Introduction: Coming across the border of Yemen for some reason, a top Daily Bell gnome (staffer) predictably (you really can't send them anywhere) attacked a senior Yemen official with gustatory intentions. The ravenous gnome was then taken into custody and remanded to the second-most secure jail in all of Yemen, a political jail complete with dungeons, blindfolds and hundreds of incarcerated supposed al Qaeda prisoners. Foolish gnome! President Saleh's police state was not created for his nutritional needs!
Daily Bell: We're going to treat this interview as if we don't know you or even, for the most part, what happened. So let's begin with the most important question. Are you really a gnome?
Gnomish Staffer: Some days it feels so.
Daily Bell: What the hell were you doing in Yemen?
Staffer: Crossing over the border in a smuggler's truck. They smuggle gas from Oman next door where it's cheaper.
Daily Bell: So this is a true story?
Staffer: You can make up your own mind about the gnome – but the jail part is true. All that I'm going to relate here is the truth as I saw it and recall it. I was held in Yemen in a political jail.
Daily Bell: Yes, you were incarcerated for a month …
Staffer: Seemed longer.
Daily Bell: Where were you taken first?
Staffer: Near the Oman boarder. They questioned me at a secret location.
Daily Bell: Who were "they"?
Staffer: They were President Ali Abdullah Saleh's secret police. He has a network across the country along with extensive security infrastructure. It includes secret police stations, jails and of course, a truly national force of informers, watchers, police and secret security police.
Daily Bell: Sounds expensive.
Staffer: Well, that's the point. One might think Yemen is chaotic – and it is. But the security apparatus is functioning with precision.
Daily Bell: Who pays for such an expensive operation?
Staffer: The Americans must be paying for it in some way. It's an entirely professional operation.
Daily Bell: What did they want from you?
Staffer: Since I had come across the boarder incognito – a mistake I immediately admitted and apologized for – they believed the CIA or some such organization was sponsoring me as a spy. They were asking questions.
Daily Bell: Did you answer?
Staffer: They told me I would be under the authority of Yemen's laws and regulations. So, I was reluctant. I wanted to speak to the American Embassy first to find out the legality.
Daily Bell: You're not much for state representation. Did you find your situation ironic?
Staffer: Philosophically, I think government should get out of the way. But when you're sitting with six unshaven Yemen secret police in dirty robes going through your belongings and threatening you, you tend to want any edge you can get.
Daily Bell: What did they say when you wouldn't answer their questions?
Staffer: They said they were sending me to Saana to the political jail there and "God help you."
Daily Bell: Sounds grim. What did you want to do there, anyway?
Staffer: Well, I've visited numerous countries' capitals in the past two years. Caracas, Medellin, Panama City, Montevideo, Nairobi, Muscat and now Saana … Traveling broadens the mind and The Daily Bell has benefited considerably, in my view, from my journeys. Of course, in Yemen, I didn't see much after the first day except via a window of an SUV partially obscured by automatic rifles. After they questioned me at the border, I spent the night on a pallet in the local cell in handcuffs. They were going to make me sleep with my hands cuffed behind my back, but I managed to convince them to move the handcuffs to the front.
Daily Bell: Sounds uncomfortable.
Staffer: You try it. I managed to sleep. But that was when I went on a hunger strike. Not that they noticed, or not initially.
Daily Bell: So, off you went to Saana.
Staffer: Yes, one of the oldest and most intriguing cities in the world – with the old city itself built in the mouth of an inactive volcano.
Daily Bell: Wow, a real tourist spot.
Staffer: Funny thing, no one is visiting Yemen these days for the tourism. I didn't see much of Saana. From the plane, they took me directly to the political prison. I later found out there was one worse version but this one was pretty bad. I spent the night three floors down in a solitary jail cell. I refused food and water, which caused the guards much surprise.
Daily Bell: How were the guards generally?
Staffer: They were young men, very gaunt and just as oppressed as the prisoners in their own way. They were paid US$100 a month and locked into the prison every night, as I understand it. A lot of them choose to run away when they get the chance.
