19 October, 2019

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An Olympian Resigns 

By Sarath De Alwis –

Sarath De Alwis

Evil originates not in the absence of guilt. Evil originates in our effort to escape it. I cannot recall who said it. But it addresses our current predicament.

Yes. I am punning on the fact that Hemasiri Fernando was a colossus in the local Olympic movement. An Olympian is also a person who in adversity displays graceful detachment. Hemasiri qualifies. His sin is that he was honest with his opinions. Some time ago he told a gathering of old Nalandians that there is a a difference between Ranaviruwo and Mineemaruwo a rhyming distinction between heroic warriors and mercenary murders. This time around he candidly confessed that the threat assessment was disastrously wrong. Did the Defense Secretary bring the Indian warning to the attention of the Minister of Defence?   

Is the Commander in Chief a ‘relevant official ‘as referred to in his letter of resignation.  

Defense establishment had no idea of the magnitude of the threat. Why? 

Is it because our Security establishment had doubts on the information and the credentials of the Indian agency? Although later retracted, Sirisena in the weeks before the ‘Oktoberfest’   publicly claimed that threats on his life emanated from unidentified sources in that geogr0phical region.   

Hemasiri Fernando

The exiting Secretary of Defence has explicitly and unequivocally stated that he “systematically disseminated intelligence information received on recent attacks. 

The carnage has plunged the nation in to hitherto unknown horror and corrosive chaos. Combined, it has eaten deep in to our collective confidence to breathe free.  

He categorically states “Information was disseminated to relevant officials and departments and I have done my duty. But some officials and relevant departments have not acted accordingly and as a result we have had to face this situation.”

This carefully considered final statement of the outgoing Defence Secretary must be considered in the context of the honest, unvarnished, forthright statement he made to reporters from the front seat of his car while on inspection of bombsites. 

the government did not expect an attack of such magnitude to occur”. He said much more in that spontaneous response.

 What is pertinent to this discussion herein is the unambiguous admission that Sri Lanka received the warning of the threat and its source was Indian intelligence and that it had reached the highest levels of our Defence establishment. 

That Sri Lankan Defence experts arrived at their own estimate of the size and scope of the threat is the SumTotal of the disaster. We do not know what really transpired in the inner sanctum of power.

Mahinda was fortunate in having a brother minding the security of the state. The brother did a good job. The problem then was the overlap of Rajapakse Royaume and the république du peuple! 

The Indian intelligence with exhaustive details of who, when and where reached us on 4th April. Dayasiri Jayasekera SLFP secretary   says it was the 9th April. Leader of the house Kiriella says it was on the 4th of April  

As the good Field Marshall observed in parliament does it matter. Was it acted on? And on what degree of gravitas, sobriety and determination? 

President Sirisena is also the Minister of Defence. He takes its purpose so seriously that he does not delegate his ministerial authority and responsibility to any one, not even when he travels abroad. 

The President left the island on 16th April to take part in the ‘Suprabhatha’ ritual and offer prayers to Lord Venkateswara at Thrupathi in India. After appeasing the deities in heaven he proceeded to Singapore for the heavenly pursuit of shopping presumably in preparation for the pending nuptials of his son that was planned in the merry month of May at the Shangri-La the symbol of  Post war progress made under the Man he beat in 2015 with the help of   6.2 million knuckleheads including this writer. 

Hemasiri Fernando in his letter of resignation has assured that he will assist the committee of inquiry appointed to find out how the horse bolted and who fiddled with the stable door. 

That is all well and good. Surely Mr.Fernando should know that those who hobnob with gods and lesser gods on Mount Olympus have a duty to shed light and wisdom on simple people like us curious to ascertain the truth.     

Did he apprise President Sirisena of the contents of the Indian Intelligence warning before the President left the island on his pilgrimage and shopping expedition abroad?  Was he in contact with the president in Singapore after the events? 

The second question is vital. Sirisena could have called for personal assistance from Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore to get back pronto to his ‘Mathru Bhoomi’ to appease the living, to grieve for the dead and to punish the perpetrators and fault the negligent.  After all he has made personal requests to the Singapore premier before, as in the case of Arjun Mahendran.  

