Jewish leaders accused the European Union yesterday of covering up the true scale of anti-Semitic violence carried out by Muslim youths, reigniting a controversy over Europe's failure to confront Islamic extremism at home.
A study released by the EU's racism and xenophobia monitoring centre astounded experts by concluding that the wave of anti-Jewish persecution over the last two years stemmed from neo-Nazi or other racist groups.
"The largest group of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic activities appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans," said a summary released to the European Parliament. "A further source of anti-Semitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction.
"Traditionally, anti-Semitic groups on the extreme Right played a part in stirring opinion," it added.
The headline findings contradict the body of the report. This says most of the 193 violent attacks on synagogues, Jewish schools, kosher shops, cemeteries and rabbis in France in 2002 - up from 32 in 2001 - were "ascribed to youth from neighbourhoods sensitive to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, principally of North African descent.
"The percentage attributable to the extreme Right was only nine per cent in 2002," it said.
The report on Belgium said most of the fire-bomb and machine-gun attacks on Jewish targets were the result of a spillover from the Palestinian intifada.
The European Jewish Congress accused the EU watchdog of twisting data from the 15 member states to suit its own ideological bias, describing the report as a catalogue of "enormous contradictions, errors and omissions."
"We cannot let it be said that the majority of anti-Semitic incidents come from young, disaffected white men. This is in complete contradiction with the facts recorded by the police," it said.
The EU suppressed a report last year by German academics concluding that Arab gangs were largely responsible for a sudden surge in the anti-Jewish violence, allegedly because the findings were politically unpalatable.
Victor Weitzel, who wrote a large section of yesterday's far more detailed study, told The Telegraph that the latest findings had been consistently massaged by the EU watchdog to play down the role of North African youth. "The European Union seems incapable of facing up to the truth on this," he said. "Everything is being tilted to ensure nice soft conclusions.
"When I told them that we need to monitor the inflammatory language being used by the Arab press in Europe, this was changed to the 'minority press'.
"Honestly, it's incredible," he said.
Mr Weitzel's 48-page section - compiled with a Polish academic, Magadalena Sroda - is the fruit of months of interviews with Jewish leaders across Europe. While far-Right and traditional "Christian" forms of anti-Semitism still exist, the report homes in on a new form of "anti-Zionist Left" prejudice.
This demonises Israel and subtly leaks into prejudice against all Jews. The study describes Belgium as a country where anti-Semitism has become almost fashionable among the Left-leaning intelligentsia.
But most of the report focuses on Jew-baiting by Muslim youths. It paints an alarming picture of daily life for France's 600,000 Jews, the EU's biggest community.
In schools, Jewish children are beaten with impunity, and teachers dare not talk about the Holocaust for fear of provoking Muslim pupils, it said.
Britain, which saw a 75 per cent rise in incidents last year, was gently rebuked for hesitating to take "politically awkward" measures against Islamic radicals.
"The government is very anxious not to upset the Muslim community," the report said.
March 2004 Archives
March 31, 2004
Hit easy targets that are not protected, it says. From The National Post via the SITE Institute, :
A new al-Qaeda manual posted on the Internet is calling for terrorist attacks against Canadians, and specifies that businessmen, politicians, scientists, soldiers and tourists should be targeted, according to U.S. researchers.
Canada is one of six nations whose citizens are identified as "human targets" in the Arabic-language publication, which is reported to be the work of senior Egyptian al-Qaeda figure Saif al-Adel.
The manual, called The Al-Battar Military Camp, ranks Canadians as the fifth most important "Christian" terrorist targets, behind Americans, Britons, Spaniards and Australians. Italians were ranked sixth.
The manual was obtained and translated by the SITE Institute, a terrorism research centre in Washington, D.C. It is the latest edition of a publication that is said to be aimed at new al-Qaeda adherents scattered around the world.
"This al-Qaeda magazine is published and circulated through the terrorist group's Web site, along with other propaganda," Rita Katz, executive director of the institute, told the National Post yesterday.
"It contains specific military guidance and instructions on how to effectively target al- Qaeda's enemies. There are physical training programs, diagrams of weapons and chapters dedicated to combat strategy. Canadians should take very seriously the fact that their country is identified as a top potential target by al-Qaeda."
This profile of the courageous Walid Shoebat is a few weeks old, but on this day of so much worldwide terrorist activity, it is worth perusing again. From FrontPage, via Abrahamic-Faith.com:
To devout Muslims, renouncing the "one true faith" is an act of apostasy warranting a death sentence. By Islamic measures, however, Walid Shoebat has three strikes against him: In 1993, he renounced Islam, converted to Christianity--and, unlike most Middle Eastern Christians tutored in replacement theology--Shoebat adopted ardent Zionism along with his new found faith.
"Christ is a Jewish rabbi," he insists today. "He was a Zionist." Shoebat believes that God loves Israel. "How can anyone claim to be Christian and hate Zionism?" he asks, citing Psalm 53. "Christians seek 'salvation' and true Christians know that 'salvation' comes out of Zion, 'When God bringeth back the captivity of his people.'"
A Muslim who converts to Christianity takes his life in his hands. Even in the U.S., according to Shoebat, former Muslims are often murdered by their families. In such cases, he adds, news reports seldom cover the Islamic motives. One noted scholar of Islam, the former Muslim Ibn Warraq, writes under a pseudonym to protect his life. In Leaving Islam he collects the accounts of more than two dozen apostates that poignantly demonstrate the need of former Muslims for security precautions.
Yet Walid Shoebat's journey from Islam to Christianity and Zionism is especially remarkable. A self-described former Palestinian terrorist, Shoebat's dream in the 1970s was to die as a "shaheed, a martyr." He spent his youth engaging in riots. He confronted soldiers, hoping to be shot--a virtual impossibility, since the Israelis never targeted the torso "without good reason." Once, he tossed a fire bomb. Another time, he nearly killed an Israeli solider, who was saved only when Israeli reinforcements arrived. Today, Shoebat seeks forgiveness for his terrible crimes.
Born in 1960 in Beit Sahour near Bethlehem--in so-called West Bank territory that Jordan occupied illegally in 1948--Shoebat was raised in the jihad doctrine. Under Islam, he reports, Palestinian children are inculcated to hate non-Muslims, and especially to hate Jews and Israel.
"The Arab war against Israel is a jihad," Shoebat says. "Of course it's a jihad. It is a religious, holy war. What part of 'religious, holy war' can't the world understand?" Even Christians are indoctrinated in jihad ideology, he notes. Rejection of Jewish rights and history in Israel underlies the foundation of this Islamic jihad doctrine. 
In the Middle East, jihad theology has deep historical roots even for some churches. In the mid 19th century, according to noted Islamic scholar Bat Ye'or, the papacy allied with French imperialists to promote Arab nationalism among Arabized Middle Eastern Christians in the Ottoman provinces. They hoped to defeat Britain and Zionism. These efforts failed, she writes in her seminal Islam and Dhimmitude. But in 1970, the Vatican dispatched an apostolic delegate to Jerusalem to establish a Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. That was when the Latin Catholic, Orthodox and other Palestinian churches began building "an Arab Palestinian identity hostile to Israel and shared by Christians and Muslims."
Coincidentally, as the seeds of these alliances began to bear their malicious fruit, Walid Shoebat came of age in Beit Sahour. Until fifth grade, he was the sole Muslim in a Christian school. He was taught that Jews were usurpers and thieves, fit only to be "beneficiaries" of virulent, mass-produced hatred--and all that implies. In Islamic school in sixth grade, Shoebat's jihad indoctrination continued along the same lines. Every song he learned incited blood and murder. "The end product was a terrorist," he explains.
Not surprisingly, Beit Sahour is also home to Ghasson Andoni and George Rishmawi, are the co-founders of the Rapprochement Center. They also co-founded the International Solidarity Movement with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro. Both organizations appear to be driven by the malevolent jihad ideology that Walid Shoebat describes. Indeed, at the third annual Palestine Solidarity Conference at Ohio State University in November, ISM featured such radical speakers as Khalid Turaani, executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem. According to Steven Emerson, AMJ is a radical group that "routinely invokes 'Zionist' conspiracies and has featured calls at its conferences for the killing of Jews...."  Last May, the ISM held a $40 per plate dinner co-sponsored by an Islamist group, the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Another sponsor: the American Friends Service Committee.
The jihad against the Jewish people in the holy land dates back centuries. But in March 1920, Yasser Arafat's idol and relation, Jerusalem Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husseini, reignited the Islamic reign of terror, says Shoebat. El-Husseini sent for muhajideen from Syria to stage bloody riots. Soon afterwards, he led violent agitations to win the coveted role of Jerusalem Mufti over another candidate who apparently did not espouse jihad. 
As a child, Shoebat heard tales of jihad incitements from Beit Sahour elders like Dheib Abd Rabbo: "Hajj Amin el-Husseini said, 'Do not have pity on them. Take your gun and your sword, and murder the Jews and rape their women.' At that point, Rabbo decided he would not do this. He would not rape. So he took his gun and his sword and he went home."
Plenty of others participated, however. "In Hebron and in our village, even before World War II, jihad was genocide," Shoebat notes. In 1920, Arabs murdered nine Jews in Halsa and Bnei Yehuda. On August 26, 1929, they killed 133 Jews in Hebron, Safed, Motza, Tel Aviv and elsewhere and wounded 339. In 1936, they murdered at least another 70 Jewish civilians, wounded hundreds more, and destroyed Jewish farms, homes, villages, crops and cattle.  El-Husseini influenced Hitler, saluted the Nazi Arab legion, helped create the Muslim S.S. unit that committed genocide in Bosnia and, in 1944, broadcast another call to jihad from Berlin:
"Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion. This saves your honour. God is with you." 
Prince Turki (Time)
HAMBURG, Germany -- Two private Saudi companies linked with suspected Al Qaeda cells here and in Indonesia also have connections to the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency and its longtime chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal, according to information assembled by German intelligence analysts.
The Twaik Group and Rawasin Media Productions, both based in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, have served as fronts for the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, according to an inquiry by Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND.
Twaik, a $100 million-a-year conglomerate, has diverse holdings inside and outside Saudi Arabia. Rawasin reports earnings of about $4 million a year from producing and selling audio and videotapes promoting the Wahhabi version of Islam that is Saudi Arabia's dominant religion.
The conclusions reached by the BND inquiry were presented to the office of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder late last year and subsequently circulated within the German intelligence community.
The inquiry determined that Twaik, like Rawasin, was what one source described as "an organ of Saudi Arabia intelligence."
In the late 1990s both Twaik and Rawasin employed Reda Seyam, a 44-year-old Egyptian suspected by Indonesian authorities of having helped finance the Bali nightclub bombing. Germany's federal prosecutor is investigating Seyam on suspicion of supporting a foreign terrorist organization, namely Al Qaeda.
The German inquiry also discovered that, during 1999 and 2000, Seyam took several flights from Saudi Arabia to destinations in Europe on aircraft operated by the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, or GID.
The Tribune reported last year that between 1995 and 1998, Twaik deposited more than $250,000 in bank accounts controlled by Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian-born Hamburg businessman and longtime Al Qaeda associate with close ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers during their years in the northern port city of Hamburg.
Abdulrahman Al-Fahhad, then the Twaik executive responsible for the company's rental-car operations in the Balkans, acknowledged hiring Darkazanli in 1995 to supply cars from Germany for Twaik's branch office in Albania. The money, Al-Fahhad said, had been for Darkazanli's use in purchasing those cars.
Al-Fahhad also acknowledged hiring Seyam to manage Twaik's rental-car office in nearby Bosnia-Herzegovina. In telephone interviews last year and earlier this month, Al-Fahhad continued to maintain that he could not remember how he met either Darkazanli or Seyam.
Twaik's founder and owner of record, Saudi businessman Saleh Abdulaziz Al-Fahhad, did not respond to several written requests for comment on his company's purported connections with Saudi intelligence, Rawasin and Seyam.
Rawasin did not respond to e-mailed requests for information beyond stating, "You can find our products in Islamic cassette shops."
The BND inquiry has concluded that Seyam, one of whose specialties was videotaping Muslim fighters in action around the world, was sent to Indonesia by Rawasin a year before the October 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people and wounded more than 300.
It is not clear whether Seyam was working on his own or on behalf of Rawasin while he was distributing what Indonesian investigators said was tens of thousands of dollars to militant Islamists in Indonesia, including the convicted mastermind of the Bali bombings.
Neither Seyam nor Darkazanli, both of whom emigrated to Germany in the early 1980s and subsequently became naturalized German citizens, has been charged with any crime in Germany. Darkazanli is the target of a separate investigation by the federal prosecutor into the suspected laundering of Al Qaeda funds.
In 2002 and 2003 Seyam served a 10-month jail sentence in Indonesia for violating that country's immigration laws. Darkazanli was accused in a Spanish indictment last year of having served as Osama bin Laden's "financier in Europe."
According to information gathered by the BND, the relationships between Twaik, Rawasin and the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate were established while the GID was headed by Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud, the eighth and last son of the late Saudi King Faisal and currently the Saudi ambassador in London.
Prince Turki served as the chief of Saudi intelligence from 1978 until 2001. The Twaik Group was formed in 1985, and Rawasin in 1998, according to business records on file in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. In a March 18 letter faxed to the Tribune, Prince Turki stated only that "I have not developed any relationship with either group."
Less than two weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the prince surprised observers by resigning after 23 years as head of Saudi intelligence. The official Saudi news agency said the resignation had been the prince's decision.
In a February 2002 speech to an alumni reunion at Georgetown University, his alma mater, Turki recalled having met with Osama bin Laden on five occasions in the late 1980s, at a time when both the Saudis and the U.S. were supporting bin Laden and other Muslims battling the Soviet army in Afghanistan.
Turki described bin Laden, whom he met in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as "a relatively pleasant man, very shy, softspoken."
If the BND's conclusions are correct, the linkage of Twaik to Saudi intelligence may resolve a question that has puzzled criminal investigators: Why would a conglomerate that then ranked 67th among all Saudi corporations choose a Muslim ideologue with no apparent business experience to manage its struggling rental-car operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
Those conclusions may also explain why a company whose operations within Saudi Arabia range from waste removal to the management of government hospitals undertook not one but two risky business ventures in the strife-torn Balkans, where several Saudi-based Muslim charities were spending tens of millions of dollars to aid the Muslim population.
EU Parliament: the terrorists' bank? (EU Parliament photo)
Tens of thousands of euro of EU funds may have been diverted to people linked with Palestinian terrorism, according to a report from the European Parliament, obtained by the EUobserver.
The report cites documentary evidence seen by a Parliamentary working group- set up last year after allegations that EU funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA) had been misused - that between 21,500-39,000 US dollars of EU funds may have been transferred to terrorists.
It is the first time that the EU has judged its own funds to Palestine may not been used for their intended purpose.
The allegations relate to funds given by the EU directly to the Palestinian Authority account from June 2001 until December 2002.
What constitutes evidence?
The report details the work of a 13-member cross-party parliamentary group. It is due to be finalised this evening (31 March) behind closed doors and is, in many ways, inconclusive.
The group says it does not yet have enough evidence to show funds were transferred directly to terrorists, but can show that monies were transferred from the PA to members of the Fatah group, which is linked to the 'Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' - a group on the EU's terror list.
The Israeli intelligence services say that evidence yielded from military operations in the Palestinian territories show 2.5 million euro which was "requested and delivered" to the PA fell into terrorists hands, of which 39,000 US dollars can be proven to have been actually paid out.
"Examination of the documents by the European Commission showed that payments to alleged Fatah activists had been authorised for a sum of 21,000 US dollars", according to the report.
Although it adds: "a link between the Palestinian Authority budget structure and the financing of Fatah is difficult to clearly picture".
The EU paid around 10 million euro a month directly into the Palestinian Authority's budget during between June 2001 and December 2002 to help avert its financial collapse after Israel withheld tax transfers.
The retention of the tax left the authority unable to pay staff and pay for basic public services, promoting the EU and other international donors to step in.
The EU withdrew its direct assistance shortly after Israel resumed payments in June 2002.
The Parliamentary report backed the Commission's aim of propping up the PA but criticised the method chosen.
"The Commissioner [External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten] showed his best intentions in order to stabilise the situation and to encourage the reform of the PA institutions in a very difficult context".
However it does conclude: "Budgetary Assistance was not the most appropriate financial instrument to be implemented".
Sources taking part in the talks say there is still discussion over what constitutes evidence of funding terror which could change some details of the final text of the document.
It is not clear when the Parliament will publish the report.
Smiling at the massacre
The United States vowed on Wednesday to stay the course in Iraq after three American contractors were killed in an ambush and their bodies dragged through the streets of Falluja in an incident reminiscent of the grisly fate of U.S. soldiers attacked in Somalia in 1993.
Four contractors to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority that has run Iraq since last year' U.S.-led invasion to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein were attacked by guerrillas on a main road in the town, 32 miles (50 km) west of Baghdad.
A crowd of Iraqis then set the vehicles ablaze, hurled stones into the burning wreckage and dragged the charred and mutilated bodies through the streets of the town, a center of resistance to the U.S.-led occupation.
Television film of a similar incident in Somalia sickened Americans over the U.S. mission there and was a factor in the decision to pull U.S. forces from the African state.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, five U.S. soldiers died when a roadside bomb was detonated near their convoy west of Baghdad.
"These are horrific attacks by people who are trying to prevent democracy from moving forward, but democracy is taking root," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, saying the United States would stick to a June 30 deadline to hand over power in Iraq to some sort of transitional Iraqi government.
"We mourn the loss of life and there is an important effort that is well under way in Iraq to provide the Iraqi people freedom and democracy and we will not turn back from that effort," McClellan said.
A U.S. official in Washington who did not wish to be named said that three of the four contractors were U.S. citizens.
Television pictures showed one incinerated body being kicked and stamped on by a member of the jubilant crowd, while others dragged a blackened body down the road by its feet.
As one body lay burning on the ground, an Iraqi came and doused it with petrol, sending flames soaring. At least two bodies were tied to cars and pulled through the streets, witnesses said.
The treatment of the four -- who appear to have been among the many civilian security contractors operating in Iraq, according to one U.S. official -- revived memories of the brutal treatment of U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993.
Somali militia fighters ambushed U.S. Army Rangers and special forces troops in bloody street battles on Oct. 3, 1993, that left 18 Americans dead. Some of their corpses were dragged through the dusty streets of Mogadishu by jubilant mobs.
President Bill Clinton later withdrew U.S. forces, who had originally been sent to Somalia on a humanitarian mission.
Hassan al-Turabi (AP)
A major jihad leader has been arrested in Sudan. From VOA News:
Sudan's security forces have arrested Islamic opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi and close to a dozen of his sympathizers and accused them of attempting to overthrow the government.
Authorities surrounded the home of the 72-year-old head of Sudan's Popular Congress Party and took him into custody during the early morning hours.
A leader of the Islamic movement in Sudan since the 1960s, Mr. al-Turabi has close personal ties to Osama bin Laden, and is said to be the mentor of al-Qaida number-two man Ayman al-Zawahri.
In 1989, Mr. al-Turabi's National Islamic Front took part in a coup that overthrew Sudan's elected government and set up a police state that drew worldwide condemnation for mass executions, torture of prisoners, and suppression of political freedoms.
But an expert on Sudan at Cairo's Al-Ahram newspaper, Asmaa el-Husseiny, says she interviewed Mr. al-Turabi on Monday and he denied any attempt to overthrow the government.
She says Mr. al-Turabi acknowledged the failure of the last coup, which led Sudan into civil war. He said rather than resort to armed insurgency again, he and his followers would continue to put non-violent pressure on the government to resolve disputes over territory, security and authority in the troubled regions of Sudan.
Rebels in the western Sudan's Darfur region have been battling government forces for over a year, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. Peace talks collapsed late last year, but a new round has opened in neighboring Chad.
Ms. el-Husseiny says the Sudanese government believes Mr. al-Turabi enjoys significant support among ethnic rebel groups in southern, eastern and western Sudan, and may have been inciting sedition within the military.
She says his arrest reflects an escalation of the political unrest throughout the country.
Prior to Wednesday's arrest, Mr. al-Turabi had spent nearly three years in custody but was released in October of last year.
Rowan Williams: will the friendship he seeks have any substance? (BBC)
Their crime? Possessing Bibles and other Christian material. From Ekklesia:
Four Christians have been arrested in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt after police found that they had Bibles and Christian music tapes in their possession, according to reports received by the Jubilee Campaign.
The four Christians - Peter Nady Kamel, Ishaq Dawoud Yassa, John Adel and Andrew Sa'id - all University students at Cairo or Minya Universities. They had gone together to the beach resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, by the Red Sea, for a Christian retreat and stayed at a hotel.
They were arrested in their hotel rooms by local police at 9 a.m on January 26th 2004. Their rooms were searched and all their possessions confiscated. The four Christians have been charged with forming a group that threatens the national unity, social peace and national security. They appeared before the District Prosecutor on January 29 and March 28. Their next appearance before the Prosecutor is scheduled for May 8 and their detention has been extended at least till that date.
Jubilee Campaign believes it is highly likely that the Christians have been wrongly accused of having the Bibles and Christian tapes for the purposes of evangelising Muslims, since such actions are often condemned by the authorities as "threatening national unity".
Pope Shenouda the Third, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, mentioned briefly the arrest of the Christians in a speech, but did not say who the detained Christians were. In that same speech Pope Shenouda publicly condemned the kidnapping of Christian girls at supermarkets. These girls are falsely told that they have won a prize and to go upstairs to collect it. When they go to collect it, they are kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam.
The families of the kidnapped girls met with Pope Shenouda on Sunday March 21st and had a second meeting with him on Thursday March 25th. At the second meeting, Colonel Ahmad Mostafa, a police officer with special responsibilities for affairs of the Christian community, was present. He listened to the families' accounts regarding the kidnapping of their family members but did not make any comments.
The Christian human rights organisation, Jubilee Campaign, has been campaigning for kidnapped Egyptian Christian girls for several years and believe that the forced conversion of Egyptian Christians to Islam is an escalating problem, fuelled by police and government indifference to the plight of Christian kidnap victims.
Jubilee Campaign's Researcher and Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred Wong, said; " While Jubilee Campaign welcomes the police officer's willingness to meet with the families of kidnap victims, we know that the Egyptian authorities have in the past shown apparent concern for the problems of Egyptian Christians, only to end up doing nothing concrete about it. We therefore intend to continue lobbying the Egyptian government regarding the kidnapping of Christians until they actually ensure that the victims are returned to their families and the kidnappers are punished.
"We are also campaigning for the release of the four detained Egyptian Christians. It is unusual for Egyptian Christians to get into trouble just for having Bibles and Christian tapes in their possession and these arrests signify an increasing willingness by the police to detain Christians on the slightest pretext."
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has opened a Christian-Muslim dialogue meeting with high hopes for a "deepening of understanding and of friendship between us." Will he ask his Muslim dialogue partners, in the interests of friendship, to denounce the persecution and harassment of Christians in Egypt?
Heavily armed raiders stole a large quantity of explosives from a quarry in Thailand's largely Muslim south, just days after a bomb attack in the region and prompting fears of another, officials said on Wednesday.
"With this amount of fertilizer, you could blow up a whole town," Pallop Pinmanee, deputy chief of the Internal Security Operations Command, told Reuters at the scene of the robbery, which included 1.4 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
The government ordered a full alert, not only in three provinces near the Malaysian border under martial law since January, but also two more along the frontier ahead of next month's Thai New Year celebrations which draw many Malaysians.
"These people are apparently seeking to destabilize the situation and hurt the tourism industry," Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula told reporters.
"We have ordered a full alert for government installations, public places and tourist resorts in many areas," he said after 10 masked men armed with AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles raided the quarry in Libon, 70 km (40 miles) from the Malaysian border.
They made off with 1.4 tonnes of ammonium nitrate used in making explosives for blasting, 58 sticks of dynamite and 180 detonators, police said.
The Manu Rock Grinding Co quarry was closed when the raid took place on Tuesday evening with only two security guards on duty and the raiders went straight to the separate, poorly locked sheds where each item was kept, they said.
That suggested they knew exactly what they were looking for and where to find it, they added.
Bhokin said the alert covered the southern commercial hub of Hat Yai and the west coast town of Satun which draw thousands of Malaysian tourists during Thailand's Songkran New Year celebrations from April 13 to 15.
"There is a possibility that they might act before or during Songkran," he said.
The two towns are in different provinces from the three put under martial law in January after armed men killed four soldiers and stole many weapons, including M-16s, in a raid on an army camp in the area in January.
Since then, 60 people, most of them officials and police but including three Buddhist monks, have been killed in a surge of violence some officials think marks a revival of a low-key separatist war fought in the 1970s and 1980s.
Fears the violence could escalate have risen sharply since a motorcycle bomb wounded 28 people, including eight Malaysians, at a karaoke bar in the border town of Sungai Kolok on Saturday.
That was the first major attack aimed at civilians since the raid on the army camp and the government believes it marked a shift in tactics.
"They have intensified their campaign, raising the level of violence and aiming at tourist spots so as to drive tourists away," Bhokin said of an industry which draws 10 million foreigners a year and accounts for six percent of gross domestic product.
"We are now trying to read their minds to find out where they will strike next to stop tourists from coming."
A forensics expert collects evidence at a suicide bombing site in Israel (AP)
Is suicide bombing really all about economic and social grievances? From MEMRI: "The London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published the story of a member of the Islamic terrorist organization Ansar Al-Islam, who planned to blow himself up in the Interior Ministry building in Al-Suleimaniya, but was arrested by the Kurdish authorities. The Kurdish security authorities accuse Ansar Al-Islam of attacking American forces and their allies in Iraq and of responsibility for the suicide bombings at the headquarters of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in early February, which killed 109 people. On March 23, 2004 the U.S. government officially listed Ansar Al-Islam as a terrorist organization. The following are excerpts from the article: "
Recruitment Tactics of Ansar Al-Islam
"Kaywan Qader, 18-years old, grew up in Al-Suleimaniya. He was one of 10 brothers and sisters of a moderately religious family. His mother did not wear a veil and he prayed [only] once a day in the mosque where he met someone named Sawara Ahmad Ali, who later became his recruiter to Ansar Al-Islam. Qader says that Sawara Ali discussed religion with him and told him that it was his duty to carry out Jihad operations against the KDP and that prayer alone was not sufficient. He stressed to him the necessity to join Jihad in order to become a good Muslim. Qader says that he greatly fears Allah and that Ali exploited that.
"It was the year 2001, Ansar Al-Islam had not been established as of yet, and Ali was a member of one of the offshoots of the Islamist Movement in Kurdistan. The group was established in December of that year, and in 2003 the American and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq attacked its bases, its members fled to Iran where they regrouped and then infiltrated back into Iraq to join the fight against the American-led occupation. Later, Ali was able to convince Qader that Jihad would offer him paradise and save him from hell. Qader agreed to join Ali in one of the villages to prepare himself for Jihad, and all of his father's efforts to dissuade him from that failed. Qader told his father that Allah's wish supercedes the family's wish. He joined a camp where about 400 members of the group were training, but his father persuaded him to return [home] promising him a possible job ... but he continued his training with the rest of the members.
"Qader says that the Kurdish and American forces carried out an intensive attack on the group's position on the eve of the war against Iraq, which forced the survivors to infiltrate into Iran where he was arrested and returned to the border. But he was able to enter Iran again, where he stayed for a month."
'Suicide Mission is the Highest Level of Jihad'
"In the camp, Qader was paid $22 per month. He agreed to carry out a suicide mission because he was told that it is 'the highest level of Jihad.' Ali sent his name to the group's command in Biyara, their stronghold in the mountainous area adjacent to Iran.
72 Virgins in Paradise
"Another detainee who spent time in Ansar Al-Islam's camp says that they listened to lectures where they were told that [each of] the Shuhadaa [martyrs] will find 72 virgins [waiting for him] in paradise. He added that the group has what is known as 'TNT camps' where the suicide bombers wear protective jackets and are trained on how to blow themselves at the right location.
"Umar Fattah, the KDP's head of security, says that Ansar Al-Islam uses C4 explosives which are more powerful than TNT. He added that Ansar Al-Islam creates groups of 3-8 youngsters between the ages of 15 and 25, who participate in one month of lectures, brainwashing, and intensive military training.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 18, 2004.
Background on the jihad in Uzbekistan, from Asia Times. Note that the jihadis were from middle-class families:
Prior to the recent terror attacks in Uzbekistan which claimed at least 19 lives, a spate of reports from the region shows ongoing Islamist activity and law-enforcement efforts to contain it. One report details the state of affairs in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Other reports suggest that Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Party of Islamic Liberation - HT), an organization that now stands at the center of concerns over rising Islamist activity in Central Asia, is increasingly tailoring its recruiting efforts to match local dynamics in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, targeting individuals from the dominant ethnic group with a higher education and ties to state institutions.
In Tajikistan, the authorities arrested a group of HT activists in Khujand in February. Various reports placed the number of individuals detained between 14 and 22. Tribune.uz, an independent Internet publication funded by George Soros' Open Society foundation, reported on February 25 that the men were all aged 20-22 and from middle-class families. Moreover, they were all ethnic Tajiks "whose parents came from the most 'Tajik of regions' of southern Tajikistan". Previously, ethnic Uzbeks and Uzbek citizens from the Ferghana Valley had figured prominently in reports of HT activity in Tajikistan. Asia Plus-Blitz also reported that three of the activists were relatives of officials in the Kulob city government and prosecutor's office.
In Kazakhstan, a court in Shymkent sentenced 23-year-old Nurzhan Zhakipov to three years in prison for HT activities on March 2. In a March 3 report, Kazinform contrasted the Zhakipov case with another HT-related incident in November 2003: "Not long ago in Shymkent, Arysi, and a number of other regions in the southern Kazakhstan Okrug, some 20 HT members were tried. In November, they took to the streets for an unsanctioned demonstration in which their organization called for the overthrow of [Uzbek President Islam] Karimov's regime. They were fined 18,900 tenges [US$135] each; two participants who resisted arrest were sentenced to 10 days in jail. The majority of the people who have been 'nabbed' in connection with HT are poorly educated and ignorant. This is why Zhakipov so surprised the journalists at his trial - he is a man from an urban family who attended Soviet school and received a higher education ..." A March 5 report in Kazakhstanskaya Pravda noted that "while the recruitment activities of HT emissaries in Kazakhstan initially focused on low-income individuals, recent efforts have targeted potential members among government officials, law-enforcement authorities, well-off businessmen, intellectuals, and students".
In Kyrgyzstan, on February 17, a court in Bishkek sentenced two IMU members - both Uzbek citizens - to death for their role in a December 2002 explosion at a Bishkek market that killed seven people. A March 2 report in Vechernii Bishkek described how "unofficial" mullahs - possibly with HT ties - in the southern Aravan region were inculcating the tenets of radical Islam in young people. According to the report, if 100-120 young people in the area are receiving a religious education from "official clerics", an equal number is learning different lessons from what the article terms "nontraditionalists".
A March 1 report by Deutsche Welle focused on IMU members, many of whom fled to Pakistan after the US-led antiterrorist operation smashed the Taliban movement, and with it the IMU's stronghold in Afghanistan. According to the report, a group of approximately 120 militants has relocated to Pakistan's northern Balochistan province. The group consists of fighters from Central Asia, Tatarstan, ethnic Russian converts to Islam, and people from the Caucasus; many of them are IMU members. Operating in groups of 25-30, they have recently moved to mountainous regions of Pakistan, including the city of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province.
The same report featured an interview with a former IMU member, who said that the IMU's leaders now reside in Wana, Pakistan - scene of the recent Pakistani military operations to track down al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters seeking refuge in the tribal regions. The movement's key leader remains Tahir Yuldashev. His first deputy for financial affairs is Dilshod Hojiyev. The military commander is Ulug'bek Holik, who also goes under the name Mohammed Ayub. All of the men are originally from Uzbekistan's Namangan Oblast.
The IMU maintains a number of unofficial daftars, or offices, in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. An office in the Pakistani port city of Karachi handles financial contributions, primarily from Arab countries. According to the main source for the report, a 34-year-old Uzbek native of Navoiy Oblast who recently took advantage of an amnesty offer and returned home from Pakistan, the fighters also earn money on their own "through military operations financed by Pakistani special services against American forces in Afghanistan and through raids in Kashmir".
The source also told Deutsche Welle that a split had taken place in the IMU, with a group of combat-weary fighters rebelling against Yuldashev. In order to combat the dissenters, Yuldashev apparently summoned Ilhom Hojiyev, also known as Commander Abdurahmon, from Tajikistan. Ilhom Hojiyev is the cousin of Juma (aka Jumaboi) Namangani, the IMU military commander believed (not confirmed) to have been killed when the Taliban fell in late 2001.
In Uzbekistan itself, harsh measures against any hint of Islamist activity remain the order of the day, with courts routinely meting out long prison terms for any real or suspected HT involvement. But with severe restrictions on the media, the situation is difficult to gauge. Human rights organizations charge that some 5,000 political prisoners are better characterized as victims of a repressive regime than as wild-eyed Islamists intent on installing a fundamentalist regime of their own. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan's role as a strategic partner of the United States in the "war on terror" has politicized the debate over the threat of radical Islam, often to the detriment of dispassionate analysis.
Who is responsible for all this? No clue from this article. From News24.com:
The number of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe has soared in recent years, according to a report by the EU's racism watchdog on Wednesday which singled out five countries for particular concern.
Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Britain have seen a notable rise in anti-Jewish attacks over the last two or three years, said the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) report.
Most countries also saw worrying trends, it said, although few problems were recorded in four countries: Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Finland.
"Europe has a problem with anti-Semitism, manifestations of which have been getting more frequent in some parts of the EU over the last two or three years," said the EUMC in a report presented to the European Parliament.
The report comes after the EU held a high-level conference in February to clamp down on anti-Semitism --a "monster" that Jewish leaders warned had returned with a vengeance to the continent six decades after the Holocaust.
That conference was hastily organised after a shock opinion poll in November which found that Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to world peace.
The 344-page report by the Vienna-based EUMC was the first time that data have been collected systematically across the European Union, which expands from 15 to 25 members on May 1.
Areas of concern highlighted by the study, focussed on 2002 and 2003, include:
• in Belgium "a catalogue of incidents of varying extremity ... including the firebombing of Jewish property and some serious physical assaults."
• in Germany most acts were verbal rather than physical. Jewish groups reported increasing numbers of letters, emails and phone calls from 2002.
• in the Netherlands anti-Semitic acts increased "significantly" in particular in Amsterdam which has a relative large Jewish community.
• in Britain there were violent attacks on two synagogues, two cases of suspected arson and several attacks on Jewish cemeteries.
• in France there was a six-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2002. "There were many incidents of Jewish people assaulted and insulted, attacks against synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish property," it said.
Iqbal Sacranie (BBC)
What? You mean they haven't been doing this all along? From ABC:
Britain's Muslim leaders are urging followers of Islam to cooperate with the authorities to fight terrorism.
There is fear in the Muslim community that it will be stigmatised following the arrest of eight suspected terrorists and the seizure of half a tonne of the bomb making ingredient ammonium nitrate fertiliser.
The Muslim Council of Britain is concerned the public is already linking terrorism to followers of Islam.
I appreciate this concern. The MCB would have an easier task ahead if there weren't so many Muslims linking terrorism to followers of Islam.
General Secretary Iqbal Sacranie has reiterated that attacks like the recent bombings in Madrid are not sanctioned or supported by the wider Islamic community.
He is calling on Muslims to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to police.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has congratulated Mr Sacranie for his public appeal.
Tashkent checkpoint (AP)
An explosion ripped through a district of the Uzbek capital Wednesday evening and caused casualties, according to a report, apparently the latest incident in a wave of terrorist-related violence that has gripped the city.
Interfax news agency reported the blast hit the Sabir-Rakhimovski district, which is in northern Tashkent. Interior Ministry anti-terrorism department deputy chief Ilya Pyagay said that police were carrying out an operation in that neighborhood. He gave no further details.
That area is not far from the scene of fighting Tuesday that officials said left 23 people dead, including three police officers.
A Western security official also said he had been informed of a blast, and that people had seen fire trucks racing to the area. Witnesses also reported seeing police cars speeding through the city center toward the Sabir-Rakhimovski district.
Prosecutor-General spokeswoman Svetlana Artikova, however, said that no new outbreaks of violence had occurred in the city.
Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency earlier reported that a blast also struck a residential building in the Fergana Valley city of Andijan overnight, citing police sources. The explosion could have been an accident, but police weren't ruling out terrorism. Officials declined to confirm the report.
The reported Tashkent blast came at the end of a day where police scoured the capital in pursuit of fugitive militants, and reportedly arrested at least 30. A police official said those in custody so far were adherents of the strict Wahhabi Islamic sect, which was believed to have inspired Osama bin Laden, not members of an extremist group President Islam Karimov has implied were behind the attacks.
At least 42 people have been killed in terrorist-related violence that began Sunday in Uzbekistan -- the first unrest here since this Central Asian nation became a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.
Oleg Bichenov, Tashkent city police anti-terrorism deputy chief, declined to confirm how many had been arrested so far.
"The number (of the arrested) will be changing, and I hope it will be going up," he told The Associated Press. "We are continuing to search for suspects and making arrests."
Earlier, a Western security official in Tashkent told AP on condition of anonymity that police and security officers were looking for five suspects.
Nineteen people were killed and 26 wounded on Sunday and Monday in violence that included the first suicide bombings in this Central Asian nation. On Tuesday, 23 people died as Uzbek forces battled for hours with suspected terrorists, and were struck by two suicide attacks.
All the attacks appeared to target Uzbek authorities.
The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent said no new violence was reported Wednesday in the country. However, the Friendship Bridge linking Uzbekistan to Afghanistan -- where access already is strictly controlled -- had been closed to all except diplomatic traffic, it said.
An embassy annex office remained closed, although visa operations resumed. Americans were urged to be on "highest alert," as the situation remained unclear.
Bichenov said those in custody were being questioned at length -- but that interrogations so far found that none were members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir extremist group. Instead, he said the suspects were aligned with the Wahhabi sect of Islam.
On Monday, Kadyrov told journalists that religious literature from Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Wahhabi sect had been found at an alleged terrorist bomb-making factory in the central region of Bukhara.
Hizb ut-Tahrir -- which claims to disavow violence, while not explicitly ruling it out in its quest to create an Islamic state across the world -- has never been linked to any terrorist attacks. Its office in Britain, where the group is allowed to operate openly, denied responsibility for events in Uzbekistan.