Daily Bell: Are they part of Saleh's army?
Staffer: Yes, some 500,000 strong but mostly conscripts. If there is a big challenge to Saleh, the soldiers will likely run away. Social stability is not one of Yemen's strong points at the moment.
Daily Bell: What happened the next morning?
Staffer: They moved me to a group dungeon with others.
Daily Bell: And who were they?
Staffer: Throughout my stay, I was with the most intensely spiritual young men I've ever had the privilege to meet. In Islam, you pray with your toes touching. There were no shoes allowed on the dingy carpets. The guards would lock you in and then you would stand up in a row toe to toe and the leader (by acclimation) would recite prayers. During Ramadan, the prayers might take up to an hour. In between, they would read the Koran, chanting to themselves. Some had memorized all or most of the Koran.
Daily Bell: They sound fanatical.
Staffer: No, not fanatical. They were the most generous youngsters you'd ever want to meet. Islam mandates that you share what you have, and they were literally giving me the shirts off their backs because I had been put into my cell without much in the way of clean clothing. They gave me toothpaste and soap and towels. They tried to give me food but I generally stayed on my little hunger strike for most of the month. I found it made the jail manager nervous. He was always trying to get the doctor to take my blood pressure. It was sort of funny, really. I told the doctor once that I had lost about 25 pounds and he translated it into kilograms and started to laugh. He didn't take it seriously. Others told me if I hadn't been an American, they wouldn't have cared at all. People go into comas there from hunger strikes and they just ignore them or pick them up, carry them to the hospital and force feed them. And there were other things I heard about. People who made too much noise were handcuffed and then tazered on their handcuffs – which causes comas as well. And other young people suspected of being al Qaeda were being hung from their hands and forced to stay awake for days at a time.
Daily Bell: How did they handle it?
Staffer: With the resignation of youth. And with religious conviction. There was nothing much to do in jail. They wouldn't let you have games or pens or paper. So, you read the Koran and prayed.
Daily Bell: Did you read the Koran?
Staffer: It was in Arabic, but I had many good conversations about the Koran and Islam. I was intensely moved by these young people, some of them only 18 or 19, who had been captured and taken to this prison to be interrogated by the Americans who were deciding who is al Qaeda and who is not.
Daily Bell: Did the Americans know about the torture and all the rest?
Staffer: I cannot imagine they did not.
Daily Bell: Did they condone it?
Staffer: The Americans were regular questioners of inmates at that jail. And others as well.
Daily Bell: They were part of the process?
Staffer: They seemed to be, from what I heard.
Daily Bell: So there is an al Qaeda?
Staffer: There is a Jihadist movement, which is more than I was prepared to admit when I went to Yemen. But something is building in the Middle East – assiduously fanned by the West, I might add. It was reconceived by Osama bin Laden, though in my mind he was certainly a CIA-affiliated asset.
Daily Bell: Explain, please …
Staffer: Well … what are the chances that the son of the Bush family's main business contact in Saudi Arabia – a family that is worth billions – suddenly becomes a fanatical, fundamentalist Muslim and then supposedly blows up the World Trade Towers? Pretty coincidental, I'd say. And there are plenty of stories of bin Laden traveling to the US in the 1990s under the name of Tim Osman to recruit for his cause, a cause apparently sponsored by the CIA. After all, the CIA seemingly was responsible for aggregating the original so-called al Qaeda in the 1980s when they were recruiting young radicals to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. They collected a data base that they called the base – as in al Qaeda. It was a "list." The CIA seems obviously involved in the inception of al Qaeda, though they deny it strenuously.
Daily Bell: Were you surprised by the number and amount of al Qaeda you met?
Staffer: I was surprised by the signs hanging around the necks that said "al Qaeda." Just kidding. You would never know who was al Qaeda at that jail and who was not. A very few admitted to being al Qaeda. Most of these young men were simply impoverished, unlucky and deeply religious.
