Saint Francis of Assisi became known in the 13th Century for preaching the values of brotherly love and peace.
When Christians throughout the world hear of Assisi, they think of this gentle saint.
But his native village was has just been the staging ground for something far more pernicious than urging to be faithful to a Christian God and his teachings. The Anti-Imperialist Camp met last week in Assisi to spread the word among leftist revolutionaries and other extremists about how to bring about armed insurrection and terrorism. Guess what country and its allies that the attendees of this summer camp for radicals have specifically lined up in their sights?
What should be particularly troubling is that this coterie is determined to forge an alliance between Marxist groups, the anarchistic left, and Islamic fundamentalists.
Indeed, organizations that our government and the European Union have identified as terrorists were showcased at the Anti-Imperialist Camp and there was be a roundtable of revolutionaries representing so-called liberation movements from Colombia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Spain, Turkey, and the Palestinians. Communist parties and their factions from Iraq, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Italy, Germany were represented as were such terrorist groups as the ETA (Spain's Basque liberation movement), the New People's Army (Philippines) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Communist front group for Palestinian commando groups.
This mixing of revolutionaries representing atheistic Marxism and militant Islamics might strike the unworldly to be illogical. But a lethal cocktail of violent extremism could be concocted by this meeting once one realizes that the groups that attended understand that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend...for now anyway."
As my colleague Bill Lind has pointed out, Islam actually has a great deal in common with Marxism in its worldview. Islamics are commanded to wage war against unbelievers until they submit to the rule of Islam and the entire world has become Islamic. Marxism, as practiced by Soviet Communism, took a very similar view of their own struggle since they were fighting to make the whole world submit to Marxist rule.
The U.S. based groups that endorsed the conference are a motley bunch of groups that include the Collective Miguel Enriquez, the Committee for Justice in Chile, Movement La Pena, and the Iranian-American Community.
Admittedly, groups such as the "Fedayin of Baghdad," the foreign volunteers who fought in the Iraqi war on the side of the Hussein regime, do not have brand name recognition in the same manner of al Qaeda or Hamas. But their participation provides more proof that we still live in a dangerous world. That is, if 9/11 was not enough to convince you otherwise.
One Fedayin fighter who goes by the name "Jehad Hussein" had been arrested, was released, and returned to Jordan. Hussein told the Anti-Imperialist Camp: "I'm waiting for the next chance to go back [to Iraq]. Now we know the Americans can be defeated after we tested their real power in guerrilla warfare and we know it is relative. With better organization, we could have resisted much longer. I acted as a Palestinian, as an Arab and as an internationalist freedom fighter."
Hussein was scheduled to speak on last Tuesday on "guerrilla warfare against the imperialist occupation," while another forum last Friday would discuss "Intifada (uprising), Jihad (holy war), and Arab nation."
Announced speakers at this camp included Ricardo Rodriquez, vice president of the Cuban Institute for the Friendship with the Peoples, widely considered to be a front group for Cuban intelligence, Vladimir Krsljanin, a leader of the defense of deposed Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. An unconfirmed speaker was Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist arm, the New People's Army.
The AIC was even to announce a "10 Euro Campaign" aimed at raising funds for the so-called "Iraqi resistance," something that was first advanced by the Not In Our Name Coalition, which has close links to the Revolutionary Communist Party. Just call it dollars for the destruction of true democracy.
The Administration has been given some powerful tools to fight terrorism, in particular the USA Patriot Act, which has such a loose definition of terrorism that even groups such as Operation Rescue, could conceivably be targeted as terrorists. This camp shows the Act is needed. It also demonstrates the need to make sure its considerable powers are expended on fighting real terrorists, not subverted by future administrations to crack down on legitimate conservative political activists exercising their First Amendment rights.
It is ironic that the home of the most peace-loving saint in history has served as the end-of-summer camp for a collection of real-life villains. Contrary to the views of many Americans, true evil does not just reside in the personas of comic book villains. It really exists in the world and there are many people who would like to bring the United States to its knees. A camp like this brings real-life evil on display and every American should realize that someday that evil and its byproduct -- senseless destruction of innocent life -- may be delivered right to their doorstep.