Today is a day history will remember. The day the west declared war against the east — the day NATO (France included) declared war against Syria and Iran. This comes after two days of catastrophic rioting around the world and two months, one week, and four days after one of the worst terrorist attacks in world history. Most countries have closed their borders. Some airports have literally turned incoming jets away, allowing them only to land, refuel, then return immediately to their country of origin.
The world has taken up arms, and it is, well… disconcerting.
Sure, we all saw this coming — sure, we expected it — but now that it’s actually here, the reality is paralyzing. We are at war, but no one can seem to tell us exactly who with. The abstractness of the enemy makes them omnipresent, mythic. And if the declaration of war was meant to calm domestic hostilities, it hasn’t worked. Rioting is worse than ever. Even here in Dallas mobs are forming on the street just outside our office. I can hear them as I type.
The government is urging people to stock up on necessities, and we are urging people to do the same. There is a time for optimism. There is a time for positivity. This is not it.
Normalcy is now something of a quaint idea, a relic of the past. I can barely remember it. What we are experiencing now is an upheaval — a historical, sociological, psychological, geographical upheaval — and our world will never be the same.
Riots that began yesterday in a handful of cities continue to spread around the world. On a very micro level, east and west have already divided themselves within individual cities, but the totality of the riots is now causing that rift to extend, pushing us that much closer to global conflict. It’s anyone’s guess what effect a declaration of war would have on these cities. It’s possible, I suppose, that war could unite them under a nationalistic banner. As the saying goes, nothing unites like a common enemy.
And so, strangely, it could be that war is the only chance the world has of pulling itself together. Better a world split down the middle than broken into a million pieces.
If an east vs. west conflict truly does break out in the coming days it will be the culmination of nine weeks of brewing tensions and hostilities and what now feels like an inevitable progression toward all-out global war. Despite Hand of Peace being the catalyst, they are now all but forgotten, a token in a war that harkens back to centuries of grievances. It is easy to forget that this has been brought upon us. And like we speculated early on, that the true agenda of Hand of Peace was perhaps much larger than what now feels like a mere stadium. A global war would dwarf the tragedy at Olympic Stadium and redefine not only our lives but our world.
Just when our faith in humanity was about to be restored, just when it started looking like we were moving past our differences and toward some sort of reconciliation, this had to happen.
The chaos started at a peace walk in Paris. As is usually the case with crowd violence, the origin of the outbreak is unknown and reports of the incident are wildly various, but what we do know is that soon after mile two, something went wrong. Some reports claim a group of onlookers began throwing stones. Some claim shots were fired. One reporter saw a gang of teenagers wearing grey hoodies flinging empty beer bottles off a balcony. Needless to say, the situation devolved.
The truly terrible thing is that while Paris was the first peace walk to turn violent, it was not the only. Just a few hours later, similar outbreaks occurred at fifteen different walks around the world and have not let up. The chaos rivals that of the initial riots following the attack. These, however, feel much worse. Worse because of the context (an attempt at peace turned into an exhibition of violence) and worse also because of the fatigue. We’ve seen this all before, and the thought of going through it again is exhausting.
A source in New York has reported that Aadil Faraj, the organizer of the peace walks, was killed in the Manhattan riots, one of thirteen reported deaths in the United States, and one of hundreds around the globe.
With the world already teetering on the edge of global war, chaos incited by a few boys in hoodies may be the end of us.
The mind behind the Islamic peace walks, which are now taking place in cities around the world, is a man named Aadil Faraj. Aadil is humble, fiercely honest, and doesn’t like taking credit for having organized one of the largest international Islamic movements of recent memory. We chatted with him this morning over email.
Broadside: How did the idea for the peace walks come about?
AF: I guess, like most ideas, I don’t remember where it came from. It was just there. It just seemed like the obvious thing to do, like it was going to be done regardless, which probably explains why it was so easy to get it started, and is also why I don’t like taking credit.
Broadside: What are you hoping these walks will accomplish? What are you hoping is going to change?