From AP, and DC Watson:
Jubilant residents dragged the charred corpses of four foreign contractors, one a woman, at least one an American through the streets Wednesday and hanged them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River. Five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing nearby.
The four contract workers for the U.S.-led coalition were killed in a rebel ambush of their SUVs in Fallujah, a Sunni Triangle city about 35 miles west of Baghdad and scene of some of the worst violence on both sides of the conflict since the beginning of the American occupation a year ago.
It was reminiscent of the 1993 scene in Somalia, when a mob dragged the corpse of a U.S. soldier through the streets of Mogadishu, eventually leading to the American withdrawal from the African nation.
In one of the bloodiest days for the U.S. military this year, five 1st Infantry Division soldiers died when their M-113 armored personnel carrier ran over a bomb in a separate incident 12 miles to the northwest, among the reed-lined roads running through some of Iraq's richest farmland.
Residents said the bomb attack occurred in Malahma, 12 miles northwest of Fallujah, where anti-U.S. insurgents are active. U.S. Marines operate in the area, but it was unclear whether the slain troops were Marines.
In the deadliest previous incident this year, nine soldiers were killed when their Black Hawk medevac helicopter crashed near Fallujah, apparently after being shot down.
In Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the four killed in Fallujah were contractors working with the coalition. He did not say what they were doing in the city.
Chanting ''Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans,'' residents cheered after the grisly assault on two four-wheel-drive civilian vehicles, which left both in flames. Others chanted, ''We sacrifice our blood and souls for Islam.''
From The Washington Times, :
The terrorist groups Hamas and Lebanon-based Hezbollah have opened offices in Iraq and are recruiting young men in the cities of Basra and Nasariyah, says the executive director of the American Islamic Congress.
"They have been recruiting young people. They pay them a little money and teach them their ideology," said Zainab al-Suwaij, who has been in Iraq for 10 months and travels in the country extensively under a U.S. Agency for International Development education contract.
But surely the vast majority of moderate Muslims will overwhelm these extremists with the peaceful teachings of the Qur'an, and doom their recruitment efforts to failure, right?
Some conflict resolution going on in Ottawa
An Ottawa man was charged Tuesday with two terrorism-related offences after police raids at his home and office, while shocked family members insisted upon his innocence.
Sounds like they're reading the playbook.
Mohammad Momim Khawaja, 29, was arrested Monday at his workplace and charged with participating in or contributing to the activities of a terrorist group and facilitating terrorist activity, the RCMP said in a release. The charges fall under Canada's anti-terrorism law.
Television reports said the Canadian-born Khawaja, a software developer, worked on contract for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Qasim Khawaja, Mohammad Momim Khawaja's 26-year-old brother, said there was no evidence of terrorist activities in the home for police to find.
"I guess it's part of someone's sick imagination," he said Tuesday.
"They are looking for something that doesn't exist. They want to fabricate or create it somehow," he said.
"I'm just shocked they would authorize something like this. I would say it's a sad, sad day for Canadian democracy." ...
The Ottawa home is owned by Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja, the author of Muslims and the West, a book about Islamic fundamentalism that analyses global conflicts within the framework of Muslim civilization.
Mahboob Khawaja has also authored several other essays critical of American foreign policy, "corrupt Arab leadership," "American-Zionist political encroachment in the Middle East," and the West's response to terrorism and the war on terror.
He was once listed as a policy adviser and faculty member of International Affairs, Politics and Religions at Syracuse University but is currently in Saudi Arabia where he is the administrator of a polytechnical institute.
Mohammad Momim Khawaja's mother, Azra, was also detained Monday at a grocery store while his 18-year-old brother Mohsin was escorted away from the University of Ottawa where he is a student. Another brother, Tanzeel, 20, was detained when he arrived at the house later in the day.
The family was later released and put up in a hotel Monday night.
Feisal Abdul Rauf
From Australia's Catholic News, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney will welcome Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to St Mary's Cathedral tomorrow for a lunchtime Interfaith Prayer Service.
Imam Feisal is visiting Sydney at the invitation of Premier Bob Carr, who will also be in attendance at the Service.
Stressing that Imam Feisal is welcome at St Mary's, Cardinal Pell said: "One of the ambitions of Pope John Paul II is to encourage dialogue between mainstream and moderate Muslims, particularly with Catholics, but also with all Christians and all people of good will."
"He has an interesting set of views and we look forward to hearing more from him," said Cardinal Pell. "The stakes are very high. In our own small way we are talking about war or peace. Our Catholic and Christian faith compels us to work for peace."
That's swell, but is Feisal Abdul Rauf really a good dialogue partner for Cardinal Pell? Abdul Rauf has said: "The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets."
This is outrageously specious, but it depends on the ignorance of the listeners. The bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima were not justified by the bombers on the basis of Christian theology. The bombings by terrorists -- 9/11, 3/11, etc. -- are justified on the basis of Islamic theology. By claiming that they are equivalent, Abdul Rauf obscures the Islamic roots of modern-day terrorism, thus hindering the prospects for the reform within Islam that is so desperately needed if jihad terrorism is ever going to cease.
He has also said, according to the Sun Herald, that "there could be little progress until the US acknowledged backing dictators and the US President gave an 'America Culpa' speech to the Muslim world." Of course. The historical depredations of jihad, they were all the fault of the West. The fall of Constantinople? Probably because of Byzantium's support for Israel.
Zoud: What's the big deal?
Why would Zoud have called Abu Qatada? Isn't Abu Qatada an exponent of the tiny minority of extremists who have perverted Islam? From The Australian, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
IT'S late at night and Abdul Salam Zoud has a problem. The leader of Sydney's Islamic fundamentalists needs prompt answers to some serious and specific questions.
His fellow clerics around Australia are sound asleep or uncontactable.
So he telephones one of al-Qaeda's most dangerous figures halfway across the world.
Sheikh Zoud sees nothing wrong with speaking with Abu Qatada - accused of providing a British safehaven for terrorists, including the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings. He knows nothing of these claims. Qatada, now detained as part of Britain's war on terror, is an expert in Islamic divorce and Sheikh Zoud needs his guidance.
This is Sheikh Zoud's explanation of a series of events that has led to him being named this month as a terrorist recruiter.
He denies claims in a French secret dossier that he is a recruiter for jihad in Australia and has links with terrorists around the world.
Prepared by a top anti-terrorism judge in France, the dossier is based on interrogations with jailed French terrorist suspect Willie Brigitte.
Zoud, by the way, is the guy who isn't sure that Osama bin Laden is guilty of the 9/11 attacks, despite Osama's boasting about them.
A controversy in Pakistan centers over jihad in the textbooks. From HiPakistan:
The religious parties in Pakistan are at loggerheads with the government on yet another issue: the so-called "exclusion" of some Quranic verses from the biology textbook for Intermediate classes. What has annoyed the MMA?
It all began three weeks ago when in reply to a question in the National Assembly, the federal education minister explained that the inclusion of Quranic verses is not a requirement of the curriculum.
While replying to a supplementary, the parliamentary secretary further provoked the self-appointed guardians of our morals, when he attempted to reinforce the minister's argument by questioning the relevance of the excluded verses to biology.
This created quite a rumpus in the House and the opposition staged a walk-out. It was later persuaded to return to the chamber to hear the information minister dutifully tender an apology and the education minister assure the House that no change was made in the curricula on any external pressure.
But, intriguingly, the controversy has refused to die down. A fortnight later the Punjab teachers union announced its decision to launch a protest movement from Gujranwala from April 15 if the verses, which pertain to jihad, were not reinstated.
It has been reported that at the heart of this controversy is a report released by the SDPI, an independent think tank. Titled The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan, this report, which draws extensively from the research on the subject by Dr Rubina Saigol, an educational sociologist, without adequately and specifically acknowledging it, points out that the curricula and textbooks in Pakistan were insensitive to the existing religious diversity of the nation, incited militancy and violence, and encouraged prejudice, bigotry and discrimination towards fellow-citizens, especially women and religious minorities.
The religious parties are not too pleased that the curricula prescribed by the curriculum wing of the Ministry of Education and the books produced by the textbook boards have come under the spotlight.
Since the days when General Ziaul Haq used his authority backed by military power to induct religion into every sphere of national life and then use it to perpetuate a narrow right-wing ideology, the public sector education system in the country has been harnessed to promote a mindset which upholds retrogressive values.
But why was no notice taken of this state of affairs before? The fact is that for at least two decades the media has been trying to draw the attention of the authorities to the dismal state of the textbooks and the distortions in their contents. But all the editorials and articles have proved to be a cry in the wilderness.
Much before the SDPI commissioned this report, Dr Rubina Saigol wrote a profoundly insightful paper, "The boundaries of consciousness: interface between the curriculum, gender and nationalism" in a book called Locating the Self (published by ASR, Lahore, in 1994).
In this paper she showed with several examples how our textbooks construct India and Hindus as enemies and how they incite permanent enmity, hatred and alienation with India. The author's contention was that these books promote militarism and violence and indirectly justify a heavy defence expenditure.
Tamer Khawireh (AP)
While Mohammed Dockrat dresses his 6-year-old son in a mock suicide bomber jacket and then pontificates about how Palestinians would never really use a child in a suicide attack, Islamic Jihad tried to recruit a 15-year-old for just such an attack. Nor is he the only one. From the Jerusalem Post:
On Sunday, 15-year-old Tamer Khawireh ran home and buried his head in his mother's arms. Sobbing, he repeated over and over: "They tricked me, they tricked me."
Islamic Jihad had recruited Khawireh to be a suicide bomber for martyrdom and limitless virgins thereafter.
Khawireh is one of four Nablus boys recruited by terrorist groups and then arrested for an attempted suicide attack against Israel in the past month. And with the city's mayor forced out of office by threats, a police force long-since imploded, and a population at best ambivalent about suicide attacks, nothing seems able to hinder the recruitment.
"I want to stay here with you, I want to be part of this life," cried the boy, as recounted Tuesday by his eldest brother, Raed. An Islamic Jihad religious leader had wooed the youth, captivating him with the prospects of heaven's rivers of honey and the beautiful women he would find there.
A few hours after Khawireh's confession to Raed, IDF troops swooped down on the family's Nablus home, arresting him and another young man. Both remain in Israeli detention.
Like the other boys his age, Khawireh was easily bought. NIS 100, a new set of clothes, a cellphone, and some cigarettes had done the trick. One day Raed caught his brother smoking and using the phone. "I cuffed him and he promised to give the phone back," said Raed.
"Am I not a rich man?" asked Khawireh's stunned father, Massoud, on Tuesday, as he passed out pictures of his son to reporters in his upper middle class home.
Massoud said he called Islamic Jihad to demand an explanation. They apologized, lamely arguing that they mistook the gawky 10th grader for an 18-year old. They then promised not to do it again, said Massoud.
He and Raed believe the Islamic Jihad, or collaborators with Israel embedded within the group, fingered his younger son after it became clear that he chose life.
Khawireh's family called on the Palestinian Authority to launch an investigation to find out who is responsible for recruiting children.
"We discovered the plan only three hours before my brother was supposed to set out on the suicide mission," Raed said. "It's clear that he had been manipulated by suspicious elements and people who do not represent the Palestinian resistance."
The brother said that, a few days before the arrest, he discovered that Khawireh was smoking. "I had a serious talk with him and asked him to stop smoking, because it was something he had never done before," he added.
"But a day before he was arrested, I saw him in the city center, and he was talking on a cellphone and smoking. I was very angry with him and told him to go home immediately. I questioned him about the cellphone, and he said that it belonged to one of his friends who gave it to him to repair."
The following morning, the family's suspicions grew when they discovered that the boy did not show up for school. When Khawireh returned home later that evening, his brothers started questioning him about the reason for his absence from school.
"When he saw how worried we were, he broke into tears and said, 'They have fooled me, they have deceived me,' " Raed recalled. "He told us that the armed wing of Islamic Jihad was trying to recruit him for a suicide mission and that he had retracted and decided to return home. They tried to brainwash him, exploiting his young age and innocence. To a certain extent, they were successful."
Uzair Dockrat, wearing his suicide bomber jacket, and his dad (Shayne Robinson, Sapa)
This six-year-old boy, dressed as a Palestinian suicide bomber, complete with a belt of fake explosives strapped to his body, says he wants to go to heaven - and his father says his child wants to be a martyr.
Uzair Dockrat was taken by his father Mohammad to yesterday's march in Pretoria, organised by the Muslim community to voice anger at the killing of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin in Gaza City last week. ...
After prompting from his father, Uzair swore revenge on Israel for the killing. According to his father, Uzair expressed a wish to become a martyr.
"Martyrs are heroes ... they go to heaven," Uzair said.
"They (Israel) kill our people with tanks and helicopters. We can blow them up," he said.
Mohammad Dockrat said his son's costume was a "symbolic act of self-defence" against Israeli aggression.
"We are violent towards those who are violent towards us, and in this case, Israel is the aggressor," he said.
Dockrat defended Uzair's costume, arguing it was not intended to encourage violence, but "is a statement against the unlawful Israeli occupation of Palestine".
According to Dockrat, little Uzair would prefer to strive for victory through justice rather than violence.
"He understands the status of a martyr, but will rather see justice instead," he said.
Mmm-hmm. Onlookers seem to have missed these nuances:
Uzair was told by an unidentified adult protester: "You will be a martyr one day."
Note also the Left's cooperation with Islamic radicalism:
A few hundred protesters gathered in Lynnwood, Pretoria, before marching to the Israeli embassy.
The march was supported by the SA Communist Party, the Pan Africanist Congress and the Muslim Youth Movement.
Meanwhile, another story reveals that Uzair's father is not a desperately poor, oppressed individual with no other recourse but suicide bombing. On the contrary, he is a "university lecturer."
Mohammed Dockrat, a university lecturer, said: "Muslim children in South Africa have been aware of the attack on Islam since the war in Afghanistan.
"They saw other children being killed and maimed and are very aware of who the enemy is."
The academic said his son, Uzair, decided to wear the jacket to a protest march in Pretoria attended by about 300 Muslims.
Yet while encouraging this attitude in his son, Mohammed Dockrat shows a keen awareness of how to speak to Western reporters:
"I don't think we should make too much of the jacket. As an adult, he will have a better understanding.
"To me, the fact that he wore it symbolises that one can kill one generation, but there will always be a next generation to continue the struggle."
Dockrat said he didn't want his sons to be pacifists and he wanted them to be able to defend themselves.
He agreed there could be negative feelings towards Jewish friends in South Africa.
"But if you see what is happening in Jewish communities here, how they send their children for military training in Israel, then it seems to me that our children should be the ones to be afraid and not the other way around."
And despite his encouraging his son to glorify those who murder civilians, he has the gall to claim the moral high ground and repeat Al-Jazeera's wild claim that the Israelis fabricated the recent story about a teenage would-be suicide bomber:
Dockrat claims the recent case of a Palestinian teenager, wearing a suicide jacket, being arrested at an Israeli checkpoint, was an Israeli set-up.
"The Hamas group never uses children in suicide-bomb attacks and it occurs mostly on buses where there is a civilian target.
"We do not use children in the struggle, this is a principal of Jihad (holy war)."
More on those eight terror suspects arrested near London, who, according to British officials, just happened to be Muslim and could very well have been Buddhist or Amish. From The Scotsman, with thanks to Nicolei:
Police today seized more than half a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser which could have been used to carry out a terror bombing on UK soil.
Eight suspected Islamic terrorists, all British citizens of Pakistani descent, were arrested as 700 officers carried out 24 raids across London and the Home Counties.
Anti-terrorist detectives believe an al Qaida-supporting cell could have been plotting a "spectacular" attack.
The fertiliser - a key bomb-making ingredient - would have been enough to cause a blast on the same scale as the 1996 IRA bombs at South Quay, station, Canary Wharf in London, and the Arndale Centre in Manchester.
Ammonium nitrate fertiliser, which requires a "booster" explosive to set it off, is believed to have been used by al Qaida in an attack on the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 and in the first World Trade Centre bombing in New York in 1993.
It was the major ingredient in the biggest of the bombs used by Islamic terrorists in Bali which killed 202 people in 2002 and was also used in bombings against British targets in Istanbul last year and in the 1995 Oklahoma bombing. ...
The neighbour added: "They were very religious. They never mixed with other people. They never spoke to us."
Unless the Muslim community worldwide confronts the reasons why terrorism grows worldwide among Muslims who are "very religious," terrorism will continue to grow and thrive in that community.
Jihad Watch is pleased to announce the publication of a new Indonesian edition of Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer's book Islam Unveiled. It is entitled Islam Ditelanjangi: Pertanyaan-Pertanyaan Subversif Seputar Doktrin dan Tradisi Kaum Muslim.
Thanks to publisher Paramadina and translator Mun'im A. Sirry. We applaud your courage and thank you for not caving in to intimidation and threats like the French.
Baker: now in Bahrain
"Islamic countries can save the West from its moral decay." Who said it? Bill Baker, who, according to the Orange County Weekly, "has resurfaced as a frequent guest speaker at Muslim functions across North America despite articles in OC Weekly in 2002 that outed the Laguna Hills resident as the former head of the neo-Nazi Populist Party and led to his ouster as a close associate to the Reverend Robert Schuller of Garden Grove's Crystal Cathedral."
Note the similarities of the soothing syrup of peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians that Baker peddles and that which is sold by American Muslim advocacy groups. Neither face the harsh realities of the persecution of Christians by Muslims, or lingering dhimmitude.
From the Gulf Daily News, with thanks to Nicolei:
ISLAMIC countries should come to the rescue of the Western world which is suffering from moral decay and deterioration, says a top US scholar and writer.
Muslims and Christians should join hands in the pursuit of peace, freedom, justice and moral values, said California-based Christians and Muslims for Peace (CAMP) president Professor Bill Baker.
No country, irrespective of its military and money power, can exist if its moral values are deteriorated, he told the GDN.
"Islamic countries can save the West from its moral decay, provided Muslims lead a life built on the five pillars of Islam," said Prof Baker.
"Islam is like a house built on the rock of submission and supported by five pillars: Witnessing, Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving or Tithing, and Pilgrimage.
"These five pillars are the distinguishing marks of Islam from all other religions."
Prof Baker is in Bahrain at the invitation of Discover Islam.
He gave a talk on Zionism or Judaism, Justice or Injustice, Oppressor or Oppressed at Beit Al Quran last night.
Deputy Prime Minister and Islamic Affairs Minister Shaikh Abdulla bin Khalid Al Khalifa hosted a luncheon reception in honour of Prof Baker at his Riffa residence yesterday.
It was attended by Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer, Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Dr Mohammed Al Sitri, Parliament second deputy chairman Shaikh Adel bin Abdulrahman Al Maawda, Islamic Affairs Under-Secretary Shaikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Defence Under-Secretary Dr Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, GDN chairman Anwar Abdul Rahman, Discover Islam chairman Ishaq Kooheji and other guests.
Prof Baker presented to Shaikh Abdulla the copies of his latest books: More in Common than you think: The bridge between Islam and Christianity and Theft of a Nation.
Now is the time to build on the foundations of existing coalition and co-operation between Christians and Muslims, said Prof Baker.
"Now is the time to teach all Muslims and all Christians everywhere about the common ground they share," he noted.
"As a Christian who has lived, studied and interacted with Muslim believers for many years, I consider it my responsibility to set forth the basic history and teachings of Islam in an effort to educate the sincere individual who truly wants to know what Muslims believe and practise.
"Once learned, that individual may join with other Christians in building bridges of peace, dialogue, and understanding with the brothers and sisters of Islam."
America and the Western nations begin the new millennium by presenting Islam as the most dangerous threat to freedom and democracy, said Prof Baker.
"Politicians portray longtime Arab allies as untrustworthy and in need of close scrutiny, while the media too casts aspersions on the millions of honourable Muslim citizens living in the West," he added.
"My mission is to remove the distortions and prejudices created against Islam by bringing people and nations on common ground.
"I also appeal to Christians and Muslims to oppose the common evils of all mankind by joining hands in the pursuit of peace, freedom, justice and moral values."
CAMP, based in Southern California, has members in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Middle East, who are actively engaged in promoting dialogue between Muslims and Christians.
Prof Baker is a member of the Near East Institute of Archaeology, the Oxford Philosophical Society and numerous other organisations.
He had earlier addressed a dialogue session at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, entitled East meets West - Removing Mistrust between Islam and the West.
More Thai jihad. From The Straits Times, with thanks to Nicolei:
Tension in the border town of Sungai Golok in southern Thailand escalated dramatically following the discovery of another bomb here yesterday morning.
The bomb was found in a package at the Sungai Golok Customs Office, just metres from the Malaysian border, at 10am local time (11am Malaysian time) - peak hour at the gateway between the two countries, Bernama reported.
Thailand customs officials say the bomb was discovered in the luggage compartment of a four-wheel-drive vehicle belonging to the department.
According to Bernama, the Thai Army bomb disposal unit was called to detonate it. The border gate is only 2km from the town of Sungai Golok, in which Saturday's bomb blast occurred. In that incident, 28 people, including 10 Malaysians, were injured.
The bombing is part of a wave of violence in which 60 people have been killed since January.
Already, the fear and tension since the explosion over the weekend have caused tourists to desert Sungei Golok. The fear also hit the Thai stock market yesterday, causing it to fall 3 per cent.
The bombs are likely to have a devastating impact on the economy of Sungei Golok, at least in the short term.
'Certainly, the number of tourists will reduce and worries about safety and security will cause foreign tourists to cancel their trips to other spots along the border,' the chief of the Pattani Tourism Promotion Association Anusart Suwanmongkol told journalists.
Perceptive insight into the battle we're facing from James P. Lucier of Insight (thanks to EPG):
Reports were filtering back into the West about a mysterious spiritual leader holed up in a mountain fortress. He attracted hundreds of young men by offering training in religious doctrine, devotional discipline and terrorism. He singled out for attack those he judged to have been corrupted by power and luxury or who, in his view, were insufficiently dedicated to the principles of Islam. In the dead of night his trained terrorists would enter the highly guarded precinct of the targeted victim and slit his throat, even though they were almost certain to be killed when the alarm was raised. This disadvantage was offset by a carefully taught theological conviction that, when slain, they would be rewarded instantly with the joys of paradise. These terrorists were called assassins, the Hashishiyyin, because they used cannabis to give them courage.
This is how, in the 12th century, the word assassin became part of the vocabulary of the Western languages. According to accounts brought back by the Crusaders, the Old Man in the Mountain had such control over his followers that he would amuse and terrorize visitors to his castle by ordering a few of his young men to jump off a cliff to demonstrate that they would obey his slightest whim. This man, of course, was not Osama bin Laden. Nor were the Crusader accounts mythological.
The Old Man in the Mountain was a real person, Hasan-i Sabbah, and his mountain fastness was the Castle of Alamut, perched on a barren peak at the south end of the Caspian Sea. Its ruins still may be seen today. Alamut was, like al-Qaeda, the base for a secret society, the Ismailis. Hasan's goal was to return Islam to its fundamental roots, and he sent preachers throughout the region, to Baghdad, Damascus and Aleppo. And when preaching didn't work, there was always the dagger. He warred against the Seljuk Turks and assorted caliphs, sheiks and viziers. He was a believer in the Shia' tradition that the true succession of Islam came through Ali, married to the prophet's daughter, Fatima. The bewildering and complicated history is summed up for Westerners in a famous little book, The Assassins, by the indefatigable scholar Bernard Lewis.
In the public hearings of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States - the 9/11 Commission - many fingers were pointed. The common theme was that both the Clinton and the Bush administrations recognized al-Qaeda as a threat but there was little they could do about it until the Sept. 11 attacks changed the political calculation. There were no smoking guns. President Bill Clinton issued an order to kill bin Laden, but the CIA refused. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright whined that it would have been impossible to get Congress to approve a military operation (although that didn't stop the Clinton administration from going to war to install Islamic extremists in Kosovo). Former White House terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, a self-important fussbudget, complained bitterly that he didn't have the chummy one-on-one relationship with President George W. Bush that he had enjoyed with Bill Clinton - although Bush was being briefed personally by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet every day. And Clarke's own parochial fixation on al-Qaeda blinded him to the fact that the war on terror has to reach much further than the activities of the contemporary Old Man in the Mountain.
The real failure of both administrations was the failure to take the long view of history. The attempt to pigeonhole the terrorist threat in terms of familiar 20th-century ideology and 21st-century political organization, and to try to counter it with law-enforcement, diplomatic and military assets, is bound to fail. And the notion that an advertising campaign or a flurry of public diplomacy will win hearts and minds is even sillier. The strength of al-Qaeda is not al-Qaeda itself. Its power is its preternatural instinct to uncork the bottle and release the dark jinns of the Islamic imagination.
Although President Bush has been careful to say that we are not at war with Islam but with terrorism - and it is prudent to say so - it is also not true to say that Islam is a peaceful worldwide religion that has been hijacked by a small group of bad actors. It is at war first of all within itself, and then with the outside world. There are many kinds of Islam containing splendorous mixtures of benevolence and belligerence. The secular Muslim scholar Ibn Warraq, author of Why I Am Not a Muslim and The Quest for the Historical Muhammed, points out that the approved holy books on the life of Mohammed report that the prophet and his band of followers participated in 80 political assassinations in their consolidation of power. But, of course, he uses Ibn Warraq as a pseudonym, since he has been threatened with assassination for saying so.
Three of the first four caliphs were, in fact, assassinated. But many Muslims belonged to the Shi'atu Ali, the party of Ali, the prophet's son-in-law, and they thought he should become caliph. He did so after the murder of Caliph Uthman in 656. But Caliph Ali was in turn murdered in 661, and the caliphate passed to the rival Umyyads, perpetrating the schism between the Shia' and the Sunni that has caused a bitter division in Islam ever since. Ali's son, Hussein, sought to overthrow the Umyyads, but in the year 680, on the 10th day of the Muslim month of Muharram, Hussein and his family and followers were slaughtered by the Umyyads at a place called Karbala. On March 2, 2004, the worst terrorist attack in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein took place in Karbala as tens of thousands of Shia' mourners gathered at the tomb of the seventh-century Hussein on the anniversary of the murders. Islam takes the long view of history.
March 30, 2004
Senator Jon Corzine
Joel Mowbray reports that in New Jersey it wasn't just Jewish groups that were giving legitimacy to Islamic radicals; it was also two Democratic legislators: Congressman Bill Pascrell and Senator Jon Corzine. From the New York Sun, via FrontPage:
Rep. Bill Pascrell and Senator Corzine, both Democrats of New Jersey, addressed an annual "community brunch" last month co-sponsored by 11 Muslim organizations, including a mosque that has allegedly raised funds for Hamas and another New Jersey mosque whose former imam was convicted last year for smuggling more than a half-million dollars to an Egyptian group that the American Treasury Department subsequently designated a terrorist organization. Mr. Pascrell has also received campaign contributions and fund-raising support from the president of the event's primary sponsor.
The American Muslim Union's Annual Community Brunch on February 21, 2004, was co-sponsored by 10 other organizations, including the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Center of Passaic County of Paterson, the El Tawheed Islamic Center of Jersey City, and the Dar-ul-Islah Islamic Center of Teaneck.
The co-sponsor with the most apparent ties to radical Islam, including allegedly raising funds for Hamas and hosting as a speaker last year an alleged Hamas figure, is the Islamic Center of Passaic County. The American Muslim Union, though, appears to have close ties to the Islamic Center of Passaic County, as five of its current and former directors and executives have held or still hold leadership positions at the Islamic Center.
The American Muslim Union insists it is a mainstream group, and Mr. Pascrell says he doesn't regret the appearance. Neither Mr. Pascrell nor Mr. Corzine generally vote outside of the Democratic mainstream on Israel or terror-related matters.
The co-founder of and former imam at the Islamic Center of Passaic County, which was founded in 1989, was Mohamed El-Mezain. He worked with the ICPC to raise funds for Hamas in the mid-1990s, according to an FBI memo drafted in November 2001 by the FBI's assistant director of counterterrorism, Dale Watson. Mr. El-Mezain, who is no longer affiliated with the Islamic Center and could not be reached for comment, was never charged or arrested.
The FBI document, which provided the basis for the U.S. government to shut down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in December 2001, cited a "reliable" source in noting that "during a speech at the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) in November, 1994, Mohammad El-Mezain, the HLFRD's current Director of Endowments and former Chairman of the HLFRD Board, admitted that some of the money collected by the ICPC and the HLFRD goes to HAMAS or HAMAS activities in Israel. El-Mezain also defended HAMAS and the activities carried out by HAMAS."
The American Muslim Union's president, Mohamed Younes, who is a member of Islamic Center of Passaic County's board of trustees, told The New York Sun that people at the mosque "did not know everywhere their money was going, and they would not have meant to give to Hamas."
Mr. El-Mezain and the Islamic Center of Passaic County appear to have other ties to Hamas.
Mr. El-Mezain attended a conference in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s where more than $200,000 was raised for Hamas and the keynote speaker urged participants to "finish off the Israelis," according to the FBI memo.
The FBI memo cites a "reliable" source who says that at a Muslim Arab Youth Association conference held from December 30, 1994, to January 2, 1995, the keynote speaker was Sheikh Muhammed Siyam, who was introduced as "head of operations of Al Jihad Al Islamia in Gaza, the Hamas military wing." According to the FBI in formant, Mr. Siyam told the crowd, "Finish off the Israelis. Kill them all! Exterminate them!"
"Following Siyam's speech," the memo continues, "El-Mezain exhorted the crowd to contribute money. It was subsequently announced that $207,000 was raised for 'the cause."' The FBI informant also said that at the conference, Mr. El-Mezain announced that he had raised $1.8 million inside the United States for Hamas in 1994 alone.
Magdy Mahmoud, who is the cofounder and president of CAIR-NJ, one of the co-sponsors of the American Muslim Union brunch, was on the executive board of the Muslim Arab Youth Association and directed its Chapters Committee from 1993 to 1998, during which time the 1994-95 conference occurred. According to his biography on CAIR-NJ's Web site, Mr. Mahmoud later served as the chairman of the Chapters Committee for the American Muslim Union from 1999 to 2001. Mr. Mahmoud did not return a call requesting comment.
According to the Islamic Center of Passaic County's Web site, the mosque hosted a lecture in February 2003 by Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who was identified in the FBI memo as a prominent Hamas figure.
Another co-sponsor of last month's event attended by Messrs. Corzine and Pascrell, Dar-ul-Islah Islamic Center, was co-founded by Waheed Khalid, who has defended Hamas activities. When asked by the Bergen Record newspaper in 1998 about Hamas' terrorist activities, Mr. Khalid, who until late last year served as the mosque's president, responded, "They are trying to get the occupiers out of their home."
Mr. Pascrell said that allegations that any of the co-sponsors of the event are radical Islamists or tied to terrorist organizations are "pure crap." Asked if he felt that by appearing at the event he was lending legitimacy to radical organizations, he added, "I'm not going to deal in rumors; the rest is crap. I know these men as fine family men."
A spokesman for Mr. Pascrell later clarified that the congressman wasn't referring to Alaa Al-Sadawi, the former imam at El Tawheed Islamic Center, who was convicted last July of attempting to smuggle more than $650,000 in cash to the Global Relief Fund in Egypt in April 2002.The U.S. Treasury Department designated that fund as terrorist in October 2002.
The spokesman for the congressman said, "That guy should be in jail, but you can't hold the members of the mosque responsible for his actions."
Despite multiple calls from the Sun, Mr. Corzine's office offered no comment.
The American Muslim Union's president, Mr. Younes, stressed that his organization is both moderate and mainstream, adding that it has worked to "bring people together of all faiths."
According to both men, Mr. Younes and Rep. Pascrell have been friends for almost a decade. Mr. Younes and his wife have contributed more than $4,300 to Mr. Pascrell's campaigns since 1998, according to federal election records. Mr. Younes also said that he has hosted "several" fund-raisers for the congressman, including one that netted over $20,000 in October 2000. Messrs. Younes and Pascrell said they can't remember how many fund-raisers Mr. Younes has hosted, or when the most recent one was held.
Mr. Pascrell said he had no regrets about addressing the American Muslim Union- sponsored brunch last month, noting that he has never been given any warning about the group by authorities. "I'm on the Homeland Security Committee and I've never been briefed that they are something I should stay away from," he explained.
Who would have expected a jihad in the drive-thru line? (McDonald's Italy)
This is the latest in a string of jihadist incidents in Brescia. Note the arrest of the imam, mentioned at the end of the article. Didn't he read all the Qur'an's peaceful teachings? From The Independent, with thanks to LGF:
An apparent attempt to blow up a McDonald's drive-in restaurant in northern Italy was foiled on Sunday but the suspected terrorist died when his car exploded with him strapped inside.
Witnesses said a man, later identified as Moustafa Chaouki, a native of Casablanca, drove his Fiat Tempra into the queue of cars waiting at the restaurant in Brescia, 100km east of Milan, at 10 pm. His car contained four cylinders of kitchen gas, each with a capacity of more than 70 litres.
Police believe he opened the taps of the cylinders, filling the car with gas. Witnesses said he then suddenly opened the driver's door, and the car detonated into a fireball.
A woman in the car directly behind the Fiat, told the daily, Corriere della Sera: "I had just said to my boyfriend, 'Don't you smell something strange?' Then there was the blast. That man didn't even try to get out of the car. He stayed there, immobile in his seat, with one leg out of the door."
About 20 customers were inside the restaurant, and a firefighter told Corriere: "We arrived within three minutes, and it was fortunate that we did because we succeeded in containing the explosion, chilling some of the gas cylinders inside the car."
Otherwise, the unnamed officer added, the cylinders could have exploded, firing lethal metal fragments through the restaurant windows and possibly igniting other cylinders of carbon dioxide belonging to the restaurant which were close to the burning car.
Moustafa Chaouki was born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1968 and was a resident of Brescia. Yesterday the assistant prosecutor of the city, Roberta di Martino, who is also the city's anti-terrorism boss, would only say of the incident: "It was not an accidental occurrence."
Last year, a Palestinian with a Kuwaiti passport, Al Khatib Muhammad, died in his car after it exploded close to a synagogue in the town of Modena, 160 kms south-east of Brescia. The crime is still unsolved.
And prosecutors in Brescia are also investigating an imam linked to the Iraq-based Islamist terror group Ansar-al-Islam, who was arrested one year ago.
Mourad Trabelsi, the former imam of a mosque in the town of Cremona, 50km south-west of Brescia, was arrested in April last year, after being under surveillance by the Brescia authorities for three years.
Investigators believe he helped raise funds for terrorist activities, recruited would-be terrorists and acted as the intermediary between a cell of Italy-based terrorists and international terrorist groups.
Jean-Christophe Mounicq zeroes in on the prevailing dhimmi mentality in the Washington Times:
The morning of Jan. 29, upon hearing about the attack on a bus in Jerusalem, I did not experience the expected emotion. It seemed such a "normal" thing, and I have not enough tears to shed for people I do not know.
The next day, on Jan. 30, I read an article about one of the victims — Avraham Belhassen, 26 years old, a young father — and realized that I could tolerate no more. I can no longer tolerate terrorist folly, Islamist hatred, the passivity of Muslims, the blindness of the West.
Following the attacks in Madrid, this feeling struck me again. The reaction of the Spanish people, cringing in fear before the Islamist claim of responsibility, bothered me even more. I can no longer tolerate such cowardly Munich-like behavior that leads inevitably to dishonor and war.
The reaction of the European media and political class to the elimination of Sheikh Yassin — the master of hate and terrorism, and one who had called for the murder of Jews — pushed me over the edge. I can no longer tolerate descriptions of the monster responsible for hundreds of deaths and thousands of wounded as a "spiritual leader," a poor "paralytic in a wheelchair." I can no longer tolerate murderous, barbaric Islamist hatred.
I can no longer tolerate the electoral victories of Islamists in Algeria, Turkey or France. I can no longer tolerate the indifference of Muslim leaders and the majority of Muslims to the suffering of non-Muslims. I can no longer tolerate their affected statements or their perpetual self-victimization.
I can no longer tolerate the double game of Yasser Arafat, the Saudi princes or Pakistani leaders. I can no longer tolerate watching Muslims dance with joy, in the Palestinian territories or in Paris, following attacks on the World Trade Center or an Israeli bus. I can no longer tolerate their anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism, anti-Buddhism or anti-Hinduism.
I can no longer tolerate those who hate liberty but take every advantage of it. I can no longer tolerate Islamist lack of respect for secularism and equality, between men and women, Muslims and others. I can no longer tolerate their lack of respect for the cultures of the very countries that shelter them. I can no longer tolerate the multiplication of veils on women in the streets of Paris.
I can no longer tolerate attacks on French officials, abusive complaints against the police, terrorism against judges, the ban against teaching about the Holocaust in schools, or the brutalization of male doctors who treat Muslim women in hospitals. I can no longer tolerate burning cars in Strasbourg and synagogues in Bondi. I can no longer tolerate catcalls when the Marseillaise is played during games at the Stadium of France. I can no longer tolerate the cries of "death to Jews" in their demonstrations or "death to Christians" written on walls.
I can no longer tolerate concealing the massacres of Christians and Jews in Islamic countries, Copts in the Middle East, of one-and-a-half million Orthodox Armenians in Turkey at the beginning of the last century, as well as a million-and-a-half Christian Sudanese at its end. I can no longer tolerate Muslim ethnic cleansing in Kosovo or Palestine. I can no longer tolerate Islamist totalitarianism.
I can no longer tolerate the relativism and masochism of a West incapable of recalling its own history other than to denounce it. I can no longer tolerate comparing the Crusades to jihad, when the Crusades were nothing but a parenthesis in the history of Christianity while jihad is an integral part of Islam.
I can no longer tolerate the cowardice, weakness and mediocrity of the majority of Western leaders, or the unwillingness of Westerners to affirm their own values and the superiority of liberty and democracy over all other principles and systems. I can no longer tolerate the inability of Europe to recall its Judeo-Christian heritage.
I can no longer tolerate taxes that the European Union transforms into subsidies for the Palestinian Authority or that France transforms into arms for Saddam Hussein. I can no longer tolerate paying the maternity bills for women ready to sacrifice their infants as suicide bombers or for teaching children hatred on the West Bank.
I'm going to pray in the memory of Avraham, pray that his death and those of so many others might finally open the eyes of the cowards in the West who refuse to face the truth. I'm going to pray for Westerners to understand that the war on terrorism is in reality a war against Islamism, and that Islamism is gaining ground among Muslims.
I'm going to pray that moderate Muslims might organize demonstrations against the terrorists just as Corsicans and Basques have demonstrated against their own terrorists. Pray that Islam, which is entering its nuclear era, might become neither conqueror nor warrior, but rather adapt to modernity before it is too late.
Canadian Mounties outside the home of Mahboob A. Khawaja in Orleans
A handful of Ottawa Muslims were being questioned last night in what authorities described as an international terror probe that saw heavily-armed Mounties storm the home of one of the city's most prominent Muslims.
At 1:30 p.m. yesterday, RCMP tactical units, acting on security intelligence briefs, fanned out across the city, arresting one young Muslim man and questioning several others.
The raids followed a month-long RCMP surveillance operation targeting the Orleans home of Mahboob A. Khawaja, who is presently teaching at a university in Saudi Arabia.
Reached there last night, Mr. Khawaja said he was "extremely disturbed" by the raid.
"It's nothing more than a hoax to create embarrassment," he said in a telephone interview. "I don't have the facts about why they would raid my house and take my two children into custody."
The Mounties forced their way into his home, but their target was nowhere to be found. Instead, they found two of Mr. Khawaja's adult children.
His wife, Azra, had gone out for some afternoon shopping and was picked up by police at a shopping centre.
Later in the day, RCMP arrested a Muslim man linked to the house.
According to his friends, one of Mr. Khawaja's four sons was taken away yesterday by RCMP as he walked the hallways of the University of Ottawa, school books in hand.
Mohsan Khawaja has not been charged with any crime and the RCMP would not say why they wanted to talk with the economics student. His brother, Tanzeel Khawaja, studies at Carleton University.
The RCMP would not disclose details of the probe. However, Qamar Masood, president of the Canada-Pakistan Association of the National Capital Region, arrived at the home last night. He says he later spoke with Mr. Khawaja's wife. "She said they think that they were making bombs or something of that nature. But she said, of course, that's impossible."
Mr. Khawaja also said the police alleged that his children had been making bombs.
"Bombs? I don't think there is any substance to this allegation," said Mr. Khawaja. "No way. It's nothing more than a hoax. Maybe some kids were picking on them -- but no way, they're educated guys ... It doesn't make any sense."
"I know my children, they're not involved in this kind of thing. We are a very peaceful educated family. We have nothing to do with this notion of security risk, or bomb making This whole thing sounds absurd to me. It's created a lot of inconvenience for my family," Mr. Khawaja said.
So far, only one suspect has been arrested. He has yet to be named, let alone charged, although police expect to make a "major announcement" later this week.
The RCMP insisted yesterday that Mr. Khawaja's family, including his wife and some of the adult children, were not being held.
More formidable than Mr. Terrorism
The White House has agreed that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will testify before the 9/11 Commission.
Richard Clarke is trying to play Cassandra but Newsmax quotes
an audio clip unearthed by Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity and aired on "Hannity & Colmes".
During an interview on Detroit radio station WJR the year before the Clarke briefing, Rice mentioned bin Laden by name, then recommended: "You really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is a kind of split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence."
Then, in a chillingly prescient comment, Rice named bin Laden a second time, warning, "There needs to be better cooperation because we don't want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory."
The lessons of the 9/11 commission ought to be these
- It was hard before 9/11 to get Americans to take the threat of terrorism seriously. Despite the attacks overseas, we felt safe behind our borders.
Aggresssive action has deterred further attacks
We ought to take seriously the threats of those who say they want to kill us
A further lesson comes from the Jerusalem Post. Israel has won many battles against terrorism, but has had no long term strategy for winning the war.
The Washington Times reports on what al Qaeda had planned after September 11.
LONDON — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terror strikes.
Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response to the New York and Washington attacks, which disrupted the terrorist organization's plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed, according to transcripts of his conversations with interrogators.
Mohammed told interrogators that he and Ramzi Yousuf, his nephew who was behind an earlier attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, had leafed through almanacs of American skyscrapers when planning the first operation.
"We were looking for symbols of economic might," he told his captors.
He specifically mentioned as potential targets the Library Tower in Los Angeles, which was "blown up" in the film "Independence Day," and the Sears Tower in Chicago.
A British newspaper over the weekend published a detailed account that it said was taken from transcripts of the interrogation of Mohammed, who was captured last year in Pakistan.
The transcripts are prefaced with a warning that Mohammed, the most senior al Qaeda member yet to be caught, "has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead."
According to the transcript, Mohammed has maintained that Zacarias Moussaoui, the French-Moroccan facing trial in the United States as the "20th hijacker," had been sent to a flight school in Minnesota to train for a West Coast attack.
That would buttress Moussaoui's contention that he is improperly charged with participation in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, because he was preparing for a different al Qaeda operation.
The new transcripts confirm an earlier report by the Associated Press that al Qaeda originally had planned to crash hijacked airliners into targets on both coasts.
The London Sunday Times said the transcripts covered interrogations
conducted during a period of four months after a bleary-eyed Mohammed was captured in a pre-dawn raid a little more than a year ago.
The confessions reveal that planning for the September 11 attacks started much earlier and was more elaborate than previously thought.
"The original plan was for a two-pronged attack with five targets on the East Coast of America and five on the West Coast," he told interrogators, according to the transcript.
"We talked about hitting California as it was America's richest state, and [al Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden had talked about economic targets."
He is reported to have said that bin Laden, who like Mohammed had studied engineering, vetoed simultaneous coast-to-coast attacks, arguing that "it would be too difficult to synchronize."
Mohammed then decided to conduct two waves of attacks, hitting the East Coast first and following up with a second series of attacks.
"Osama had said the second wave should focus on the West Coast," he reportedly said.
But the terrorists seem to have been surprised by the strength of the American reaction to the September 11 attacks.
"Afterwards, we never got time to catch our breath, we were immediately on the run," Mohammed is quoted as saying.
Al Qaeda's communications network was severely disrupted, he said. Operatives could no longer use satellite phones and had to rely on couriers, although they continued to use Internet chat rooms.
"Before September 11, we could dispatch operatives with the expectation of follow-up contact, but after October 7 [when U.S. bombing started in Afghanistan], that changed 180 degrees. There was no longer a war room ... and operatives had more autonomy."
Mohammed told interrogators that he remained in Pakistan for 10 days after September 11, 2001, then went to Afghanistan to find bin Laden.
When he was captured in March last year in the home of a microbiologist in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, the 37-year-old was unshaven and wearing a baggy vest.
The interrogation reports also indicate that Mohammed had introduced bin Laden to Hambali, the Indonesian militant accused in the terror attack that killed more than 200 people in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002.
Mohammed was running a hostel filtering al Qaeda recruits in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he scouted Hambali, whose real name is Riduan Ismuddin and who ran the Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah in Asia.
Later, Mohammed moved to Karachi, Pakistan. There, posing as a businessman importing holy water from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, he acted as a fund-raiser and intermediary between militants and sponsors in the Gulf.
His first planned anti-American attack was Operation Bojinka (Serbo-Croatian for "big bang") — a plot to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific.
Yousuf and Hambali were involved in the scheme, which failed when the conspirators' Manila bomb factory caught fire. The men fled to Pakistan, where Yousuf was arrested.
Mum's the word, guv'ner (AP)
Britain has arrested eight terror suspects whom one news agency reports to be Pakistani. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said that the arrest had nothing to do with the Madrid bombong, nor with Irish terrorism, but when asked about the religous affiliation of the suspects said only, "As we have said on many occasions in the past, we in the police service know that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community are law abiding and completely reject all forms of violence."
Gee, I wonder what kind of international terrorists they have arrested?
Clarke gave no details of the religious affiliation of the suspects, but he told reporters: "As we have said on many occasions in the past, we in the police service know that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community are law abiding and completely reject all forms of violence. We have a responsibility to all communities to investigate suspected terrorist activity."
He's had a head start in making his case
The BBC seems to have momentarily forgotten that terrorism has nothing to do with religion. They report on the Rand Corporation's plan for waging a diplomatic offensive against the jihadis. According to the BBC, the report urges support of moderate Muslims. Note that one of the problems is that moderate Muslims lack infrastructure. While there are moderate Muslims, it is harder to find moderate Islam; moderate Muslims do not have a significant organization or widespread theological justification for their positions.
A strategy for the West to counter Islamic extremism by supporting Islamic moderates has been put forward in a report funded in part by a conservative American foundation.
It says that the West should help religious "modernists" in the Islamic world in order to prevent a "clash of civilisations."
It states: "It seems judicious to encourage the elements within the Islamic mix that are most compatible with global peace and the international community and that are friendly to democracy and modernity."
The report, called "Civil Democratic Islam: partners, resources and strategies", was drawn up by the Rand Corporation with financial help from the Smith Richardson Foundation, a conservative trust fund which hands out more than $120 million a year to universities and other research organisations.
It is a sign perhaps that some American conservatives, many of whom want to press democratic reform in Muslim countries, realize that a focused approach is needed.
It is a contribution to a debate well under way in the West. The latest manifestation of this debate was a recent speech by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey, who wondered why Islam was "associated with violence throughout the world." His conclusion is not dissimilar to that of this report.
"Is extremism so ineluctably bound up with its faith that we are at last seeing its true character? Or could it be that a fight for the soul of Islam is going on that requires another great faith, Christianity, to support and encourage the vast majority of Muslims who resist this identification of their faith with terrorism?" he asked.
The recommendations have also come as the Bush administration is proposing to use the G8 summit in the American state of Georgia in June to push the issue of democratic and social reform in the Middle East. The summit will coincide with the handover of power in Iraq to an interim Iraqi government.
The Bush initiative has raised suspicions in Arab countries and among some of America's European allies who do not want anything imposed from the outside.
The report's writer, Cheryl Benard, said: "The United States and its allies need to be more discriminating in the way they perceive and interact with groups who call themselves Islamic.
"The term is too vague, and it doesn't really help us when we are looking to encourage progress and democratic principles, while being supportive of religious beliefs."
The report states: "Islam's current crisis has two main components: a failure to thrive and a loss of connection to the global mainstream. The Islamic world has been marked by a long period of backwardness and comparative powerlessness."
It says that Muslims disagree on what to do about this and identifies four essential positions in Muslim societies:
Fundamentalists who "reject democratic values and contemporary Western culture."
Traditionalists who "are suspicious of modernity, innovation and change."
Modernists who "want the Islamic world to become part of global modernity."
Secularists who "want the Islamic world to accept a division of religion and state."
The report says that the modernists and secularists are closest to the West but are general in a weaker position than the other groups, lacking money, infrastructure and a public platform.
It suggests a strategy of supporting the modernists first. This would be done by, for example, publishing and distributing their works at subsidised cost, encouraging them to write for mass audiences and for youth, getting their views into the Islamic curriculum and helping them in the new media world which is dominated by fundamentalist and traditionalists.
It goes onto the say that traditionalists should be supported against the fundamentalists by publicising the traditionalist criticism of extremism and by" encouraging disagreements" between the two positions. It says that "in such places as Central Asia, they (traditionalists) may need to be educated and trained in orthodox Islam to be able to stand their ground."
A third strategy would be "to confront and oppose the fundamentalists" by, among other things, challenging their interpretation of Islam and revealing their links with illegal groups and activities.
Support for the secularists would be cautious and very selective, for example by encouraging "recognition of fundamentalism as a shared enemy."
The latest draft of the US government's own proposals are reported to include the promotion of parliamentary exchanges, the offering of advice on legislation, support for literacy campaigns, and the promotion of more access to personal and development finance.
The Rand approach is more overtly political and has definite diplomatic gains in mind.
It's a good approach, but it will encounter some opposition. In an essay that would be all to easy to dismiss as lunatic raving, one Abid Ullah Jan takes on "The Myth of Moderation." He is upset that the West classifies Muslims as fundamentalist or moderate, and is angry that states such as Pakistan and Turkey would ally with America against their Muslim brothers.
It is wrong to assume that Islamic resurgence is a movement in response to the dominance of Western civilisation. The moribund Western civilisation is not dominating the Muslim world. It is the crusade-infected mentality of some in the Western world, who dominate the Muslim world through the use of deputy tyrants, fully supported by economic, military and technological might. The movement in the Muslim world is not for the revival of Islam but for revival of Muslims.
Tech Central Station points out the dangers of a nuclear armed Iran:
While the "News Cycle" focuses its attention on a mid-level functionary's startling revelation that, had only everyone listened to him, this whole terror thing could have been averted (that is, had they listened then to what he's saying now, not to what he said before… oh well, never mind), let us avert our eyes from the posturing and finger-pointing for a moment and consider what to do about the next threat: a nuclear-armed Iran.
For those who haven't been paying attention to the danse macabre that has been going on between the Mad Mullahs and the International Atomic Energy Agency, a short review:
At Bushehr, they are building a light-water reactor with the aid of the Russians, which (even if our Slavic friends are sincere in their promise to monitor it faithfully and recover all spent fuel) will be a source of practical expertise for the Iranians and allow them to claim they need to have a uranium enrichment capability to ensure fuel supplies. (These reactors run on uranium that has been enriched from the natural 0.7% U-235 to 2-5%; but if you just keep running the same enrichment plant, you can keep going to above 80%, which will work as the core of a nuclear bomb.)
They've recently been caught red-handed and forced to admit that they have been developing two separate secret uranium enrichment programs for the better part of two decades.
At Natanz, a secret gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment plant has been discovered, and traces of highly-enriched (weapon-usable) uranium were found there.
At Arak, a secret (have you noticed the "secret" trend here?) heavy water production plant has been uncovered. Heavy water is used in the type of nuclear reactors that can run on natural, unenriched uranium (so if the enrichment part goes sour, they're still in business), and which are especially suited to produce plutonium (which, of course, is the other potential nuclear bomb core.)
Iran has purchased parts for advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges and probably actual bomb designs from A.Q. Khan's Pakistani Nuclear Warehouse.
As a matter of fact, it's beginning to look like they have a club membership card and are eligible for discounts and special members-only offers.
The Iranians, of course, claim they have no plans to build nuclear weapons. No sir. They are merely spending billions of dollars to develop nuclear power as an alternative energy source for when their oil runs out, say, somewhere around the year 3015.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post writes that Iran binds Hizbullah to Hamas.
With the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, history may repeat itself.
On October 26, 1995 in Malta, Israeli agents assassinated Fathi Shkaki, the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He was replaced by Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, who was not as effective a leader.
As Islamic Jihad began to decline, Iran became its primary funder, and Islamic Jihad in turn became Iran's proxy in the West Bank and Gaza.
With Sheikh Yassin, Hamas's founder dead, Iran may again attempt to move into a power vacuum in order to extend the reach of its terror network both against Israel and worldwide.
The relationship between Hamas and Hizbullah, Iran's leading terrorist proxy, dates back to the early 1990s. After being released from Israeli prison in 1997, Yassin visited Iran and secured a multimillion dollar annual Iranian contribution to Hamas. In the Aksa Intifada, Hizbullah has been generous in sharing its expertise, smuggling plans, equipment, and operatives with the Palestinian territories.
Hizbullah has helped Hamas build rockets based on Katyushas and bombs – including the device used in the March 27, 2002 Passover Massacre. Hamas has also carried out ambushes, such as a February 2002 attack that destroyed an Israeli tank, based on tactics Hizbullah honed in its long fight against Israel in Lebanon.
In the wake of Yassin's assassination, Hizbullah shelled northern Israel, further demonstrating the expanding ties between the two organizations.
MADRID, Spain (AP)- Spain's interior minister Tuesday named a Moroccan extremist group for the first time as the main focus of the probe into the Madrid terror bombings.
Minister Angel Acebes said authorities will investigate links between the prime suspects in detention and "terrorist groups or fundamentalist groups, very especially the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group."
The group has surfaced in Spanish news reports but this was the first time Acebes or any other Spanish official had cited it publicly as a possibly behind the attacks that left 191 dead.
Moroccan investigators have also said they are focusing on two principal extremist groups — the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group and Salafia Jihadia. Salafia Jihadia is accused by the Moroccan government of organizing five nearly simultaneous attacks on May 16, 2003, in Casablanca, Morocco, that killed 45 people, including 12 suicide bombers.
The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group is a forerunner to the Salafia Jihadia and is considered to be the first radical jihad movement in Morocco.
Al-Jazeera has an opinion about Palestinian child jihadis. They are nothing but an Israeli fabrication.
Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of fabricating a story about a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who planned to blow himself up.
The Israeli army said he was caught wearing an explosive belt at an army roadblock in the northern West Bank.
The boy, identified as Husam Abdu from Nablus, was shown on TV screens around the world, with an explosive belt strapped to his waist.
The Israeli army said the boy told interrogators that his dispatchers promised that he would have sex with 72 virgins in heaven soon after his death.
"We know for sure this is a fabricated story from A to Z. Would you believe that a 13 or 14-year old would agree to blow up himself in return for a hundred shekels which he would receive after his death?
MADRID - Spanish police came within a whisker of foiling the Madrid bombings when they stopped a stolen car carrying explosives used in the attacks.
The boot of the Volkswagen was packed with 100kg of stolen industrial dynamite, according to an El Pais newspaper report.
Three of the four train-bombing suspects were thought to have been in the car at the time, but its Arab driver was fined for a minor traffic offence and allowed to drive on.
The Philippines Government claimed an important victory in its long-running battle against Islamic terrorism today, with the seizure of a large cache of explosives and the arrest of four men suspected of links with al-Qaeda.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who faces re-election in May, claimed that the suspects were planning an atrocity on the scale of the train bombings in Madrid which killed 190 people three weeks ago.
Among those arrested was a man alleged to have decapitated a kidnapped American tourist two years ago, and another said to have confessed to the sinking last month of a ferry in which more than 100 people died.
The Weekly Standard has a piece this week on Islamic radicals in Europe. It points out that "the jihadists of Europe have drunk deeply from the virulently anti-American left-wing currents of Continental thought and mixed it with the Islamic emotions of 1,400 years of competition with the Christian West" and says it will be "interesting" (a milder word than I would use) "to see whether France's envy of American hegemony trumps its own experience and fear of Muslim holy warriors trying to blow their way into heaven."
As I have pointed out in the past, it is ironic that leftists are marching under the banner of "No Blood for Oil" when it is leftist governments who have decided to roll over and play dhimmi in exchange for petroleum.
ON AUGUST 26, 1995, a militant Islamic group led by a 24-year-old French Muslim named Khaled Kelkal attempted to blow one of France's high-speed trains off its rails. Luckily, the bomb's detonator, which used an ordinary 12-volt battery, failed. Later that fall, other bombs would go off in France: two in double-decked commuter rail cars in Paris, one in a trash can along the very bourgeois Avenue de Friedland, another in a Parisian open-air market, and one more in a provincial Jewish school. In all there were nine attacks in three months, which killed 10 people and wounded 114.
The bombings in 1995 provoked a widespread awareness for the first time in France that the country had a radical-Muslim problem, which was increasingly homegrown and not imported. Kelkal moved to France from Algeria when he was one month old; not known for being religious in his troubled youth, he became an Islamic militant in a French jail, as have hundreds of highly Westernized French Muslims. Many more thoroughly secularized French Muslims, who did not have crime-filled youths, have become Islamic radicals, culturally at war with the society that made them. Zacarias Moussaoui, the "twentieth hijacker" of 9/11, is the most notorious example of an areligious Frenchman who became intoxicated with the holy-war ideology preached in many radical mosques throughout Western Europe.
This phenomenon of highly Westernized Muslims and converted Christians becoming radicalized believers has happened throughout Western Europe. Relatively few Turks have joined radical Islamic organizations allied with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, even though Turkish fundamentalists are numerous and often hardcore. At home and abroad, they are perhaps more numerous and better organized than are fundamentalists of any other nationality. But the Turks who have been arrested for association with al Qaeda usually share one bond: They were either born or raised in Germany and are culturally more German than they are Turkish Muslim. These young men are part of what the Iranian-French scholar Farhad Khosrokhavar has called the néo-umma guerrière--"the new holy-war community of believers" that recognizes neither national nor ethnic identity nor traditional Islamic values. Their Islam is "a new type of Nietzscheanism" where suicide and murder become sacred acts of an elite, self-made race of believers who want to bring on a purifying Apocalypse.
March 29, 2004
March 29 Terrorist Attacks (REUTERS)
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (Reuters) - At least 19 people were killed in a series of explosions and shoot-outs in Uzbekistan in "terrorist" actions aimed at splitting the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition, officials said Monday.
Prosecutor General Rashid Kadyrov said a further 26 people had been wounded in the ancient city of Bukhara late Sunday and the capital Tashkent Monday morning.
"This has been committed by the hands of international terror, including Hizb ut-Tahrir and Wahhabis," Foreign Minister Sadyk Safayev told a news conference. Hizb ut-Tahrir, which aims to set up a pan-Islamic state that would include post-Soviet Central Asia, and the austere Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam are both outlawed in Uzbekistan.
"That's the hallmark of the terrorist acts we have already witnessed abroad," Safayev said. "Attempts are being made to split the international anti-terror coalition."
Kadyrov said three policemen and one child died in two suicide bomb attacks in Tashkent. Both female suicide bombers also died.
He said that late Sunday about 10 people had died in a blast at an apartment block in Bukhara, some 600 km (375 miles) southwest of Tashkent, when a "terrorist" was preparing an explosive device.
Kadyrov also said that three policemen were killed in overnight shoot-outs with "suspected terrorists."
Uzbekistan is a close Washington ally in the U.S.-led "war on terror" in neighboring Afghanistan (news - web sites). It provided a key airbase for U.S. troops in operations there following the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks on the United States.
A series of killings of officials in Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley in 1997 was blamed on Islamic extremists and led to severe restrictions on any non-state-sponsored Islamic activity.
Under hard-line President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan has been sharply criticized by human rights bodies and some West European nations for its intolerance of any opposition and the harsh treatment meted out to political and religious prisoners.
A United Nations (rapporteur on torture has said that torture is "systematic" in jails in the impoverished Central Asian nation of 25 million. But Karimov retorts that he has to be tough to stop the creeping influence of militant Islam from neighboring Afghanistan.
Tashkent, which has a population of some three million, has been subject to extremely tight security controls since February 1999 when a series of blasts in the center of the city killed 16 and wounded over 100 people.
Those bomb attacks were blamed on the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is closely linked to al Qaeda which the United States holds responsible for the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
Update: Make that 21
The elusive Omar
This just in from Bloomberg.com:
Mullah Mohammad Omar, the fugitive leader of the Taliban, was wounded in a U.S. bombing raid earlier this month that killed four of his bodyguards, Deutsche Presse- Agentur said, citing a newspaper report in Pakistan.
Omar was injured in the legs and left side of his body and won't be able to move about for two months, DPA said, citing an interview in the Urdu language daily newspaper, Ausaf, with Jabbar Aziz, a doctor. The report said the raid took place in the southern Afghan province of Zabul.
The newspaper, which is known for having contacts with the Taliban, didn't say where or when the interview with Aziz took place, DPA reported.
Omar, who is said to be about 41, has been on the run since the Taliban regime was ousted in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in December 2001. The U.S. is sending 2,000 Marines to Afghanistan to help step up the hunt for Omar and other Taliban leaders, as well as members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network still hiding in Afghanistan.
Joel Mowbray shows why the standards for moderate Islam have been set too low, at least in New Jersey:
Sometimes, partnering with ostensibly moderate Muslim organizations in holding interfaith events can lead to a lot of trouble and controversy if proper homework isn't done in advance.
Just ask two Jewish groups in New Jersey.
The UJA Federation of Bergen County and North Hudson and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of New Jersey had both signed on to co-sponsor an interfaith brunch scheduled for this Sunday, March 28th, which was organized by the various members of a longstanding interfaith coalition.
When a large number of members of the two Jewish groups complained, the interfaith coalition uninvited the American Muslim Union, which was one of two Muslim co-sponsors and jointly listed along with the Dar-ul-Islah Islamic Center as the event's only two hosts.
But appearances can be deceiving.
According to officials at both the mosque and AMU, AMU is very still very much a part of the interfaith brunch. Both organizations, in fact, maintain that their respective levels of participation remain exactly the same as before. And the featured speaker, who was selected by the two groups (and has her own set of problems relating to radicalism), has not changed either.
Given the histories of people involved with AMU and Dar-ul-Islah Islamic Center, it's not difficult to see why so many in the local Jewish community were concerned.
Though the American Muslim Union appears moderate in its official literature -- saying it is "dedicated to serving the American Muslim community and its unique needs" -- the organization has interlocking leadership with a group that has allegedly raised funds for Hamas and hosted as a guest speaker last year an alleged Hamas member.
Four current and former AMU directors and executives have held or currently hold leadership positions with the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC), a mosque located in Paterson, New Jersey. ICPC was founded in 1989 by, among others, Mohamed el-Mezain, who was the Chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLFRD), which the Treasury Department designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in December 2001.
According to a November 2001 FBI report that served as a basis for Treasury's decision to shut down HLFRD, a "reliable" FBI informant "reported that during a speech at the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) in November, 1994, Mohammad El-Mezain... admitted that some of the money collected by the ICPC and the HLFRD goes to HAMAS or HAMAS activities in Israel. El-Mezain also defended HAMAS and the activities carried out by HAMAS." Just last February, ICPC hosted a speech by Abdelhaleem Ashqar (http://www.icpc.com/icpcv2/lectures/lectures.icpc?directory=Friday_Lectures), who is identified by several FBI informants cited in the memo as a prominent Hamas member. Ashqar was jailed for two months last fall for his refusal to testify before a federal grand jury probing Hamas.
Although the ties to Hamas are allegations -- El-Mezain nor anyone else affiliated with AMU or ICPC has been arrested -- AMU has co-sponsored several rallies that any genuinely moderate groups would not associate themselves with. Chief among these rallies is one held in Times Square in April 2002, which called for, among other things, an end to the Israeli "massacres" of Palestinians.
To judge for yourself, look at a flyer promoting the event by clicking here. The headline is "Stop Palestinian Genocide" and features an obviously forged photo of a baby lying in a pool of blood in a hospital bed. There may be many legitimate debates among reasonable, moderate people about Israel's treatment of Palestinians, but there are no widespread "massacres," nor is there any "genocide" of Palestinians. It is wildly false to claim either.
So when UJA issued a four-paragraph statement, which was read to this columnist over the phone by a UJA official, announcing that AMU was no longer a co-sponsor of the interfaith brunch, many members were relieved and considered the matter closed.
What Bergen County's interfaith coalition did, according to UJA's statement, was that it "determined that in the spirit of brotherhood, the faith communities rather than any organization will be the official sponsors of the Brunch." In other words, since AMU couldn't be called a co-sponsor, nobody else could either.
To put it another way: Nothing's changed, other than the elimination of the label "co-sponsor."
Halabi being escorted to his arraignment (AP)
Daniel Pipes reveals some extraordinary information about Guantanamo interpreter and US Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad al Halabi at FrontPage:
Halabi, a 25-year-old translator of Syrian origins, says he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen after joining the Air Force in January 2000, though this is a disputed matter. He spent nine months working as an Arabic language interpreter in Guantánamo and was arrested on July 23, 2003, at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, on his way to his own wedding ceremony in Syria. When apprehended, he had 186 unauthorized classified documents on on his laptop computer.
The 32 charges against him made public in September 2003 included 11 counts of failing to obey a lawful general order or regulation; 3 counts of aiding the enemy, 4 counts of espionage; 9 counts of making a false statement; bank fraud and violations of the Federal Espionage Act. More specifically, he was charged with:
• Downloading classified documents to his personal laptop computer;
• Making illegal contact with the Syria embassy in Washington;
• Failing to report unauthorized communications between U.S. troops and detainees;
• E-mailing details about the base's flight schedule to individuals in Syria;
• Attempting to deliver information about detainees at Guantánamo; and
• Collecting 180 messages from those detainees with the intent to deliver them to known enemies.
While the majority of the charges concern classified information (and their phrasing suggests that in most cases al Halabi did not succeed in delivering his information), three others catch the eye. As CNN describes these three:
One charge accuses al Halabi of delivering unauthorized food, including baklava pastries, to detainees. Another charge accuses al Halabi of "executing a scheme" to obtain credit from seven banks by providing false information. A third charge accuses al Halabi of denying any knowledge of Wahhabism, when the "statement was totally false." ... It is unclear what connection, if any, the Wahhabism has with the espionage charges.
In January 2004, the Air Force dropped several of the most serious charges, including the single count that carried the death penalty, that of "aiding the enemy." Other dropped charges concerned e-mailing information about Guantánamo detainees and transmitting information to unauthorized recipients. Halabi now faces seventeen charges; the court-martial, expected to begin April 27, 2004, at Travis Air Force Base in northern California, could send him to prison for life without parole.
During court-martial proceedings, military prosecutors revealed that Halabi is also the subject of a second, separate counterintelligence probe; and he may face criminal charges in addition to the spying charges.
(To complicate matters further, Marc Palmosina, a special agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations who had worked on the Halabi case, is under investigation for mishandling classified documents and has been removed from this case.)
At the court-martial, Halabi will likely proclaim ignorance that the documents he was carrying were classified. But that will be a tough sell, as early on he acknowledged as much to investigators; and he also postal mailed 60 pages of classified documents to his home in California.
Then there is another piece of evidence, which I am revealing here, and it pertains to Halabi's personal website at http://www.geocities.com/ahmad564/. (geocities.com is a free web page hosting service, so his site should remain indefinitely available, despite his incarceration.)
The website contains a miscellany of items that interested Halabi. He lists news from Arab League member states, the Islamic prayer times, pictures of Arab pop music stars, airplanes, and the like.
Then there are some items of greater relevance. Clicking on the "r" in "SrA/USAF" on the left side of the page takes you via a secret link leads to a hidden romantic page with flowers, several pictures of a woman, and this warning:
This is a private Web Page For RANA DALI
Only authorized persons may view this page.
Clicking on "Go to Ahmad's Picture in Cuba" then brings up three pages of pictures of Halabi.
• The first has pictures taken at Captain Yee's residence, with a tughra-style "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful" at the top of the page.
• The second posts standard military-style pictures of Halabi in Kuwait - standard except for the anomalous presence of the Syrian flag waving at the top of the page.
• The third seems to be a Muslim-only page, with captions like "Group picture on EID Day," "EID party, Dec 6 2002. From Right To left, Ahmad, Tabasom, Katib, Chaplin Yousif and Ahmad," and "On the ferry from Right to left: Rabi, Tony, Bahlawan, Tariq and Ahmad." This page features both the tughra and the Syrian flag.
In preliminary arguments, prosecutors stated that while Halabi was undergoing a preliminary hearing, someone accessed his website and altered it. Worries about Halabi's computer skills are one reason why he will remain incarcerated as his case moves forward. In the words of Military Judge Col. Barbara Brand, "His computer prowess continues to pose a threat."
Halabi's website spurs two thoughts. First, Halabi appears to be computer savvy enough to have sent off information without the U.S. authorities being aware of what he had done.
Second, according to a search warrant prepared to have access to his mail, Halabi "made statements criticizing United States policy with regard to the detainees and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East," then lied about making such statements. Combining this hostile political outlook with the nearly exclusive focus on fellow Muslims in the web pages leads this observer to wonder about Halabi's loyalties.
Lee Kuan Yew (newshub)
Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew notes that while radical Muslims operate in terror groups worldwide, "at the moment, the moderate Muslims are keeping out of sight." From The Star, with thanks to Nicolei:
IN an interview with the BBC's East Asia Today programme, broadcast last night, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew addressed the issue of terrorism and spoke on the role of moderates within the Muslim community.
Speaking of his hopes and fears of the struggle to come, he said that if it becomes a clash or fight against Muslims, then, as he put it, "it's a very stupid way to conduct this battle".
"The problems are caused by an errant heretical group that wants to use the Muslim religion to turn it into a jihad, or a holy struggle, against the West," Lee said during the interview, which took place at the Istana last Wednesday.
"Their objectives, well if you read Osama bin Laden - I don't read him in the Arabic but I've read interpretations of what specialists think ... of what he means by what he's said - it's really to get the Americans and the West out of the Middle East, control the oil and control the world.
"But the crux of the battle really, the core battle, is between moderate and extreme Muslims.
"At the moment, the moderate Muslims are keeping out of sight."
So it has been the extreme Muslims against the Americans, the Israelis and the West, and all those who support the Americans, including Singapore, said Lee.
"But if Madrid, 9/11, Bali and so on keep going on and the moderates in the Muslim world keep silent, either condone or duck the issue, then there is a danger that the West may begin to feel, that really, there are no champions to counter these terrorists," he said, referring to recent and previous acts of terrorism.
"That would become a very dangerous problem."
Asked by the interviewer if he were to mean it was the moderates in the Islamic world, rather than the war against terror, that were exacerbating the situation, Lee replied "no".
He explained it thus: "I am saying that moderates in the Muslim world, by not being able to take a stand and take the lead and start the argument with the extremists in the mosques, in the madrasah, they are ducking the issue and allowing the extremists to hijack, not just Islam, but the whole of the Muslim community."
Indeed, moderate Muslims have yet to demonstrate to their fellow Muslims that the radicals have not "highjacked" the religion.
As for whether Lee thought the war against terror could widen the gulf between Islam and the West, he acknowledged there was that danger.
However, it was not necessarily inevitable - provided the Muslim moderates take a stand, he added.
Lee said: "Let's take 9/11 or Madrid. If nobody except Europeans and Americans and those who are already committed condemn this - I mean if all Muslim countries stay silent, or Muslim groups stay silent - then there is the danger that the Europeans and Americans may come to the conclusion, 'Look, there's really nobody on the other side, that's standing up against this evil.'
"I think that would be bad. I believe the vast majority have no interest in this terrorism. It is not going to win them the battle and they must know it.
"The question is: Who makes a stand? President Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, President Bouteflika of Algeria, President Musharraf of Pakistan?
The whole world is waiting for the appearance of this moderate Islam.
More threats of destruction, this time with an apocalyptic twist. From WND, :
An Israeli intelligence analyst sees a frenzy of jihadist Internet communications as part of a "dangerous Islamic messianic whirlpool" featuring a number of prophecies culminating in the coming of the "Mahdi," reports the latest issue of the premium online intelligence newsletter Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
Some of the documents obtained in a sweep of Internet communications just before the attack on the Madrid trains are signed by an unknown sheikh - assumed to be a nom de guerre for Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or others in leadership in al-Qaida.
The communications make a number of predictions about world events pointing to "The coming of the Mahdi" - a messianic figure Muslims expect to come and lead them in victory against the infidels in the last days.
Here is what these communications foresee:
• Two European countries will be attacked.
• Another attack is planned against the U.S.
• Followers are asked to get rid of euros and as true Muslims replace them with gold.
• There will be an assassination attempt against a high-ranking Egyptian official.
• A mass gathering of jihad warriors is expected in the cities of the twin holy mosques Mecca and Medina.
• A divine signal will be given when three celestial stars will be aligned on one axis.
• The appearance of a new star, never seen before, will be in plain sight to all humanity.
• Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf and Yasser Arafat will be annihilated in the same month.
The list includes other apocalyptic predictions such as "the march of Islam through Russia, the return of Islam to Andalusia and a victory parade in Jerusalem with liberated Saddam Hussein at the lead. This will follow after a war in Syria and the assassination of King Abdullah of Jordan."
There is no specific time frame for the apocalyptic prophecy, according to G2 Bulletin sources. The most important aspect of the communications is the subsequent attack in Spain, and an important threat to the continental U.S.
Islam Karimov (Vestnik.com)
That is, jihad in an Uzbeki market. From AP, :
An explosion has ripped through the Uzbek capital Tashkent, killing at least two people, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The Uzbek Foreign Ministry has blamed terrorists.
Ministry spokesman Ilkhom Zakirov said that there were "several terrorist acts," arrests had been made and an investigation was underway. He confirmed that there were casualties but could not give further details.
At least one of the blasts occurred around 9 a.m. (0400 GMT) at the Chorsu market in the Old City, said Alimzhon Turdakulov, spokesman for the National Security Service.
Russia's Echo of Moscow radio, citing the RIA-Novosti news agency, said several people had been killed.
Police and intelligence agents closed off the sprawling market and vans with investigators were massed in front of the "Children's World" store, where the blast was believed to have occurred.
There was no visible sign of an explosion from afar.
The market would normally be filled with thousands of people selling everything from goat meat to clothing to carpets. On Monday, however, only cleaning crews could be seen. No shoppers or vendors were visible.
Officials at the Interior Ministry refused comment on the attack. President Islam Karimov was scheduled to make a televised address to the nation about the attack at 1 p.m. (0800 GMT). Prosecutors were expected to hold a briefing later in the day.
Zakirov, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, tied the explosions to the recent train bombings in Madrid and with continuing turbulence in neighboring Afghanistan.
A series of near-simultaneous bombings in Tashkent in February 1999 were blamed on the terrorist group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which has been linked to the al Qaeda terror network.
Uzbek authorities said the blasts, which killed 16 people, were an attempt to assassinate Karimov.
In Onward Muslim Soldiers I detail the jihad ideology held by Hamas, which prevents them from entering into negotiations for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Now Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of Palestinian Media Watch explain in the Jerusalem Post why there is not all that much difference between the PA and Hamas anyway.
The Western world sees Hamas as a terrorist organization seeking Israel's destruction, but treats the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a peace partner, either actual or potential, for Israel. The fact that Israel continues to seek contact with PA leaders heightens the clear distinction made between the PA and Hamas.
But the distance between Hamas and the PA has been shrinking for years. And the way the PA has responded to the killing of Yassin shows just how close the two groups actually are. The PA has gone far beyond its expected level of condemnation of the killing, and has eulogized Yassin as a leader representing all the Palestinian Authority.
PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, for example, told PA TV that just as "Yassin united the Palestinians in his life he united them again in his death." Yasser Arafat's official daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida, published a cartoon of a wheelchair shaped as a map of what the PA calls "Palestine" (which erases all of Israel) thereby stating graphically that Yassin and "Palestine" are one and the same.
In an unprecedented move, PA television ceased all regular programming for days, and except for brief news reports broadcast only slides of the Koran sung to mournful tunes. In the Arab world, this Koran broadcasting is usually reserved for the deaths of heads of state, as was done on Syrian TV after the death of Hafez Assad. That PA TV treated Yassin in this fashion demonstrates his elevated stature among PA leadership and PA society.
Anyone listening to PA leaders' pronouncements in Arabic over the years has recognized that there never was a meaningful ideological divide between the PA and Hamas. It is well understood, for example, that Hamas believes Islam demands Israel's destruction. As the Hamas charter states, "Palestine is an Islamic Wakf the liberation of Palestine is an individual duty binding on all Muslims everywhere."
Taunted by Al-Qaeda (CNN)
From CNN, :
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has accused Osama bin Laden's top deputy of taunting him and vowed to press on with an offensive against al Qaeda, saying, "I want to eliminate all of them."
Musharraf made his comment just days after Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second-in-command, urged Pakistani tribes to resist government troops and to overthrow Musharraf.
"Now that he is taunting me, well, all that I would like to say, I want to eliminate all of them," Musharraf told ABC's This Week.
Musharraf survived two assassination attempts in December last year, both of which he blamed on al Qaeda.
Asked if he was confident he would get Zawahiri and bin Laden before they get him, Musharraf said, "I can't be 100 percent sure. I mean, I'm quite loose at my security, but I believe in destiny. ... I'm very sure that we'll eliminate this al Qaeda from our region."
OK, Pervez, but what about the madrassas?
Canada's anti-money-laundering centre uncovered $35-million in suspected terrorist financing in the first nine months of the fiscal year, outstripping the tally for the entire previous year.
The amount reflects the total detected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre from April through December 2003, forming the basis of 29 case files passed to police or intelligence officials for further investigation.
The figures obtained by The Canadian Press are the latest indication that dangerous organizations continue to try to use Canada's financial institutions as conduits for bankrolling terrorist acts.
Fintrac, as the federal centre is known, identified 25 cases of suspected terrorist financing involving $22-million in all of fiscal 2002-03. ...
The agency says terrorist financing may involve money raised from legitimate sources, such as personal donations and profits from businesses and charitable organizations, as well as from criminal activities, such as the drug trade, the smuggling of weapons and other goods, fraud, kidnapping and extortion.
Clarke: You probably won't see him here again (CBS)
I have been asked why Jihad Watch is not covering the Richard Clarke foofaw. The answer is simple: I agree with Neil Cavuto's view (thanks to Ruth):
I am focused not so much on threats, real or imagined, before Sept. 11, but on threats very real and far from imagined post-Sept. 11. I find it incredibly ironic that during a week past and present administration officials were being grilled on what they knew and when they knew it, the militant terrorist group Hamas put out a dire warning on what they want to do and when they want to do it.
Let's be very frank. Sept. 11 has come and gone. Nothing can bring those nearly 3,000 poor souls back. Mistakes were made, miscues were apparent, intelligence was anything but. But this isn't about correcting wrongs. This is about settling political scores.
And here's what I think: The terrorists are laughing at us. They're laughing at our political infighting. They're laughing at our obsession with all things shallow and nothing substantive. They're laughing at a country more concerned with scoring points than getting answers. And here's the killer, [they're] laughing at us ignoring real killers.
I mean, did anyone find it even a tad odd that as we're going back years, desperately reconstructing a tragic event, some of our worst enemies are reconstructing to do it again?
Hamas doesn't like us. Al Qaeda doesn't like us. A huge chunk of the Muslim world doesn't like us, is recruiting against us, and is focusing on destroying us and those close to us. Look at Madrid. Look at Baghdad. Look at us. And all we can do in turn is play games -- sifting old stories and old excuses in a pale attempt at justice.
Also -- Barbara Amiel puts her finger on the core misapprehension :
If 9/11 can be reduced to being Washington's fault, the irrational hate and destruction becomes almost manageable. Change administrations, and the Islamists will go away. Such a seductive, comforting thought echoes in most political battles and elections today. The wind from the east blows gritty grains of fear and delusion into the West's eyes. One wonders apprehensively, which way the zeitgeist of this new millennium will turn. Worse, one fears the calamity that will really turn it hasn't happened yet.
From Reuters, with thanks to Ruth:
Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told Hamas's new leader on Saturday to consider the Lebanese guerrilla group under his command following the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin this week.
In a show of unity between the two Islamist groups, Hamas new chief Khaled Meshaal also addressed thousands of Hizbollah supporters at a memorial service for his predecessor Yassin, whom Israel assassinated this week.
Nasrallah told him: "Consider us in Hizbollah, from the secretary-general and leadership down to our fighters and women, members of Hamas, and soldiers under your command."
The two Islamist groups have long been allies and keep in regular contact. Hizbollah is a staunch supporter of a more than three-year-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, and the group attacked Israeli posts in a disputed border area on Monday in response to Yassin's killing.
Mourners held pictures of the dead cleric, whose group has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, amid a sea of Hizbollah and Palestinian flags.
"I say to our brothers in Palestine: We in Lebanon are with you. Be sure that your blood is our blood and your sheikh is our sheikh. We share the same destiny and this means that our fight is one," Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah told the gathering in Beirut's predominantly Shi'ite southern suburbs that Israelis were planning to plant explosives at unspecified targets, but gave no further details except to say:
"I'm saying that in some of these places we are going to be waiting for them."
Nasrallah, whose group fought Israel's 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon until it withdrew its forces in May 2000, said Israeli suggestions he could be next on its hit list did not scare him.
Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, called for similar support from an Arab summit, which was planned for early next week in Tunis but was postponed late on Saturday because of differences between Arab governments on reforms.
Speaking before the summit was postponed, he asked them to support what he called resistance in Palestine and Lebanon and to sever any relations they had with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Meshaal said Hamas's response to Israel's deadly missile strike against Yassin would be confined to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"One of our priorities is to respond to Sharon's crime. We will not say what kind of response but I say that our resistance will be confined to fighting the Zionist occupation on Palestinian land," Meshaal said.
A new article by Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer, "Islam's Anti-Christian Jihad," is available at FrontPage today.
March 28, 2004
A popular man
An interesting report on polling in Pakistan, from Mid Day:
Nearly two thirds of people in Pakistan hold favourable views of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and 86 per cent approve of President Pervez Musharraf, according to a survey by a major American organisation.
Nearly half of those interviewed said suicide bombings against Israelis and, in Iraq, against Americans and other Westerners are justified.
The report by the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project survey found that 65 per cent favoured Osama and that pluralities of 47 per cent believed Palestinian suicide attacks on Israelis were justified. Forty-six per cent thought attacks on Westerners in Iraq were justified.
The Pew Research Centre is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation, which specialises in opinion surveys. Its reports are widely respected in Washington's academic circles.
Pakistan was one of four Muslim-majority countries in the survey, which also included Turkey, Jordan and Morocco, the governments of all of which have strong ties with the US.
Pew, the polling organisation questioned 1220 people in Pakistan's urban areas, 1000 nationwide in four Moroccan cities and about 1000 each nationwide in Turkey and Jordan between February 19 and March 3.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Pew also conducted polls during the same period in the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia.
In Tehran a ceremony to honor Sheikh Yassin of Hamas was attended by high-level officials, according to Persian Journal. Apparently Iranian officials were undeterred by Yassin's ordering of targeted murders of civilians on buses and restaurants.
A ceremony to commemorate Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, teroorist Leader of Hamas was held in the Ark mosque in Tehran on Sunday.
The ceremony was attended by Akhtari representative of the So-called Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution and Majlis Speaker Mahdi Karrubi.
Also present in the ceremony were Hojatoleslam Shariati, representative of the president Khatami and several members of the cabinet as well as ambassadors of Islamic countries such as Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
The attendants insisted on continuing the path of terror and the Palestinian campaign against the Israel.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, AP headlines a story this way: "Revival of religious Shiite books as defining feature of community's empowerment."
Now that the dictator is gone, bookstores in this holy city south of Baghdad are busy again. For the first time in decades they are selling over-the-counter Shiite religious books that could have easily landed their owners and readers in jail, where torture was common. ...
"Being in the book business is not just a way to make money," said Saheb Jawad, whose shop is on al-Howeish alley along with many other bookstores near the shrine of Imam Ali, Shiism's 7th century founding father.
"It is the virtue of spreading the faith that makes it worthwhile," Jawad said.
Do these Shi'ite religious books glorify violent jihad and justify suicide attacks as "martrydom operations"? Does anyone know? If not, why not? And if the books do this, what will prevent Shi'ites in Iraq from trying to replicate Iran there? Will memorials to Sheikh Yassin be erected in Baghdad?
FOR more than 100 years it stood proudly as the centrepiece of England's oldest public park before being decapitated during a Second World War air raid.
Now a row has broken out after plans to replace Derby's historic Florentine Boar statue were abandoned for fear of offending Muslims, whose religion considers pigs to be 'unclean'.
A replica of the statue, a crouching wild boar, was intended as the jewel in the crown of a Pounds 5 million National Lottery- funded restoration of the city's Arboretum Park.
But councillors have called for the proposal to be scrapped amid sinister warnings that the statue would be vandalised or stolen.
The Florentine Boar statue stood from 1840 until 1942 when it was beheaded by a German bomb. But it was last week branded 'offensive' during a meeting of Derby Council's minority ethnic communities advisory committee.
Councillor Suman Gupta, a Labour representative for Derby's Derwent ward, told the meeting: 'If the statue is put back in the Arboretum, I have been told it will not be there the next day, or at least it won't be in the same condition.
'We should not have the boar because it is offensive to some of the groups in the area.' The park is in an area known for its large Pakistani community.
Shokat Lal, a community leader, said at the meeting: 'In Normanton the majority of residents are Pakistani Muslims.
'I'm not saying we have to lose the boar, but we could put the boar in the city centre so it does not cause offence to people.' Local historian Christopher Harris told The Mail on Sunday: 'We are living in a multicultural society and I hope that would include English culture.
'If the boar had never been destroyed in 1941, these people would have grown up with it and would not have noticed it.
'Activists have jumped on the chance to make a statement. It is one that damns English culture-But the wild boar is part of Derby's culture.' He said a small minority of Muslims with extreme political views had issued veiled threats to the council over the statue.
The land for the park was donated to the council in September 1840 by Joseph Strutt, the first mayor of the Borough of Derby, a wealthy cotton mill owner who wanted to give the public a place to exercise.
He commissioned architect J.C. Loudon to landscape the area. The hollow ceramic boar was donated by Mr Strutt.
Sculpted on commission by W. J. Coffee - and based on drawings of a similar statue in the Market Nuovo in Florence - it was intended as a gift to the working classes of Derby.
Last week's committee meeting proposed that a statue of Mr Loudon should be erected at the Arboretum with a new site for the boar in the city centre.
Last night, Councillor Gupta told The Mail on Sunday: ' Communities change.'
Tory leader Philip Hickson said: 'The community is strong enough to stand a statue of a boar in a park. But we live in an age where sometimes things are a little more politically correct than they ought to be.'
Chretien: pleading on behalf of a terrorist
This Independent puff piece on the heroic wives of heroic Al-Qaeda men would be notable only for its sympathy with those who would destroy us were it not for one detail: former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien personally intervened to gain the freedom of an associate of Osama bin Laden whose family business is, as the article says, jihad. Meet two sisters, Maha and Zaynab:
Maha's late husband, Ahmed Said Khadr, the recently deceased Egyptian-Canadian patriarch of the family, ran orphanages and schools in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
He was also named on a United Nations list of wanted terrorists and was once jailed on suspicion of involvement in the 1995 bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. (He was released after a personal appeal from Canada's then prime minister, Jean Chretien.) His Arab associates in Afghanistan included Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his Egyptian strategist and No 2. Zawahiri is the "high-value target" who was recently alleged to have been cornered in the mountains of Waziristan, in the tribal belt of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan. His voice subsequently appeared on an audiotape urging Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf.
Zaynab went to school with Zawahiri's daughter, and Bin Laden was guest of honour at her 1999 marriage to her now ex-husband, a sharpshooter from Yemen. The family also briefly shared a sprawling Arab compound in Jalalabad with Zawahiri's family. All four sons were taught to shoot at the now-demolished al-Qa'ida training camp at Khalden in eastern Afghanistan.
From the Boston Globe, with thanks to Mackie, a glimpse inside a Shi'ite mosque in Baghdad:
Alternately raucous and sober, yesterday's prayers offered a stark glimpse of how Shi'ite clerics get their followers to speak in one voice on the social and political issues of the day.
"We thirst for martyrdom," said 24-year-old Abdul Allah Abed, a carpenter who also volunteers in the Army of the Mahdi. "We are not scared." He, like the hundreds of other Mahdi members ringing the mosque area, wore all black; the group, thousands strong, answers to Moqtada al-Sadr, the young firebrand anti-American cleric. ...
Shortly after noon, a crowd of 10,000 men on prayer rugs, filling the entire street in front of the mosque, chanted as one to the call of the imam, Sheik Nassir al-Saidi.
"Yes, yes to Islam! Yes, yes to al-Sadr!" they shouted after the imam offered a prayer to all the martyred descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. ...
He also denounced the interim constitution approved by the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which sets the structure for a caretaker government to supervise national elections.
"You should not say you support the interim constitution. You should say you reject it," Saidi said, adding that God would send supporters of the plan to hell.
Good observations from The Australian, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
ANYBODY who still doubts the appalling lengths Islamic terrorists will go to achieve their evil ends should check the news coverage of Thursday's failed suicide bombing on the West Bank.
The human bomb, a boy in his early teens, lost his nerve, broke down and pleaded with Israeli troops guarding a checkpoint to save him. The soldiers kept their nerve, and used a robot to cut him free from the 8 kilograms of explosives strapped to his body. If the whole incident had not been filmed by a passing Palestinian cameraman who works for a press agency, cynics would be dismissing it as a stunt organised by the Israelis. But it is an awfully routine part of life in the Middle East. Suicide bombers are generally young men, although a new tactic favoured by Palestinian terrorists is to bully young women into blowing themselves up, on the promise that by dying they will atone for their so-called sexual infidelities. The only thing that makes this latest attempted attack more grotesque than usual is the fact the bomber was so young. The corruption in the souls of terrorist commanders who sacrifice the lives of young people while they, and their own children, stay safe beggars belief.
It takes an extraordinarily brutal commitment to a cause, be it the destruction of Israel or the independence of Chechnya, to use suicide bombings as a standard strategy. But it is what nations around the world, including Australia, must understand they also face. The murder of 88 Australians and other innocents in Bali, bombings in Manhattan, Moscow and Madrid, and in any number of Muslim cities around the world demonstrate that ordinary people everywhere are at risk in the war on terror. And beyond breaking up the terror cells and capturing or killing their commanders, there is nothing we can do to stop them. We certainly cannot reason with Islamic fundamentalists who believe they are fighting decadent Westerners and apostate Muslims to establish God's rule on earth in a war that may take centuries. We no longer hear the guff about terrorism being caused by poverty as much as we did immediately after September 11, but people who still think we can appease the terrorists should consider Thursday's attack. People who will use a child to murder other children as part of a struggle to destroy Israel and impose religious rule throughout the Muslim world are interested in winning, not negotiating. That fundamentalists have no hope of ever taking power through the ballot box, as demonstrated by the trouncing of the Islamic fundamentalist party in last weekend's Malaysian elections, will only make the terrorists more determined to follow the path of violence.
Which means we have no option but to stand firm and not be swayed from prosecuting the war on terror on all fronts - Iraq included. In Washington this week, Richard Clarke, a former counter-intelligence chief, testified that the Bush administration was obsessed with Saddam Hussein and underestimated the threat from Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida organisation before September 11. His old colleague, former CIA director George Tenet, denied it. If Mr Clarke is right, it was a grievous operational failing. But this does not mean the United States should now lose sight of the need to fight terrorism on all fronts. To abandon the Iraqi people to the terrorists, who are now desperate to reduce Iraq to anarchy, and focus solely on hunting down bin laden in Afghanistan would be like the US ignoring Hitler's Germany and only fighting in the Pacific because it was surprised by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour. To defeat Islamic terror, the US and its allies, including Australia, must defend Iraq. As the Malaysian elections demonstrate, genuine Muslims will renounce fundamentalism when they have a chance, and a stable democratic Iraq will light a path away from terror throughout the Middle East. Labor leader Mark Latham talks of bringing our troops home from Iraq to defend Australia. What he does not get is that in the war on terror, conventional borders and battle-lines are meaningless. What Darwin represented for the national defence of Australia in 1942, Baghdad does today.
The new leader of the militant group Hamas on Sunday called President Bush the enemy of Islam and said that "God declared war" against Bush, the United States and Israel. In a speech at Gaza's Islamic University, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi said he was not surprised that the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel's assassination on Monday of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin.
"We knew that Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims. America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon," Rantisi said. "The war of God continues against them and I can see the victory coming up from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas."
The United States lists Hamas as a terrorist organization. The militant group has carried out many of the suicide bombings that have killed more than 450 people in the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Immediately after the Israeli missile strike that killed Yassin, Rantisi and other Hamas leaders threatened to retaliate against the United States, Israel's staunchest ally. However, a few days later, Rantisi backed down from the threat, saying Hamas would only be active in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel.
From Bloomberg.com, :
Osama bin Laden ordered a strike on London's Heathrow airport months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., the Sunday Times reported, citing transcripts of interrogations of an al-Qaeda operations chief.
Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist network, wanted to punish U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, and considered him his ``principal enemy,'' according to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the former operations chief and planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, the paper said. Mohammed was captured in Pakistan more than one year ago, the Times said.
Sir John Stevens, the U.K.'s Metropolitan police commissioner, has said that a terror attack on London is ``inevitable'' and that the bomb attacks in Madrid on March 11 should act as a ``wake-up call'' to Britain and Europe.
Mohammed also said that the original plan for the Sept. 11 attacks was to hijack 10 planes and crash them into landmark buildings including the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Towers in Chicago, before Bin Laden decided synchronising such an attack would be impossible, according to the report.
Tahir Yuldashev (Sobaka)
You've heard of Osama and Zawahri. There are tens of thousands of others. Meet Tahir Yuldashev. From AFP, :
A senior Al-Qaeda leader was injured and on the run in Pakistan, a military spokesman said as a bloody 12-day offensive to capture foreign Islamic militants and their local supporters appeared to be drawing to a close.
"Tahir Yuldashev is one of the top Al-Qaeda leaders and is also head of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," Major General Shaukat Sultan told AFP. "He has been injured along with his local faciliators in the ongoing military operation near Wana and is hiding somewhere."
Yuldashev is the most wanted man in Uzbekistan and is considered a close confidant of Osama bin Laden. In 1999, he was sentenced to death in his absence for a series of bombing in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.
The military operation, the largest of its kind ever carried out in Pakistan, began on March 16 to capture Al-Qaeda militants and their local backers in the tribal area of South Waziristan.
"Intelligence sources and other information gathered from those apprehended during operation indicate that over sixty miscreants have been killed, while scores of them injured since March 16," a military statement said.
Intelligence officials said Yuldashev had taken refuge in South Waziristan some time after the US-led military campaign ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in late 2001.
The military statement claimed the operation had succeeded in destroying a sancutary for terrorists.
"A hardened den of miscreants has been completely dismantled," it said.
"A variety of explosives, timebomb devices, communication equipment and a wide range of weaponry retrieved from the stronghold, the type of fighting, trenches and tunnel in the area are indication of their involvement in terrorist activities."
Over 160 "miscreants" have been apprehended live so far, the statement said.
"We have achieved our target; we have destroyed and dismantled the terrorists' sanctuary," Sultan earlier told AFP.
Sultan would not declare the operation over, but another senior army official said the operation would be wrapped up by Sunday at the latest.
March 27, 2004
An Australian soldier in Baghdad. Will he go the way of the Spanish?
Will Australia follow in Spain's dhimmi footsteps? From AFP, with thanks to Nicolei:
Australia's Labor opposition faced intensifying pressure to reverse its promise to withdraw troops from Iraq if it won elections due late this year.
Opposition leader Mark Latham, currently well ahead in the opinion polls, gave no indication he intended to back down as defence experts warned that the 850 Australian troops in Iraq were more likely to be targeted if Islamic terrorists believed they could be forced to leave.
Prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, alone among the 35 nations with troops in Iraq, has already said he would withdraw Spanish soldiers unless the United Nations took command of the military operation by July 1.
Professor Ross Babbage, head of the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said Labor's decision to set an arbitrary deadline could only signal to the terrorists that Canberra's resolve in the war on terror was weakening.
"If the terrorists think they can make Australia leave Iraq, then the troops are more vulnerable to attack," he told The Australian newspaper.
Lowy Institute defence analyst Alan Dupont said Latham was delivering a message to the terrorists that they could force Western governments to capitulate in the wake of the Madrid bombings of March 11.
Prime Minister John Howard and his ministers have lambasted Latham's pledge as dangerous and irresponsible, a view backed this week by the US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer.
The government says Latham did not even consult official experts nor his own senior colleagues before announcing in a radio interview on Tuesday that a Labor government would unconditionally pull the troops out by Christmas.
Howard, in an editorial page commentary published Friday by the Asian Wall Street Journal, said the need for unity in the face of the terrorist threat was as important now as it was immediately after September 11.
"Now is not the time for us to be diverted from this global mission," Howard wrote. "Words are weapons in the information age and there is a need for vigilance to ensure we are not signalling weakness in the face of this ongoing threat."
Most of Australia's major newspapers called on Latham to reconsider.
"Latham is doing what the terrorists want," The Australian said in an editorial. "It has become clear that their strategy is to fracture coalition unity and intimidate voters in democratic nations.
"Coming only 10 days after a terror-numbed Spanish electorate delivered unexpected victory to the Socialist Party, Labor's abandonment of birpartisanship on troops in Iraq looks even more like a cave-in to terror."
Even opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd appeared to back away from his leader's stance, saying a Labor government would consider leaving some soldiers to protect Australia's mission and diplomats in Iraq.
"As a government, we will be seeking advice from the diplomatic security service about how best the mission in Baghdad can be secured," Rudd said. "We will be taking that advice ... by Christmas, the situation in Baghdad could be worse or it might be better."
Tribal leaders in South Waziristan
From the BBC, with thanks to Nicolei:
Opposition parties in Pakistan have condemned an ongoing military operation against suspected al-Qaeda sympathisers in South Waziristan.
In a heated debate in parliament on Thursday, they denounced the killing of Muslims as an "un-Islamic act."
They also alleged that innocent local tribesmen were being targeted.
Meanwhile there has been a relative lull in fighting near the town of Wana, where a large number of militants are thought to be holed up.
Yassin: the Palestinians' worst enemy
Christians and Muslims are defending themselves with the very same measures and moral values as Israelis
"Blood will have blood" is the grim observation Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Macbeth. Unlike that character, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin did not kill in person, but he organized murder, a great deal of it. He strove all his life to make a reality of the mind-set of the Muslim Brotherhood, in which good Muslims everywhere at last assert their deserved supremacy over irredeemably bad Christians and Jews. Compromise is excluded. The only available options are victory or martyrdom.
An unlikely figure with several severe physical disabilities, wheelchair bound all his adult years, Yassin nonetheless founded Hamas and thereby gave himself responsibility for the Palestine sector of the wider Islamist struggle. Palestine, he believed, was a land exclusively reserved by God for Muslims. With a consistency that has to be acknowledged, he rejected the existence of Israel in any shape or form and led jihad to eliminate it. His specialty was the recruiting and dispatching of suicide bombers. He wanted to kill Jews and didn't mind how many Muslims died in the process. Israel, he prophesied in a recent interview, would finally collapse in 2007. For him, then, peace meant war, and so he was the victim of his own violence. Blood will have blood.
Far and wide, from Morocco to Indonesia and Nigeria, personalities exactly in his mould are struggling in their sectors to implement the Muslim Brotherhood mind-set. For the likes of Osama bin-Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, and al-Qaida, compromise also means surrender, and peace means war.
At the very moment when an Israeli helicopter was targeting Yassin, American and British special forces, with Pakistani soldiers in support, were engaged in a fire-fight against a substantial unit of al-Qaida on the Pakistan-Afghan border. President George W. Bush has repeated several times that he would like to capture al-Qaida leaders dead or alive. If the opportunity were to arise for any or all of these special forces, Western or Pakistani, to kill bin-Laden or Zawahiri as expeditiously as Yassin was killed, they would take it without hesitation.
Both Christians and Muslims, in other words, are defending themselves with the very same measures and moral values as Israelis. What, then, explains the uproar of indignation and condemnation released by the killing of Yassin? Can British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw really believe that his description of Yassin as "an old man in a wheelchair" is a necessary or sufficient definition? The EU foreign ministers in collective session have declared that the killing "undermines the concept of the rule of law." Did that concept have any meaning either for Yassin or for those who attacked the Madrid railway station? Will observance of the concept be enough to thwart further terror attacks anywhere in Europe?
Beyond the usual humbug of diplomatic discourse, there seems to be an anxiety to pretend to Arabs and Muslims that all is well when evidently it is not. It is as if Arabs and Muslims were children who mustn't hear the truth; that assorted Islamists are destabilizing Islamic countries and dragging them by the scruff of the neck into suicidal wars with the neighbors.
THE ABSOLUTE rulers of the Arab and Muslim world make it difficult for themselves, it is true, by playing to the street in the hope of earning popularity. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt says that the killing of Yassin is a "completely meaningless and miscalculated Israeli action." In 1998 Yassin had just been released from an Israeli prison after a botched Mossad assassination attempt on another Hamas organizer (and both the attempt and the release really were miscalculated actions). He then toured Arab states collecting millions of dollars for Hamas. At the time, Mubarak had been energetically suppressing his Islamists, hanging them by the hundreds, and he made sure to refuse Yassin an entry visa. His current fury is a pretense.
Similarly, King Abdullah of Jordan speaks of the crime of killing Yassin; but, like his father, he has taken every measure to throttle Hamas in his own country. As for Arafat, he and his men have often shot it out with Hamas and engaged in kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, and other skulduggeries in what amounts to subterranean civil war. In spite of the three days of mourning he has decreed, Arafat is freed, at no cost to himself, from the main rival to his monopoly of power. President Pervez Musharraf is on the front line for the time being because Islamists have several times come close to murdering him, and he knows that he has to kill them before they kill him.
Hamas rhetoric promises to open the gates of hell, and of course it is possible that the death of Yassin will activate the Palestine sector of the Islamist struggle to frenzies of revenge and suicide bombings. Ariel Sharon and most of his government evidently decided that this was a risk worth taking. The implication must be that Israel will indeed be withdrawing soon from the Gaza Strip, to shelter as best it can in isolation behind its fences while the Palestinians sort their society out. The previous withdrawal from southern Lebanon was certainly another miscalculation, not in itself but because it was carried out with slipshod haste. Palestinians jumped to conclude that Israel was on the run, and might run further.
As Sharon resorts to his time-honored tactic of showing strength in the face of violence, Hamas is in no position to claim with any plausibility that withdrawal from Gaza is another step towards Sheikh Yassin's goal of victory through the elimination of Israel. Nor is there anyone of equivalent authority or credentials to succeed Yassin. At least one report of his funeral mentioned a surprising atmosphere of depression in Gaza, partly because of the suspicion that some informer must have provided crucial information to Israeli intelligence and partly out of a general sense that the intifada has run its course.
The Arab and Muslim world is caught between a past that will not release its grip and a future not quite able to come to birth. Sheikh Yassin had no solution to this dilemma. His inhuman passion could only ensure that blood will have blood. Everyone, Palestinians first and foremost, is better off without him.
Carey: Bad, bad dhimmi!
British Muslims reacted with anger yesterday at an attack on Islamic culture delivered by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Muslim leaders said his claim that moderates had failed to condemn suicide bombers was totally unjustified, and rejected his assertion that Islam, over the past 500 years, had displayed a "strong resistance to modernity".
In a public lecture in Rome on Thursday evening, Dr Carey had also criticised the "glaring absence" of democracy in Muslim countries and said Islamic culture had contributed "no great invention... for many hundred years".
Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester, said Dr Carey's statement was "disastrous" for relations between Christians and Muslims.
"He has fallen prey to the campaign tactics of racists in this country," he said.
As to the suggestion that Muslim leaders were not doing enough to criticise terrorists, Mr Moghal said it was "nonsense".
"We condemn suicide bombers, we go on radio, on television, we have made statements. What more can we do?
"We cannot be responsible for the criminal actions of others - they are not under our control. The former archbishop has got it wrong."
Dr Zaki Badawi, regarded as a moderate voice in Muslim circles who has been consulted by Tony Blair on a number of issues, said he was "quite upset" by the comments.
"I think Dr Carey made a rather unfortunate statement at a time when there is about to be dialogue between Muslims and Christians in America," said Dr Badawi, principal of the Muslim College in Ealing, west London.
He said that Dr Carey's view of Islam was historically inaccurate and failed to recognise that the West had undermined democratic revolutions in Iran and Egypt in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The speech also omitted any mention of the British Empire, which colonised Muslim countries, said Dr Badawi.
He added that the West's recent dominance of technology was more to do with geography and development than religion.
"I have great affection for Dr Carey but it is unfortunate he delivered this lecture," he said.
Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was swift to dismiss the former archbishop's words, denouncing them as "myopic". He said: "Frankly, one is dismayed by Lord Carey's comments.
"One is surprised to find Lord Carey recycling the same old religious prejudice in the 21st century."
Ahmed Versi, editor of Muslim News, said: "We hope that the current Archbishop Rowan Williams - who is very different - will condemn these views."
But Lord Carey defended his speech yesterday on BBC Radio 4's The World At One programme.
"It is meant to provoke a reaction. In the same way I look at the West and Christianity and am equally critical," he said.
"I'm looking at the way we build stereotypes of each other and the way we must transcend this and I think that a person looking objectively at the entire speech - five and a half thousand words - will see there's a balance there...
"So to twist it as an attack on the Islamic world would be far too simplistic and sadly it does suggest how polarised the world is at the present moment.
"The positive is that I believe we can do more together. Two great faiths, Christianity and Islam, working together against extremists on both sides. That, in fact, was the thrust of my message."
Dr Carey's remarks came just before his successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, leads talks between Christian and Muslim scholars in New York, which start on Monday.
Although Lambeth Palace would not be drawn into a reaction, the Bishop of Southwark, the Right Rev Tom Butler, attempted to calm emotions.
He said: "Sometimes opinions will be expressed robustly in either direction; if this can be handled with maturity and mutual respect, understanding can be deepened and our dialogue can emerge strengthened."
Dr Carey received encouragement from the leader of an organisation which supports Christian missionaries working in Islamic countries.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Barnabas Fund, said that Dr Carey's lecture had taken "great courage".
"He has spent years establishing dialogue with Islam. Now he recognises that the core of Islam must be radically changed if there is going to be any change in their attitude towards suicide bombing and so on. This is a departure for the Church," he said.
"He is going to get a lot of flak from the Muslim community, who will feel that he has betrayed them, and from the liberal wing of the Church of England who will feel that he has stepped out of line."
From The Guardian, and Nicolei:
An al-Qaida operative told the Italian police that his unit had been poised to carry out mass murder at the main Milan railway terminus, possibly before the September 11 attacks, the newspaper Corriere della Sera reported yesterday. The evidence of the Tunisian terrorist, who has been codenamed "Ahmed", includes the claim that in Italy alone there were several "sleeper" cells, formed well before the US attacks and still intact.
Ahmed is also said to have revealed that all al-Qaida's operational units could count on suicide bombers.
The Interior ministry called for an inquiry into how the information had been leaked to a newspaper.
The attack on the Milan central station was one of at least six operations outlined by the informer, who is apparently serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence for criminal conspiracy. Ahmed reportedly told investigators that he had been involved in preparing attacks on a Nato base at Mondragone, near Naples, and on the main police station and the city's carabinieri headquarters.
In statements he apparently explained that al-Qaida operatives were well aware of an operation in the US before 9/11. In the weeks leading up to the attacks several had themselves arrested for petty offences to avoid suspicion.
Corriere della Sera said Ahmed was a former cab driver arrested in October 2001 along with other members of a unit headed by Essid Sami Ben Khemais, a Tunisian.
The informer said that as part of his reconnaissance of the Nato base he had worked for months in a nearby potato field. To get a look inside the carabinieri's station in Milan, he had staged a traffic dispute and got himself escorted to it.
And at the rail terminus he and another al-Qaida terrorist had left bulky, oddly shaped bags to see if they aroused suspicion. He said 15 bombs were to have been used, four more than were probably planted in Madrid.
Muslim worshippers fight to shred an Israeli flag after prayers Friday during a mock funeral for Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
More peace and tolerance from the mosques, this time in Iraq. From CNN, :
An influential Shiite cleric in Iraq called Israel's targeted killing of the spiritual leader of Hamas a "dirty crime against Islam" and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, "a miracle from God."
Moqtada al-Sadr delivered a charged sermon Friday at a mosque near the holy city of Najaf, blasting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of Hamas.
On Monday, Israeli helicopters fired rockets at Yassin as he left a mosque in Gaza City. Yassin and seven others were killed in the attack on the leader of what Israel, the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist group.
Hamas' military wing has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military.
But Friday, al-Sadr called Sharon the "biggest terrorist of all."
"He has committed this dirty crime and killed one of the greatest of Islamic mujahedeen," al-Sadr told hundreds of worshippers at the Kufa mosque. "This was once again a dirty crime against Islam."
He accused the United States of complicity in Yassin's killing and said Iraqis should react "in the way that satisfies God."
Al-Sadr led the worshippers in chants: "No, no Israel! No, no to the Jews! No, no America! No, no to terrorism!"
Al-Sadr railed against the United States' occupation of Iraq.
"I seek the spread of freedom and democracy in the way that satisfies God," he said. "They have planned and paved the ways for a long time, but it is God who is the real planner -- and the proof of this is the fall of the American twin towers."
He then referred to the September 11 attacks as "a miracle from God."
"As we say, 'The rain starts with a drop,' " he said.
Israel's targeted attack on Yassin provoked condemnation from many in the international community. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the killing violated international law.
The United States criticized the attack but stopped short of condemning it. On Thursday, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned the assassination.
In Australia, as you may know, the Islamic Council of Victoria has brought suit against two Christian preachers — simply for teaching the facts about Islam. So far this seens to have backfired on the Muslim group in a big way, as now Islamic witnesses have been compelled to read passages from Qur'an and Hadith and acknowledge that, well, yes, that is Islamic teaching.
In this pdf is the witness statement of Mark Durie, an Anglican priest and professor of linguistics. Durie has provided an outstanding summation of the Islamic sources of jihad ideology, dhimmitude, and related topics. If you are looking for a concise guide to these matters, here it is.
March 26, 2004
Muslims from moderate, secular Turkey burn an American flag after Friday prayers today (Reuters)
Yes, but what did they inspire? LGF has alerted me to worldwide Yassin demonstrations following Friday sermons in mosques today. Not a lot of peace and tolerance being preached, at least where these pictures were taken.
Gijs de Vries
No doubt the mujahedin are quaking with fear today. From EUbusiness.com:
Former Dutch deputy interior minister Gijs de Vries is in line to be appointed the European Union's new anti-terrorism coordinator at an EU summit this week, officials said Wednesday.
EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana will nominate de Vries when EU leaders decide Thursday evening whether to press ahead with the new job, which was proposed after the March 11 attacks in Madrid, sources said.
The post of anti-terrorism coordinator was proposed by EU interior ministers last week to oversee the disparate fields involved in the fight against extremism.
De Vries, 47, is the only name in the frame so far, the sources said.
He was deputy interior minister of the Netherlands between 1998 and 2002. He sat on a convention that drafted the EU's first constitution, another major issue to be tackled by the heads of government Thursday.
De Vries' new post, of course, has been dubbed "Mr. Terrorism" by EU officials.
Hamas is using real estate deals in Maryland and around the US to raise money for terrorism, according to the Washington Times, with thanks to Joyce:
The terrorist organization Hamas invested millions of dollars during the past decade in real-estate projects nationwide, including in suburban Maryland, as part of a scheme to raise cash to fund acts of terrorism, records show.
The investments -- involving the construction of hundreds of new homes, including many in Oxon Hill -- were handled through BMI Inc., a defunct Secaucus, N.J., investment firm founded by Soliman S. Biheiri, an Egyptian and Hamas supporter, according to a newly released sentencing declaration by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In the declaration, ICE senior agent David Kane said Biheiri, sentenced in January to a year in prison on immigration violations, used the firm beginning in 1991 to raise "large amounts of money" through investments and as a front to route cash from more than 100 bogus Hamas charities and businesses, most of which operated in Virginia.
The Oxon Hill investment included a project known as Barnaby Knolls, financed by a BMI subsidiary BMI Real Estate Development Inc., the declaration said. Begun in January 1991, it involved the construction of 57 homes in the working-class Prince George's County neighborhood.
ICE agents refer to the project as "Hamas West," although no one living in the subdivision has been identified as being involved in the scheme or with the terrorist organization that is pursuing a Palestinian state.
One of the principle BMI investors in the Oxon Hill project, according to the Kane declaration, was Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook, the self-proclaimed political leader of Hamas detained by U.S. authorities in 1995 on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities. He later was expelled to Jordan, where he was deported to Syria for his ties to Hamas.
The U.S.-educated Marzook, who had lived in Falls Church, has been named by Israeli authorities on charges of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and conspiracy in truck and bus bombings in Israel that killed 14 and injured 56. He also is accused of ordering the killing of 37 others in Hamas attacks in Israel.
According to the declaration, Marzook told a confidential U.S. Customs Service informant during a May 1991 meeting in Ruston, La., that he "has and currently is investing money with BMI," including a real-estate project in Oxon Hill, where he intended to build "more than 56 homes." In the tape-recorded conversation, Marzook noted that the suburban Maryland site was close to Washington.
According to the declaration, more than $1 million was invested by BMI in various real-estate projects, many of which are described but not identified.
The declaration said hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the projects was returned to investors or were re-invested in other real-estate developments, with much of the cash being routed through banks in Virginia and New Jersey to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. It said significant amounts of cash obtained in the real-estate ventures were used "in furtherance of Hamas terrorist operations."
It was a U.S. investigation into Marzook's financial activities in this country that led to Biheiri, BMI and Ptech, a Boston-based computer software firm raided by customs agents in December 2002, authorities said. They said Biheiri and Yasin Qadi, a key BMI investor, were the primary Ptech financiers.
Qadi, a Saudi multimillionaire, was listed by the Treasury Department in 2002 as a terrorist and is thought by authorities to have diverted millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network through various charitable organizations.
Biheiri was a key figure in a scheme using private companies and interrelated Islamic charities operating out of business fronts in Herndon and Falls Church to divert millions of dollars to global terrorists, including Hamas and al Qaeda.
In 2002, federal agents raided 14 Islamic businesses in Virginia, seizing computers, bank statements and other documents in a customs investigation known as "Operation Green Quest." That probe focused on what authorities called a "financial relationship between" BMI and a Herndon corporation Sana-Bell Inc.
Authorities said Sana-Bell existed to generate funds for a Falls Church-based charity known as the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). In an affidavit filed in connection with the Green Quest investigation, Mr. Kane said the CIA listed the IIRO as having "extremist connections" to Hamas and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, the Egyptian terrorist organization that served as a precursor to al Qaeda.
