Rape as a War Crime Against Your Own
February 4, 2009 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Iraq: "A woman suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame."
Algeria: "Evil al-Qaeda chiefs are raping young male converts to shame them into becoming suicide bombers, it emerged yesterday. "
posted by davidstandaford (140 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"This is just the same as what America does"-style equivalence in 3...2...
posted by billysumday at 1:51 PM on February 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


And for the record, I'm not sure what one is supposed to say about how horrible this tragedy is, other than I hope it stops, somehow.
posted by billysumday at 1:51 PM on February 4, 2009


Jesus. This post made me cry - the idea that rapes are being systematically organized, planned, and carried out to create violent martyrs is horrific - because once you're raped you're ruined and shameful and might as well die, of course!
posted by grippycat at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2009


This is just the same as what America does to poor black peo-- wait. No. This is fucking monstrous.
posted by cthuljew at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2009


People like this make me wish I believed in hell.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2009 [17 favorites]


Monstrous doesn't even come close, cthuljew.

On the other hand--bear with me--it's kind of a good sign. Not for the victims, obviously. But if the asshats at the top need to resort to that level of thuggery to recruit, maybe it's a sign that their hold is weakening.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:58 PM on February 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


.
posted by everichon at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2009


I heard that Bin Laden has really been hiding in an airport bathroom stall.
posted by parmanparman at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2009


Actually, apologies for stepping on this thread with my first comment. Even though I strongly despise people who always try to equivocate horrible actions, there really was no reason to jump in immediately and steer the thread off like that with a preemptive call-out. Mea culpa.
posted by billysumday at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2009 [16 favorites]


This is one of those things that's too obvious to even say, but it's also so obvious that it can't be not said: There is something extraordinarily fucked up about a world in which the victim of a rape, and not its perpetrator, bears the entirety of the shame of the experience.

I mean, seriously, what. the. fuck. humans.

This makes me want to smash things.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:00 PM on February 4, 2009 [34 favorites]


There are some terrible, terrible people in this world.

GIVE 'EM A FAIR TRIAL IN A COURT OF LAW! doesn't have nearly the same ring to it as HANG 'EM FROM THE HIGHEST TREE!, but that's the price we must pay for being civilized.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:03 PM on February 4, 2009 [14 favorites]


Looks like some more people who need to spontaneously combust.
posted by josher71 at 2:03 PM on February 4, 2009


NICE TO SEE THE IRAQIS QUICKLY ADAPTING TO THE MIRACLES OF WESTERN DEMOCRACY
posted by Damn That Television at 2:04 PM on February 4, 2009


That's unbearably awful. The fact that these rapists think what they're doing is holy and right is as sick as the rapes themselves.

Shit.
posted by Rinku at 2:04 PM on February 4, 2009


No. Words.
posted by cbp at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2009


And for the record, I'm not sure what one is supposed to say about how horrible this tragedy is, other than I hope it stops, somehow.
posted by billysumday at 3:51 PM on February 4 [+] [!]


Don't you mean: "other than predicting the imminent outbreak of moral equivalence"?
posted by goethean at 2:10 PM on February 4, 2009


Makes the Devil seem to lack imagination.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 2:13 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


what.
posted by Caduceus at 2:15 PM on February 4, 2009


Well this is pretty sickening.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:18 PM on February 4, 2009


With psychotic zealots, nothing would surprise me. But I'm (by a journalist) told that the "rape" aspect of this has been entirely misrepresented and may be not true at all.

For the record, I have no idea what the truth is, and I wouldn't want to speculate as to what it might be. I hope it's not true - like most of us - but if it is true, it's a monstrosity.

That said, I had trouble finding any really credible news sources about this story - most of it appears to be one blog quoting another blog, ad infinitum. I did find an article on the woman in question from The Guardian - which I regard as credible (unlike The Sun.) But it doesn't mention rape at all, and although I don't understand Arabic enough to tell, I'm told that the clips of the woman speaking don't include anything about rape either (although they are just excerpts.)

The Guardian article
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:18 PM on February 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is one of the most troubling things I've ever heard. How creditable are these sources?
posted by dagosto at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2009


People like this make me wish I believed in hell.

People like this supposedly believe in hell, but I can't imagine how anyone who does can actually choose to do something like that. I'm interested to see how the Islamic world responds to this revelation. It ought to severely damage the religious credibility of al-Qaeda, because I have trouble believing Islam possibly justifies this.

As for equivalence... America has made ends-justifies-the-means decisions, including applying sexual abuse as part of the war on terror, and we consider prison rape acceptable part and parcel of the criminal justice system. So no, I don't think we can consider our hands quite clean as a society.

But yeah, this is something else above and beyond that in my opinion. Rape of your own people as a recruiting/motivation tool. That's not just problematic human impulses hitting tense or difficult situations, that's advanced disease.
posted by weston at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I almost never read something so upsetting that I wish I hadn't read it. Boring things, or stupid things, but never upsetting things. I wish I didn't know about this. And am glad to the extent that I still really don't.
posted by I Foody at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2009


Dee: can you repost the link to the Guardian article?
posted by davidstandaford at 2:20 PM on February 4, 2009


Dee Xtrovert moved towards answering my question right before I asked it. Thanks for the sobering up.
posted by dagosto at 2:21 PM on February 4, 2009


Worth saying again. How credible are these sources?
posted by sfts2 at 2:21 PM on February 4, 2009


That said, I had trouble finding any really credible news sources about this story - most of it appears to be one blog quoting another blog, ad infinitum.

Yeah, this really sounds a lot more like atrocity propaganda than actual fact. Given that the sources are The Sun and Rupert Murdoch-owned news.com.au, I'm gonna take this with a grain of salt.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:23 PM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm interested to see how the Islamic world responds to this revelation. It ought to severely damage the religious credibility of al-Qaeda, because I have trouble believing Islam possibly justifies this.

People who hate AQ will believe it.

People who support AQ will dismiss it as an MI6/Zionist/CIA/Rockefeller/Freemason/Shiite slander.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:23 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this really sounds a lot more like atrocity propaganda than actual fact. Given that the sources are The Sun and Rupert Murdoch-owned news.com.au, I'm gonna take this with a grain of salt.

Good point. Although I'm not going to dismiss this outright, I would like to see sources a tad more credible than the Murdoch Machine on this one.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:25 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why we had to invade Iraq: to save the Iraqis from the terrorists who were plaguing them.
posted by mullingitover at 2:26 PM on February 4, 2009


Yep, I'm hoping to see more credible sources on this. I've seen firsthand some of the sickening stuff AQI has done, but for every confirmed report there were 10 rumors that turned out to be untrue.
posted by xthlc at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2009


Worth saying again. How credible are these sources?

Credible or not, let's please stand back from the outrage button for a moment and consider the poster's history.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


Rape as a War Crime Against Your Own

I think the point is that these are no longer the terrorists' 'own' people. Aren't the bombers meant to give their lives willingly for some kind of mushahideen-style glory and celestial rewards? That they've been driven to using rape in order to recruit suicide bombers must show at least a fair level of alienation between them and the general population. Moreover, I can't imagine this is winning anybody back to their cause.

Hearts and minds?
posted by Sova at 2:28 PM on February 4, 2009


People who support AQ will dismiss it as an MI6/Zionist/CIA/Rockefeller/Freemason/Shiite slander.

Yes, because if you don't immediately believe every fantastic piece of atrocity propaganda reported by sources that could charitably be called "extremely biased", you must support th'turrists. Especially if you're a backward Muslim.

