Iraqi refugee on Trump and Saddam


Jalal al Fartoossi, photo by Eline de Zeeuw/NOS

Today, on the site of Dutch NOS TV, there is an interview with Jalal al Fartoossi, an Iraqi refugee who owns a barbershop near Washington, D.C. in the USA.

When Jalal, now 33, was six years old, the Saddam Hussein regime killed his father. After George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the United States armed forces offered him a job as a translator. This made Jalal in the eyes of many Iraqis a traitor, a collaborator with occupation. So, in 2010, he fled Iraq to the USA. He says now about George W Bush’s war that it killed Saddam, ‘but brought hundreds of Saddams’. That is still less than the ‘1,000 Saddams’ estimate by Ali Abbas, another Iraqi refugee.

Jalal had said to his wife in Iraq that she might join him once the barbershop would make enough money. Recently, the time was right. Jalal’s wife would come, with a visa. Then, Donald Trump’s travel ban came. It devastated Jalal.

Then, Jalal heard that a court in San Francisco had decided against Trump’s travel ban. ‘Now, my wife will be able to come! I am so happy!’

Liar Trump tells truth on Iraq for once


This video is called IRAQ WAR TRUTH – US Soldiers Kill Iraqi Family, Rape & Murder 14 Year Old Girl, Then Burn Her Body.

This video is about the Haditha massacre.

“Why was the entire family of this Iraqi girl murdered by the US soldiers?

Eman Waleed, a 9-year-old girl who survived the massacre told Time: “First, they went into my father’s room, where he was reading the Koran, and we heard shots. Then, the soldiers came back into the living room. I couldn’t see their faces very well — only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny.” Safa Younis Salim, a 13-year old girl, who in an interview said she lived by faking her death. “I pretended that I was dead when my brother’s body fell on me and he was bleeding like a faucet,” she said. She said that she saw American troops kick her family members and that one American shouted in the face of one relative before he was killed.”

By Alex Lantier:

Recent weeks have seen a spate of investigations and trials of US troops for murdering Iraqi civilians. The circumstances in which the investigations have been carried out—typically months after the events in question, which came to light only due to the intervention of enlisted men or outside journalists, and after cover-ups orchestrated by US officials—suggest that most such cases go unreported.

A well-known proverb says: “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”.

Broken clock Erdogan, dictator of Turkey, most of the time says and does terrible things. However, I had to admit he was right when he criticized the European Union about refugees’ deaths.

Broken clock Horst Köhler was president of Germany. Most of the time he said and did objectionable things. Until he told the truth about the Afghan war: that the German army participated in the bloodshed for the profits of German Big Business. He was sacked for telling that truth.

Now, on to broken clock Donald Trump, president of the USA.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Trump blurts out the truth about US killings and the media goes wild

7 February 2017

The furor unleashed by the remarks of President Donald Trump in response to Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer” during an interview broadcast Sunday has continued to reverberate, drawing hypocritical condemnations from leading figures in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

In response to O’Reilly’s denunciation of Putin, Trump stated: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump went on to cite Iraq in support of his statement. O’Reilly’s face went slack. He clearly did not know what to say. The new leader of the “Free World” had wandered seriously off message.

A pity that Trump did not go ‘off message’ before Bush started the Iraq war; contrary to Trump’s later ‘alternative facts’ claims on Iraq.

As far as the capitalist politicians of both parties and the media are concerned, Trump committed an unpardonable offense: he—in this one instance, and for purely pragmatic reasons related to his immediate political needs—had said something true about US imperialism’s role in the world.

The official posture of outrage over Trump’s off-hand comment will have little effect on the broader public. Do the politicians and media really believe that the public is so naïve and its memory so short? The United States is a country where The Bourne Identity­ and its innumerable sequels–whose basic premise is that the US government is run by murderers–are among the most popular movies of the last twenty years. This premise is well grounded in fact. Over the past 70 years, presidents and other high government officials have been implicated in the authorization and implementation of countless atrocities. Many of these crimes have been substantiated in official government reports and congressional hearings.

