt for Moscow where, during a routine check up, his frozen body had been finally found by one of Delta mechanic stationed at the Sheremetyevo Airport. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the local authorities tried to force the crew to immediately return to Frankfurt, taking with them their newly discovered cargo, but that would violate the FAA flight time maximum required for the pilots and in the end Russians got stuck with the frozen body in their morgue. The poor man has been identified as Turkish citizen, a father of three who tried to reach Germany in order to find a job and provide for his family. Soon after the incident our flights enroute to Istanbul were flooded with “Men in Black” 🙂 – CIA agents gathering intelligence. No one however thought of interviewing F/A’s. No one also felt compelled to conclude the incident with a briefing as a follow up. Was it intelligent?
Right before the events of September 11, I was working in business class on the morning flight from NY to Los Angeles (cannot recall now, if it was EWR or JFK). It wasn’t a busy flight. As always we were serving coffee and breakfast, after which passengers engaged in their own activities trying to kill the time by either watching the movies, reading magazines or doing some work on their laptops before they reached their offices in LA. But, this flight was different. In the back of the business class cabin, there were two men, definitely from the Middle East, who were sitting on the opposite sides of the aisle constantly staring into the cockpit area. After take off, they sat together on the left side of the airplane, refused to eat or drink, which is not normal during lasting 5 hours flight. Through the entire time they were watching us, as we were working in the aisle, and they were constantly discussing something in a quiet voice in Arabic language. After the events of September 11 we have realized that we flew with the terrorist who were gathering their own “intelligence” on us :).
Communication and gathering information from various sources is vital to foreseeing any potential danger. A lot has been done since September 11, but the most recent events in Paris show that more important than collecting information is following through with it. Nowadays, we live in this world of delusion that we are safe and that our governments can protect us through such organizations like CIA, Department of Homeland Security or Interpol, which gather intelligence and cooperate with other countries sharing valuable information about the terrorist groups and any potential threats. I am NOT among those naïve believers and the events that took place in Istanbul only reassured me that accepting Turkey as a member of the European Union would’ve been a huge mistake. Was I wrong?
I think that for many people, the so called: “Muslim Invasion” of Europe – caused by the German Chancellor Merkel, who has shown how irresponsible and shortsighted her decisions were – was an eye opening experience and a vivid proof, that Turkey is nothing else, but a free and unrestricted passage between Asia and Europe that leaves the door wide open not only to all refugees and immigrants from the Middle East, but mainly to the members of various terrorist groups. And whether they are home grown terrorists, new radicals infiltrating Muslim Societies in Europe or young boys and girls leaving their safe homes in London in pursuit of idealistic beliefs in the rightful cause of the Islamic State, they all travel undisturbed through Turkey to Syria and back – leaving Europe vulnerable and weakened within its own unprotected borders.
Knowing that you are right is completely different from having a proof that what you believe in – has a valid point. Which is why, I was quite surprised when after the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris, French and Belgian governments have actually publically admitted to a huge negligence on their part. The police forces in both countries not only had all terrorists listed as radicals and were well aware about their jihadi background, but they also knew that majority of the terrorists travelled back and forth to Syria through Turkey and fought on the jihad side. Which is why an arrogant statement by a mastermind of the Paris Attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud didn’t even come to me as a surprise: “My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary.”
So while we waste time, money and efforts gathering intelligence and at the same time we fail to follow up on many legitimate discoveries in order to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians – most terrorist groups seem to be doing a much better job organizing themselves against us. The ability of the terrorist groups to use all available to them tools including, but not limited to Internet for communication, research and recruitment purposes and their unquestionable success in their pursuit – is impressive and frightening at the same time.
