Monday, January 19, 2015








(Monday January 19, 2015 Memphis, TN)  It is easy to lose sight of just how young Martin Luther King Jr was when an assassin's bullet took his life here on April 4, 1968.  Reverend Doctor King was only 39 years old yet despite his young age he became a unifying force for a cause; a cause he’d made his life’s work and ultimately cost him his life.  He sought racial justice in a country that 100 years after the Civil War still permitted if not codified segregation, discrimination, bias and animus towards Black Americans – Negros as they were referred to as in Dr. King’s day – in the face of some of the staunchest resistance to change.  Parts of our country were not only practicing the harsh rules of Jim Crow but were simply treating Blacks largely the same as they did when slavery was still legal.  The Deep South saw violent clashes between those with vested interests in the status quo; between a Black populace that was isolated and made to feel inferior to the White majority.  The worst of segregation and the reality of “two classes of people separate and unequal” in even the most basic human and civil rights would die a slow death across the Deep South and some border states. The mass migrations up the “Dixie Highway” to the large northern industrial centers like Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, and a host of other cities in the north and west proved to Black Americans there were formidable obstacles to be faced even outside of Dixie.

Reverend King’s legacy stands for itself.  He, with the help of President Lyndon B. Johnson, brought the Voter’s Rights Act and other Civil Rights legislation to fruition.  Johnson, a product of the Senate before being tapped to serve as President John Kennedy’s Vice President, knew how to bluster, cajole, manipulate, twist arms and intimidate others in the Senate to adopt his point of view and Johnson sincerely sought to end discrimination and sought to have Black Americans assimilate into the “main stream” of all our institutions and communities.  He was a true believer despite the erroneous history often spouted by the un - and mis- informed.  

Here we stand now, all these years later with an African American President more than halfway through his second term.  No one on either side of the racial battles of the 1960’s and 1970’s ever even imagined they would see a Black man as US President in their lifetimes.  But they have; perhaps a majority of Americans; certainly the broad coalition that voted President Obama into Office twice, did so with the belief that his ascendency would somehow be a milestone, a turning point, a marker in the history of our country delineating our past and this new “Post Racial America”.  They could not have been more wildly mistaken.  If anything there has been a resurgence of racism in parts of the country in part sparked by the revelations that young Black and Latino men fear the Police and view them as an “occupying force” of “brutal thugs”.  Several incidents of White Police Officers shooting unarmed young Black men last year served to incite demonstrations and protests, some that turned violent, as well as a “declared” open season on Cops.  There have been Cops ambushed and assassinated, some surviving, others succumbing to their wounds.  These events have only added impetus to “the cause” no matter which side you may be aligned with.  It seems there is no middle ground in this arena of debate, no ambivalence or shades of gray.  Everything about what has been going on in cities all across America is presented as a stark, unambiguous, day or night, up or down, black or white divide.  Given the absence of any acceptable, neutral arbiter such as Dr. King was when the KKK was burning crosses and lynching innocent Black men on trumped up charges, it seems this divide will grow wider and deeper. 

Dr. King was the champion of “nonviolent civic action” as the only acceptable means towards achieving an end in the struggle he saw before him.  There was, however, nothing actually “passive” in his philosophy; it was characterized by strength, a strength so pure and deep that a believer could endure pain, ridicule, beatings, false arrests, death threats and all manner of atrocities perpetrated by those opposed to his cause employed, in an unflinching demonstration of stony resolve. 

While the use of nonviolent resistance further enraged his foes, after a time they had to look upon the Reverend King and his followers with a begrudging nod towards respect (?)…or something very close to it.  By the time James Earl Ray’s bullet took his life, Dr. King left behind him a strong ideological following that made Americans everywhere regardless of station in life, profession, race, color or creed take notice and begin to look inside themselves.  The madness of legalized segregation and all its overt and subtle manifestations could no longer survive unchallenged. 