Daily Bell: What distinguishes al Qaeda from others?
Staffer: Apparently, those who might be considered Jihadists – I'm reluctant to use the term al Qaeda – are those who seek a return of the Caliphate to the Middle East. This means a return to the original Sunni Islam tenets of Mohammad, the Messenger. They will do this via a Sura. Six highly esteemed members of society will choose the nation's leader and he will be responsible for the new Muslim state. Anybody can come there of any religion to live and that person will not be oppressed in any way nor pressured to change his or her religion. Jews especially are highly esteemed in the Koran and set above Christians and even other Muslims.
Daily Bell: That's a surprising perspective.
Staffer: There's lots that is surprising about fundamentalist Islam. As we've argued at DB, the truth is not being told about what's going in the Middle East. For instance, Islam – Sunni Islam, anyway – is in many ways the least intrusive religion you could ever belong to. Taxes in the West are above 50 percent, all in all, for many people. Islam has almost no taxes, certainly not an income tax. Un-apostated islam has no central banking, either. Gold and silver are considered money – not fiat paper. The state in many ways basically leaves you alone, though Sharia law is to be administered by Islamic Courts appointed by the leader of the nation.
Daily Bell: Isn't Sharia law fairly barbaric?
Staffer: It has perhaps been applied in a barbaric way in modern times, but inherently it is not barbaric as it takes up to four male witnesses to get anything done. So, even if you are involved in adultery, you have to be caught in the act by four male Muslims of the appropriate age, and they have to be willing to stand up in an Islamic Court and bear witness to the transgression. And if any one of them has only seen you, say, getting dressed in the bedroom rather than being caught in the act, then that testimony doesn't count. So the standard of proof to apply the more significant parts of Sharia law come with an immensely high standard.
Daily Bell: What's the point then?
Staffer: Well, the punishments – lashings and stonings – are fairly significant. They are intended to scare people more than they are intended to be applied, or so people told me. The threat is supposed to keep people in line. But the real threat is religious. Allah knows all of your transgressions and keeps the book of your life. If you are not a good Muslim, you can experience hell fire. An apostate may never go to Heaven with all of its delights.
Daily Bell: What is an apostate?
Staffer: The Jihadists would argue that all of the modern Middle East regimes are apostated – that is, none of them are applying Islam as it ought to be applied. There is not therefore a single Muslim state in the world. Those who believe in a return to the original message of Mohammed want to establish an Islamic state as Israel established a Jewish one.
Daily Bell: But they want to do so violently?
Staffer: Strangely enough, the fundamentalists have been trying to make peace with America for years. In Yemen, there have apparently been numerous suggestions of ceasefires, etc., but the Americans always turn them down.
Daily Bell: You know this for a fact?
Staffer: I was told this independently on numerous occasions.
Daily Bell: What's the alternative?
Staffer: Well, the alternative is a kind of war. In Abyan Province in the South of Yemen, the Americans are shelling certain urban areas on a daily basis – places where rebellious tribesmen and al Qaeda are said to be. They are sending in Saudi and American planes as well, and at night they are apparently sending in SEALS with night-fighting equipment. This is a significant illegal action. America apparently has numerous troops on the ground on a nightly basis – and yet you read nothing about this is the mainstream press. America is very far gone now, from a truth-telling standpoint. Almost everything reported in the mainstream press in America and even the West is a lie of some sort, or at least a fudge. The purpose is always the same – to promote world government. In fact, the more the Internet tells the truth, the more the mainstream press does not. It's as if the elite banking families that run the world are trying to counteract the truth with lies and distortions.
Daily Bell: Shouldn't Congress pass some sort of resolution if the Pentagon is sending troops into harm's way in Yemen?
Staffer: You would think so. My theory is that with all the wiretapping and general intimidation down in Washington, it takes a very strong Congressman to stand up and speak the truth about anything. And many Congressmen are likely sociopaths of some sort anyway, ones who worked to get elected to line their pockets and not to serve their constituents – as if anything in Washington could be construed as "service."
