Fremont Statue Turned Into Political Statement

A group of statues at a popular intersection in Fremont was decorated with black hoods by an anonymous artist. The correlation to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib is obvious, and some great uh, “reporting”, led to these choice quotes:

“It’s freedom of expression,” said Colin Klein. “It definitely makes me think about it a little bit more, after seeing it like that.”

“I think we — collectively — need to think about it,” said Bunn.

But what kind of reporting would this be if we didn’t have the opposition voicing their opinion:

“Sometimes force is necessary between people,” said veteran John Wolfe. He thinks the focus should be on American prisoners — namely Nick Berg who was beheaded earlier this month.

“I think about Nick Berg. Nobody put a hood over his head,” he said.

Oh come on Mr. Wolfe, won’t you think about the poor Iraqi canines that are being abused?

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MSNBC Poll: 84% Don’t Believe the Pentagon

An interesting poll was attached to the MSNBC article The Roots of Torture:

Looks like people are starting to wise up to the reality that this was a systemic problem brewing out of the Pentagon, and not the contrive story about a few rogue soldiers. The expose isn’t even halfway through and the media is salivating every time the New Yorker prints a new article; who wants to place bets that an independent investigator is summoned to investigate the links between side-stepping Geneva Conventions and prisoner abuse?

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State Dept. Press Aide Screws Up Powell Interview

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!T

his is an absolutely must see interview of Powell on Meet the Press with Tim Russert:



EMILY MILLER, PRESS AIDE: No. They can’t use it, they’re editing it.

SECRETARY POWELL: He’s still asking the questions.


SECRETARY POWELL: Tim, I am sorry I lost you.

MR. RUSSERT: I am right here Mr. Secretary. I would hope they would put you back on camera. I don’t know who did that.

EMILY MILLER, PRESS AIDE: He was going to go for another five minutes.

SECRETARY POWELL: We’ve really scre…

MR. RUSSERT: I think that was one of your staff Mr. Secretary. I don’t think that’s appropriate.

SECRETARY POWELL: Emily, get out of the way. Bring the camera back please. (Camera returns to the interview subject) I think we’re back on Tim, go ahead with your last question.

The quasi-excuse was that the interview was going too long, but NBC rebutted the claim:

She said every effort was made to get NBC to finish up, but that other networks had booked satellite time for interviews with Powell.

The executive producer of Meet the Press, Betsy Fischer, said Powell was 45 minutes late for the interview and that “everyone’s satellite schedules already had to be rescheduled” anyway.

Powell scolds aide after interview interrupted [MSNBC]
Colin Powell On Meet The Press [On Lisa Rein’s Radar] [via Boing Boing]

UPDATE: Lisa Rein has put up bittorrent links to all of the video files. Hurrah for the ingenuity of the Internet.

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Abu Ghraib Torture as Pop Art?

I came across this graffiti version of an Abu Ghraib torture photo over at Wooster Collective. Interesting that these symbols of war become images of pop culture so quickly.

iTorture Edition: Tasteless German Editorial Pages

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Doonesbury Catches Flak over Beheading Comic

“Doonesbury” has a strikingly coincidental strip scheduled to run on May 23rd which depicts a head on a platter. Newspapers, which often print their comics pages anywhere from 10-days to 2-weeks in advance of the rest of the paper, are fuming over the cartoon:

“We’re going to have to publish it because we’ve already printed,” Elizabeth McIntyre, the features editor for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, told the Washington Post. “If I’d known on Wednesday, I could have done something about it.”

Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau is expected to release a statement–on the 23rd–offering a mea culpa and explaining that the strip was drawn and delivered for syndication before the Nick Berg decapitation video was released.

Among the major papers stuck with the strip: the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

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Questions Surround Berg Video

It seems the Nick Berg execution video is not as cut and dry as it appears, and many intelligent questions have arisen about just who was in the videos and some discrepancies that were easy to spot. Kuro5hin has the complete analysis in Nick Berg’s Killing: 50 Fishy Circumstances, Contradictory Claims, and Videotape Anomalies (via Boing Boing):

  • 34) “Terrorists” were fat
    Several of the men in the film were fat by Iraqi standards. If they were Feyadeen or Mujahadeen, they probably have been living underground since the first days of the occupation. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been shown on news stories as they have marched and demonstrated. One would be hard pressed to point out a single fat man among these thousands.
  • 35) White hands of “terrorists”
    Some of the “Arab terrorists” have pasty-white hands and (other exposed) skin. One would be hard pressed to find Arab men with pasty-white hands. (See: Nick Berg Conspiracy Theories Abound.)
  • 36) Wrong accent
    Al-Zarqawi is/was Jordinian. Arab linguists have said the man posing as Al-Zarqawi did not speak with a Jordanian dialect. Others have suggested the man reading the written statement may not have been a native speaker of Arabic….
  • 39) Al-Zarqawi’s missing leg
    Al-Zarqawi was missing one leg. Al-Zarqawi allegedly wears a prosthetic device, according to previous CIA reports. (See: IHT Protrait of Al-Zarqawi.) There is no evidence that the killer wore a prosthetic device. Further, Al-Zarqawi had been outfitted with an artificial leg that did not fit or function properly. He was unable to walk or stand normally. No man in the group showed evidence of such infirmity.
  • 40) Missing tattoos?
    Large green tattooed “dots” are known to be on the back of Abu Musab Zarqawi’s left hand. These tattoos cannot be seen in the close up video of the execution, though the back of his hand is fairly visible. (See: IHT Protrait of Al-Zarqawi.) also points out the infamous plastic chair that Berg sat in is identical to one or two that were photographed at the Abu Ghraib prison:

Take it with a grain of salt: I know that Wal-Mart sells thousands of those cheap plastic chairs, but I doubt that the Sam Walton family is responsible for Nick Berg’s murder. Plastic furniture is probably a very popular fixture in such a poor country.

Nick Berg Timeline
Nick Berg’s Murderer Given 3 Passes by Bush
Militants Behead in Retaliation for Prisoner Abuse

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More Prisoner Abuse… This Time at Gitmo

Senator Patrick Leahy (D) is demanding an investigation into fresh reports of abuse and/or torture at the Camp Delta prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The allegation was made by The Observer:

Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp, an investigation by The Observer has revealed.

The only evidence so far has been from a handful of detainees who have since been released. Tarek Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, shared his experience:

“They pepper-sprayed me in the face, and I started vomiting. They pinned me down and attacked me, poking their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed.

They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking and punching. Finally they dragged me out of the cell in chains, into the rec[reation] yard, and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows.”

It’s no wonder that all of these abuses are taking place in American prisons in foreign countries, since legislators have very little control of foreign policy outside of some military oversight committees. The foremost authority is still military and executive, who only seem to be addressing these problems when photographic ducumentation is made public.

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Poverty’s Palette: Color Photos of the 1930’s and 40’s

The New York Times has a slideshow of color photos taken during the 1930’s and 1940’s–called Poverty’s Palette–that are just awesome. Kodak was holding out on us!

I’m awestruck at how differently things appear when color is added, it’s adds a whole new level of vibrance and reality to these snapshots of daily life.

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A Day Without a Mexican

An interesting movie came out today called “A Day Without a Mexican.”

It looks interesting, from what I in the movie trailer (5MB on a T1 took 20+ minutes). The storyline is simple, all of the Mexicans disappear. Not in the quasi-metaphorical sense that no one can see them, but they literally vanish in thin air. The result is a world where people have to cut their own grass, wash their own dishes, park their own cars and other daily chores that are taken for granted as being done by Mexicans.

From the movie sypopsis page:

As time goes by, the State continues to deteriorate: Garbage has taken over the streets and tears are permanently painted on the faces of most citizens as the 5th largest economy in the world tumbles. The realization that what has disappeared is the very thing that keeps the “California Dream” running — cooks, gardeners, policemen, nannies, doctors, farm and construction workers, entertainers, athletes, as well as the largest growing market of consumers — has turned Latinos and their return into the number one priority in the State.

I wish this were playing in more places than just Southern California and a few venues in Texas. See the theater listing to see if one is near you.


Kos’s Libertarian Acknowledgement

DailyKos has finally hit on something that I’ve been saying for a while:

“[…] [T]he libertarian contingent on the web is huge. In fact, many of the blogs on the Right are actually more libertarian-leaning than movement conservative.”

That’s just a great line from the article on his response to the NRA’s supposedly wavering support of Bush in the face of the “assault weapon” ban that is set to expire a few months before the November elections:

“If he renews the ban, it won’t endorse Bush, if he doesn’t, then he’s got it. Which is a huge political problem for Bush, as the assault weapons ban is popular amongst the suburban set the Republicans are trying mightily to hold.”

He goes on to talk about one of the possible Libertarian candidates, Aaron Russo. However I am refraining from the primaries debate for the Libertarians seeing how it appears to be a close race between Russo and Gary Nolan, both of whom have been vocal critics of Bush administration policies. The Libertarian Convention is being held next weekend here in Atlanta, I will be covering it as an independent for WatchBlog.

I have been of the opinion that there will definitely be a large groundswell in Libertarian support in the run-up to the election, primarily because conservative voters who are becoming jaded with Bush policies will be unwilling to vote for Kerry because they don’t see him as a viable solution. Bush’s falling poplularity has only strengthened this hypothesis.

Bush’s libertarian challenge [DailyKos]
NRA endorsement of Bush is on hold [TheHill]
Russo for President
Gary Nolan for President
2004 Libertarian Convention

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Beetle Ghraib

This is great, someone edited Beetle Bailey cartoons to create humorous cartoon editorials on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal called Beetle Ghraib:

[via BoingBoing]

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Oil Prices Hit $41-a-barrel… Record High!

The $41.22-per-barrel price is at its highest in the 21 years since the New York Mercantile Exchange launched the contract. The last major spike occurred during the Iranian revolution in which the adjusted-for-inflation price was $78-per-barrel. In explaining what has caused the prices to continue to climb, Dennis Kongsiri, vice president at Mitsui & Co Energy Risk Management in Sydney said:

“If you look at the way this market is rallying, it’s been broad-based and gradual, relentlessly going higher supported by a strong products market and solid refining margins,


As long as the world economy does not go into recession, it could be the case that the days of cheap oil are over,”


“Yeah, we could probably hit $78 in another couple of years.”

The OPEC cartel is expected to increase quotas to at least 1.5 million bpd in their June meeting, but that would do little more than justify the overages in exports that are already occurring.

Just drill ANWR already. We’re acting like junkies trying to get our fix of crack from an abusive dealer, not that it helps that quite a few of us are using crack pipes the size of a ditch drainage line.

Also, seen today: A Hummer H2 towing a 100-gallon gas tank, replete with gas nozzle. I wish I’d had my camera.

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Nick Berg Timeline

Jimmie Mac of has put together a good timeline on the events leading up to Nick Berg’s death:

  • 3/07/04 released on it’s forum a post called, “HERE IS THE ENEMY — they have posted their names” on that list is Nick Berg’s father and the name of their company Michael S. Berg, Teacher, Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc., West Chester, PA. When Nick went back to Iraq in March he traveled with his passport for business purposes under the name “Prometheus Methods Tower Service.”
  • 3/24/04 Nick Berg’s daily communications home stopped on March 24, when he was jailed by Iraqi officials at a checkpoint in Mosul.
  • 3/31/04 FBI agents visited Berg’s parents in West Chester on March 31 and told the family they were trying to confirm their son’s identity.
  • 4/05/04 The Bergs filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military in Iraq.
  • 4/06/04 The next day, April 6, Nick Berg was released.
  • 5/11/04 Video of Nick Berg’s execution is posted on Muntada al-Ansar website.
  • 5/12/04 Americans deny holding Berg despite claims by family; body returns home
  • 5/13/04 E-Mail From Consul Confirms Berg Was in U.S. Military Hands: “I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly,” the e-mail said.

He thinks there is something shady about the US denying holding Nick Berg in military custody (which does seem incredibly suspect):

Why was the US Military so adamant about denying having Nick Berg in custody? When even the US consulate in Iraq says he was in US Military custody.

He says he’ll keep updating the timeline as new information comes to light.

Nick Berg’s Iraq Timeline []

Questions Surround Berg Video
Nick Berg’s Murderer Given 3 Passes by Bush
Militants Behead in Retaliation for Prisoner Abuse

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Jayson Blair: “Burning Down my Publishing House”

Jayson Blair, of New York Times’ make-shit-up-and-hope-no-one-will-notice infamy, has officially dropped off the radar screen of the latest trend of cashing in on bad deeds by writing books about it. His book, “Burning Down My Master’s House”, sold a whopping 1,386 copies through March 18th. New Millenium, the publishing house which undersigned Blair’s book, has changed from Chapter-11 bankruptcy to Chapter-7, in which it will have to liquidate it’s holdings in order to pay off debts.

Blair’s book has suffered from denigrating reviews and low sales. Here’s one review of the book:

“Unlike the pieces Jayson Blair ‘reported’ for the New York Times, this laborious account of the aftermath of his infamous crash ‘n’ burn is way too boring to be anything but the real deal. (Okay, he does try to commit suicide in a coffee shop restroom–but, conveniently, he changes his mind and there are no witnesses.)”

You know things are pretty bad you’re trying to slit your wrists with the plastic lid of a latté in a Starbucks. I have to empathize a little, because hey, I’d kill myself too if I had just paid $3 for a shitty latté.

The (Publishing) House That Blair Helped Close [MetaFilter]
Publisher’s story ends: Liquidation for Jayson Blair house New Millennium [New York Daily Post]

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GOP to let Parts of Draconian PATRIOT Act Expire

Wow, this is a surprise; I guess those of us who write a letter to our congress-critter to tell them that PATRIOT sucks is finally paying off. The Hill reports that a group of Republicans in Congress is blocking President Bush’s effort to strengthen domestic counter-terrorism laws and reauthorize the USA Patriot Act:

Fifty-eight lawmakers, including six Republicans, have co-sponsored legislation sponsored by Rep. Butch Otter (R-Idaho) in the House that would rein in aspects of the Patriot Act.

Maybe the tide is turning and we are going to see some further rational legislation concerning terrorism enforcement. You know, like making sure we’re not locking people up for years without trials and other unconstitutional things.

Presidential push fails to quell GOP fear of Patriot Act [The Hill]

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Bost Globe runs Porn Site Images as Torture Photos

In a somewhat humorous editorial snafu, three editors of the Boston Globe overlooked or approved pornography photos which simulated rape acts. The photos–vetted by the Arab propaganda site and a Tunisian website produced in France by Committee for the Defense of Saddam Hussein [Comit de D’fonce de Saddam Hussein En Tunisie]–were debunked as frauds last week by WorldNetDaily:

A WND investigation has revealed that most of the photos are taken from the American pornographic website “Iraq Babes,” and the Hungarian site, “Sex in War,” which is linked to by the American site. Both websites are linked to by violent pornography sites and both describe Iraqi women — played by “actresses” — in vulgar terms.

The Boston Herald has jumped on the story enthusiastically in what appears to be a chance to sling a little well deserved mud at it’s local competing newspaper.

Globe caught with pants down: Paper duped into running porn photos [Boston Herald]
Bogus GI rape photos used as Arab propaganda [WorldNetDaily]
Globe publishes apology for fake ‘GI rape’ photos [WorldNetDaily]

[via Fark]

UPDATE: NewsDesigner has more info and uh, context or something. Okay, really I was just suckered by the great headline: The Boston (Boom-Chicka-Wow-Wow) Globe.

UPDATE **EXCLUSIVE**: The fake porn images fobbed as torture photos have been found. At first glance you will probably see that the uniforms are not the same as those worn by soldiers in Iraq, these appear to be surplus.

image 1 image 2 image 3 image 4 image 5 image 6 image 7 image 8 image 9

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Labor Dept. April Job Growth Under Fire

The New York Post has a story that casts doubt on the 288,000 newly created jobs that were flaunted in April:

Without those extra 117,000 make-believe jobs, the total growth for April would have been just 171,000 – sub-par for an economy that’s supposed to be growing at more than 4 percent a year, but right on the pros’ targets.

Take away all 270,000 make-believe jobs and, well, you have the sort of pessimism that the political pollsters are seeing.

If I was the suspicious type (and if I thought Washington was smart enough), I’d suspect a nasty motive behind the sudden surge in these mystery jobs. But for now, let’s just acknowledge their existence.

The ramifications of this are not good at all, large jumps in job growth can trigger the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates when a recovery is not properly in place. Rising interest rates and a lackluster employment rate is a causic mixture, especially leading up to a presidential election.


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If Rumsfeld goes, Bush should go, too

The Libertarian Party has issued a statement saying Rumsfeld is not the only person who should be held accountable:

“As a direct result of [Congress’] actions, more than 700 U.S. soldiers are dead and thousands of American families are grieving. Iraqi prisoners are being tortured and abused in clear violation of international law, and our enemies are retaliating with televised executions of American civilians.”

Under those circumstances, no one should be surprised that politicians are looking for a scapegoat, Libertarians point out.


“Either Rumsfeld knew how prisoners were being treated and did nothing, or he didn’t know about it — and in either case he’s not qualified to be defense secretary,” Seehusen said. “Nevertheless, Rumsfeld is but one bureaucratic cog in a massive war machine, and swapping him out for another cog answerable to the same commander-in-chief won’t affect the course of the war.
[emphasis added]

If Rumsfeld goes, Bush should go, too []

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Nick Berg’s Murderer Given 3 Passes by Bush

Nick Berg’s murderer, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida was not the only person culpable for his death. The Bush administration had the chance to assassinate Zarqawi on 3 seperate occations between June 2002 and January 2003. It was seen as an unacceptable idea to take out either Zarqawi–now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq–or the terrorist camp he operated in Kirma, in Northern Iraq, because the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

To this I respond: “George Bush, you and your administration, through your clemency for a known terrorist who you allowed to operate with impunity due to dirty politicking, are just as guilty of Nick Berg’s murder as Zarqawi himself. I have unmasked the other four terrorists in the video, and it is you.”

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind [MSNBC]
But he got his war! [WatchBlog]

Questions Surround Berg Video
Nick Berg Timeline
Militants Behead in Retaliation for Prisoner Abuse

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GASP! Drudge Slams “Liberal Media”

Drudge Report has one of his special pages up with two pictures of different soldiers posing with Iraqi children. One even has flowers in his helmet and flak jacket. I’ll reproduce them here (to show that at least I’m not biased against good news):

He had this to say about the images:

Here’s images you will not see in the NEW YORKER or on 60 MINUTES:

American soldiers welcomed as heros in Iraq!

Well, lo’ and behold, The New Yorker actually has posted positive news on Iraq, witness from this picture from the New Yorker website (sorry, I couldn’t locate the original article):

New Yorker Iraq Soldier

Behold the power of the Internet (thanks to You_mean_Im_gonna_stay_this_color from TotalFark).

UPDATE: Mike Hindes responds:

Hello, great site :)
I got it from this article,

The New Yorker actually does not post too many pictures online, but behold, some of those few are positive. If people like Drudge are going to go out of their way to make a point like this over 1 or 2 ‘posed’ pictures some troops sent them, then I will try to make sure they have the facts straight.( In addition, the picture I providied is not posed like his pictures.) Another note, I was watching MSNBC last night, and they did a whole segment on actor Gary Sinise, and how he is helping the children of Iraq, along with the troops. They had MANY wonderful shots of troops helping children and happy childeren greeting troops and Gary himself. And this was on ‘liberal’ MSNBC. We all know the bad stuff sells, and all networks are going to show it for that reason, but good is shown and I do see it all the time.
Take care!

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College Students Denied from Voting Locally

Rolling Stone has an article detailing how many local election boards are doing everything they can to keep college students from voting:

From New Hampshire to California, officials have designed complex questionnaires that prevent college students from registering, hired high-powered attorneys to keep them off the rolls, shut down polling places on campuses and even threatened to arrest and imprison young voters. Much as local registrars in the South once used poll taxes and literacy tests to deny the vote to black citizens, some county election officials now employ an intimidating mix of legal bullying and added paperwork to prevent civic-minded young people from casting ballots.

This also presents problems for national and state votes, since it means they would have to travel “home” in order to vote. With a system like this intended to disenfranchise a large group of voters who are usually very vocal, it flies in the face of anyone who claims that the younger generation is apathetic towards politics.

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Bush in 2002: No International Criminal Court Agreement from U.S.

Here’s an interesting quote from Bush in 2002 [via WRH]:

“The International Criminal Court is troubling to the United States,” Bush told reporters following a tour at a Milwaukee church. “As the United States works to bring peace around the world, our diplomats and our soldiers could be drug into this court, and that’s very troubling — very troubling to me.”

With a little Google digging, I found this gem of a reason for not agreeing to the court:

“We’ll try to work out the impasse, but the one thing we’re not going to do is sign on to this International Criminal Court. President Clinton signed this treaty, but when he signed it he said it should not be submitted to the Senate. It therefore never has been, and I don’t intend to submit it either” (US Mission to the EU, July 2, 2003)

So really it’s Clinton’s fault, and Bush just wanted to make sure we don’t fix any of Clinton’s mistakes. If it’s good enough for 9/11, it’s good enough for me!

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FBI Flagged Video Game Character as High Threat

From USNews:

It was the lead item on the government’s daily threat matrix one day last April. Don Emilio Fulci described by an FBI tipster as a reclusive but evil millionaire, had formed a terrorist group that was planning chemical attacks against London and Washington, D.C. That day even FBI director Robert Mueller was briefed on the Fulci matter. But as the day went on without incident, a White House staffer had a brainstorm: He Googled Fulci. His findings: Fulci is the crime boss in the popular video game Headhunter. “Stand down,” came the order from embarrassed national security types.

Dr Claw however, still remains at large and is considered an extremely dangerous terrorist mastermind.

[via Techdirt]

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