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Old 12-20-2005   #1
DDilegge
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Default Germany (catch all, incl. terrorism)

20 Dec. Voice of America - Germany Frees Convicted TWA Hijacker.

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Germany has freed a Lebanese man who was sentenced to life in prison for hijacking an American airliner and killing a U.S. Navy diver 20 years ago.

German justice officials confirmed Tuesday that Mohammed Ali Hamadi was released on parole after a routine review of his case, and they say he already has left Germany.

Sources in Lebanon say Hamadi, a member of the Hezbollah militant group, has returned to Beirut, the focal point of the 1985 hijacking.

Hamadi was convicted in the hijacking of a TWA airliner that took off from Athens in 1985. U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, a passenger on the plane, was killed while the commandeered jet was on the ground in Beirut.

The German Foreign Ministry has denied any link between Hamadi's parole and the recent release of a German hostage in Iraq.
Lest we forget...

Quote:
September 5, 2001
Volker Christian Rath
Staatsanwaltschaft bei dem landgericht
Frankfurt Main
GERMANY

Dear Mr. Rath:

It has come to our attention that Mohammad Hamadei has recently had a parole hearing and that his parole is under consideration. Really? This is shocking to our family. We believed that he was sentenced to life in prison and expected him to serve it in full. This is unconscionable.

As mother and father of slain United States Diver, Robert D. Stethem, killed at the hands of Mohamadi Ali Hamadi and Hasan 'Izz-a l-Din aboard TWA Flight 847 in June of 1985, and on behalf of Robert's siblings, I want to express our grave concern to you that his release is even being considered after serving just 15 years of a life sentence. As you know, in the United States, prosecution of Mohammed Ali Hamadei would have given him the death penalty. In the United States a life sentence for Hamadei would also have warranted him a life sentence without parole. Because he was prosecuted in the Republic of Germany, his fate is out of the American justice system's hands.

Our family spent a year in Germany attending the trial for this criminal, which robbed us of sharing the life of our children and very young grandchildren. We thought the German justice system awarded him a just sentence. To release him at this time would undo all that your justice system so carefully set forth in their opinion and declslon.

I would like to quote a few lines from that opinion:

The court is thus convinced that the accused, were he to be set free today or tomorrow, would re-engage as a Hizbullah fighter. Page 119 of the opinion

It is also not conceivable that prison officials can resocialize the accused and eliminate his violence-based conceptual framework. Even . . . the observation of the accused over many months leads to a specific prediction that even in prison he will remain impenetrable and will remain fixed in his ideological-religious views and will not be susceptible to a change in the sense of living a violent-free life. Furthermore, it can be expected that prison will be experienced by the accused as an unjustified, but God-willed test of patience and that the accused will hope to achieve his freedom through further appeals. This can only mean that there is no real chance of reintegrating the accused into society. There are therefore no reasons to neglect the goals of atonement and consideration of the safety of the general public because of any potential of the accused reintegrating into society. Page 119 of the opinion

Our son was brutally beaten for many hours, shot in the head point blank, and thrown on the Beirut Airport tarmac. He died a violent death at the hands of the hijackers, who did not know this young man, and who showed no mercy when it came to killing him. For this alone, he deserves to suffer prison confinement for the rest of his natural life! After the hijacking, Hamadei and his accomplices stayed in West Beirut, dominated by the Shiite militia, and finally stayed in Iran, protected by the Foreign Ministry of Iran. This too, is recorded in the opinion on page 109.

Now, I will give further reasons that will convince any sane individual how wrong it would be to release this criminal. He belongs to a family that has been a part of the Hizbollah organization for many years. His older brother, Abd al-Hadi Hamadei is today assigned a top security position in the Hezbollah organization. I would expect if Hamadei were released from prison, he would be sent to Lebanon, his homeland. Hamadei's education is limited, so the first place he would go, would more than likely be with his older brother who is a top security person in the movement of the Hezbollah organization.

When Hamadei was arrested, he was in possession of very volatile explosives. Those explosives were destined to do harm and destruction to further the terrorism that already plagued the cities in Europe. I would expect that money and power would reign once more and because Hamadei has no future, would once again seek out his brother's Hezbollah organization, since that organization does employ and pay salary to each member.