AF: I mean, they’re called PEACE walks. I think the goal is fairly obvious. There is this unbelievable tension right now between Muslims and the rest of the world, and that tension is spilling over into so many areas of life. I read your article yesterday where you said we were innocent, that Muslims were innocent and shouldn’t be held accountable for Hand of Peace, but the fact is that nobody is innocent. We’ve all harbored hatred and grudges and contempt. We’ve all added fuel to this fire. Now it’s up to us to do something about it. I’m not sure what we should do, exactly, so we’re going to walk and hope that somehow that does something. Peace walks are always this act of ridiculous hope.
Broadside: Do you think it’s going to work?
AF: I honestly have no idea.
Today, nine weeks after the Olympic attacks, Islamic groups worldwide initiated a series of marches that will take place throughout the week as a gesture of goodwill and humanity. These marches are significant. So significant we are skipping our usual week in review article to let you know about them, should you want to take part or observe a march near your city.
Since the day of the attacks, all eyes have turned not only to the Middle East but to anyone of Middle Eastern decent or Islamic faith. It’s not uncommon for the majority to be persecuted for the actions of the few, but these marches have been initiated with the hope that such persecution could end. In fact, I see it as an act of extreme humility that Muslims would essentially be apologizing for an act they did not commit to make peace with people who have shown them nothing but hatred.
These marches are a chance to rise above our tragedy. And, frankly, to rise above ourselves.
The group responsible for organizing these marches released this statement last week: “All are welcome to join as we march for peace. We are all brothers and sisters, all equally affected by the tragedies that have occurred, and all equally capable of building a better future for our children.”
The marches are scheduled to begin this evening.
We’ve come to this. For two months now we’ve been digging into Charles Richter’s past, trying to find a way of either proving his guilt or innocence, trying to follow his rabbit hole deeper and deeper into the events that led to August 12th.
In the past week we have talked to two of Richter’s old girlfriends, Lauren Williams and Suzanne Pats. We’ve visited one of his childhood friends, a man who now calls himself Morbus Iff (for reasons we can’t explain). And we’ve emailed back and forth with more than a few of his past employers. The fact is, there is not a single notable thing about Charles Richter’s life, and certainly nothing that would lead anyone to believe he could have been involved in one of the worst terrorist attacks in world history.
Could such a normal life have lead to such an abnormal event?
Perhaps my obsession with proving Charles’s innocence is actually my obsession with proving the innocence of mankind as a whole. I want to believe that evil work is done by evil men. That the majority of us are good people trying to live good lives trying not to blow up stadiums. If Charles is guilty, what does that say about the rest of us?
But — and here is the unfortunate truth about Charles Richter — his story remains a mystery, lost in ashes and debris of Olympic Stadium. Perhaps the only person who can prove Charles Richter’s innocence is Charles Richter himself, the only problem is no one can find him, and it’s unlikely he will emerge any time soon. Despite our digging, our questioning, our obsession, we have been unable to clear Richter’s name. Hard work is not always rewarded. Some mysteries remain mysteries forever. At least for now, we are going to have to put this one to rest.
We recently received the following letter from Geoff Ice, except it’s not a letter to us: It’s a letter to you. - The Editor
Music, like most forms of art, is an excellent means to escape the realities around us. In the darkest of times, music can be the light of hope that cuts through the pain of tragedy. Music is essentially an extension of an emotion, and like all good art, music should make you feel something. When you attend a live concert there is a huge sense of connection to the people around you as everyone experiences the same emotional highs and lows. In the aftermath of such a monumental tragedy it is important to cling to hope as a nation and as a world. Music can be the tool that heals the world.
Music is not just a means to escape pain, but can also be a tool to mourn. If you are a guy like me, you may have a difficult time dealing with tragedy. I personally go numb when things are bad. When one of my close personal friends passed away unexpectedly in a freak car accident I had no way to respond to what I was hearing. I went numb. I felt isolated from all the people around me who were crying. I knew I was upset and I wanted to cry, but nothing would happen. It wasn’t until later that night as I drove home listening to Sigur Ros’ album Parenthesis that I was able to come to grips with my emotions as cry. Mourning should be natural, but sometimes it takes music to really feel that connection. In the midst of tragedy I encourage you to use music to mourn, but I also beg you to use music to see the hope. Life will go on.
Geoff Ice is the bass player for Green River Ordinance. Follow them on the web: www.greenriverordinance.com, or on twitter: @GRO, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/gromusic.
The location of the Great West China Cement Company was discovered yesterday by a group of ProPublica journalists weeks after J&D reluctantly released the name of their now notorious cement vendor. Our own attempts at contacting the company were, at best, disappointing, if not maddening. The GWCCC compound was located in Kashgar, China with all equipment, machines and assets still on site. The only thing missing, actually, was the workers, and the only damage found was a small fire in an administrative office that just so happened to contain all the human resource documents for the entire company — including its list of employees.
Our response to these findings, much like ProPublica’s, has been, essentially, what the hell?
Investigations are being made into what happened on the compound and where (and who) the employees are. But either way, the situation does not bode well for J&D, who has repeatedly claimed no knowledge of Richter’s actions, and yet knew enough to keep journalists and authorities from discovering the GWCCC compound before it could be scrubbed clean. J&D has yet to make an official statement, and Mr. White has yet to return any of our emails.
All faiths are a spectrum and at the edges is where it can get dangerous. Islam is no different, and what we’ve seen in the past two months has been the work of the fringe. So it’s important, first of all, to not vilify the whole. No religion has clean hands.
Not every Islamic Extremist sect promotes violence, but most hold a fundamentalist view of Jihad (roughly translated: The Struggle). And Jihad is, of course, what we all think of when we think of terrorism. The popular understanding of Jihad is something like “Holy War” but many Muslims reject this simplistic definition and stress that even Jihad is open to interpretation and does not necessarily entail or promote violence. For many, it is an internal struggle to “live out the Muslim faith as well as possible.” Like most things, it is not the belief that is to blame; it is the interpretation.
Islamic extremists have been at the heart of global terrorism for years, but the fact is the vast majority of Muslims are just as much victims as anyone else — perhaps more so since in the aftermath they are treated as the enemy.
Any faith system is complex, nuanced, and, in the end, personal. The world is often more complicated than anyone wants to admit. We are at a turning point in East/West relations — boiling point might be more accurate — and the more grace we can find for people of different beliefs, the better off our world will be.
Thomas Freely lives and writes in Los Angeles.
Digging into Charles Richter’s past, we keep coming across references to another man: Alain Hague, Charles’s boss and a Senior Executive at J&D Consulting. We’ve been told by multiple sources (including Mr. White) that Alain was killed in the Stadium Island explosion. Okay — we’ll assume, for the sake of simplicity, they are correct. What’s unclear, though, is why Mr. Hague has been left without a spot on his name when it was him who hired Charles and worked just as closely on the construction of the doomed stadium as Richter himself.
I had Jessica Channing, our research intern, do some digging into Alain (I’m tired, and research is hard). Her findings were mundane. Alain comes (came) from a rich British family, an only child with a multitude of political ties and a brief stint as a diplomat to Austria. For the most part, Alain, it seemed, is (was) too dull to have any connection to an international terrorist organization or a global terrorist plot. But then again, so was Richter. Both men lived what appears to have been incredibly committed and dutiful lives. Without the Stadium Island tragedy, they would have passed through life entirely unknown and unremarkable.
It was a journalist friend of mine, Chris Chavez, who suggested Alain Hague might not be as squeaky clean (or as painfully dull) as I thought. Hague, it seems, is more than just the only child of a vaguely political, overly wealthy family. He is the only child of a vaguely political, overly wealthy Bilderberg Group family, a highly secretive society that many have accused of political and economic puppeteering since the late 1960s. Naturally, being such a secretive society, little is known about them, let alone the specifics of the Hagues’ involvement. Regardless, the finding is odd. A man with ties to a highly exclusive and secretive political organization somehow being closely related to one of the greatest tragedies the world has ever seen…it does not sound coincidental.
I have emailed Mr. White to see what J&D knew about Mr. Hague’s past. Waiting for his response…