Saturday, May 12, 2007

Film Review: "28 Weeks Later"

The Satire Is Biting, and So Are the Zombies

The New York Times
May 11, 2007

Robert Carlyle in Fox Atomic's 28 Weeks Later - 2007

Nothing satisfies the appetite for allegory quite like a movie about flesh-eating zombies. Somehow the genre, at least as practiced by its masters, has the capacity to illuminate some brute facts about the human condition and its contemporary dysfunctions. There are not many recent movies that match, for example, the social criticism undertaken by George Romero in his “Living Dead” cycle.

Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” and its new sequel, “28 Weeks Later,” directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, may not quite be in Mr. Romero’s league, but at their best they come close to his signature blend of grisly horror, emotional impact and biting satire. There is, of course, plenty of literal biting as well, since the virus-crazed creatures known as infecteds crave the flesh and blood of their erstwhile fellow citizens.

And also their metaphorical flesh and blood. The first movie, set in the early days of a pandemic that nearly wiped out the population of Britain, followed a small band of strangers who came together to form a makeshift tribe. This time, after the first wave of the virus seems to have run its course, the focus is on families and comrades split apart and set against one another by paranoia, moral confusion and the endless conflict between the survival instinct and the call of duty. If “28 Days Later” was, in part, about the emergence of solidarity in the midst of crisis, “28 Weeks Later” is about the breakdown that occurs in what seems to be the aftermath.

The DVD of Mr. Boyle’s film has two alternate endings, one slightly more comforting than the other. The hopeful conclusion (the one originally released in American theaters) turns out to be a slender thread leading to Mr. Fresnadillo’s more hectic and somewhat grimmer sequel.

The story (written by Rowan Joffe, Mr. Fresnadillo, E. L. Lavigne and Jesus Olmo, with Mr. Boyle and his frequent collaborator, Alex Garland, on hand as executive producers) begins with a terrible failure of nerve. Fleeing a zombie attack, Don (a gaunt, appropriately anxious Robert Carlyle) abandons his wife, Alice (Catherine McCormack), to a gruesome and apparently inevitable fate.

A scene from Fox Atomic's 28 Weeks Later - 2007

A few months later, he is safe in the Green Zone, an island of security in London overseen by occupying American troops led by General Stone (Idris Elba). There, he is reunited with his children, Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots), who had been on a school trip to Spain during the initial outbreak. He lies to them about their mother’s fate, and his dishonesty is punished in due course.

That bit about American soldiers patrolling the Green Zone — see what I mean about allegory? — may make “28 Weeks Later” sound heavy-handedly topical. But as in any good science fiction fable, the analogies it offers to contemporary reality are speculative rather than obvious. The initial benevolence of the occupation is clear enough: a shattered country needs to be put back together, its remaining population protected and reassured.

It is only when things spin out of control that the inherent brutality of the situation becomes clear, but here again the movie poses intractable conundrums rather than scoring easy points. To the soldiers and the survivors alike, there are only bad choices, and doing what seems like the right thing — firebombing an open city or rescuing children from the bombs — can turn out to have horrendous consequences.

Mr. Fresnadillo’s first movie, the Spanish-language thriller “Intacto,” showed him to be a filmmaker with technical agility and a decidedly philosophical bent. Here the thinking is done on the run, as the collapse of order unfolds through scenes of panic and chaos. These are often too frenetically edited and murkily lighted to be truly scary, and the higher dose of gore — infecteds chopped up by helicopter blades; bodies exploding in blood as bullets fly into them — is not enough to increase the horror.

Catherine McCormack in Fox Atomic's 28 Weeks Later - 2007

The real terror comes at quieter moments, when aerial shots survey the echoing emptiness of London, or when Tammy and Andy sneak out of the Green Zone into the surrounding desolation.

“London’s mine,” Andy exclaims, and the claustrophobic suspense of the film is occasionally leavened by a sense of adventure. The threat of death brings out noble impulses as well as selfish ones. Don’s cowardice stands in contrast to the selflessness of some of the American soldiers: Scarlet (Rose Byrne), a medical officer; Doyle (Jeremy Renner), a sniper whose conscience gets the better of him; and, more reluctantly, Flynn (Harold Perrineau), a chopper pilot with pictures of his kids taped above the windshield.

“28 Weeks Later” is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. It is brutal and almost exhaustingly terrifying, as any respectable zombie movie should be. It is also bracingly smart, both in its ideas and in its techniques. The last shot brought a burst of laughter at the screening I attended, a reaction that seemed to me both an acknowledgment of Mr. Fresnadillo’s wit and a defense against his merciless rigor.

Anyway, I was glad the person next to me was laughing, rather than chewing through my neck. That level of horror will have to wait for the next sequel.

“28 Weeks Later” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Rabid zombies feast on living flesh, which causes their potential victims to utter an occasional obscenity.


Opens today nationwide.

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; written by Rowan Joffe, Mr. Fresnadillo, E. L. Lavigne and Jesus Olmo; director of photography, Enrique Chediak; edited by Chris Gill; music by John Murphy; production designer, Mark Tildesley; produced by Enrique López-Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich; released by Fox Atomic. Running time: 91 minutes.

WITH: Robert Carlyle (Don), Rose Byrne (Scarlet), Jeremy Renner (Doyle), Harold Perrineau (Flynn), Catherine McCormack (Alice), Mackintosh Muggleton (Andy), Imogen Poots (Tammy), Idris Elba (General Stone) and Emily Beecham (Karen).

Church's Sign Against Islam Sparks Controversy

Posted: May. 11, 2007

Spring Hope (NC) — Words like "bomb" and "die" draw attention to the small sign in front of Good News Independent Baptist Church.

Rev. Gary Murrell put up the sign, which on one side claims the message of Islam is "submit, convert or die."The other side reads: "When is the last time you heard of a Jew or Christian with a bomb strapped to their body?"

Despite some in the Islamic community who claim the sign is offensive, Murrell says it is not a hate sign.

"It was not put up there with the purpose of showing that we hate those people," he said. "It's not the people, it's the religion."

Murrell says it is a violent religion compared to Christianity. But not everyone agrees.

"I would really say that the actions of one individual really do not represent the Islamic faith," said Debbie Jaunich, with the Islamic Center of Raleigh. "The Islamic faith really calls for peace."

"It's sad to see that we still have this kind of ignorance in the community about the Islamic faith," she added.

Murrell says he is trying to make people think but Jaunich said she thinks it breeds discrimination and bigotry.

"The point is that their salvation is in Jesus Christ, not in the Islamic faith," Murrell said. "I am not trying to be a bigot. I'm not. I don't hate those people."

Murrell says the sign has been up for about a week and that he plans to change it this weekend.

But discussion about the message will likely continue. The Islamic Center of Raleigh is inviting Murrell and his congregation for a visit to learn more about Islam.

Reporter: Mike Charbonneau
Web Editor:
Kelly Gardner

184 comments posted
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Victor Davis Hanson: Al Qaedism, Again

Another straw on the back of the proverbial American camel.

National Review Online

May 11, 2007

Rendering of two of the six men charged with plotting to murder U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix.

Why would Albanian-speaking Muslim refugees from the Balkans try to murder American soldiers? After all, the United States — not bin Laden’s rag-tag jihadists — saved Bosnia and Kosovo? And we did that by bombing the capital of a Christian European nation.

But then, why did a mixed-up Albanian Muslim in Salt Lake City, one Sulejman Talovic, go on a shopping-mall shooting spree? Five innocents were killed in the attack before the murderer himself was shot and killed.

And why, after pouring billions of dollars into Afghanistan, did poor, mixed-up Omeed Aziz Popal, an Afghan Muslim, try to run over several innocents in San Francisco near a Jewish center in September 2006?

Or, for that matter, why did an angry Muslim Pakistani gun down Jews in Seattle?

Or, again, why earlier last year, did a 22-year-old Iranian-American Muslim drive his sport utility vehicle into a crowded pedestrian zone at the University of North Carolina?

The Phenomenon of al Qaedism

About a year after 9/11, I made use of a word “al Qaedism” in a National Review Online essay to describe such seemingly isolated terrorists, both amateurs and the more organized, both the deranged and the more focused. At that time we were all discussing the careers of those like John Williams, John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla, or Richard Reid (or rather John Mohammed, Abdul Hamid, Abdullah al-Muhajir, or Abdel Rahim).

Yet, both then and now, we waste our time wondering whether such terrorists are al Qaeda-controlled or not. The question is academic. It matters little whether they were explicitly ordered to kill by central terrorist command (they probably were not) or were inspired by CDs, the Internet, or the local mullah.

The point is simply that, for purposes of harming America, lone-wolf jihadists need only to feel the same rage and perceived grievances — al Andalus, Israel, Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir, etc. — as their pin-up heroes like bin Laden or Zawahiri.

But, again, why do these residents in our midst, who have voluntarily come to America, and some of whom have had America itself spend billions abroad on their brethren, wish to kill us?

Such questions are nonsensical. The aggrieved Islamist, whether born here or abroad, lives in a world of emotion, never reason, in which pride, envy, and a sense of inferiority always trump logic.

When, as an individual or collectively, he constructs someone or something culpable for his own — or his people’s — sense of failure, then a primordial urge to lash out follows. His mind returns to the seventh-century never-never land of scimitars and sharia law mixed in with rote chanting of “Allah Akbar!” while his body and material appetites are stranded in our cosmos of Baywatch reruns and professors on the BBC and CNN whining on about the dangers of Islamaphobia. What, then, are the catalysts for the al Qaedist that turn him from hothouse anti-Americanism to deadly violence?

