Well, this isn't a history lesson for I am no historian. I am just a silly observer whose blood boils everytime the name of my country is tarnished and reflected in a bad light internationally. Locally, we have the right to speak out about injustice, nag and condemn the stupidity which governs us day in, day out.. but when our dirty underwear is visible for all to see, this is when I draw the line and take a more reserved stand, for I am a Bahraini at heart, and Bahrainis, like ostriches, bury their heads in the sand when the going gets tough.
Again, this isn't a rant about me or the other normal Bahrainis. This is a rant about a cancer which has plagued our societies and which we and those in charge have not shown any serious signs yet of a willingness to deal with it and root it out from our simple lives. This disease is called religion extremism, which I believe should be dealt using extreme measures. Call me an extremist, but those plotting to terrorise innocents just because they wrongly believe they are the apostles of God on Earth; those who have appointed themselves as the gate-keepers of Heaven while making life a living hell for everyone around them; and those who are blindly following fundamentalist doctrines without stopping and asking themselves why and to what end would the gory killing of others do to their faith, should be met with their own medicine and burned in a huge incinerator - a very relica of the Jahanam inferno they so willingly warn everyone who doesn't share their zeal for backwardness, polygamy, abuse of women and children, anarchy and cave-dwelling fixation with.
Why am I so incensed with those hardliners, who are today very much amongst the movers and shakers of society, in a Bahrain, which is apparantly moderate and forward-thinking, when and only when, compared to its neighbours?
Read this and you will see why. A new book just published links the so-called Bahrain terror cell to a plot to attack New York's subways with poison gas.
This is how Bahrain is introduced in the book:
The King Fahd Causeway, connecting the countries of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, is seen by many Saudis--both religious and not--as an illicit passage.
It is steel and concrete as metaphor--tied, on one shoreline, to a truce struck between the Saudi ruling family and religious traditionalists in the kingdom. The Sauds get virtually limitless wealth, a healthy chunk of which they share with their dour clerical partners and their Wahhabist accountants. In exchange, the royals receive a stamp of religious approval, as the true protectors of the Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina, as well as an understanding that 25,000 or so members of the royal family can do, more or less, anything they please, while the country's 27 million citizens live under strict religious laws mandating traditional dress, shrouding of women, prohibitions against the consumption of alcohol or premarital sex. Adultery carries a death sentence.
For such indulgences, and countless others, you cross the bridge to the island principality of Bahrain--a country of almost 700,000, with high-rise hotels, a playboy king, a base for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and significant cash flow from its role as a discreet "service provider" for Saudi Arabia. The lives of Saudis, and Bahrainis, are thoroughly framed by this arrangement, and its attendant hypocrisies. And both suffer the presence of its by-product: groups of stealthy, violent religious purists, graced with many opportunities to feel self-righteous.
Terrorism and Honey:
One such group was traveling across the King Fahd bridge toward Bahrain on Feb. 13, 2003, when they were picked up by Bahraini police. The United States, specifically the CIA, was behind the arrest. The NSA had picked up calls and e-mails from a cluster of Bahrainis that were troubling--boastful talk of what should be done to infidels, and some problem phrases, such as picking up "honey pots." "Honey" is often terrorist code for destructive items.
The Bahraini group consisted of five men: two gunrunners of a traditional criminal stripe, and three men with strong jihadist credentials. All were put through the basics of law enforcement procedure that are not necessarily common in their part of the world. Their belongings--cars, cell phones, wallets--were held in a secure place, used to glean further leads, and their apartments were searched.
One of the jihadists, Bassam Bokhowa, an educated fiftyish professional, with computer skills, had visited an apartment in Saudi Arabia. And there, a joint Saudi-U.S. counterterrorist unit, formed after the meeting with Bandar in his study, found a computer. The contents were dumped onto a separate hard drive, which was sent to the United States for imaging--a way to suck out digitalia, encrypted or not.
Al Mubtakar: A Holy Grail for Terrorists:
That's where they found it: plans for construction of a device called a mubtakkar. It is a fearful thing, and quite real.
Precisely, the mubtakkar is a delivery system for a widely available combination of chemicals--sodium cyanide, which is used as rat poison and metal cleanser, and hydrogen, which is everywhere. The combination of the two creates hydrogen cyanide, a colorless, highly volatile liquid that is soluble and stable in water. It has a faint odor, like peach kernels or bitter almonds. When it is turned into gas and inhaled, it is lethal. For years, figuring out how to deliver this combination of chemicals as a gas has been something of a holy grail for terrorists.
Dan Brown Vs Ron Suskind
Da Vinci Vs Bin Laden
Had the previous excerpts been from Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, I would have continued reading while sipping my Chai. But reading Ron Suskind's Bin Laden Code, was a different beast altogether because the incidents, people and locations are too close to my home turf for comfort. While Bahrain is home, New York is just a stone throw away for me and the Big Apple has always been dear to my heart, with lots of friends, colleagues and great memories. While I rarely use the subway because I am mildly claustrophobic, my prayers are with the millions who have no other choice but to put their lives at the whim of fanatics whose only glory lies in mayhem and the suffering and heartaches of innocents, everytime they ride the trains to return home after a hard day's work.
The questions which need immediate answers now are as follows:
1. How true are the allegations made in this new book?
2. What is the link of the alledged Bahrain terror cell to the New York subway plot?
3. What will the Bahrain government do to diffuse the connection and the negative publicity such allegations bring to the kingdom and all the other peace-loving Bahrainis?
4. Will the Bahraini public be informed of what is happening in their own country or will the Press be once again oppressed, gagged and barred from carrying out its sacred duty?
5. If the Bahrain terror cell was indeed involved in the Mubtakkar development, why were they set loose on the streets again? Who are the officials involved in interrogating them? What action will be taken against them, considering that the people they let go weren't only a danger to themselves and society, but also involved in international terror plots?
6. If technology and know how of developing such unimaginable weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are readily available to terrorists, how immune are we from their attacks at home?
7. What contingency plans are there, if any, to protect innocents in a place as small as Bahrain from such terror schemes?
8. Is the government serious in its effort to monitor and curb religious fanatism or is the national security apparatus only mission to thwart dissidence among its unruly Shia population and confronting demonstrations and public gatherings with an iron fist while turning a blind eye to growing Sunni extremism and international terrorism?