Please. This isn't completely outside the realm of possibility, but with the information we have here, it seems very likely that it's not true.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:28 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is an article about this on the front page of the BBC that has more info. I'd link it but my computer is being fritzy.
posted by cbp at 2:29 PM on February 4, 2009




Credible or not, let's please stand back from the outrage button for a moment and consider the poster's history.

Oh Jesus. Reports of atrocities in right-wing tabloid media, posted by a vocal shill for Israel? Yeah, I'm gonna go beyond "grain of salt" and dismiss this outright as total bullshit.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This smells a little bit like those stories of Iraqi soldiers dumping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, or German soldiers spitting Belgian babies on their bayonets during WWI. If true, it's horrific beyond my power to describe: but I'm going to wait for a little more evidence than is presented here.
posted by steambadger at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ok, this BBC News article mentions rape, but does say they don't have any verification...

In a separate interview with AP a week after her 21 January arrest, Jassim also described how insurgents used organised rape as a way of generating more bombers.

Her role was to persuade the traumatised victims that carrying out a suicide attack was their only way out.

That claim was impossible to verify, AP said, and during their interview with her police interrogators sat in an adjoining room.

But in a culture where rape is considered very shameful for the victim, it is not implausible, correspondents say.

posted by orme at 2:36 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Associated Press article.
posted by Sova at 2:37 PM on February 4, 2009


I don't know what I did wrong, but in case I do it again, you can cut and paste:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/03/iraq-suicide-bomb-recruiter-suspect

The Guardian article
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:37 PM on February 4, 2009


100% bullshit. Flagged.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:39 PM on February 4, 2009


The article that I am refering to, different than the posted link, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7869570.stm), sorry to do it this way but it's the only way I can make it work, has this tid bit:

"She also explained, in a separate interview with the Associated Press, how insurgents used rape as a tool, with the "shamed" women persuaded to redeem themselves through suicide attacks."

I'm not arguing if it's true or not, frankly I hope it's not.
posted by cbp at 2:40 PM on February 4, 2009


Associated Press Article:
"In a separate prison interview with The Associated Press, with interrogators nearby, the woman said she was part of a plot in which young women were raped and then sent to her for matronly advice. She said she would try to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame and to reclaim their honor."

Can we please not turn this thread into a discussion about my views concerning Israel?
posted by davidstandaford at 2:42 PM on February 4, 2009


That people do these things in the name of, for the sake of and in hopes of winning the approval of a god they think loves them makes my head hurt.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:44 PM on February 4, 2009


I'm going with the propaganda angle on this. AQ guys are bad guys, but they are human. And who is perpetrating the male rapes? I can't see Bin Laden acting as a top.
posted by bystander at 2:47 PM on February 4, 2009


The post is apparently bullshit from a blatantly biased source, but this:

People who hate AQ will believe it.

People who support AQ will dismiss it as an MI6/Zionist/CIA/Rockefeller/Freemason/Shiite slander.


...is worse, it's vile shit-stirring, on a par with "kiss the flag or you're a lousy traitor." Please don't do that.
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on February 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


A source for the Algerian rape claims.

This seems to be similar to the one used by The Sun, even though it makes completely different claims in a completely different situation. Indeed, that quality newspaper seems to have mashed two separate stories into one in order to present a false picture. Bastards, who would have thought it?
posted by Sova at 2:49 PM on February 4, 2009


"This is just the same as what America does"-style equivalence in 3...2...

Gratuitous bashing of stereotypical "liberals" in 3...2...
posted by ornate insect at 2:50 PM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


The original poster may have some fairly strong views on related subjects that make this post seem as if it may have been posted for well, propaganda purposes. However, on some level, that's true of many posts here, and it doesn't bother me as such. I try to do my homework before reacting about something that may not entirely factual, which I why I looked at the sources, which aren't very credible, and then searched for credible sources to confirm this. I couldn't find any.

Can we please not turn this thread into a discussion about my views concerning Israel?

I don't think anyone wants to, David. But when you make poorly-sourced and highly inflammatory, people will wonder about them, and your own personal posting history is bound to come up.

I'm Muslim, but I wouldn't have shied away from posting this story myself, were it not for two things:

1) The sources (at least at the moment) seem sketchy, at best.
2) I think we all know, here in 2009, that al-Queda is a pretty horrific organization, capable of just about any form of depravity.

I also take offense at the header, "Rape as a War Crime Against Your Own." I speak for plenty of Muslims when I say that those people are not my/our own. And my views - as many here will know - are such that I'm sure al-Queda isn't rushing to claim me as one of theirs, either.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:53 PM on February 4, 2009 [14 favorites]


This smells a little bit like those stories of Iraqi soldiers dumping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, or German soldiers spitting Belgian babies on their bayonets during WWI. If true, it's horrific beyond my power to describe: but I'm going to wait for a little more evidence than is presented here.

When the ruling elite wants to convince people to go blow up other people in some far-flung land (and be blown up themselves), it doesn't work to present the enemy as human beings with human motivations, or to state the actual motivation for wanting to blow them up (usually resources). You have to present the enemy as evil inhuman monsters whose only motivation is to be evil, and the motivation to blow them up is presented as the triumph of good over evil. This is what's known as atrocity propaganda, and you gave two classic examples. Now, in some cases the enemy actually is committing atrocities, such as the Germans in WWII (although the propaganda then didn't mention the extermination camps, only how brutally they treated the people in the countries they conquered, which was still true). In most cases, though, you just invent something completely outlandish and repeat it over and over until it becomes accepted fact, like the Kuwaiti babies or the "people in plastic shredders" stories from 2003. I don't really see the point of this particular claim, as Al-Qaeda is in reality a bunch of bad dudes that have done a lot of actual bad things, but I guess it doesn't hurt to really hit the dumbest people (such as people who read The Sun) over the head with "THESE AY-RABS ARE EEEEEVIL".
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:53 PM on February 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Rape is often used as a tool in warfare. Has been for thousands of years. Is this particular instance "true." I have no idea. But it wouldn't surprise me. We raped women and men in Iraq. Why wouldn't they?
posted by tkchrist at 2:57 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


If it helps matters, non-Brits may like to know that the Sun are well known for printing complete and utter bollocks from time to time. My first thought, looking at this post, was that I need much more to go on.
posted by nthdegx at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2009


The Associate Press is saying they heard the woman make this claim. What isn't credible about that?

Is it that the AP is lying, that the woman has been tortured into making this false claim, or that she is lying for some other reason? Why do people keep saying that this is made up?

Dee Xtrovert: I also take offense at the header, "Rape as a War Crime Against Your Own." I speak for plenty of Muslims when I say that those people are not my/our own.

Regarding the title, I was making a distinction between the widespread use of rape as a tool against the enemy (see, for instance, "Rape as a Tool of War") and these instances, where one side in a conflict is using rape as a tool against people on their side, as opposed to the enemy. I don't know why you think I was saying that the people doing this are your own, whatever that means.
posted by davidstandaford at 3:00 PM on February 4, 2009


People who are critical thinkers may dismiss it as an MI6/Zionist/CIA/Rockefeller/Freemason/Shiite slander, at least until more evidence is made available.
posted by dirty lies at 3:00 PM on February 4, 2009


From the same article davidstandaford linked:

The U.S. and Iraqi militaries have made past claims without providing much evidence about efforts by insurgents to recruit vulnerable women as well as children as attackers. Those included statements by the Iraqis that two women who blew themselves up last year in Baghdad had Down's Syndrome, accounts that were not supported by subsequent investigations.

It also was not possible independently to verify the claim that insurgents sent out people to rape women who could then be recruited as bombers in the volatile Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.


