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Archive for the ‘9-11’ Category

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Scott Shane. Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone.  New York, New York: Tim Duggan Books, September 15th, 2015. 416 pp.

This book tells the story of radical Islamists imam Anwar al-Awlaki and the US government war against him in the backdrop of the larger issue of President Obama’s war on terror using drones for targeted killing of Al Qaeda members.  The author Scott Shane is a New York Times reporter who specializes in issues of national security.  Shane does a masterful job in his research for this book and his work really shows.  I don’t think there’s any other book length treatment that is as detailed concerning al-Awlaki like this book thus far.  Other than passing news headlines most American don’t really know about al-Awlaki and the shadowy war the US pursued against him.  The subject of this book is already interesting enough to be picked up and read.

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Purchase: Amazon

2012 will be remembered as the year of Navy SEALs autobiogrpahies. In January there was “American Sniper,” the story of Chris Kyle who is America’s sniper with the most confirmed kill in military history. Then there is “Seal of God” about a West Coast SEAL who became a Christian. But no SEAL autobiography has been able to generate so much interests and controversy in a short amount of time as this book, the story from one of the SEALs in DEVGRU (more better known with it’s old name, SEAL TEAM 6) that was involved in the Operation to get Osama Bin Laden. There’s no need to rehearse every detail of that controversy (which is still ongoing and brewing) and surely by writing this book the author has taken a lot of risks. Even as I read other reviews, there is no doubt controversies continues even with how people read and appreciated it (or not appreciate it). I thought some of the reviews of the book tells more about the reviewer’s background and values more than the book itself–no doubt my review will reflect a bit of who I am too, but I hope this review will also cause us to reflect more deeply about the last decade of warfare since 9/11, and about our society/culture and perhaps also the question of God and faith too even if you disagree with me.
I think to fully appreciate a book at times require one to ask how does it relate and fill a niche in relations to other books of the same subject or genre. So I suppose my review will keep that in consideration and from this angle, “No Easy Day” was definitely a different yet fascinating book. For starters, typically in SEALs biography, everyone gives an account of BUD/S (for the “lay” reader, we can call this SEAL boot camp of six months). This book does not, breaking the mold of the canon of SEALs autobiography. That’s because the book goes deeper and further into another world that is rarely mentioned or understood among all the SEALs books out there–the world of DEVGRU, the Navy SEALs highly secretive counter-terrorist group. Sure there is Richard Marcinko’s books, who was the founder of DEVGRU back in the 1980s when it was still known as SEAL TEAM 6. But there is little published in book form from an insider about the 21st Century, post 9/11 DEVGRU. The author describes in one of the early chapters of the book his unexpected physical try-out for DEVGRU, his acceptance into Green Squadron (the selection training in order to enter into DEVGRU’s command) and his acceptance into the team. His description of the selection and elimination process in Green Squadron is fascinating such as how candidates are required to write down whom they think are the five best candidates and five weakest candidates.
Though the author has been deployed around a dozen times this last decade of warfare suprisingly the book does not go into all the blood and gore details of most of his operation prior to the mission to get Osama. You would expect more–but then no doubt that would take away from the main story about the Bin Laden Raid–not to mention that he had to do it all in 336 pages. Readers who have been in the military would have appreciated his account of OIF 1–and things going array in their first mission. It reminds the rest of us in the military that did not serve in a SOF capacity that Navy SEALs are humans also. His account of working with DELTA was also a great insight into the other TIER 1 unit, though I suppose one might get a fuller account with Dalton Fury’s book. Going back to this book, the author also revealed his involvement in the Maersk Alabama hijacking rescue operation and his account of it indicate that this kind of operation was welcomed by the SEALs since it was a break from the routine of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. What I found most intriguing in the author’s account of this operation was the fact that he parachuted into the Ocean with a Navy communication guy attached to him who has never done a parachute jump before. One can imagine how frightening that is–and the thought, “No one back home is going to believe this…” I’ve seen some reviews that complained about all these back story leading up to the Bin Laden raid in the book–you can tell they are pure civilians with no grasp of operational history or biography. But for the readers who are willing to look long and reflect harder, the first half of the book should make you appreciate the incredible amount of sacrifice, skill and dedication of people like Mark Owens who worked so hard to be the best of the best in their job in order to protect us. The account of the amount of sleeping pills these guys take and the weird hours they operate during deployment (what the author calls “Vampire hours”) should make us appreciate the toll it takes on these guys–and we are not even yet discussing about the lives and injury involved in what they do.
Of course, most of the book was devoted to the raid itself. I learn from this account that it was not any one of the existing four squadrons in DEVGRU take took part in the raid but rather a special gathering of different guys who have been around the block that was gathered. From the standpoint of a military biography with an operational history bent, I thought it was good (but not good to those reviewers who are looking for some existentialists need for “feelings” to be described). Here is where I could not put the book down. The description of him being on the helicopter that crash and the amazing description of him almost falling out since he was hanging out with his legs outside the crammed blackhawk. The amazing miracle of the helicopter handing on it’s strongest point on the wall which ended up not causing the rotars to hit the dirt and chaos that would have followed. The raid itself was incredible. Here is where I suppose this review tells more about me than perhaps the author or the book itself. I couldn’t help but to note all the things that went wrong or could have went wrong but turned out to have worked miraculously as something amazing enough to provoke in me an awareness of God’s providence throughout the raid. It’s a reminder that sometimes the bad guys do get their justice here on earth right now–and that skill isn’t enough but the providence of God as well.
Just as interesting as the raid itself is the author’s story of the raid afterwards. His account of Obama and Joe Biden is worth the read. To read of a real member of “Team Six” laughing at the silly things that has been said about them is quite entertaining; he even take on some misconception the ROUGE WARRIOR and the founder of SEAL TEAM 6 himself has said to the media, revealing that Richard Marcinko’s comment about DEVGRU being the most arrogant SEALs might be a little out of touch with contemporary DEVGRU.
Overall this is a good book. It is a historical account of an important part of history–not just the Navy SEALs, the U.S. military, but to close a chapter for so many Americans who have lost loved one since that fateful day on 9/11 and from the two wars stemming from it. If you ever had shed tears on 9/11 or if you have lost people in this long war–I think this book ought to be on your shelf.

