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by Harold Jaffe
Description: As in Harold Jaffe's two previous "docufiction" collections, False Positive and 15 Serial Killers, the author of Terror-Dot-Gov selects then "treats" his texts such that the reader is incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction. That ambiguity permits Jaffe to cunningly tease out the contradictions and subtexts of official "news" or "information" and torque it into what it so often is fundamentally: jingoism, xenophobia and propaganda. Jaffe's subject in Terror-Dot-Gov is not the everywhere-represented "illicit" terrorism so much as "licit," institutionalized terrorism, and he assaults his subject from multiple angles: razor-sharp satire, precisely cadenced rhetoric, faux-reportage, and "unsituated" dialogues (Jaffe's term, referring to his trademark talking heads with perfect pitch). The result is virtuosic and paradoxical: a prodigious display of firepower--in the cause of peace.
eBook Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2005 2005
eBookwise Release Date: October 2007
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [230 KB]
Reading time: 89-125 min.
"Terror-Dot-Gov succeeds as terrifically as--if not better than--Jaffe's previous collections--original, imaginative, intelligent, funny, and pointed."--Rain Taxi
"As Terror-Dot-Gov vividly demonstrates: We are spiritually imperiled by illusions masked as 'news.' Omissions, slants, pallid editorials all testifying to servitude to a slavish, enslaving text. Harold Jaffe knows this by heart and has it right. He isolates the self-justifying words that demonize the enemy while cleansing the ongoing crime, the 'preventive strike.' He encourages organized terror (our very own) to emerge white as new-fallen snow. White as leprosy. Everywhere in Terror-Dot-Gov is exemplary skill, faultless tonality. And courage, don't forget courage. In order to be healed, our illness must worsen. Thank you, Harold Jaffe."--Daniel Berrigan, SJ
"Terror-Dot-Gov is a tour-de-force rumination on the psychical and physical carnage resulting from present day terrorism and war. In his distinctively sparse and cool prose, Harold Jaffe takes on the contemporary cultural and political climate with narrative bravado and ideological courage. At heart, Terror-Dot-Gov is a work of political activism and deep humanity with a sense of outrage at the state of national and international affairs...a potent indictment of American values and pieties."--American Book Review
"Terror-Dot-Gov is a powerful book, able to reframe readers' perspective on the news and opinion provided by popular media--innovative and timely; his commentary on topics seen often in daily news reports will resonate with readers whose senses have glazed over, reading and hearing the same spin from the same talking heads, over and over again."--The Absinthe Literary Review
The head of Brent Marshall was discovered in a refrigerator during a police raid on an apartment in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the interior ministry reported.
A large man said to weigh more than 300 pounds, Marshall was abducted by an Al-Qaeda cell on 12 June.
Marshall, from Dungannon, Virginia, had been reportedly working as a helicopter gunship engineer in Saudi Arabia for US defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
In the apartment where Marshall's head was discovered, Saudi security forces also found a surface-to-air missile, rocket-propelled grenades, automatic rifles, semi-automatic pistols, lap-top computers, credit cards, nitrates, prayer beads, a monopoly set in Arabic, and an empty prescription container of the anti-depressant Zoloft.
The discoveries were made after Saudi police stormed the apartment, killing two suspected militants, the interior ministry reported. It said three other militants were apprehended after being injured in the attack.
The raid in the capital's King Fahd District also led to the arrest of the wife and six children of Al-Qaeda's local chief, Saleh al-Oufi, officials said. It is not known if Oufi himself was involved in the fighting, which is said to have started when security forces investigating the property came under fire.
If Oufi is found guilty in absentia his wife and six children can be lawfully beheaded.
A former government minister, Oufi became Al-Qaeda's Saudi Arabia chief after the death of his predecessor, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin.
Muqrin was reportedly killed in a shoot-out with security forces, sparked by the sighting of a black Mercedes sedan filled with militants parked by a reservoir attempting to dispose of a very large corpse, thought to have been that of the beheaded Brent Marshall.
According to Saudi security forces, as he was about to be killed in a hail of gunfire, Muqrin raised his head to the sky and shouted: "I have fulfilled my vow to Allah."
The Saudi interior minister later reported that Brent Marshall's headless body was not the corpse in question and had in fact not yet been found.
Marshall's family in Dungannon, Virginia, appealed to US authorities to pressure the Saudi government to end the confusion surrounding the body.
Militants appeared on a video in June with a blindfolded Marshall wearing a very large version of the orange jumpsuit that American captors force Muslim inmates to wear in the high security facility in Guant?namo Bay. The militants demanded that Saudi Arabia release all prisoners arrested because of their alleged connections with militant Muslim organizations.
After the deadline for their demands passed, graphic, grainy images of the massive American's beheading were displayed on a website linked to Muslim militants, as well as on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab online news network.
Because of Marshall's exceptionally thick neck, the masked executioner in his black jubbah with his long curved blade seemed to have trouble severing the head. In any event, he made a messy business of it.
Marshall was the second US civilian to have been beheaded by his abductors in the region this year.
G. Gordon Slade, a medium-sized US businessman in Iraq, allegedly associated with the CIA, was shown being beheaded by a masked militant in a black jubbah on a website linked to Islamic causes.
