Sunday 25 May 2014

Hellfire And Run-Of-The-Mill Damnation

American Justice? It was a Hellfire missile launched from a US Predator Drone like the one pictured above that killed the New Zealander, Daryl Jones. New Zealand’s prime minister did not object. According to John Key most "average, run-of-the-mill New Zealanders" would not have put themselves in harm's way by going to Yemen. He does not anticipate, nor in all probability will he receive, many complaints.

THE AVERAGE, run-of-the-mill, New Zealander would not be in Yemen, says the Prime Minister. He’s right. Apart from the odd diplomat, business-person or, very occasionally, the even odder tourist, who in their right mind would be found dead in Yemen?
Daryl Jones is the New Zealander who springs to mind. He was found dead in Yemen because someone in the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had him targeted for assassination. Sometime last year; somewhere far above the New Zealander and his companions; a circling “Predator” drone locked onto the convoy of vehicles Daryl was travelling in and launched its Hellfire missiles.
If God was feeling merciful that day, Daryl wouldn’t have felt a thing. If God was somewhere else, Daryl’s final moments would have been agonising.
All we know for certain is that someone in Langley, Virginia gave the order, and Daryl Jones was found dead in Yemen.
Was he in his right mind? The Prime Minister tells us that Daryl put himself in harm’s way. We are encouraged to believe that he travelled to Yemen with the aim of becoming a Jihadi – a warrior of the faithful – and that he may have made contact with the terrorist organisation known to the CIA as Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The principle aim of AQAP is to bring down the House of Saud – the royal family that has ruled most of the Arabian Peninsula since the Early Twentieth Century. Few would dispute either the brutal character of the Saudi regime, or the crucial role the United States plays in guaranteeing its survival. In the course of his alleged “training”, Daryl would have been spared few details concerning the grisly fate of those who fall into the hands of the Saudi security forces. The evil reputation of the Kingdom’s torturers and executioners is well-deserved.
Not that AQAP’s goal of toppling the House of Saud has anything to do with establishing a Western-style liberal democracy in its place. Not at all. The jihadists’ ultimate objective is the creation of a radical Islamic state, governed under Sharia Law. The nearest historical precedent among the English-speaking peoples would be Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical republic, “The Commonwealth” (1649-1659).
So, was Daryl crazy? If he was, then there are many Americans who merit the same description. A United States governed according to a strict, fundamentalist interpretation of The Holy Bible is the dream of millions of conservative US citizens. If theocratic beliefs are now the benchmark for not being in your right mind, then Daryl wasn’t short of company.
But that’s not how the average, “run-of-the-mill” Kiwi thinks about people like Daryl, is it? The average, run-of-the-mill Kiwi isn’t the slightest bit interested in comparing the goals of twenty-first century jihadists with seventeenth century puritans. Nor is he interested in teasing-out the similarities between Radical Islam and America’s Religious Right. When President George W. Bush declared: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”, the average, run-of-the-mill Kiwi hadn’t the slightest hesitation in coming down on the side of “us”.
Sometime towards the end of last year, the CIA got wind (quite conceivably from our own GCSB’s intercepts) of an AQAP-led operation against the United States. As a precautionary measure the US temporarily shut down its diplomatic posts in the region and escalated its drone strikes.
Having already eliminated a large fraction of the organisation’s leadership in earlier attacks, the list of targeted assassinations was expanded to include “lower level militants”. In the course of nine separate strikes, one of those lower level militants, a decidedly non-average and a nothing like run-of-the-mill New Zealander, Daryl Jones, lost his life to an American Hellfire missile.
New Zealand’s prime minister did not object. No protest was laid with the US Government. And even though being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, is not a capital offence in New Zealand, most average, run-of-the-mill Kiwis remain disinclined to complain.
This essay was originally published in The Dominion Post, The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 23 May 2014.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

The only time anyone in the U.S. worries about extrajudicial killing is when it kills its own citizens. Then there are some few protests, because naturally they are in theory entitled to due process of law. But foreigners not so much. This attitude is bad enough, but acquiescing in or excusing the extrajudicial killing of New Zealand citizens should not be a function of the New Zealand government.

The Flying Tortoise said...

I'm happy to stand up and complain...

Brendan McNeill said...


I suspect we don’t object to Daryl Jones, a confirmed follower of Islam, being killed in a US drone strike in Yemen because most New Zealanders are slowly beginning to awaken to the global threat of radical Islam.

When you have former British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair describing it as “the biggest threat to global security of the early 21st Century.” in his recent Bloomberg Speech, then you can be sure this is starting to drift into mainstream public consciousness.

The loss of any human life on the battlefield is a tragedy.

Daryl Jones was actively pursuing Islamic jihad in Yemen. To imply that his death was a breach of human rights potentially justifying a Prime Ministerial protest is one of your more bizarre observations.

Chris Trotter said...

What a peculiar variety of Christianity you must practice, Brendan. Possibly the same variety as Tony Blair. It certainly seems to disregard the same variety of mortal sins.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

For all I know, "actively pursuing Islamic jihad" is not a crime in Yemen. And if it is a crime is he not entitled to due process? You see there is no real GLOBAL threat of radical Islam, any more than there is a GLOBAL threat of fundamentalist Christianity. Radical Islam only thrives under similar conditions to fascism, corruption in government, lack of democracy, and of course the actions of the state of Israel. That last of course being exclusive to them perhaps :-). Fundamentalist Christianity is mostly a problem in the USA, where it keeps trying to enshrine its beliefs in the legal system. Still, as religion is fading away, albeit slowly worldwide, with the advent of more security and more education, we should see a reduction in this sort of threat.

Brendan McNeill said...

Daryl Jones was on active combat duty with a radical Islamic military unit in Yemen. He died as a result of a US drone strike personally authorized by the darling of liberal progressive socialism, President Obama, and my faith is somehow the problem here?

Anonymous said...

Hi Brendan
It's not a crime punishable by death to be : "a confirmed follower of Islam". "Radical Islam"? That's no different to saying fundamentalist Christians and is really a meaningless phrase.The real Global Threat to peace is the U$'s push for global hegemony which involves cowing Russia and China, and the domination of the World's biggest oil producing are of the Persian Gulf and associated sea lanes.Tony Blair is a War Criminal a liar who assisted the U$ to invade Iraq, the biggest war crime of this century so far.There is no evidence justifying Daryl Jones's murder, his human rights along with all the civilian collateral damage these drone strikes kill have been trashed by a rogue state. A Protest certainly is in order.Your observations Brendan are bizarrely ignorant of the realities of the American dominated World Order now being implemented.

Anonymous said...

The "run of the mill" New Zealanders are the same that continue to vote for one John Key, that find him 'greeat', that believe in most things needing nothing much more than the "number 8 wire" approach to solve, and that stubbornly stick to the quarter acre, 2 car garage household lifestyle dream, no matter what.

They live on islands far away from the rest of "the world", they rely on media that reports international news in bits of seconds, with little or no background information, taken over from two mainstream news gathering agencies, and who therefore know stuff all about "the world", apart from what they ate, drank and saw during brief OEs.

News here are also usually coming a day late, after things happened in most places. Comparing them with Al Jazeera, now available on Freeview, is an education, but only the "enquiring" few may bother delving into "real" news on such a channel.

Some serious frictions at a mosque community in Avondale that are somewhat misreported by media also deliver the perfect one sided info that the ordinary run of the mill New Zealander loves, so she and he can continue to be suspicious, to frown upon and stay clear from certain minorities, and get on with business. That is working, earning dollars, to spend at the temples of consumption and the diy markets on the weekends.

All is well otherwise, we are "englightened", I suppose, we are living in Gods' Own Country, and we want it no different.

Come climate change, the flood, and what else, we will just opt out, as we can do so, we live on faraway isles, that are forgotten, except by the well paying tourists that we allow in.

A not so run of the mill resident, who wonders at times, whether what goes on around him is "real". It certainly is disturbing and uncomfortable, at least at the moment.

Nic the NZer said...

Au contraire Mr Surgeon. I don't think its apparent radical Islam thrives in any of these conditions. There is however a condition where it does thrive, conditions like post occupation Iraq (and to a lesser extent occupied Palestine). With Sadam in charge it was not even possible to find a connection between his regime and radical Islamic movements (one had as a matter of fact to be fabricated), but now in post occupation Iraq the connection is obvious in the country (No, that doesn't mean anybody wants Sadam back). Tony Blair has done more to support the cause of radical Islamic movements than they could even have wished for in their wildest dreams (and they got exactly what they hoped for). This was naturally understood by western security analysts prior to the invasion, they also anticipated the increased possibility of attacks on the UK prior to the invasion. Based on Brendan's comments we can probably conclude he desires more of the same (e.g exactly the same things that radical Islamist's desire). If Muslims in NZ feel they are under attack (and are treated differently to other NZ citizens for their religion) there is always the possibility we will see attacks on NZ soil.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brendan
Do you have links or evidence for your following assertion? : "Daryl Jones was on active combat duty with a radical Islamic military unit in Yemen." Please provide same and let us judge. I do not believe you have such evidence meaning it's just ideological bluster!

TM said...

The right are happy that governments carry out extrajudicial killings, but complain about government overreach for things like giving food to poor kids.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

As far as I'm concerned of course all religions are a problem. They all seem susceptible to being used as an excuse for violence. And as for Obama being a socialist "darling" – you must be joking Brendan, he's almost as much in the pockets of big business as Bush was. He bailed out all those banks that were too big to fail, therefore doing the usual capitalist thing of privatising profits and socialising losses :-). Only makes half a socialist in my book :-). (That was irony by the way Brendan.)

Davo Stevens said...

Oh Dear Brendan, If Obama is a 'Progressive Socialist" then John Key must be a communist! Bams is far form that.

As for your comments on religion you need to check out Christianity's very chequered history.

Here's a couple of sites of Xtian history you need to peruse:

If the Yanx want to rid the world of radical Islam then they should be targeting the Saudi Royal Family and the other Sunni Whahabbi extremists there. They won't of course, the Saudis are our "Friends". With friends like them we don't need enemies!!

Glenn Webster said...

Why should any New Zealander worry about the death of a foolish man who wanted to bring down our entire way of life?
And why should any one who posts anonymously be taken as other than a troll?
The U.S.A. saved Australasia from would be invaders once-we might not be as fortunate next time.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I sort of get tired of pointing out that Japan had neither the capability, nor the intention of invading New Zealand. And the idea that America "saved" us is nonsense. Even if they had, it was done in America's interests not New Zealand's. If it had been in America's interests to let us go they would have done so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, good post but I think you make a serious error when you claim Daryll was "targeted for execution".

He has been described as an obscure "foot soldier" in the company of known terrorist leaders. These leaders were the actual targets. Daryll was "collateral damage".

Sadly many innocent people are the victims of collateral damage from drone strikes but Daryll knowingly put himself in harm's way and participated in a murderous, criminal organisation willingly. Nobody but himself should be blamed for his sad demise.