The Creation of an Al Qaedist

The first is the goad of radical Islamic indoctrination through globalized communications. A nut in New Jersey can feel as close to a Wahhabi megaphone in Jeddah as a Bedouin just a desert away. Fiery sermons of hate-filled imams on the West Bank (now they employ Mickey Mouse as a prop), or videos of Americans losing limbs in Iraq, or sit-coms from Iran depicting Satanic Americans and Jews, are as cheaply disseminated as they are cheaply produced.

To the degree that capital for such Goebbels-like hatred is required — opening radical mosques, printing propaganda, funding madrassas — we should remember that, with recent oil-price spikes, there are annually another $500 billion floating around the Middle East from Shiite Iran to the Sunni Gulf monarchies.

Second is the nature of the assumed grievance that goes unexamined and unchallenged by Westerners. Instead, we seek with the logic and reason of the 21st century to sort out why they hate us — a phenomenon well known to crybaby Islamists who can produce new complaints as fast as the old ones are shot down.

So sympathetic Western observers must damn Israel for not giving up all of the West Bank (never asking why Cyprus, the Kuriles, or Tibet have not fostered suicide bombers).

Or is it our presence in Iraq (as if it predated 9/11)? Or is it that we have demonized poor Muslims (as if we have not saved the starving, enslaved, and targeted in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia, or subsidized the failed in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine; or as if the Chechen-killing Russians or Muslim-burning Hindus are as targeted as we are).

Always we forget that the jihadist mind is of the 7th century, nursed on illusions of ancient grandeur lost to purported Zionism, capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. And why not such writs when they are far easier to manufacture than the necessary introspective self-criticism that might — in search of answers for the miasma that is now the Middle East — focus on warped schools, massive illiteracy, statism, authoritarianism, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, or polygamy?

It is not easy, after all, for a region to turn twenty million $65-barrels of oil sold each day — found, developed, and handed over by someone else — into a recipe for utter catastrophe.

Worse still, not only does the jihadist place the blame on those who are more successful, he learns much of his strategy of victimization from our own postmodern Western Left. We saw that clearly enough in the videos of the clownish Zawahiri and bin Laden that cite by title and author leftwing attacks on the United States by kooky Chomskyites. Nothing is more absurd than a bearded, robed imam dryly reciting from his mud-brick hideout why America needs to implode — due to our sins of global warming, environmental desecration, and our lack of campaign-finance reform.

The third impetus for the idiosyncratic jiahdist is the lack of any consequences. Or rather, he shares a general perception — never mind whether it is a misconception — that the European and American criminal-justice systems will not promptly find, arrest, indict, try, convict, and sentence wannabe jihadists. Our popular culture instead emphasizes more the injustice of Guantanamo Bay, our shame over the sexual grotesqueries of Abu Ghraib, and the worry over the excesses of the Patriot Act than the need to show no mercy to the radical Islamist on our shores.

Indeed, the jihadist believes the West in general cares little about its own sense of citizenship. He knows that we ask of the legal immigrant little familiarity with our language, history, or culture, and even less of the illegal immigrant.

With 12 million here illegally from Mexico, why would any visitor think we could or should enforce the law? A jihadist must think it an ideal spot a country where it was deemed more illiberal to turn in an illegal alien than to be one.

A Three-Tiered War

There are many theaters in this global war. The nation-states of Afghanistan and Iraq are now foci. Eventually hearts and minds inside Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia must be persuaded — by varying means — that it makes no moral, and still less practical, sense to subsidize the hatred and killing of Americans. All that is an impossible task unless we can stabilize Iraq and restore the sense of American prowess and unpredictability.

At the second tier, organized terrorist cells, whether al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, or the various other appendages, have to be cut off from their sanctuaries and cash through counterinsurgency, better intelligence, and constant pressure on their state sponsors. The sooner we get over the fact that a Hamas or Hezbollah differs from al Qaeda only in method and capability, but not in venom or desire, the better off we will be.

But there is also a third war that we saw at Fort Dix, at this more insidious al Qaedistic level. Thousands of seething Muslims in Europe and America — fill in the blanks for the reasons for their anger — must come to learn that shooting up a mall, or driving an SUV into students, or killing soldiers, is going to ensure long incarceration for the guilty.

More importantly, such serial provocations are also creating a larger culture of anger and, with it, zero tolerance for any activity deemed a precursor to Muslim extremism — whether flying imams flaunting airline protocols or demands for special dispensations deemed at odds with traditional American custom and practice.

A Tested Patience

So, in the end, what are we to make of Fort Dix — yet another post-9/11 straw on an increasingly tired camel’s back?

We know that CAIR will neither seriously admonish Muslims charged with terrorist crimes nor introspectively examine the larger Islamic culture that seems to so incite the jihadist.

Such organizations will not do so as long as they can far more easily play on the self-doubt and guilt of the affluent and leisured citizen, who is supposed to believe that the dangers of radical Islam, both at the state and individual level, are mostly fictions inspired by our own prejudices. The sermonizing here in the United States by an Ayatollah Khatami, readily received by complaint listeners, and the satellite-beamed sophistry of Tariq Ramadan prove that well enough.

Most Americans will not remember Fort Dix in a week — just as they have forgotten Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Lodi, Portland, and all the rest; just as they want out of Fallujah now and probably Kandahar tomorrow.

Yet, at some point, the jihadists will go too far. Many of us, erroneously as it turned out, thought that, after twenty years of serial provocations, radical Islam had done precisely that on 9/11.

Apparently not. But such forbearance, even at this late hour in the post-West, is still not limitless.

The more a Palestinian imam promises us our death, the more the Iranian president promises a world without America, the more these al Qaedists, like the most recent keystone clowns at Fort Dix, do their small part in trying to reify such mad rhetoric, and the more the sophisticated apologists assure us that we, not they, are the real threat, the more likely the sofa-sitting, channel-surfing American will some day very soon blow up, rather than be blown up.

©2007 Victor Davis Hanson

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bob Klapisch: Yanks hit road defused and confused

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bergen County Record


They call it getaway day for a reason – or in the Yankees' case, many reasons. By the time they'd boarded a plane for Seattle, the Bombers had put the finishing touches on a buffet table of bad omens.

Start with Chien-Ming Wang, who, five days removed from his near-perfect game against the Mariners, was outpitched by Brandon McCarthy (and his 6.89 ERA) in a 14-2 loss to the Rangers. Wang allowed seven runs in 61/3 innings, and said, simply, "my ball was flat."

The standings are a problem, too. The Yankees went only 4-3 on a homestand against the West's two worst teams. Instead of strengthening their position, the Yankees are seven games out of first place, rapidly approaching a six-game stretch against the Mets and Red Sox.

The offense, or at least elements of it, is dysfunctional. Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon went 0-for-8 Thursday, as both hitters continue their epic struggle to rise above the .250s.

No wonder Joe Torre looked so worn-out after the game, although if anyone had a reason to be distracted, it was the manager. His brother, Frank, is in deteriorating health despite a recent kidney transplant, a situation that was clearly on Joe's mind throughout the day.

Before the game, when someone asked Joe how the elder Torre was doing while convalescing at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, the manager glumly said, "not good."

Later, in his office, after answering wave after wave of questions about the Yankees, Torre allowed the conversation road to drift toward Frank.

"He's been on borrowed time for a lot of years," he said. "When you're a 75-year-old man and you're in the hospital, nothing's ever a layup."

Typical of Torre's stoic nature, he's yet to apprise his players of Frank's condition. Derek Jeter said, "I bet there are a lot of guys in here who don't even know [Frank is in the hospital]."

Torre knows the players have their own lives and careers to worry about; he's not about to burden anyone with his own crises. But Joe's tenure is on the line, too. Don't think his professional storm has passed just because the Yankees have climbed closer to .500.

There's still something disturbingly passive about this team. Maybe it's because Damon has become so much more fragile (he had to leave the game after the seventh inning because of recurring problems with his right calf). Maybe it's Abreu's invisibility (he's hitting 51 points under his career average) or his lackadaisical pursuit of Gerald Laird's triple off the wall in the fifth inning, sparking Texas' three-run rally.

Or maybe it's how terribly Luis Vizcaino pitched in relief of Wang. It was bad enough for the Yankees to see their ace get knocked out in the seventh, outperformed by one of the American League's least effective pitchers. But Vizcaino couldn't even give the rest of the bullpen the afternoon off.

Instead, he was charged with three runs in one inning, looking even more burned out than Scott Proctor. At the rate of his current decline, Vizcaino has little or no shot of remaining on the 25-man roster. But Sean Henn, who replaced Vizcaino, suffered an even greater humiliation, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

So where does Torre turn? The eventual answer will be Roger Clemens, who's being paid to win the must-win matchups against the Brandon McCarthys of the world.

More than that, Clemens will be counted on to lift the Yankees' energy level, which is currently non-existent. Put it this way: Would an early Torre-era Bomber team have let the Rangers off the hook? Is there any way they wouldn't have finished the sweep?

Instead, the Yankees left town talking about how they're "playing better," in Jeter's words, even though they're treading water. Truth is, the offense is running on just two cylinders – Jeter and Alex Rodriguez -- while catalysts like Damon and Abreu remain non-factors.

At least Damon can point to his injuries, knowing he'll heal sooner or later. But Abreu's lethargy remains a mystery to everyone. Indeed, he's starting to hear boos as the empty at-bats are turning into a dreary blur.