This is not to imply an overnight transformation across the country.  The struggle for equality would continue for decades and, in many facets of American society, culture, education, housing, employment and access, continues to this very day.  Mr. Obama might be our President yet many predominately African American ghettos remain as blights, not so much on our communities, but rather on our conscience.  We should be able to do better for those most in need and this is not a rallying cry from a bleeding heart liberal for more public assistance, more welfare, more of anything of the kind.  It is simply a statement of need.  African Americans in some neighborhoods have literally no chance of obtaining a living wage job.  Many lack in even basic K through 12 educations with some of the “failing” schools failing far more than their students; they are failing all of society.

Those of us born in the years up until the late 1950’s likely can remember some of the signs and symbols of segregation and racism from our youth: the “Coloreds” section at the end of the lunch counter at Woolworths, the “Sunset” neighborhoods and communities that would not tolerate the presence of an African American in their midst after sunset.  In relative terms those days and times were not all that long ago.  Much progress has been made yet there is always room for more progress, more inclusion and standards need not be lowered to accommodate such inclusiveness.   

Prejudice no matter who it is directed at or aimed to is a soul sickness.  Prejudice is not innate, it is learned.  Children do not come into the world prewired, already circuited with inherent prejudice.  Yes, humans have the capacity for prejudice just as they do for all the other traits and characteristics we see manifest in others.  Prejudice, just like bias, intolerance and racism is taught, it is something a child learns not in nature but in nurture.  Like human cellular sponges our children draw from and acquire attitudes and behaviors from their parents and siblings, from the environments they are reared in.  Often without realizing, parents and older siblings, cousins, neighbors and friends introduce into a young mind ideas and words, concepts and beliefs that those tender pliable minds take in and hard-wire into their neural circuitry.  Sadly, this results in too many children “inheriting” the biases and prejudices of the elders around them.

One of human nature’s more troubling traits is our need to divide and conquer; to divide our world between “us” and “them”.  Since our earliest days living in hunter-gatherer settlements and likely farther back into antiquity, we naturally seek alliances with those we are obviously most closely related to and that need extends further out to those we see familiarity in.  That is the very basis of, as theorized by evolutionary biologists, are capacity for empathy; for our ability to sacrifice for the greater good even when that larger good is not immediate family.  Empathy, perhaps more than any other single trait, separates us from our closest relatives on the genetic tree.   

Biologically, there is no difference between human beings of different colors, ethnicities, races or creeds.  Genetically, on the submicroscopic scale of DNA, one would be hard pressed to identify any evidence that categorically proves a difference of any kind between people with Black skin, Brown Skin, Red Skin, Yellow Skin or White Skin.  Modern science has made this abundantly clear.  Our “differences” are of our own design, of a manufactured construct that is just a few eons removed from the tribal and familial warfare that determined if our species would survive or die.  We all occupy a very small intricately interconnected planet; the “pale blue dot” as viewed by Neil Armstrong from the Lunar surface in 1969.  

As global citizens we should all and always be cognizant of our proximity, our shared humanity, and our “sameness”.  As Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr said just a year prior to his premature death, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals”.  As Abraham Lincoln commented, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”, we all must try to put the pettiness and animosity aside.  We are all passengers on the same boat and we will, no doubt, either sink to doom or swim to redemption together.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2015 © All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 18, 2015


The Kouachi brother assassinate a French Police Officer outside the offices

of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week





(Tuesday January 13, 2015, NY, NY)  The carnage in France at the Paris office of a satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, was not about an offensive cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a derogatory manner.  Yes, the perpetrators may have made that absurd claim just as they have launched attacks at other publications and journalists they deemed to be “Enemies of Islam”.  The brief siege and bloodshed at a Kosher market as well as the murder of four Police Officers in three separate incidents, one of whom ironically was a Muslim, were more about creating terror for terrors sake then any cartoon.