Daily Bell: Back to the Yemen strife. What does America hope to accomplish?
Staffer: America and the Saudis want to damp down the fundamentalist movement in Yemen, though in my view it's one that the Western intelligence agencies bolstered in the first place.
Daily Bell: Why would they do such a thing?
Staffer: Obviously to take away more freedoms in the West. The target on this mostly phony war on terror, in my view, is the West and the middle class. The elites have been after middle class freedoms for over a century. With the war on terror, they have has a reason to escalate considerably. The Patriot Act, with all of its reductions in what was left of freedom in the US, was written before 9/11. During its signing they had the military patrolling the corridors of Congress with guns. Congressmen were intimidated. The situation in America and the West has gotten no better since then. The great families want world government and they are willing to remove any freedoms they need to in order to get it.
Daily Bell: So the war on terror has little to do with al Qaeda?
Staffer: In the prison I was in, people told me over and over that America and Yemen were actually producing radicalized young men with their incarceration policies.
Daily Bell: How did that work?
Staffer: I personally met only one man who claimed to be a legitimate member of al Qaeda in a jail that supposedly was chock full of al Qaeda. The rest were young men, mostly, who had the misfortune of holding somewhat fundamentalist, or at least enthusiastic, views about Islam.
Daily Bell: Thought crimes, in other words.
Staffer: Sure. Some examples. A shopkeeper from Kenya who was taken prisoner some six months ago for speaking to someone who held fundamentalist views 17 years before. He was put in an even worse prison than the one I was in. The worst prison in Yemen, where all the hard-core Jihadists are supposedly locked up. He said it consisted of single, individual cells – it was dungeonlike, in other words – and that you were not let out even to go to the bathroom except occasionally. He said the primary entertainment consisted of sitting on a ratty mattress watching your urine pool in front of you. After several months of this, he was moved to the prison where I was. By then he'd developed severe high blood pressure. It was aggravated by the interrogations. He said he was always being dragged in front of Americans from the embassy and that his questioners included one Asian man, apparently from the CIA, who was always shouting at him that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he didn't reveal information that he knew. The trouble was that he was only a shopkeeper and didn't know anything. His last significant Islamic conversation occurred 17 years ago. He was desperate to get out because he had a business and a family and his business was in ruins after nine months.
Daily Bell: Why didn't they let him go?
Staffer: Well, this is the sad part. The entire political prison system in Yemen is built on the idea that there are many al Qaeda who need to be identified. Thus, the Americans may pay a bounty for such people – of one sort or another – and the Yemeni authorities are glad to oblige by fueling the charade with innocent people.
Daily Bell: Any other examples?
Staffer: Tons. There was a young Nigerian there with a two wives who had studied at an Islamic center that had been shut down. He himself had no connections to fundamentalist Islam, but when he came to pick up his passports – which the jail had been holding – they arrested him and he'd been there about three months when I met him.
Daily Bell: Others?
Staffer: Two brothers I spent time with, both from Iraq and Yemen. The one brother had gone rabbit hunting with a fellow who expressed some fundamentalist views. The fundamentalist was arrested, though he later escaped. But he mentioned the brother's name and the brother was picked up and incarcerated. He was an engineer. Later his brother was picked up. His brother was a schoolteacher. Neither apparently had a history of Jihadist associations. But they were eventually sentenced to ten years apiece by the Yemen courts.
Daily Bell: Didn't they have representation?
Staffer: Perhaps. Who knows? It doesn't matter much. There are no real laws in Yemen. There is no burden of proof. You can be picked up and interrogated and if you have the wrong associations, for whatever reason, you can be held for years without a trial. This is happening in Saudi Arabia, too, where they will now pick you up on hearsay and then arrest your father and brothers as well – on general principles. The Saudi jails are very nice, I hear, much nicer then the Yemen ones, with clean carpets, TVs on the walls and all the food you can eat. But the end result is even worse. The Saudis will hold you up to five years or more without a trial. There were some Yemenis that had just been released into Yemeni custody and I spoke to them. The Saudis were actually willing to hold them longer but their families came up after five years and made a big fuss, protesting outside of the jail. The Saudis finally let them go.