"I'm in a slump, a big slump, but what can I do about it?" Abreu said. "I'm trying to stay positive, the negative [thoughts] are tough. There's nothing I can do."

Less than a year ago, Abreu was one of the AL's toughest outs: a gap hitter with a peerless eye for the strike zone. Not only did he work pitchers, he exhausted them in long at-bats.

But typical of Abreu's unraveling this season, he ended a mini-rally in the seventh – one run in, Damon on first, Yankees down by four runs – by swinging at the first pitch from Frank Francisco, flying out to left.

The rest of the game turned into glorified batting practice for the Rangers, as they scored seven runs in the eighth against Vizcaino and Henn. Everyone packed up and headed for the airport, slumps, red flags and bad omens in tow.

From Torre to Wang to Abreu, there wasn't enough amnesia to go around. The manager said, "We'll get over this." He's right, bad losses eventually turn to vapor. But worrying about his brother has become a constant in Torre's life. The flight to Seattle promised to be longer than usual.


Srdja Trifkovic: Kosovo Blowback Reaches America

Kosovo Blowback Reaches America

The story: four Albanian Muslims from Kosovo, plus a Turk and a Jordanian, are arrested for conspiring to attack Fort Dix, a military base in New Jersey, with AK47s and “to kill as many soldiers as possible” (U.S. Attorney’s Office).

The Mainstream Media spin: “Four of them were born in the former Yugoslavia” (The New York Times); “One of the suspects was born in Jordan, another in Turkey… [t]he rest are believed to be from the former Yugoslavia” (CNN); “Four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, one in Jordan and one in Turkey” (MSNBC); “One of the suspects was born in Turkey and four in the former Yugoslavia” (AP), und so weiter…

The names of the four “Yugoslavs” are Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka, Shain Duka (three brothers, all of them in the United States illegally), and Agron Abdullahu. Those are Albanian names, of course, but not one in a hundred Americans knows that. In fact, grasping that they are Albanians and knowing that “ethnic Albanian” plus “Muslim from the former Yugoslavia” equals “Kosovo,” is the privilege of experts. It is but one of many Balkan equations that mainstream media editors are determined to keep hidden from their consumers. That there is nothing in the federal complaint about the “Yugoslav” suspects’ origins is almost certainly the result of political interference.

White House spokesman Tony Snow was quick to assure us there is “no direct evidence” that the men arrested in the Fort Dix plot have ties to international terrorism. His meta-message is clear: The Administration knows it cannot keep the Albanian identity of four “Yugoslav” suspects concealed for ever, but it wants to pre-empt any suspicion that an independent KosovA would be a black hole of jihad-terrorism in the heart of Europe. Hastily denying the group’s link to al-Qaeda and other global networks is a political necessity for the proponents of Kosovo’s independence, not necessarily the reality.

Having been assured ad nauseam over the years by successive U.S. administrations that Kosovo’s Albanians are not really serious about their Islam, that even when they desecrate Christian churches and joyously rip crosses from their cupolas they do it for nationalist rather than jihadist reasons, the powers-that-be are doing their utmost to ensure that the public remains anesthetized. Asking when and how Albanian “secularists” became Islamic radicals is a no-no. Being so audacious as to wonder what this transformation bodes for a new, independent Muslim state in the heart of Europe is simply not on. Asking questions about major KLA figures’ documented links to jihad terrorism (including to Osama bin Laden personally) is polizeilich verboten. In the meantime, cadres, cash and ordnance linked to jihadist outrages all over Europe have been traced back to Kosovo, including the bombings in Madrid (March 2004) and London (July 2005), and a rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Athens last year.

In New Jersey in May 2007, Kosovo blowback has finally reached America.

It is now essential to unmask the web of lies and distortions that has guided U.S. policy in the Balkans for years. The first step is to demand an explanation why and how Muslim Albanian terrorists from Kosovo were able to plan an operation here in the U.S. Why indeed: didn’t the U.S. military fight the Serbs for 78 days in 1999 so that they could have their ethnically clrean, Serbenfrei statelet? As a Washingtonian insider points out,

For almost a decade the U.S. government (or more precisely a handful of State Department bureaucrats and a few Congressmen) have placed the U.S. firmly on the side of the KLA and have helped created a haven for their operations. Even worse, KLA supporters in the United States have operated with virtual impunity, collecting money and weapons to support KLA operations not only in Kosovo, but in neighboring areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and northern Greece.

He reminds us that in 2004 Dutch television broadcast a documentary of Kosovo Albanian Muslims legally buying weapons in the U.S. and shipping them to Kosovo is support of their “liberation war” in violation of numerous U.S. laws, including the Neutrality Act: “The documentary then showed the same Albanians at a fundraiser in New York writing hefty checks to American politicians of both parties. There is no public indication that any action was taken by federal or state law enforcement agencies.”

But like the Bourbons of yore, KosovA enthusiasts inside the Beltway learn nothing and forget nothing. At last Tuesday’s open hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, titled “The Outlook for the Independence of Kosova” (sic!), the Committee’s Chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), declared urbi et orbi:

“Just a reminder to the predominantly Muslim-led governments in this world that here is yet another example that the United States leads the way for the creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe. This should be noted by both responsible leaders of Islamic governments, such as Indonesia, and also for jihadists of all color and hue. [sic!] The United States’ principles are universal, and in this instance, the United States stands foursquare for the creation of an overwhelmingly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe.”

On that same occasion Ms. Rice’s No. 2, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, reiterated the U.S. position that immediate independence without standards or compromise is a must lest the Albanians get nasty: “the prospects for violence would be greater if we waited, because 92 to 94 percent of the people who now live in Kosovo are Albanian Muslims. They have been waiting a long, long time.”

Albanian Muslims, mind. Not Albanians, not “Kosovars,” not “Yugoslavs.” As Julia Gorin pointed out, Mr. Burns also didn’t miss the opportunity to invoke the usual Nazi imagery in reference to the Serbs, while praising the Kosovo prime minister Agim Ceku, an indicted Serb-slaughterer, as “impressive” and “worthy.” That’s the broad picture, dear reader, and a bunch of overexcitable, non-al-Qaeda-connected “Yugoslavs” from New Jersey will not be allowed to disturb it.
And yes, Mr. Lantos’s “jihadists of all color and hue” are taking note.

Srdja Trifkovic :: May.08.2007 :: News & Views :: 38 Comments »

'Not about the truth'

Mike Pressler

Former Duke coach describes fumbling by university officials as alleged sex assault case struck community


New York Newday
May 11, 2007

In an insider's account of the Duke lacrosse scandal, former varsity lacrosse coach Mike Pressler blasts senior university officials for fumbling the case.

In "It's Not About the Truth," scheduled to reach bookstores June 12, Pressler and co-author Don Yaeger say Duke officials failed to support the players publicly and were more concerned about the university's image. They also hint at an attempted coverup.

"The thing that might be most disheartening to me is that ... the only people that have stood up and apologized ... were the players," Pressler says in the book. "The adults in this picture - the faculty, the administration - they haven't apologized for anything."

An investigation by the North Carolina attorney general has declared all three indicted players "innocent." Pressler, who said he was forced to resign, now coaches in Rhode Island.

Duke president Richard Brodhead and athletic director Joe Alleva both were criticized. The book also reveals that Pressler and the team kept a secret list of people they felt had wronged them, dubbed "The Grail."

Tom Butters, a former longtime Duke athletic director, also takes university officials to task in the book. "I know I am probably stepping on toes when I say this, but it was absurd," Butters says. "I wanted someone to step up for Mike and those kids."

Duke spokesman David Jarmul said, "From his first statement in March 2006, at a time when many seemed to accept the truth of the district attorney's charges, President Brodhead repeatedly emphasized the need for the students to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise within the legal system." He would not comment specifically on the book because, he said, it has yet to be issued.

At the outset, back in March 2006, the book says, Pressler and other Duke officials were so convinced that the allegations would go away that they gave bad advice to the players.

For example, co-captain Dan Flannery says that the assistant dean of students, Sue Wasiolek, told him, "Right now, you don't need an attorney. Just don't tell anyone, including your teammates or parents, and cooperate with police if they contact you."

The next day, eight police officers showed up at the house on North Buchanan, frisked the players, searched the house, and took them to the station for interviews and DNA tests.

Flannery now blames Wasiolek's advice for what followed. "We believed, albeit falsely, that these people would look after our best interests," he says in the book. When Durham police called Pressler on March 20 and asked for an informal meeting with players, the coach agreed.

In a recent interview, Wasiolek said she told the co-captains to tell the truth and cooperate fully with the police. "I don't recall saying that you don't need a lawyer," she said. "I also didn't tell them that they needed a lawyer. I don't recall it coming up."

Pressler admits in the book that he told the team not to tell anyone about the meeting. "I was told to keep it quiet," Pressler said. "Everybody. . . thought it was going to go away. There was no reason to bring more attention to it. So I interpreted that being, 'Hey, guys, it's going to go away, let's keep it in-house here. Don't tell your parents yet, don't tell your girlfriends. Keep it in house.'"

Some parents already knew and demanded a postponement.

At times, the book says, Duke officials expressed support for the players in private but not in public. On March 24, Pressler met with Alleva, along with other Duke officials and the team captains. Alleva told them only that they would be punished for throwing the party.

The next day, Brodhead decided the team would forfeit two games. In an emotional five-hour meeting with the team's parents that followed, Duke officials said they believed the players' accounts. But on March 26, Brodhead ordered the suspension of all future games.

