setembro 30, 2008
Para mais tarde recordar: há 70 anos Chamberlain assinava com Hitler o acordo de Munique que trazia ‘paz para o nosso tempo‘
Inutile de consulter les grands économistes classiques pour comprendre la crise actuelle. Relisez simplement La Tulipe noire d'Alexandre Dumas et l'esprit du capitalisme descendra sur vous. L'alpha et l'oméga c'est la spéculation, à la fois dynamique conquérante, option sur un avenir prospère et d'autre part escalade perverse d'espérances sur les espérances, accumulation de crédits tirés sur des pronostics ultra-optimistes, châteaux de cartes soufflés par la première contre-performance venue. La spéculation c'est le ressort positif, vingt années de globalisation, l'enrichissement d'une majorité sur la planète - exemple : la Chine - et patatras ! La menace d'un effondrement à la mesure du succès précédent.
À la différence d'échelle près, la logique de l'emballement spéculatif sur les tulipes évoqué par Dumas annonce les pyramides de créances creuses des subprimes. Le capitalisme, c'est la mutualisation assurantielle des dangers et des espérances. D'où le dynamisme et simultanément la spéculation sur la spéculation. À la fois la réglementation prudente et la transgression imprudente des anciennes règles, le partage des risques et l'audace de risquer mieux que d'autres. D'où les faillites qui ponctuent une expansion impossible à contrôler d'avance mais insubmersible, malgré de successives et gigantesques avanies. Inutile d'opposer un capitalisme industriel supposé sage et une sphère financière promise à la folie. Le progrès industriel lui-même n'a rien d'un fleuve tranquille, il alterne sans cesse création et destruction, mise en friche des forces productives et explosion de nouvelles sources de richesse. La finance encourage ce mouvement de destruction créatrice, qui définit siècle après siècle l'occidentalisation du monde.
Rien d'original donc dans les bulles qui menacent d'implosion l'économie planétaire, si ce n'est l'insouciance avec laquelle on les a laissées gonfler. Les avertissements n'ont pourtant pas manqué. Aux États-Unis (Enron), comme en France (Crédit lyonnais, BNP), des emballements locaux mais ruineux ont révélé, à la tête d'entreprises privées ou publiques, des décideurs napoléoniens qui se croyaient tout permis. On vit des fonctionnaires lancer leurs entreprises à l'assaut de Hollywood, sans pour autant négliger leurs avantages personnels et le contribuable dut payer les pots cassés.
Le problème est moins telle ou telle technique financière qu'on promet désormais de contrôler, que l'état d'esprit général qui en a permis la floraison effrénée. Retrouvez dans les conseils d'administration le leitmotiv postmoderne : il n'y a pas de risque, pas de mal, preuve par les parachutes dorés. Depuis la fin de la guerre froide, la promesse d'un monde apaisé diffuse, urbi et orbi, l'annonce d'une histoire sans défi, sans conflit, sans tragique qui autorise tout et n'importe quoi.
Une bulle spéculative se soutient d'un pari qui se confirme lui-même. Elle est, selon le linguiste Austin, «performative». Pour le spéculateur, créditer c'est faire être. «La séance est ouverte !», proclame le président d'une assemblée, c'est vrai parce qu'il le dit : ici la réalité se règle sur le dire, alors que dans les cas ordinaires le dire, non plus performatif mais indicatif, se règle sur la réalité. La bulle financière accumule les crédits sur les crédits et s'enrichit de son autoaffirmation. Elle s'enferme dans son rapport à soi, c'est son côté bulle, et abolit progressivement le principe de réalité : seuls sont effectifs les produits financiers que mes investissements inventent.
Pareil fantasme de toute puissance napoléonienne n'anime pas seulement le trader, mais aussi bien ceux qui le laissent s'aventurer, pas seulement les patrons des instituts financiers, mais les autorités politiques, universitaires et mass médiatiques, qui ne s'inquiètent de rien. L'idéologie performative - c'est vrai parce que nous le disons - gouverne l'occidentalisation de la planète depuis la fin de la guerre froide : le camp adverse s'étant désagrégé, l'avenir nous appartient et les dangers fondamentaux se sont évanouis.