A CIA spokesperson in Kuwait City officially denied any association with G. Gordon Slade.
Numerous other civilians, many of them aid workers from countries around the globe, have been abducted and either beheaded or almost beheaded.
Fareeda Azza Khan, diplomatic affairs correspondent of the daily Indian newspaper The Hindu, was the latest to be almost beheaded. She was finally freed, she claimed, less because she was female than because she was Muslim.
In point of fact Fareeda Azza Khan is not Muslim but a Parsee orphan adopted as an infant by Muslim parents in the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh state. Her biological parents were allegedly murdered by the Tamil Tigers, a Hindu guerrilla army from in and around Madras who have been warring against the Sinhalese Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka for the last three decades.
Ms Khan, 29, was the seventh foreign woman taken in the flood of kidnappings that have swept Iraq and other Middle East regions since the US-led coalition's liberation of Iraq.
Fareeda Azza Khan wrote the account of her grueling abduction and near-beheading in the Sunday magazine supplement of The Hindu (www.hinduonnet.com). From the start, she reported, her captors made her dress in a long loose coat and tied a scarf, or hijab, over her head. They did not wish to look at her in her jeans and pink T-shirt with the small green Mobil Oil logo above her left breast.
Which is the opposite of what American captors did to their Muslim prisoners in Abu Ghraib, forcing them to strip naked before abusing them.
"Look how beautiful you look," the Muslim abductors cooed, and Fareeda Azza Khan would weep at her veiled reflection in the mirror. "It was not me," she said. "I was losing me."
Almost immediately after her abduction she was shuffled from captor to captor.
Everywhere she was taken, she said, people, ordinary Iraqis, appeared eager to help the "resistance." The abductors even used Iraqi children to bring them water, but nobody treated them like children. They'd be standing guard while the men talked about severing heads, "so you became afraid of the children too."
Finally, after six days (she made a point of keeping a precise record of the time), Ms Khan stopped being shuffled about and was kept bound and usually blindfolded on the outskirts of the northern Iraq city of Mosul.
Her abductors identified themselves as members of Ansar al-Islam, a fundamentalist Muslim group that according to US intelligence had set up several Taliban-like enclaves in central and northern Iraq before the war.
US authorities have officially linked the group to Al-Qaeda and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist who has recently supplanted Osama bin Laden as numero uno on the US Most Wanted list.
Fareeda Azza Khan wrote in The Hindu that the apparent leader of her abductors, whom the others referred to as Emir, "removed the blindfold tied very tightly around my head. He sat down on a cushion on the filthy floor across from me and stared intensely into my eyes. He spoke softly in Arabic.
"'Please understand why we have to make sure who you are. There have been many spies here, and we had to cut their heads off.'"
Spy Fareeda Azza Khan explained, referred to any "kaffir" or "infidel." For the abductors, there was evidently no difference between a Christian and a Jew, a white European and an American.
"'I would like to talk to you, Muslim to Muslim,' the emir said to the abducted journalist. 'When you cry, you break my heart. But if you scream, I will have to be cruel to you.'"
Although Fareeda Azza Khan's name indicated that she shared their religion, the militants considered her too independent to be a Muslim woman except in name.
Neither her sex nor her name saved her from being severely beaten and constantly threatened with beheading. Once, after yet another accusation, she shouted back: "I came here for you, to get your side of the story, so I've got no words to say to people like you.''
"That was when they got really angry,'' she continued in her account for The Hindu. "But you know, that was the real me."
After her outburst, the Arab terrorists wrapped a red and white scarf around her face so tightly that she thought she would go blind. They led her outside and started beating her with straps and chains. It was only then, she said, that she realized how numb she had become.
"I know it sounds strange," she wrote in The Hindu, "but I was happy at that moment because at least I could feel my body. I felt like I was coming back to myself. Until then, I couldn't make eye contact. Everybody kept leering at me and making that cutting sign across their throat."
Horrifying as her abduction was, it gave her, she recounted in her article in The Hindu, a close-up view of the kidnappers' fascination with death, their view of Islam and the links between ethnically diverse insurgents in northern Iraq.
"These people think they are living in the time of the Crusades," Fareeda Azza Khan explained. "They say they are fighting for Islam first and Iraq second. They are absolutely certain that their religion is being attacked from all sides by infidels led by the Americans and Zionists."
After the final beating, she was left bleeding and semi-conscious on the hard, bullet-scarred ground outside the abductors' hovel. Someone had removed the scarf around her eyes. Her torturers were gone.
She was free.
Fareeda Azza Khan was initially abducted after she took a taxi from the makeshift airport south to Mosul. When the taxi stopped allegedly to ask a policeman to direct them, the policeman waved over a fire engine-red Ford Explorer with three masked men inside who ordered Ms. Khan to get in.
She was blindfolded and taken to a nondescript house, unaware of what lay ahead.
As of this writing, the beheadings of kidnapped civilians in the Middle East, notably in Iraq, total 311. Which is still many fewer than the estimated 12,000 guillotined French who found themselves on the wrong side of the revolution.
That was of course centuries ago. Moreover, the French executioners were employing the most advanced technology available at the time.