Hamas was designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization in 1991. Although the number of hard-core members is unknown, supporters and sympathizers have been placed in the tens of thousands. Much of its fund raising takes place in the United States.
Pope Shenouda III
A press release from the Jubilee Campaign, with thanks to FreedomNowNews:
For immediate release
March 25th 2004
EGYPTIAN CHURCH LEADER CONDEMNS FORCED CONVERSIONS OF CHRISTIANS TO ISLAM
Pope Shenouda the Third, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, has publicly condemned the kidnapping and forced conversions of Christian women to Islam. In a speech on March 16 he said, "I have received so many letters about what's happening to the Christian girls who go to supermarket stores to shop. At the store they tell them that they have won and have to go upstairs to receive their award or prize. After that we don't know what's happening to these girls upstairs.
There is a lot of talking going on about this matter, and I see that what's happening will create a religious clash in the country. I'm urging the police to take a serious action against what's happening, because I have a numerous number of letters regarding this matter. We don't know where they took the girls. They could be anywhere.
This matter shouldn't be taken in a careless way as if nothing happened. I'm saying this and I know how dangerous the situation is. We don't want more disasters to happen to us. We've had enough."
Sine 1993, the Christian human rights organisation, the Jubilee Campaign, has been campaigning against the forced conversions of Egyptian Christians, especially women, to Islam, and has had numerous cases of such incidents brought to its attention.
In 1998, the late Bishop Athanasius of Beni Souif, gave a public talk in which he described an incident which took place some years beforehand, when a young Christian woman came to him for help after she managed to escape from Muslims who had held her captive with the intention of forcing her to convert to Islam.
She had fled from a house where different teams of Muslims were working to
pressure or force Christians to convert to Islam. She had been tricked by two Muslim friends into accompanying them to that house, where she was held captive. Her description of what happened there indicated that there was a very organised and systematic approach by these Muslims to waylaying and forcing Egyptian Christians to convert to Islam.
Jubilee's Researcher and Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred Wong, says, "The attempts to force Christians to convert to Islam in Egypt are on the increase and the methods are getting increasingly varied and well organised.
Some of these forced conversions are carried out by Muslim individuals, with the help of their friends, while others are being conducted by well funded groups. Christians of all denominations are seen as "fair game" for forced conversions, whether they be Protestants, Coptic Orthodox or Catholic. It is common for money to be offered to Christians to convert to Islam - no small matter in a country where poverty is very widespread - but it also common for intimidation and force, including kidnapping and the threat or use of rape to be adopted as a method of making Christians convert to Islam. Christian women and girls are especially vulnerable to these attacks and the Egyptian authorities do nothing to protect the Christians. The Egyptian police even order the families of kidnapped Christian women to forget about their daughters and not to try to get them back.
Pope Shenouda rarely ever makes public pronouncements regarding the persecution of Christians but for him to have recently publicly mentioned these kidnappings of Egyptian Christian women is one disturbing indication that the problem is escalating sharply. Since the Egyptian authorities do nothing to help, the Muslims involved in these forced conversions are emboldened to increase the scale of their operations. Much prayer is needed against this evil phenomenon."
In his speech, Pope Shenouda also referred to an incident where some young Christian men were travelling and carrying some Bibles. They were arrested and interrogated by the authorities simply because they were in possession of a few Bibles.
There are about ten million or more Christians in Egypt, making them by far the largest Christian community in the predominantly Islamic Arab world. For many years Jubilee Campaign has been warning the international community that this also makes Egyptian Christians a prime target for Muslim fundamentalists, who want to rid the Arab world of such a large Christian presence by either converting them to Islam, driving them out of the country or killing them.
For further information you can contact Wilfred Wong on +44 (0)20 7219
Jubilee Campaign is an interdenominational Christian human rights organisation which has worked with over 150 British Parliamentarians on human rights issues all over the world.
From Palestinian Media Watch, with thanks to Joyce:
This week's suicide terror attempt by a Palestinian teenager received world attention not because it was the first attempt but because TV captured the striking images of the young boy struggling out of the explosive belt. In fact tens of Palestinian Authority [PA] teenagers, some as young as 13 and 14 have gone on suicide missions, many dying and killing others, because PA society has been teaching children that combat and heroic Death for Allah - Shahada [Martyrdom] are expected of them. PMW has been documenting this Palestinian Authority indoctrination and below are the links to striking examples. When PMW presented these videos at a US Senate committee hearing, Senator Hillary Clinton called it: "horrific child abuse" and US Senator Arlen Specter said the PA were not merely "child abusers" but "civilization abusers".
Here is the full PMW report, with video links.
A press release from Americans Against Hate:
For Immediate Release Contact: Joe Kaufman
March 26, 2004
SOUTH FLORIDA ANTI-HATE GROUP TO PROTEST CAIR AND HAMAS
(Coral Springs, FL) On Saturday, April 3rd, at 6:00 pm, Americans Against Hate (AAH) will be conducting a protest against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Palestinian terror group HAMAS. The event will take place outside the Wyndham Ft. Lauderdale Airport hotel, where CAIR's national Executive Director, Nihad Awad, is coming to speak.
At the rally, AAH will be highlighting:
* Nihad Awad's personal connection to a group that was founded by a HAMAS leader who was later deported by the U.S. government.
* Awad's statement in support of HAMAS, made at a Florida university symposium.
* Awad's position as an editor for a publication that celebrated terrorist attacks made by HAMAS.
* Awad's defense of HAMAS on a popular CBS television news show.
In addition, at the event, AAH will prove that CAIR, just after the 9/11 attacks, appeared to provide material support for terrorist organizations, and that this support resulted in the deaths of innocent people, including Americans.
Joe Kaufman, the Chairman of AAH, stated, "While the media has made the public aware of the fact that America has been threatened with attack by HAMAS, much of the public does not know that there is a HAMAS front existing and thriving right inside America. On Saturday, April 3rd, WE WILL EXPOSE THIS FRONT and hope that the media does not ignore it."
Where: Outside Wyndham Ft. Lauderdale Airport hotel
When: Saturday, April 3, 6:00 pm
Directions: From I-95, take Griffin Rd. exit (Exit 23), and head East
0.3 miles. Hotel is on the North side of the road (1870 Griffin Rd.)
There will be important speakers, and refreshments will be served.
Joe Kaufman is available for interview at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS, READ JOE KAUFMAN'S LATEST FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE ARTICLE, A NIGHT OF HAMAS "HEROES."
From Paul Sperry in FrontPage magazine, the sad story about how Ralph Nader is cozying up to the same elements who oppressed his dhimmi Maronite Christian forbears in Lebanon:
A hush fell over the packed ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va., as the emcee asked Arab guests to join him in a moment of silence "in honor of all the heroes and martyrs" of the 2000 intifada. Ralph Nader, the event's keynote speaker, was among the participants.
The silence was soon replaced by thunderous chants of "Run, Ralph, run!" as presidential spoiler Nader took the stage to demand a "viable state" for Palestinians. He also slammed Washington for using secret terror evidence against illegal Arab immigrants, and called economic sanctions against Iraq one of the "great crimes of the U.S," according to an American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee newsletter account of its June 2001 convention.
That was three months before the 9-11 terrorist attacks, which were carried out by 19 Arab immigrants who got substantial assistance from the Muslim community while they prepared for the attacks. Did that terrible day change Nader's views? Not one bit.
In July 2002, at another Washington-area Islamic convention, he accused the FBI of using McCarthyite tactics to question Arab immigrants -- the new American bogeymen, according to Nader. "They used to be called communists," he said. "Now they are called terrorists."
As a keynote speaker there at the Islamic Circle of North America's confab in Baltimore, he shared the stage with Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Anwar Aulaqi, the Wahhabi imam who ministered to two of the 9-11 hijackers in closed-door sessions.
Nader must have made quite an impression, because the next year, ICNA's former president invited him to headline an Islamic conference in Florida with none other than Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, a top Saudi cleric who has called on Allah to "terminate" Jews -- "the scum of humanity" and "grandsons of monkeys and pigs" -- while urging Muslims to shun peace with Israel.
While no anti-Semite, Nader has publicly deplored Israeli retaliation for Palestinian suicide attacks and recommended suspending U.S. aid to Israel.
The promotional flier bills him and Al-Sudais, senior imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, as "specially invited guests" at the December 2003 event near Orlando, which featured co-conspirator Wahhaj again, along with the imam of dirty-bomb suspect Jose Padilla and an official of an Islamic
charity raided by federal agents for suspected terror financing. Nader declined the invitation only after the press got a hold of it.
A speech by Azam Kamguian on the Sharia courts in Canada. From the Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society:
In my speech, I will argue against the Islamic tribunals and will discuss how the Islamic Sharia law brutally violates human and women's rights. I will try to demonstrate how Islamism and multi - culturalism are a united camp against universal human rights in Canada. At the end, I will emphasise the urgency of stopping the Islamic tribunals in Canada.
As we all know, Islamists in Canada have recently set up an Islamic Institute of Civil Justice to oversee tribunals that would arbitrate family disputes and other civil matters between people from Muslim origin on the basis of the Islamic Sharia law. This is the first time in any western country that the medieval precepts of the Sharia have been given any validity. One can imagine that the Islamists will use this as a lever to work for similar recognition in many other western countries. After all, if Canada is prepared to recognise Sharia law in this way why not every other country in the west.
This move is yet another effort by Islamists to impose the barbaric Sharia law, but this time on the people in the west. This move belongs to political Islam, a major force that has brutally suppressed people's rights and freedom in general and women's rights in particular in the Middle East. It is a political movement that came to the fore against the secular and progressive movements for liberation and egalitarianism in the Middle East. In Iran, the Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Islamic regimes proceeded to transform women's homes into prison houses, where confinement of women, their exclusion from many fields of work and education, and their brutal treatment became the law of the land.
Sadly and unfortunately, the setting up of the Sharia tribunals in Canada will be given validity, due to the reactionary politics of multi-culturalism. This is yet another fruit of a policy that causes fragmentation; apartheid based legal system and racism. Of course, this politics of fragmentation and apartheid suits the purpose of Islamists best. Mr. Mohamed El Masry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, has argued that Canada needs "a multiplicity of laws" to accommodate different groups when their moral standards clash. Mr. El Masry says the tribunals, which would include imams, elders and lawyers, will provide Muslims with the means to settle civil disputes out of court according to their beliefs.
Advocates for the Islamic tribunals have argued that one of the beauties of free and open societies in the west is their flexibility. But the very same 'flexibility" provides the Islamists with the opportunity to impose their own rigid and oppressive rules on a specific community in the society. Mr. Momtaz Ali, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, and a leading proponent of the Islamic tribunals has said: "It - the Islamic tribunal - offers not only a variety of choices, but shows the real spirit of our multicultural society," The very same Mr. Ali also says: "...On religious grounds, a Muslim who would choose to opt out ... would be guilty of a far greater crime than a mere breach of contract - and this would be tantamount to blasphemy or apostasy". You are aware that blasphemy and apostasy are among the worst crimes in Islam, in many countries punishable by death.
This project is against the equality of all citizens before the law, regardless of race, religion or gender. Such equality does not exist under the Islamic Sharia law. Sharia tribunals effectively establish a parallel legal system based on religion, which I believe will lead to an apartheid-based legal system. The principles of individual freedom and equality before the law should take precedence over any collective goals that members of a particular group might claim for themselves.
The Economist gives the terrorists a guide to which countries to target next
As is well known, the Madrid bombings and their aftermath have taught the terrorists that terrorism works. Expect more of it. From AP, with thanks to Mrs. Obelix and DC Watson:
The deadly train bombings in Spain and the impact they had on Spanish elections are increasing concern that terrorists might target the U.S. presidential nominating conventions and the Olympics to make an even bolder statement, FBI Director Robert Mueller says.
"We understand that between now and the election, there is a window of time in which terrorists may well wish to influence events, whether it's in the United States or overseas," Mueller said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He also said Islamic extremists are changing tactics to focus on recruitment of local sympathizers less likely to arouse suspicion than outsiders. And terrorist groups may well move away from fortified targets, such as airports and government buildings, he said Thursday.
"I do believe that when we enhance our security, harden targets, terrorists look for other targets that are soft targets," Mueller said. When new security measures are taken, he said, "the terrorists are thinking about ways to circumvent them."
The March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 190 people were a factor in the ouster of Spain's government. That has added to uneasiness about the U.S. political conventions in New York and Boston this summer.
"In the wake of what happened in Madrid, we have to be concerned about the possibility of terrorists attempting to influence elections in the United States by committing a terrorist act," Mueller said. "Quite clearly, there will be substantial preparations for each of the conventions."
From Reuters, with thanks to FreedomNowNews:
A spate of weekend bombings on Zanzibar, which hosted visiting German President Johannes Rau on Monday, hit the homes of local political and religious leaders and a restaurant being used by Western diplomats, police said.
There were no casualties from the homemade bomb blasts at the house of Zubeir Ali Maulid, a cabinet minister in the Tanzanian semi-autonomous island's government, and the home of Zanzibar's Mufti and top Islamic leader, Harith bin Khelef, said police spokesman George Kizuguto.
A grenade hurled at the Mercury restaurant landed on the dinner table of a British diplomat on Saturday evening, but failed to go off. An American diplomat and about 25 foreigners were also dining in the restaurant at the time, police said.
Rau, who is on a tour of Africa, is making a one-day visit to the Indian Ocean island of one million people to meet government leaders, welfare groups and visit historical sites.
Police said they suspected the Society for Islamic Awareness (UAMSHO), a religious movement which has been at loggerheads with the government recently, was behind the weekend explosions.
UAMSHO has been angry with the Tanzanian government since it appointed Khelef as Mufti over a religious leader who had been chosen by the islanders. The weekend blasts followed bomb attacks last week on a church, a school bus and a number of electric transformers.
Kizuguto said five Muslim leaders held over last week's attacks would be charged in court on Monday.
"We are still investigating those involved in the weekend activities," he said.
In January 2002, four people were seriously injured on Zanzibar when suspected Islamic militants attacked bars and stores selling alcohol with firebombs.
On the payroll of the House of Saud?
Are the Saudis still playing a double game? From WND:
Prominent members of the Saudi royal family continue to supply millions of dollars to al-Qaida and related groups, U.S. officials said, according to Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence service
The money is funneled through so-called charities, such as the Al Haramayn Islamic Foundation, they said.
On Feb. 19, the Treasury Department ordered banks to freeze accounts of the Oregon and Missouri branches of Al Haramayn. The foundation's U.S. headquarters is in Ashland, Ore.
An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon asserted Al Haramayn was used to relay $131,000 from Saudi Arabia to al-Qaida-aligned fighters in Chechnya. The affidavit also reported a federal grand jury investigation of Al Haramayn.
"We have to stop the princes soliciting support among the radical militants in Saudi Arabia," former CIA official Robert Bauer told the International Commission on Religious Freedom in November 2003. "We have to stop them from giving money. We have to encourage them to start reforms throughout the kingdom or it's going to bring the whole system down."
In January, Riyadh and Washington agreed to relay a request to the United Nations to freeze the assets of Al Haramayn in Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and Tanzania. But officials said Saudi Arabia has refused to take responsibility for Al Haramayn, which is overseen by Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al Sheik.
The Bush administration is disappointed with Saudi Arabia's lack of cooperation to halt the financing to al-Qaida and related groups.
Despite the administration's insistence of growing cooperation, U.S. officials said Riyadh and Washington have made little progress in stopping the flow of funds from the kingdom to al-Qaida operatives in Europe and Asia. The officials said the administration's policy has been to publicly express optimism in hopes that Riyadh would improve cooperation.
"Saudi Arabia we're still dealing with," said Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican and regarded as close to the White House. "I mean, we've made progress there, but a lot of the money that supports terrorism comes right out of one place. We had to deal with that in a different way," he told the Council on Foreign Relations on March 12.
"Talking to the Saudis has been very frustrating," an administration official familiar with the U.S. effort with Riyadh said. "There's been some promises of cooperation, but they were quickly forgotten."
"Now, think for a minute. Al Haramayn is established by the Saudi royal family," said former Treasury Department general counsel David Aufhauser. "It strikes me that there is too much abdication of actual power and responsibility when you say you do not have the ability to actually close down these offices abroad and the best you can do is to freeze what assets they have within the jurisdiction and to prohibit further contributions."
Aufhauser made his comments to a conference of the Middle East Policy Council on Jan. 23.
Until November 2003, Aufhauser was the administration's point man in the effort to prevent al-Qaida financing. He said Saudi Arabia has not prosecuted any of its nationals on charges of relaying funding to Islamic insurgency groups.
"In the two and a half years I spent on this matter, I cannot remember a single Saudi who was held accountable for being a donor to terrorist financing," Aufhauser said. "Until we get to the donors, the exercise is a fool's errand."
Carey: Bad dhimmi!
Former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey is under fire from Muslim groups for remarks he made during a lecture in Rome. From the Telegraph via Smh.com.au, with thanks to Susan and Fanabba:
The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has made a trenchant attack on Islamic culture, saying it is authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.
In a speech that will upset sensitive relations between the faiths, he denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the "evil" of suicide bombers.
Why will this upset "sensitive relations between the faiths"? Carey isn't covering up unequivocal condemnations of suicide bombing by moderate Muslims. In Onward Muslim Soldiers I point out that moderates have repeatedly insisted that Islam forbids suicide, which is beside the point: radical justifications for suicide bombing don't consider that it comes under the heading of suicide at all. Rather, it is covered by verses of the Qur'an such as this one: "When ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks. . . . But those who are slain in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. Soon will He guide them and improve their condition, and admit them to the Garden which He has announced for them" (Sura 47:4-6). The moderate response to this idea has been wholly inadequate.
He attacked the "glaring absence" of democracy in Muslim countries, suggested they had contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries and criticised the Islamic faith.
Well, these are harsh things to say, but where exactly are they inaccurate? I discuss the decline of Islamic culture and the difficulty democracy has had in the Islamic world in Islam Unveiled, and show how these tendencies are encouraged by a particular approach to the Qur'an. These may not be pleasant topics, but Carey certainly isn't making these things up.
Dr Carey's criticism, during a lecture in Rome, is the most forthright by a senior church leader in recent times.
He acknowledged that most Muslims were peaceful people who should not be demonised. But he said outrages such as the September 11 attacks and the Madrid bombings raised difficult questions.
What's unreasonable about that?
Contrasting Western democracy with Islamic societies, he said: "Throughout the Middle East and North Africa we find authoritarian regimes with deeply entrenched leadership, some of which rose to power at the point of a gun and are retained in power by massive investment in security forces."
"Whether they are military dictatorships or traditional sovereignties, each ruler seems committed to retaining power and privilege."
Dr Carey said he was not convinced by arguments that Islam and democracy were incompatible, citing the example of Turkey. He urged Europeans and Americans to resist claims that Islamic states were morally, spiritually and culturally superior.
Carey has thus issued a challenge to the culture of dhimmitude that is fast spreading across Europe and is already being seen in America. Cultural myths, such as that Muslim Andalucia was a beacon of tolerance (which I explode in Onward Muslim Soldiers) are taken for granted everywhere, and are being used as political tools. Carey is unusually perceptive to take note of this.
"Although we owe much to Islam handing on to the West many of the treasures of Greek thought, the beginnings of calculus, Aristotelian thought during the period known in the West as the Dark Ages, it is sad to relate that no great invention has come for many hundred years from Muslim countries," he said.
"This is a puzzle, because Muslim peoples are not bereft of brilliant minds. They have much to contribute to the human family, and we look forward to the close co-operation that might make this possible.
"Yes, the West has still much to be proud of, and we should say so strongly. We should also encourage Muslims living in the West to be proud of it and say so to their brothers and sisters living elsewhere."
Dr Carey said moderate Muslims must "resist strongly" the taking over of Islam by radical activist elements, and "express strongly . . . their abhorrence of violence done in the name of Allah".
I don't see how any reasonable person could take issue with that last paragraph.
Christians, who shared many admirable moral values with Muslims, such as respect for the family, must speak out against the persecution they often encountered in Muslim countries.
"During my time as archbishop, this was my constant refrain - that the welcome we have given to Muslims in the West, with the accompanying freedom to worship freely and build their mosques, should be reciprocated in Muslim lands," he said.
A perfectly reasonable thing to call for.
But here is the predictable response. From icWales: Ex-Archbishop accused of prejudice.
Muslims in Britain have attacked a former Archbishop of Canterbury, accusing him of "recycling" religious prejudice after he criticised Islamic culture.
Lord Carey accused Islamic societies of being authoritarian and committed to power and privilege - often led by people who rose to power "at the point of a gun".
He also criticised the Islamic faith, saying Muslim theological scholarship had declined over the last 500 years, "leading to strong resistance to modernity".
Lord Carey made his comments during a lecture in Rome, on the eve of a seminar between Christians and Muslims in New York.
"Throughout the Middle East and North Africa we find authoritarian regimes with deeply entrenched leadership, some of which rose to power at the point of a gun and are retained in power by massive investment in security forces," it was reported by the Daily Telegraph.
"Whether they are military dictatorships or traditional sovereignties, each ruler seems committed to retaining power and privilege."
Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was swift to dismiss the former archbishop's words.
He said: "Frankly, one is dismayed by Lord Carey's comments.
"One is surprised to find Lord Carey recycling the same old religious prejudice in the 21st Century."
Once again: what did Carey say that was untrue? I haven't seen all of his remarks, but I can document everything in this report. Why is any negative observation about the Islamic world immediately classified as prejudice? Iqbal Sacranie would do his community a far greater service by showing a willingness to engage in self-criticism and dialogue with outsiders. That is, after all, what he and his colleagues repeatedly demand from the West.
Excellent observations from Saul Singer in the Jerusalem Post:
It is amazing how sophisticated the war against terrorism has become. According to almost every government in the world, the elimination of Ahmed Yassin was counterproductive, if not downright idiotic. Peace Now called it a "prize for Hamas."
Someone really ought to alert those commandos hunting down Osama bin Laden to stop before it's too late. Kill Bin Laden? What a prize for al-Qaida that would be.
What a rube I am for clinging to the primitive notion that eliminating a terrorist organization's undisputed leader might prove to be a setback for it.
How could I have missed what was obvious to Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, that Yassin was a "moderating influence" on Hamas? And now it's too late.
"We are deeply troubled by this action by the government of Israel," said America's UN Ambassador John Negroponte. "We didn't think it contributed to the peace process." And I thought that removing a leader who makes Yasser Arafat look like Mahatma Gandhi might be good for peace!
It is easy to dismiss such reactions, especially from a friend like the US, as lip service to ease doing what counts, namely blocking a Security Council resolution from Algeria - a country known for its delicate touch with fundamentalists. The same Negroponte said of Yassin, "He preached hatred and glorified suicide bombings of buses, restaurants and cafes. This Security Council should not, and the United States will not, support initiatives which ignore this reality."
So what does it matter if the US gets in little digs while doing the right thing? It matters because it perpetuates a paradigm that is harmful to both the US and Israel.
Since 9/11, Israel's enemies have clung desperately to the notion that their fight has nothing to do with the jihad against America. Embarrassing cracks in this facade do appear, such as when Palestinians cheered 9/11 itself and led the world among peoples choosing bin Laden as a leader who could be most trusted to "do the right thing."
More typical, however, is the move of Hamas's new leader, pediatrician and media favorite Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who already has said that Hamas has "no plans" to attack American targets. Message: I'm no bin Laden, so take me off your radar screen.
Even Hamas, which is not shy about refusing to contemplate Israel's right to exist in any borders, must give the impression that the fight against Israel is not part of a global jihad. Yassin let it be known that he was willing to discuss a truce with Israel for 40 years. This was an attempt to have it both ways: not to give up on destroying Israel, but play into the idea that Israel can increase its acceptability by giving up territory.
THE PALESTINIANS understand that the world cannot bring itself to really oppose anything in the name of a struggle for their own state, but that there is little sympathy for a jihad to destroy Israel.
But what kind of war is the Arab-Israeli struggle? Are we witnessing a brutal but temporary interlude in a fundamentally negotiable conflict? Or a total war, fought only by armies and terrorists, that must end in one side's total victory, like al-Qaida's war against America?
The difference is critical, because negotiable conflicts, it is argued, need to be fought differently. This nuance is to be found in President George W. Bush's response to the Yassin hit, "Israel has the right to defend herself from terror. And as she does so, I hope she keeps consequences in mind as to how to make sure we stay on the path to peace."
There is no path to peace with al-Qaida, but there is one with the Palestinians. But here's the rub: we can't get near the path to peace until we beat the jihad that prevents this conflict from becoming a negotiable one.
Beating jihad requires tearing off, not participating in, its disguises. Hamas must be destroyed because its raison d'etre is to destroy Israel. For peace to have a chance, as Bush observed in June 2002, the Palestinians must choose "new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." The "right of return" is not about resettling refugees, but about employing demography where tanks and terrorists have failed.
Every place jihad is allowed to masquerade as a nationalist struggle, it should be unmasked, with the explicit purpose of endorsing total war against it. Total war does not mean that a democracy should abandon its values and respect for innocent life, but it does mean fighting to win, not to negotiate.
The Yassin hit was a missed opportunity for the US to explain that groups like Hamas, Hizbullah, and Islamic Jihad may specialize in the "Palestine sector," but they are blood brothers of al-Qaida and should be treated as such. The Bush administration's lack of moral clarity on this does not just harm Israel's security. It harms America's. So long as even the US fears exposing the jihad against Israel, the war against global jihad cannot be won.
Gillerman: good questions
The US has blocked a UN resolution condemning Israel for killing Sheikh Yassin. Most stories don't tell you what Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said, and it is worth knowing. From AFP, with thanks to Nicolei:
The United States on Thursday vetoed a resolution condemning Israel's killing of Palestinian militant leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin at an unusually bitter meeting of the UN Security Council.
ONE HEATED EXCHANGE
ISRAELI ambassador Dan Gillerman took aim at his counterpart Inocencio Arias of Spain, staring him down and asking whether the Spanish government would have tried to kill the attackers who left 200 dead in March 11 bomb attacks in Madrid.
'If you knew before the bloody massacre of your citizens took place who was going to carry that horrendous act out, would you have sat still and let it happen?' Mr Gillerman said.
Referring to the use of Palestinian children as suicide attackers, he said there could be no peace in the Middle East 'until the Palestinians learn to love their children more than they hate us'.
In response, the PA's Nasser al-Kidwa resorted to name-calling and ad hominem attacks -- the usual response from radical Muslims and their allies.
Palestinian representative Nasser al-Kidwa retorted that Mr Gillerman's comments were 'full of racism' and added: 'Israel is a terror group.'
On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva voted 31-2 to condemn Israel for Yassin's death, but the body has no power to punish countries. A resolution by the Security Council would have carried more international weight.
The vetoed resolution condemned Yassin's death and called for a 'complete cessation of extrajudicial executions'.
It also condemned 'all terrorist attacks against any civilians, as well as all acts of violence and destruction'.
However, it did not mention any militant groups by name -- a traditional US demand.
Why does the US demand such a thing?
Thaksin: did the jihad reach into his government?
A prominent Thai governing official has been arrested in connection with jihad attacks in southern Thailand. From The Straits Times, with thanks to Nicolei:
A prominent member of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's ruling party faced treason charges yesterday over a deadly January attack on an army base in the Muslim south after a court ordered his arrest.
Najmuddin Umar, a Muslim member of Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party, was implicated by one of five people arrested last month over the highly planned raid in Narathiwat province which left four soldiers dead.
'The court has approved the arrest warrants for Najmuddin and eight others,' a court official said, declining to identify the co-accused.
The charges relate to treason, rebellion, separatist activities and the theft of weapons, he said.
Najmuddin, along with another Thai Rak Thai parliamentarian and a senator, were named by police investigating the Jan 4 attack which sparked a spate of violence in the region that the government is struggling to control.
More than 50 people including soldiers, police, government officials and even Buddhist monks have been killed this year.
Suspicions about Najmuddin's involvement - which surfaced earlier this month - have severely embarrassed Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party.
He told reporters yesterday that he was not concerned about the allegation against his party member.
'We're not going to look at the political angle because even though I'm the head of a political party, I have to put the nation first,' he said.
According to police documents submitted to court, Najmuddin took part in three secret meetings to plan the raid in Narathiwat province.
The police had also sought arrest warrants against another Thai Rak Thai lawmaker and a non-partisan senator, but the request was turned down by the court.
Najmuddin said earlier yesterday that he would not use political privilege to avoid arrest.
A decades-old separatist movement in the south was contained in the late 1980s, but violence resurfaced two years ago. It intensified after the Jan 4 raid.
Earlier yesterday, a police officer died after he was shot on Wednesday night in Songhkla province, which neighbours the violence-scarred, Muslim-dominated Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces.
The killing raised fears that the violence was spreading to Songhkla, a Buddhist majority province with a sizeable Muslim province.
No Stars of David allowed in an art exhibit promoting peace and love at the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau in Washington, DC. From the Washington City Paper, with thanks to Seafarious. (This is "Star Search," the second item on the page.)
It was just supposed to be about peace, love, and understanding, say the artist and the curator. But that was before somebody spotted the Star of David.
Three stars, actually, painted into three works by painter Jorge Perez-Rubio that were part of his recent "People and Places of Egypt" exhibition at the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau on New Hampshire Avenue NW. Both Perez-Rubio and the show's curator, Aaron Pomerantz, say that Ala El Din Sarhan, a cultural attaché with the bureau, asked them repeatedly to take down the three paintings as the show was installed on Feb. 23.
"And as the show was being hung, [Sarhan] looked at [all the other paintings] very thoroughly," says Pomerantz, a Chevy Chase consultant who says he'd showed Sarhan the exhibition catalog months before. "He was being proactive in discovering any Stars of David."
The Miami-based Perez-Rubio, who lived in Cairo for two years, has painted more than 20 works in what he calls his "New Jerusalem" series--a kind of Where's Waldo? of monotheism in which a cross, a crescent, and a Star of David are tucked into topsy-turvy, four-horizoned cityscapes. "In every great city--Cairo, New York, Miami--you make room for everybody," he says. "[The concept] makes some people uncomfortable, and that's what I felt that evening."
Sarhan denies asking for the paintings to come down. And he now says that he's even come to appreciate Perez-Rubio's project. "The way he explained [the works]," says Sarhan, "he's able to portray himself better than the curator. I liked the idea very much. Tolerance. If you rotate it 180 degrees, you can still get the same idea: We're all living under the same sun."
But the day before the show closed on March 9, the exhibition languished unmarked, unlit, and unguarded. A long table and a podium obscured access to a whole wall of works.
"Dr. Sarhan didn't honor the art," says Pomerantz, who adds that the attaché pestered him to remove the works as quickly as possible after the opening. "I would love to do another show at the Egyptian Embassy," he adds. "Just not with Dr. Sarhan."
March 25, 2004
Former South African President Nelson Mandela left the Saudi capital of Riyadh Wednesday, according to SPA news agency.
At the King Khaled International Airport, he was seen off by the kingdom's Minister of Health Dr. Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Manei and South Africa's ambassador to the Kingdom Abdul-Hameed Khabir, the agency added.
I trust that while he was there he rocked the House of Saud with his trademark eloquent, ringing denunciations of injustice and inequality of rights among peoples. He probably took them apart for their religious discrimination (chiefly against Jews and Christians), slavery, and much more.
What's that? He didn't say a word about any of that? Hmm. Why not, Nelson?
The headline says: "Man charged in anti-Semitic incident." It takes nine paragraphs for them to tell you what the man's name is. And of course there is no mention of the possibility that his anti-Semitism was part of the larger epidemic of Muslim anti-Semitism. By covering each incident like this as a one-of-a-kind aberration, the media misleads the public and keeps it unaware of a massive and growing problem. (Thanks to "Allah.")
As Toronto police announced the first arrest yesterday in connection with a recent spate of anti-Semitic crimes, political leaders of all stripes united to issue strong condemnations of the "deplorable" vandalism of the past week.
"It can be tempting to remain silent in the hope that that would make the ugliness go away," Premier Dalton McGuinty said, "but to remain silent would be wrong."
At Queen's Park, all three parties unanimously agreed to take a stand against the anti-Semitic acts with a resolution reading, "As representatives of the people of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly condemns the recent acts of anti-Semitism and expresses its continuing support for the government of Ontario's long-standing zero-tolerance policy towards hate crimes."
Offering his sympathies to members of the Jewish community, Mayor David Miller added that Toronto will "stand together in our condemnation of all hate-motivated crimes."
The condemnations -- voiced yesterday everywhere from Toronto City Hall to the House of Commons -- came after a week in which numerous houses, cars and gravestones were damaged or defaced with painted swastikas and other messages of hate.
In the most recent incident, police say they caught a man early yesterday morning as he painted anti-Semitic graffiti on the hoarding surrounding a construction site on Bloor Street West near High Park.
He had painted three identical drawings with an equal sign between a Star of David and a swastika, police said.
"It's not the first time this has happened," said Lewis Poplak, director of planning for Context Development Inc., the company building a condominium on the site. Police records indicate identical graffiti have appeared at the site several times during the past three to four months.
Reza Safaei, a 46-year-old from Toronto, has been charged with three counts of mischief under $5,000. The company has numerous Jewish employees, including both its president and chairman, Mr. Poplak said, and he believes the vandalism to be a "hate-based crime." He added he has spoken to the Toronto police hate-crimes unit about bringing his concerns before the courts for consideration at sentencing if the man is convicted on any of the three counts.
Toronto police Staff Inspector Brody Smollet said yesterday that he did not believe the suspect belongs to any racist organizations and that there was no initial indication the vandalism near High Park was connected to the other incidents in Thornhill, north of Toronto.
"I'd like to think the Jewish community can take some solace in the fact that we have made an arrest," he said.
"[But] this is only one individual and one set of charges that have been laid."
The board of directors of Toronto's Crime Stoppers program offered a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of people responsible for the recent vandalism.
The Canadian Jewish Congress has also organized a rally for tomorrow night.
Ed Morgan, Ontario chairman of the congress and a law professor at the University of Toronto, said he thinks it's very important for community leaders to quickly denounce the vandalism.
"I think statements by elected officials and police officials are incredibly important at this stage, as are statements by school officials and school boards, as well as redoubling anti-racism efforts in the classroom," he said yesterday.
"If there is no atmosphere in Canada that says this is at all tolerated or admired," he added, "it will eventually subside."
Indeed. But there is such an atmosphere in Canada, created by an unwillingness to do anything that might remotely offend Muslims.
Yassin: No negotiations, no compromise, no peace without total jihad victory
When world leaders tut-tut over the death of Yassin, these people take heart. Is this kind of thinking really something that Jack Straw wants to encourage? From Supporters of Shari'ah via Jihad Unspun, with thanks to Nicolei:
Supporters Of Shari'ah condemns in the strongest terms the Zionists criminal assassination of Shaykh Ahmad Isma'il Yasin, the renowned Islamic scholar and founder of the leading Palestinian Resistance Movement - Hamas.
• We reiterate the Zionist Entity does not have the right to exist in its illegitimate capacity as the so-called "state of israel".
• We reiterate that the Zionist Entity is a colonialist-imposed state, which the colonialists never had the right to give to the jews after robbing Muslim Lands including Palestine via colonialism and its policy of divide and rule.
• Justifying its right to exist is tantamount to supporting colonialism, as the Zionist Entity is itself a by-product of colonialism. Any State supporting the Zionist Entity is either a colonialist sympathiser or an actual colonialist state like Britain; who has shown through its continual support for the existence of the Zionist Entity that it has never really severed itself from its colonialist past.
• The only legitimate solution is a solution derived from the Islamic Shari'ah. All other Laws including International Law have no legitimacy for Islam and Muslims.
• The Zionist Government and its citizens can either peacefully surrender, dissolve the Zionist Entity and migrate to non-Muslim territories (like Austria, Germany, Poland, UK etc), or face a permanent state of war against Muslims until the Zionist Entity is physically destroyed in its entirety.
• The Zionist Entity has officially been a war zone since its illegal conception in 1948; no individual life is guaranteed safety on this occupied soil.
• Muslims have the obligation to conduct this war through Jihad operations [i.e., suicide bombings and more] and to support the cause militarily, financially and verbally - against the colonialist-imposed Zionist Entity and those States who give it military, financial, or vocal support. Such States are belligerent enemies to Islam and Muslims.
• Our Muslim Martyrs shall remain alive with Paradise as their Eternal Reward, but the dead Disbelievers will be cast into the Hellfire and abide therein Forever.
Supporters Of Shari'ah
Enemies Of Israel & Her Allies
From Reuters, with thanks to Nicolei:
Spain has arrested three suspected members of a radical Islamic group and sent four others back to jail amid signs of a crackdown on Muslim groups following the Madrid rail bombings.
Police detained two Algerians and a Syrian near the eastern city of Valencia who they believe may be part of a radical Muslim cell under investigation, a police statement said on Wednesday.
There is no indication the men, all in their forties, had any involvement in the March 11 train bombs that killed 190 people, the statement said.
The two Algerians may be linked to members of the Algerian Islamic Group arrested in Valencia in 1997, police believe.
Separately, Spain's most famous High Court judge, Baltasar Garzon, ordered the return to prison of four suspected Muslim radicals who were released last year by another judge, court sources said.
The four were among 16 men arrested in January 2003 in the northeast region of Catalonia and are suspected of belonging to Algeria's Salafist movement, a splinter organisation of the Armed Islamic Group with links to al Qaeda.
Garzon has accused the men of belonging to a terrorist group, but has not yet presented formal charges, the sources said. They are not suspected of links to the March 11 bombs.
The decision to send them back to prison was taken in light of new police reports, a court source said, but the judge provided no details.
When the men were arrested in January last year, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said his government had smashed a "major terrorist network". But authorities released all but two of the men in March 2003 after suspected chemical weapons found at their homes turned out to be laundry soap.
After the Madrid train bombings, Interior Minister Angel Acebes announced Spain would take additional security measures, but did not provide details.
Spain's El Mundo newspaper reported on Tuesday the Interior Ministry was considering imposing border controls and suspending the Schengen treaty between May 15 and 23 to tighten security for the wedding of heir-to-the-throne Prince Felipe on May 22.
An Interior Ministry spokesman had no comment on the report.
The Schengen agreement allows people to travel through much of the European Union without border checks.
Pankhurst, Nawaz, and Nisbet (BBC)
Egypt, which has an authoritarian government still to some degree rooted in Gamel Abdel Nasser's Arab nationalism, has convicted 26 men of trying to revive the outlawed Hizb-ut-Tahrir group, which states openly that it wants to restore the caliphate and sharia -- ostensibly through peaceful means, although that is hardly comforting to all those who would suffer as dhimmis under their rule. From AP:
Shouts of "God is great!" rang out in a court Thursday after judges sentenced 26 men, including three Britons, to prison terms of one to five years for trying to revive an outlawed Islamic group.