As the Field Marshal who is being studiously kept out of the field by a vengeful president and a duplicitous prime minster noted in parliament, Sirisena could have taken an earlier flight instead of returning past midnight. There was a flight that arrived at 3 p.m., then another at 9 p.m., before his midnight flight from Singapore. 

The emergency regulations could have come in to force earlier and faster. We have a president who does not own up to his mistakes. When the Supreme Court held that he violated the constitution by dissolving parliament he delivered a forty-minute homily to the reinstalled prime minster that he did it with absolute moral conviction ‘Sathbhavayen” and on the advice of good and learned President’s Counsel.  

In the post mortem of the catastrophe, Mr. Hemasiri Fernando must tell the nation what did the president know and when did he know it. That is only part of the story. 

The Prime minster says he did not know, and he was not told. The Defence Secretary who is known for his affability as much as his administrative ability is not the kind of man to keep the prime minster out of the loop. If he did that that, it would have been for good reason. 

Hemasiri Fernando became Defence Secretary following the constitutional coup of October 2018. If newspapers are correct it was the result of a political accommodation.  The Sunday Times of 28th October reported that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was  to be appointed as the new defence secretary and was expected to assume duties the next week replacing Kapila Waidyaratne.  Times also reported that the former defence secretary liaised with senior police officers about security arrangements for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 The story earned a picturesque plausibility when newspapers carried a photograph of Pujitha the IGP saluting the anointed Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary in waiting. 

The Monk Uduwe Dhammaloka thera was handpicked by the then Army Commander General Daya Rathnayke to deliver ‘dharmadesana’ in army camps just prior to the last presidential elections. This priest with the pleasing appeal of an Apollo propounded the theory that the Buddha was a Sri Lankan and was born in our land like no other. 

Our chauvinist reading of history is decidedly at variance with Indians scholars such as Romila Thapar recognized for their grasp of the Ashokan era. 

Is it possible that the President who torpedoed the Prime Minister’s Colombo port deal with India just before the October political blowup had serious misgivings on India’s intentions in furnishing this dire warning?  Is it possible that this skepticism prompted the withholding of this information from the prime minster? 

To India IS terrorism is an existential threat. President Sirisena prior to his pilgrimage and shopping expedition had a different existential dilemma – his reelection. How will he proceed from here on?

For how long will Prime minster Wickremesinghe cling to the notion that he is the super strategist? That he alone is the patrician whose competence in the foxtrot can beat Mahinda’s charisma and Sirisena’s inflated ego? 

For thirty years we confronted the idea of justice in a plural democracy. The idea of the unitary state was our obsession. 

From the Arabized heartland of Muslim ethnoreligious identity in the Eastern province, there has emerged a warped idea of an unforgiving god. They are not demanding devolution or sharing power. They are in hurried pursuit of heaven.  It is a different ball game. The All party meet the president summoned yesterday demonstrated that they have no idea about this new game. 

It is very unlikely that Sirisena has read the writings of Lee Kean Yew who carved out an oasis of political stability while maintaining excellent relations with the Largest Islamic nation state Indonesia and the most economically developed Asian Islamic nation state Malaysia. Lee Kwan Yew was both sage and realist. He explained how to fight Salafist Jihadism. Fighting this menace needs a strategy. It is not killing the worker bees that matter. Get at the queen bee. 

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Latest comments

  • 10
    4

    Well written! We have a lot of buffoons in SL and very few erudite people!

    I really apprecied reading the insightful analysis and knowledge of the writer.

    Thank you!

    • 4
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      while I have a lot of regard for Sarath, Sharmini, Shyamon et al ……… their ability look at things impartially and rationally – at most times ……… I believe they too fail to maintain a degree of clear-eyed impartiality and objectivity when they write about personalities they know. ……. i.e. Sarath on this gent Hemasiri and Amunugama; Sharmini on Kottegoda and Shyamon on Ranil ………. no big deal these are all human frailties we all fall pray to from time to time.