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It seems that 9/11 sooner or later will pop up in any discussion about Islam.  No event in the recent history of the West have sparked more curiosity and questions about Islam than what that dreadful day and the bloody decade that followed afterwards.

Can there be a just war theory that can justify responses to terrorists within a Christian worldview?

For those interested in this philosophical/ethical discussion from a Christian worldview, I thought this was a good hidden/open treasure available online for those who want to have a serious reading on this topic.

The following is a 2003 thesis by a student at the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) name Dale Courtney.  The thesis is titled, “A Just War Response To The 11 September 2001 Terrorist Attack.”

A PDF file of it is available by clicking HERE.

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All over the world people remember that tragic day.  Lest people think 9/11 is all about community service and the US coming together, don’t forget 9/11 is about a religion that is bent on imposing Sharia on everyone.  Watch this video below.

Note the double standard.

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I was rather disappointed reading an article by Christianity Today (what I once heard someone called “Christianity Astray”) titled, “How Evangelical Leaders Have Changed Since 9/11,” it can be accessed HERE.  I’m rather disappointed at how these “leaders” (some I even question their Evangelical status!) have some rather unclear thinking…and if that’s the state of Evangelical leaders reflection on 9/11 what about the rest of the General population?  I don’t have time to look at all the words given by various individuals.  The one that stuck out to me the most was Philip Yancey.  His comments in it’s entirety follows below:

The decade since 9/11 has taught us the limits of force. Imposing democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan has come at a terrible cost to all parties, with no guarantee of long-term success. Meanwhile, Tunisia and Egypt gained freedom almost overnight in a grassroots protest against powerful regimes.

As Christians, we believe in a counterforce of grace. Lewis Smedes and others have identified three stages of forgiveness: first, recognize the worth of the person you are forgiving; second, surrender the right to get even; third, put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you. Increasingly, I’m convinced that we need more of this attitude toward those who seek to harm us.

In 1999, Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines was burned to death by a Hindu mob in Orissa, India. In 2007, German missionary Tilman Geske was tortured and murdered by five Turkish fanatics. The widows of both men made sensational headlines in those countries by repeating the words of Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I am not a pacifist; I believe that we must pursue justice. Yet a Christian history stained by anti-Semitism—holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few—teaches us the terrible consequences of not following Jesus’ way. We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.

