put his aim point on the otherrnend of the bridge from wherernthe t r a i n had come. By therntime the bomb got close thernbridge was covered with smokernand clouds, and at the lastrnminute, again in an uncanny accident,rnthe t r a i n had s l i d forwardrnfrom the original impactrnand parts of the t r a i n hadrnmoved across the bridge. Andrnso by s t r i k i n g the other end ofrnthe bridge he actually causedrnadditional damage to thernt r a i n . Two bombs were put intornthat bridge and in both casesrnthere was an effort made tornavoid c o l l a t e r a l damage. Herncouldn’t, he saw what had happened,rni t i s one of those r e ­grnr e t t a b l e things that happenrnin a campaign like this and wernare a l l very sorry for i t , butrnwe are doing the absolute bestrnwe can do to avoid c o l l a t e r a lrndamage, I can assure you ofrnt h a t .rnAs General Clark’s Commander inrnChief would have said, grimly, with a fingerrnpointed at the camera, “We did not targetrnthat train.” But vae victis: For all thosernhoping that the facts of the Kosovo warrnwill eventually become known to the public,rnthe editorialist of the (London) Spectatorrnoffers a sobering thought in the first issuernof the year:rnwhat people remember i s thatrnBlair stood up to the Serbrntyrant, put some spine intornClinton, and won. They don’trncare what i s going on now i nrnKosovo, the purges against thernSerbs. They don’t care thatrnSlobo and the r e s t of the gangrnare s t i l l in power in Belgrade.rnThe public knows that wernfought, and we won, and that isrni t .rnAmidst the hype surrounding Y2K,rnvery few commentators have taken noticernof the fact that, 2,000 years after the birthrnof Jesus of Nazareth, his disciples are stillrnsuffering and dying for their adherence torntheir faith. As Michael Binyon noted inrnthe (London) Times on January 4:rnFrom Egypt to Indonesia, Nigerrni a to Lebanon, an upsurge inrnintercommunal violence has a l ­readyrnmarked the new millenniumrnas one of the worst periodsrnof global conflict betweenrnChristianity and Islam forrngenerations. All around thernedges of the Muslim world, tensionrni s growing in communitiesrndivided by r e l i g i o n . Clashes,rnshootings and massacres havernhighlighted the a t a v i s t i c suspicionsrnof those who l i v e inrnthe borderlands where the tectonicrnplates of the world’s twornlargest faiths overlap.rnIn the first week of this year, dozens ofrnpeople died in clashes between Muslimsrnand Christians in southern Egypt. Inrnsouthern Sudan, the number of religiouslyrnmotivated killings exceeds 10,000 a year.rnThe killing of Christians continues unabatedrnin Indonesia, and goes largely unreportedrnin America. But some Europeansrnare breaking free from self-censorship.rn”Muslim mobs hunt Christians on resortrnisland of Lombok” was a major headlinernin the (London) Independent on Januaryrn19:rnAll 11 churches on the westrnside of Lombok have been burnt.rnThere are burnt-out cars, andrnburnt shops and houses. Therernhas been more looting. “Thisrni s the home of a wealthy ChinesernChristian family,” onernattacker was reported as saying.rn”We a re a l l poor Muslimrnpeople. We a re the real peoplernof Lombok.” . . . The chaos ofrnthe past two days raises thernnightmarish prospect that aftrne r a year of slaughter in thernremote Indonesian Spice I s ­lands,rnreligious violence isrnspreading through thernarchipelago. Unknown thousandsrnhave been k i l l e d in thernpast three weeks alone in battrnl e s between Muslims andrnChristians in the islands.rnChristians are fair game, especiallyrnwhen their killing occurs in a politicallyrnsignificant Muslim country. By the samerntoken, abduction and forced conversion ofrnChristians—even American citizens—tornIslam is acceptable, at least as far as ourrngovernment is concerned. According tornOur Sunday V/i/tor, a Catholic news weekly,rnthat is what happened to two Americanrngirls in Saudi Arabia:rnAlia Al-Gheshayan will celebraternher 21st birthday on Jan.rn5 in Saudi Arabia, half a worldrnaway from her American mother.rnAlia and her younger s i s t e r ,rnAisha, were born in California,rnbut t h e i r Saudi father abductedrnthem in 1986. PatriciarnRoush, the g i r l s ‘ mother, hasrnonly seen them once since theyrnwere seized. She says thatrnduring their captivity, theserntwo g i r l s , raised asrnCatholics, have been coercedrninto becoming Muslims. Forrnnearly 14 years, Roush hasrnt r i e d to bring her childrenrnhome. But, she argues, Saudirngovernment intransigence andrnState Department ambivalencernhave resulted in l i t t l e morernthan anguish. She recountsrnthat from the very beginning arnState Department representatrni v e told her, “Your childrenrnare gone. You’ll never seernthem again. There’s nothing werncan do.” . . . She shared withrnOur Sunday Visitor two unclassrni f i e d State Department cablesrnwhich discuss her daughters’rnadherence to Islam. One cablernfrom the American consulate inrnJeddah says, ‘Alia has become arnvery good Moslem. She loves tornstudy the Koran and pray.’ . . .rnDespite these cases, a Septemberrn1999 State Department r e ­viewrnof international r e l i ­giousrnfreedom says of SaudirnArabia: “There were no reportsrnof the forced religious conversionrnof minor U.S. citizen srnwho had been abducted or i l l e ­gallyrnremoved from the UnitedrnStates, or of the Government’srnrefusal to allow such citizensrnto be returned to the UnitedrnS t a t e s . “rnWhile Patricia Roush is hoping andrnworking for a happy resolution to her ordeal,rnshe has written a book about herrndaughters. Alia’s Rainbow: JourneyrnThrough an International Kidnappingrnwas published through www.buybooksontheweb.rncom on January 5. It was her olderrndaughter’s 21st birthday. Hers is a genuinern”human interest” story—and one,rnapparentiy, unfit for the mainstream mediarnto print.rnAPRIL 2000/23rnrnrn