One of the Britons, Ian Malcolm Nisbett, accused the Egyptian government of oppression and said he hoped God would reward the defendants after death. Nisbett and fellow Britons Maajid Nawaz and Reza Pankhurst received five years' imprisonment each, as did nine Egyptian defendants.
The defendants trooped into the court in white robes, escorted by police officers. Many held up copies of the sacred Islamic book, the Qur'an.
The chairman of the three-judge panel read out the verdicts and sentences and left the court. The text of the judge's findings is expected to appear within a month.
"This demonstrates the weakness of Egypt, which can't even tolerate peaceful dissent," Nawaz, 26, told reporters afterward. "I stand here as a prisoner of conscience and my beliefs are stronger than ever."
His mother, Abida Nawaz, called the verdict an "injustice against not only Islam, but humanity."
Zara Pankhurst, the mother of Reza, said the proceedings were "a goofy trial with a goofy judge."
"They are not going to beat us. We are strong," she told The Associated Press.
Nisbett's British wife, Humera, who does not understand Arabic, started weeping when her husband in the caged dock held up five fingers to indicate his sentence.
The defendants do not have the right of appeal as they were tried in an Emergency State Security court. They may only ask President Hosni Mubarak for clemency.
"I would rather die than appeal to the president," Reza Pankhurst, 28, said.
The rights group Amnesty International condemned the convictions and accused the authorities of failing to investigate the defendants' allegations of torture.
"We believe that they have been convicted solely for their peacefully held views and consider them prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately," said Amnesty spokeswoman Lesley Warner in London.
"Most worryingly of all, reports that the men were tortured during the initial period of detention have never been properly investigated," she added.
During the trial, the court said that medical examinations of the Britons found no evidence of torture, but the defendants told reporters they were only examined several weeks after they were tortured.
The defendants were arrested in April 2002 and charged with attempting to revive an Islamic group called Hizb ut-Tahrir or the Liberation party, which the government banned in 1974.
The chief defendants in the trial, which began in October 2002, were also charged with possession of propaganda leaflets of the Liberation party.
Defence lawyers argued in court that the defendants had only studied the ideology of the Liberation party and had not recruited to revive the group.
"This case shouldn't have been transferred to the judiciary in the first place," lawyer Montasser el-Zayat told the Associated Press on Thursday. "It doesn't have violence, weapons or overthrowing the regime. It's a case against peaceful thought."
El-Zayat said that he thought the British defendants would be used as bargaining chip with the London government. Egypt has long asked Britain to extradite Egyptian dissidents whom it regards as militants.
"It's not anti-British case, but anti-Islam case," said Nisbett, 29, who has adopted the Arabic first name Yehiya.
"Thank God for everything," Nisbett added. "We hope God is going to award us in the afterlife. We tried to change oppression in Egypt. Now, they are admitting that they are oppressors."
One of the Egyptian accused, Medahat Hamdi, 36, an engineer, told reporters from the dock: "It's very strange that we are being tried in Egypt for our beliefs, which don't call for violence, but prohibit it."
Seven defendants were sentenced to three years. Another seven received one year in prison. One defendant was convicted in absentia.
The Britons and Egyptians who received five years' imprisonment have 22 months left to serve, according to their time in detention and Egypt's sentencing procedures.
The Liberation party was founded in Jordan in 1953. It has long operated underground. Its current leader, Ata Abu-Rushta, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, was elected in 2003 and lives in Lebanon.
Abu Bakar Bashir
The sun was bright, the sky a flawless blue -- a perfect day for a graduation. In a mountain clearing in the southern Philippines four years ago, 17 young Indonesians snapped to attention in their camouflage fatigues, two instructors recalled. They marched in formation. They assembled a low-explosive bomb and detonated it. They crawled on the ground with AK-47s.
"Allahu Akbar!" the audience cheered: "God is greatest."
The men were the first graduates of the military academy established by Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asian militant network allied with al Qaeda. That day in April 2000, as described by two men who were there, was a high point in the life of the organization.
During the next two years, hard-liners in Jemaah Islamiah gained influence. The group's biggest attacks were the October 2002 bombings of two Bali nightclubs and the August 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, which together killed 214 people. At least one of the 17 graduates was arrested last year for hiding a Bali bomber, said Muhaimin, 42, one of the instructors in the Philippines and now an imam at a Jakarta mosque. Like many Indonesians, he uses only one name.
The death toll from the March 11 bombings in Madrid is listed at 190, slightly less than Bali, and a group saying it represents al Qaeda has asserted responsibility. A similar claim was made after the Bali bombings.
Although al Qaeda provided financing for the Bali attacks, Jemaah Islamiah operates largely independently, analysts and police say. Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean members, who met and were molded in Islamic boarding schools and training camps in Afghanistan and the Philippines, share al Qaeda's ideology but do not need an order from Osama bin Laden to act, according to police and former members such as Muhaimin.
More than 240 of Jemaah Islamiah's members have been arrested since the Bali and Jakarta attacks, including many of its leaders. But interviews with captured members, former members and relatives portray a network that continues to defy police efforts to quash it, exploiting school, family and religious connections to stay alive.
"At the same time that the police arrest them, they always find someone to replace them," Mohammad Nasir bin Abbas, 34, a former instructor at the camp, said in an interview. "Even if the entire Jemaah Islamiah membership is wiped out, other groups will arise and do the same thing."
Some trenchant observations from William Webb:
Richard Clarke started his testimony before the commission investigating 9/11 yesterday by stating, "Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed," he said. "And for that failure, I would ask once all the facts are out for your understanding and for your forgiveness."
Unfortunately, there are going to be many more apologies, failures and laughably titled "bipartisan" commissions in the coming years, while a religiously-motivated enemy uses our own freedoms, political correctness, government inefficiencies and the politicization of the war on terror against us.
You have not seen the end of grieving relatives and 24-hour coverage of devastation. If you strip all the spin from the current commission testimony, all the political interests from media outlets, campaigns and pundits, the horrible truth was uttered in an exchange between former Republican Senator Slade Gorton. He asked Clarke if there was "the remotest chance" that the attacks could have been prevented if the Bush administration had adopted his aggressive counterterrorism recommendations upon taking office in January 2001.
"No," Clarke said.
For all those posturing for political results or a kind footnote in history, the awful truth is that we weren't prepared for 9/11 and we couldn't have stopped it anyway.
I predict you will hear similar testimony yet again.
It's time to quit criticizing those in the government administrations and agencies in this newest manifestation of Islamist terror and conquest, begin to accept the unpopular realities, make the hard choices necessary to minimize death and destruction of innocent American civilians, and maximize the death and destruction of the radical Islamists.
At the end of the day, you as an American are going to be only as safe as you force the government to make you. Policy is driven by politics and homeland security has become as politicized as Medicare reform. Most Americans still don't really understand either the true nature of the threat or the hard decisions that must be made.
Unfortunately, we are approaching the time for the next wave of attacks with the predictable next wave of hand-wringing and attempting to place blame for political or historical vindication. This time the death toll will be far greater.
As a society, we have still not come to grips with several "essence" issues and the nature of our society is such that we will have to lose 30,000--300,000--or heaven forbid--3 million before we begin to make the real changes in our counter-terrorism and homeland defense strategy.
Those essence issues follow and will be discussed separately in a series of articles:
• We must acknowledge the politically incorrect and admit that we truly face a religiously-motivated war that has both a shooting element (Madrid, 9/11) and a more subtle, yet much more dangerous religious insurgency funded by rich Muslim individuals and countries.
• There is only one way to truly prevent terrorists from striking--find the terrorists and kill them first. To do this means we must have a policy to strike them wherever we find them. This is an unpopular policy for most of the world.
• Prevention of terrorist actions in the United States means identifying and investigating people or groups before they have attacked. As Lou Scanlon, Director of Homeland Security for the city of San Diego, told me in an interview for my upcoming book: "Common sense tells you that prevention is really our big gap in the war on terror. We must be able to identify and investigate to prevent terrorist acts before they occur. The entire clamor over first-responder inadequacies is for the after-event response. It does not make you safer. Only identifying, investigation, and prevention makes you safe. Everything else is about body bags and cleaning up the rubble."
This means surveillance and intelligence gathering within the United States. Many people from all political persuasions are working to defeat various homeland security initiatives that would block identifying and investigating terrorists at home.
It is time to for you to understand the basic issues stripped of political correctness and political machination. You must re-evaluate the delicate balance of living safely with the clash of counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism operational necessities. Basic views concerning privacy, freedoms of religion and expression, and the role of government in identifying, tracking, and stopping terrorists who practice violence and subversion must be reevaluated.
You must influence policies that truly deal with preventing terrorism and you must stand fast when the inevitable criticism starts.
Otherwise, there will be a long line of apologizing Richard Clarkes and grieving family members.
Zawahri guns for Musharraf: will anyone listen?
A tape purportedly recorded by Ayman al-Zawahri, the No. 2 in the Al Qaeda terror group, called Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a traitor Thursday and urged people to get rid of his government.
The audiotape was broadcast by the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
The speaker, who sounded like al-Zawahri, also called for a military uprising in Pakistan.
"Musharraf seeks to stab the Islamic resistance in Afghanistan in the back," the speaker on the tape said.
"Every Muslim in Pakistan should work hard to get rid of this agent government, which will continue to submit to America until it destroys Pakistan."
Abu Qatada: they trusted him, and they're paying for it (BBC)
LONDON: One of al-Qa'ida's most dangerous figures has been revealed as a double agent who fooled MI5, raising intense criticism from European governments who had repeatedly called for his arrest.
Britain ignored warnings from friendly governments about Abu Qatada's links with terrorist groups and refused to arrest him.
A leaked copy of a judgment by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has revealed how British intelligence chiefs hid from their European allies how they were hoping to use the cleric as an informer against Islamic militants in Britain.
Qatada boasted to MI5 how he could prevent terrorist attacks in Britain and hoodwinked agents into believing he would expose dangerous extremists arriving, while all along he was setting up a safe haven for his terror organisation in the country.
Among the scores of young militants who visited him was the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings. His followers also included volunteers to be suicide bombers for al-Qa'ida, including Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. The judgment copy, obtained by Britain's Channel 4, revealed yesterday there was evidence that Qatada "has been concerned in the instigation of acts of international terrorism".
A security source in Madrid said: "How much violence and bloodshed could have been prevented if Britain had heeded the warnings about this man a long time ago."
Authorities in many countries asked to question Qatada about his links to al-Qa'ida, but were refused.
A Jordanian, Qatada arrived in Britain with a forged passport in 1993 claiming asylum. Jordan told Britain he had been convicted of terror attacks in Amman seven months before September 11. Spanish investigators produced evidence of how a militant in custody in Madrid - Abu Dahdah - had visited the cleric more than 25 times, bringing money and recruits.
From WND, with thanks to Cathy:
A controversial Islamic lobby group has published an ad in California newspapers seeking to win acceptance with the message that Muslims "respect and revere Jesus" as do Christians.
The ad by the Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is headlined "More In Common Than You Think," with a photograph of the old city of Jerusalem.
CAIR has launched an advertising campaign called "Islam in America," which in the wake of tensions resulting from the 9-11 terrorist attacks aims to dispel stereotypes and portray Muslims as ordinary citizens who love their country.
The "Jesus" ad, quoting from Islam's book the Quran, reads:
'''Behold (O Mary!)' The Angel said, 'God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Christ (Masih or Messiah), Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and in the hereafter, and one of those brought near to God.' (Holy Qur'an, 3:45)
"Like Christians, Muslims respect and revere Jesus. Islam teaches that Jesus is one of the greatest of God's prophets and messengers to humankind.
"Like Christians, every day, over 1.3 billion Muslims strive to live by his teachings of love, peace, and forgiveness. Those teachings, which have become universal values, remind us that all of us, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and all others have more in common than we think."
Muslims point out, however, that they reject Christian belief in Jesus' divinity and regard him only as a prophet.
Muhammad, in fact, is considered by Muslims to be superior to Jesus because Islam's founder is believed to have brought God's final revelation.
CAIR claims to be a civil-rights group that represents mainstream Muslims in the U.S., but the group is a spin-off of the Islamic Association For Palestine, labeled a "front group" for the terrorist organization Hamas by two former heads of the FBI's counterterrorism section.
CAIR issued a condemnation Monday of Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin that made no mention of Hamas or Yassin's responsibility for countless terrorist attacks against Israel, which were part of his stated objective to destroy Jews and the Jewish nation.
I am all for diminishing prejudice and building bridges, but not under false pretenses. Why doesn't CAIR confront the roots of Muslim hostility toward Christians, and repudiate those roots? Why doesn't CAIR quote verses of the Qur'an, like this one, which places all Christians under a curse, and then show why Muslims must reject this kind of thinking? (This is the verse: "The Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!" -- Sura 9:30).
Blair with Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barraso
Tony Blair is not giving up to the European dhimmis without a fight. I don't go along with everything he says in this speech, but his heart is in the right place. From the BBC, with thanks to Peter:
September 11th was not in retaliation for an attack by the US on al-Qaeda. But an entirely unprovoked attack by al-Qaeda on the US.
Of course they demand we withdraw from Iraq. But their demands do not stop there.
They also demand we withdraw from Afghanistan.
They demand we withdraw from all places in the Middle East, even when there with the consent of the country.
They demand the elimination of Israel.
They even have demanded the reintroduction of a caliphate on the Iberian Peninsula.
And they demand in any Muslim country anywhere, a Taliban state, where human rights are curtailed, freedom reduced to religious slavery, women sent back to the dark ages.
Recall the words they used just a few weeks ago in a statement celebrating their terrorism: "You love life, we love death".
I came to Spain yesterday from Northern Ireland, where we have worked so hard, for so long, to bring a durable peace in place of terrorism.
I believe in trying to negotiate where negotiation can achieve peace on honourable terms.
But al-Qaeda and the religious fanaticism that unites them and similar groups, have no demands we can negotiate upon, honourably or otherwise.
We either defeat them or live under their shadow of fear. . . .
It can show our dedication to defeating terrorism not only by pursuing terrorists but by remedying injustice, showing by our actions that we are also dedicated to eliminating the causes upon which the terrorists prey; doing all we can to prevent a new generation of terrorists arising, based on this perversion of the true and peaceful faith of Islam.
Uh, Tony, you might find this illuminating.
At this time, with the tears and tragedy of Madrid in our minds, let us unite, put aside our differences, refuse to be divided by terrorism and express our strength and confidence in our own way of life which we will defend to the end.
Here is a personal attack on me and on Jihad Watch from Amir, a Muslim in Britain. (Thanks to Harry.) I get attacked all the time, and ordinarily wouldn't bore you with the details, but this one is interesting. Look at why this guy is angry:
AoA. I hope there isn't a Muslim in the whole world who stumbles across "Jihad Watch" and falls for the crap Robert Spencer is pumping out. Him and his loyal band of anti-Islamics (who flood his article comments with Islamaphobic preaching) have dedicated time and effort to make an influential impression on people, mainly Muslims, to re-write the meaning of Jihaad and make people believe it. Mainly Muslims.
Spencer hasn't necessarily studied Islam for the purpose of calling people away from it, he isn't a fanatical enough of a Christian to be doing that, he's instead studied Islam for the purpose of convincing Muslims to adopt incorrect Islamic concepts -- namely on the issue of jihaad. From the Muslim perspective it's not as bad as apostasy, but still pretty damn bad.
Leaving aside his characterization of my own religious faith, look at what he says about jihad. In his view, evidently, violent jihad — warfare against unbelievers — is the correct Islamic concept, and when I call upon Muslims to reject it I am asking them to veer close to apostasy.
Here is an example of the depths of deviousness his tactics and styles droop to. Muslims recognise that Islam is not a secular religion, that it is not just a bunch of worship rituals and is in fact a lot more than that -- Islam is a complete ideology. An ideology that must be implemented in a state. An Islamic state. Thanks to Islamic groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroon, to name a few, the majority Muslims are aware of the need and Islamic obligation of the Khilafah State. But, to cast doubt and fear in the hearts of some unaware Muslims, here we have Spencer slyly attacking the Muslims in Canada advocating the notion of re-establishing the Khilafah as something sinister because "That's the Islamic state that Osama bin Laden and other radical Muslims around the world have declared their intention to restore."
So Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, two groups that forthrightly call for restoration of the caliphate and full implementation of the Sharia (including the oppression of non-Muslims as dhimmis) have the right idea, eh? So Al-Muhajiroun, a group that has praised the 9/11 highjackers and Osama, has the correct Islam?
Note that he is not angry with me for talking about the Islamic roots of modern-day jihad violence, as are the pseudo-moderate American Muslim advocacy groups. Instead, he is angry with me for trying to stop this jihad.
This is the great challenge that anyone who calls himself a moderate Muslim faces: to convince people like Amir that their "correct" version of Islam is actually incorrect. This was what I emphasized at UNC Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see if anyone even attempts it in any significant way.
UPDATE: Here is a response from Amir. It speaks for itself, and only underscores the point I have made in three books now: that radical Islam has the intellectual ascendancy in the Muslim world, and that, as Ibn Warraq put it (as I quote him in Onward Muslim Soldiers): "For every text the liberal Muslims produce, the mullahs will use dozens of counter-examples [that are] exegetically, philosophically, historically far more legitimate." This guy is proving that Ibn Warraq and I are correct.
Now: among the UNC Muslim students to whom I spoke the other night was a young man who maintained just the opposite: that moderate Islam is accepted everywhere, and that Amir's kind of radicalism is just a lunatic fringe. I did not agree with him then, and my praise for the openness of some of the Muslim students did not constitute (contrary to the apparent understanding of many posters here) a pollyana-like endorsement of the idea that militant Islam is really nothing much to be concerned about, or could be reformed easily. In fact, I have been one of the few public spokesmen to dare to discuss the gravity and enormity of the problem that terrorism poses within Islam.
But when Muslims claim to denounce Amir's position and refute it on Islamic grounds, I am willing to listen. I would ask the UNC student to whom I referred above, if he reads this, to respond to Amir. I would also like to hear from those self-proclaimed moderate Muslims who have taken me to task over the years for finding a connection between Islam and violence to show Amir where he is wrong: Ibrahim Hooper, where are you? Hussam Ayloush? Asad Abou Khalil? Salam Al-Maryati? Hussein Ibish? Now is the time to put up — show us some of your moderate Islamic theology — or shut up.
Anyway, here is Amir:
Spencer: "Leaving aside his characterization of my own religious faith, look at what he says about jihad. In his view, evidently, violent jihad - warfare against unbelievers - is the correct Islamic concept, and when I call upon Muslims to reject it I am asking them to veer close to apostasy."
Jihaad can be practised in a number of ways, by one's speech, by one's actions and even by one's intent. The correct way to practise Jihaad is to look at the reality and situation being faced and then reacting accordingly. I am in Britain; here speech is the correct Jihaad to be practised, unless the reality changes. My Muslim brothers and sisters who are in Palestine, where their land is being illegally occupied by the illegitimate state of Israel, Jihaad in the form of action is correct. The Jihad Watch project is all about looking at the case of any Muslim undertaking actions of this nature and then insulting them, ridiculing them and slandering them for the sole purpose of enforcing the concept that Muslims should be pacifist and phase out Jihad completely and remould Islam to something that the non-Muslims, like those at Jihad Watch, approve of.
I wouldn't know what Spencer's 20 years worth of studying Islam is worth, but if it was worth much he would understand that if a Muslim abandons a clear Islamic obligation for a man-made alternative option, it is sinful for the Muslim. Like I said it's not as bad as apostasy but it is still, nonetheless, very bad and must be avoided (it is a sin referred to as "like denouncing Islam", which highlights the severity of it). Studying Islam and caring about Islam are clearly two very different things, eh Mr Spencer?
"So Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, two groups that forthrightly call for restoration of the caliphate and full implementation of the Sharia (including the oppression of non-Muslims as dhimmis) have the right idea, eh? So Al-Muhajiroun, a group that has praised the 9/11 highjackers and Osama, has the correct Islam?"
"Correct Islam" is Islam as demonstrated by RasoolAllah (saw) and the Prophets companions. Any Islamic group that makes a sincere effort, clearly indicating its evidences, work and motivation to be genuinely and exclusively from Islam, is following Islam correctly. Al-Muhajiroon is more hard-line compared to Hizb ut-Tahrir, and although both these groups have the correct objectives, it is only their methodologies that need some attention paid to (for an individual to deduce which is stronger). The answer to that question is, however: the establishment of an Islamic State with Shar'ia rules in full implementation is an obligation for Muslims to actively work to re-establish by following the method shown to mankind by RasoolAllah (saw). This is clearly evident by numurous daleels.
Indeed it is, Amir, and I have caught hell hundreds of times from Muslims for pointing it out. Thanks for going to bat in my defense in this way, Sir!
Usama bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers did nothing less than hand the US administration the right to invade Muslim Lands on a silver plate -- that was their biggest crime.
"This is the great challenge that anyone who calls himself a moderate Muslim faces: to convince people like Amir that their "correct" version of Islam is actually incorrect. This was what I emphasized at UNC Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see if anyone even attempts it in any significant way."
Once again the same rhetoric comes in to play by the propagandists. If there's any Muslim reading this who calls him or her self a "moderate Muslim" ask yourself what that really means? Are you trying to say you are proud of the fact that you pick and choose what to believe and practice from Islam? You are proud or pleased of the fact that you moderate what chunks of Islam you adopt and what chunks of Islam you decide to reject?! You think its right to say "God got this wrong, but the rest is okay"?! You don't realise doing this is putting your own intelligence above that of your Creator's?!... This is a sin referred to as "like denouncing Islam", which should highlight the severity of it.
I would ask the same questions. In other words, any moderates out there should show this guy where he is wrong — if you can. As I have said many times, and people still don't seem to understand the point, I have known innumerable moderate Muslims, but I have yet to see a convincing, comprehensive presentation of moderate Islam. Get the difference?
The same goes for the labels "fundamentalist", "radical", "extremist", etc. These are incorrect labels to put on yourself or other Muslims, simply because one is not even a Muslim unless one submits holistically to the deen of Islam and follows all that which is required of and leaves that which is required to be left. Using these labels are an insult... but that is exactly why the West insists on using them on Muslims, and encouraging us to use them.
I use "radical" to denote someone who acts on Amir's views, and "moderate" to refer to Muslims who, even just ostensibly, opposes them. But those moderates need to show how to refute Amir's theology, or there will be more and more radicals recruited in mosques every day. To date, they have not done so.
London's high security Belmarsh prison: Qatada's new home
Some encouraging news from The Scotsman, with thanks to Earl. I hope the British authorities are duly wary of anything they tell him, however:
RADICAL Muslim cleric Abu Qatada is "a truly dangerous individual" and was a key figure in the United Kingdom in al-Qaeda related terrorist activities, a special tribunal found.
The Special Immigrations Appeals Commission announced in January that Qatada had lost his appeal to be freed from detention in Belmarsh prison, London, as a suspected terrorist.
In the full ruling on the appeal, obtained by Channel 4 News, commission chairman Mr Justice Collins made clear just how dangerous the tribunal considered him to be.
There was sufficient evidence to conclude that Qatada "has been concerned in the instigation of acts of international terrorism", the chairman found. Mr Justice Collins stated: "We have indicated why we have formed the view that the case made against the appellant is established. Indeed, were the standard higher than reasonable suspicion, we would have had no doubt that it was established.
"The appellant was heavily involved, indeed was at the centre in the United Kingdom of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda. He is a truly dangerous individual and these appeals are dismissed." eport anyone damaging the interests of this country’.
"The third meeting was to restate the officer’s belief that [Qatada] wielded considerable ‘spiritual, if not operational influence on an extensive number of Islamists of various nationalities and that, as a resident of the United Kingdom, [the officer] fully expected him to use that influence, wherever he could, to control the hotheads and ensure terrorism remained off the streets of London and throughout the United Kingdom’.
Surprisingly enough [Qatada] revealed little love of the methodology and policies pursued by Osama bin Laden
Intriguingly, the full ruling also details how, in the mid-1990s, Qatada had a series of conversations with an MI5 officer in which he indicated that he was willing to co-operate with the British authorities in keeping Islamic terrorism off the streets of London.
In one interview Qatada is said to have promised to "report anyone damaging the interests of this country".
In a later interview, Qatada is said to have insisted that those over whom he had influence were no risk to Britain’s national security, and that he would not "bite the hand that fed him".
The commission’s ruling reveals: "In his statement, [Qatada] not surprisingly relies heavily on three interviews he had with a member of the security services in June and December 1996, and February 1997. The first of these records his passionate exposition of jihad and the spread of Islam to take over the world.
"[Qatada] claimed to wield powerful, spiritual influence over the Algerian community in London. He maintained that a decision had been taken in Algeria not to mount operations against the UK.
"[In the] second interview [Qatada] said he did not want London to become a centre for settling Islamic scores and, in the view of the officer concerned, he ‘came the closest he had to offering to assist in any investigation of Islamic extremism’. He apparently said that he would ‘r
"[Qatada] said that those over which he had influence were no risk to the country’s security and he would not bite the hand that fed him.
"It is also recorded that ‘surprisingly enough [Qatada] revealed little love of the methodology and policies pursued by Osama bin Laden’."
The commission’s ruling further reveals that the security services officer was left with the impression that Qatada had "nothing but contempt for bin Laden’s distant financing of the jihad".
He said, "Do I have to take my clothes off here?" (Instead of in Paradise?)
So: religious appeals are just a cover for economic and political grievances, eh? Husam Abdu, the 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was apprehended yesterday wearing a bomb vest, tells a different story. From the Jerusalem Post, with thanks to "Allah":
"My soldiers spotted Abdu as he pushed through the line of Palestinians waiting to undergo inspection and began racing toward them," said Guy. "He was four or five meters from them.
"Noticing that his shirt was padded, they called out to him to halt. They took cover, aimed their weapons at him, and told him to raise his hands. Then they asked him to lift his shirt and saw the belt of explosives. Seeing the soldiers' weapons, he became frightened and told the soldiers he was scared."
Soldiers also moved the Palestinians at the roadblock away. Abdu stood in isolation with his hands raised until sappers dispatched a robot carrying scissors to him and instructed him to cut the shoulder straps holding up the belt and to slip it off.
He was then told to strip to insure that no additional explosives were strapped to him.
He cut off part of it and struggled with the rest. "I don't how to get this off," he said.
"It is sad and tragic," said Guy. "He was fully aware of his actions and wanted to blow up, as he was promised 72 virgins in heaven and NIS 100," Guy said.
Abdu, who lives in Nablus, told interrogators he was jeered at by his friends who made fun of him, and decided to take advantage of the offer.
"Blowing myself up is the only chance I've got to have sex with 72 virgins in the Garden of Eden," Abdu said his handlers had told him.
It was the clearest sign yet that what's developing in southern Iraq is not the open, free and democratic society promised by the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq. The police officer at a roadblock ordered a traveler to cover her hair if she expected to continue her journey.
"This is an Islamic country and you must respect our feelings," said the officer in the pale blue uniform supplied by the occupying coalition.
What? You mean she doesn't have a human right not to cover her hair? But I thought that the hijab in France was a human rights issue!
Welcome to the Islamic state of southern Iraq where almost every public building is adorned with murals and posters of the three prominent Shiite Muslim clerics "martyred" in the chaos of today's Iraq or under the rule of Saddam Hussein.
It is the sons, brothers and followers of these three men who -with the backing of neighboring Iran -are shaping the Shiite politics in the south. Here, secular ideas are not tolerated, alcohol sellers and video shop owners risk their lives, clubs and restaurants are closed for playing music, and women fearing for their lives hide behind veils.
While the world's attention has been focused on the bickering over whether the country's interim constitution should make Islam "a source" or "the source" of legislation and over the form of federation best suited for Iraq, these hardline Islamic forces are quietly putting down roots and building their power base.
Many Basra residents say that the Shiite clerics who rule Iran are behind much of the religious-vigilante violence taking place in this city of 2 million and that the Islamic Republic is determined to have an influential role here.
"Basra is the center of culture and science," said Mustafa, a 26-year-old businessman. "Most of the religious parties are mercenaries who lived in Iran .... They want to impose their ideas on us. They want their word to be the law. We are afraid of them."
Many in Basra fear that by the time elections are held next year and a constitution is in place, it will be too difficult to eliminate these forces, which will be fully entrenched.
March 24, 2004
I just returned from a delightful day at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spoke to a Religion class in the afternoon and gave a talk open to the general public in the evening.
Although I give many such talks, both of yesterday's were notable in many ways. In particular, it was refreshing and encouraging to see so many thoughtful university students, willing to engage in serious discussion about issues without being imprisoned by shallow cant and hateful propaganda.
I was particularly heartened by a large number of Muslim students who attended my evening talk and challenged me with a number of tough questions in what was a generally fair-minded and illuminating discussion. Many of them came up afterward and thanked me for speaking honestly and forthrightly about the threat that radical Islam poses to all of us. If any of them read this, I extend my personal thanks to them in return.
Long have I insisted, contrary to the baseless slanders of people from American Muslim advocacy groups whom I have debated, that I am not a "hatemonger," "anti-Muslim," or "Islamophobic" (whatever that means). Such slurs, of course, are just tactics to silence their critics. I do not endorse, and have tried to discourage, calls by people commenting here to bomb Mecca, or expel all Muslims from the U.S., etc. If we cannot defeat Islamic terror except by abandoning our principles of justice and equality of rights for all, it does not need to be defeated, because we will have effectively joined forces with it.
As I say on my Bio/FAQ page: "Any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts." Last night I had the exhilarating opportunity to speak with a number of young Muslim men and women who were willing, in vivid and vigorous contrast to the stifling Edward Said-inspired straitjacket that strangles most honest discussion of these matters, to discuss forthrightly the elements of Islamic theology, law, and tradition that give rise to jihadist violence. That is not to say that they agree with all my analyses or prescriptions — and some of the disagreements were sharp. But they gave me hope that there could be a genuine movement for reform within Islam that would truly work to refute radical Islamic theology on Islamic grounds — that is, a genuine renaissance, as another Muslim put it to me not long ago. A renaissance would be opposed both to the reformation that gave the world Wahhabism and to the narrow and deceptive apologetics that all too often pass for reform. For that, once again, thanks to all.
In this July 2002 bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, five Americans were among Hamas' victims.
Hamas must have awakened this morning with a fuzzy head and a dry mouth and realized it didn't mean all those things it said last night about revenge against the U. S. as well as Israel. Now Hamas says it will target Sharon, not the U.S.
You may remeber that Hamas was quick to deny any involvement in the last attack on Americans in Gaza. Perhaps they know their limitations.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP)- The new Hamas leader in Gaza said Wednesday the militant group had no plans to attack U.S. targets, while another top official in the organization said it has targeted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for death.
The Islamic group had made veiled threats it would retaliate against the United States for Israel's assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin on Monday, but it has rarely attacked American targets during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Fearing retaliation, Israel has gone on high alert since Yassin's death, and troops south of the West Bank city of Nablus stopped a Palestinian boy wearing a suicide bomb belt from crossing through a checkpoint. Soldiers removed the explosives-packed belt from the boy, Hussam Abdo, and sappers later detonated it, the army said.
Oh, by the way. Some reports say the Palestinian boy was a teenager. Haaretz reports the Palestinian boy with the suicide belt was 12 years old.
Sorry, folks. You weren't the targets. You were just in the way. (Reuters)
Jordan's King says that in the attack on Spain was really aimed at moderate Islam. Certainly it is true that radical Muslims want to take control of the Islamic world. Perhaps getting to kill uppity dhimmis is just icing on the cake.
As I have said many times, I can find moderate Muslims, but I have a hard time finding moderate Islam.
ROME (Reuters) - Muslim extremists threatening to attack Europe do not want to destroy the West but are aiming to wipe out moderate Islam in order to take power, Jordan's King Abdullah said in an interview published on Tuesday.
He told Italy's Corriere della Sera that the West should take seriously the threat of more terror attacks like the Madrid train bombings that killed 202 people because no one was safe from Muslim militants.
"No one is safe. Jordan is not and neither is Spain, which was so sorely hit. This is a threat to the security of Europe," the king said.
But he added: "Their objective is not the destruction of the West but the destruction of moderate Islam in order to take power. Europe is a secondary object. By weakening it [Europe], they want to influence the future role of the Muslim world in the international community."
Spanish investigators suspect the Madrid bombings are linked to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida or Muslim militants backing his group.
Many Spaniards saw the attack as retaliation for Spain's support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
Asked if he thought countries would only be targeted if they had backed the war, the king said: "I think this is only part of a much broader picture, linked to a struggle within Islam, with extremists who are seeking to create conflict between East and West and [incite] inter-religious wars."
Shiite Muslims flagellate themselves with knives on chains during an annual prayer ritual at Athens' main port of Piraeus on Monday March 1, 2004. (AP)
ATHENS, Greece - Greek police have increased scrutiny of Muslim immigrant groups and makeshift mosques in Athens — a city with no official place of worship for Muslims — ahead of the Olympics.
The surveillance, confirmed to The Associated Press by police sources, was intensified following the deadly train bombings in Madrid on March 11 and seeks to gain insights into Greece's small and often insular communities of nonnative Muslims.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam activists demand the end of Pakistani military operations in Wana and condemn the killing of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Note: Some people prefer guns to umbrellas in establishing peace. (Reuters)
The MMA, a Pakistani religous alliance that holds sway in the northwest border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan calls for an end to Pakistan's terrorist hunt in Afghanistan.
RAWALPINDI: Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal here on Tuesday called for winding up the Wana operation, which it alleged, was launched at behest of the US. In an emergency meeting of the MMA district leaders, which was presided over by the vice-president, Muhammad Abbas Butt, a resolution was adopted.
The resolution said "daily blood is being spilled out of the innocent people and of those, who sacrificed every thing for Afghan Jihad." The resolution said now America wanted that those, who loved Jihad should be eliminated.
The country's rulers are following the US agenda and Wana operation is a conspiracy in the name of national security and defence, the resolution said, adding that the operation must be wound up immediately.
Meanwhile, the meeting urged the MMA top leadership to observe protest day with full force on March 26 against the operation. The meeting reviewed the arrangements being made in connection with the protest in Rawalpindi.
A press release issued by Jamaat-i-Islami stated that the central leaders of MMA would lead the protest day processions on Friday after Jumma congregations in the twin cities.
The MMA is the group whose leader said, "Taliban and al-Qaida members are our brothers."
Mrs. Brown, you've got a lovely daughter
A diary kept by the wife of Australian terror suspect Willie Brigitte reveals a great deal about her attitudes toward Islam, jihad and non-Muslims. It also shows she was unaware of her husband's activities.
Willie Brigitte was arrested in Australia and deported to France when Australian authorities say they uncovered a plot to launch a large scale terror attack in Australia. Documents related to the French investigation were released today. They claim that Pakistani architect Abu Hamza asked Brigitte to lodge "a specialist in explosives who was to come to Australia," Chechan "bomb specialist", Abu Salah, a commander-in-chief of a Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp in Faislabad.
Brigitte's lawyers deny this, although they do admit he tried to make his way to Afghanistan after Sept. 11 to fight with the Taliban. Although he failed to reach Afghanistan, he trained four months in a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp. As his lawyers point out, there is no law against going to Pakistan for terrorist training.
His wife is sure that he is just a victim of anti-muslim sentiment.
More on her attitudes in the article. Apparently her subconcious mind does not realize that jihad is primarily a spiritual struggle.
DIARIES kept by Melanie Brown before her arrest in Paris reveal the enormous anxiety she was feeling as the bride of Australia's most notorious terrorist suspect.
French counter-intelligence agents working for anti-terror judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, confiscated the memoirs as part of their investigation into Ms Brown and her involvement with Brigitte.
Seen by the Herald Sun, the diaries provide a telling insight into a woman who considers herself alienated from the community to which she once belonged.
Her world is divided in two: those who worship Allah and those who don't.
Non-believers are neither to be trusted nor associated with, unless it would benefit her new-found god.
Now known as Khadija, she lives, works and prays a short drive from where she grew up as Melanie Joyce Brown, popular student at Danebank Anglican School for Girls, at Hurstville, southern Sydney.
Yet while her surroundings are familiar, she considers herself a stranger to most everyday Australians, and persecuted for her adopted beliefs, dress and customs.
"How many times do we find written in the Quran (Koran) reminders and warnings not to take disbelievers as . . ." she wrote on January 5, before she left for Paris.
"Even if they are nice to you, remember they are not befriending you for the pleasure of Allah. They will only be seeking to gain something or in some way benefit themselves.
"Even if the pretense is merely because it makes them happy or they find you interesting, this is still gaining for other than the sake of Allah.
"Just be sure not to commit acts of disbelief."
Ms Brown's awareness of the cultural clash between her old life and new are reflected in a dramatic dream she had in Paris, in which she imagined she was waging a jihad against Australian troops in the Blue Mountains.
In the dream, the former transmissions specialist in the Australian Army plays a key role because of her military background and knowledge of Australian battle tactics.
She helps shoot down an Australian reconnaissance plane before infiltrating a military base town where she spies for the jihad while working in a local hotel.
March 23, 2004
We want the "kilafah" — that is, caliphate. That's the Islamic state that Osama bin Laden and other radical Muslims around the world have declared their intention to restore. (Thanks to LGF.)
TONY EASTLEY: A Sydney-based Islamic preacher has reportedly been named as a recruiter for an informal Australian terrorist network.
French anti-terror investigators have apparently been told by deported terror suspect Willie Brigitte, that a Sydney man was recruiting "volunteers for Jihad."
Intelligence analysts say it's still too early to judge the claim's veracity, made in News Limited newspapers this morning, but AM understands while some associates of Brigitte's were forced to answer questions, the man reportedly accused by Brigitte has not been questioned by ASIO.
Soon we'll hear more about that and we'll speak to Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, but first this report from Rafael Epstein.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The French documents reportedly contain details of the interrogation of the deported terror suspect, Willie Brigitte.
For the first three days of his interrogation he was in a cell with the lights on 24 hours a day, and he had no access to a lawyer.
Brigitte is said to have told his interrogators that there is an informal terror network operating in western Sydney with the aim of recruiting people for Jihad operations.
When Brigitte was in Australia last year he married Australian citizen Melanie Brown.
In the documents Brigitte reportedly told his interrogators the man who presided over their marriage is a recruiter. Quote "the recruiter in Australia of volunteers for the Jihad, operating from the Mousalla Mosque of Lakemba".