My thoughts about his words:

  • “The decade since 9/11 has taught us the limits of force. Imposing democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan has come at a terrible cost to all parties, with no guarantee of long-term success. Meanwhile, Tunisia and Egypt gained freedom almost overnight in a grassroots protest against powerful regimes.”

RESPONSE: I’m more optimistic about Iraq more than Afghanistan’s long term future.  As to his claim that 9/11 has taught us the limit of force and his example of Tunisia and Egypt “gaining freedom,” I’m not sure that Egypt is a good example of grassroots protests that usher in long term success either.  It’s too soon to tell, it just happen this year!  If conditions within less than a year is sufficient evidence in Yancey’s view, I think one can make a better case for Iraq being “better” now for several years after the Surge.  In terms of Egypt, I don’t know how true it is that Egyptians “gained freedom” against powerful regimes.  It seems that the power in Egypt has always been within the military oligarchy.  When rumors started that the former President of Egypt wanted to break away from that tradition by having his son groomed as the next heir, that’s when the military industrial complex allowed protests to rid them of the President so they can step in and solidify their power.  Really can Yancey calls this a democracy or cite it as an evidence that force doesn’t work?  (Mind you, I’m not saying using force is always right, but making an observation that this does not fit as an evidence for him) I beg to differ.  And what does that have to do with 9/11?

  • “As Christians, we believe in a counterforce of grace. Lewis Smedes and others have identified three stages of forgiveness: first, recognize the worth of the person you are forgiving; second, surrender the right to get even; third, put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you. Increasingly, I’m convinced that we need more of this attitude toward those who seek to harm us.”

RESPONSE: It does not seem to match biblical theology that forgiveness necessarily require the recognition of the worth of the person that needs to be forgiven.  God forgave us our sins, and yet our wretchedness makes us unworthy of His grace and mercy.  This statement is more problematic to me than the first, largely since this has theological implication and the former is more political (one can go easier on a Christian devotional writer for not being a clear political thinker I suppose).  Yancey is spot on that forgiveness means surrendering the right to get even.  But it’s rather disturbing to see that his lesson of 9/11 10 years later means that he is tellus to “put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you…”  I don’t know what that means, and I’m sure Yancey does not mean joining Al Qaeda’s side against non-Muslims.  It’s one of those thing that sounds nice and dandy to say (almost Hallmark-ish) but what does it mean?

  • “Yet a Christian history stained by anti-Semitism—holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few—teaches us the terrible consequences of not following Jesus’ way. We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.”

RESPONSE: This is probably the most incoherent statement of them all.  Yancey believes that “holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few” is wrong and “not following Jesus’ way.”  He gave an example of this from  church history of how some in the past had anti-Semitism.  Yancey then goes on to give an incredible statement, “We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.”  If anyone has ever watched Monsters Inc., there a part in the movie where the one eye monster Mike tells Scully, “We?  Wait, there’s no me this time.  If you want to go through the Blizzard, then be my guest.  But there’s no we” (Paraphrase from memory, frogive me!).  That scene in the movie comes to mind, since Yancey here suddenly states “we” (why did he drag me into this) have done to the Jews, and something that is to “our” shame.  But most Christians, myself included have not practiced anti-semitism and I’m not saying it never has happened.  But why is Yancey “holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few?”  This is according to Yancey, “not following Jesus’ way” and I’m appalled he doesn’t see this inconsistency stated within the same paragraph!

Over all, I’m rather sadden at Yancey’s comment on what he has learned and changed ten years after 9/11.  I have never read his book, and I hope he’s not like this in his work.  If he can’t process 9/11 with clear thinking and coherence, one wonders what he does with God and theology.

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I thought this was the most tragic minute on live television that fateful day on September 11th, 2001.

It was his first day on the job with CNN.  It was also September 11th, 2001.  News Anchor Aaron Brown reporting on the terrorist attack and has a scenic view of the two towers…and also witnessing the first tower’s collapse beginning at 8:08 in the clip above.

Then the second tower in the following clip 6:12 into the clip below:

Grieve with those who grieve.

As I said before on this blog, I can’t believe it has been 10 years.  I can’t believe what happen that day.  I think what made the 2000s different than the previous decade in the 90s was 9/11.  It was a defining moment.  It has also been an event that has indirectly and directly influence many more events after it–Iraq and Afghanistan.  What a bloody decade it has been.