We first tasted the bitter pill of Islamic extremists here on February 26, 1993 when a small terror cell based in Brooklyn managed to park a truck loaded with an explosive device on the fourth subterranean level of the World Trade Center Plaza.  The global reach of terrorism reached our shores and has been here ever since although they have not managed to perpetrate another mass casualty, mass fatality events since the attack on September 11, 2001.  Very quickly we were forced to adapt to the new reality and could no longer believe the broad oceans kept us immune from jihadists and other radicals. 

 al QAEDA 1.0

The al Qaeda terrorist organization the world was introduced to on September 11, 2001 has essentially been significantly degraded and largely eradicated.  In the wake of 9-11-01 we dispatched CIA operatives and Special Forces into their safe haven granted by the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan and quickly had those who remained trapped in the rugged Hindu Kush border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  As that campaign of asymmetrical warfare and conventional United States military weaponry and tactics, particularly unrivaled air superiority, the intelligence community was beginning to piece together all of the many “dots” they had failed to connect prior to 9-11-01.  Quickly the important role the exiled Saudi son of a multimillionaire, Osama bin Laden emerged as did his motivation  for previous attacks on United States embassies in Africa and the US Navy ship the USS Cole as it sat docked in the Port of Oman.

Bin Laden had been issuing missives and fatwas from his safe haven scattered throughout Afghanistan for many years.  he had literally “declared war” on the United States several times in recorded television interviews but he and his threats were not taken seriously in the CIA or NSC.  Obviously, that was to our detriment and revelations and analysis conducted throughout the last 13 years clearly illustrates that the intelligence community and the Cheney/Bush Administration have blood, American blood, on their hands.

But the trail begins farther back to the Administration of President George H.W. Bush and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.  The Saudi’s fearing the Iraqi army would easily plow through Kuwait and advance into Saudi Arabia seeking help.  Osama bin Laden flew to Saudi Arabia and because of his family’s close ties with the House of Saud, was granted a private meeting with top tier Saudi officials.  Fresh off what he perceived as a huge military victory for his mujahedin forces who had routed the mighty Soviet Union’s military after almost 10 years of bitter combat and retreated in defeat and disgrace, bin Laden offered the services of his “troops” to defend the homeland, the sacred land that is home to the all-important cities of Mecca and Medina.  Osama could not bear the thought of having an infidel army – the United States military – occupying Saudi land while they fought to repel the possible Iraqi invasion.  The Saudi refusal of bin Laden’s offer enraged him and he ultimately returned to Afghanistan after being declared persona non grata in Yemen. 

The US military rapidly expelled all Iraqi forces from Kuwait.  They also left behind several remote military bases and this was an affront that bin Laden could not endure.  The thought of Americans on sacred soil with all their sinful ways was the catalytic spark that ignited the embassy attacks and the USS Cole incident and would ultimately culminate with the attack on 9-11-01. 

Over the intervening years the original al Qaeda network has been downgraded to a “brand” with small cells functioning as “franchises”.  Any group that commits an act of terror on the West can claim their affiliation with al Qaeda or the upstart bastardized off-shoot mutation al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  Groups such as these are decentralized, often living in member’s home countries after having traveled to and received training in Iraq or Syria; Afghanistan and Yemen are seeing a resurgence of al Qaeda 1.0 as well.  There is also the huge specter of “lone wolf” operatives, “copy-cat” opportunists, and small cells very loosely connected if connected at all. 


The emergence of the ultra-violent terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL was born in Syria as a force determined to oust the despotic leader of that country Bashar al-Assad.  They have developed into a significant military presence equipped largely with the huge caches of weaponry the United States left behind in Iraq as well as other USA supplied munitions intended for the nascent Iraqi Defense Force and local police.  Iraq is by anyone’s standards a “failed state” and ISIS rapidly capitalized on the deterioration of that country gaining substantial territorial assets largely through the unchecked use of barbarism and savagery that has earned them the reputation that strikes fear in the hearts of those unfortunate enough to have been in their path.  Despite the US bombing campaign on some of their strongholds in northern Iraq and southern Syria, they continue to fight with Syrian troops still loyal to President al-Assad while simultaneously holding on to the broad swathes of territory they have seized in the oil-rich northern provinces in Iraq.  They have effectively obliterated the historical border between Iraq and Syria.  We have seen their brutality as they have beheaded captured hostages, raped, pillaged and destroyed the small communities of   Ankawa, Iraq, the predominantly Christian suburb in the province of Erbil.  In many cases the members of these ancient sects were given the ultimatum to convert to Islam or be killed.

