20 May 2013

Planetary Extinction, Endless War... and Fatherhood

Amidst extended paternity leave, sleepless nights, changing nappies, and school runs, I've only just about managed to sustain my minimal objective of a regular writing output of about an article a week. But this week I had something special in preparation to sink your teeth into.

So I had two hugely important stories out over the weekend about quite different (but always interrelated) issues.

My latest Guardian post, 'Obama's Arctic strategy sets off a climate time bomb' is about the new US National Strategy for the Arctic Region published by the White House just over a week ago.  My piece analyses the strategy document in-depth, and concludes that President Obama's new Arctic strategy, driven by narrow economic and energy interests, would accelerate the rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice, driving catastrophic climate change, and guaranteeing an uninhabitable planet before the end of the century (and probably far earlier). The implications of this strategy and its implementation, therefore, should not be underestimated. Massive grassroots mobilisation is necessary to somehow bring pressure to bear on the White House to reverse the suicidal trajectory of its Arctic strategy.

I also had an exclusive investigative report that I'd been working on quietly over the last four months or so come out Friday night in the quarterly British magazine, Ceasefire - 'Why was a Sunday Times report on US government ties to al-Qaeda chief spiked?' The latter is an explosive, incendiary in-depth story (if I don't say so myself) based on interviews with FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, interviews with Sunday Times journalists working on a story based on her revelations (that was inexplicably and pre-emptively pulled), and analysis of relevant public record data. The main theme? The notorious terrorist mastermind, Ayman al-Zawahiri - current "emir" of al-Qaeda and deputy/right-hand man to Osama bin Laden while he was alive - was a US intelligence asset in the late 1990s all the way through to 9/11 as part of a Pentagon operation in Central Asia known as "Gladio B". 

Enmeshed in this terror nexus was a vast underground criminal network subsidised by the highest echelons of the US national security apparatus, and linked with illegal arms and drug trafficking networks, working inexorably to undermine and render inoperative security for American citizens - all in the name of the power and profit of a corrupt minority.

The story is huge because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom and points to serious questions about the failures and policies that may have facilitated not just the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but subsequent terrorist attacks around the world, including the Boston bombings. 

The piece was a long time coming - Ceasefire was not the first place I pitched to. I'd done the rounds of a whole range of mainstream and alternative news outlets and each one, for one reason or another, ultimately opted out of running the piece. 

But it is testament to the courage and credibility of Ceasefire that they took the piece on without blinking an eye. Please do congratulate them if you get a chance for doing so.  

We've already had massive success, despite no support from mainstream outlets. The story is currently going viral - it has racked up over 3,500 Facebook shares and 420 Tweets in a matter of 48 hours. It's even been retweeted to over 1 million Twitter accounts by Anonymous through their @YourAnonNews handle. 

In the coming weeks, we'll be following up with more multimedia materials exploring elements of the story. Sibel Edmonds herself is posting updates and explanatory thoughts via her website, and plans to produce a video report or few on the story. I've also got my creative director at IPRD, Dean Puckett, working on the audio files of my interviews with Sibel Edmonds to splice together a podcast or two. 

We need all your support to get the word out about this story. Because people have a right to know what our governments are doing in our names.

The one thing that keeps me going as I write on these issues which are in many ways so deeply shocking and worrying is... well, three things. My two little girls, and the latest addition to my family, my baby boy, born last month. Being a father and a husband has taught me, really taught me, what life's about, at its core. When I hold my son, so fragile, so tiny and utterly dependent, and indeed completely trusting - even while I myself am physically exhausted - I realise that at the core of what makes human life special is love, compassion, self-sacrifice; realising that the source of one's happiness is nothing less than love for the Other. And then you realise, that the separation between your self and the Other is, itself, merely an ideological artifact, that in fact we are all, truly, in this together, parts of a whole, one family.

So I stare into the face of the Abyss with eyes wide open, my heart free from fear, bearing a grin that some might mistake for madness, fists emboldened by the love that flows through veins wrought from the struggle, because what else is there to do?


  1. Gratitude and much respect Nafeez from an alum of your Class of 2001-2. Your proximity to the abyss, and those wide open eyes, have done great service to so many of us. A clear powerful, voice providing an initially double edged sword of deep understanding, that slowly helps that grin spread, those emboldened fists to multiply, and the love to flow (intermittently, and then more steadily) as we witness it unfolding, resigned and courageous, or at least striving to be when it counts.

    Would that the world sought the counsel of wisdom, not the perilous comfort of distraction. You'd be far more prominent in our one family were that the case.

    On a more specific note, the two pieces this past week were huge. I immediately shared the first at 430am when I found it the other night,
    and then to find you writing about Sibel next (who I had been following closely again since the Boston fandango) was powerful for me. A hero championing the ongoing plight of another hero..always with that glimpse of a chance that the Internet could roar to its potential for producing collective outrage if a tipping point were reached on a story as incendiary as this.

    Be well my friend..and good luck with the nappies ;-)


  2. Mashallah. May you go from strength to Strength... keep it up.

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words guys - really appreciated

  4. Nafeez,

    great article and I follow your work and "fight against reductionism/overspecialization/diminihing return" with great interest. Regarding the family and your father status:

    "Why is it that usually people without family and/or children so much more often care about the "global" problems and not-so-distant future?"

    I am 32 and have no children yet, though I don't know if I am brave/shelfish/ignorant (etc.) enough to bring my own children to this world. I have schoolmates from university studies some of them having 2-3 children, not paying too much attention to climate change or, God forgive, peak oil or financial crisis. These are, in the end abstract global problems. They are happy with their families (until they have money to survive, of course). Their happiness is perfect, but their ignorance makes me desperate as well...

    I could have had children as well, but instead I write articles on climate change, peak oil, etc. Maybe without any effect.

    If everybody is like you, world would be better place to live, maybe even sustainable :-)

    keep up great job,



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