This article reeks of the 60 Minutes incident concerning the translation of 70 virgins.
posted by formless at 3:02 PM on February 4, 2009


I just wanted to say that I'm proud of MeFi for the way this thread went from rabid, uncritical outrage and indignation to skepticism and reasonable doubt. On almost any other website, the groupthink effect would have meant 500 virtually identical comments just like the ones at the top. The fact that we're willing to look past the fallacy of misleading vividness speaks well of us as a community.
posted by nasreddin at 3:08 PM on February 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


This article reeks of the 60 Minutes incident concerning the translation of 70 virgins.

Link to this?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:08 PM on February 4, 2009


Okay, so correct me if I'm not up to speed here: Someone posts some links regarding a series of horrific, awful crimes that incite mass outrage and disgust. However, said poster's chosen links include spurious sources, resulting in mass incredulity (as well as an 'outing' of poster's noted political angle). However, we concurrently discover that several other news organizations (including the notably credible AP and a news organization based in Algiers) are claiming the events as true. Who am I supposed to be angry at again?
posted by tiger yang at 3:11 PM on February 4, 2009


several other news organizations (including the notably credible AP and a news organization based in Algiers) are claiming the events as true.

The Algerian organization only reports a single instance of someone who had been raped after already joining a terrorist organization and an unverified claim that other members of this organization could also have been systematically raped.

The AP also reports an unverified claim with no indication of how widespread or systematic the phenomenon was; at the very least, the post suggests that all of her 80 recruits were "persuaded" in this way, which is clearly specious.
posted by nasreddin at 3:16 PM on February 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


What not_on_display said.
posted by Space Kitty at 3:19 PM on February 4, 2009


Thank you. Can I just state for the record that I'm against rape?
posted by tiger yang at 3:19 PM on February 4, 2009



Is it that the AP is lying, that the woman has been tortured into making this false claim, or that she is lying for some other reason? Why do people keep saying that this is made up?


We don't know. We don't even have a transcript or any independent verification. Yes, it seems plausible, but so did Ahmed Chalabi and so did the story of the Kuwaiti incubator babies. This is precisely the kind of propaganda that has been used in the past, so until some more clear evidence emerges, skepticism is the most reasonable position.
posted by nasreddin at 3:19 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who am I supposed to be angry at again?

The Jews.

d'uh!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:20 PM on February 4, 2009


I took the advice of CynicalKnight, and this guy is a propagandist.
posted by Flex1970 at 3:20 PM on February 4, 2009


I can has grain of salt? Not that people aren't capable of monstrosities, but this woman's involvement is ridiculously overstated (can you say torture confession?). Just for starters, the number of crimes she has admitted to is staggeringly unrealistic.

Unlike the SUN, outfits that actually engage in responsible journalism and bothered to check their sources have admitted that "there was no way to independently verify the video's authenticity." Now, why would they suspect shenanigans? Perhaps because, "More than 30 women blew themselves up in 2008, compared with eight in 2007, according to U.S. military figures." This mean old woman claims to have recruited 80? Please. With her in custody, we should see negative numbers of female suicide bombers. Women are just going to be unblowing themselves up, just materializing out of nowhere!

Quotes taken from: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq-female-bombers4-2009feb04,0,7803445.story
posted by mano at 3:20 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


So we feel really sympathetic to the people this happens to, until they in turn do something bad to us, despite the fact that what they did to us is a planned and direct result of the bad thing that happened to them to begin with?

Most Americans are hardly ready to accept our nation's enemies as victims. Which is too bad, because that would be a really incredible turning point in the collective understanding of the real cost of war and terrorism.
posted by hermitosis at 3:20 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


languagehat accuses me of "Vile shit-stirring."

How nice.

Perhaps the context of my comment eludes you.

Let me recap:

weston wondered if this report -- which may be true or it could be propaganda bullshit, I don't know -- might result in Al-Qaeda losing support because there ain't no way a devout Muslim could defend something this hideous.

I replied that these reports won't change anyone's mind; people will believe what they want to believe. People who hate AQ will seize upon the report for their own purposes. Supporters of AQ will retreat into their own wacky, conspiratorial mindset and dismiss the reports as MI6/Zionist propaganda.

There's certainly room for skepticism about these reports. I was only addressing the mentality of AQ's supporters. Not the people in this discussion.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:24 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know why you think I was saying that the people doing this are your own, whatever that means.

Well, if you haven't noticed both the tendency of people to conflate Muslims with al-Queda, and the tendency of hate-mongers to exploit this connection, I'm happy to be the one to do it for you. That's why some of us might take offense at your heading.

Nasreddin states it nicely. My take is that - at best - this post was premature. At worst, it serves as needless hate-mongering disguised as news. Stating that the original post was "true," based on more credible sources that don't go nearly as far as your original, dubious sources claimed is disingenuous at best. The claims may be true . . . but that's simply not been demonstrate at all.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:27 PM on February 4, 2009


Yes, it seems plausible, but so did Ahmed Chalabi and so did the story of the Kuwaiti incubator babies.

I'm not sure I trust your plausibility assessment skills.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:27 PM on February 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


I replied that these reports won't change anyone's mind; people will believe what they want to believe. People who hate AQ will seize upon the report for their own purposes. Supporters of AQ will retreat into their own wacky, conspiratorial mindset and dismiss the reports as MI6/Zionist propaganda.

There are no "supporters of AQ" in this thread or, I'd wager, anywhere on MeFi. By accusing skeptics of being Al Qaeda supporters--and by implying that you can't both hate Al Qaeda and be a skeptic--you're engaging in vile shit-stirring. Sorry.
posted by nasreddin at 3:29 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Regarding the title, I was making a distinction between the widespread use of rape as a tool against the enemy (see, for instance, "Rape as a Tool of War") and these instances, where one side in a conflict is using rape as a tool against people on their side, as opposed to the enemy.

Right, because the war on terror is not civilized people of all nations vs. the terrorists, it's Muslims versus Christians.

Is that infantile view really how you think?
posted by goethean at 3:29 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This smells a little bit like those stories of Iraqi soldiers dumping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, or German soldiers spitting Belgian babies on their bayonets during WWI.

More recently, the claims that the Iraqi insurgency is made up of deformed Jordanian villains, and KSM's confession that he used the power of Satan to kill cattle and summon hailstorms. This confession is the product of a country whose police force have been heavily implicated in sectarian massacres and assassinations. False confessions are extremely easy to produce. Without any corroboration this statement should simply be ignored.
posted by stammer at 3:29 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


This article reeks of the 60 Minutes incident concerning the translation of 70 virgins.

Link to this?


It occurred back in August of 2001, right before 9/11, which is forever in Internet time, so I'm not finding many links. Here's one (on freerepublic of all places):

CBS admits error in '60 Minutes' segment on suicide bombers. I was unable to find that article elsewhere online.
posted by formless at 3:30 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Associate Press is saying they heard the woman make this claim. What isn't credible about that?

From the very article you linked to:

"In a separate prison interview with The Associated Press, with interrogators nearby, the woman said she was part of a plot in which young women were raped and then sent to her for matronly advice."
. . .
"It also was not possible independently to verify the claim that insurgents sent out people to rape women who could then be recruited as bombers in the volatile Diyala province northeast of Baghdad."

So, yeah. Color me skeptical until more substantial evidence surfaces.

Also, the headline of your second linked article is a real doozy: "Al Qaeda in gay rape horror"!! Quality journalism, that.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:30 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


By accusing skeptics of being Al Qaeda supporters--and by implying that you can't both hate Al Qaeda and be a skeptic--you're engaging in vile shit-stirring. Sorry.

These accusations and implications exist only between your own ears.