While AQAP and ISIS share little to nothing ideologically, they both have designs to lash out on the western world and the United States. Both organizations actively recruit in European countries and the USA.  Those called to jihad travel to Iraq and Syria for terrorist training and afterwards are sent back to their homelands to ply their newly acquired and honed skills in everything from assembling suicide bombs and other IED’s, and small-scale assaults such as was seen last week in France.  AQAP and ISIS have proven to be particularly adept at cyber warfare and the use of the Internet and social media to attract followers as well as to orchestrate operations between small cells unknown to each other.  These are classic hallmarks of the modern day version of asymmetrical warfare.  They have also been able to penetrate some of our government’s databases in well executed hacking operations.  In many ways it is astounding that there are individuals within AQAP and ISIS with sufficient cyber knowledge and acuity who’ve been able to pull off such hacks.  Once again it seems as if the US intelligence community, military, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Cyber Warfare Command are playing catch up with these terrorist groups.


That there exists an unknown number of individuals, some loosely affiliated with larger groups or terrorist networks reside in many European countries became bloodily evident with the attacks in France.  Some analysts have made the point that the weapons used in those attacks are “military grade” and virtually impossible to purchase in countries in the European Union (EU).  For many this indicated the presence of terrorists with connections to the war zones and the illegal market of underground arms sales.  This reality poses a special threat to a country such as France with a significant Muslim population.  The lax security in travelling between EU countries also allows motivated individuals to travel unimpeded; provided they are not on any country’s “watch list”, throughout the EU and to Iraq, Syria, Yemen or any other location where terrorists conduct training. 

There is no way to even guess at the number of individuals who have gone abroad for terrorist training and returned to their home countries to conduct mass casualty, mass fatality events.  Speaking with analysts and experts in the US intelligence community including the elite NYPD Intelligence Bureau, the CIA, FBI, and a source in the ATF, the overarching concern is that there are so many important questions being asked that are basically unanswerable or draw incomplete conclusions about the numbers of people in the US, be they part of a gauzy network, lone wolves or copy-cats,that are somewhere “out there” waiting for a signal or simply an internal urge to strike.  The prospect of this unknown quantity in our midst has local authorities, especially the NYPD on a high alert status.  Some Intel operations that had been temporarily halted have been reactivated.

Last Thursday NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism commented that the threat of a terrorist attack in NYC “…has never gone away”.  He continued, “The new wrinkle is that groups like ISIS, while they have a less sophisticated external planning operations node, have a much more sophisticated and slick propaganda arm that is extolling people to do this without having contact with the mother ship.” 


While a City such as New York will always be a highly desirable “target rich environment” for terrorists of every stripe, this new generation of terrorists are, at least for the time being, comfortable to pull off smaller scaled operations; these operations in some ways are as effective a method to achieving their means as a large scale attack: they induce fear among local populations and gain significant publicity the world over.  This aides them not only in striking a fatal blow to a target by also serves as an effective recruitment tool and another venue through which they spread their propaganda to as large an audience as possible.  This is the harsh fact of our times; American interests abroad are targets just as is our homeland and we have already witnessed a few isolated attacks perpetrated here by individuals claiming to be associated or at least with an affinity for groups such as AQAP and ISIS.

Our best defense is a mixture of offense, as in pro-active policing and intelligence gathering as well as maintaining the highest levels of security at prominent and notable sites not only here in NYC but all across the country.

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