Hamadei had no feeling for the rights of others, especially for Americans and those who associated with the Americans. His hatred for Americans could only have worsened during his years of imprisonment and to allow his freedom puts all public citizens at risk.

Our family wants justice in this case. While the American Department of Justice is still actively seeking the apprehension of the other terrorists involved in the TWA flight 847 hijacking, it would be a travesty of justice to have Mohammed Ali Hamadei released. Since Lebanon has not cooperated in the capture of Hamadei's accomplices, it shows that terrorism and all the terrorism training is tolerated within the borders of Lebanon. Surely his release would guarantee that once again the terrorists have won out!

Please, before releasing Mohammed Ali Hamadei, read in full the opinion and decision by the Court that sentenced Hamadei to life in prison.

Sincerely, Richard and Patricia L. Stethem
P.O. Box 331 Port Tobacco, MD 20677
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Old 12-21-2005   #2
Bill Moore
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Default Hostage Exchange

Don't take it to the bank yet, but Debka.com is reporting that Germany released Hammadi in exchange for the German Hostage being held in Iraq who was released recently. If true, and it probably is, then not surprisingly this draws a clear connection between some of the insurgents/terrorists in Iraq and the Hizballah in Lebanon. I'm sure this story will get more interesting in time. Germany recently completed a very close election (the parties are still struggling to build popular support), and then there are rumors that this move positioned the new German head of intelligence to be more influencial in the Middle East etc. Bad news for now, but there may be a silver lining in this story yet, we'll see in a few days.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-21-2005 at 05:25 AM.
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Old 12-22-2005   #3
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Default Update...

Diver's Killer Set Free in Lebanon (Wash. Times).

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U.S. officials yesterday said the killer of a U.S. Navy diver had been released from "temporary custody" in Lebanon but refused to rule out bringing him to the United States by force.

The Lebanese government criticized Washington's request to hand over Mohammad Ali Hamadi, saying the militant already had served a prison sentence for the 1985 murder of Robert Dean Stethem of Waldorf, Md.

Hamadi, a member of the Hezbollah guerrilla group, was taken into custody upon returning to Lebanon after his release from a German prison Thursday. He had served 18 years for hijacking a TWA plane to Beirut and fatally shooting Petty Officer 2nd Class Stethem, who was 23 when he was killed.

"What I can assure anybody who's listening, including Mr. Hamadi, is that we will track him down, we will find him, and we will bring him to justice in the United States for what he's done," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
A Legacy of Courage (Wash. Post Editorial).

Quote:
This story is about others, mainly a young man from our own area named Robert Dean Stethem. He was a Navy diver and the victim of that murder, committed in the course of a torturously long airplane hijacking carried out by members of Hezbollah in 1985. Mr. Stethem, who came from Waldorf, was beaten savagely aboard the plane while it sat on a runway in Beirut. Afterward, a 16-year-old girl from Australia, Ruth Henderson, talked quietly with the sailor, seeking to comfort him. "He said how it may be better that he died," she testified later in a German court. "He believed that someone would die on the plane, someone from the Navy men [there were five other divers on the plane], and he said that because he was the only one who wasn't married, that he should be the one to die. He spoke with a clear mind. . . . He didn't believe that all of us could get out alive. He felt it was fair that he dies so that the rest of us could live." Mr. Stethem was killed not long afterward.

Stethem was probably the bravest young man I have ever seen in my life," said John L. Testrake, captain of the hijacked TWA Flight 847. Mr. Testrake himself won praise for his coolness during the 17-day ordeal, in which the plane was directed back and forth across the Mediterranean a number of times. Another hero of the flight, one whose essential humanity and courage undoubtedly prevented additional bloodshed, was Ulrike Derickson, a flight attendant who tried to stop the abuse of Mr. Stethem and who intervened to prevent the killing of a second Navy diver. She sought to calm the hijackers when they became agitated and to protect the passengers in whatever ways she could.

