Monday, May 25, 2015

When is terrorism not terrorism? by Wayne Madsen

When is terrorism not terrorism? by Wayne Madsen

When is an act of terrorism not deemed an act of terrorism? When it occurs in the heart of one of the U.S. capital's most affluent residential and diplomatic neighborhoods. Washington Metropolitan police chief Cathy Lanier slipped up when she said that the brutal torture and murder of Greek-American Washington businessman Savvas Savopoulos, his wife Amy, their 10-year old son Philip, and their Salvadorean housekeeper was being investigated by the DC area's Joint Terrorism Task Force. She quickly corrected herself to say the case was being looked at by the little-known "Joint Arson Task Force." 

A former U.S. Marine Corps recruit and native of Guyana, Damon Wint, a one-time welder of Savopoulos's construction company, American Iron Works, has been charged with the multiple homicide at the Savopoulos multi-million dollar mansion in DC's Woodley Park neighborhood. The home, which was damaged by a fire set by Wint and possible accomplices, is close to the Vice President's residence and that of Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

The last major terrorist incident to hit the Washington area was the anthrax attacks on Congress in late 2001. Those attacks, using the U.S. postal system, came as Congress was deliberating the passage of the Patriot Act. Although the FBI claimed that Fort Detrick scientist Brice Ivins was the perpetrator, that charge was never proven because Ivins allegedly committed suicide. However, the anthrax event so disrupted Congress, it quickly approved the Patriot Act without some members ever having even read it.

The Savopoulos multiple homicide conveniently came as the Senate was considering extending provisions of the Patriot Act that were due to end because of sunset clauses. While the anthrax attacks, which included the media as targets, were intended to strike fear into the public as much as Congress, a terrorist shock in DC a week before the Memorial Day weekend, when tourists and military family members descend upon the nation's capital, could not be revealed to the general public. Therefore, we saw Lanier quickly revise her mention of the word "terrorism." 

However, for key members of Congress, such a revelation that a potential sympathizer of the Islamic State from Guyana, where a few years ago a jihadist cell that planned to blow up the fuel lines leading to John F. Kennedy Airport was rounded up and extradited to the United States, would have a huge impact. It is one thing to threaten Washington's upper crust where they work, but it is an entirely different matter to hit them where they live. This is especially true in Woodley Park, where homes have elaborate security systems and uniformed Secret Service agents guard some of the many embassies in the area. Any reservations about the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone and Internet traffic would quickly melt away as members of Congress contemplated their own personal security as well as that of their families. Although the Senate rejected the renewal of the Patriot Act extension bill, it was because many of the Republican opponents felt the law did not go far enough in enabling NSA to collect communications data.

DC police are now admitting that Wint had help when he terrorized the Savopoulos family and extorted $40,000 in cash from a courier who was requested by Savvas Savopoulos to deliver the money to his home. The police say that "at least" one other person aided Wint. When the U.S. Marshal's Service and police arrested Wint, his brother, another man, and two females in College Park, Maryland, after Wint traveled back to DC from Brooklyn, only $10,000 of the $40,000 in cash was recovered. The cash recovered was in a rented box truck that left a Howard Johnson's Motel parking lot along with a Chevy in which Wint was riding. 

The Guyanese-Trinidadian terrorist cell that planned to blow up JFK Airport was largely based in Brooklyn. Did Wint hand off the rest of the cash to another cell operating out of Brooklyn? 

Oddly, the four other people apprehended with Wint in College Park were not charged with any crime and were released on May 24. Evidence now indicates that the man who stole Savopoulos's blue Porsche and abandoned and burnt it in New Carrollton had short hair. Wint sports long "dreadlocks."

The brutal terrorist-style murder of the Savopoulos family came as the Islamic State or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, was making huge gains in Syria. The ancient Roman fortress of Palmyra fell to ISIL. ISIL jihadists believe in Koranic references, attributed to prophecies of the Prophet Mohammed, that in apocalyptic times, there will be final battle between the forces of Islam and the forces of the Church of "Rum" in Dabiq on the Syrian-Turkish border. Many in the West, including Western intelligence agencies, mistakenly believe that ISIL is referring to the "Church of Rome," or the Roman Catholic Church. This is factually incorrect. ISIL's Koranic reference to the "Church of Rum" is to the church of Byzantium, which was headquartered in Constantinople, now Istanbul. The Church of Byzantium is today the Greek Orthodox Church.

The jihadists believe that after the "Dajjal" [the anti-Christ] appears, the forces of the Islamic Caliphate, which ISIL has declared, will be reduced to a force of 5000. The jihadists believe that there will be a final battle between the caliphate and Dajjal at the gates of "Rum," now Istanbul. At that point, they believe that Issa ibn-Maryam, or Jesus, will appear and slay Dajjal with a spear, thus heralding the end of the world. 

Mr. Savopoulos was a member and financial supporter of St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Church, located around the corner from his stately home on Woodland Drive. St. Sophia's is not only the largest cathedral for Washington's Greek Orthodox community but it also serves as an important cultural center for area Greek-Americans and Greek permanent and temporary residents of the United States. 

Whether Wint was either a willing adherent or a "useful idiot" dupe of an ISIL terrorist cell operating in Brooklyn and the Washington area, it really does not matter. The message that a group like ISIL could strike in that particular neighborhood in northwest Washington sends a stark message not only to the "Church of Rum" but also to the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio is also located around the corner from the Savopoulos home and is directly across Massachusetts Avenue from the Vice President's residence. Across Massachusetts Avenue is St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. The embassies of a few NATO countries are also in close proximity: Belgium, Great Britain, Norway, and Denmark. As for the Protestants, the towering National Cathedral of the Episcopalian Church, is within close proximity to the Savopoulos home. Offices of the Department of Homeland Security are located a few blocks away at Ward Circle at the junction of Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues. 

If ISIL wanted to strike a "soft target" in the heart of DC's government, religious, and diplomatic community, the Savopoulos residence, with a stark message to the "Church of Rum," was a prime candidate.

In many cases, the FBI has set up, through the use of confidential informants and professional entrapment agents, Muslim-Americans who are forced into pleading guilty to terrorism-related charges based on hearsay or planted evidence. In the case of the terrorist-like murders in Woodley Park, the FBI, in the interest of self-protection and not upsetting Washington's Memorial weekend tourism profit margins, may have decided to keep a real terrorist attack under wraps -- for now.