Reconnaissez dans le déni «performatif» de la référence au réel la «folle du logis», que les auteurs classiques nomment «imagination». Le postmoderne, qui s'institue «par-delà le bien et le mal» et qui se moque de la distinction du vrai et du faux - supposée idole du passé - lâche la bride à son imagination et habite une bulle cosmique. L'euphorie n'est pas moindre en matière politique qu'en manipulation boursière, il fallut près de dix ans pour que Bush, Rice, Blair et le Quai d'Orsay découvrent que Poutine n'est pas le «good guy» et le démocrate en herbe dont ils s'étaient entichés. Il faudra probablement dix ans pour procéder à une évaluation froide des deux tournants décisifs marquant la fin du XXe siècle. La réunification d'une grande partie de l'Europe, qui, depuis les révolutions démocratiques de Géorgie et d'Ukraine, inquiète souverainement le Kremlin. Et l'émergence de la Chine, qui modifie de fond en comble l'équilibre mondial. D'une part, le «miracle économique» suscité par la réforme de Deng Xiaoping relègue définitivement l'économisme collectiviste marxiste au Musée Grévin : l'avantage de l'économie de marché saute aujourd'hui aux yeux. D'autre part, un tel miracle économique n'est aucunement gage de démocratie et de coexistence pacifique. Les deux miracles économiques majeurs du XXe siècle, l'Allemagne et le Japon, ne sont-ils pas à l'origine des 50 millions de morts de la Seconde Guerre mondiale ?
Puisse le frisson anticipant une crise universelle nous offrir l'occasion de sortir de la bulle mentale postmoderne, de doucher l'euphorie de nos vœux pieux et d'oser avoir, enfin, les yeux en face des trous. Mais je crains d'énoncer ainsi un vœu pieux de plus.
setembro 29, 2008
‘Índice Dow Jones sofreu a maior quebra diária após voto de rejeição da Câmara dos Representantes‘ in CNN, 29 de Setembro de 2008
U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday voted against the biggest proposed government intervention in the U.S. economy since the Great Depression of 1929.
Government officials, Treasury chiefs and political leaders from both sides of the political divide thought they had agreed Sunday on the details of a $700 billion rescue plan that would prop up the nation's ailing financial system - and be supported in the House of Representatives.
As it became apparent the vote was lost, the Dow plunged and closed about 690 points down.
Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the result - 205 to 228 against the bailout.
President George W. Bush was "very disappointed," his spokesman, Tony Fratto said. Bush will be meeting with his advisors and will be calling congressional leaders, Fratto added.
Before the vote, Bush said the plan was of "tremendous importance to all Americans."
He said it would address "the root causes of the financial crisis" and "restore strength and stability to the U.S. financial system."
A four-hour debate included impassioned pleas for and against the measure from Democrats and Republicans alike. Even some of those arguing the legislation must be approved were quick to point out problems with it.
But the vote began with both Democratic and Republican leadership telling their members the only way to protect the economy from a spreading credit crunch was to vote for the difficult to swallow measure.
After the defeat, Republican leaders accused Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, of giving a "partisan speech" which "poisoned" Republican support.
Pelosi said the $700 billion "is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush administration's failed economic policies."
But Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Comnmittee, demanded: "Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country?"
When leading House Republicans signed on to the proposal Sunday after earlier reservations, the bill was expected to pass.
Governments, markets and businesses around the world were watching developments in Washington closely amid fears that failure to tackle the crisis on Wall Street could have disastrous repercussions for the entire global economy.
Markets tumbled again on Monday, affected by uncertainty earlier in the day over the U.S. bailout plan and fresh anxiety over the longterm consequences of so-called "toxic debts" which have already brought many established financial names to their knees.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones plunged 730 points as it became apparent the bailout was rejected. It recovered slightly to about 500 points down but closed at 690 down according to preliminary figures.
Light, sweet crude oil for November fell $10.52, or 8.9%, to $96.37 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
European and Asian markets were closed by the time the bailout was rejected.
In Europe, London's FTSE 100 closed down about 4.16 percent, Paris' CAC-40 was down 4.9 percent and Frankfurt's DAX fell 3.87 percent.
In Asia, Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index shed 4.31 percent to 17,876.41 while Tokyo's Nikkei closed down 1.3 percent at 11,743.61.