Like Mr. Stethem, they are gone now. Mr. Testrake died in 1996 and Ms. Derickson just this year. In the season of life, names such as these should live.
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Old 01-10-2006   #4
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Default "Justice Will Be Done"

Date: January 8, 2006 4:15:57 PM PST

To: president@whitehouse.gov

Cc: vicepresident@whitehouse.gov

Subject: ROBERT DEAN STETHEM

Mr. President,

I would like to provide you with an explanation as to why Muhammed Ali Hammadi's recent release by Germany, and your Administration's lack of any attempt to prevent it, is so upsetting to our family and to Americans everywhere. I am not writing you out of grief or anger but out of a hope that his example will inspire you to follow act on your own words and the dictates of your conscious in this War on Terror.

Robert Dean Stethem was singled out, beaten beyond recognition and tortured in order to make him scream into a transmitter (so that the tower would send a fuel truck). Not a cry was heard to come from him, despite the brutal beating he endured. Instead he chose to remain silent and endure the beatings because he knew that the only way a rescue attempt could be conducted by U.S. forces was if the aircraft remained on the ground.

After Robert was beaten and tortured and bleeding from puncture wounds all over his body, he was placed next to a 16-year old Australian girl. As bad as Robert was beaten, he had the courage and strength to comfort and console her. He told her that, "She would be okay and that she would get out of here alive." When she tried to return the comfort, he said, "No, I don't think so. I am the only one in my group that is not married and some of the guys have children, too." Some time later, Robert was again taken up to the cockpit and tortured in order to get the fuel. But it didn't work, he would not give in to them.

One of the hijackers, Muhammed Ali Hammadi, was so enraged that he dragged Robert to the door, pulled a trigger and shot Robert in the head. Then he dumped Robert's body onto the tarmac. While Robert was being dragged to the door, he knew that all he had to do in order to live was to cry into that transmitter, but he wouldn't do it. He would not give in to the demands of the terrorists. He would not allow the honor and dignity of America to be intimidated by the fear and pain that Hammadi and terrorists everywhere represent. Robert sacrificed his life in order to protect our liberty and defend our way of life.

You have rightly said, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." You have truly said that "We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them." Robert lived by them. Robert also died by them. The motto of the USS SSTETHEM (DDG-63), named in Robert's honor, is "Steadfast and Courageous." I hope that his example, and the example of other heroes like him can inspire you to understand why allowing Germany to release Hammadi was a wrong. Justice was not done, Robert was not honored and Americans are not safer by allowing Hammadi to return to Lebanon and Hezbollah.

You know this, we know this and the American people know this.

The Stethem family
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Old 01-31-2007   #5
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Default This is really not the type of things we need

Another story from CBC.ca. We really don't need this type of operation going on...

Quote:
Berlin issues warrants for 13 CIA agents in German kidnapping
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | 5:51 AM ET
The Associated Press

Arrest warrants have been issued for 13 people in connection with the alleged CIA-orchestrated kidnapping of a German citizen, a Munich prosecutor said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said the warrants were issued in the past few days. He did not say for whom the warrants were issued, but indicated a statement would be issued later Wednesday.

Munich prosecutors have previously said that they had received from Spanish investigators the names of several U.S. secret agents believed to be involved in the kidnapping of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent.

Al-Masri says he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonia border and flown by the CIA to a detention centre in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was abused. Al-Masri says he was released in Albania in May 2004 after the CIA discovered they had the wrong person.

More...
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Old 01-31-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by marct View Post
Another story from CBC.ca. We really don't need this type of operation going on...
Throw this into the catagory of "Bad PR." I completely concur with Marc is that its stories like this that do very little for the greater common good. If true, it's a damning statement about the state of the intel community.
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Old 01-31-2007   #7
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That el-Masri was released (apparently dumped off on some street in Albania, oddly) and that Chancellor Merkel feels comfortable stating that Condoleeza Rice told her that el-Masri was innocent should indicate that the man was obviously not someone who deserved to be taken to Bagram and beaten the crap out of.