On April 5, Alleva met with Pressler and Kennedy. Pressler says Alleva declared the season must be canceled. "What new has happened?" Pressler asked. "Joe, you told the players and the parents you believed their story."

Alleva replied, "It's not about the truth anymore."

Another Duke spokesman, John Burness, said university officials did not succumb to pressure and made decisions at the time based on what they believed was in the best interest of everyone involved.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ann Coulter: C'est Si Bon

French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy waves to supporters while leaving a hotel in Paris, Monday May 7, 2007. Sarkozy defeated Socialist Segolene Royal by 53.06 percent to 46.94 percent with an 84 percent voter turnout, according to final results released early Monday. It was a decisive victory for Sarkozy's vision of freer markets and toughness on crime and immigration.

May 9, 2007

I'm off to Paris! I hereby revoke every churlish remark I've ever made about those lovely Gallic people. (But in light of former New Jersey governor and current "gay American" Jim McGreevey's latest career move, I redouble everything I've ever said about the Episcopalians.)

With Nicolas Sarkozy's decisive victory as the new president of France, the French have produced their first pro-American ruler since Louis XVI.

In celebration of France's spectacular return to Western civilization, I bought a Herve Leger dress on Monday, and we're having croissants for breakfast every day this week. This delicate French pastry, by the way, is in the shape of a crescent to commemorate the Crusaders' victory over Islam. Aren't the French just peachy?

"Sarkozy the American," as he is known in France, called Muslim rioters "scum." Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

He explained his position on Muslim immigrants in France, saying: "Nobody has to, I repeat, live in France. But when you live in France, you respect its rules. That is to say that you are not a polygamist. ... One doesn't practice female genital mutilation on one's daughters, one doesn't slit the throat of the sheep, and one respects the republican rules."

Sarko never issued an apology or entered rehab. To the contrary, he said: "I called some individuals that I refuse to call 'youth' by the name they deserve. ... I never felt that by saying 'scum' I was being vulgar, hypocritical or insincere."

Is there a single American politician who would speak so clearly without then apologizing to Howard Dean?

It looks like the Democrats are going to have to drop their talking point about Bush irritating the rest of the world. Evidently not as much as Muslim terrorists irritate the rest of the world. The politicians who hate Bush keep being dumped by their own voters.

At the Democratic presidential debate a few weeks ago, B. Hussein Obama carped that Bush had "alienate(d) the world community" and vowed that he would build "the sort of alliances and trust around the world that has been so lacking over the last six years."

Democrats are terrific at building alliances. Remember how Jimmy Carter won the love of the world by ditching our ally the Shah of Iran, allowing him be replaced by a string of crazy ayatollahs? Since then, we haven't heard a peep from that area of the world.

The smartest woman in the world sniped that she would "create alliances instead of alienation."

Yes, it was spellbinding how her husband charmed North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung and his sociopathic son Kim Jong Il by showering them with visits from Jimmy Carter and gifts from love-machine Madeleine Albright. And that was that: No more trouble from North Korea!

As I understand it, the center of the supposedly America-hating world is France. But now it turns out even the French don't hate America as much as liberals do.

Au contraire! (We can say that again!) Our Georgie is the most popular American with the French since Jerry Lewis.

All over the civilized world, voters are turning terrorist-coddling liberals out of office and voting for politicians friendly toward Bush, the world's sworn enemy of Islamic fascism.

Those foreign leaders so admired by Democrats for hating George Bush and loving Saddam Hussein are being replaced by rulers who pledge their friendship to the United States.

Retrospectively, B. Hussein Obama's answer about our most important ally being "the European Union" may eventually become true, thanks to Bush's ceaseless ally-making.

In Germany, pro-American Angela Merkel crushed the mincing anti-American chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2005.

Last year, conservatives swept Canada, making Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper the prime minister. I haven't loved Canadians this much since the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is both the longest-serving Australian prime minister and — by his own account — the most conservative. As The New York Times rooted for his defeat in 2004, claiming Australians were furious with him for his support of the Iraq war, he won a historic third term.

Along with Howard, Bush's staunchest ally in the war on terrorism has been Britain's Labor Party leader Tony Blair. He's about to leave office — only to be replaced by a leader from the even more pro-American Conservative Party.

American celebrities who threaten to move out of the country every election rather than live under a conservative leader are running out of countries to move to.

Only Spain remains a nation of women. As long as Spain exists, it will not outlive the shame of its gutless capitulation to terrorist bombings in 2004. It is worse than Sweden's neutrality toward Hitler.

But France! Until this week, France seemed a less likely place to find someone who supports America than a meeting of Democrats.

Apparently, even the French prefer Western civilization to clitorectomy-performing, car-burning savages.

The Democratic Party is now officially the only organization on Earth that does not take the threat of Islamic fascism seriously. Between the Democrats and the media, America has gone from its usual position as the world's last hope to radical Islam's last hope.


Walid Phares: French Resistance to Jihadism

Paris riots: 2005

May 10, 2007, 6:30 a.m.

The broad implications of Sarkozy’s election.

When I was leaving Paris at the end of October 2005 after a visit to France, I had two things in mind: First, I had seen the beginning of the urban intifada, which would soon engulf about two hundred cities and towns. Second, I was able to have my book Future Jihad received by Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy. And as my plane was taking off, I concluded that the jihadi “invasion” of France’s cities would lead to a French popular response. This Sunday’s presidential election epitomized this reaction, and Nicolas Sarkozy embodied it.

This striking electoral victory by the son of an immigrant is the result of the French public’s rejection of a slow decay that has been eroding the foundations of the Fifth Republic for years, some would say even since its inception in 1958. Without any doubt, the country’s economic insecurity and a need for change were among the reasons for Sarkozy’s electoral success. He promised a third path between the rigid left-wing agenda and Chirac’s stagnant economics. Many civil societies in Europe wish to escape the choice between Socialism and capitalism. European voters and French ones in particular, have desperately been trying to communicate this to their politicians since the end of the Cold War.

But Sarkozy’s victory is also a response to another desperate plea from the peoples of Europe, and from the French silent majority in particular: Please resist the rise of terror that is the urban jihad. This Sunday’s vote, and the presidential primaries, were also — even mostly — about this latent worry, even if the political and media elite attempted to ignore it. When given the opportunity, French electors responded to the elite’s tergiversation on the perceived threat to democracy and security.


Since the 1970s, France has been a target for terrorist activities. Left-wing, right-wing, and Middle Eastern-rooted groups attacked the country and were fought fiercely by the government. As of the early 1990s, French urban centers began to witness the rise of radical Islamist networks. Migrating from the Maghreb (northwest Africa) and other regions, Salafi clerics and militants promoted jihadism around Paris and many other cities. By the end of the decade, many suburban zones were practically ruled by powers parallel to the state.

Inaugurated by Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, the “politique Arabe de la France” (Arab policy of France), meant in practice an accommodation by Paris to the wishes of foreign powers providing cheap natural resources to the country’s industrial complex. Very smartly, the domestic jihadi web positioned itself under the umbrella of the French Oil interest and multinational corporations; radical clerics were financed by Saudi and other Arab regimes, spreading Wahhabism and Salafism across the country. Any interference by French authorities would “hurt” the relations with Petrol-regimes and thus would have a negative effect on the “economic benefits” to the country. Moreover, high-profile politicians, including President Chirac, were accused of becoming personal friends with Middle Eastern financial empires.

The silent majority in France was powerless against the rise of the extremists in the banlieues (suburbs) and throughout the provinces. The average French voter grew frustrated with these two political options and was not willing to support Le Pen’s extreme positions. Popular dismay was exacerbated as the “parallel society” of radicals expanded in urban France. Within those enclaves, the Salafis were profiting from the void. Wherever French police and social workers couldn’t go, jihadi cells would mushroom. The combination of areas ruled by Imams and migrant terror-networks was explosive: In the fall of 2005, it did explode, right in the face of French citizenry.


After the September 11 attacks in the U.S., most Europeans worried that the same could happen to them. The European elite, however, largely dismissed the possibility, arguing that America brought the attacks upon itself by means of its foreign policy. Soon enough, Western Europe felt the ire of al Qaeda and its ilk: the Madrid train attacks on March 11, 2004, the London subway killings on July 7, 2005, and the assassination of Van Gogh on November 2, 2004, in Amsterdam were the most visible of the continental ghazwas (Jihadi raids).

In France, President Jacques Chirac, taking the Gaullist doctrine to its extreme, thought he could spare his country from the “holy wars.” By opposing the removal of Saddam and leading the criticism of Washington, the French political establishment, led by the Élysée (the presidential palace) and endorsed by Rue Solferino (the headquarters of the Socialist party), pitted itself against the United States. Between 2003 and late 2004, French diplomacy fought a fierce battle against America’s involvement in Iraq. The more Paris aligned itself with Berlin’s Schroeder and with anti-American governments worldwide, the more Chirac’s politicians felt safe at home and overseas. But the Jihadi powers, Salafists, and Khomeinists had different calculations. Their message to the French was: Either you are with us or you are against us.

During the Iraq war and in its aftermath, Salafi combat-cells continued to spread in France. Not supporting the U.S. in Iraq didn’t shield France from this domestic threat. Al Qaeda doesn’t reward infidels for not joining other infidels in the fight. Nor did Iran and Syria protect the French president’s interests and friends in the region, despite his political war with the Bush administration. In 2004, the Syrian regime went after Chirac’s allies and partners in Lebanon, most notably after Chirac’s friend Rafiq Hariri. In September, Paris reacted by introducing, along with the U.S., a resolution to get Syria out of Lebanon. In retaliation, the Assad regime launched an assassination campaign, killing many politicians, including Hariri. France’s “Arab policy” was collapsing. By the fall of 2005, France’s national soil was transformed into a battlefield.