In other developments Monday, federal regulators said they had brokered a deal for Wachovia, the fourth largest bank in the U.S., to sell its banking assets to Citigroup. Shares in Wachovia crashed on Friday amid concerns over its exposure to subprime mortgage debt.
The UK's Bradford & Bingley mortgage lender became the second British bank to be taken into public ownership as a consequence of the fallout from the credit crunch.
Troubled Dutch-Belgian insurance giant Fortis also received an 11.2 billion euros ($16.4 billion) lifeline to protect it from insolvency over the weekend from the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The U.S. bailout bill, released Sunday and endorsed by Bush after days of intense negotiations, is based on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's request for authority to purchase bad debts from financial institutions so banks can resume lending to enable credit markets, now virtually frozen, to resume operating normally.
Concerns among some politicians over potential costs to taxpayers led to several amendments inserted to protect them from risk while giving them a chance to share in any profits if companies on Wall Street benefit from the plan.
Pelosi said Sunday the provisions added by Congress -- which include a restriction on salary packages for senior executives whose companies benefit from the rescue plan -- will protect taxpayers from having to foot the bill for the bailout.
The aim of the rescue plan, which Paulson has been pushing since September 18, is to unfreeze the credit markets -- short-term lending among banks and corporations. The core of the problem is bad real estate loans that led to record foreclosures when the housing bubble burst and home prices declined.
In the past two weeks, the banking world and Wall Street have been reordered by a wave of collapses and corporate mergers.
The U.S. government has already intervened to protect key mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurance giant AIG. Investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy while Merrill Lynch was forced to sell itself to Bank of America.
setembro 28, 2008
Iran is a problem from hell. The next US president, be it Barack Obama or John McCain, is going to have plenty to worry about: the Wall Street financial crisis, the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan's internal crisis, the relentless military build-up of China and the temptation it will soon have of trying to retake Taiwan militarily. But you can be sure of this. At some stage during the next presidency, Iran will blow up into a full-scale crisis that will dominate global politics and that may indeed be more important even than the other problems listed above.
The new president will have one modestly useful extra resource, a bipartisan report commissioned by two former US senators and written primarily by Middle East expert Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. The Weekend Australian has obtained a copy of the report, to be released later this week. Before I got the report, I had a long discussion with Rubin.
Rubin is a Republican, but the report he wrote was the consensus work of a bipartisan taskforce that includes Dennis Ross, Obama's key Middle East adviser.
The report is sobering and in some ways shocking reading. It begins baldly: "A nuclear weapons capable Islamic Republic of Iran is strategically untenable."
It points to the disastrous consequences of an Iran with nuclear weapons: "Iran's nuclear development may pose the most significant strategic threat to the US during the next administration.
"A nuclear ready or nuclear-armed Islamic Republic ruled by the clerical regime could threaten the Persian Gulf region and its vast energy resources, spark nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, inject additional volatility into global energy markets, embolden extremists in the region and destabilise states such as Saudi Arabia and others in the region, provide nuclear technology to other radical regimes and terrorists (although Iran might hesitate to share traceable nuclear technology), and seek to make good on its threats to eradicate Israel.
"The threat posed by the Islamic Republic is not only direct Iranian action but also aggression committed by proxy. Iran remains the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, proving its reach from Buenos Aires to Baghdad."
In one sense the report is ostensibly optimistic. It argues: "We believe that a realistic, robust and comprehensive approach - incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion - can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability."
However, it is unclear whether the report's authors really believe this is possible. It would have been inconceivable to write a report saying without qualification that the game is up, nothing can be done short of direct military action. It would also have gone against the problem-solving, optimistic grain of American public life.
But the report provides overwhelming evidence for pessimism.
For a start, it states quite plainly that no approach can work on Iran that is not much, much tougher on the economic sanctions front, so that the cost to Iran of continuing to pursue nuclear weapons becomes too great, while the incentives of normalisation would become correspondingly more attractive to Tehran. But the report makes it clear that tougher sanctions cannot possibly work without the full co-operation and enthusiastic implementation by not only the US but the European Union, Russia, China and the other Persian Gulf states.
In what is a spectacular understatement, the report drily notes that recent events in Georgia may make Russian co-operation more difficult to achieve.