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I can’t believe 9/11 was 10 years ago.  For some of us, it has been a very bloody decade after 9/11.  Iraq.  Afghanistan.  War on Terror.  I think of all those who have died or gotten injured since 9/11.

I still get the chills watching youtube clips from that day.  I think it’s the one event that will shape the Millennial Generation.

Perhaps the most chilling of all youtube clip is of the 911 calls by Kevin Cosgrove, Melissa Doi and Betty Ong.  These were there last living calls.

No matter how many times I’ve heard Kevin Cosgrove’s audio it still gives me the shivers, thinking about how helpless we are with our destiny with death.  The terror and helplessness of the voice of those dying…makes me tears p everytime.

It also makes me think about what matters the most and the priority of every ministry oppourtunity…the gospel must be the most important thing because death is real and eternal fate of heaven and hell lies in the balance.  Jesus Christ came and died for sinners so that we can be made right with Him.  Don’t wait to repent.  Turn to Him as your Lord and Savior today.  We never know when our end would come.  Be right with God through God’s Grace.

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Note: This is from a personal correspondence, someone asking my thoughts on a Huffington Post article titled, “The Psychology of Revenge:Why We should Stop Celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s Death”

Brother,

Many things I want to comment on, but to keep me on track we’ll start with what her conclusion: “We will only have peace when we stop the cycle of jubilation over acts of violence.”  That’s what she’s arguing for.

1.) I think she’s committing a fallacy of the single cause (should we say, simple cause)when she said that violence would stop when the jubilation stops. The violence committed by Osama and other Wahabi Sunni Islam is not because people had jubiliation of justice in America…it’s because it’s what their religion dictates to them to do, and she fail to take this account. When the US took out several lower level Al Qaeda leadership through drones attack all throughout last year, no Americans took to the streets in jubiliation and yet…the cycle of Al Qaeda violence continued. Before most American even knew the name Osama or heard of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda was already killing people all around the world, even before anyone ever celebrated justice being served to any of them. Al Qaeda’s violence will not end because the motive for these people  is found in Wahabi Sunni religious beliefs. The author’s conclusion is too simplistic and does not take many factors into consideration.
2.) Here’s a little Latin to remember: Post hoc ergo propter hoc. I think she commits a logical fallacy of seeing “jubilation” and the “revenge” that follows, and then jumping the gun that correlation implies a causal relationship. Just last week the Germans stopped another Terror plot from occurring, surely it wasn’t because the German celebrated Osama’s capture (because it hasn’t occurred yet). I don’t recall historically the Germans celebrating in any way during this “war on terror” in a post 9/11 world. Yet why…do Al Qaeda operatives want to attack…and attack them? Again, the cause for Al Qaeda’s violence has nothing to do with us…it has everything to do with Wahabism. And if “we” have anything to do with it is because we are all Kuffars (Infidels)…whether the West are atheistic or Christians…whether Iraqis are Shittes Muslims….whether India are Hindus…whether the Philippines are largely Catholics…or blow up things because it’s Buddhists (don’t forget this pre-9/11 historical fact, i mean even the peace loving Buddhists aren’t spared either!).  Let’s not overlook the fact that since 9/11 more muslims have been killed by Al Qaeda than non-muslims.
3.) Even if we overlook the fallacies made thus far, the author’s conclusion does not seem to follow. The American mass have largely enjoy the luxury of not having to follow current events around the world. I don’t remember when was the last time the US celebrated the death of an Al Qaeda member…in fact this might be the only first time at such an unprecedented scale. And yet the practice of not celebrating “justice” and at times the American practice of not even pursuing revenge/justice against Al Qaeda such as after Al Qaeda’s Kobar (I can’t spell at the moment) Tower bombing, the bombing of USS Cole and Al Qaeda’s involvement and support in the Battle of Modigishu…you would think would have broken this one way cycle of violence but it did not, because a pattern of years of the US not doing anything concrete led to…9/11, and the thousands of other violence since by Al Qaeda.
I think we call evil for what it is, and start putting the responsibility really where it belongs, with evil men beginning at the top with Osama. Our author makes a big gripe about human dignity. I find it ironic that we treat Wahabi Sunnis less than human everytime we say we have to be responsible for what they do, and they are almost viewed animal like with no ability not to be violent. Think of how we blame that crazy preacher burning the Quran…for even responsible for the deaths of those UN workers at the hand of Muslims? Al Qaeda will attack us again and it’s our fault…because their leader even at the end of his life was a coward and used an innocent woman as a human shield? Let’s give them their human dignities back and see them as responsible beings instead of animals.

