Sunday, March 20, 2011

Plan to train Saudi air force pilots in Idaho causes controversy

Controversy has built around a proposal to bring dozens of Saudi pilots to an Idaho training facility to learn how to pilot F-15E Strike Eagles, 84 of which Saudi Arabia is purchasing in a new arms deal.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a Saudi pilot trained to fly in the US slammed a Boeing 757 jetliner into the Pentagon, killing more than 180 people.

Less than a decade later, with the Middle East in a state of upheaval and following the recent arrest of a Saudi college student on bomb charges, the Pentagon is planning to bring dozens of Saudis to the US to train them to fly - and to kill.

Last year, when moderate Muslims announced plans to build a community centre in Lower Manhattan, it created a firestorm as Republican politicians, conservative pundits, right-wing websites and survivors of September 11 lined up to assail the "Ground Zero Mosque".

The group 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America called the proposal "a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day." While Peter Gadiel, the president of 9/11 Families for a Secure America, wrote: "The proposed mosque near the site of the 9/11 mass murder is a continuation of Islam's violent history, which promotes destroying prior cultures and building on the ruins." (read more)