Monday, January 21, 2008

Two odd stories for Monday

There were a couple of odd stories on the wire services to start the week.

The first was a report on an al-Qaida online Q-and-A session. Their supporters were invited to post questions that would later be answered by senior al-Qaida management. The idea of a terrorist townhall meeting sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit, but analysts believe that it was legitimate since the posts bore the mark of al-Qaida’s media wing al-Sahab.

Some questions were ones you would expect like when America will be attacked again, or why Israel has not. But others questioned al-Qaida’s strategy wondering if the group still had a master worldwide plan, and some even claimed to be jihadis complaining that they had served in Iraq and their Iraqi comrades were not sufficiently dedicated to the cause of Jihad.

Then there were the odd questions like the one from a 23-year old would-be jihadi asking if he could join al-Qaida even though his mother forbids it.

Al-Qaida has yet to post its replies to the queries.

The second story involved a former Liberian warlord called Gen. Butt Naked.

His real name is Joshua Milton Blahyi; he got the nickname Gen. Butt Naked from his habit of leading his troops into battle wearing only his combat boots. The whole story would be downright hilarious if not for the 20,000 people Butt Naked claims to have killed during Liberia’s civil war.

Blahyi returned to Liberia to face the nation’s truth and reconciliation commission, which invites former fighters to tell their stories without fear of punishment. It is modeled after a truth and reconciliation commission held in South Africa in the 1990’s to give individuals the chance to atone for crimes committed during the apartheid regime. That commission is seen as greatly helping South Africa make the transition from apartheid rule.

Some in Liberia though oppose their commission, saying former fighters should pay for the atrocities they committed. Nearly 250,000 of Liberia’s 3 million citizens were killed during the civil war.

As for Blahyi, he said he became a born-again Christian in the mid-1990s. The once proud warlord now says he is ashamed of his former actions.
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