That's a reference to the prayer room in Sydney's west where Brigitte married the former soldier who had been in the army's signal core.
Details of the allegations against Willie Brigitte and his Australian associates have dripped out regularly in the media since his deportation last year.
David Wright-Neville is a former analyst with the key intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments.
DAVID WRIGHT-NEVILLE: Well in the public realm we know very little. Most of what has been reported in the media, I think, is mainly speculation. There's some doubts about the nature of the sources, about the nature of the information, the age of the information as well. We don't know at what stage the information they've gathered, who it was gathered from, and I think until we have a more solid grasp on the circumstances around Willie Brigitte it would be perhaps more prudent to refrain from speculation.
RAFAEL ESPSTEIN: It seems like something serious was going on around Willie Brigitte. Does this add much to our understanding of what was really happening?
DAVID WRIGHT-NEVILLE: Well even if we dismissed the alleged facts in this case, and we talk about the sort of more general dynamics that seemed to have been swirling around Brigitte, they're consistent with what we know was going on around others in the community, and allegations who have been made around other people.
I think it'd be naive to assume there is nothing go on in Australia, that Australia somehow has been quarantined from the broader extremist dynamics that are happening in almost every other Western country in the world. But whether or not this dynamic in Australia has reached a concrete stage, to the point where they're planning major attacks in places like Sydney, I think that's yet to be established.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The French document also claims that the man described by Brigitte as a recruiter, went to the United States in 2001 to meet with an Islamic cleric called Ali Timimi.
The CIA believes Timimi was the head of a terror network in the state of Virginia and was also a chief recruiter for the Pakistani extremist group, Lashkar-e-Toiba.
In a previous statement, Ali Timimi said he quote: "fervently denies any formal or informal charges that he has in the past supported or currently is supporting any terrorist activity."
Andrew Sullivan's take on the new Spanish Tragedy (Thomas Kyd, call your office), with thanks to Peter Rockas:
Europe's Second Munich?
March 11, 2004, was easily the greatest victory for terrorism since 9/11 itself. It was a victory not simply because so many innocents were murdered in cold blood - going about their business in a free and democratic society. We know how thrilled the Jihadist terrorists are when they can murder in large numbers - as they have now done in Iraq and Morocco and Bali and New York. It was a victory because it also succeeded in provoking the one response terrorists long for and feed upon. Faced with mass murder, the Spanish electorate voted to give the Jihadists what they were demanding: withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. 3/11 was a reprise of 9/11. But this time it worked. Instead of rising up in anger against the mass murderers of the new fascist movement in the Islamic world, as the United States did, Spain did the reverse. It gave in. In the hope of avoiding future violence, the new Spanish government reiterated its decision to abandon Iraq to the prospect of chaos and Islamist revolution, rather than refuse to be intimidated by mass murder. It is very, very rare for terrorists to score such a clear-cut triumph. Usually, even craven democratic governments talk the talk of confronting terror, while quietly scurrying in the opposite direction. But this time, Zapatero was virtually emphatic in his eagerness to accede to the terrorists' demands.
The Spanish model in action in Southeast Asia? Pre-election jihad in Indonesia. From AFP, with thanks to Nicolei:
A group of Indonesian Muslim extremists who were arrested after a blast at a bomb-making factory had wanted to use the explosives to fight enemies of Islam, police said yesterday.
The detainees said the bombs were made to defend themselves against, and to battle, 'people who are against the religion', according to Jakarta police chief Makbul Padmanegara.
He said one of the suspects, Oman Rahman, lived in the house south of Jakarta where a bomb went off accidentally on Sunday.
No one was hurt in the blast, which locals said could be heard up to 1km away.
In a letter, Oman had cautioned his relatives in West Java not to visit 'dangerous' shopping malls, said Inspector-General Padmanegara.
He had also urged them not to take part in this year's general election, which he called an 'act that runs against the religion'.
The disclosure fuelled fears of blasts during the current campaign for the April 5 poll.
Insp-Gen Padmanegara said that nine suspects, including several on a wanted list, would be charged under an anti-terror law.
He told reporters that 'the men were...practising mixing chemicals' in the house before the explosion.
Police found 10 tubes meant to be filled with an explosive mixture of chemicals, he said. Only one had been filled and it was the one which exploded.
Parts of a detonator, bags of potassium chlorate and sulphur as well as VCDs on the struggle in Afghanistan were also discovered.
March 22, 2004
From Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily, with thanks to FreedomNowNews:
The major wave of violence instigated in the Kosovo region of Serbia on beginning on about March 14, 2004, and escalating dramatically through March 18, 2004, is the start of the forecast series of unrest, guerilla warfare and terrorist activity planned by radical Islamist leaders in Bosnia, Albania, Iran and in the Islamist areas of Serbia, and directly linked with the various al-Qaida-related mujahedin and terrorist cells in the area.
Attempts have already been made to blame the violence on the very small Serbian population which remains in Kosovo, but this is not credible, and nor has the Serbian Government shown any enthusiasm to get involved in the situation.
Sources confirm that the violence, which began on March 17, 2004, and continued to escalate through March 18, 2004, is not an isolated expression of frustration, but, rather, part of a planned “season” of unrest designed explicitly to pull US and Western strategic focus away from Iraq, and to ensure that US and Western peacekeeping forces — which have been progressively diverted to Iraq operations and away from Kosovo and Bosnia — will need to be held in the Balkans. The purposes are multifold:
1. To remove US and Western focus on Iraq, thereby relieving pressure on Iran’s clerical leadership and helping to ensure the retention of Iranian capability to link, via Iraq, with Syria;
2. To demonstrate the failure of the Western “war on terror” and specifically to discredit those Western leaders who supported the war in the run-up to elections in the US and Australia;
3. To create a climate of instability around the Olympic Games, scheduled for August 2004 in Athens, and which feature as a major target for unrest and terrorism;
4. To consolidate Islamist control over parts of the Balkans, specifically the so-called “green transversal”1 belt which links the Adriatic Coast through Albania, FYR of Macedonia, the Serbian Kosovo and Metohija region, the southern Serbia/northern Montenegro Raška (Sandzak) region, through the Gorazde Corridor into Bosnia, not only as a terrorist corridor but also to facilitate a clear highway for narco-trafficking and weapons shipments.
Significantly, the Serbian Government within the union of Serbia & Montenegro, had, until the recent Serbian elections, attempted to ignore the growing incitement to a new outbreak of violence and unrest on the part of the Muslim community of southern Serbia (Raška) and Kosovo because it did not wish to be seen to be drawing attention to the growing Muslim agitation. However, this action merely allowed the process to continue to build without any major intelligence or policy focus on the problem. The issue was compounded by the fact that two major international oversight bodies — the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and the German-controlled command of UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) — both sided with radical Islamists and known war-criminals also, presumably, to avoid the appearance of being anti-Muslim.
The warnings of this wave of violence were explicitly clearly and starkly forecast by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs reports over the past year, and specifically on October 15, 2003, Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, in a report entitled Strong Warning Indicators for New Surge in European Islamist Terrorism, which noted:
Intelligence sources in the Balkans and Middle East indicate that the Iranian and Osama bin Laden terrorist networks, assets and alliances built up in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Southern Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans are preparing for significant new slate of operations. Initial operations in this “new slate” have already begun in Kosovo, and are expected to expand in southern Serbia in late October and into November 2003.
The intelligence, from a variety of primary sources within the Islamist movements, points to:
1. Escalation of Islamist terrorist attacks on Serb civilians within the predominantly Muslim region of Kosovo and Metohija in the Serbian province of Kosovo;
2. Commencement during October-November 2003 of seemingly-random bombings of public places, including schools, in Muslim-dominated cities in the southern Serbian/northern Montenegrin Raška Oblast (this oblast, or region — not a formal sub-state as in the Russian use of the word “oblast” — is referred to by Islamists by its Turkish name, Sandzak) as a prelude to wider violence in this area, and eastern Montenegro, adjacent to the Albanian border and reaching down to the Adriatic;
3. Coordination of incidents by the so-called “Albanian National Army” — a current iteration of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or UCK: Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves, in Albanian; OVK in Serbo-Croat) — in Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with activities in Raška, led by the Bosnian radical Islamist party, SDA (Party of Democratic Action) of Alija Izetbegovic, and all supported by Albanian Government-approved/backed training facilities inside Albania, close to the border with Serbian Kosovo;
4. Escalation of incidents — including threats, political action, terrorist action — within Bosnia-Herzegovina, designed to further polarize the Serbian and Croat population away from the Muslim population;
5. Eventual escalation of “incidents” to create a “no-go” area for Serbian, Montenegrin, Republica Srpska security forces and international peacekeepers in a swathe of contiguous territory from the Adriatic through Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Southern Serbia and Macedonia into Bosnia-Herzegovina, effectively dissecting the Republica Srpska state (which is within Bosnia-Herzegovina) at the Gorazde Corridor and isolating Montenegro;
6. Using the extensive save-haven areas and “no-go” zones created by the actions, undertake a range of terrorist actions against targets in Greece — which is contiguous with Albania and (FYR) Macedonia — during (and possibly before) the August 2004 Olympic Games. Specific intelligence points to the fact that the Islamist groups have already predetermined target opportunities during the Games.
News sources indicated on March 18, 2004, that NATO could dispatch nearly 2,000 additional troops to Kosovo, including 750 from the United Kingdom, to deal with the new unrest. As of March 18, 2004, after only a few days of unrest, it was understood that 35 NATO troops had been injured. Some 350 extra troops were already being sent in, including US and Italians from Bosnia, as well as British forces. The UK Government then announced it was sending 750 new troops into Kosovo. At least 14 people had been reported killed in Kosovo as a result of the new fighting, much of which centers around the divided town of Mitrovica; hundreds have been injured.
A crowd of Albanians, estimated at 3,000 strong, attacked the UN police station in Mitrovica before crossing the city's main bridge and heading into the Serbian side where there were exchanges of machinegun fire and hand-grenades. The Albanian groups were seen to be in possession of heavy automatic weapons and grenades. It had been claimed that the Albanians had mobilized to attack Serbs who had allegedly chased several boys into a river where three of them were drowned, ostensibly in retaliation for an earlier (and confirmed) drive-by shooting in which a Serbian youth was killed.
Siddiqi: beat her lightly
I wrote about the Qur'anic sanctioning of wife beating, and of the travails of the Spanish Imam Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, who landed in hot water for writing a book justifying the practice, in Islam Unveiled. Now MEMRI has more on this. Some highlights:
On January 14, 2004, Sheikh Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, was sentenced by a Barcelona court to a 15 month suspended sentence and fined € 2160 for publishing his book 'The Woman in Islam.' In this book, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Mustafa writes, among other things, on wife-beating in accordance with Shar'ia law.
On pages 86-87, Mustafa states: "The [wife-]beating must never be in exaggerated, blind anger, in order to avoid serious harm [to the woman]." He adds, "It is forbidden to beat her on the sensitive parts of her body, such as the face, breast, abdomen, and head. Instead, she should be beaten on the arms and legs," using a "rod that must not be stiff, but slim and lightweight so that no wounds, scars, or bruises are caused." Similarly, "[the blows] must not be hard." 
Mustafa noted in his book that the aim of the beating was to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain, without humiliating her or harming her physically. According to him, wife-beating must be the last resort to which the husband turns in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 34, the husband's third step when the wife is rebellious: First, he must reprimand her, without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating.
These three steps come from Sura 4:34 of the Qur'an: "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great."
Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi, one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam and head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, has advocated non-painful wife-beating.
In his 1984 book 'The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam,' he wrote:
"Because of his natural ability and his responsibility for providing for his family, the man is the head of the house and of the family. He is entitled to the obedience and cooperation of his wife, and accordingly it is not permissible for her to rebel against his authority, causing disruption. Without a captain the ship of the household will flounder and sink.
"If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts. In no case should he resort to using a stick or any other instrument that might cause pain and injury.Rather, this 'beating' should be of the kind which the Prophet (peace be on him) once, when angry with his servant, mentioned to him, saying, 'If it were not for the fear of retaliation on the Day of Resurrection, I would have beaten you with this miswak (tooth-cleaning stick)' [as reported by Ibn Majah and by Ibn Hibban, in his Sahih].
Islamic Affairs Department of Saudi Arabia's Washington, DC Embassy: Men Have a Supervisory Authority because of Their Physical Advantages
According to the website of the embassy of Saudi Arabia's  Islamic Affairs Department (IAD),  wife-beating is permitted in accordance with Qur'anic verses and Hadiths used by the IAD to explain the rights a husband has over his wives:  "The husband's rights on his wife are greater than hers over him." Another source states, "Men have a supervisory authority on account of the physical advantage they possess…"  It is also stated, "When the husband calls his wife to his bed and she disobeys, and he spends the night in anger against her, the angels keep cursing her till the morning."  In addition, "If a woman dies while her husband was pleased with her," it is explained that "she will enter into Paradise." 
Answering the question: "Does Islam allow wife-beating?" Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) stated: "It is important that a wife recognizes the authority of her husband in the house. He is the head of the household, and she is supposed to listen to him. But the husband should also use his authority with respect and kindness towards his wife. If there arises any disagreement or dispute among them, then it should be resolved in a peaceful manner. Spouses should seek the counsel of their elders and other respectable family members and friends to batch up the rift and solve the differences.
"However, in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife, but this is only applicable in extreme cases and it should be resorted to if one is sure it would improve the situation. However, if there is a fear that it might worsen the relationship or may wreak havoc on him or the family, then he should avoid it completely."
According to Siddiqi, "The Qur'an is very clear on this issue. Almighty Allah says: ' Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in the husband's absence what Allah would have them to guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all). If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers. If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation; for Allah has full knowledge and is acquainted with all things. (4:34-35)'
"It is important to read the section fully. One should not take part of the verse and use it to justify one's own misconduct. This verse neither permits violence nor condones it. It guides us to ways to handle [a] delicate family situation with care and wisdom. The word 'beating' is used in the verse, but it does not mean 'physical abuse.' The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained it 'dharban ghayra mubarrih,' which means 'a light tap that leaves no mark.' He further said that [the] face must be avoided. Some other scholars are of the view that it is no more than a light touch by siwak, or toothbrush."
Siddiqi cites a Hadith to use caution when beating one's wife: "Generally, the Prophet (pbuh) used to discourage his followers from taking even this measure. He never hit any female, and he used to say that the best of men are those who do not hit their wives. In one Hadith he expressed his extreme repulsion from this behavior and said, ' How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then embrace (sleep with) her?' (Al-Bukhari, English Translation, vol. 8, Hadith 68, pp. 42-43)"
Siddiqi adds: "It is also important to note that even this 'light strike' mentioned in the verse is not to be used to correct some minor problem, but it is permissible to resort to only in a situation of some serious moral misconduct when admonishing the wife fails, and avoiding from sleeping with her would not help. If this disciplinary action can correct a situation and save the marriage, then one should use it." 
Since it is in the Qur'an, these men can't say that it is wrong to beat one's wife. They can only insist that it must be done gently. This bodes ill for those who hope that other elements of Islamic law, such as the institutionalized discrimination of dhimmitude, can be set aside.
Abdul Salam Zoud, the Lakemba imam who presided over the Islamic union of French terrorism suspect Willy Brigitte and former Australian soldier Melanie Brown, still doesn't buy the Osama bin Laden theory.
"He's not a terrorist in my view. I don't believe yet he did what the Americans said. I swear by God, by Allah . . . I reject [bin Laden's culpability in the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001]."
A classified dossier compiled by France's anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere names Shiek Zoud as the chief recruiter for a terrorist network operating in Australia.
The headquarters for this jihad is supposedly the Haldon Street prayer hall, where Sheik Zoud is the spiritual head.
On this day when dhimmitude is so thick in the air, what with Foreign Leaders falling all over themselves to condemn Israel for the death of a man who encouraged and gloried in the murder of innocent non-combatants, Diana West's clarity and precision are particularly refreshing. And she is saying what must be said, and few have the courage or insight to say:
Something needs to be made very clear: The war we wage, the United States and its coalition of friends, now Spain-less (spineless), is not a war on "terror." Terror is an emotion. It is not a war on "terrorism." Like blitzkrieg, siege or ambush, terrorism is a tactic. And it's not a war against "evildoers," a creaky tag that conjures faceless heavies of a vaguely extraterrestrial nature, not the seedy killers who lurk in our cities' secret cells. The war we wage, the United States and its coalition of friends, is a war on Islamic jihad -- the spread of Islam by violent means -- and we wage it against Islamic jihadists who dream of death and destruction in their religion's name.
Two and a half years after the Twin Towers fell, our nation and its friends fight on, but in those two and a half years this great semantic fudge has allowed our enemies to remain ill-defined. Maybe that explains why we have seen confusion spring up between "the war on terror," which is conceived of as a response to the attacks of 9/11, and the "war in Iraq," which has sometimes been erroneously depicted, particularly by anti-war Democrats, as a wholly disconnected venture. No such confusion arises when you set out to combat global jihad, a phrase that just as aptly describes the struggle against Islamic fighters in Iraq or the West Bank as it does the struggle against Islamic fighters in the skies over Pennsylvania or on the train tracks of Madrid. Terrorism may be the tactic Islamic fighters employ, but jihad is the ideology they share.
A great irony of the Spanish election is that even as mass-murdering jihadists take credit for bringing about the Socialist victory -- expected to result in Spain's withdrawal from Iraq of its 1,300 troops -- they have also thrown a giant spotlight on the intertwined tactical connections between Islamic terror networks and the war in Iraq. The most likely scenario is that Islamic fighters either affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaeda chose to attack Spain in order to strike at the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
"The approaching general elections in Spain in March must be exploited to the extreme," announced an online manifesto that has been appearing on jihadist Web sites associated with Al Qaeda since December. The manifesto went on to predict that attacks on Spain would virtually guarantee a Socialist victory along with the jihadist objective of seeing Spanish troops leave the American-led coalition. If jihadists make the connection between "terrorism" and Iraq, why can't we?
Maybe the conclusion to be drawn is too horrifying: namely, that in warding off jihadist aggression, we combat an ideology born of a religion. In the formerly Judeo-Christian, currently relativist-hedonist West, such a thought triggers near-panic: How can religious worship, pure and unhijacked, inspire anything but goodwill among men? And aren't terrorist tactics opposed by all but a statistically invisible Islamic fringe? Perhaps it's better to ask what kind of religion offers salvation in exchange for unholy acts of violence. And better to wonder how invisible a fringe is when a recent poll, commissioned by the liberal British newspaper The Guardian, claims that more than 1 in 10 British Muslims (over 160,000 people) believe Al Qaeda-style attacks on the United States are justified.
But most of us don't ask and don't wonder. Valiantly, we fight "terrorism." Determinedly, we target "evildoers."
Maybe it is this same gauzy scrim that has obscured the other kinds of jihad -- quiet jihad or even cold jihad -- that have transformed the culture of Western Europe, from Granada, where the first mosque has opened since Christian forces ended Muslim rule in Spain in 1492, to Oxford, where historian Niall Ferguson reports that historian Edward Gibbon's prediction that minarets would one day rise over the university will come true next year with the opening of a grand new Islamic Studies center.
Such seismic cultural shifts mainly result from immigration policies that have introduced vast concentrations of non-assimilating Muslims throughout Western Europe. But there's something else. Some 14,000 "white Britons" have converted to Islam, according to the Times of London, including "some of Britain's top landowners, celebrities and the offspring of senior establishment figures." Among the converts are Yahya (formerly Jonathan) Birt, son of Lord Birt, former director-general of the BBC, and Emma Clark, great-granddaughter of the Liberal prime minister Herbert Asquith. Miss Clark, incidentally, helped design Prince Charles' Islamic garden at his home, Highgrove. "We're all the rage now," said Miss Clark, referring to Muslims. "I hope it's not a passing fashion."
In today's world, that's very hard to say.
Spain's last non-dhimmi?
Spain's outgoing Prime Minister Aznar, unlike so many of his countrymen, is not cowering before terrorism, and he has no regrets. From AP:
Defiant despite a crushing election defeat, outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said Monday he does not regret supporting the war in Iraq and criticized his successor's plan to withdraw Spanish troops.
Aznar's remarks were his first in public since the March 14 general election in which his conservative Popular Party crashed to surprise defeat amid charges that he had provoked the Madrid rail bombings three days earlier by backing the war. The attack killed 202 people and wounded more than 1,800.
"I am going with my head held high and proud of the job I have done," he said in an interview with the TV station Telecinco. "I am leaving also with the pain of having accompanied so many people that have suffered, but with my hands clean."
Aznar said he did not regret supporting the war, which most Spaniards opposed. He said the world was better off without Saddam Hussein.
"We did what we had to do," Aznar said.
He criticized prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's plans to pull Spain's 1,300 troops out of Iraq unless the United Nations takes charge. Some U.S. lawmakers have also said Zapatero would seem to be appeasing terrorists if he goes ahead with this withdrawal plan.
"You don't beat terrorism with concessions. You beat it by defeating it," Aznar said.
"I think that weakening the international coalition in the fight against terrorism is a grave error and I think the message terrorists may receive is a message that does not benefit us in the least in terms of our security or our international responsibility," Aznar said.
Asked if he accepted blame for his party's loss, Aznar noted that he had not run for another term. "But my party did not win the election and I am part of my party, the Popular Party. And therefore, we all have responsibility for it. It's only logical," Aznar said.
The night before the election, thousands of demonstrators rallied outside the party headquarters accusing Aznar of lying when he blamed armed Basque separatists for the bombings -- even as evidence of an Islamist link emerged -- in a bid to save the election.
They and the opposition Socialist party accused Aznar of making Spain a target for al-Qaida by endorsing the Iraq war.
With Spain traumatized by its worst terrorist attack ever, Aznar was asked how he felt.
"Calm, serene, fulfilling my responsibilities and obligations as always, and thinking of course about all the things that have happened in our country. Let's say I don't curse the darkness, but I see a lot of light in hope and the future."
A press release from the The American Muslim Association of North America, AMANA, courtesy FreedomNowNews:
The American Muslim Association of North America, AMANA condemns in the strongest terms Israel's terror assassination of Shaykh Ahmad Isma'il Yasin, the renowned Islamic scholar and founder of the leading Palestinian Resistance Movement - Hamas which where established to free the Palestinian territories against the illegal occupation by Israelis.
"This evil act of state terrorism against an old and disabled man is outrageous. As Shaykh Ahmad Isma'il Yasin was leaving the mosque after the morning prayers, an Israeli helicopter missile launch killed him and enraged the entire region with vows of revenge.
What follows is predictable enough. Then, at the end of the press release, this:
The American Muslim Association of North America, AMANA has a long history of promoting peace and justice for all. Trough our campaign to stop the killing of Muslim, Jewish and Christian civilians in our messages and in our website. http://www.al-amana.org/gallery.php
Muslim, Jewish, and Christian civilians? Then why the outrage over the killing of a primary agent of the murder of Jewish civilians?
The late Abu Hafs Al-Masri (Al-Jazeera)
This just in from AFP:
A STATEMENT published on an Islamist website today purporting to be from al-Qaeda urged retaliation against the US and its allies for Israel's killing of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
"Sheikh Yassin's blood will not have been shed in vain - we call on all the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades to avenge the sheikh of the Palestinian resistance by striking the tyrant of the century America and its allies," said the statement carried by the www.al-ansar.biz website.
The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades take their name from an al-Qaeda leader killed in Washington's 2001 onslaught in Afghanistan and is a name regularly used in communiques from the Islamic militant network to its cells around the world.
There was no immediate way of establishing the authenticity of the latest statement.
Tiny minority of extremists burns American and British flags at Cairo's Al-Azhar University (AP)
Even though Hamas glories in targeting innocent civilians, and has killed hundreds of them with suicide bombings, the bloody Yassin had worldwide support. Here (thanks to "Allah") are photos of Muslim mourners from:
Dominique de Villepin
FRANCE: Herve Ladsous, foreign ministry spokesman: "France condemns the action taken against Sheikh Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any extra-judicial execution as contrary to international law. The attack bears a serious risk of increasing tensions in the whole of the region."
FRANCE: Dominique de Villepin, Foreign Minister: "At a time when it is so important to mobilise ourselves to advance the peace process, such acts can only feed the spiral of violence"
RUSSIA: Alexander Yakovenko, Foreign Ministry spokesman: "Moscow is deeply concerned about the situation. It threatens a new wave of violence which could sabotage efforts to restart negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis by the 'quartet' of international mediators and key regional powers."
GERMANY: Joschka Fischer, Foreign Minister: "The situation is that everything must be done so that further escalation can be avoided. The government is deeply concerned about this development."
EU: Javier Solana, Foreign policy chief: "This type of action does not contribute at all to create the conditions of peace. This is very, very bad news for the peace process. The policy of the European Union has been consistently condemnation of extra-judicial killing."
What about all these extra-judicial killings? "Since Septermber 2000, 227 Israeli civilians have been killed, and 1393 wounded in suicide bombings carried out by the Hamas."
Hooper has lost a religious leader
A CAIR press release about a CAIR statement (thanks to DC Watson):
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned the assassination of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian Muslim religious leader, calling it an act of "state terrorism."
Israel killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a 67-year-old quadriplegic and the most prominent Palestinian Islamic figure, in a missile strike outside a Gaza City mosque on Monday.
In its statement, CAIR said:
"We condemn this violation of international law as an act of state terrorism by Ariel Sharon's out-of-control government. Israel's extra-judicial killing of an Islamic religious leader can only serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence throughout the region. The international community must now take concrete steps to help protect the Palestinian people against such wanton Israeli violence.
"We call on the United States to join its allies in condemning this political assassination and to make that condemnation meaningful by cutting the flow American-taxpayer dollars to Israel. It is these tax dollars that pay for the weapons Israel uses to carry out such illegal attacks. American repudiation of Israel's brutal policies could also be demonstrated by the cancellation of Ariel Sharon's upcoming visit to Washington.
"Bland administration statements urging 'restraint by all parties' will only be viewed internationally as tacit approval of Israel's actions and will undermine our moral and legal basis for the war on terrorism.
"Until Israel views Palestinians as human beings, and not just animals to be slaughtered at will during 'hunting season,'* there can be no viable and just resolution to the Middle East conflict. And until America adopts a truly even-handed approach to that conflict, our nation's image will continue to suffer worldwide."
(*Last week, a senior Israeli security official was quoted as saying "hunting season has begun," in reference to assassinations of Palestinians. [Washington Times, 3/18/04])
World leaders have been uniform in their condemnation of Sheikh Yassin's assassination. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the Israeli attack an "unlawful killing." Straw said: "I don't believe Israel will benefit from the fact that this morning an (elderly man) in a wheelchair has been the target of assassination."
European Union foreign ministers said in a statement: "Israel is not...entitled to carry out extra-judicial killings." French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said: "Such acts can only feed the spiral of violence."
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has consistently condemned all terrorist acts, whether carried out by individuals, groups or states.
1. The CAIR/Hamas link. According to Joe Kaufman in Front Page:
It was around this time that [CAIR's] Nihad Awad got involved with the Islamic Association for Palestine, or in Awad's words: "After the Gulf War was over, I was offered a job with the Islamic Association for Palestine as their public relations director." He took the job, and soon after that, he accepted a position as a contributing editor for one of the organization's publications, the Muslim World Monitor, as well.
The Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) is widely regarded as the "primary voice in the United States" of the terrorist group Hamas. The IAP was founded by Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a "senior political leader" of Hamas, and the organization is credited with publishing the actual Hamas charter. In a prepared statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, Steven Emerson stated, "internal Hamas documents strongly suggest that parts of the Hamas charter... were first written by members of the IAP in the United States in the early to mid-1980's."
About the IAP, former FBI counterterrorism chief Oliver "Buck" Revell stated, "IAP is a Hamas front. It's controlled by Hamas, it brings Hamas leaders to the US, it does propaganda for Hamas."
The IAP publication that Awad became an editor for, according to Steven Emerson in his book American Jihad, "celebrates successful Hamas terrorist attacks." . . . Nihad Awad's support for Hamas was absolute. In fact, while with the IAP, in a March 22, 1994 symposium at Barry University in Florida, he stated just that. Awad said, "...after I researched the situation inside and outside Palestine, I am in support of the Hamas movement..."
This same year, according to The Weekly Standard, when Mike Wallace of CBS's "60 Minutes" asked Awad if he supports the "military undertakings of Hamas," Awad stood up for the terrorist group and told him, "The United Nations Charter grants people who are under occupation [the right] to defend themselves against illegal occupation."
At the behest of then-IAP President Omar Ahmad, Awad met with him (Ahmad) and Rafeeq Jaber (Ahmad's successor and current IAP President) to discuss the IAP branching out in another direction. That direction was CAIR.
Just three months after the infamous "I support Hamas" statement, in June of 1994, the 'IAP three' incorporated the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), in Awad's words, "to bridge the chasm of ignorance between Muslims in America and their neighbors." Nihad Awad became the group's Executive Director, Omar Ahmad took on the title of Chairman of the Board, and Awad solicited his friend and colleague from the Bosnian Relief Committee, Ibrahim Hooper, as CAIR's Communications Director.
Using a $5000 dollar "modest donation," CAIR opened up an office in the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. That donation came from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a self-described charity that, like the IAP, was founded by Mousa Abu Marzook.
Two years after CAIR's inception, in May of 1996, the group coordinated a press conference to protest the decision of the United States government to extradite Marzook for his connection to terrorist acts performed by Hamas. In addition, CAIR signed a letter, which was printed in the June 1996 edition of the Newsletter of the Marzuk Legal Fund, calling the extradition "anti-Islamic" and "anti-American."
Shortly after September 11, 2001, while the world grieved over the attacks on America, Nihad Awad and CAIR took advantage of the suffering by placing on their website a picture of the World Trade Center in flames and under it a call for donations. It read, "What you can do for the victims of the WTC and Pentagon attacks," and by clicking on "Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund" one was unsuspectingly sent directly to the website of the Holy Land Foundation. A week later, the wording of the site was changed, as visitors to the site were directly told to "Donate through the Holy Land Foundation." The link was on CAIR's website up until the beginning of December, when the information mysteriously disappeared.
On December 4, 2001, the reason for the disappearance was apparent, as the Holy Land Foundation's assets were blocked by the United States government for funneling money to Hamas. According to the White House website, "The U.S.-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development [provided] millions of dollars each year that [was] used by HAMAS."
2. The CAIR statement above calls Yassin a "religious leader" and says that CAIR has "consistently condemned all terrorist acts." So we are to understand, since there was no condemnation of the following, that CAIR does not consider these acts by Hamas to be terrorist acts? And if not, and in light of their characterization of Yassin, should CAIR really continue to be considered a moderate Muslim organization by the American media?
A Chronology of Terrorist Attacks Carried out by the Hamas Since September 2000:
May 19, 2003: A Hamas terrorist on a bicycle blows himself up next to a military jeep in Kfar Darom (Gaza Strip). 3 soldiers are wounded.
May 18, 2003: A suicide bomber, with an explosives filled bag, blows himself up near the A-Ram Junction in Jerusalem.
May 18, 2003: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive blows himself up on a bus at the French Hill Junction in Jerusalem. 7 Israelis are killed and 20 were wounded.
May 17, 2003: A suicide bomber dressed as a religious Jew, wearing an explosive belt, blows himself up in Hebron's Gross Square, killing 2 Israeli civilians.
April 30, 2003: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt at the entrance to a pub on the Tel Aviv boardwalk. 3 Israeli civilians are killed,and 62 are wounded.
March 5, 2003: A suicide bomber blows himself up on the #37 bus in Haifa. 15 Israeli civilians are killed, and 42 are wounded.
January 17, 2003: An explosives lade raft, guided by a suicide bomber, explodes after Israeli Navy ships fire at the craft 4 kilometers from Dugit, in the northern Gaza Strip.
November 21, 2003: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt on the #20 bus on Mexico Street in Jerusalem. 11 Israelis are killed, and 50 are wounded.
October 27, 2002: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blows himself up at the gas station near the entrance to the city of Ariel. 3 Israeli civilians are killed, and 17 are wounded.
October 11, 2002: A suicide bomber is arrested at the entrance to a café before he could detonate his explosive belt.
October 10, 2002: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt at the "Coca-Cola" Junction/Bar Ilan Bridge. An Israeli civilian is killed, and 20 are wounded.
September 19, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosives laden bag on the #4 bus on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv.
August 4, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body on a bus travelling near Mt. Meron (northern Israel). 9 Israeli civilians are killed, and 48 are wounded.
June 18, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosives laden bag on a bus travelling along Dov-Yosef Street in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. 19 civlians are killed, and 50 are wounded.
May 7, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt and an additional explosive device (in a bag) at a snooker club in Rishon Letzion. 16 Israeli civilians are killed, and 51 are wounded.
March 31, 2002: A suicide bomber blows himself up at the "Matzah" restaurant in Haifa. 15 Israeli civilians are killed, and 31 are wounded.
March 27, 2002: A suicide bomber blows himself up with an explosive belt Park Hotel in Netanya. 29 Israeli civilians are killed, and 144 are wounded.
March 9, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body at the entrance the the "Moment Café" in Jerusalem. 11 Israeli civilians are killed, and 58 are wounded.
March 7, 2002: A suicide bomber attempts to detonate an explosive device on his back in the "Kafit" café on Emek Rafaim Street in Jerusalem.
February 6, 2002: A suicide bomber boards a bus travelling between the city of Maale Adumim and Jerusalem and attempts to detonate an explosive belt.
December 12, 2001: 2 suicide bombers detonate explosive devices next to Israeli vehicles in the area of Ganei Tal (Gaza Strip), while an additional explosive device is detonated towards another Israeli vehicle. 3 Israeli civilians are killed.
December 2, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device concealed under a coat on a bus near Yad L'banim in Haifa. 15 civilians are killed and 35 are wounded.+December 1, 2001: 2 suicide bombers detonate explosive devices concealed in bags as well as explosive belts on Ben Yehudah Street in Jerusalem. Immediately afterwards, a booby-trapped car explodes. 11 civilians are killed and 170 are wounded.
November 26, 2001: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt at the Erez Checkpoint (Gaza Strip). 2 IDF soldiers are wounded.
November 8, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body in the area of Bakah Al Sharikah as he attempted to travel to Israel. 2 IDF soldiers are wounded.
September 9, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body at the train station in Nahariya. 3 Israeli civilians are killed, and 46 are wounded.
September 4, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body on Neviim Street in Jerusalem. 13 Israeli civilians are wounded.
August 9, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusale, located on King George and Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. 15 Israelis are killed and 110 wounded.
August 8, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car next to the Bekaot chcekpoint in the West Bank.
July 9, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car next to an IDF vehicle in the area of Gush Katif (Gaza Strip). 1 IDF soldier is wounded.
June 22, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car near IDF forces in Alei Sinai (Gush Katif). 2 IDF soldiers are killed, and another soldier is wounded.
June 1, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up at the entrance to the "Dolphinarium" club in Tel Aviv. 22 Israeli civilians are killed, and 83 are wounded.
May 29, 2001: 2 terrorists approach an IDF position at the "Tofah" Junction (Gaza Strip). 1 terrorist detonates an explosive device strapped to his body, and the other hurled grenades and opened fire. 2 IDF soldiers are killed.
May 25, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explsosives filled container weighing 48 kilograms and 3 gas ballons at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip.
May 18, 2003: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body at the entrance to a Netanya Mall. 5 Israeli civilians are killed, and 86 are wounded.
April 29, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car near a bus carrying children at Dir Sharif Junction.
April 22, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to his body near a bus stop in the city of Kfar Sabba. 1 Israeli was killed, and 50 are wounded.
March 28, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up near a gas station at the Neveh Yamin/Kfar Sabba Junction. 2 Israeli civilians are killed, and 4 are wounded.
March 27, 2001: A suicide bomber bomber detonates an explosive strapped tohis body, near an Israeli bus at French Hill Junction in Jerusalem. The suicide bomber was killed. 21 Israeli civilians were wounded.
March 4, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosives laden case on the main street of Netanaya.
March 1, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up while in a taxi, near Mi Ami Junction. 1 Israeli civilian is killed, and 10 are wounded.
January 1, 2003: A booby-trapped car explodes in Netanya. 35 Israeli civilians are wounded.
December 22, 2000: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt, blows himself up at the entrance to a resturant in the Jordan Valley. 3 Israeli civilians are wounded.
December 15, 2000: A suicide bomber attempts to detonate an explosive belt against Israeli security forces near the Erez Checkpoint. The suicide bomber also attempts to stab Israeli security personnel.
November 6, 2000: A booby-trapped raft explodes near an Israeli Navy "Dabur" craft, near the Israel-Egypt border in Rafah. Since Septermber 2000, 227 Israeli civilians have been killed, and 1393 wounded in suicide bombings carried out by the Hamas.
Yassin's coffin, on the way to the gates of hell
They'll open the gates of hell? What have they been doing up to now? In this broadcast transcript from Australia's ABC Online, at least there is some clarity about what Yassin meant to the jihadis -- a sharp contrast to the "old man in a wheelchair" blather coming from Jack Straw.
TONY JONES: And we'll cross now to our correspondent, Mark Willacy, who is in Jerusalem, Mark, let's start with the reaction in Gaza.
Right now we're seeing grief and rage.
What do you think that's going to develop into?
MARK WILLACY: Well, we're seeing not only grief and rage but we're seeing some violence, particularly in southern Gaza, we're hearing reports of up to five Palestinians killed in clashes with Israelis.
Obviously tens of thousands are turning out for the funeral, that's still going on, but we're hearing that afterwards the Israeli security forces are bracing for more violence, particularly in Gaza, but there are also reports of violence in the West Bank, particularly in places like Hebron and Nablus.
TONY JONES: Naturally some pretty tough rhetoric from surviving Hamas leaders.
They're talking about open war, they're talking about opening the gates of hell.
Do they still have the capacity to strike Israel back hard?
MARK WILLACY: Very much so, Tony.
They're saying, "Look we've got young people knocking on our doors since the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, asking to be suicide bombers, begging to be able to avenge these killings."
So certainly Hamas has quite a large militia it can call on.
The killing of Sheikh Yassin is certainly a massive blow.
This man is the founder, he's the spiritual leader of this movement.
Israel says he's a bit more than that, that he's also planner, he's also the executor of a lot of these attacks.
But we can imagine that Hamas certainly still has the capability to strike back.
TONY JONES: Who's going to replace him in the leadership of this organisation, particularly the spiritual leadership, if that's indeed all he was?