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It is suprising to think that 9/11 was 9 years ago

What unfolded that day on September 11th, 2001 would have radically shaped what this past decade will be remembered for: The War on Terror and Islam’s radical fists around the globe.

Those of us here on Veritas Domain has all seen the ugly side of Radical Islam, whether as military participants in the War on Terror or coming from a land that has a significant population of Muslims

But tonight, in this time of national remembrance, I think it is proper to think about each and every one of our eternity: Where will you go when you die?

This audio tape of a 911 call on that fateful day on September 11th has haunted me since the first time I have heard it

Some of you might have think you accidently stumbled upon this blog entry, but I submit that it might be providence.  It is a question with great bearing on your eternity, to ask yourself: Are you a sinner? Where will you go when you die? And how does one go to heaven?

Feel free to inquire us about how Jesus is the answer to these questions. We respond to comments.

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The past decade (2000-2009) has been one with many important events in world history, some of which has indirectly influenced upon my life.  As a young man looking back, it’s incredible to think of these event and I think of Daniel in the Bible, of how Daniel as a young man has lived through some of the important events in world history.  As a Christian, I believe in the providence of God in World History.  Here’s some of my reflection of events that has shaped this decade.

1.) September 11th, 2001

How many Americans can forget that day seeing it on TV and the nonstop news that fateful Tuesday.  I was just a recent high school graduate, going to community college.  I woke up that morning and saw the news.  Immediately I suspected Osama Bin Laden.  I have just learned about Osama Bin Laden a few years prior to the twin embassy bombing, that he will probably be the 21st century’s new terror threat– a prediction too far accurate.  I drove to school listening to the radio and heard the broadcaster cry–the tower has collapsed.  I thought the guy was joking but when I got to school and no one was in class but all over the TV in the cafeteria…I knew it was real.

A month prior to 9-11, I was sworn in with the Marines, and my departure to boot camp was going to be the following summer.  I had doubts whether or not this was the right step in my life, and whether it was God’s will that I enlist with the Marines.  I was nervous that I would have regrets.  9-11 sealed the deal and from that day forth there was no question that I was going to be a Marine.

2.) War in Iraq


The war started on my best friend’s birthday- March 20th, 2003.  I was 19, turn 20.  For weeks when I was in Iraq, I couldn’t believe I was in Iraq.  The toughest time wasn’t when I was in Iraq, but those days and night before I even got to Kuwait.  On the eve of the war, being in the states was hard– I thought about dying, injuries, miseries and chemical attacks often.  It was so surreal then to think of what might happen–meanwhile people in Civilian land was worried about things as trivial as not wanting to take finals as their biggest stress.

Looking back, there was very little in Iraq.  But when you were there at that time, you thought of it as a big deal in 2003.  I know that out of all my friends in the Marines and the Army, they have been through so much more than I have.  God protected me and blessed me much.  I enjoyed going out on patrols or convoy operations alot when I was there–it felt like you were doing something incredible.  But my biggest joy at the end of the day, was spending time with other Marines and Navy Corpsmen, going through Bible studies…and evangelizing to the Iraqis who asked questions about the Bible.

3.) John Kerry belittle troops at my Alma Matter, Pasadena City College

My sister was there when he gave this speech, and was surprised that he said that.  The ironic part was that I went to Pasadena City College, I worked hard academically and did go to Iraq.  When he gave this speech, I have already transferred from PCC to UCLA, majoring in Political Science.

4.) Social Networking Phenomenon (Xanga)

Who would have thought in the 90s that there would be fast speed internet and the phenomon of blogging and social network online?  Having been on Facebook and wordpress, I still have to say some of the most memorable experience was on Xanga.  It was part of real life… the friends made, lives changed, gospel shared, spiritual encouragement, apologetics debates, learning theology and people coming to Christ, and it goes on: suicide attempts being stopped, meeting with missionaries and those deployed in a war zone, being asked to preach because of being on xanga… then there is the mobilization of support and condolences to those who have lost a loved one in Iraq…it was an incredible experience.  To this day, some of the most faithful prayer warriors in my life are those whom I have befriend on Xanga first.

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