On October 27, in Clichy-sous-Bois, an eastern suburb of Paris, “youth gangs” began torching cars and destroying property. The vandalism was purportedly instigated by the death of two young men who were being chased by police. But there was clearly more to it: The uprising spread to dozens of cities and similar graffiti appeared simultaneously across the country. By November 8, 2005, a state of emergency was declared. Ten thousand cars had been burned.

The French public took this as a warning. The media, government, and academia insisted on the unemployment-youth-socio-economic paradigm. But the silent majority didn’t buy it. People living close to the “insurgents” and interacting with them, including the security agencies, understood what was happening: Large urban zones around France’s cities had slipped away from national sovereignty. The radicals had built a “société parallèle,” concluded the average citizens. If the police couldn’t go into the suburbs, it was because they had become Taliban-like pockets. A national leader had to step in.


Moving swiftly and energetically, Nicolas Sarkozy, the minister of interior, took charge in what was the most sensitive aspect of the French collective psychology. After having organized the Islamic Federation of France in an attempt to whisk it away from the radicals the year before, Sarkozy became the target of attacks by the Salafi clerics, many of whom were preaching Jihadism in the mosques. Sarkozy used French laws to deport a number of them who were non-citizens. In 2003, Sarkozy had organized a state backed Council for Islamic Faith to contain the rise of the Islamists. The November 2005 intifada was a response to the Sarkozy counter-Jihadi measures. In response the minister of interior pushed for the deportation of the radical clerics he accused of incitements.

Nicolas Sarkozy embodies important sociological characteristics of French political culture. Being the son of immigrants, he can’t be attacked by the ideological users of the “immigrant shield.” He comes from a conservative background to assure the French that the national identity has to be protected, and he promotes progressive change, integrating the views of the French who are concerned with environmental and economic reforms.

Yet the collective consciousness of the French public today is primarily concerned with survival. This goes against the dominant paradigm, the official speech, and the intellectual rhetoric. French people took heed of the warning they saw on their televisions, the terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid, and London; they were shocked by what they saw from their own balconies happening on their streets. They were looking for someone to do something about this, and they found their man in Sarkozy.

This is not just one more European election; it is a benchmark in French politics and, subsequently, in the Western struggle to win the war on terror. The change will affect France deeply, but also its relations on the Continent, across the Atlantic, and in the Greater Middle East. Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to bring France back to itself after decades of Gaullist erring. His statement about being a friend of the United States doesn’t mean only that he will listen to what Washington has to say about the world, but also that he will make known to our politicians his experiences with a common enemy. As is clear, America’s establishment could well use the advice of this newly arrived friend on the world stage.

After he was elected, Sarkozy pledged that France would support the oppressed and persecuted around the world. In other words, France is committed to helping weak societies struggling for liberties against dictatorships. This statement is a prelude to what could become a new era of French solidarity with the global resistance to ideological jihadism. In this respect, Sarkozy’s victory can be viewed as a first step in the return of the French Resistance, this time against jihadism.

— Walid Phares is the director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy, and the author of The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy.

Just Can't Get Enough? Walid Phares knows a little something about jihad. He's not a huge al Jazeera fan.

Notre Dame coach Dave Schrage stays strong

By Marlen Garcia, USA TODAY

10 May 2007

Since the death of his wife, Jody, Dave Schrage must balance leading his Notre Dame baseball team with the parenting of his two daughters.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — From the third-base coach's box at Notre Dame's Frank Eck Stadium, Dave Schrage occasionally gives a glance to the nearby bleachers.
Notre Dame's baseball coach might catch a glimpse of his teenage daughters, Kaitlyn and Brianne, and his focus will drift to the memory of his wife, Jody. She died Jan. 9 of complications from liver cancer, about two months after she was diagnosed. She was 45.

"It becomes difficult," Schrage says of staying focused.

Less than a year ago, the family celebrated when Schrage was named Notre Dame's coach — a dream job for the lifelong Irish fan — after establishing himself as one of the Midwest's premier coaches.

Now he's balancing the demands of coaching with life as a single dad. "The hardest part is trying to be both mom and dad."

Schrage still manages to keep his composure and characteristic upbeat nature for his enthusiastic 19- to 23-year-old ballplayers, defending their Big East championship without nine top players from a year ago. The Irish, trying to make the conference tournament, are 27-21 heading into a weekend series at Louisville.

They count on Schrage's guidance. They give him a respite from his grief.

"Never once has he shown that his emotions have the better of him," co-captain Danny Dressman, a senior outfielder, says.

Understandably, Schrage didn't have time to forge deep bonds with his players in the offseason.

Still, every player made last-minute arrangements to return early to South Bend from the Christmas break to attend Jody's funeral.

Evansville's baseball team, which Schrage coached the previous four seasons, also attended.

Schrage says his daughters and players help him cope. His daughters have congratulated him on victories by writing messages on a mirror with soap, and sometimes they sneak encouraging notes into his briefcase. Both are thoughtful deeds his wife used to do.

Now instead of looking at game films to start each week, Schrage is preoccupied with his daughters' busy schedules. There are school meetings to attend, homework and social dilemmas. With no extended family nearby, Schrage had to hire someone to stay with Kaitlyn, 16, and Brianne, 13, when he's at work.

Brianne is about to graduate from eighth grade and needs a new dress. Shopping for it is difficult. "She's missing her mom," Schrage says.

Lifetime goal realized

About 10 months ago, the Schrages moved to South Bend amid a steady buzz of excitement. Schrage was introduced as Notre Dame's baseball coach July 18 to replace Paul Mainieri, who moved to LSU.

Schrage (pronunciation rhymes with bag) had impressive credentials. Since graduating in 1983 from Creighton, where he was an all-conference outfielder, he earned a master's in sports administration at St. Thomas University (also known as Biscayne College) in Florida and steadily climbed the coaching ranks. The family agreed Notre Dame would be the last coaching stop.

He had shaped Evansville into a power in the perennially tough Missouri Valley Conference, and last season the Purple Aces won the regular-season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA regional title round for the first time. Schrage also brought respectability to baseball programs at Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa.

His wife reveled in his achievement.

"Jody knew how special the job was going to be," Schrage says.

Friends say she spoke eagerly of getting involved in the South Bend community. She wanted to get to know players and talked of having team dinners, as she had in Evansville.

She had been a superb athlete and understood the rigors of coaching as a member of three World Series softball teams at Creighton. It was there she got to know her future husband during friendly but competitive backgammon games.

At Urbandale (Iowa) High School she was a third baseman for a team that 30 years ago set the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union mark for consecutive victories with 68, a record that still stands. Her accomplishments led to her induction into the state high school Hall of Fame in 1989 as Jody Jenison.

For several years she taught elementary school as well as physical education and coached high school softball.

"Whenever we went to a new community, she got involved," Schrage says.

From left, Brianne, Kaitlyn and Dave Schrage enjoy some time on their deck at their home in Granger, Indiana. "Kaitlyn has done incredible," Schrage says. "She's probably doing better than I am. She had to grow up in a hurry."

Notre Dame goes to work

She and her husband wanted a single-story house when they moved to South Bend because she had been bothered for months by pain in her feet.

Initially she was treated by a podiatrist but the pain persisted. Blood work during a physical in the fall revealed an infection.

Further tests showed tumors on her liver and adrenal gland. The gland tumor was benign, but the tumor on her liver was a rapidly growing, rare cancer. She needed specialized care, and Notre Dame's vast network of movers and shakers took action.

Schrage says football coach Charlie Weis got involved because "he knew people who knew people" at the Houston-based M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, a leading treatment hospital.

The Schrages made three trips to M.D. Anderson in about a six-week period. South Bend businessmen provided private jets; Notre Dame alumni opened their homes in Houston and offered cars. Notre Dame associate athletics director Boo Corrigan accompanied the Schrages on every trip to Houston.

Athletics department staffers and their families brought meals to the Schrages while Jody recovered at home from surgery to remove the tumor.

Every extraordinary gesture helped ease the family's worries about being in a new town without extended family or close friends nearby to help.

"There was definitely a reason this happened while I was at Notre Dame," Schrage says.

Within weeks of the tumor's removal, the cancer returned with a vengeance, says M.D. Anderson's Steven Curley, who treated Jody.

"I've not encountered anything like it," he says. "It haunts me still."

Jody's abdominal cavity was engulfed by microscopic cancer cells, which contributed to internal bleeding despite follow-up surgeries to stop the blood loss.

The family experienced a roller coaster of emotions. There were moments when Jody seemed headed for recovery, followed by painful setbacks from the bleeding.

Corrigan recalls that on Jan. 8, despite heavy sedation, Jody received an emotional lift when her daughters and husband entered her hospital room.

"She could definitely tell the girls were there," says Corrigan, swallowing hard as he holds back tears.

Jody died the next day.

Holding family together

Throughout her battle, Jody never doubted she would pull through, Schrage says. She fought cancer the same way she approached life — full of optimism and spunk.

Schrage gave the eulogy at a packed funeral at Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

"People said, 'You're not going to get through it,' " Schrage says. "The reason I did it, I thought she deserved it. She'd be saying, 'You can do this.' "

Every day since has been a trial for Schrage and his daughters.

"You have tough days when you think to yourself, 'How am I supposed to go on?' " he says. "But each day that goes by gets a little better."

While his wife was sick, Schrage considered a leave of absence from his job, but she wouldn't hear of it. She wanted the family to keep moving forward.

And they're trying. Both daughters play softball, following in their mother's footsteps.

"Kaitlyn has done incredible," Schrage says. "She's probably doing better than I am. She had to grow up in a hurry."

Kaitlyn plans to volunteer this weekend at a Notre Dame men's basketball fundraiser, a black-tie Coaches vs. Cancer dinner. One of the organizers, Kim Kearney, wife of men's basketball associate head coach Sean Kearney, says Jody had expressed interest in volunteering. "And now her daughter is doing it."

Schrage worries more about Brianne, who had expressed reluctance about the move to South Bend. Schrage says she is adjusting, and he hopes she can hang on to the bubbly traits she inherited from her mother, especially as graduation looms. Brianne will spend Mother Day's weekend at her father's side on the team's road trip to Louisville.

Schrage's friends worry about him, although he appears outwardly tough.

"During the season the focus and mind-set is on the team," says longtime friend John Planek, the athletics director at Chicago's Loyola University. "What happens after the season is over or after a long road trip and he's alone at night?

"I don't want to venture to think about what's going on. The devastation, that's probably when it hits him."

Schrage says he is following his wife's example and maintaining a zest for life that he shared with her through 20 years of marriage.

His players, like his colleagues, applaud Schrage's work ethic and strength, characteristics that helped him reach the 500-win milestone April 29, also his 46th birthday.

"To get it at a school that is your dream job, it's pretty special," Schrage says of victory No. 500. "Yeah, it's been a hard year. It's also been a special year."

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Season-finale Roundup: Things We Learned from The Unit

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

by Robert Edelstein

Few television shows pack the same live-grenade tension as an hour of The Unit (which presents its season finale tonight at 9 pm/ET). On the CBS series, Dennis Haysbert leads a small group of elite military personnel through deadly missions in hot spots around the world, while at home, Unit wives grapple with long separations, their husbands' low pay and some potentially explosive secrets. The show is based on the book Inside Delta Force, which covers author Eric Haney's own career in the army's special-forces unit from 1978 to '85. And though both Haney and fellow series producer Shawn Ryan maintain that the show is fiction, it turns out The Unit is much more bull's-eye than bull. Here's a look at what's pure story and what's true grit.

A man really can survive being snatched off the ground by a passing plane. "It's called the Fulton Extraction," Haysbert says of the real-life technique his character Jonas used to escape a hot zone in the second-season premiere. While part of the stunt was blue-screened, a crane yanked Haysbert 75 feet into the air to get the right effect. "Now I know what flying superheroes feel like," he says.

Waziristan actually exists. The Unit battled local militia in this very real, albeit very fake-sounding, region of northwestern Pakistan.

Special-forces wives have it bad. Keeping national secrets, maintaining a brave face and dealing with bureaucracy: that's just another day in the life of a Unit wife. When one of the wives got a threatening note from base officials because, of all things, her lawn wasn't edged properly, real-life Air Force wife Lori Twichell cringed. "I've had that happen to me!" she says about a notice to evict a family from base housing unless their turf passed inspection.

It takes a team to make one sniper shot. In one episode, Unit members had to shut down three enemy machine-gunners from nearly 1.5 miles away. While one calculated distance and a second judged wind speed, two others hit the bull's-eye — just like in real life. "Wind, temperature, elevation, distance, humidity — all are big influences on the bullet," says a military shooter stationed in Iraq.

War games are real. Apparently, special forces from other countries do compete in counterterror Olympics like in the "Games of Chance" episode. "It's mostly Western European and English-speaking nations," says Ryan. Does Haney confirm? "No comment," he says.

Army pay stinks. Young soldiers bring home about $20,000 per year. No wonder Jonas' wife, Molly (Regina Taylor), took a controversial job as a private-security-company recruiter.

Elite forces speak in tongues. Can you say "polyglot" in Urdu and Spanish? To survive in a covert unit — on TV or off — you'll need to. "You have to cover a wide area linguistically," says Haney, who has a passing knowledge of seven languages. "That's a requirement."

If you're a military kid, both your parents can be deployed at the same time. Such was the case in "Change of Station." "It happens, and it's a travesty," Haney says. "I don't want to use our show to point this out, but hopefully it gets people to think."

Unit members are not above the law. The secret Unit emergency stash that's funded, in part, by stolen diamonds? It's "dramatic license," Haney says. Contrary to what many of the show's antics would have you believe, the Delta Force does not have carte blanche to stray outside the law. The show's fiction will mirror that fact in this week's season finale when the guys return from a mission to find that they're under investigation.

Uncle Sam doesn't LoJack soldiers. In "Extreme Rendition," Army docs implanted a sensor inside Bob (Scott Foley) to track him during a mission. "Does that exist? Yeah," Haney says. But "the military does not do that." Yet.

But elite forces do play chicken. In "The Kill Zone," junior snipers pick off brightly colored fowl as a training exercise. "A chicken's body moves in the way a person's head moves," Haney says, defending the practice. "I've done that, and all the chicken lovers of the world can write me about it."

Unit members don't mind a little illegal whiskey — though the stuff could kill ya. Bob was "initiated" into the Unit with a drink of moonshine from a hidden still earlier this season. In the real Delta Force, says Haney, getting to that ‘shine takes some know-how, not to mention courage. "Tradition holds that the guys back in the 1950s built a still down in one of the [firing] ranges because they knew nobody would go there. [They built it] like the path through a minefield, so only the cognoscenti knew how to get to the still and run off with a batch of whiskey. Of course, not everybody can get down there. It's in a place where, if you took a misstep, you'd blow up." You've gotta be really thirsty.

A soldier's life is worth $100,000. After a soldier died in "The Kill Zone," there was talk of his family getting a $6,000 "death gratuity," among other funds. According to Pentagon releases, that figure may have been accurate four years ago, but it was raised to $12,000 in 2003, and then in January 2006 to $100,000 for all active-duty soldiers.

Sometimes it takes five guys to protect one VIP. There are times the entire unit will be dispatched to rescue or secure one individual. "It all depends on the threat, the location and where the person might be traveling," says Ryan. Of course, not everybody gets such five-star treatment. Jokes Ryan, "Yeah — it is a status symbol."

It's easier to get into Harvard than the Unit. The dropout rate of those applying for the few Delta Force positions is, Haney says, 94 percent. So while the training Bob endured to make the cut in "Natural Selection" was brutal, the real thing is "much harder."

Elite soldiers always fire twice. Haney calls the pop-pop shooting technique a "double tap." Pray you never need to know why.

If you ever find a paratrooper cap, check behind the patch. In a recent episode, Tiffy (Abby Brammell) bought a WWII paratrooper cap and found a rare coin sewn behind it. Doing so was SOP in the old days, though the coin was chiefly for recreational or protective purposes. Says Haney, "The whole idea was if you were downtown on pass, at least you had a dollar for a beer, or if you were drunk, you could take the bus back. Or if there's a fight, you could whip the hat and break a cheekbone with it."

"We do negotiate with terrorists." Col. Tom Ryan (Robert Patrick) declares as much in "Bait" — but only if the stakes are worth the risk. Haney concurs. In his Delta days, he was often asked to help speed along diplomacy. Nowadays, it happens "only if the price is high enough," he says. "If you're a senator's daughter, that's one thing. If you're a TV Guide writer, you're on your own."

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Bob Klapisch: Cashman Comes Under Scrutiny

Bergen County Record

9 May 2007

Brian Cashman has been surrounded by Yankee haters long enough to know there's a propaganda orgy going on, now that Roger Clemens is in pinstripes at the staggering cost of $4.5 million a month. Same old Bombers: When in doubt, head for the ATM. At least that's what you hear from people who think Cashman would be helpless without George Steinbrenner's limitless wealth.

The indictment surely stings the executive, but don't expect him to articulate the counterargument heard so often within the Yankee front office. Which is, didn't the Mets get Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and Pedro Martinez by writing the biggest check? Didn't the Red Sox do just that to snare Daisuke Matsuzaka? And didn't the Giants court Barry Zito by offering him enough money to feed a Third World country?

Cashman would like to say all of this, but realizes it's a pointless debate.

"I can't worry about trying to convert anyone, I'm just trying to win games," he said Tuesday. "We're sitting where we're sitting [six games out of first place] and I'm responsible for that. I take full responsibility for what's happened to date."

Indeed, Cashman has replaced, or at least joined, Joe Torre at the epicenter of the Yankee crisis, since he's being blamed for the series of disasters that led to the Yankees overpaying Clemens. It was Cashman, not Torre, who signed Kei Igawa instead of Ted Lilly. The loyalty to Carl Pavano is on Cashman's docket, too, as was the underbidding for Matsuzaka.

It was a perfect storm in April, during which the Yankees lost 5-of-6 to the Red Sox and shipped seven players to the disabled list. Hence, the panic to sign Clemens. Not so fast, says Cashman, who insists there was no real emergency in signing the Rocket. The GM reminds his detractors, in vain perhaps, that Clemens was always on the Yankees' radar, just as he also was being pursued by the Sox and Astros.

The only difference was, the Yankees wanted Clemens today, not a month from now as the Red Sox preferred. And unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees were willing to sweeten their spring training offer from a pro-rated $25 million to $28 million. For an extra $3 million, Cashman defies anyone to call that panic.