In a review of Joshua Kurlantzick’s A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of the Military CIA, reviewer Scott Shane wrote in the February 3 edition of The New York Times:

“Speaking last September in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, Barack Obama mentioned a staggering fact: that the United States had between 1963 and 1974 dropped two million tons of bombs on the country, more than the total loosed on Germany and Japan together during World War II. That made Laos, which is slightly smaller than Michigan, the most heavily bombed nation in history, the president said. More than four decades after the end of the war, unexploded ordnance is still killing and maiming Laotians, and Obama announced that he was doubling American funding to remove it.”

Calling attention to information in Kurlantzick’s book, Shane noted: “In his first presidential term, Richard M. Nixon escalated the bombing from about 15 sorties per day to 300 per day. ‘How many did we kill in Laos?’ Nixon asked Henry Kissinger one day in a conversation caught on tape. Kissinger replied: ‘In the Laotian thing, we killed about 10, 15’–10,000 or 15,000 people, he meant. The eventual death toll would be 200,000.”

When it comes to killing, the US Government is without equal. In multiple wars of aggression, from Korea to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the proxy war for regime-change in Syria, US imperialism has killed and maimed tens of millions.

The chief accusation being leveled against Trump–by both supposed liberals in the Democratic Party and right-wing Republicans–is that he implied a “moral equivalence” between Russia and the US. This was a phrase used during the Cold War to justify every crime committed by the US and its allies, from Latin America’s bloody dictatorships to the Apartheid regime in South Africa, on the grounds that there could be no “moral equivalence” between the leader of the “Free World” and the Soviet “Evil Empire.”

Jeane Duane Kirkpatrick, adviser of President Reagan, was the main propagandist of the ideology of there being “no moral equivalence” between bad “totalitarian” governments, defined by bad relations with the United States government; and good “authoritarian” governments, defined by good relations with the United States government; eg, the military dictatorship in Argentina of which Ms Kirkpatrick was especially fond. Ms Kirkpatrick’s love for the Argentinian tyrants caused problems for the Reagan administration when the Buenos Aires junta started the Malvinas/Falklands war against the Reagan administration’s other ally, the Thatcher government in Britain.

There is, in fact, no equivalence. When it comes to killing and global thuggery, Putin is a small fry compared to the leaders of the United States.

Underlying the furor over Trump’s remarks are fierce divisions over US imperialist strategy and Washington’s preparations for war that have been brought into the open with the change of administrations.

These differences have been exacerbated by recent events in Syria. The Syrian government’s retaking in December of eastern Aleppo, the last urban stronghold of the US-backed “rebels,” represented a colossal setback for US policy in the Middle East.

There are bitter recriminations within the foreign policy establishment over the Obama administration’s backing off of its “red line” in 2013, when it nearly went to war over false charges of Syrian government use of chemical weapons. Within these circles, there are many who feel that a military intervention would have been better for US interests, no matter what new catastrophe it unleashed.

An article published in the Washington Post Monday, warning that the US faces “a far stronger Iran” after “years of turmoil in the Arab world,” spelled out the situation that Washington now confronts in stark terms:

“Iran and Russia together have fought to ensure the survival of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and they are now pursuing a peace settlement in alliance with Turkey that excludes a role for the United States. America has been left with few friends and little leverage, apart from the Kurds in the northeast of the country.

“Russia controls the skies over Syria, and Turkey wields influence over the rebels, but Iran holds sway on the ground …”

Talk of “respecting” Putin, possible collaboration with Russia against ISIS in Syria, and an easing of sanctions is not, as the Democrats have suggested, evidence of some secret control exercised by the Kremlin over Trump. It is, rather, part of a definite strategy of peeling Russia off from Iran in order to pave the way for a new war in the Middle East, while sharply escalating provocations against China.

Citing unnamed administration officials, the Wall Street Journal spelled this policy out on Monday: “The administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran… The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile President Donald Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran.”

Trump’s chief White House strategist and adviser, Stephen Bannon, a student and admirer of Adolf Hitler, no doubt views the administration’s pivot toward Moscow through the historical prism of the Stalin-Hitler pact, which set the stage for the Second World War, a war that ultimately claimed 20 million Soviet lives.

Putin’s government is susceptible to such maneuvers. It shares all of the stupidity, backwardness and shortsightedness of the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy headed by Stalin. Putin sits atop a regime that represents a rapacious clique of oligarchs who enriched themselves through theft of state property and the extraction and sale of the resources of the former Soviet Union. They are anxious to see US sanctions lifted so that they can accelerate their accumulation of wealth at the expense of the Russian working class.

Within the US political establishment and Washington’s vast military and intelligence apparatus, there exists sharp opposition to Trump’s turn in foreign policy. Immense political, military and financial resources have been invested in the buildup against Russia, from the coup in Ukraine to the deployment of thousands of US and NATO troops on Russia’s western border. There are concerns within ruling circles that a shift in imperialist strategy is reckless and poses serious dangers.

While popular attention and outrage have been focused on Trump’s anti-democratic executive orders imposing a ban on Muslims and refugees, ordering a wall built on the southern border, and laying the groundwork for a mass dragnet against undocumented immigrant workers, within the ruling class a serious fight is being waged over global imperialist strategy.

This fight over policy is between two bands of cutthroats, each of which is committed to an escalation of US militarism to further the profit interests of the US-based banks and transnational corporations. Whichever one wins out, the threat of world war, rooted in the crisis of global capitalism, will only grow.

Donald Trump’s ‘mad dog’ Secretary of War


This video says about itself:

US General says “It’s good fun to shoot people”

The Pentagon has picked General James Mattis as the new head of Central Command.

If confirmed, Mattis will replace General David Petraeus in overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq along with US military operations across the Middle East.

Mattis oversaw US troops at the bloody battle of Fallujah in Iraq, and led the first conventional forces in the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Centcom chief role is more statesman than warrior though, and the general was reprimanded in 2005 for publicly saying “it’s fun to shoot people”.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane reports. (July 09, 2010)

The disclosure of the statements by a US General who had said its fun to kill Afghans has turned into a problem for the US army.

The US military, still recovering from the shock of the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, its top commander in Afghanistan — is facing fresh problems over revelations that another top commander declared that it was “fun to shoot people” in Afghanistan.

Mattis has been named as head of US central Command.

He has said at a seminar in 2005: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. Apparently no humanity has remained in Afghanistan. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

By Tom Eley in the USA:

With bipartisan support, Trump defense nominee outlines plans for global war

13 January 2017

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, used his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday to outline an aggressive war policy, designate Russia and China as enemies and call for a dramatic expansion of military spending, including the “modernization” of nuclear weapons and expansion of cyberwarfare.

All of those present—Democrats and Republicans alike—heaped praise on Mattis during the three-and-one-half hour hearing. Not a single senator asked the nominee how he might scale down US wars, which are currently raging in several countries. Instead, senators vied with each other in appealing to Mattis to identify threats to “national security” that will be immediately confronted by the Trump administration.

No senator, including the supposedly “left” Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, asked the retired Marine General about his record in the occupation of Iraq, where he was implicated in war crimes. Mattis led the savage Marine counteroffensive that retook the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004, and he ordered an air strike that year against a wedding party in which over 40 civilians were killed. Nor was he challenged about a public speech he made in which he stated it was “fun” to kill some people.

Until Thursday, Mattis was not legally eligible to be defense secretary. Federal law prevents selecting any individual who has been out of the military for less than seven years, a rule designed to protect the democratic principle of military subordination to the elected civilian government. Immediately after the hearing, the Armed Services Committee voted 24-3 to waive the law for Mattis, who retired from active command only three years ago, after which he assumed a seat on the corporate board of defense contracting giant General Dynamics. The US Senate quickly followed, voting 81-17 in favor of the waiver.

In a particularly ominous exchange during the hearing, Mattis was asked by the committee chairman, the Republican warmonger John McCain, whether or not he thought the “world order” was under its greatest strain in 70 years. Mattis responded, “I think it’s under the biggest attacks since World War II. And that’s from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.” Later in the hearing, Mattis said, “America has global responsibilities, and it is not to our advantage to leave any of those areas to the world absent from our efforts.”

There will be no end to these global wars, the senators’ questions and Mattis’ answers made clear. The US will “be engaged in global conflict for the foreseeable future,” McCain declared. “Believing otherwise is wishful thinking… Hard power matters, having it, threatening it, leveraging for diplomacy and at times using it.”

Though he was at pains to stress the importance of US alliances, especially NATO, Mattis, like McCain, embraced military unilateralism. The nominee said that the US has only “two fundamental powers,” one of which he called “the power of intimidation.” Necessary for this “intimidation” of other nations is for the US military to be “the top in its game in a competition where second place is last place.”

Starting with McCain, senators repeatedly invited Mattis to denounce Russia and to separate himself from Trump over the president-elect’s less publicly bellicose stance toward Moscow and his open conflict with US intelligence agencies over unsubstantiated allegations of Russian “hacking” of the US election.

Mattis labeled Russia a “strategic competitor” and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to “break” the NATO alliance, which he hailed as the greatest military alliance in history. “[T]here’s a decreasing number of areas where we can cooperate actively and increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia,” Mattis said. He also signaled his deference to US intelligence agencies, saying he has a “very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community.”

When asked by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico to identify “key threats” to the US, Mattis began with Russia, but from there developed a list that could include any nation in the world.

“I would consider the principal threat to start with Russia,” Mattis responded, “and then it would certainly include any nations that are looking to intimidate nations around the periphery or nations nearby them whether it is with weapons of mass destruction or—I would call it unusual, unorthodox means of intimidating them.”

This theme was taken up by Warren, who, alongside Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is promoted as the “left” face of the Democratic Party.

“Russia wants to promote its security through instability…trying to create a sphere of unstable states along the periphery,” Warren said. “As defense secretary, when it comes to the threats posed by Russia, will you advocate for your views frankly and forcefully to the president to speak about these threats and the need to take them seriously?” Mattis affirmed that he would. “We are counting on you,” pleaded the liberal senator.

Sometimes taking a more militaristic tone than the nominee, the senators also encouraged Mattis to make bellicose statements against China, Iran and North Korea, and solicited declarations that the US military—which spends more each year militarizing than the next eight biggest economies in the world combined—is underfunded. Committee members, Warren and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill included, used their questioning to call for major new spending on the nuclear arsenal, the National Guard and cyberwarfare.

Mattis did not retreat from statements made by Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO nominated by Trump for secretary of state, that the US should block China from access to the South China Sea—itself an act of war. Mattis supported the conclusion that China, in its land reclamation projects, is “militarizing” the South China Sea.

Mattis stated his support for increased US aggression in the Middle East, telling the committee that the war on the Islamic State [ISIS] in Iraq and Syria needed to be placed on “a more aggressive timeline.”

In a document submitted to the committee prior to the hearing, Mattis identified Iran as the “biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East” and said that the Trump administration should “checkmate Iran’s goal for regional hegemony.” In previous statements, he has insisted that ISIS was nothing more than a stalking horse for Tehran to project its influence. However, invited by senators to disavow the treaty with Iran concluded by the Obama administration, which removed the immediate threat of war, Mattis said he would uphold it.

Also Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings for Trump’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, a former Tea Party Caucus Congressman from Kansas with close ties to the multibillionaire Koch brothers. It is also expected that the Pompeo nomination will be ratified with little resistance from Democrats.

Pompeo’s testimony was notable for its belligerent posture toward Russia. He upheld the US spy agencies’ report of hacking, though that report contained not a shred of evidence and was previously questioned by Trump.