      I too listened to Sarath Fonseka’s speech …….. it was fair and objective up to a point ……. but he was mostly pushing his own cause

      I feel the best speech was by Kumar Welgama …….. he said many things that needs to be said which were not forthcoming from self-serving others…………

    • 1
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      Great write up. But……….
      Ironically the parties who signed the Millennium Challenge Corp agreement should be among the main suspects along with IS and whoever else they accuse are also leading the investigation and crafting the narrative in Banana Republic
      Should the FBI and American secret intelligence agencies like FBI be allowed to lead the investigations on the Easter Sunday violence in Sri Lanka given that some arms may also be considered as prime suspects or master-minds behind the bombings and be behind the “IS narrative” at this time?
      Such Big Data narratives often are intended to further the strategic security and business interests, including massive sales of arms, hyper-security and surveillance systems, as well as, the setting up and/or continued existence of military bases such as Diego Garcia in Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean after the International Court of Justice ruled against it in February 2019. Today, Fisheries harbours are being locked up and moved to Diego Garcia.

  • 14
    1

    Definitely an Olympic level fool. It is unfortunate there is no such Olympic sport that covers this level of foolishness

  • 6
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    A brilliant piece of writing that is both pithy and humorous. It is also deadly serious.

    We have too many inflated egos in Sri Lanka who have no clue of how to run a country (or anything, for that matter), for the good of its people. These duffers are the bi-products of distorted, vicious and populist leaders of yore, who were even heroes to some. Sri Lanka must change. Many have good opinions of how this is to be done, but sadly Lanka is bereft of ethical leaders at all levels; including those currently in political, religious and educational roles. The corporate sector which has traditionally bred decent managers also has at its helm those who foolishly believe in the shameful religion that profit alone trumps everything else. Unfortunately, it is this coterie of oligopolists who fund political campaigns through ‘win and placxe’ bets and thence run the country via successive sets of proxy politicians, who shamefully keep outdoing the other..

    Sri Lanka has become a kakistocracy and I see no exit in the short term.

  • 7
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    When the political pressure is high, if the Wealthy Wahabis were giving handsome donations, how can Politicians act on them. Then how can bureaucrats go against the needs of the politician Bosses.

  • 10
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    A nonsensical justification of incompetence. Typical yamapalana style.

    • 4
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      Exactly!
      Sarath is taking pains to highlight the lack of trustworthiness of Indian intelligence but not a word about our own intelligence!
      Why? because he knows the majority of the kind are behind bars!
      Yet there was enough information by the local sleuths to round up these 140 terrorists,if the government wanted to that is,
      Also, Sarath is deaf and dumb on how come Harin’s father and Mano Ganesan knew about the threat but Ranil W and Ruwan W didn’t know because they were kept out of security council!
      Isn’t Knucklehead too good a word to call idiots who doesn’t know what is good for them!

  • 3
    7

    well done sarath

  • 4
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    Upto the time Adolph Hitler invaded France after knocking-out the Slavs, Poland and Austria, the late Clement Atlee dis not think it appropriate even to be prepared. The intelligence was as stark as daylight yet he avoided the obvious signs staring at him. When Poland was invaded, he had to bow to the pressure of the U.K public opinion and send in the BEF but it was too late: he resigned soon thereafter keeping the way open for the King to appoint Winston Churchill.

    Sri Lanka yearns for a Churchill!! Oh, Lord send us a leader. Please Lord our God send us a leader. Infill the man whose heart you know to be anointed the LEADER of this weeping island nation!

    • 3
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      Atlee? No, Neville Chamberlain

      • 1
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        Yes, Chamberlain. Atlee came after Churchill.

    • 4
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      The Field Marshal is waiting.

      • 4
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        GR/SF there are leaders available.