Sorry.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:34 PM on February 4, 2009


By the way, I don't mean to come across as someone absolutely committed to the idea that these claims are true. It's possible that it is made up, and there are any number of actors involved in the story who might have a reason to invent or exaggerate something like this. In fact, these articles would be just as interesting to me if they were made up as part of a propaganda effort, although I have no reason to think that is the case.

But since the women who were allegedly raped seem to be dead now, we have the word of the woman who claims to have set this up, and unless any of the men allegedly involved in these rapes are arrested, I'm not sure if we're going to get any more evidence about what exactly happened.

Based on the articles, and thousands of years of people using rape and sexual violence as a tool of war, it seems more likely than not that rape might be used to coerce people into doing something they normally might not want to do in a situation like Iraq. The Algerian article seems less believable, as people have noted. I included it because it was the first one I saw that led me to these articles, when I stumbled across it here, at one of the blogs I read daily.
posted by davidstandaford at 3:36 PM on February 4, 2009


There are no "supporters of AQ" in this thread or, I'd wager, anywhere on MeFi.

From the rest of the comment, that you left out:

There's certainly room for skepticism about these reports. I was only addressing the mentality of AQ's supporters. Not the people in this discussion.

You seem like a fairly erudite fellow. Maybe you might want to acquire the habit of reading the entire comment before you respond to it.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:38 PM on February 4, 2009


Imagine no religion.
posted by plexi at 3:44 PM on February 4, 2009


goethean:
Regarding the title, I was making a distinction between the widespread use of rape as a tool against the enemy (see, for instance, "Rape as a Tool of War") and these instances, where one side in a conflict is using rape as a tool against people on their side, as opposed to the enemy.

Right, because the war on terror is not civilized people of all nations vs. the terrorists, it's Muslims versus Christians.

Is that infantile view really how you think?
I think we are misunderstanding each other. The limited point I was making is that over the last 2,000 some years, sexual violence has been used almost exclusively against the enemy. At least as far as I am aware. People rape the women of the people they are fighting, and in some instances enemy soldiers as well. These cases in Iraq and Algeria seemed relatively unique because the people that were allegedly raped are on the side of the people who are raping them. Is that clearer?
posted by davidstandaford at 3:44 PM on February 4, 2009


Also, the headline of your second linked article is a real doozy: "Al Qaeda in gay rape horror"!! Quality journalism, that.

To be fair, they're just ripping off the NY Post.
posted by tiger yang at 3:45 PM on February 4, 2009


Imagine no religion.

Yes, religion-baiting is definitely the proper response here! Bravo!

You seem like a fairly erudite fellow. Maybe you might want to acquire the habit of reading the entire comment before you respond to it.


What I was referring to was your well-poisoning association of the skeptical viewpoint in general with loony conspiracy theories,. But if you say that you don't believe that, then okay, I was mistaken and you are not shit-stirring.
posted by nasreddin at 3:47 PM on February 4, 2009


Sources do count, always but especially in reports of incidents/practices that seem to defy (or sully or soil) the realm of the imagination, even among those whose reading of history from any point to another has caused bewilderment and even shame at what humans have and still do to one another. Any high school history teacher worth his or her salt leaves the phrases "know and name your sources," and "define your terms" ringing in students' ears for years to come (or forever).

That said, assuming there is any truth to this scenario, the use of shame to induce a willingness to commit suicide, and sexual shame in particular, makes me angry beyond angry.

Let's all please remember well-documented "honor killings," in which fathers and brothers murder wives, daughters and sisters with virtual impunity whether the women were raped or engaged in consensual sex outside of marriage.

Some things are so wrong it feels idiotic to have to point out their wrongness. All I can say, in the parlance of my family--forgive me if everyone uses this acronym--FYYW, rapists, suicide bombers, torturers, etc. Fuck You, You're Wrong.
posted by emhutchinson at 4:00 PM on February 4, 2009


Not everything found on the internet should be posted to Metafilter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


But if you say that you don't believe that, then okay, I was mistaken and you are not shit-stirring.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

We're good.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:06 PM on February 4, 2009


I was about to insert some quotes from the Sun article, but it's the Sun, which I don't feel conforms to a very high journalistic standard.

When I read this news this morning before it was posted here at MeFi, I was quite shocked. The Sun article adds the detail that some of the women were married by operatives, then raped and subsequently shamed.

That's a level of barbarism that goes beyond rape.
posted by Catblack at 4:07 PM on February 4, 2009


Based on the articles, and thousands of years of people using rape and sexual violence as a tool of war, it seems more likely than not that rape might be used to coerce people into doing something they normally might not want to do in a situation like Iraq.

Based on poor evidence, and faulty generalisation about the use of rape and sexual violence as a tool of war, it seem more likely this post is clutching at straws.




I take back my first comment.
posted by Sova at 4:12 PM on February 4, 2009


I think we are misunderstanding each other. The limited point I was making is that over the last 2,000 some years, sexual violence has been used almost exclusively against the enemy. At least as far as I am aware. People rape the women of the people they are fighting, and in some instances enemy soldiers as well. These cases in Iraq and Algeria seemed relatively unique because the people that were allegedly raped are on the side of the people who are raping them. Is that clearer?

Yes, and 72% of facts are made up on the spot. I could cite loads - loads! - of examples where women were victims of rape by "their" people. It's nothing new at all. Additionally, al-Qaeda isn't an army representing any nation, it's a terrorist group. They may have popular support within a population, but they don't represent the people, they pay no heed to the rules of the lands where they have support, and their policies are often insane and dictated by the often singular leadership of some crackpot. So clumsy use of the term "side" is misleading and inaccurate. Just because you didn't do your homework doesn't make you right.

To give a better example of the historical parallels potentially at work:

Much like these alleged victims, Patty Hearst was raped by terrorists so that she would become more "connected" to them and their cause. Consider it an especially brutal and dehumanizing way to manipulate the Stockholm Syndrome to the advantage of the terrorists. But even when confined to terrorism, this is nothing new.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:13 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Incredibly painful to learn of this.

The motivation for suicide bombings was always a mystery to me. I never bought that it was ideological. Now I know, that at least in some instances it is personal--personal, but not resulting from social or economic or political injustice.

That said, these revelations explain only some suicide actions.

Still not sure about 9/11.
posted by subatomiczoo at 4:16 PM on February 4, 2009


Yeah, this story couldn't smack of much more bullshit if it scratched a backward B on its cheek and said a black guy jumped it. Flagged like a mofo.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:17 PM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't know (for sure anyway) whether it's bullshit or not, but the fact that I had to even think about it for a minute is really depressing.
posted by jonmc at 4:29 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, who knew propaganda was suitable as a MetaFilter FPP?
posted by KokuRyu at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2009


If you like this FPP, you may also like OBAMA SEX PERV SCANDAL.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:32 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, we always hear about the 'evil al-Qaeda chiefs', but never about the good ones. You know, the al-Qaeda chiefs with a wife and two kids, balding and a bit pudgy even though they try to exercise regularly, just trying to get by, driving hybrids, buying Fair Trade coffee and giving to charity when they can. We never hear about them.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:56 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not everything found on the internet should be posted to Metafilter.

I'm glad this particular post ended up on Metafilter because I read the AP version in my newspaper this morning. I was horrified, needless to say, and that is as far as I got in my reactions. I see now I should have been more critical in my thinking. I got caught up in believing "The Mother of Believers."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:05 PM on February 4, 2009


The BBC seems to validate the story.

"In an apparent video confession, the middle-aged woman described how she identified potential bombers, helped supply them with explosives and led them to their targets.