“With respect to this report in particular, it’s pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy,” Pompeo said. “This was an aggressive action taken by senior leadership inside of Russia.” Pompeo also accused Russia of “invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

The bitter fight over the allegations of Russian “interference” in the US elections boils down to a dispute over foreign policy—whether or not to settle scores first with Russia, or to focus on a showdown with China. The media hysteria and the intervention of the intelligence apparatus and leading Republicans such as McCain to support these allegations amounts to an attempt to ensure that the Trump administration will intensify the Obama administration’s anti-Russia policy, which would have been the first order of business in a Hillary Clinton White House.

The confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees confirm that his administration intends to vastly intensify US demands for massive economic and strategic concessions from the Chinese regime. In pursuit of the predatory ambitions of a tiny layer of corporate oligarchs, policies are being put forward that could result in a military clash and trigger a nuclear exchange: here.

The US Senate voted Monday night to confirm Representative Mike Pompeo as the next CIA director. The 66-32 vote is likely to be replicated in many other confirmation votes over the next two weeks, as all 52 Republicans were joined by 14 Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer: here.

Looking For Anti-Trump Protests? Here Are Dozens To Choose From: here.

From bloody Iraq war to bloody Fort Lauderdale, USA airport


This video from the USA says about itself:

9 January 2017

Recently there was a mass shooting at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale that claimed the lives of 5 people, the shooter has been caught and we’re now learning more about him. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks discuss some new details about the Ft. Lauderdale shooter. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Read more here.

“The suspect believed to have shot five people to death in a rampage at a Florida airport Friday was being treated in Alaska after complaining of hearing voices and had recently claimed to the FBI that the CIA was forcing him to watch ISIS videos, federal officials said.

THE SHOOTER opened fire at a baggage claim at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at 12:55 p.m., apparently shooting people at random.

SHOOTER had been “fighting with a lot of people,” his brother, Bryan, told NBC News in a phone interview from Puerto Rico. His aunt and uncle in New Jersey said Santiago had not been the same since a 10-month deployment in Iraq with the Puerto Rico National Guard.”

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

Details emerge of Fort Lauderdale shooter’s experience in military

10 January 2017

The suspected gunman in the Fort Lauderdale shooting, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, was charged on Saturday with performing an act of violence at an international airport, killing five people and injuring six more. The charges brought forth allow a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life.

On Monday, Santiago was ordered held without bond until a detention hearing next week. He was advised of the charges against him by US Magistrate Alicia Valle and was appointed a federal public defender. A bond hearing was scheduled for January 17 and an arraignment, during which Santiago will formally enter a plea for the charges against him, was set for January 23.

Santiago confessed to opening fire on a crowd in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale airport shortly after being detained on Friday afternoon. Once in custody, Santiago told investigators that he had planned the attack, purchasing a one-way ticket to the Fort Lauderdale airport from Anchorage, Alaska via Minneapolis-St. Paul, with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun as his only piece of checked luggage.

As details emerge concerning Santiago’s personal history, as well as his experiences serving in the US military, the media and political establishment continue to postulate on the cause of the latest shooting spree. These pundits fail in every attempt, many deliberately, to understand the deadly effects which the US military’s unrestrained brutality abroad over the last 15 years, has had on every facet of American life, and most directly on those forced to carry out the bloody campaigns.

The facts of Santiago’s life which have emerged suggest an impoverished adolescent brutalized by the inhumanity of war. Despite his own efforts, and those of his friends and family to seek help, and even to notify the FBI of his condition, Santiago failed to receive the necessary treatment, if such exists, to reverse the damaging experiences of his life.

Santiago was born in New Jersey but moved with his family to the impoverished US territory of Puerto Rico when he was two years old. He is the youngest of six children and spent his childhood in Penuelas, Puerto Rico, which is a small town of about 14,000 residents. Only about 18 percent of Penuelas residents have an education above a high school degree, and 60 percent of the population lives in poverty, with a median household income of only $14,300.

Santiago joined the Puerto Rico National Guard on December 14, 2007, when he was only 17 years old. Reports from those who knew him as a child depict a highly intelligent, kind and quiet adolescent, who joined the military as a way of moving out of his small, poor town. One former neighbor commented to the Associated Press in shock: “He was very peaceful, very educated, very serious.”

According to Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen, Santiago was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent close to a year with an engineering battalion. While in Iraq, Santiago was part of a team clearing roads of improvised explosive devices.

Santiago received numerous medals and commendations during his time in Iraq including the Iraq Campaign Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. While the extent of his participation in direct combat is still undetermined, some of his awards, such as the Iraq Campaign Medal and his Combat Action badge, are combat related honors. Additionally, his mother told reporters that her son witnessed a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq, just north of Baghdad, which killed two of his fellow 130th Engineer Company soldiers.

Details and reports from friends and family continue to emerge regarding the toll that his time in the military took on Santiago’s mental state.

A grade school classmate of Santiago’s, and fellow member of the National Guard, Rosemarie Zapata, reported to the New York Times that it was Santiago who convinced her to join the Puerto Rico National Guard, before he was deployed to Iraq. When she saw him again after his deployment in a Walgreens parking lot, she said “he was very different,” adding, “He told me: ‘You would never want to go to Iraq. I saw horrible things, horrible.’ He was very different. He was sad.”

One uncle, Hernan Rivera, told the Record, “Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good.” Friends and family continue to repeat similar sentiments to local and national media outlets.

After returning from Iraq, Santiago served in the Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard in Anchorage before being discharged for “unsatisfactory performance,” according to Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead. Olmstead, a spokeswoman for the Guard, would not elaborate on the specifics of his discharge, but the Pentagon reports that he went AWOL several times and was first demoted, and then discharged.

Consistent with these reports, Santiago voluntarily turned himself over to the FBI in November 2016, just a little over a month before the deadly shooting, claiming that the CIA was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch Islamic State [ISIS] videos. The FBI agents then notified the police, who took him in for psychiatric help. The hospital released him and ceased treatment after only four days.

Friday’s shooting marks the fourth time in the United States since 2013 that an individual previously known to the FBI has gone on to carry out a violent attack of some kind. This list includes the Pulse nightclub shooting, also in Florida, which killed over 50 people, and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, killing three.

While Santiago may have confessed to the killings in Fort Lauderdale, the ultimate responsibility for the crime lies not with the mentally unstable war veteran; nor is it the outcome some abstract “evil” entity haunting any single individual, as Governor Rick Scott of Florida has claimed. In fact, Santiago is in many ways himself a victim of US imperialism. The blood of these people, along with all of the tens of thousands killed in the wars abroad, and those who suffer here at home, lies in the hands of the American ruling class.

The truly guilty parties of these crimes are George W. Bush; Dick Cheney; the country’s current commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, the first in US history to oversee two full terms with the country at war; as well as the military leaders, the intelligence community, and the members of both political parties who initiated and continue the criminal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and beyond; as well as the corrupt media outlets who prop them up.

The horror of the Iraq war, one hundred years from now: here.

Iraq war comes home to Fort Lauderdale, USA


Fort Lauderdale massacre

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

Five dead, eight wounded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida airport shooting

7 January 2017

A gunman opened fire early Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in southeastern Florida, killing five people and injuring at least eight others, before being detained by Broward County police.

The incident began in the crowded baggage claim area of Terminal 2, the shooter then moved through a corridor until he ran out of bullets, at which point he laid on the ground “spread eagle” until apprehended by authorities. No shots were fired by the police.

The shooter has been identified as 26 year old New Jersey native, Esteban Santiago. Reports indicate that Santiago was carrying a concealed carry permit for his gun as well as a military identification for the US Army reserves.

Military officials have confirmed that Santiago served in the Puerto Rico National Guard beginning in 2007 and was deployed to Iraq in 2010 for at least 10 months earning a combat action badge for his service. In 2014 he moved to Alaska serving in the Alaska National Guard as a combat engineer. Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, an official from the Alaska National Guard reported that he was discharged in August 2016 for unsatisfactory performance.