    • 1
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      God came and then went away! We missed our chance

  • 4
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    “Information was disseminated to relevant officials and departments and I have done my duty. “

    Where did he learn his management from.Sirisena?management is about getting results.Example trump who starts with wanting a result and from then on action after action.Trump would have learned about results the hard way when nearly going bust sometimes,unlike bureaucrats who comfortably warm a chair.As defence secretary this joker should not think that when he sends some paperwork off his duty is over as he claims.A ideal guy would have been someone like fonseka who like trump would have kicked arse from day one to get results.This man is like a peon.

  • 6
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    Sarath De Alwis is whitewashing he fellow Nalandian Hemasiri. Hemasiri was a useless buggar. Born in Wanathamulle Borella Hemasiri is a multi billionaire today. True he married Fonseka Jewellar’s daughter (Bailey Street).

  • 1
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    Hemasiri rose and rose finally crumbled but the man will never go. He will bounce back.What a character this Hemasiri is.

  • 1
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    Can Dr Sarath Alwis prove Buddha was not Born In Sruilanka ? Can Dr Alwis prove Buddha was an Indian?
    That is another story for another time.

    6% Catholic Inhabitant population helped Ven Sobitha , Whiskey Mdam , UN and the West to give us Dr Ranil and Mr Maithripala to take us to Singapore …

    I am not sure whether Dr Malcoim Ranith was the Arch Bishop then.
    But I know Dr Ranil and his allies started hating Arch Bisho Ranjith as soon as the Arch Bishop dissed Dr Ranil’s Federal Constitution to down grade Buddhism.

    Since Dr Ranil started dismantling the Military Intelligence Unit by locking up the Honest, Brave Officers who defeated the Un defeatable Tiger Outfit, Military forces didn’t have a clue what was going on .
    And the Army Commander whom Dr Ranil hand picked, wasn’t worried ,as he was busy pleasing the LTTE supporting TNA Politicians- with Morning Tea .

    Dr Ranil put his hand picked IGP to replace the Military Intelligence Unit.
    Can our Police who exempt Vehicle inspections or Road Offences even for a Santhosam as little 500 Bux in LKR ,detect Terrorists and Terrorist Networks?.

    However Thanks to the STF, several caches of Arms, Ammunition and Explosives apparently were found in many parts in the North and the East and even the South.

    Even an Ibrahim’s associate or associates were arrested , But released on the orders of a Heavy Weight UNP supporting Politicians with the Clout.
    UNP PM Dr Ranil didn’t do anything about those serious breaches of Security, because Dr Ranil didn’t want to upset his Muslim Buddies and lose the Parliamentary majority.

    The way Hemasiri spoke to that White Dude who quizzed the Hindian Intelligence about the impending attacks,I knew Hemasiri was either not up to it
    Or he was trying to cover his ass.

    • 2
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      Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, preached, and passed away in Jambudeepa which is definitely not India. One of the ancient names used to call the island of Sri Lanka was Jambudeepa because it has the shape of the fruit Damba/Jambu and it is an island (Deepa). Actually Jambudeepa was a part of ‘Siv Helaya’ or four territories of ancient Ceylon. Even the word Ceylon derived from the ancient name Si(v) Hela that became Si-hala and then pronounced by the Portuguese as Zeylan and by the British as Ceylon.
      Today there are convincing archaeological and documentary evidence to prove that the Buddha was not an Indian or a Nepali but a Sri Lankan (or a prince from Jambudeepa) but many keep it as a secret due to political pressure coming from India and the West.
      The truth will be out sooner than later because the four sacred places associated with the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, 1st sermon, and his passing away have been now well identified by archaeologists and historians as well as Arahat (enlightened) monks in SL.

  • 2
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    Blaming game a typical occupation in SL.

  • 2
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    It seems like you are against MS, and are trying to white wash the absurd proclamations by the former defense secretary.

    He did need to resign, or if not should have been fired for his negligence PERIOD. This is regardless of whether he was an honourable, straight-talking man etc. etc.

    He was NEGLIGENT in his job.

    Your support for the UNP or Ranil or your opposition to Gota or MR should not colour your assessment of the serious lack of competence displayed by Hemasiri Fernando.