Now whether or not CIA agents should be subject to arrest for this is another story. Frankly I am amazed that there is not some kind of program to make amends and hush money to people we have snatched up in error (see also this guy). What happens instead is that these folks sue in righteous outrage and expose lots of things that the U.S. would rather not see come to light.
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Old 01-31-2007   #8
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Default Bad PR in European Press

Gentlemen, It gets worse.
Jane Fonda's little party raiser in DC is storming the Baltic press.
She even managed to keep her banner with their website in plain view. Go figure. The bad part is on their site.

http://www.unitedforpeace.org/

Quote:
A solid majority of people in this country oppose the Iraq War. Imagine if, instead of sitting on the sidelines, all these millions joined the movement to bring the troops home. It's up to all of us to make the peace movement visible in our communities every day and to inspire others to get involved.
Together with this paragraph is a link for the attached T-shirt. Yep, for 20.00 bucks you get this T from "Good Storm dot com"

What a bunch of Bravo Sierra !

Regards, Stan

Last edited by Stan; 02-08-2007 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 02-01-2007   #9
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This is a disturbing trend: European nations or their citizens suing or charging with crimes folks who make "mistakes" (or not) in the prosecution of the "War on Terror."

Innocents are killed, detained or otherwise in war. There needs to be a mechanism to deal with this.

Guilty folks are also detained and later released, and being detained and released shouldn't be financially lucrative, whatever the compensation scheme.

I served as an Interrogator for a few years, and nowhere in my training was it considered "okay" to torture a subject. Are we just throwing around the word "torture" liberally here, or are there really CIA guys with cattle prods out there torturing people? Either scenario is unacceptable, by my view.
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Old 02-01-2007   #10
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Default State Secret

In yesterday's press:
http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/314720
Here's a brief translation (Slapout's still studying his Estonian :

Quote:
The Finnish media quoted a Human Rights Watch report, which indicated that somewhere in the beginning of 2003, aircraft N313P was destined for Pärnu, Estonia.
Pärnu is Estonia's Summer resort town, 170 clicks south of the capital.

Quote:
Estonia's Foreign Ministry Public Affairs Officer, referring to the US aircraft landing in Pärnu, replied "this was a USA/Estonian military and security police exercise, and the content of this cooperation is protected by the "State Secrets Act". The government has already reported that no kidnapped persons have been brought into Estonia by aircraft."
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Old 02-01-2007   #11
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120mm, I think the main accusation in Maher Arar and Khaled el-Masri is that these men were kidnapped and then rendered to Syria and Afghanistan, respectively, where they both say they were tortured by foreign nationals for the CIA.

Not sure why you believe there should be no compensation. These men were innocent. They were summarily kidnapped, imprisoned for months at a time, and brutally tortured both mentally and physically, with no recourse to appeal or due process. Why should the government not compensate them for the government's error?
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Old 02-01-2007   #12
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I'm sorry you misunderstood my post. I never wanted to even imply that there should be no compensation.

Note that I said there needs to be a mechanism for this. That mechanism would need to include compensation for real loss of income, inconvenience and may even be punitive in nature (accounting for pain/suffering).

On the other hand, when we pick up a bad guy and then return him/her into the wild for whatever reason, we need to avoid rewarding them for "not being prosecutable just yet."

I think the phrase "kidnapped" is being thrown around pretty loosely, here, as well.
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Old 02-01-2007   #13
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I see --- so we are actually pretty much in total agreement about compensation, then.

I would not use the word "arrested" because these men were taken into a system that was explicitly extra-legal and were not accorded due process. Also, given the warrants issued in both Italy and Germany, it appears that the local and national authorities were not made aware (odd that this does not appear to have occurred in Canada, where the local authorities were complicit and have recently paid millions in compensation to Arar). "Detained" sounds, frankly, a bit too neutral given the ultimate fate of these and many other men. We did not take them to Syria for interrogation of the usual sort, for instance.
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Old 02-01-2007   #14
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Hi 120mm,

Quote:
Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
Note that I said there needs to be a mechanism for this. That mechanism would need to include compensation for real loss of income, inconvenience and may even be punitive in nature (accounting for pain/suffering).
I think that this lack of a streamlined mechanism is one of the problems; lawsuits just don't, to my mind, cut it. Every time we see a lawsuit, it just creates too many problems by re-interpreting the legal situation. In the Arar case, I think a lawsuit was justified since the RCMP certain appear to have acted in a manner that was, and is, illegal. I would honestly like to see a much more clearcut mechanism for detention / investigation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
On the other hand, when we pick up a bad guy and then return him/her into the wild for whatever reason, we need to avoid rewarding them for "not being prosecutable just yet."
Yupper. I think that clearer legal guidelines would help immeasurably as well in making the decision to pick them up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
I think the phrase "kidnapped" is being thrown around pretty loosely, here, as well.
In the Arar case and in the el-Masri case, it is the correct legal terminology. Under existing Canadian law, Arar could have been quite legally picked up and detained for questioning for an indefinite period. This would not have been "kidnapping". Instead, the RCMP contacted the CIA and gt them to do the dirty work. What always bothered me about the Arar case was that the RCMP didn't have the guts to arrest him themselves. If they believed he was guilty, they should have investigated and arrested him. If they thought there was an imminent danger, they could have held him indefinitely. They didn't.