In our discussion, Rubin told me he thought the Russians might feel themselves to be in a win-win situation.
If they continue to sell the Iranians nuclear technology, they make a lot of money and frustrate the Americans. If the US or Israel ultimately strikes at Iran's nuclear facilities, it will do two things that will please Russia. It will cause great international discomfort for the US, thus lessening any US pressure on Russia over human rights, its treatment of Georgia or other such issues. And it will drive up energy prices when Russia is a huge exporter of energy, thus making Russia evenricher.
Long-term, enlightened self-interest would see the Russians recognise the dangers they too would ultimately face from a nuclear-armed Iran, but so far that long-term, enlightened self-interest has been notably lacking in the Russian governing class.
The report is an impressive document and deeply realistic. It recognises the real possibility that the strategy it proposes will not work. It is very difficult to imagine achieving the degree of international unity that would be required even to put the strategy into effect.
And even if that international unity is achieved and the strategy implemented, Iran's rulers may decide to go ahead with their nuclear weapons ambitions anyway.
One of the strongest pessimistic indicators in the report is that there is universal intelligence and diplomatic agreement that Iran was working hard on a nuclear weapons program during the period of its maximum apparent moderation under the reform president, Mohammed Khatami, when it also had the maximum international engagement since the revolution of 1979.
The report states: "The 2007 (US) National Intelligence Estimate's finding thatthe Islamic Republic maintained a nuclear weapons program until 2003 coincides with the European Union's period of critical engagement and former Iranian president Khatami's call for a Dialogue of Civilisations." The report further notes a recent statement by Khatami's former spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, that a strategy of insincere dialogue on Iran's part allowed it to import technology for its covert nuclear program.
Rubin says there is significant criticism within Iranian leadership circles of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his confrontationist rhetoric and frequent threats against Israel, not because of ideological opposition to them but because they attract Western pressure. Rubin believes that Ahmadinejad, though significant, is not the real power in Iran. This is shared between the military Revolutionary Guard and the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
Rubin believes that the Revolutionary Guard has become so powerful, and has infiltrated itself into so many positions of power, that it is fair to describe Iran as having undergone a kind of creeping military coup.
He is impatient with the unreality of much of the Western commentariat's analysis of Iran. When people say it would be better to have a strategy of deterrence against Iran than to try to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, he wonders if they really know what deterrence means. The strategy of deterrence means the credible threat to deliberately inflict certain death on hundreds of thousands of people if Iran commits a nuclear transgression.
Similarly, the strategy of containment means that Iran's neighbours must be militarily equipped to fight Iran successfully should it attack until US military intervention can arrive.
Kuwait was not able to do this against Iraq when it invaded nearly two decades ago. Kuwait collapsed within hours and this required eventually a much bigger US military intervention.
Rubin does not think a military strike is a good option. It may require 1400 sorties to be successful and unless the US, or Israel, was willing to repeat the strike over the years, it might delay rather than eliminate Iran's nuclear program. And it could have all kinds of other consequences.
For example, Iran could attack Iraq's oil facilities, which produce two million barrels of oil a day.
However, the military option has to be there to give diplomacy any chance at all.
Finally, Rubin notes the divergence between European, US and Israeli views of the Iranian threat. The Europeans see Iran's nuclear program as a grave threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The US sees Iran's nuclear ambitions as strategically unacceptable but not ultimately a threat to the US's existence. Israel sees a nuclear armed Iran as representing the threat of annihilation to the Israeli people.
If that is really Israel's view, and if international diplomacy cannot stop Iran going nuclear, an Israeli military strike must eventually be more likely than not.