  • 2
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    Henasiri thinks that “Information was disseminated to relevant officials and departments and I have done my duty”

    This is ridiculous and an insult to good management if he actually said that
    . What does he mean by “MY DUTY”?
    Is this this man Sarath Alwis EXPOSING this man and satirizing him by calling him an Olympian?
    He should have called him an Oh-limp-PEON
    As the defense secy does he not know that his duty includes MAKING SURE that the infromation is acted upon when the information deals with NATIONAL SECURITY and HUMAN LIVES?
    This type of officer should be court-marshalled and their property confiscated and used to pay indemnity to the public who have been hurt due to their negligence

  • 2
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    Hemasiri I know is smart and diplomatic. He does not want to tell the whole world that as Defense Secy, he provided the security update (as he has has been doing before) to the PM and President. However, something is missing. The intelligence gathered was not shared well for some peculiar reasons only Hemasiri (and Pujitha too) knows. May be rather than appointing another Defense Secy Sirisena “politely asked” Hemasiri and Pujitha to resign. Did Sirisena try to imply “Nothing will come to harm you. Sleep easy” to bother Hemasiri and Pujitha (two “Dukganna Rala”s). We would never know unless Hemasiri comes out with a “Tell All” book. As a person, my friend Hemasiri will do anything to help his friends. Even when he was a young volunteer naval officer he was popular among all whom he worked with for his friendly demeanor. I am certain Hemasiri provided the earliest warning to Sirisena and Ranil but they dropped the ball. I wish Hemasiri will come out with the truth one day. Good luck my friend.

  • 6
    1

    Absolute fool ! Incorrigible nincompoop. The moment he started shooting off his mouth to a journalist (and a foreign juno at that) his gross vacuity was exposed. No whitewashing is ever going to restore any credibility to such an ass. Never.

  • 4
    1

    Embarrassed to listen to this moron in sunglasses being interviewed by a foreign journalist.

    If he had advised a state of emergency, lives would have been saved. This buffoon has blood on his hands

  • 4
    1

    The appalling national security skills displayed by Hemasiri Fernando on the job as Secretary of Defence (especially the explanation of his failure he gave the BBC reporter, from his air conditioned government car) is matched by the level of (lack of) erudition repeatedly displayed by De Alwis on these columns.
    \
    No wonder fools support heir brotherhood!

  • 7
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    From the way this Hemasiri guy spoke to the journalists , his laughably incorrect words, out of his depth attitude and also the way he has got plum jobs from every government for thirty years should tell all of us about his unsavoury character..

    Olympics is about sportsmanship, honesty , integrity.The world Olympic movement should hold its head down in embarrassment about having such a cunning operator as its Sri Lankan representative .

    Hemasiri has led our Olympics for more than 10 years by manipulating affiliated sports clubs just like how Sumathipala manipulates cricket. They corrupt representatives of other affiliated bodies with bribes and gifts. At Olympics we don’t even qualify to participate and even other minor events like Asian games don’t win a single medal.

    Maxwell Silva, the present Secretary of the Olympics has not played or participated in any sport at even school level. But as he is an accomplice of Hemasiri, he is promoted Secretary !

    Meanwhile how many foreign trips has this Hemasiri made on behalf of Olympics ? How much money has he made by way of tickets, expenses, reimbursements in these 10 years ? Our sporting body is just like Hemasiri and Defence Secretary-only corruption, no results !

  • 1
    0

    When the Russians said we have dismantled another lot of ICBMs, the then President of the US, Ronald Regan said, “I trust the Russians, but I want to verify” By disseminating the information, he considers his duty is done. We can automate such dissemination, why do we need a defense secretary? Considering the seriousness of the information, he should have personally followed up with the action. This is incompetence and criminal negligence.

  • 4
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    DO NOT cover up poor leadership of Hemasiri. The short interview alone demosnstrated his stupidity. “Hotels are protected by private security. How many churches are there to be protected?”. All this bull….. from a defence secretary.

  • 6
    0

    This olympian yes; In the sense that he has been around quite awhile.
    Telecom, Peoples Bank etc etc.He was forced out in Defense.
    Whether he is from Nalanda or Zahira does not make a difference.The man has blundered!