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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
I would not use the word "arrested" because these men were taken into a system that was explicitly extra-legal and were not accorded due process. Also, given the warrants issued in both Italy and Germany, it appears that the local and national authorities were not made aware (odd that this does not appear to have occurred in Canada, where the local authorities were complicit and have recently paid millions in compensation to Arar). "Detained" sounds, frankly, a bit too neutral given the ultimate fate of these and many other men. We did not take them to Syria for interrogation of the usual sort, for instance.
I have to admit that a lot of my anger over these cases is based around the breach of law at the same time as we keep hearing rhetoric about the rule of law. Situations like this just serve to reduce overall social trust in government agencies. Sure, there are times when a government agent, LE, Intel, military, etc., will have to break the law in order to achieve their mission. This should end up as a situation where the law then comes under scrutiny as well as their actions; for example, arresting someone without proof and sweating them to stop a bomb plot. It's the legal concept of "immanent danger" that should be used to decide whether or not to breach the law, not convenience, and those breaches should be examined afterwards.

Marc
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Old 02-01-2007   #15
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Default GWOT as COIN

My fundamental concern is like Marc's but with a strategic self-interest:

If GWOT is COIN then the target is the global population. Short term benefits get overwhelmed by larger and longer lasting negative effects.

It is basic risk versus gain analysis.

Tom
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Old 02-01-2007   #16
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Default What Some Say About the European Mentality

This sad turn of events only reflects the general state of affairs of Europe. From the Jerusalem Post came an interview with Prof. Bernard Lewis, a prominent islamic historian, who made the following comment taken from the Post article:

"...He dismissed Europe in a few sentences, a continent doomed to Islamist domination by dint of its own "self-abasement... in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism."

- that pretty much sums it up IMHO.
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Old 02-01-2007   #17
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I believe it pretty much sums up Bernard Lewis' level of hysteria and detachment from the real world.

This is a man who proclaimed that the proper solution to our Mesopotamian governance problem was to impose the brother of the King of Jordan as the new King of Iraq. I think that would have made for an interesting contest as to who would have dragged the sword-hacked corpse of King Hassan through the dust first --- the Mahdi Army, the Badr Brigades, or the Islamic Army in Iraq?
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Old 02-01-2007   #18
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seem collaberated with the thousands of burned cars in France and the drastic increase in assaults and the protection racket offenses in Nordic countries, Tequila. Some even say it is not safe to walk in any islamic enclave in most large European cities if one is not a true believer but who am I to challenge rumors of increasing violence amongst the ummah?
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Old 02-02-2007   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
My fundamental concern is like Marc's but with a strategic self-interest:

If GWOT is COIN then the target is the global population. Short term benefits get overwhelmed by larger and longer lasting negative effects.

It is basic risk versus gain analysis.

Tom
I think this is the most compelling argument against these types of activities, if in fact they are occurring. That said, if there is an immininent threat, and other countries aren't dealing with their own problems, I see a need for this type of rendition. There is a reason they call it "covert."
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Old 02-02-2007   #20
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Goesh,

I grew up in a part of Brooklyn that most NYPD cops will not venture into alone. Let's just say that when I saw the French "riots" on TV, I laughed pretty hard. Burning cars? Are you serious?

How many French people got killed in that riot, or even got their ass kicked? Let's just say it's a lot fewer than if certain types walked around my old neighborhood in the wee hours, or if my friends walked around other neighborhoods at similar hours. What's the homicide rate in France or the Netherlands? Come talk to me when it gets above the number of homicides in, oh, I don't know, Finland.
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