Daily Bell: Sounds horrible despite the "comforts."
Staffer: It is entirely evil. We're gradually returning to the era of Star Chambers and guilty until proven innocent. What makes it more evil in my view is that the West – specifically America – is behind it. The Americans told the Kenyan shopkeeper – or so he told me – that they had numerous jails all over the Middle East and Africa that they controlled and that there was no escape for him. If he was released and returned to Kenya he might find himself in a Kenyan political jail soon enough, also controlled by America.
Daily Bell: Weren't the CIA and Pentagon pressured to stop building these kinds of jails?
Staffer: You mean rendition centers? That's what they are. They are places where you have no rights and all judicial systems are suspended. That America still operates them and is still building them is symptomatic of how far the rot has spread. They just built one in Somalia. The American military-industrial complex is entirely out of control. It is only a matter of time before what it is visiting on other countries is visited on America as well. Americans are naïve if they think they can duck their heads into the sand and avoid the sight of what is undoubtedly headed their way. These sorts of profoundly anti-freedom policies are no accident. They are part and parcel of the way those at the top of the American military and intelligence establishment actually think.
Daily Bell: Rendition is supposed to be a thing of the past.
Staffer: I've been thinking about that. In Yemen, anyway, the Americans are hiding behind Yemeni so-called justice. Even the two nice people at the American Embassy who came to see me – and I have thanked them several times for the work they did on my behalf – were convinced that they could not interfere with the Yemen judicial system. I voiced my opinion on this several times to them. The Americans are basically running Yemen, not the Yemenis, I insisted.
Daily Bell: Did they respond?
Staffer: Actually, no. They just switched the subject. Or stared. It's not an issue that invites rational discussion.
Daily Bell: How many times did you see them?
Staffer: Only twice for about an hour altogether in about a month's time. They said they were working behind the scenes and I believe them. I got out in a month. Some others are still waiting to leave after years – and these individuals are the ones that have been told they will be going. I was lucky. Also, I was from America and that helped enormously. Saleh's entire government is scared of Americans from what I can tell.
Daily Bell: Saleh's not there, though.
Staffer: Saleh was blown up, perhaps by the Americans, and now he's in Saudi Arabia and who knows if he is coming back. The Saudis communicate what they wish strategically and then the Americans decide whether or not to implement it. That's how it appears to work.
Daily Bell: Do you have any proof the Americans are running Yemen?
Staffer: There was one fellow I spoke to – or at least heard about from several others – who was called 'the Bedouin.' He was asked by Saleh five years ago to make peace with the fundamentalists. One of his brothers apparently had something to do with blowing up the Hood. Anyway, he had significant contacts. He started to reach out to about five fundamentalist leaders – all dead now – and then the CIA flew a fellow over from Washington, DC to speak to him.
Daily Bell: What did he say?
Staffer: He told the Bedouin that he could not make peace with the five fundamentalists he was speaking to. There were larger issues that had to be taken into account. Anyway, the Bedouin refused and the CIA man said he would have to stay in jail until he reconsidered. The Bedouin appealed to Saleh, and Saleh was extremely apologetic, as he should have been. But he told the Bedouin that there was nothing he could do. If the Americans wanted to remand the Bedouin to jail, off he would go. Years later, he's still in jail and still refusing to cooperate with the CIA. He has a TV in his cell as a consolation and can see visitors in the morning. He can also move about certain portions of the jail at will. But he's still a prisoner because he wouldn't cooperate with the CIA. The CiA told him, by the way, that they would build him up in the press and he would become a very big man, a hero, if he cooperated with them.
Daily Bell: Did he believe that?