She also explained, in a separate interview with the Associated Press, how insurgents used rape as a tool, with the "shamed" women persuaded to redeem themselves through suicide attacks. "
posted by wildcrdj at 5:11 PM on February 4, 2009


(I understand the "impossible to verify" part, but this is getting way more traction than just Murdoch's outlets, true or not)
posted by wildcrdj at 5:13 PM on February 4, 2009


It's a horrible story, but why is the FPP-worthy? A little context would be better, because, let's face it, horrible things are happening all over the world as we speak. Why not talk about the use of cluster munitions in Sri Lanka, a sexual assault occuring at a friend's house in Atlanta, rampant gangland violence in Vancouver, or blowing up girls schools in Pakistan?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:14 PM on February 4, 2009


I really hope it's not true, but whether it's true or not it might still work as part of an ongoing campaign to erode support for AQ. Which seems like a good thing to me. (Whether the story would ever get any traction in the communities where it matters is another thing)

It's just all too horrible.
posted by The Monkey at 5:18 PM on February 4, 2009


Y'all remember the stories about Iraqi soldiers killing babies found in hospitals when they invaded Kuwait? Do y'all also remember that those stories turned out to be complete and total bullshit? Do you remember the video of one young woman screaming and crying about how they killed her family? And how later it came out that she was a Kuwaiti diplomat's daughter, and her family was fine and living in Europe, and that the video was staged entirely?

You don't remember? I do.

This has my BS detector going, but it's not pegged all the way. I can see them raping women, because they think women are a disposable commodity. But the homosexual rape thing I find to be a bit of a stretch. I can't know one way or the other what the truth is until there is more, and more credible evidence. None of us can.
posted by Xoebe at 5:19 PM on February 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


While I don't put it past Al Qaeda to do this, I think these two isolated claims need to be taken with a bit of salt.

Why?

1> Anyone who gets their news from The Sun is an idiot. It's about the most slanted and unreliable newspaper there is in the western world... a sensationalist Murdoch-owned rag that lies somewhere between FoxNews and the Weekly World News.

2> Ennahar Online, the initial source for the article about Al Qaeda in Algeria, is a small independent endeavor started by two journalists, one of whom is an established national security analyst with prior ties to the government. Ultimately, we know nothing of their funding, whether they're a mouthpiece for stories floated by the government or from the US, both of whom have a vested interest in labeling rebels as sadistic Al Qaeda members rather than as local insurgents.

3> Iraq is known for routinely abusing its prisoners, in order to extract confessions. In some cases, prisoners have confessed to killing people who were later found to still be alive.

Before we make any snap judgements, keep in mind that it's entirely possible that we could be condemning people who were raped, beaten, tortured or abused themselves.
posted by markkraft at 5:47 PM on February 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Are all you people just stupid or what?!

I checked several of these links - this is all based on the word of one woman (correct me if I'm wrong, I wasn't exhaustive) who was arrested by the Iraqi police.

Now, I try to have a fairly positive view about Iraq and its people, but I have no illusions about what must happen to a woman who is arrested by the Iraqi police. There is no question in my mind that this woman would have been tortured before she testified.

As such, everything she says is worthless. From reading this, I'd assume that her interrogator was into rape, probably raped her a few times until she said whatever it was he wanted.

If you believe shit like this without strong proof, you are terminally stupid and have learned zero from the last eight years.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:47 PM on February 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


But since the women who were allegedly raped seem to be dead now, we have the word of the woman who claims to have set this up, and unless any of the men allegedly involved in these rapes are arrested, I'm not sure if we're going to get any more evidence about what exactly happened.

Using your standard of proof, it would be impossible to get convictions for murder in the courts.
posted by QIbHom at 5:50 PM on February 4, 2009


Seems like there ought to be a reasonably local source for this -
UAE Daily News doesn't mention the rapes, and also doesn't mention Al Qaeda, except as an aside at the end about some unrelated arrests. Jordan Times also doesn't mention rapes, and doesn't mention Al Qaeda at all - it's an afterthought to a story about political violence.

But since the women who were allegedly raped seem to be dead now,
Again, if this were true, wouldn't we have heard from some stricken families? Wouldn't brothers and husbands be lining up to battle Al Qaeda?

From your source: The Associated Press reports US military figures indicate at least 36 female suicide bombers attempted or carried out 32 attacks last year.
Seems like an awful lot of them are, in fact, still with us - why no full-court press to stop them from carrying out the plans?

Simple. It's bullshit.
posted by swell at 5:52 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post is still up eh?

Hm.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:02 PM on February 4, 2009


This story will be a big hit on the email-forwarding circuit.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:03 PM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


(Best of the web?)

Links from the online versions of two News Corporation tabloids pointing to the stories that are difficult to verify elsewhere.

Flagged.
posted by crossoverman at 6:47 PM on February 4, 2009



This story will be a big hit on the email-forwarding circuit.


No kidding. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that's how it came to the OP's attention in the first place.

I'm almost morbidly curious enough to see what the discussions on Free Republic or LGF are like. Anyone want to bet how many times some variation of the phrase "religion of peace" is used sarcastically? How about "nuke Mecca"?
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:47 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the same issue of the Sun: Mum Abducted by Aliens on the A5.

I've gone from appalled to skeptical on this. The woman is at an "undisclosed location" and being held by Iraqi police, so who knows what abuse she went through before her "confession".

Not that the woman isn't vile - Sky News did report that two female suicide bombers had Downs Syndrome, though they're not sure if they were recruited by this woman.
posted by kanewai at 6:53 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


al Jazeera to the rescue!

They report that the recruiter targeted vulnerable women - women who had family problems, or who had been raped, and convinced them that this was a way to deal with the shame. There is no mention of her organizing the rapes in the video. They mention it in the article, but quote the same mysterious AP Source.

This has been an interesting discussion - I'd prefer that the OP stay up.

(and I'm embarrassed to report that I'm one of those who forwarded the article and then checked it out. And I like to think that I know better.
posted by kanewai at 7:01 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is hilarious -- we can't trust Murdoch's media (or, for that matter, the BBC and AP), but apparently Al Jazeera is a bastion of unbiased integrity.

Mods, please delete this post ASAP and replace it with a single-link Youtube video or rageblog about Americans or Israelis doing something monstrous before someone has a conniption.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:41 PM on February 4, 2009


This is hilarious -- we can't trust Murdoch's media (or, for that matter, the BBC and AP), but apparently Al Jazeera is a bastion of unbiased integrity.

It's not about the reputability of the various media sources, it's about the circumstances in which the confession was produced. There is nothing to the organised rape story except the AP confession, and the AP confession stinks.
posted by stammer at 8:14 PM on February 4, 2009


The NY Times has an article that mentions discrepancies about her arrest and states that she claims only 28 recruits. There is no mention of rape.
posted by nikitabot at 8:22 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're kidding right?

Compared to the Sun, and a lot of other media, Al Jazeera is a bastion of unbiased integrity. Nothing hilarious about it.
posted by pompomtom at 8:22 PM on February 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Seconding pompomtom. Al Jazeera is a perfectly reputable news source, it just labors under the burden of being owned and run by brown people (from an Murican perspective).

Even the US has given up on its own puppet news organizations in Arabic (al-Hurriyah).
posted by bardic at 9:17 PM on February 4, 2009 [3 favorites]




"This is just the same as what America does"-style equivalence in 3...2...

uh....
posted by delmoi at 10:39 PM on February 4, 2009


We're drifting off the subject, but as one who has taken in a good measure of Al Jazeera in English and Arabic, it is impossible to think of it as "perfectly reputable."