  • 1
    0

    What is the Job description of Secretary to Defense?

    Do we have one or simply list of duties.

    Dissemination of information to his subordinates and the forget about it.

    Even if he had disseminated the information to his bosses-President and prime Minister, does his responsibility ends there?

    .There is no team effort and results based management. Secretaries are the implementing arm of the government.

    Resignation is the end and the man has no issue with accountability and the man goes Scots free and 250 innocent people are dead
    and we are still trying to find out who is responsible and to punish them.

    Who is the real terrorist?

  • 0
    0

    Hemasiri Fernando met his Waterloo at Kattankudy. Damn shame. A man who rode the high horse.
    As per mythical tales even Ravana met his end in the hands of a few monkeys!
    HM should check his Kendra and Navamsakaya. The fall comes when one rides the crest.
    Who knows this may be short-lived. He could still come back and help to finish off these Islamic types!

  • 2
    0

    Sarath

    Mahinda was fortunate in having a brother minding the security of the state. The brother did a good job. The problem then was the overlap of Rajapakse Royaume and the république du peuple.

    Gotabaya says he will run for president, tackle radical Islam

    *** I am sure the above should be music to your ears. Let us see if your unwavering admiration and love for the CRIMINAL makes him a President. The support ISIS enjoys throughout the Muslim World is enormous and hasnt dimished although checked. They embrace Martydom willingly in the name of Religion and if Gotha Tackles Radical Islam it will be at an enormous price and Sinhala Lanka cannot afford to alienate the Muslim World unlike USA & the Western Countries . Your man will further inflame the situation and make it worse and we will have suicide bombers blowing themselves up on a regular basis and you can say goodbye to the revenue from Tourists and that will hurt Sinhala Lanka. If you want to save your Country from disaster you lot need to wake up and learn from you past mistakes and elect a Moderate Leader who can sort out the Ethnic Issue.
    Gotha is history so accept it and move on.

  • 0
    0

    Our Olympion (HF) has failed everywhere. The Insttutions may be at large like Ministry of POSTS, Sri Lanka Telecom. Aviation Authority . Peoples Bank, BOI . What is the profession qualifications. As SF said whether this guy has passed any miltary degree at least in India.It is only reason that the person has money and spent money for general elections. He can be whitewashed by fellow Nalandians. HF was a useless administrator whereever he goes it is a failure. Some people say he was Born in Wanathamulle Borella. HF is now a multi billionaire today because of politics. Unsure to say that he married Fonseka Jewellar’s daughter (Bailey Street). Same will apply to our Bookie owner and former SLC legend(S). At any time thay may bounce back with superior postions with any Government. Be on watch!!

  • 2
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    Sarath
    Mahinda was fortunate in having a brother minding the security of the state. The brother did a good job.
    *** It was quite late in the day when I managed to get a glimpse of your piece and the above quote made me very angry. You are a proff and I thought you would have had the decency to refrain from heaping praise ona a man charged with murder however much you love him. The nation is reeling on its knees and you are doing a diservice to your cuntry. Gothas out cry that he will fight Muslim Radicalism is a load of Rubbish and doesnt stand up to scrutiny and simply electioneering. You and I know he is not make it to the top as he committed the Crime when he was an American Citizen. He will be caught out. I hope and pray to God that American justice prevails over Gothas and your ambitions. Let me tell you why Gotha or any one can eradicate the ISIS threat . The West bombed the hell out of them and they may have lost vast swathe of Land but they are still causing havoc It is an IDEA that they hold dear to and when you are radicalised it is like a drug and they are hooked on it and there is nothing you can do other than incarcerate the entire Muslim Population. Ours was a CAUSE but thers is an IDEA. You only need one man to blow himself up in a shopping precinct to cause havoc and the Tourist industry has been decimated and it will never recover and you as an educated man need to stop your RHERTORIC and reach out to everyone. From now on every time you are out you need to lopk ot to spot a muslim.

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