Staffer: I don't know. But he is more than a little peeved at the Americans and at the CIA. The larger issue is the control that America asserts – not just in Yemen. I figured out finally this is going on all over the Middle East and Africa – the United Arab Emirates, Bharain, Oman, Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, now Libya. The Americans and NATO – the West, in other words, at the behest of the major Western banking families – have built a virtual Gulag throughout the region. They hide behind the local police as they do in Yemen and this provides them with deniability. Nonetheless, the Americans in particular have assiduously set up a rights-free Gulag of sorts. There are thousands, tens of thousands, of innocent young men being picked up in this dragnet every year who've done nothing wrong except perhaps to be enthusiastically spiritual and to focus closely on becoming good Muslims.
Daily Bell: This must be a costly endeavor, when you think about it.
Staffer: It is costly and it's just plain weird. The American taxpayer has footed the bill for this transcontinental Gulag and it runs into the billions, perhaps hundreds of billions, every year. It's scooping young, innocent men off the sidewalk and returning them years later as embittered enemies of the West. It's a virtual campaign to radicalize the youth of Islam and it's no coincidence, in my view. The great banking families want radical Islam. They want a war between East and West, at least a cold war if not a hot one. Again, it's part of building world government. The more chaos and hate that's being spread, the more you need the trans-national organizations such as the IMF, World Court and UN. The globalists' solutions have all been constructed. Now you just need enough problems to activate them.
Daily Bell: Do you think it will come to that?
Staffer: Well … let's look at the realities. The dictators being deposed in the Middle East are all secular. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Ben Ali of Tunisia, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya – all of them are non-Islamic types. And what will come about now? Probably the Muslim Brotherhood in one way or another. The Brotherhood is apparently penetrated and to a degree controlled by the CIA. So you have the spectacle of the West actively deposing secularists in order to replace them with controllable Muslim entities. Of course, it won't be portrayed that way in the West. The Muslim Brotherhood will be painted as a radical sect that poses an immediate danger to the West.
Daily Bell: But it won't?
Staffer: Not really in my opinion. Also, the Islamist-type countries may be set against the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Jordan and Morocco just applied to the GCC. If America won't stand for yet another Middle East war, you can always have one by proxy. America and NATO will control both sides from afar. This is no idle hypothesis. I'm told you can find white papers written on this subject from several prestigious Middle Eastern think tanks. That's how they operate. They write down what's coming up in the next few years. That way they can't be accused of conspiracy. If something happens, it seems more or less predictable because it HAS been predicted.
Daily Bell: OK, an interesting supposition anyway. But what about al Qaeda?
Staffer: Al Qaeda in Yemen, especially, provides us with an uncertain situation. At this point one could argue that al Qaeda has served its purpose. The West no longer wants a Jihadist movement when it can be replaced with something a good deal more controllable – the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates democratic elections unlike al Qaeda. On the other hand, the form of Islam that al Qaeda advocates is growing in popularity in the Middle East. There are fundamentalists throughout Yemen, in numerous cities, and in Saudi Arabia as well, or so I was told. What the West may have created will not be easily put back to sleep. It is very hard to say, especially when it comes to Yemen, which has 30 unruly tribes and a Southern region that wants to secede.
Daily Bell: If you had to sum up this incident in your life how would you do it?
Staffer: I tend to be a fairly insular person. Writing for DB – especially as many articles and other kinds of writing as I do – I don't get out a lot even when I travel. I've experienced a great deal but mostly by accident on my travels. I certainly wouldn't have spent time in a Yemen jail at the expense of my writing if I could help it. I'm about to post two libertarian fiction books to Kindle and there are many other things going on my life. You, Anthony Wile, are to be congratulated for stepping up and actually raising the bar on the Bell's writing and analysis. But it would never have been my choice to stop writing for a month after having written every day for the past 45 years. I also want to thank you for working tirelessly to get me out. I know without your efforts I would still be there.
Daily Bell: We weren't going to leave you there.