I am reminded of what a journalist once said of covering Arafat, that s/he didn't pay much attention to what he said in English at press conferences and in interviews, did pay attention to what he said in Arabic to his people and local/regional media--because the messages were profoundly different.
posted by ambient2 at 10:48 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flagged as stupid propaganda.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:59 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


...it just labors under the burden of being owned and run by brown people (from an Murican perspective).

Y'know, I'm tired of this passive-aggressive BS. You can't find anyone saying this actual statement, so you put it out there using a cute slang term (Murican) to validate a point that you are the only one making.

Listen, if you have an example of someone saying this, link to it and I will join you telling those people to grow up, get perspective and stop with the racist, xenophobic claptrap that passes for discourse.

The more you make points like this, the more your remind of a pastor railing against homosexuality while having meth-fuelled trysts in a motel room with a male hooker.
posted by Dagobert at 1:07 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Yes, it seems plausible"

Not really, no. If it turned out to be true that this was happening on a significant scale, I'd be truly fucking gobsmacked. Both sides are waging a PR war, and this would be a fairly disastrous blow for the cells involved, and the broader network, if it were true. The upper echelons of terror cells are not, in fact, batshit insane lunatics. Of course they use coercion to convince people to blow themselves up. Rape might convince one guy, but it's really going to be counter-productive when finding the next ten after that.
posted by nthdegx at 1:26 AM on February 5, 2009


This is hilarious -- we can't trust Murdoch's media (or, for that matter, the BBC and AP), but apparently Al Jazeera is a bastion of unbiased integrity.

First off: the BBC and the AP were trusted. If you read the thread more carefully, you'll see it was the details in their stories that helped shed more doubt on Murdoch's propagandic bullshit. Second: you're probably not aware of this, but Al-Jazeera has been banned in many Arabic countries for not censoring, at the behest of government officials, information they uncovered through investigative reporting. The only people who are consistently unhappy with Al-Jazeera's reporting are these Arab states, Israel, and the previous White House administration. The veracity of Al-Jazeera's reporting hasn't been disputed by the international journalism community; they did, in fact, win a Royal Television Society award last year.

Mods, please delete this post ASAP and replace it with a single-link Youtube video or rageblog about Americans or Israelis doing something monstrous before someone has a conniption.

The difference between the YouTube clip that you can't seem to let go of and this post should be immediately obvious to anyone who so much as glanced at both, but I'll help you out: the video wasn't pretending to be news.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:41 AM on February 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Don't bother responding to him, MSTPT. It's a waste of your time, trust me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:33 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nice work Metafilter!

War is horrific, which is why no sane person would advocate for it. I don't think that I need to add anything to what has been said by previous posters. Atrocity propaganda (new terminology to me) indeed.

Mentioning the babies ejected from incubators in Quwait reminds me of a real atrocity* which did not get much media attention at the time, given that it upsets both the righteous Westerners and Arabs who believe they are the arbiters of civilisation in a barbaric world.
The terror campaign continued throughout 1991 achieving its main objective: terrorizing Palestinians enough so that they would leave the country. To expedite the process, the government took several other measures to evict those who did not leave. First, Palestinians working for the government were fired or not rehired. Second, Palestinian children were kicked out of public schools and subsidies for their education in private schools were stopped. Third, new fees became required for health services. Fourth, housing rents increased and people were asked by Kuwaiti landlords to pay rent for the entire crisis-period.[31]

More important were the feelings of injustice and insecurity Palestinians began to experience as a result of the terror campaign. It became unsafe to walk in streets or to stay at home. Rape stories functioned as a decisive pushing factor for the remaining Palestinian families. The "censored" Western media rarely reported on this part of the campaign. The CNN TV network covered one of these rape stories. Lubbadah[32] told the same story together with many others. The Middle East Watch group also told several stories of rape.[33]
*Any rape is an atrocity.
posted by asok at 3:40 AM on February 5, 2009


But did she actually do this, or was she tortured until she admitted doing this, to discredit her faction?

Given how much the US and its Iraqi proxies rely on torture, false flag attacks, and propaganda, I'm going to reserve judgment.

And I don't think I'm arguing for "moral equivalency" if I point out that John Yoo as a Department of ustice lawyer claimed th resident could crush the testicles of child to further an interrogation, or that Israel regularly withhold medical treatment from Palestinians to puish them for not turning informers.

If this happened, it's sick; if the US had had clean hands these last eight years, if we hadn't used made up atrocities to justify Gulf War I (Kuwaiti infants tossed out of incubators) and the Iraq War ("yellow cake, WMDS"), I might be more likely to believe this.
posted by orthogonality at 5:30 AM on February 5, 2009


Regarding the title, I was making a distinction between the widespread use of rape as a tool against the enemy (see, for instance, "Rape as a Tool of War") and these instances, where one side in a conflict is using rape as a tool against people on their side

There is no coherent logical framework in which it is possible to use rape as a tool against people who are "on your side."
posted by saulgoodman at 7:44 AM on February 5, 2009


This is incredibly sad.

Bring them to me and I will say it to their faces:

These people are an insult to the memory of Muhammad and his prophecies, and with every 'peace be upon him' that they utter, they spit upon everything he did.

They are not Muslims.
posted by koeselitz at 8:29 AM on February 5, 2009


There's certainly room for skepticism about these reports. I was only addressing the mentality of AQ's supporters. Not the people in this discussion.

Thanks for saying that. I still think your comment was ill phrased, but I withdraw the shit-stirring allegation.

Uh, koeselitz, have you read the thread at all, or given two seconds' thought to the plausibility of the story? There is no "them" to bring to you. Unless you mean the "reporters" who brought us this bullshit.
posted by languagehat at 8:48 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Uh, yeah. On long-overdue post-view... urm. Yeah.
posted by koeselitz at 9:08 AM on February 5, 2009


ambient2 - Can you give any examples? I find al Jazeera in English to be an excellent source of news - it's one of my main sources of international news, along with the NYT, the BBC and the Economist. I've wondered if their Arabic edition is that different than their English one.
posted by kanewai at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2009


Thanks for saying that. I still think your comment was ill phrased, but I withdraw the shit-stirring allegation.

Thank you.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:37 AM on February 5, 2009


This is hilarious -- we can't trust Murdoch's media (or, for that matter, the BBC and AP), but apparently Al Jazeera is a bastion of unbiased integrity.

Actually, it depends on the news story whether we can trust Murdoch or Al Jazeera. Because both sources have a very definite bias.

So, if a story came out on Fox News or the WSJ tomorrow that the Bush administration was dismantling financial regulations even as it knew there was widespread mortgage fraud, you'd give much more credit to the story. And if al Jazeera released this story, I'd be more inclined to believe it. Because in both cases, the organizations are releasing stories that go against their own self-interests.
posted by formless at 12:08 PM on February 5, 2009


A lot of ignorance here. How do you think they get people to be suicide bombers? Volunteers? Not exactly. There have been many women over the years who have said there were attempts to coerce them by forcing some act of shame on them from which there could be no recovery in the community.
posted by ottlite at 8:48 PM on February 5, 2009


How that makes this tabloid fear mongering suddenly true, I have no idea.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2009


“I hope it's not true - like most of us - but if it is true, it's a monstrosity.”

People had/have the same reaction to the holocaust, et.al. Folks don’t want to believe humans do this to each other. Much less in a systematic, fully lucid way.
Whether this specifically is factual or not, it is true in a larger sense.

And it’s odd isn’t it when there’s an article “Amerka rapes babies” people jump all over it - ‘filthy bastards, I knew it’ etc.
But terrorists do it ‘oh, check the source’ ‘is this factual?’ etc.