The problem from hell.
setembro 21, 2008
Recentemente, o jurista e escritor canadiano de ascendência judaica, Howard Rotberg, cunhou o conceito de «tolerismo» (tolerism) por oposição ao conceito moderno e liberal de tolerância, que historicamente se afirmou na cultura europeia e ocidental, a partir das guerras religiosas do século XVII. O tolerismo pós-moderno, surge, assim, como uma elevação ao extremo da ideia liberal tolerância, ao ponto de a distorcer, tornando-se quase uma caricatura desta. As suas principais características são: i) deixar-nos propensos a tolerar o aquilo que seguramente deveria ser intolerável; ii) criar nos seus proponentes um sentimento de superioridade moral que, paradoxalmente, gera intolerância para discutir, ou até para ouvir, pontos de vista que não os seus. Mas o mais brilhante diagnóstico deste míope «tolerismo» pós-moderno, o qual, ainda que de forma involuntária, acaba por abrir a porta à intolerância, ao totalitarismo e ao fundamentalismo religioso, foi efectuado por Ernest Gellner, no seu livro Pós-Modernismo, Razão e Religião (1992). Este excerto do livro retrata deliciosamente a «boa ideologia» que todo o indivíduo «educado», com pretensões eruditas, e, sobretudo, políticas, deve hoje adoptar (pag. 106): «[No Ocidente] temos um movimento que nega a própria possibilidade de uma legitimação e autoridade extrínseca. De comum acordo, insiste particularmente nesta negação quando a afirmação contrária dessa legitimação extrínseca provém do interior das suas fileiras, de não-relativistas no seio da sua própria sociedade. Por outro lado, o pudor relativista e a expiação da culpa ex-colonial não permitem que o assunto seja devidamente enfatizado junto dos membros pertencentes a outras culturas. O absolutismo dos outros recebe um tratamento favorável e é objecto de uma grande simpatia que está muito próxima do apoio oficial».
setembro 20, 2008
Para além da leitura deste romance, inspirado na recente realidade argelina (guerra civil entre o exército e os islamistas do GIA), francesa (jovens magrebinos dos subúrbios desenraizados e sob pressão do Islão) e no passado da Alemanha nazi, vale a pena ler também uma recente entrevista dada pelo autor de Le Village de l´Allemand (A Aldeia do Alemão), o escritor argelino Boaulem Sansal. Nessa entrevista, feita pela revista francesa Nouvel Observateur, o romancista argelino fala das ‘ligações perigosas‘ entre hitlerismo e islamismo, da política de Bouteflika na Argélia e das escolhas diplomáticas do actual presidente francês, Nicolas Sarkozy. O que ele diz é algo bastante preocupante e merecedor de uma reflexão séria de todos que se preocupam em compreender o mundo actual. Ver aqui o texto integral da entrevista.
setembro 17, 2008
‘Turquia bloqueia acesso ao site de Richard Dawkins após acção judicial dos criacionistas turcos‘ in The Earth Times, 17 de Setembro de 2008
Turkish internet users have been blocked via a court order from accessing the site of prominent British biologist Richard Dawkins after complaints from lawyers for Islamic creationist author Adnan Oktar, the website of Turkish television station NTV reported on Wednesday. A court in Istanbul ordered that Turk Telekom block access to the site and since the weekend Turkish internet users seeking the site have been redirected to a page that says in Turkish "access to this site has been suspended in accordance with a court decision".
NTV reported that Oktar complained he and his creationist book "Atlas of Creation" had been defamed by comments made by Dawkins on the site.
"I am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content," Dawkins, a distinguished advocate of the theory of evolution, wrote on his website in July referring to the Atlas of Creation.
The book has caused controversy not just through its advocation of creationism but also through how thousands of copies of book were distributed to schools in a number of European countries.
Oktar has used the Turkish courts on a number of occasions, the latest being earlier this year when he attempted to have Dawkins' book The God Delusion banned in Turkey on the basis that it was insulting religion but a Turkish court threw the case out.
In August 2007, Oktar, who writes under the pen name Harun Yahya, convinced a Turkish court to block access to millions of web blogs using the Wordpress.com hosting service after finding that a number of blogs carried libellous comments.
In May, Oktar was found guilty of creating an illegal organization for personal gain and sentenced to three years imprisonment. He is appealing the decision.
setembro 15, 2008
ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.
The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.
Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.
It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.
Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.
Siddiqi said: “We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.”
The disclosure that Muslim courts have legal powers in Britain comes seven months after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was pilloried for suggesting that the establishment of sharia in the future “seems unavoidable” in Britain.
In July, the head of the judiciary, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, further stoked controversy when he said that sharia could be used to settle marital and financial disputes.
In fact, Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.
It has also emerged that tribunal courts have settled six cases of domestic violence between married couples, working in tandem with the police investigations.
