John Malvo

Elaine Cassel’s piece on the shameful treatment of John Lee Malvo (published in Counterpunch on November 23, 2002) covered all of the areas which concern us and which should concern all those who expect democratic direction from the United States.

I am hereby responding to Ms. Cassel’s piece.

The rage of America, and in particular, of President Bush and A.G. Ashcroft, has the governments of the Caribbean trembling at the thought of the backlash to the sniper dilemma. Already carriers of Antiguan passports are subject to severe scrutiny, refusals of US visas, and the rounding up and deportation of Caribbean people is on the increase. We fear that our mainstay tourism may be cut off, and our airports downgraded by the FAA/TSA. Because of this fear, any outcry by Caribbean officials against the treatment of the minor, Malvo, is silenced, and downplayed. Malvo is on his own.

It is sad, but the very persons whom this youth was trained to terrorize are the ones on whom the onus must fall to protect him, and thereby protect the principles of justice and fair play for all America and the free world. As regards John Allen Muhammad, Antigua has been the victim of a highly US trained military gun expert, who made use of the doctrines learnt in his US military psycho-ops manual on a small island community. I understand that, among his belongings, which were in the possession of the police, was his US Military psycho-ops manual. The normal friendly Antiguan welcome given to Americans (tourists) is only a small part of the brotherly love that Black Americans receive in these islands. John Muhammad’s good-natured way with people opened all doors on the island, and his fatherly way with children warmed the hearts of teachers and neighbours alike. When Malvo was left alone by the departure of his mother to the United States on documents provided and obtained by Muhammad, the young boy, Malvo, was taken over by Muhammad. For the first time he received the fathering which he never had. Absent father syndrome is a most vulnerable state, one with which most Caribbean youth is all too familiar. From all persons who knew Malvo, he was a nice kid, intelligent, malleable, needy and appreciative. The gift of an American father was all he could hope for. The training in his father’s art form, crack shooting, was something, which drew Muhammad the boy close together, like father and son. Malvo’s excellent performance must have made his new Dad proud.

From all reports Muhammad passed the child off as his son and behaved accordingly. Equally the boy called him father and behaved towards Muhammad as if he really was his father, loving Muhammad as a son should. His newfound religion, Islam, only made them closer and the military training and fitness regimen readied him for his holy war. The boy was clearly brainwashed, outside of his cultural milieu, totally dependent in all on America and on one man – John Allen Muhammad. John Lee Malvo now needs the urgent help of the fair-minded in America, who can see past the deed even as in the Patty Hearst affair – except that Malvo is a poor, abandoned, black youth, a minor, an illegal immigrant on false documents, from a Third World country, whose bad luck was to find an American Dad who promised him a wonderful life in America.

In Antigua where I live, I have spoken with the Roman Catholic Archbishop who has agreed to write to his fellow Bishops in the US to seek possible help. I am hoping that the next move will be to find proper legal representation for Malvo, which could also give courage to the governments of his home country, Jamaica, and the island from which he was abducted, Antigua, to join the fight for equity and justice under the law.

Makeda Mikael was Chief of Staff to Lester Bird, now Prime Minister of Antigua, for seven years in the 1980s. She now operates an aviation company in Antigua and is the mother of a seventeen-year-old son. She can be reached at: