When terror gets close, too close!

My first memory of terror is hearing on the radio news that terrorists had hijacked a train in The Netherlands and executed the train driver and crew. A few minutes later, the broadcast was interrupted again to announce that the terrorists had also occupied a school and had taken the staff and children hostage. Terrorists from Maluku, now part of Indonesia. Actually, the terrorists were Dutch citizens, second generation immigrants from Maluku. In their eyes they were freedom fighters who wanted to achieve the independence from Indonesia for Maluku that was promised their parents and ancestors by the Dutch Government. But for us, they were terrorists, cowards who killed and terrorized innocent civilians.

I remember looking at my shocked mother when we heard the news and the first thing she said was “call Milly and ask if she is ok”. Milly was my school time girlfriend and my mama liked her a lot. Milly was proud Maluku, just like her parents and grandparents. I called Milly’s home but there was no answer. I called again, no answer. When dialing again, my mother told me to stop wasting time and just go to her house. My mother really liked Milly and was obviously worried about her. So was I! So I jumped on my bike and drove over as fast as I could. The curtains were closed, very odd for the middle of the day. I rang the doorbell, nobody responded. I rang again, still nobody. I opened the mail opening in the door and shouted through “It is me, open the door please”. “Go to the backdoor” was the whispered response from her mother. Through the backdoor I went into a dark house and got more and more worried with every step into the darkness. I started to wonder what was going on, was her brother involved in this? Maybe her uncle? What was going on here, why sit in the dark in the middle of the day? “We are afraid people will attack us for what is happening…” and the look on her mother’s face was even more impressing me than her words. The whole family was there. Her brother, her uncle and aunt, her grandparents. In the dark, the curtains closed, silent.

I stayed with Milly and her family until late that evening, but first I called home to tell my mother that Milly and her family were ok. I explained my mother what was going on and I could hear how concerned she was. My mama didn’t have to say a word, we both knew that “they will come for us” was something my mama still feared every single day as a Holocaust survivor. Normally, hearing my mother’s voice would always calm me down but this time her voice made me feel even more concerned and I started to feel restless and started to understand why Milly didn’t want to go to school the next day. But I changed her mind and promised to protect her, no matter what. Silly me, how could I forget my friends. They all showed up in front of Milly’s house the next morning and we went to school as a group. Let no one say a word or even look funny… and no one did, to be honest.

Our Marines ended the hijacking, life wend on and all returned to normal. Almost normal, not for the hostages, not for the next of kin of the executed victims. And especially not for the unfortunate casualty during the liberation of the train by our Marines. Somehow normal that is because since those days, Milly and her family were checked by the police a lot. I can’t remember that she was ever checked by the police before this happened and now it happened many times.

Since those days, many years ago, it feels like terror attacks are somehow always there and it has become worse and worse since then. Maybe, I have the feeling that it is much worse now than it was back then because there is more news available from all over the world, maybe there is really more terror in the world. Nowadays, terror is there, always there. Suicide bombers seem to strike every day and everywhere and the news about it never seem to stop. Sometimes, the terror is in places I have never heard of before but I realize there are people involved. Innocent victims of cowards. Other times, the attacks are in places I have been. Zaventem Airport in Belgium for example, I have been there so many times that I know the airport with my eyes closed. Munich, I was in shock while hearing all the names of places and streets on the radio during the terror shooting rampage. Istanbul, I have been there a lot and have many friends there.

Today Izmir. Beautiful Izmir where I have spent a lot time working with fantastic colleagues, enjoying dinners at night and taking pictures of sunsets over the harbor. I can draw a map of the boulevard and point out which restaurant is where, where they have the best food or the best prices or both. Last year was my last business trip to Izmir and I miss that place, I have many friends there. Today, a terror attack in Izmir as Turkey is suffering from so much lately. Again, too close and personal. Again fearing for the safety of my friends. Again feeling relieved when the last one wrote “No worries, I’m ok” and again feeling deep dark anger inside me over all this.

I am tired of praying for the ones who I feel honored to call my friends. I am tired of fearing for their lives. I am tired of trying to understand how their lives must be, living under constant threat of terror. I am tired of incompetent politicians driving this world from one violent conflict to the next. I am tired of mourning for the friends I have lost in terror, in wars, in violence over power. I am tired of suppressing my anger. I am tired of all this.

The Syria Equation

With the rise of the so called “Arab Spring”, of which many including myself are still not sure if this was as spontaneous as we are to believe, Syrian opponents of the ruling Presidency and its system launched an armed rebellion against the Government. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Western countries jumped to the opportunity of overthrowing an opposed regime without getting their own hands dirty. Weapons supplies and financial means were made available to whomever opposed the ruling party and President, using the open borders of Turkey and Iraq. Within weeks, the rebel forces were supplied with TOW and Stinger systems and anyone with some common sense understands that such systems are worthless without training.

Rebel forces launched assault after assault and were able to severely weaken the Syrian Arab Army, conquer territory and confiscate further supplies from the overthrown SAA units and abandoned positions. Various rebel forces appeared on the battle field and within months some not only battle with the government forces but also amongst themselves. Reports suggest that rebel fractions armed and trained by the same countries to overthrow the Syrian Government even started to fight each other in their frenzy for power and control over the territory gained.

In this power vacuum in Syria, Daesh/ISIS was able to build an impressive fighting force and “out of the blue” conquer significant parts of Syria and Iraq. With their crusade through Iraq, Daesh swept through Iraqi Armed Forces positions and stock piles, gaining access to the latest-greatest which was provided by the USA after its occupation of Iraq. The question to be asked is where did Daesh get its fighting force and weaponry from prior to its rapid crusade through Iraq?

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Mass surveillance, encryption or just being afraid of the dark

Something horrible happened and you’re now afraid of the dark, everyone has to understand that. You can’t just switch on the light in the dark because the light would blind you. So you start to place lights wherever you can so it won’t get dark anymore. But you just can’t place lights everywhere, no matter what you try. There will be darkness, too much darkness and you fear the dark. Night vision gear is the answer to that so that is what you do because you will never be in the dark again, no human being can expect you to remain in the dark after the horrible things that happened to you.

Although you still can’t see everywhere and there is still darkness in many places, at least you can see where you have placed lights and where you can use your night vision gear. But you don’t know where to look, there is so much to see. Too much to see so you bring in more people to have more eyes so you can see, you have to see it all after the horrible things that happened to you. And more light and more night vision gear, because you have to see so those horrible things can never happen again. You need to see more but people still create darkness. So you start to drill holes in their walls because you have to see everything and everywhere. You must see, it is for your own protection and for their own protection. Only those who have something to hide will object to it because those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from you watching them. Everywhere, all the time, no matter what they do, you have to watch them.

You see more and more, there is too much to see and you just don’t have enough eyes and minds to understand everything you see as it happens. So you start to record everything you see so you can look at it later. But it still isn’t enough, horrible things still happen and you can only prevent it by seeing everything. You must see more! You want to use everything that has a camera and be able to see whatever is seen through those camera’s. You force some manufacturers to give you access to the devices they build and with others you just hack your way in. Because you have to see, you have to see everything and only those who want to harm you have something to hide so nobody has the right to object to it. It doesn’t matter if this is legal or not because you do it for the protection of everyone, it is for their own safety. More, you must see more, you must see everything. Bad things have happened so you have to. More, more, more, more, more, until you see everything!

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