Staffer: Well, thanks. I knew you were working hard on my behalf and it was very comforting. Having said that, my experience in the Yemen political prison opened my eyes more fully to the vastness of Western manipulations being perpetrated on the Middle East and actually the entire world. The charade of Muslim terrorism has morphed into an entire Gulag in which young men are being dragooned into what is essentially a work of fiction.
Daily Bell: You see it as a kind of directed history …
Staffer: There is increasingly little doubt in my mind that for at least the past 100-200 years the world has experienced the fullness of directed history. No single event is what it seems; no explanation suffices for the wars, depressions and political and economic depredations that the world suffers from. Every disaster, every challenge, seems to bring world government closer. It's increasingly obvious. They're not even trying to hide it. Western military and intelligence agencies are fully behind these manipulations, in my view. The great banking families are directing them. The hope for the world, as we've pointed out time and again, is the Internet Reformation, for the truth-telling of the Internet is blowing up power elite memes as fast as they can be implemented.
Daily Bell: Did those in the prison see it this way as well, at least as concerning Islam and the war on terror?
Staffer: To a large degree, yes, though many strangely enough were convinced of the leadership of bin Laden, etc. This was confusing to me until I realized that those at the top of a controlled war needn't share their views with the rank and file. They go through the motions and those beneath tend to believe what they're told. The Middle East actually has a history of this sort of treachery going back to the Persian Hashshashin movement.
Daily Bell: Any final thoughts?
Staffer: Just that I was incredibly moved by the young people I met who were so generous and kind in the face of adversity. They named me Jonah after Jonah and the whale – the whale being the jail. This is the sort of metaphorical plane on which their minds worked. They knew nothing of rock and roll. They sing and chant the Koran, which is one of the great works of literature of all time. Thus, these young people were steeped in the metaphor of classical literature. Where their peers in the West were singing along to Britney Spears, these young people were speaking and thinking within the ambit of a much different perspective. It was like living among young men who saw the world through the eyes of, say, Shakespeare, a truly unusual experience, like living within a real-life anachronism. The nobility of their morality and the greatness of its expression was a kind of out-of-body experience for me. It also made me understand how so many young people can blow themselves up when facing an enemy. Between praying five times a day and generally being bathed in this resonant, classical expression of the Koran, one's socialization becomes entirely focused on the Islamic message. If Islam demands a blood sacrifice, such people will provide it. Their socialization will support it.
Daily Bell: It sounds quite intense. Before we let you go, we need to ask you how you were finally released.
Staffer: They called me out to have me take an inventory of my possessions. Usually they would blindfold you and handcuff you for interrogation purposes. But this time, they let me walk through the jail in a very relaxed way. That night they drove me to the airport in an SUV just the way I came in. A young man from the American Embassy was waiting there for me and filled me in on my release and where I was headed – thanks in large part to your efforts. Then I got on a plane and left Yemen behind.
Daily Bell: Did you unwind on the plane?
Staffer: I asked for a scotch.
Daily Bell: Did you get it?
Staffer: No. They weren't serving liquor.
Daily Bell: It's quite a story. Thanks for presenting it. Don't do it again.
Staffer: I didn't intend to do it the first time. However, I would like to dedicate this interview to the young men who were so kind to me and are unlawfully incarcerated in such jails throughout the Middle East and Africa, often apparently with American support – financial and otherwise. It should end; it must end.
Well, this has been quite a month. But our prodigal gnome has returned and he has quite a story to tell as you can see. We hope you enjoyed it – or were at least moved by it and the serious message that it conveyed.
The point being made is a profound one; what is being visited on the Middle East will not long be confined to that area. What is being done there will soon be visited on the West itself. There is no use fooling one's self about this.
The profound illegality and evil that is being visited on the Middle East and Africa will soon find a firm foothold in the West if its march is not radically slowed or even halted. The war on terror is being used as a way to erode Western freedoms, some of which go back centuries.
We hope the alternative 'Net press continues to raise the alarm about these and other such issues. There is no alternative. These issues must be raised and addressed, preferably on a daily basis. What is going on is wrong. No amount of justification can make it right.