"Roger was part of our business plan all the way back in the winter, most people understand that. It's not like we woke up and signed Roger out of the blue," Cashman said. "Is it an expensive plan? Yes it is. But it's still keeping in line of our goal to make this team younger in the future."

It sounds counterintuitive, signing a 44-year-old pitcher for a record sum in order to get younger. Cashman doesn't bother explaining the logic to Yankee haters. But to anyone who will listen with an open mind, here goes. The commitment to Clemens is for one year only, which means Phil Hughes' spot in the rotation is safe in 2008 (and Matt DeSalvo's, too). Clemens didn't cost the Yankees a draft pick. Neither did Andy Pettitte, for that matter.

Given how poorly the Yankees played last month and how fast the Red Sox were pulling away from the East, did Cashman have any option except to hand Clemens a blank check? The GM certainly wasn't going to let the Red Sox get involved, since Clemens' return to Fenway would've ended the Bombers' season outright. But there's still the matter of Igawa, who appears to be a $20 million mistake, and Pavano, who represents another $40 million down the drain. And the Yankee bench, designed by Cashman, is the worst it's been in years.

Cashman admits Igawa has been, at times, awful. But he says, "It's a long season, we're going to get him fixed. People who know pitching, people we trust, say he has major league stuff and it's just a matter of fixing his mechanics. All I ask is that people not judge him on six starts, three of which were bad."

And Matsuzaka? Cashman bristles at the suggestion that his $33 million posting bid was too conservative.

"That was an aggressive bid. We thought it was a winning bid. No one can call that conservative," Cashman said. "If it had been the winning bid, it would've been a record-setting bid. Ask Omar Minaya [whose Mets bid $36 million] if he thought his bid was conservative. I'm sure the Mets thought they had the winning bid, too."

And Pavano? On this matter, Cashman exhales long and slow. There's certainly no defending the pitcher's Yankee resume, which is littered with injuries and non-performance. The GM knows he's the only member of the organization still trying to rationalize signing Pavano, when just about everyone else has written him off as the worst mistake in a decade. For now, all Cashman will say is, "We're going to hold off any announcement until he's examined [by Dr. Frank Jobe] in California."

Cashman wouldn't comment on clubhouse speculation that an examination last week by Dr. James Andrews found no tear in Pavano's elbow ligaments. Nor is the GM touching an equally disturbing belief, held by some Yankees, that Pavano wants surgery regardless of the doctors' diagnoses. Cashman, for now, is moving forward, thinking ahead – although he admits feeling George Steinbrenner's hot breath on his neck lately.

"Do I feel pressure from Mr. Steinbrenner?" Cashman asked rhetorically. "Every day, every year. He wants a winner. I'm doing my best to provide that."


Ben Johnson: "American" Jihad, Courtesy of the Open Borders Lobby

Israa, left, and Lamese Shnewer, whose brother is one of the men charged in a plot to kill Fort Dix soldiers.

Ben Johnson

May 10, 2007

Most of the mainstream media have grudgingly reported that three of the six Muslim extremists arrested Tuesday for plotting to attack Fort Dix are illegal aliens. Agents are now investigating whether they were smuggled across the border – and whether the others lied on their immigration papers to stay in the country. However, not one major outlet has mentioned the fact that the ACLU, People for the American Way, and other pillars of the Open Borders Lobby opened a major battlefront in the jiahdists’ backyard in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to prevent city officials from evicting illegals like them.

The terror cell’s ruthless motivation and thorough planning are chilling. The group planned a massive assault on soldiers stationed at Ft. Dix, most recently known for housing thousands of their fellow Yugoslavian Muslims, most granted refuge by an overly generous United States. (Most of the Six were Albanian Muslims.) Among the targets they considered attacking were the Army-Navy football game, Dover Air Force Base, Ft. Monmouth, and U.S. Coast Guard ships docked in Philadelphia before settling on Ft. Dix. Federal authorities learned of the cell on January 31, 2006, when the group asked a local convenience store to dub a home video of their jihad training to DVD. (The footage included the men watching the last words of 9/11 hijackers and laughing when they heard of American soldier’s arm being blown off.) Undercover investigators infiltrated their paintball wargames in the Poconos. After a 15-month investigation, FBI agents busted the men “trying to buy three AK-47 automatic machine guns” – the preferred assault weapon of Palestinian children’s television – “and four semi-automatic M-16s.” Their videotaped strategy sessions discussed using mortars and rocket-propelled grenades on the base, or joining the army to attack from within, like their co-religionist, Sgt. Asan Akbar. FBI Agent J.P. Weis described the “homegrown” foreigners:

We had a group that was forming a platoon to take on an army. They identified their target. They did their reconnaissance. They had maps. And they were in the process of buying weapons.

Many of them face life sentences; one “is charged with aiding and abetting illegal weapons possession and faces 10 years in prison.”

“This is what law enforcement is supposed to do in the post-9/11 era,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said Tuesday in Newark: “stay one step ahead of those who are attempting to cause harm to innocent American citizens.”

That is the goal of human intelligence – and it helps when your antagonists are stupid. But FBI agents should never have had to deal with at least three of these men: they were here illegally and should have been deported.

The City of Cherry Hill could not have taken the kind of aggressive action that would have halved the terrorist cell, because it had been bullied into submission by lawsuits filed by the Open Borders Lobby.

Like many other areas, Cherry Hill has experienced an exponential growth in the population of illegal aliens. The tiny, neighboring village of Riverside, New Jersey, (approximately eight miles away) is home to only 8,000 people but has seen an influx of 1,500-3,500 illegal aliens in recent years. Last July, the Republican mayor and council adopted the Illegal Immigrants Relief Act, forbidding townspeople from renting property to or hiring illegal aliens. The motion recognized illegal immigration as a force “jeopardizing the public safety of legal residents.” It imposed up to a $2,000 fine on violators, and businesses employing undocumented workers could lose their licenses for up to five years.

The Open Borders Lobby promptly declared war. The ACLU, People for the American Way, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, and a coalition of Riverside business leaders (who profit from cheap illegal labor) filed federal lawsuits seeking to block the ordinance – which has never been enforced. Soon, Riverside Mayor Charles Hilton overhauled the law to better withstand a legal challenge. He and two Republican council members lost their seats in November, but the new members have not rescinded the measure, and the current Democratic mayor supports it (at least, in theory).

And thus, the lawsuit goes on. The ACLU redoubled its efforts to overturn the measure last month. On May 14, Superior Court Judge John Sweeney will hold a hearing on the motion. (You can read more on the ACLU suit here and here.) Incredibly, one of the Riverside business owners filing suit, David Verduin, said because of this ordinance, “Everyone lives in fear.”

In fact, the cities live in fear. Local governments with similar ordinances have incurred legal bills estimated at more than $1 million for defending against ACLU nuisance suits. Sleepy Riverside has also become the target of raucous pro-illegal demonstrations (although a counter-protest to uphold the measure produced a larger turnout). Even the state capital, Trenton, has been deluged with calls to create “sanctuary municipalities.”

Ironically, the three Albanian brothers could have easily been naturalized under current immigration law. The New York Times notes the illegals formed “part of a family that has lived for years in Cherry Hill, N.J.” and were “joined by their brother-in-law, who was born in Jordan…and two other legal United States residents: an ethnic Albanian from the former Yugoslavia, and a Turk.” Thanks to our post-1965 immigration system engineered by Senator Ted Kennedy, immigration now centers on family reunification rather than merit: those with relatives in the United States go to the front of the line for citizenship.

Moreover, all those arrested were “doing jobs Americans won’t do” – like blowing up Ft. Dix. The terrorists included:

Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, of Cherry Hill, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan and employed as a cabdriver in Philadelphia; Serdar Tatar, 23, of Philadelphia, born in Turkey and legally residing in the U.S. who worked at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Philadelphia and as a deliveryman at his father's pizzeria: and Agron Abdullahu, 24, of Buena Vista, N.J., an ethnic Albanian born in the former Yugoslavia who is legally residing in the U.S. and works at a Shop-Rite Supermarket. Also identified were three brothers, Eljvir Duka, 23, Dritan Duka, 28, and Shain Duka, 26, all of Cherry Hill, who are ethnic Albanians born in the former Yugoslavia who reside illegally in the U.S. and operate Colonial Roofing and National Roofing. (Emphasis added)

These poor souls came here from a war-torn country in search of a better life and greater opportunities (to kill Americans). If the Open Borders Lobby has their way, Congress – shepherded by President Bush and led by Ted Kennedy and John McCain – will reward such blue collar border-crashers with a Guest Worker Program, Social Security benefits, and a “path to citizenship.”

The Brothers Duka also enriched our multicultural Salad Bowl by refusing to assimilate. “Neighbors said the family had lived on the block for about seven years and had always seemed different from other suburbanites. There were 10 to 20 people living there...[T]he father and mother wore religious garb.” (They conformed in other ways. A former high school classmate reminisced, “We did teenage stuff. Drinking. Girls. Stuff like that.” One of the downtrodden also drove an Escalade.) “The family raised sheep, goats and roosters in the back yard.” This was a violation of local laws, and police regularly cited the family – but never reported the illegals.

How could they? Cherry Hill – and nearly every other city in the country – was paralyzed, deathly afraid that any move against either illegals or Muslims (let alone both) will result in lawsuits, a barrage of negative press about its alleged racism and Islamophobia, and million dollar legal fees.

Their fears were not without foundation. The jihadists’ hometown paper led the charge.

The Cherry Hill Courier Post wrote in an editorial on November 9, 2005, that today one can read only as the height of irony:

Powerful anti-immigrant sectors are now able to impose a simple sophism as truth: “The terrorists who attacked the country on Sept. 11, 2001, were immigrants; hence all immigrants may be terrorists.” There is no question that, by staying on this false path, the country is being led down a dead end where society believes immigration and terrorism laws are one and the same or, at least, directly linked. (Emphasis added.)

In its January 2, 2007, editorial (“Immigration Reform Overdue”), the papershowed that it had learned nothing,arguing that immigration reform“shouldn't include the tough proposals” but instead recognize “how much the country relies on foreign labor” and “needs to establish an immigrant workers’ program to legally bring in labor.”

But surely it learned the lessons of political correctness after its own townsmen nearly struck a military base, right? In its lead editorial the day after the arrests, the Courier Post opined, “We join Muslim religious leaders in urging South Jerseyans not to link the religion with terrorism. Instead, Americans must be vigilant to the behavior of people who make threatening comments or act suspiciously, regardless of who they appear to be.”

If Buddhists were equally given to waging jihad or firing automatic weapons while chanting Buddhist mantras, this would constitute valid counsel. Unfortunately, their lead story Wednesday was headlined: “Suspect: ‘I’m doing it in the name of Allah.’” Even the New York Times acknowledged the group “had no clear motivation other than their stated desire to kill United States soldiers in the name of Islam.” Considering 9/11, illegal immigrants who adhere to the Religion of Peace seem to figure prominently in terrorist attacks on American soil. Perhaps the authorities would not be remiss to apply greater scrutiny to those who fall into these categories.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform has just completed a study (PDF) that found illegal immigrants cost New Jersey taxpayers $2.1 billion annually. Were it not for a Garden State convenience store worker and the jihadists’ stupidity, the surcharge could have been in blood – and that blood would be on the hands of the ACLU, People for the American Way, Islamic terror apologists like CAIR, and a leftist media that looks the other way.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Terror Watch: The Jersey Plot

The Feds bust up a homegrown jihadist plot to attack Fort Dix. Did Al Qaeda DVDs and Web sites inspire the suspects from afar?

By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Updated: 4:59 p.m. PT May 8, 2007

May 8, 2007 - With the arrest of six men in New Jersey today, the FBI said it had foiled a frightening terror plot intended to inflict mass casualties at a major U.S. Army base. But nobody is breathing easy. The case is just the latest example of how homegrown Islamic militants are indoctrinating themselves in violent jihad theology by watching videos and surfing the Web—without any apparent direction from Al Qaeda or other organized terror groups.

There is no evidence that any of the six men implicated so far in the New Jersey plot had any contact with Al Qaeda or any other terrorists overseas. (The same is true of several—but not all—recent terror plots in Europe.) But that doesn’t mean their alleged conspiracy was any less alarming. According to a detailed FBI affidavit, the suspects—four men from the former Yugoslavia, a Turkish native and one U.S. citizen who was born in Jordan—collected handguns, shot guns and semiautomatic assault rifles, engaged in firearms training in the Pocono Mountains, undertook surveillance of several U.S. military facilities and openly talked among themselves about how to carry off multiple spectacular attacks against U.S. military personnel.

“He had only one mind, how to kill American soldiers,” one of the plotters is quoted as saying about a fellow co-conspirator, in a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI on March 10, 2007.

The apparent leader of the group, Philadelphia taxi driver Mohammed Shnewer, is quoted in the affidavit as telling a confidential FBI informant that he envisioned using “six or seven jihadists” armed with rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, to kill at least 100 soldiers at Fort Dix. Apparently motivated by his fury at the U.S. military, Shnewer also allegedly talked about timing another attack on a nearby U.S. naval base in Philadelphia during a peak period just before the annual Army-Navy football game. (The root cause of Shnewer’s hatred of American armed forces has not yet been made clear.)

“You know where the stadiums are in Philadelphia?” Shnewer is quoted as telling a confidential FBI informant on March 16, 2007, according to the affidavit. “There is the Navy base and every year they have the Army-Navy ball game and they come and stay one or two weeks … the Navy base will then be full of people … You see this is an opportunity, and the beauty of this location, specifically, if you have the proper weaponry, is that you can hit it from where, do you know? From New Jersey.”

There is no evidence that the suspects ever acquired the RPGs that Shnewer wanted to use. Nor does it appear that any of the plotting ever got much beyond the talking stage. But the fact that such a plot could spring up among U.S. residents—without any overseas guidance or instigation—may be the most troubling aspects of the case, according to some U.S. security officials and analysts.

“What is most worrisome is that it is homegrown, disaffected young Muslims who take actions and planning on their own rather than taking direction from Al Qaeda,” said Kenneth Katzman, a counterterrorism analyst with the Congressional Research Service. “This is what we have been expecting for some time.”

While the suspects' alleged terror plotting may not have been directed from abroad, investigators believe they were inspired by Al Qaeda recruitment videos and other martyrdom tapes downloaded from the Internet—an indication that Osama bin Laden's message is reaching U.S. soil, even if his operatives are not.

The FBI affidavit, attached as an exhibit to an FBI complaint seeking court authority to arrest the six suspects, says that the bureau first got wind of the defendants early last year as a result of what sounds like a tactical indiscretion. According to the FBI document, in late January 2006, someone at an unidentified retail store got in touch with the bureau about a video that a customer had brought in to be transferred to a DVD. The store representative told the FBI the DVD depicted activity which appeared "disturbing."

Upon screening the DVD, the FBI affidavit says, investigators found that it showed 10 young men, all in their early 20s, "shooting assault weapons at a firing range in a militia-like style while calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic 'Allah Akbar' ('God is Great')." After viewing the video, the FBI affidavit says, the bureau and a joint terrorism task force "immediately" opened an investigation into the people depicted in the DVD.

While the FBI affidavit says that the bureau identified all 10 men who appear on the DVD, the document only names six of them—the six defendants arrested in the case. Authorities said that three of the Yugoslav natives implicated in the plot were brothers and were in the United States illegally. The other three accused plotters—Shnewer, another Yugoslav and a Turk—were all legal U.S. residents (Shnewer holds U.S. citizenship). Five of those arrested were charged with plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, while the sixth, a legal U.S. immigrant from Yugoslavia, was charged only with aiding and abetting other defendants to possess firearms illegally. Law-enforcement officials said the defendants were between 22 and 29 years old. (The six have yet to enter a plea.)

In March of last year, several weeks after receiving the initial tip-off from the video-copying store, the FBI managed to infiltrate the group of suspects with an informant, according to the affidavit. The document says that the "cooperating witness" ingratiated himself with Shnewer and secretly started to record him. Shnewer then gave the confidential informant his laptop computer and told him to review DVD files on his hard drive. One file, which Shnewer had labeled “19,” turned out to be the last will and testament of two of the September 11 hijackers. The other DVD file contained images of Osama bin Laden exhorting followers to join the jihadist movement.

The men focused on Fort Dix in central New Jersey, in part, because one of the alleged plotters, Serdar Tatar, knew the layout. He used to work for a nearby pizzeria. "Serdar, he used to deliver there," Shnewer tells the confidential informant, according to the affidavit. He then added that Serdar "knows it like the palm of his hand."

In August 2006, Shnewer made a surveillance trip to the base with the confidential informant and further confided his plans. "My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers," he is quoted as saying. The two apparently got access to the base, according to the affidavit, which states that while driving by one specific area, Shnewer told the informant: "This is exactly what we are looking for. You hit 4, 5, or 6 Humvees and light the whole place [up] and then retreat completely without any losses."

The affidavit also describes a scene in which the informant, while visiting a rental house the group was using during training sessions in the Poconos, sees Shnewer play them videos on his laptop computer showing U.S. military vehicles being destroyed in attacks. When one member of the group points out a U.S. Marine's arm had been blown off, "laughter erupted from the group," according to the FBI affidavit.

Although the group had acquired some handguns, rifles and ammunition, they began this March to talk about purchasing heavier weaponry, including fully automatic AK-47s. The FBI informant appears to have told members of the group that he had a source who could provide such weapons—and even gave one alleged plotter a list of what could be obtained, including an RPG launcher. During one meeting in April, the accused plotter, Dritan Duka, is quoted as telling the informant: "There was some stuff on the list that was heavy s--t—the RPG." He then adds, "I want all of the AK's, all the M-16s ... and all the handguns." The discussion about the purchase of the weapons is apparently what prompted the FBI to end the 16-month investigation and arrest the suspects.

In the aftermath of 9/11, as the U.S. and its allies launched a worldwide campaign against the bin Laden terror network and its known affiliates and sympathizers, counterterror officials have been increasingly worried that one of the unintended results of the crackdown would be to fragment the jihadi movement, drive its supporters underground and make it harder for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep track of them, or even identify them.

The post-9/11 jihadists feared most by security and intelligence officials are "lone-wolf" terrorists—small, self-indoctrinating cells whose members may never have any contact with known terror groups and may be entirely unknown to law enforcement or spy agencies. Investigations in Britain, Bosnia, Canada and the U.S. over the last several years have provided evidence that members of such cells have been able to work themselves into violent frames of mind, and can sometimes equip themselves with deadly homemade weapons, by visiting a proliferating library of jihadi sites on the Internet. Fortunately, in the New Jersey case, the defendants' grandiose and deadly ambitions were thwarted when the arms dealer they were hoping to get their supplies from turned out to be part of a well-orchestrated FBI sting.