Siddiqi said he expected the courts to handle a greater number of “smaller” criminal cases in coming years as more Muslim clients approach them. “All we are doing is regulating community affairs in these cases,” said Siddiqi, chairman of the governing council of the tribunal.
Jewish Beth Din courts operate under the same provision in the Arbitration Act and resolve civil cases, ranging from divorce to business disputes. They have existed in Britain for more than 100 years, and previously operated under a precursor to the act.
Politicians and church leaders expressed concerns that this could mark the beginnings of a “parallel legal system” based on sharia for some British Muslims.
Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: “If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so.”
Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “I think it’s appalling. I don’t think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state.”
There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men.
Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.
The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.
In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.
In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.
Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.
Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The MCB supports these tribunals. If the Jewish courts are allowed to flourish, so must the sharia ones.”
setembro 13, 2008
setembro 10, 2008
setembro 04, 2008
Exactly one year ago, German investigators arrested three Muslim extremists. They wanted to build a bomb in southern Germany capable of killing as many as possible. The ringleader was born and raised in a German family. But how did he become a terrorist?
Fritz Gelowicz knows exactly what he wants the bomb to look like months before it is actually built. As it takes shape before his eyes, he imagines it as a vision sent from Allah -- a very bloody vision.
"Two hundred kilograms with shrapnel, inshallah, now that'll make a big explosion."
As many casualties as possible, that is the goal of the simple plan that Fritz Gelowicz is discussing on this summer day in July of last year with Adem Yilmaz, his closest confidant and presumed co-conspirator. The two men are driving a rented Ford S-Max from Stuttgart to the town of Freudenstadt in the Black Forest, in south-western Germany. They have three canisters of hydrogen peroxide solution in the trunk, which Gelowicz purchased at a chemical supply shop in Hodenhagen near the northern German city of Hannover.
The hydrogen peroxide is the stuff of Gelowicz's visions. When the solution is boiled down and other ingredients are added, the resulting mixture can be highly explosive. The brew is called "Satan's Mother" in the terrorist community.
The drive to Freudenstadt, where the two men will deposit the hydrogen peroxide in a rented garage, provides deep insights into the mind of Fritz Gelowicz. The rental car is bugged, enabling investigators to listen in on the conversations between the two men.
'Allah Has Blinded Them'
Gelowicz and Yilmaz talk shop about the number of bombs and victims. They expect there to be at least 150 casualties, with the target being someplace big -- a place like Frankfurt Airport. Yilmaz suggests the central German city of Giessen, noting that there are some really big American discos there. He says that he wants "to maximize the impact, Achi, really: another Sept. 11."
The word "Achi" means "my brother" in Arabic. "What I've done, Achi, now that's something they could really lock me up for, Achi," says Yilmaz. "Well, sure, they'd have to lock us all up," Gelowicz replies, and Yilmaz chuckles. "If only they knew," Gelowicz continues, with a note of condescension in his voice. "Allah has blinded them."
In this case, however, Allah was not on the side of Fritz Gelowicz. In fact, Allah had blinded the two Islamists -- and had not blinded the police. By the time of the bugged car trip, the entrances to their apartments had been under video surveillance for some time, the hydrogen peroxide in the garage had been replaced with ordinary water, and the third member of the trio, Daniel Schneider, was also under police observation. In fact, the three men had become part of a cat-and-mouse game between the state and its worst enemies, a game that was being followed with great interest in both Berlin and Washington D.C. Both the German chancellor and the US president had been briefed.
It has now been exactly one year since Germany's Federal Prosecutor's Office exposed the trio in a spectacular raid. On Sept. 4, 2007, at 2:30 p.m., a team from Germany's elite GSG-9 counterterrorism police unit broke down the door of a vacation home in the Sauerland region in western Germany. In the kitchen, the investigators found two stainless steel pots and nine packages of flour, part of the recipe for the "Satan's Mother" bomb. A shopping bag in the living room, wrapped in red tape, contained military detonators, and an opened Casio watch, probably intended as a timer, was lying on a table. A canister of hydrogen peroxide was found under a white caftan in a closet, and a pungent odor was coming from the bathroom. The would-be bomb-builders had already started cooking up a test batch. (Ver artigo completo na revista Der Spiegel).