Lynne Stewart & the “Blind Sheikh”: a love affair

Lynne Stewart

Over the course of her career, Lynne Stewart – who died on March 7 and whose career we began looking at yesterday – defended Weather Underground cop-killers David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin. Black Panther Willie Holder, and Mafioso Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. But she had her standards. She wouldn’t represent a Nazi or a white supremacist. But she admired Islamic radicals. She saw armed jihad as the solution to oppression in the Middle East, and had no problem with the prospect of victorious jihadists introducing sharia law into conquered territories. She even said she would have taken Osama bin Laden as a client. She came close: her most famous client was Omar Abdel-Rahman, the famous “blind sheikh” who plotted violent acts against the U.S. and whose own terrorist crew, the Islamic Group, was closely tied to al-Qaeda.

Omar Abdel-Rahman

Rahman was a key figure behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the USS Cole bombing in 2000. His public statements made clear his desire for the destruction of America and the killing of as many Americans as possible. When he was given life in prison in 1996 for his role in the World Trade Center attack and on unsuccessful efforts to blow up United Nations Headquarters and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels in New York City, he vowed that “infidel” America would “be destroyed” and that “nothing [would] remain.” His life sentence caused Stewart to break into tears. She actually saw this bloodthirsty creature “as a fighter for national liberation on behalf of a people oppressed by dictatorship and American imperialism.” And she admired – believe it or not – “his honesty, his strength of character, his teasing humor.” (In 2003, she called Rahman “a very learned scholar” who “deserved to have a platform, deserved not to be entombed in the middle of America and not able to speak.”) In an effort to obtain Rahman’s release, his followers carried out the 1997 Luxor massacre in which, as Daniel Greenfield has noted, “European tourists had their ears and noses cut off before being killed.”

Remains of European victims of the Luxor massacre await repatriation.

After Rahman was locked up, Stewart was allowed to visit him on the condition that she not act as a conduit between him and anybody on the outside. But she was soon caught on tape transmitting coded messages to and from his jihadist comrades. Michelle Malkin has spelled out Stewart’s crimes: “Stewart ferried messages to the Blind Sheikh from fellow jihadist Rifa’l Ahman Tara urging him to support a new wave of Islamic violence in Egypt – and then smuggled out a coded order to his followers lifting a ceasefire between his terrorist group and the Egyptian government.” On surveillance videos, moreover, as the Middle East Quarterly explained, “Stewart could be seen shaking a water jar or tapping the table while [the translator] and the sheikh exchanged communications that were then later disseminated to the sheikh’s followers.”

In other words, Stewart made it possible for Rahman to send out the word to terrorists in Egypt to resume killing. What happened next? Tune in tomorrow.

Robert Redford: glamorizing totalitarians

rrSince starting this site, we’ve talked about several of Hollywood’s most reprehensible stooges. But we’ve given short shrift to Robert Redford.

He’s been acting since 1960. He was the #1 money-making star for three years in a row in the 1970s; he’s won an Oscar for best director; he’s a top film producer; and he’s the founder and head honcho of the highly influential Sundance Film Festival.

In short, he’s got power. And he uses it. How? To churn out shrill propaganda films that betoken useful stoogery of the first order.

lionsTake The Milagro Beanfield War, a 1988 tale of heroic Mexican peasants and evil U.S. landowners – directed by Redford and starring John Heard – that was breathtakingly cliche-ridden and one-dimensional. Or Lions for Lambs (2007), a numbing talkfest about the War on Terror, directed by Redford and starring him, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise, that the left-wing Guardian‘s reviewer Peter Bradshaw called a “muddled and pompous” dose of “fence-sitting liberal agony” and “injured sensitivity” that “gives liberalism such a bad name that on leaving the cinema, I felt like going out and getting a nude study of [right-wing editor] Norman Podhoretz tattooed on my inner thigh.”

The_Company_You_Keep_posterThen there’s The Company You Keep (2013), also helmed by Redford, which glamorized several aging former members of the Weather Underground, a Vietnam-era Maoist group that sought to bring down the U.S. with bombings, killings, kidnappings, mass imprisonment, and “re-education.” (The ex-terrorists were played by Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, and Redford himself.) Striking what the New York Times‘s Stephen Holden called “a scrupulously ethical balance in contemplating domestic terrorism” (what’s that supposed to mean?), the film was a morally reprehensible exercise in nostalgia for the ideologically rooted violence that marked “The Sixties” at their very worst. Redford freely admitted that back in the day he’d sympathized with this crew of creeps; after seeing the movie, Peter Collier, himself a recovered left-wing radical, asked a pointed question: “Weatherman was always radical, but how did it become chic? How did this group—proudly totalitarian in its day—get mainstreamed without ever having to undergo denazification? Why has it been allowed a rehabilitation without evincing at least a token of remorse?”

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The Weather Underground in its heyday

Deploring the film in the New York Post as a “rose-colored hagiography of bloodstained killers” that “defiles the memory of all those victimized by left-wing militants on American soil,” Michelle Malkin recalled the couple on whose story the movie was loosely based: 

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Boudin’s mug shot

In 1981, rich-kid Weathermen ideologues and lovers Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert joined forces with Black Liberation Army thugs and other ragtag commie revolutionaries to hold up an armored Brink’s vehicle in Nyack, NY….Two of the victims gunned down in the botched Brink’s robbery were police officers; one, a private security guard. All were veterans from working-class backgrounds….

Kathy Boudin
Boudin receives an academic award

Boudin and Gilbert were convicted and sent to prison. Prior to her arrest, she had been an 11-year fugitive from justice after an accidental homemade bomb explosion at her New York City townhouse resulted in the death of three people….Boudin was paroled in 2003 after convincing the parole board that she acted nobly out of “white guilt” to protest racism against blacks. Never mind that Waverly Brown was black.

Boudin, by the way, is now a professor in the School of Social Work at Columbia University; in 2013 she was also a Scholar-in-Residence at NYU Law School. (The useful stooges take care of one another.) 

These, then, are the kind of monsters whom Redford glamorizes in his films. Oh, and let’s not forget Che Guevara. We’ll get around to him next time.