I strongly recommend an article published today in German Magazine “Der Spiegel” which has been translated to English, except for its title, so I will do the honors: “Terrorist Strategy. How the Islamic State brings the war to Europe.” It is by far one of the most interesting articles published so far on this topic, fully reflecting my own point of view and my beliefs, very similar to what David Thomson – French journalist and jihad expert – have said: “Attacks like this will no longer be something completely extraordinary.” And if you think that it is an exaggeration think about it: the night of November 13, 2015 Abdelhamid Abaaoud – the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks in Paris – after executing restaurants’ guest at La Belle Equipe, Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge, drives away in his black Seat, parks in the suburbs, gets on the subway and travels back to the scene of his the crime. Then he goes to Bataclan to reassure himself of the success of his mission. Shortly after that French President Francois Hollande arrives at the scene … such arrogance has never occured before. And, if the President of France happens to be in the same spot at the same time as the terrorist who just conducted all those atrocities and while every policeman in France and Belgium knows his face, he still manages to walk away … than God help us because no government ever will …
Rule number one in life and at war: You have to know your enemy. Regretfully, I didn’t come up with these words – the credit goes entirely to the ancient Roman fathers of philosophy. However, my absolute favorite is: Never underestimate your enemy.
So, partially inspired by an ancient wisdom and partially by a quite alarming article in the NY Times about the recent attacks on Muslim women in New York after the events in Paris I decided to play devils advocate. And since primo: the example of the European Union inability to protect its own citizens is a great incentive to take early steps to prevent the emergence of religious extremism among the American citizens against the entire Muslim community in the US, and secundo: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from the government interference, but it may not protect the individuals, predominantly female Muslim from vicious attacks of ignorant Americans – I decided that we need to take steps to prevent it from happening and simply enlighten the crowds. That should explain why, I decided to use the CIA website, which by the name: Central Intelligence Agency and by definition: The CIA is an independent agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers, should be able to provide me, as well as any other researcher, with the most thorough and up to date information on the topics like: Islam, al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL, jihad, caliphate, radicalism etc.
Unfortunately … IT DID NOT! Most of the information is seriously outdated, there is no simple definition nor explanation on any topic and after finally finding Syria in “The World Factbook” on the CIA website, the information neglected to mention anything about ISIS or current events while the only picture provided on the website represents “Palmyra” that no longer exists – it has been destroyed by ISIS in August this year. With such a level of devotion to accuracy, I concluded that CIA failure to “inform” and “educate” has left me with very little hope for our future and our safety.
As it turned out, a simple Google search provided me with more information on the topic than the US government website. And as funny as it may sound, it is definitely much easier to infiltrate the terrorist social media and educational websites on Islam and Jihad – which clearly works to their advantage in the process of recruiting young Muslim abroad. I have to admit, that it is quite refreshing to be able to read discussions of Muslims from all over the world arguing against religious radicalism and the use of Islam in jihadist fight for the Islamic State, expansion of caliphate, or what I found utterly fascinating – ISIS desire to claim Mecca and Medina challenging Saudi Arabia. And, if it is true, and Saudi Arabia indeed founded terrorism to be left alone, which worked only in a short term, it brings us back to the beginning of this article and explains: why rich countries in the Middle East don’t want to accept Syrian refugees and why Europe takes the burden exposing its own citizens to the terrorist attacks …
This topic is gigantic and we could still elaborate for hours on why young Muslim boys and girls born, raised and educated in Europe, fall for this new radical ideology and travel to Syria to join the Militant Islamist fighters. Or how life of young women married to Syrian suicide bombers looks like and how their lives have changed after ISIS claimed Raqqa. But, I will conclude this lengthy dissertation 🙂 with something that I have actually found quite funny. There are two countries that have my tremendous respect for the way they are able to handle the „issue” of Muslim religion in general and how they protect their citizens from potential threats of terrorism.
- Number one: Japan. The only country in the whole world that generally speaking doesn’t give a FUCK, if it is politically correct or not to discriminate against Muslim religion. Japanese do not welcome Muslim in their country. Period. Which sorts out one major problem – they DO NOT have to deal with religious extremism. Please don’t think that I have something against Muslim, because I do not, but one has to admire Japan for standing their ground and defending their tradition against ANY foreign influence. I think it is a much better approach than forcing a German Village of 102 to accept 750 asylum seekers.
- Number two: Canada for their impeccable sense of humor in selecting refugees: Government officials said the selection process would favor families, women who are at risk and gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender people. Single men will be admitted only if they fall under the sexual orientation categories or if they travel with their parents. Well, no one can say Canada didn’t accept refugees :). Also the fact that Canadian citizens and towns were given the right to voluntarily agree to accept refugees gained my full respect.
I have no doubts that the upcoming months will bring more topics for discussion, although in this particular case I really wished there was nothing else to write about. For our own sake.