Not that the critical eye isn’t valuable, but it should apply equally. I tend not to disbelieve something because it’s so horrible (absent factual data and evidence) but because it serves some purpose. Propaganda, et. al.
Perhaps this does. But the point is that the horrific nature of the event doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened.
(Without addressing the other valid, critical concerns brought up as to whether this event itself is factual).

Hell, the fact that AQ are human makes it MORE likely they’d do this or something like it.
Organized rape was going on in Kosovo, it’s gone on (and is going on) in Africa.

Hell - to address davidstandaford’s comment that “over the last 2,000 some years, sexual violence has been used almost exclusively against the enemy” - MS-13 uses organized rape - routinely - to maintain control over its human traffic. Other groups do as well. (Oh, but human slavery doesn’t exist anymore Smedley! Uh huh.)

Systematic rape against the enemy as well as one’s “own” is going on in many places. I’ve seen evidence of it and I’ve shot some of the filthy bastards shoving people through that - oh, feel free to question the veracity of that since I was working for those ruling elitists in the U.S., but do it with this in mind:
“'One thing worries me - Will people believe me? Will they want to hear about it, or will they want to forget the whole thing ever happened?” - inscription carved into the glass blocks of the Vietnam Memorial in lower Manhattan.

Rape is a tactic like terror. There’s no reason that if you see success in it against an enemy (even in an illusory effect) you wouldn’t use it domestically. It’s one of the (many many many) reasons I oppose torture.

Lots of atrocities in war. I understand a lot of people coming home from WWII had a hard time getting people to believe them about the ovens and the gas chambers. Folks don’t seem to want to believe that there are people you can’t reason with. Or that ‘evil’ actually exists.
I can, on the one hand, feel sympathy for a child tortured by a parent, sexually abused, etc. and still stop the monster that child may have become (not all - in fact the vast majority do not become hurtful adults, but it does happen) by whatever reasonable means necessary.
Some people you have to kill to stop them from killing. For them it’s not a measured response out of necessity or the tool of last resort, for them it’s sport or a way of life or something they’re so inured to they do just to feel something different for a few hours.

And yes, U.S. troops have raped women in combat zones. But it’s never been part and parcel of systemic area denial though. We don’t use social controls of that kind. It’s horribly corrosive on the cohesion and discipline of your forces. Not to mention nearly impossible in terms of incentive for a volunteer military, most of whom expect to return home after one or two tours.
We do, on the the other hand, bomb and chew up infrastructure and turn the place into a mudhole as a method. Often killing innocent civilians. Tough to justify that either, but hardware has no conscience.
Not arguing a moral position here, just laying it down as it is.
Honestly though, I couldn’t tell you who the worst ones are, the ones with the bloody hands or clean.

Tactics abound. Raping someone into killing innocent people is horrible yes. But the ends are more or less the same if it’s a pleasant conversation over tea as to why someone should blow themselves up in a crowd of men, women and children.
There’s just one victim more, really.
As Dee Xtrovert sed, this is nothing new.
And as nthdegx sed, doubtful The Base would use this as a wholesale tactic.

That said - they’re uh, still blowing themselves up, yeah?
It still takes some doing. But even with no coercion they’re still targeting otherwise innocent folks (which, without coercion is perhaps worse, really).

I mean, what would this change anyway? It’s still a terrorist organization. I’d be sorry that someone is a rape victim, but I see them heading towards a crowd with a bunch of wires sticking out of grayish bars strapped to their chest I’m taking the shot. Whether they’re doing it of their own free will isn’t going to enter into it.

Of course, were someone raped, tortured, or otherwise coerced into spreading a story like this for propaganda purposes they are clearly part of the problem and need to be stopped as well (Yoo included).
The objective in any use of force is de-escalation. That’s the only real utility force has.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2009


Smed, you know I respect you as much as anyone here, and that's a lot, but with all due respect, WTF?

People had/have the same reaction to the holocaust, et.al. Folks don’t want to believe humans do this to each other. Much less in a systematic, fully lucid way.


Dude, nobody in this thread, as far as I can tell, doesn't want to believe humans do this to each other, if by that you mean "is reluctant to believe." We're all big boys and girls here, we know that perfectly well. The question is not whether people in general do bad things to each other, or whether Al Qaeda in particular is capable of doing this particular bad thing, the question is whether Al Qaeda in particular did do this particular bad thing. And there appears to be no even vaguely convincing evidence that they did.

Whether this specifically is factual or not, it is true in a larger sense.

Again, with respect: that's utter, complete, unmitigated bullshit. "True in a larger sense" = lie. Are you seriously claiming that because Al Qaeda is bad, all bad things are true of them? Any time we hear something bad about them, we should just accept it because they're bad people? You do know that's how we got into Iraq, right? Saddam Hussein is a bad man, therefore he is hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction, and if you question it you're not only unpatriotic but a fool! And how we got into Vietnam: the North Vietnamese are evil commies, therefore they tried to sink the USS Maddox on August 4, 1964, and if you question it [etc. etc.]. The whole point of having a skeptical mind is questioning assertions, especially assertions you want to believe because they're about people you don't like; otherwise you're a sheep. And I know you, Smed, are no sheep.

This is not about whether Al Qaeda is bad, and frankly, for you to frame it that way and imply that those of us who refuse to believe the story are soft on Al Qaeda is kind of insulting.
posted by languagehat at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


These people are an insult to the memory of Muhammad and his prophecies, and with every 'peace be upon him' that they utter, they spit upon everything he did.

They are not Muslims.


Gee, I thought Scotsmen were indigenous to the UK.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:05 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


"if by that you mean "is reluctant to believe.""

That is what I mean.

"Are you seriously claiming that because Al Qaeda is bad, all bad things are true of them?"

No. I thought I was quite clear I put most of the other issues aside and went off on a tangent.
Frankly, people often do not (or do) believe things that are dissonant with whatever their ideas are. I thought it was pretty plain that I thought the criticism was valid in this case. Some comments were couched in this anti-U.S. sensibility which I see as prejudiced and generalized as being anti-Muslim for the sake of Al Qaeda. Something is true or false because of the facts. As it is, again, I think those facts are fairly weak here so I'm in agreement. But such a thing should be a matter of course in any earnest inquiry.

I didn't frame this as whether AQ is bad. My reasoning is that AQ is bad *anyway*. If this is propaganda (and again, it certainly may well be) it's poor in that it's not relevant to any legitimate counterterrorism operation. And that, along those lines, using something like this is illegitimate since it obviously seeks to create more friction.

Allow me to eludicate that last, seemingly very simple, point - the threat from terrorism and other non-traditional forces adapt civil technology readily, unlike rural guerrilla forces they are often already nested in society and the threats they pose are not to states or territories but to people, assets (whether physical, mental or organizational) and their way of life so as to change intentions and have their own way.

There is then little difference in terms of tactics used against their enemies or 'their own' be it rape, or be it cellular technology to detonate IEDs - they are not extraneous to a given system or society.
Got that? If not re-read it. They're not 'outsiders' anywhere. By the nature of modern terrorism and modern society.

In a sense - in one of the facets of the "true in the larger sense" statement that I meant - they are engaging in a kind of rape, since they co-opt whatever they will - be it a religion (Muslim) or a society or a microcosm within that society as cover to subverting cadre and individual wills.
Certainly it's only of the mind in the case of an individual, or a perversion of religion or subversion of a social order, but brainwashing and other tactics are certainly akin to rape. They are egregious violations in any case.

But again, they are already of and amongst the people whether in the flesh or in the media, and it is often there that the fight takes place. One can escalate firepower (as I said before is our general tactic) but beyond collateral damage this typically plays into the terrorist's hands.
It is rather obvious that the gist of this thinking, given it's propaganda, seeks to do that. To escalate.

