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The War Nerd October 31, 2002
 
The Big Show
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 5
 

With most hostage-takers, the talk-show approach seems to work best: let 'em make demands and feel big, bring 'em their Evian bottles and XL Subway sandwiches, meanwhile tracking their movements very carefully and inserting as many listening devices and cameras as you can, all over the building. These things are getting so discreet and portable you can have every room wired for sound and picture without the terrorists ever knowing it. Then, when you know their schedule perfectly, you pick a time when they're sleeping or distracted and attack.

That was the way they did it in Peru. This was one of the weirdest hostage-taking deals ever, and one of the few where -- I gotta admit -- I feel kinda sorry for the terrorists. Peru is just such a totally fucked place. It's never had a decent moment, not since Pizarro came in like the little Tasmanian Devil he was and killed everything in sight. For 400 years since then, it's been the rich white folks in Lima running the show, and the Inca peasants doing all the shit work, chewing their coca leaves to get by, not expecting much and not getting a damn thing. It's the kind of deal that creates revolutionary factions, and Peru has two: Sendero Luminoso, "The Shining Path," and Tupac Amaru, named after an Inca who ran one of the dozens of failed revolts they've had.

These two groups were totally different. Shining Path were killers, stone killers. Tupac Amaru had a rep for having a nice streak about them; they tried to avoid hurting civilians, did more dying than killing, really cared about helping the poor fucked-over Indians.

It was Tupac Amaru that gatecrashed the Japanese Ambassador's cocktail party in Lima in Dec. 1996. There were 14 of them, all armed with automatic rifles. They were holding most of the really important people in Peru. It was a well-planned operation, and they held the building without losing a man or woman.

But they were soft people. Too soft for the game they wanted to play. They threatened to blow the place up, but when the deadline passed, they didn't kill anybody. They switched their bluff, said they were going to kill hostages one at a time, but when the army didn't fall for that either they didn't have the nerve to kill anybody.

They got to know their hostages, and tried "converting" them to the Leftist view, hoping it could all end without violence. So damn pathetic-I mean, what's to "teach"? The people at the party own the whole country; the people who attacked it have nothing and never will have; how are you going to "educate" the fat cats to think they should share?

So after four months, when the army was ready, they attacked. They had excellent intelligence, because they'd trailed mikes and cameras down all the chimneys and up against all the windows. Some of the hostages thought one of their fellow hostages, a Peruvian Admiral, had gone crazy because he'd talk to the lamps in an empty room. Of course, he knew there were mikes there and was describing the layout for the Army.

Awn Ali Mohammed

Awn Ali Mohammed

They kicked in the doors with blast bombs while all 14 Tupac Amaru terrorists were playing indoor soccer and killed all 14 of them without losing a single hostage. (Two soldiers were killed.)

It was a great operation, but it's pretty obvious that these "terrorists" were pretty harmless, almost nice people. They were easy prey. The Chechens are something else.

The Chechen leader told the Russians, "We are as keen on dying as you are on living." It's funny how you get this pro-death talk from hostage-takers. Not just "willing to die," but "lookin' forward to it like Christmas!" This military necrophilia thing is pretty common everywhere except in the US. The Franco-ites used to chant "Viva la Muerte!" When Ataturk talked to his troops at Gallipoli, he made a famous speech telling the boys "You are not here to fight, or to risk death. You are here to DIE." When the Palestinians were on a roll, every post-kaboom video the suicide bombers released had that same kind of lovey-dovey talk about death: "O death, how I long to embrace you! You are so beautiful!"


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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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