‘Unsatisfactory performance’ is not that sursprising for a person who may have had PTSD; which was not taken sufficiently seriously by authorities.

Law enforcement officials believe Santiago had arrived on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, catching a connection in Minneapolis-St. Paul before flying on to Fort Lauderdale. Upon arrival the suspect picked up his firearm at baggage claim, went into the men’s bathroom to unpack and load his weapon with ammunition and began the shooting spree. Authorities are looking into witness reports that the suspect got into an altercation on board his flight to Florida, law enforcement officials said.

According to multiple media reports, Santiago fired openly into the crowd, stopping only to reload his weapon, and did not appear to be targeting anyone specifically. One witness from Minneapolis, who was nearby when the shooting began, described the scene to NBC, “Everyone started screaming and running. The shooter made his way down through baggage claim. He had what looked like a 9mm and emptied his entire clip. People were trying to run.”

Videos on social media show a chaotic scene of large crowds running across the tarmac between terminals, some taking cover behind vehicles. Many who were left unharmed in the wake of the shooting stayed on the scene to help those who had been shot, using items from their luggage to stop the bleeding from gunshot wounds.

Santiago is currently being questioned by the police to determine his motive, however, much information has surfaced regarding his mental state prior to the attack. According to media outlets, Santiago was being treated for mental health problems in Alaska, including hearing voices.

According to law enforcement officials, Santiago entered an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska in November last year claiming that the CIA, in the form of voices in his head, were forcing him to join ISIS. Officials say local police were promptly called, and he went voluntarily to a mental health facility for treatment.

In response to the shooting, Florida Governor Rick Scott told reporters: “The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of evil. Whoever is responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Scott’s statement is a clear indication that the response of the ruling establishment to the shooting will be no different from the countless others which have plagued American society. No political figure or media newscaster has broached the subject of the social roots of this “evil.”

While a certain level of personal responsibility for the senseless killing of the five individuals on Friday afternoon lies with Santiago, the more fundamental cause of this act of violence is found not in the personal failings of one deranged individual but with the type of society from which he emerged. One need not delve deep to see that this incident is one of many devastating effects of the United States’ quarter century of bloody imperialist wars abroad, coming home.

While it is not clear whether or not Santiago’s mental health issues were present before serving in the military, it is likely that his experience in training and in combat played a role in providing him with the technical know-how to carry out such an attack, and, more profoundly, inflicting the kind of psychological damage that would compel someone to murder innocent people.

Also significant is that fact that the suspect, who seems to be himself a victim of US imperialism, sought help from [the] same institutions which placed him in the situation that likely caused his disorder, the US military establishment.

Far from being equipped to treat the victims of their bloody wars, the dismal state of health care, and moreover psychological care, available to the population at large- let alone veterans– appears to have been inadequate to assist Santiago.

The details of Santiago’s treatment and mental state are still being released and verified, however, if the current facts released remain true, it appears that Santiago may have been a double victim of the capitalist system, both in the suffering the effects of serving as soldier in its imperialist wars abroad and its dismal state of social services at home.

As of this writing none of the victims have been identified, but as is the case with all such outbursts of violence, the devastation inflicted on the victims, their families, those innocent bystanders who will forever be affected by the bloody scene, and all those following the incident from afar, will be significant and irrevocable.

As more details emerge, the establishment’s response to this latest shooting will predictably seek to channel the public’s anxiety and anger toward support of a host of reactionary initiatives – intensification of the phony “war on terror,” the militarization of the police, the need to revive “traditional family values,” and more.

On the Internet, Islamophobes try to blame this violence by a non-Muslim on Islam.

Airport Shooting Suspect Checked Gun, Despite Mental Health Issues. The veteran told the FBI his mind was being controlled by the government. He was never on a no-fly list. 01/07/2017 01:31 pm ET: here.

“Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good,” his uncle, Hernan Rivera, told The Record newspaper.