Given the other flavors in the thread (davidstandaford's history, et.al) I'll use Israel's attacks on the Lebanese civilian infrastructure in '06 as an example of those consequences.
Ethical and moral (and legal) questions aside - this thinking leads to winning every battle but losing the war.
If we are to face and defeat those who confront us and threaten us with force and who are - demonstrably - operating amongst the people to capture their will and change their intentions (whether with rape, brainwashing or honeyed words) then we have to adapt and keep adapting with the understanding that while battles may be won against people who blow themselves up - willingly or otherwise - not all conflicts may be resolved by the use of force or even other measures. Some confrontations can only be managed.
Without that will even the most efficient force is useless.

What I'm saying is this propaganda, and responses to it in endless iterations in this thread - as valuable as they may be in terms of lending a critical eye - is the same old approach conceptually. You're still in the same conceptual framework.
I'm saying this approach is irrelevetn since the opponent will not present a formed coherent structure to be attacked.
The argument here is defined with tiger yang's comment above "Thank you. Can I just state for the record that I'm against rape?"

Similarly - y'all have some vague concept of who AQ is and that they're 'bad.' Ok.
Who's the opponent?
I'm pointing out your (et.al) thinking is dichotomized. Same as it's ever been. Same as the asshats who are arguing about a 'war on terror.'
You know terror is a tactic. And yet - in opposition find yourselves supporting the 'other' side.
There is no other side here is what I'm saying.
Rape here is as decontextualized as terror because the enemy were talking about is (for lack of a better, less self-deprecating word, but since I introduced 'formed coherent structure above) incoherent.

I mean, y'all are talking this piece as bad. Swell. I ceded that entire thing. Pretty sure I made that clear. I don't *know* know. But yeah, I tend to go with all the reasoning here that it's b.s. Ok. 'Rah. The good guys win.

But let's stop jerking ourselves off for a moment and consider escalation as the enemy - in whatever terms from whatever side. Conceptual crystalization not the least of these.
Because that's what it is. There are four functions of force - amelioration, containment, deterrence (or coercion) and destruction. Of the four coercion and deterrence, if achieved, alters directly the opponent's intentions so you don't have to go to dukes, you can win by a test of will.
For coercion to work the threat of military force must be directed at a target of sufficient value to the enemy that their preservation is (to them) of greater importance than achieving their intent against you.
Iraq as an example - what targets does the U.S. have (from 2003 to now) what escalation can the U.S. use against "insurgents" who are blended with the society that it is (in theory) the objective to preserve?
(Say what you will, we're not actively engaging in wholesale genocide as a matter of stated intent or policy)
So there's no serious target list to threaten the 'insurgents' with, so they can't escalate. (If you do you're threatening society as well)
One has to offer the order that the insurgent can't offer (bit of a tangent - so that aside) - or target the individual insurgent and so escalation becomes measured in the sense of threat to oneself.

What, then, does one do to an enemy that rapes people into becoming suicide bombers? Kill them? They don't care about that obviously. Where's the escalation? From the other side - how does one coerce an enemy to stop suicide bombing? Stop the rape?
I'm saying this is a completely useless (indeed counterproductive) bit of information, true or false.

Where it's true is in the sense that terrorists coerce through fear, a kind of rape of a society. Where it's false is in the facts. But those facts aren't relevant either way because there is nothing to be done in a counterterrorism sense.
And the implication of this piece - whether true or false - is escalation by force. One comment said 'this makes me want to smash things.' And it is very visceral. Doubtlessly that commenter wasn't alone.
But the emotional buy in is irrelevent as well. It's a bit of whole cloth. A physical conflict masking atrocities (irrelevent which are true - some are, that's enough to be) masking a fight over symbols masking a conflict of meaning. Here is an event, perhaps fictional. But there's buy in to it. You're worried about whether it's true or not, not worried about what it means - whether it's true or not.

I get your, and others, sense of outrage. Oh, no one likes to be bullshitted, I understand (and again, had accounted for) that piece of it.
But looking for a dichotomy here is silly.
The opposite of AQ is not the U.S. The opposite of AQ (and in certain cases, the administration of the U.S.) is security and order.
It's not about AQ specifically - all terrorism is like this. Doesn't much matter what you believe or who you believe it of as long as your objective is to have security and order and remain true to a standard.
Then if the U.S. does it, if AQ does it, if your mother does it - doesn't matter - same standard all around.
If the terrorists (whomever they may be) are defining the parameters of the conflict then have then by default presented an alternative force and power.

"You do know that's how we got into Iraq, right?"

Oh, you mean the first time we got into Iraq? The second time? Third? Which time exactly? Does bombing the shit out of it and denying air travel under Bill Clinton count? Or only Republican presidents? And which 'We'? You know the gulf war did not take place, right?
Any bit of realization what I'm talking about here?

No, what do I know. I couldn't be that smart.
With respect, I've pretty much had it with the sanctimonious bullshit. I was reading Clausewitz in High School and Caesar's commentaries on capturing Gaul before I was old enough to jerk off.
Here's a thought - if you can't seriously believe I - or someone else - is making a given claim - hey, maybe I'm not. Maybe there really is some deeper meaning behind what I'm saying. Maybe I'm not stupid or politically myopic just because *you* don't understand *me*.
And sure, hey, maybe I should write more clearly, parse things out. But it's getting more and more not to be worth the effort.
Why take the time to fully read the thread, absorb (the more useful comments anyway) and offer a fresh perspective grounded in personal experience and erudition when I can score some cheap points or favorites by making a shallow pithy comment?
There is no percentage in playing devil's advocate or spoiler and showing people that maybe the ground of reality they think they're standing on is predicated on merely a larger illusion. That maybe an even broader perspective is useful, or practical, or even necessary.
Sure didn't score me any points in the military.
For all the fetishization of the military (on the kicking ass or kissing it) there's sure no lack of regimentation of thought in the 'real' world.

Hell man, it's reverse psych 101. Even if someone tells you something that's bullshit - they've still got you thinking about it.
But no, I'm accusing y'all of being soft on AQ. Yeah, ok. Ever been attacked by them? Your house still there? Anyone you know been raped? How do you even know there's an Al Qaeda then? Who is AQ? Anyone who uses the name like those nuts in Africa who attacked the embassy? Or does it have to have a lineage?
Attention and symbolism is such a modern, new commodity. That is, its access to folks is new. Digitally.
Before now, the metanarrative was the only game in town.
But there were wars then for attention - one can liken the clash between the templars and the hashassin to this stuff.
And people still fall back into those old rotes.

I'm saying, it's just not like that anymore. Doors open (yeah, I'm thinking Sartre's No Exit). It doesn't matter what they do, it only matters what you do. Especially when it comes to stuff like this.
Folks don't want to hear about it. Want to react.
But it's vision that kills terrorism. Again, not what they do or don't do, but what we do. From first principles.
All that's from that 'creating more friction' thing.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:52 PM on February 6, 2009


And I'm probably a bit sensitive to what happens when folks are reluctant to believe or don't want to hear about it.
IMHO a lot of people got to skate on what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The one thing I've always had in common with anti-war folks is that war is a racket.
But there are atrocities masquerading as things other than war. I remember seeing things happen, telling people about it and it still being dismissed as rumor.
There is on occasion a big difference between what's reported, what there's evidence for, and what occured. Not saying here. But as a general thing. Which might explain why this gets my hackles up and I'm so raw about it, sorry.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:26 AM on February 7, 2009


Which might explain why this gets my hackles up and I'm so raw about it, sorry.

No problem, it's an honorable thing to get one's hackles up about. It's just that I think pretty much everybody here agrees with you.
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on February 7, 2009


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