MARK WILLACY: Well, we're hearing from Palestinians that he's irreplaceable.
He is the founder.
He is the spiritual leader of Hamas.
He embodies what Hamas is up to.
We're hearing from that perspective there will be no replacement as such in Sheikh Yassin's role.
We'll just see more political leaders, the military wing come into its own to respond to this assassination.
So I don't think we will see a direct replacement for Sheikh Yassin.
Suffering from moral myopia
Would Jack Straw have condemned the killing of Adolf Hitler? Where is his outrage for the innumerable Israeli civilians killed by Hamas operatives at Yassin's behest? He is behaving like a classic dhimmi, covering up the sins of his masters. From ic Coventry:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has issued a strongly-worded condemnation of the "unlawful killing" by Israeli forces of the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Speaking as he arrived in Brussels for EU talks on new measures to counter international terrorism in the wake of the Madrid train bombs, Mr Straw described the targeted assassination as "unacceptable and unjustified".
Mr Straw said he did not believe that Israel would benefit from the killing of an old man in a wheelchair.
"All of us understand Israel's need to protect itself - and it is fully entitled to do that - against the terrorism which affects it, within international law," he said.
"But it is not entitled to go in for this kind of unlawful killing and we therefore condemn it.
"It is unacceptable, it is unjustified and it is very unlikely to achieve its objectives."
Yassin, who Jerusalem accused of being behind the campaign of suicide bomb attacks against Israeli targets, was killed by missiles from a helicopter gunship as he left a mosque in Gaza at daybreak.
It was feared that his death would lead to a dramatic upsurge in violence in the Middle East, dashing any remaining hopes for the implementation of the US-backed Road Map for peace.
The wheelchair-bound cleric was revered throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and his death was expected to harden attitudes among Palestinian militants.
Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I accept the right of countries to protect themselves, and do not in any way defend the former actions of Sheikh Yassin, but I very much regret this latest escalation of violence."
Ancram seems to subscribe to the view that many hold in America: don't respond to terror by killing terrorists -- that will only lead to more terrorism.
Motorcyclists wielding machetes have attacked Christians in Donggala Regency, Central Sulawesi, leaving one dead and five injured. On Thursday evening, 11 March, four men riding on two motorcycles sped through the village of Maranatha, 18 miles south of the regional capital Palu, leaving death and bloodshed in their wake. Nuci, a 40 year old mother of two, died two hours after receiving fatal injuries to her head, neck and back. A witness to the incident described how she heard the roar of the motorbikes, followed almost immediately by a baby's screams. She ran towards the cries and found Nuci, bleeding to death and crawling towards her baby. The attackers wounded five others, who were Efrain, 30, Kanus, 30, Kalfin, 25, Pianus, 18, and Listin, 17 (many Indonesians have just one name).
The situation in the village is still tense, but no further incidents have been recorded. Hundreds of villagers are now standing on guard with machetes, spears and hand-made guns. The dead woman's relatives have called on the police to respond decisively as they fear that this is the start of another round of anti-Christian attacks.
On Monday 15 March, five suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were convicted on charges of terrorism in Palu District Court. Three of them, described as key local JI members, were jailed for six years, while the others received sentences of five and three years. JI has been blamed for the Bali bombings and widespread church bombings on Christmas Eve 2000.
While the district court in Palu has upheld justice, the same cannot be said concerning a recent decision in Indonesia's Supreme Court. The court upheld an August 2002 decision to acquit five army officers of their suspected role in the massacre of 200 Christians in a church. The attack, in which three church ministers were also killed, took place in East Timor on 6 September 1999. Human Rights Watch has called on the UN to investigate the failure of the courts to reach a conviction.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade murdered a Christian Friday night. Then they apologized: they thought he was a Jew. If he had been a Jew, they would have been celebrating. From Haaretz, via FrontPage:
Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade published a statement yesterday apologizing for the killing of 20-year-old George Khoury on Friday night.
Khoury, a Christian Arab and the son of well-known veteran attorney Elias Khoury of Beit Hanina, was shot to death from a vehicle at around 7:30 P.M. while jogging in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill. He was hit twice in the head, once in the neck and once in the stomach.
Alfred Cohen, a neighborhood resident, said: "I heard the shots, and from my window I saw the young man collapse. I was at his side in a few seconds. I tried to stop the bleeding from his head wound. He tried to say something but he couldn't. I was sure he was from the neighborhood, because I've seen him running here before."
The police immediately began a search for the vehicle that Cohen saw leaving the scene, and which was apparently headed for the nearby neighborhood of Issawiyeh.
Khoury, who was declared dead on arrival at Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Karem, was carrying no identification, and had only the keys to his car in his pocket. The police tried the keys on several cars in the area, and finally located Khoury's car on nearby Bar Kochba St. They were then able to identify the victim and notify his family.
Khoury's father said that George, his middle son, would drive from their home to French Hill a few times a week to jog.
The Khoury family hails from the village of Majdal in the Galilee, on the ruins of which the town of Migdal Ha'emek was built. The family still owns land in the area, and has lived in Jerusalem since 1969.
Elias Khoury gained fame in the 1970s when he led a legal battle against Sebastia and Eilon Moreh settlers. His father, Daoud Khoury, was killed, together with 12 others, in 1975, when a booby-trapped refrigerator placed by Fatah exploded on Jaffa Road in the capital.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement saying that the killing of Khoury was a case of "mistaken identity," and that they thought Khoury was a settler. The statement also said that from the point of view of the organization, Khoury was a shahid (martyr).
Khoury's father articulates an overlooked point: that the jihadist groups are harming, not helping, the Palestinian cause.
"The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are individuals who are trying to impose their way on everyone," Elias Khoury said. "This is a barbaric act that will not change my world view, which includes deep faith in Palestinian rights. This act was carried out by a group that undermines the issue of Palestinian justice, and harms the Palestinian interest and takes it back years."
In veiled criticism of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, Khoury added: "Fatah today is a crumbling movement that has no leader. The chaos in the movement does not help the Palestinian cause. I hope that this case will awaken the Palestinian public from its tranquillity to say its word."
Arafat's bureau called the Khoury home twice Saturday to apologize for the murder.
George Khoury, a graduate of the Anglican International School in Jerusalem, was a student at the Hebrew University. His funeral will take place today in the Christian cemetery on Mount Zion.
Hamas is an offshoot of the world's first modern radical Muslim group, the Muslim Brotherhood. From AP:
Arabs condemned the assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and vowed revenge on Israelis, while the United States quickly called for restraint from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, arguably the largest Islamic movement in the Middle East, issued a warning to all Americans and Israelis.
"There can be no life for the Americans and Zionists in the region," Akef told the pan-Arabic satellite television Al-Jazeera. "We will not rest until they (Israelis) are expelled from the region."
Bulgaria's Novinite reports that Islamic Jihad is threatening war over the death of Sheikh Yassin.
Following the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of the military movement, the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) said that it would open the door to a new war.
A new one? What happened to the old one? You mean we're supposed to believe that what has been going on up to now is peace -- and this from a group named Islamic Jihad?
A mass murderer meets his end
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Islamic terror group Hamas, has met his end. This had to be done, as Hamas' jihad ideology is the chief cause of ongoing warfare in Israel and of the breakdown of peace negotiations. Yassin was also the inspiration for innumerable suicide bombers. In death, however, at least in the short run, he may prove even more lethal than he was when alive.
Israel killed Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin in a helicopter missile strike outside a Gaza City mosque Monday, prompting threats of unprecedented revenge by Palestinian militants against Israel and the United States.
Yassin was the most prominent Palestinian leader killed by Israel in more than three years of fighting, and his assassination was seen as a major escalation.
In a spontaneous outpouring of rage and grief, tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A cloud of black smoke hung over Gaza City, as angry mourners burned tires in protest.
"Words cannot describe the emotion of anger and hate inside our hearts," said Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh, a close associate of Yassin.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, in turn, pledged that "the battle against Hamas will continue," suggesting there will be more airstrikes and raids.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said U.S. officials were in touch with Israeli and Palestinian authorities. "The United States urges all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint," he said.
At daybreak Monday, Israeli helicopters fired three missile as Yassin, his bodyguards and dozens of others left a mosque in Gaza City. Yassin, a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair, and seven others were killed, including several bodyguards. Seventeen people were wounded.
Three more Palestinians were killed in Gaza later Monday, one while handling explosives and two by Israeli army fire, during a protest against the Yassin killing, Palestinian hospital officials said.
In a West Bank refugee camp, a Palestinian radio journalist covering clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone throwers was killed by army fire shortly, residents said.
Israel held Yassin responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a former army general, was updated throughout the operation.
"The Israeli air force this morning killed the mastermind of all evil, Ahmed Yassin, who was a preacher of death," said army spokeswoman Brig. Gen Ruth Yaron.
The Israeli defense minister said Yassin was the "Palestinian bin Laden."
The Yassin assassination was seen as an enormous gamble by Sharon, who is trying to score a decisive victory against Hamas ahead of a possible Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, but risks triggering a dramatic escalation in bloodshed that could turn the public's mood in Israel against him.
Gideon Meir, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official, said Yassin was directly responsible for the scores of suicide attacks Hamas unleashed since 2000. "He is the one who is sending children and women to explode themselves," Meir said.
The Palestinian Authority said in a statement that "Israel has exceeded all red lines with this cheap and dirty crime," and declared a three-day mourning period.
Does anyone out there still believe that Hamas represents the extremists and the PA is full of moderates? If so, read on:
Flags at Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah were lowered to half-staff, and the Palestinian Cabinet was to hold an emergency session later Monday.
Yassin was Arafat's biggest political rival, but Arafat has always been careful not to confront the Hamas leader openly.
Cabinet ministers stood as Arafat recited a Muslim prayer for the dead. The Palestinian leader, referring to Yassin, then added: "May you join the martyrs and the prophets. To heaven, you martyr."
March 21, 2004
"A bottle of cologne with a picture of Osama Bin Laden is displayed at a cosmetics shop in Lahore on Monday." --AFP (Thanks to Mohamed Ibn Guadi)
Evidently the tiny minority of extremists is not so tiny as to make the manufacturer of this cologne think that he wouldn't be able to sell it.
Be careful with this man's briefcase
Not only is Zawahiri not cornered. Now he's boasting again. From AP:
SYDNEY, Australia - Osama bin Laden's terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia, the biographer of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader was quoted as telling an Australian television station.
In an interview scheduled to be televised on Monday, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said Ayman al-Zawahri claimed that "smart briefcase bombs" were available on the black market.
It was not clear when the interview between Mir and al-Zawahri took place.
U.S. intelligence agencies have long believed that al-Qaida attempted to acquire a nuclear device on the black market, but say there is no evidence it was successful.
In the interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. television, parts of which were released Sunday, Mir recalled telling al-Zawahri it was difficult to believe that al-Qaida had nuclear weapons when the terror network didn't have the equipment to maintain or use them.
"Dr Ayman al-Zawahri laughed and he said `Mr. Mir, if you have $30 million, go to the black market in central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist, and a lot of ... smart briefcase bombs are available,'" Mir said in the interview.
"They have contacted us, we sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other central Asian states and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase bombs," Mir quoted al-Zawahri as saying.
Al-Qaida has never hidden its interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.
The U.S. federal indictment of bin Laden charges that as far back as 1992 he "and others known and unknown, made efforts to obtain the components of nuclear weapons."
Feisal Abdul Rauf (ECTN)
Feisal Abdul Rauf, a New York imam, expects us to believe that jihad warfare was started by the West and can only be ended by the West. He is therefore either concealing or ignorant of the fact that violent jihad is a developed tradition within Islam and found in core Islamic texts (including but not limited to the Qur'an, as well as Hadith and books of Islamic jurisprudence). In those it has nothing to do with the behavior of infidels. It only has to do with the fact that they are infidels. Take, for example, this quotation from the Muslim prophet Muhammad:
When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. . . . If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim, book 019, Number 4294)
That is offensive jihad. It is buttressed by numerous other sayings of the Prophet, by the Qur'an, and by Islamic legal scholars. But Feisal Abdul Rauf puts it all on the West, and gets invited to Australia by Premier Bob Carr.
The US and the West must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end, says an Islamic cleric invited to Sydney by Premier Bob Carr.
New York-based Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who impressed Mr Carr at an international conference last year, arrives in Sydney today for two weeks of meetings and public talks.
Speaking from his New York mosque, Imam Feisal said the West had to understand the terrorists' point of view.
In a move likely to cause controversy with church leaders, Imam Feisal said it was Christians who started mass attacks on civilians.
"The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets."
This is outrageously specious, but it depends on the ignorance of the listeners. The bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima were not justified by the bombers on the basis of Christian theology. The bombings by terrorists -- 9/11, 3/11, etc. -- are justified on the basis of Islamic theology. By claiming that they are equivalent, Abdul Rauf obscures the Islamic roots of modern-day terrorism, thus hindering the prospects for the reform within Islam that is so desperately needed if jihad terrorism is ever going to cease.
Imam Feisal said the bombing in Madrid had made his message more urgent. He said there was an endless supply of angry young Muslim rebels prepared to die for their cause and there was no sign of the attacks ending unless there was a fundamental change in the world.
Yes indeed. But displaying a lack of the self-critical faculty that he shares with radical Muslims, he makes no mention, at least according to this report, of the Islamic roots of terror, and of the need for Muslims who truly (rather than deceptively) oppose terror to address this problem.
Imam Feisal, who argues for a Western style of Islam that promotes democracy and tolerance, said there could be little progress until the US acknowledged backing dictators and the US President gave an "America Culpa" speech to the Muslim world.
Of course. The historical depredations of jihad, they were all the fault of the West. The fall of Constantinople? Probably because of Byzantium's support for Israel.
From The Observer, with thanks to Twostellas:
A British Muslim linked to the group suspected of carrying out the Madrid and Casablanca bombings worked at Heathrow airport as a manager for an international air company, an Observer investigation can reveal.
Abdulatif Merroun, 42, who was jailed for five years in Morocco last year for his connection with an Islamic extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, was working for a Canadian airline as a site manager at Heathrow in 1998. During this time he met Mohamed al-Fazazi, the spiritual leader of the Moroccan extremist group Salifia Jihadia, and who is linked to the September 11 attacks.
According to Whitehall sources Merroun 'helped' the radical cleric at Heathrow airport.
Merroun, who obtained his British nationality by marrying a British convert to Islam, has dual British and Moroccan nationality. His wife is believed to have reported him missing in June 2002, when he is alleged to have travelled to Tangier in Morocco, and visited Fazazi's radical mosque.
Merroun was arrested last year in an operation conducted by Moroccan security forces against Islamic radicals in the wake of the Casablanca bombings and imprisoned.
And of course:
When the verdict was announced his wife Fatima Merroun, who lives in west London, claimed he was innocent and had nothing to do with Salafia Jihadia.'My husband wanted to bring his own witnesses to prove that he had nothing to do with this group ... and they refused it,' she said. Her husband had acted as an informal interpreter once for Fazazi at Heathrow, she said, adding that she was planning to launch a campaign in Britain to have him freed. Security sources said that Merroun 'did not feature' as a terror suspect.
John Pilger is a noted Australian journalist. In a documentary ten years ago, he skewered scandal-ridden British MP Alan Clark, as is recalled in a new column on Clark from The Scotsman (thanks to Jean-Luc):
JP: "Did it bother you personally when you were the minister responsible that British equipment was causing such mayhem and human suffering, albeit to a set of foreigners?
AC: "No, not in the slightest. It never entered my head."
JP: "You didn't lose sleep over it?"
JP: I ask the question because I read that you were a vegetarian and you are seriously concerned about the way animals are killed?"
JP: "Doesn't that concern extend to the way humans, albeit foreigners, are killed?"
AC: "Curiously not."
Yet in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview on March 11, Pilger sounded curiously like Clark:
JOHN PILGER: A lot of people depended on a resistance movement to get rid of invaders, virtually since the beginning of history.
When Caesar went up to Gaul, when finally they crossed the Rubicon - which the Americans have done in modern terms - there was a dependence on a resistance. . . .
In fact, you can't approve, under any circumstances, in my opinion, the killing of innocent people.
But you have to understand why it happens.
In the same way that we have to understand why September 11 happened.
TONY JONES: Can you approve in that context the killing of American, British or Australian troops who are in the occupying forces?
JOHN PILGER: Well yes, they're legitimate targets.
They're illegally occupying a country.
And I would have thought from an Iraqi's point of view they are legitimate targets, they'd have to be, sure.
TONY JONES: So Australian troops you would regard in Iraq as legitimate targets?
JOHN PILGER: Excuse me but, really, that's an unbecoming question.
I've just said that any foreign occupier of a country, military occupier, be they Germans in France, Americans in Vietnam, the French in Algeria, wherever, the Americans in Latin America, I would have thought, from the point of view of the local people - and as I mentioned, be they Australians in Australia - if Australia had been invaded and occupied by the Japanese, then the occupying forces, from the point of view of the people of that country, are legitimate targets.
And yesterday at the Sydney peace rallies (from Channelnewsasia, with thanks again to Jean-Luc):
Australian journalist John Pilger, who said last week that allied troops including Australians were legitimate targets of the Iraq insurgency, and local Muslim leaders will also address the rallies.
In a book, The New Rulers of the World, Pilger has argued, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, "that the 'war on terrorism' is a charade, masking an all-powerful oppressor that dares not speak its name."
March 20, 2004
Islamicawakening.com, or As-sahwah.com, is described by those indispensable folks at Internet Haganah as "Salafyist/Jihadist," with a "Pro qaida 'news' and discussion forum, notable participants in which include English Nazi David Myatt, aka Abdul Aziz."
Here's a little something from their discussion boards from earlier this month, which came to my attention tonight:
American bases in Poland
IslamicAwakening.Com Discussion Board: Jihaad: American bases in Poland
By Radoslav Z. on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 06:08 pm: Edit
Known locations of american bases that will be build in Poland: Powidz [airbase], Babie Doly [airbase, naval training camp], Oksywie [main polish naval base]. Good targets!
ADDENDUM: I neglected to note yesterday that the anti-terror leaders are depicted on playing cards, a la the Iraqi high command. So The Economist has declared its allegiance in two ways.
So the charges have been dropped against Captain Yee, after a prosecution that to all outward appearances was astoundingly witless.
But there is an extraordinarily strange statement from the prosecution:
In dismissing the charges, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which operates the detention center, cited "national security concerns that would arise from the release of the evidence" if the case proceeded.
What on earth does that mean? That the classified documents Yee was carrying are so sensitive that a trial would bring to light information that must not be brought to light? If that's the case, then why is he going back to work? The AP article that contains the quote from Miller says that "Yee now faces only minor punishment and should be back at work soon."
Also, it ought to be possible to try someone for mishandling classified documents without releasing classified information. Something very strange is going on in this case.
Southern Sudanese children
From Compass Direct:
Security forces in the government-controlled state of Upper Nile in southern Sudan disrupted the construction of an Anglican church school in Renk last week, halting the builders and detaining the diocesan building supervisor for four days.
Claiming that the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) school site had been earmarked for use by an Islamic non-governmental organization, members of the security forces came to the site on March 10 and forced the builders to stop work.
The congressionally funded United States Institute of Peace hosted an event yesterday in Washington on reforming Islam, with a guest panelist who has threatened the United States and openly supported terrorist groups, Insight has learned.
Among the guests in the panel discussion was Muzammil Siddiqi, who until November 2001 was president of the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, a leading Wahhabi front organization in the United States. Wahhabism is a radical form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and advocated by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his terrorist leaders.
Siddiqi has accompanied visiting Saudi officials from the Muslim World League on fund-raising tours across America, and is listed on its website as the organization's official representative in the United States. Offices of the Muslim World League in Herndon, Va., were raided by a federal antiterrorism task force in March 2002 because of suspected ties to al-Qaida.
During an anti-Israel rally outside the White House Oct. 28, 2000, Siddiqi openly threatened the United States with violence if it continued its support of Israel.
"America has to learn ... if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please, all Americans. Do you remember that? ... If you continue doing injustice, and tolerate injustice, the wrath of God will come."
By "injustice," he meant U.S. support for Israel.
Siddiqi also has called for a wider application of Sharia law in the United States, and in a 1995 speech praised suicide bombers.
"Those who die on the part of justice are alive, and their place is with the Lord, and they receive the highest position, because this is the highest honor," he was quoted as saying by the Kansas City Star on Jan. 28, 1995.
A Bush appointee to the U.S. Institute of Peace said he had to distance himself from yesterday's event because it associated the USIP with groups "on the wrong side in the war on terrorism."
USIP board member Daniel Pipes tells Insight that, in addition to his objection to Siddiqi, he has warned the USIP about the presence of the U.S. spokesman of al-Muhajiroun, a London-based group that claims to be recruiting jihadis for a worldwide "Mohammed's army" faithful to bin Laden.
Pipes tells Insight: "I believe that President Bush appointed me to the USIP board in part to serve as a watchdog against militant Islamic groups. Unfortunately the management of USIP is not listening to my advice. I cannot be associated with the event today which associates USIP with some of the very worst militant Islamic groups."
Kay King, a spokesperson for USIP Chairman Richard Solomon, said USIP was "not aware of the allegations about Siddiqi, and we will look into them."
However, she pointed out Siddiqi "has attended Bush administration events with the president, and was invited to lead a prayer" at the national prayer breakfast following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The March 19 event is cohosted by USIP and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, or CSID, a U.S.-based group that was created by board members and former staff of the American Muslim Council, a radical pro-Saudi group that largely ceased operations after its former chairman, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was jailed last October on terrorist-related charges.
No Zawahiri, but evidently some progress is being made. From FoxNews:
Pakistan's military has captured more than 100 suspects in a five-day assault on militants near the Afghan border, a commander said Saturday. Troops continued to meet fierce resistance from fighters holed up in heavily fortified mud compounds. However, the operation's commander also told Reuters the suspected "high-level target" — once believed to be Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri — is probably a Chechen or Uzbek militant leader.
"He is most probably a Chechen or Uzbek because all the intercepts we have been receiving have been in the Chechen or Uzbek language," Lt. Gen. Safder Hussain told reporters, referring to intercepted radio messages.
Among the detainees were foreigners and local Pashtun tribesman who have been giving them shelter, said Hussain, who is leading the anti-terror sweep. Hussain said 400 to 500 fighters are likely still inside the fortresses, holding off the soldiers' onslaught with mortars, AK-47s, rockets and hand-grenades.
"These people have been here for a long, long time. They are extremely professional fighters," he said. "They have tremendous patience before they open fire."
There is nothing in Islamic law that forbids this practice. Indeed, it is buttressed by numerous incidents in early Islamic history. From WND:
Arab militias backed by Khartoum's radical Muslim regime raped more than 100 women in an attack in western Sudan.
Mukesh Kapila, the United Nations coordinator for Sudan, told the BBC 75 people were killed in the attack on the village of Tawila two weeks ago.
"All houses as well as a market and a health center were completely looted and the market burnt," he said. "Over 100 women were raped, six in front of their fathers who were later killed."
The attack, in which a further 150 women and 200 children were abducted, was one of many as village after village was razed by the militias, Kapila said.
Hundreds of thousands were ousted from their homes and more than 100,000 have fled across the border into Chad, where they have continued to face cross-border raids.
Kapila called for more international aid and urgent intervention to bring a ceasefire in the war.
Sudan's cleric-backed National Islamic Front regime in the Arab and Muslim north declared a jihad on the mostly Christian and animist south in 1989. Since 1983, an estimated 2 million people have died from war and related famine. About 5 million have become refugees.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Khartoum government forces also are alleged to have gang-raped women, sometimes forcing them to deny their Christian faith or be killed.
Kapila said he was in Rwanda during the genocide of 1994 but still is "totally shocked" at what is going on in Sudan.
"This is ethnic cleansing, this is the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don't know why the world isn't doing more about it," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program.
The U.N. is concerned the fighting in western Sudan could undermine the peace talks as they come to an end.
Anti-terrorist police are investigating a "definite link" between perpetrators of the Madrid train bombings and Islamic hardliners in Britain, the nation's most senior police officer has said.
Those liable to face questioning by British police include detained Palestinian cleric Abu Qatada, who according to British and Spanish authorities has been a key Al-Qaeda figure in Europe - a claim that he has denied.
"We believe there is a London link with what happened in Madrid," Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens was quoted by the Independent newspaper.
"There is a definite link in what has happened," he said.
Fears of a terror attack in Britain have escalated since the March 11 blasts in Madrid which killed 202 and injured over 1,500, and ahead of the first anniversary of the US and British invasion of Iraq.
It has been widely noted that jihadist principles are taught in textbooks all over the Muslim world. From MEMRI: "In interviews with the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, Egyptian Education Minister Dr. Hussein Kamel Bahaa Al-Din discussed reform in the Egyptian curricula."
Watch him dance when asked whether jihadist material has been removed from the books:
Question: "Was there really an examination of the religious study material that ultimately caused the removal of [some] Qur'an verses and stories about Jihad against the Jews and Israel?"
Bahaa Al-Din: "In the early 1990s, I was surprised [to hear about] nine books published by [some] groups of extremists who accused us of blurring religious identity and removing Qur'an verses and Hadiths of the Prophet [from the religious curricula]. When this came to my attention, in 1994, I phoned the late Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Dr. Sayyed Tantawi, Dr. Omar Hashem, and Dr. Abd Al-Sabour Marzouq and asked them to come to the [Education] Ministry… In a letter, I told them: 'It is not I who compiles these curricula and not I who must defend a mistake. If there is a mistake, I deserve thanks for correcting it.' Four hours later, Sheikh Al-Ghazali told me, 'I am sure that what is taught is the correct religion and that the statements that were circulated were absolute falsehood.' This matter was published in the media at the time."
A Marxist-jihadist alliance of death in Colombia. From the BBC, with thanks to Twostellas:
The Colombian secret police, the DAS, have arrested a guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) who had allegedly been setting up a cell of suicide bombers. Luis Hipolito Ospina, alias "The Muslim", who is actually a practising Muslim, was arrested in the capital, Bogota, after one of the guerrillas whom he indoctrinated turned himself in rather than carry out a suicide mission.
"The Muslim" was a familiar sight during the days of the failed peace process with the previous government of Andres Pastrana.
For three years he ran the social programme of the Farc in their 42,000sq km safe haven, the venue for peace talks.
Bearded and devout, he spoke of the divine mission of revolution to fight for equality for Colombia's poor.
Now he is in a prison cell, accused of training 22 youths to be suicide bombers.
One of the youths, known only as Heriberto, turned himself in to authorities before he was due to blow himself up at the army headquarters of the southern city of Florencia.
The Farc have traditionally been anti-religious, in keeping with traditional Marxism.
But according to the secret police, the rebel high command agreed to allow "The Muslim" to set up his suicide squad so that their sworn enemy, hardline President Alvaro Uribe, could be killed by one of the bombers.
From The Scotsman, with thanks to Twostellas:
A LIBYAN man detained without trial under anti-terror laws on the grounds of his alleged links with al-Qaeda was freed last night after Britain’s most senior judge ruled that David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, must order his release.
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf rejected Mr Blunkett’s appeal against a previous decision that the man’s 16-month detention in Belmarsh high-security prison was unlawful and based on "wholly unreliable evidence".
The 37-year old man, known only as M, is the first terror suspect to appeal successfully against his detention under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act (ATCSA).
Mr Blunkett, who launched an 11th-hour appeal to prevent M walking free last week, was refused the right to appeal the decision in the Lords.
In a written judgment, Lord Woolf acknowledged "the need for society to protect itself against acts of terrorism" but added that it remained of the "greatest importance" that an individual "should have access to an independent tribunal or court which can adjudicate upon the question of whether the detention is lawful or not. If it is not lawful, he has to be released".
Patrick Seale, author of several books about Syria and the Middle East, writes in the Gulf News that the crimes of Bush, Blair, and Sharon must compel the West to make a hard choice (thanks to bjqt for the link):
A truce must be called with radical Islam. Painful but essential political decisions must then be taken to address the most glaring Arab and Muslim grievances. The world must impose a long-overdue settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a running sore which, more than any other, has infected relations between the Arabs and the west.
American and British troops must leave Iraq with the transfer of sovereignty in July. The United Nations must be given the support and the money it needs to help a unitary Iraq back on its feet. Most American bases in the region should be dismantled and their troops removed to more discreet "over the horizon" locations. The "war on terror" must be wound down, if only because it is a great terrorist recruiting sergeant.
Above all, seeking reconciliation rather than confrontation, the west must engage in a sincere dialogue with Islam in all its forms, including the most radical.
Islamic law allows mujahedin to agree to a truce only for a temporary period, when they are weak, in order to gather their strength and fight again more effectively. Thus Seale is proposing that the non-Muslim world agree to a full surrender to the jihadis, and the resulting oppression and humiliation of dhimmi status. The jihadis have made it abundantly clear that ultimately they will accept nothing else.
South Korea feels the Spanish pinch. From The Financial Times, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
South Korea's acting president has warned of a "strong" threat of terrorism as the country prepares to send more troops to Iraq next month. Following last week's train bombings in Spain, Goh Kun said countries supporting the US-led coalition in Iraq had become "major targets" of terrorism.
South Korea is poised to become the third-biggest member of the occupation force next month when it plans to send an extra 3,000 troops to join its 600 medics and engineers already there.
"We need to be very seriously prepared [for terrorism]. We could be a strong target," said Mr Goh, standing in for president Roh Moo-hyun, who was impeached by parliament last week.
South Korea is the latest US ally to have responded to the Madrid bombings, which appear to have been carried out by Islamic extremists, such as al-Qaeda.
In Australia, John Howard, prime minister, yesterday pledged a further A$400m ($295m, €242m, £163m) in this year's budget to fight terrorism. Japan has pledged to keep ground forces in Iraq whether or not Spain pulls out this summer.
Shall Australia follow Spain down the dhimmi path? Michael Costello says no in The Australian (thanks to Jean-Luc):
SO. What would we have to do to get rid of the threat of terrorism from al-Qa'ida? Pulling out of Iraq would not begin to be enough.
Here are some of the demands spelled out by Osama bin Laden and the head of Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir:
Pull out of the UN;
Pull out of the US alliance;
Return East Timor to Islamic rule;
Support the return of the extreme form of Islamic rule to the following: Afghanistan, Southern Spain, southern Philippines, southern Thailand, Malaysia, significant parts of China, many of the republics created from the former Soviet Union and, of course, all of North Africa and the Middle East;
Drive the Jews of Israel into the sea;
Prevent women working or being educated, or appearing in public without full covering dress;
Require women to obey men.
No decent nation could accept any or all of these.
That's what makes this whole debate about whether our participation in the attack on Iraq increased the terrorist threat to Australia so absurd.
What bin Laden has been saying since September 11 makes clear that we were a terrorist target even before then.
Our alliance with the US, indeed the very fact we are a western nation, made us one. These are his words, not my assertions.
If you doubt that East Timor is relevant, how about this? "The crusader Australian forces were on Indonesian shores, and in fact they landed to separate East Timor, which is part of the Islamic world." That's bin Laden on November 3, 2001.
Just in case you think this is just one-off, bin Laden made clear in that same statement that those events in East Timor should be viewed "not as separate links, but as links in a long series of conspiracies, a war of annihilation in the true sense of the word".
And further: "These battles cannot be viewed in any case whatsoever as isolated battles, but rather, as part of a chain of the long, fierce and ugly crusader war."
Of course, Iraq was also part of that chain in bin Laden's mind. As far back as October 2001, bin Laden included the first UN sponsored war on Iraq in 1990-91 as a major cause of his grievances with the West.
It's particularly foolish of Prime Minister John Howard to act as though the second Iraq war has nothing to do with the terrorist threat. It does.
But it did not create that terrorist threat. Like our involvement in Afghanistan, it really only confirmed it. If we were to pull out tomorrow, that is not going to solve our problem.
And what is the problem? War has been declared on us by religious fanatics who are prepared to wage that war without limit.
Again, you only have to read bin Laden's and Bashir's words to know this. For example, bin Laden says the "killing of British and Australians in the Bali explosions were actions carried out by the zealous sons of Islam in defence of their religion and in response to the order of their God" - November 12, 2002.
And again: "Carrying out terrorism against the oppressors is one of the tenets of our religion and Shari'ah." On November 3, he said: "This war is fundamentally religious." Further: "Under no circumstances should we forget this enmity between us and the infidels. For the enmity is based on creed." And again on the same day: "This war is fundamentally religious," and "It is a question of faith, not a war against terrorism."
What about those who think another UN mandate for Iraq would have placated the terrorists? Let me again quote bin Laden on November 3, 2001. "Those who refer our tragedies today to the United Nations so that they can be resolved are hypocrites who deceive God, his prophet and the believers."
Further: "Under no circumstances should any Muslim or sane person resort to the United Nations. The United Nations is nothing but a tool of crime." And as for Kofi Annan, bin Laden describes him as "this criminal".
The Government's attacks on Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty were typically vindictive, Alexander Downer as usual contributed the most vicious and sickening note.
Once again, the Government has made a mess of what should have been a strong case.
Instead of arguing over whether, or how much, Australia's involvement in Iraq has increased the threat to Australia, Howard should simply tell Australians the sober truth.
That truth is that we face an enemy whose every word and deed shows it is uninterested in anything but complete surrender from those it regards as its enemies, of which Australia is one; that it will use indiscriminate terror against its enemies, and Australia is likely to suffer a heavy terrorist attack at some time, possibly close to the next election; that we cannot and will not surrender to terror, or the threat of terror; and that our people must unite for a long, wearing, grinding struggle to find, capture or, as a last resort, kill those who would kill us. This is the harsh truth of our times.
Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia! "Saudi Arabia's first independent human rights organization won royal blessing Tuesday in the latest sign of political reform within the conservative Muslim kingdom." So says Reuters.
In other Saudi news: "The Saudi authorities have arrested a lawyer for criticising the arrests of as many as 13 liberal and moderate Islamist figures. They were picked up on Tuesday by police as they were about to announce an independent human rights body." This from Straits Times.
Still a few bugs in the system, eh?
Oh, and what exactly are "liberal and moderate Islamists"? (Thanks to Nicolei for both links.)
From Pepe Escobar in Asia Times, with thanks to Nicolei, some interesting information on how Al-Qaeda and other groups are mutating. Escobar blames it all on the Iraq war, which doesn't take into account the self-identification of the radicals as warriors in the ongoing jihad, but he provides some useful information.
"If you don't stop your injustices, more blood will flow and these attacks are very little compared with what may happen with what you call terrorism." - Abu Dujan al-Afghani, purported military spokesman for al-Qaeda in Europe, claiming responsibility on video for the Madrid bombings.
The "al-Qaedization" of terrorism in Europe is a political "big bang". According to intelligence estimates in Brussels, there may be an invisible army of up to 30,000 holy warriors spread around the world, which begs the question: how will Western democracies be able to fight them?
The Madrid bombings have already produced the terrorists' desired effect: fear. Cities all across Europe fear they may be targeted for the next massacre of the innocents. On his October 18, 2003 tape, Osama bin Laden warned that Italy, Britain and Poland, as well as Spain - all staunch Washington allies in the invasion and occupation of Iraq - would be struck. Sheikh Omar Bakri, spiritual leader of the Islamist group al-Mouhajiroun, said in London he "wouldn't be surprised if Italy is the next target". ...
The special cell in Brussels considers that the Madrid bombings required "minute preparations, money, experience and cohesion". This has led European specialists on Islamist movements, like Antoine Basbus, director of the Observatory of Arab Countries, and Olivier Roy, a research director at the French Center of Scientific Research, to agree that al-Qaeda is now operating on three layers: the originals, or Arab-Afghans who were part of the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s; the franchised local groups; and the recent "converts" who provide the crucial link between the "base" and the local outfits.
The anti-terrorist experts in Brussels tell Asia Times Online they had known for some time that the original "base" of the al-Qaeda was greatly depleted. After all, Mohammed Atta, the leading military planner, and Mahfouz Ould, one of the leading ideologues, have been killed. Abu Zubaida, in charge of recruiting, and Ibn Sheikh Al-Libi, in charge of training, are in jail. But unlike the Americans roughly a year ago, the experts in Brussels did not assume that al-Qaeda was broken. They stress that al-Qaeda's real danger is "their persistent capacity to incite and collaborate with local groups" - they estimate there may be around 40 of these - to act in their own countries. "But we are even more concerned about groups that we don't know anything about."
The Moroccan arm of al-Qaeda, for instance, is the little-known Moroccan Islamic Combatants Group. The experts in Brussels now confirm that Saudis and Moroccans came to Madrid to plan the bombings alongside Islamist residents of Spain. But al-Qaeda is not only active in the Maghreb: it is very well connected in sub-Saharan Africa, in places not yet fully investigated like the Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic.
For months now, ever since the Istanbul bombings in November 2003, different European intelligence services have been afraid they would have to confront a mutated enemy. Most services were in fact sure that Istanbul represented the first attack on Europe. The possibility of further use of chemical and bacteriological weapons, and even nuclear "dirty bombs", was not, and now more than ever is not, discarded.
Roy says that recruiting is now being conducted locally because "mobility is more difficult; there is not a place anymore where one goes to meet the chief or to get training". Recruiting campaigns continue all over the EU. For instance, one of the perpetrators of the bombing of the UN office in Baghdad in August 2003 was recruited in Italy. Other recruits in Spain, Germany and Norway ended up in Iraq via Syria. Global jihad, of which al-Qaeda is the leading exponent, is above all an idea. It thrives on spectacular terrorist attacks. Targets may have no strategic interest: what matters is terror as a spectacle - like bombing a nightclub in Bali. Madrid represented something much more sophisticated because in the Western collective consciousness it was the link between an American ally and the war on Iraq.
Spain may have become a new symbol of the clash between the jihadis' version of Islam and the "Jews and Crusaders". But as far as global jihad is concerned, it doesn't matter whether a European democracy like Spain is governed by conservatives or socialists.
In the sense that the Spanish people are utterly mistaken if they think they have bought a lasting respite from Islamic radicalism, this is absolutely correct.
Al-Qaeda is an apocalyptic sect betting on the clash of civilizations: Islamic jihadis against "Jews and Crusaders". It is the same with the Bush administration spinning a "war on terror": James Woolsey, a former Central Intelligence Agency head, believes this is the Fourth World War and conservative guru Samuel Huntington bets on, what else, a "clash of civilizations".
I don't see much of that kind of talk, if any, from the Bush Administration.
Al-Qaeda's biggest problem is that it has no legitimacy in the Middle East as far as the key issues, Palestine and Iraq, are concerned. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's No 2, were never interested in the Palestinian struggle. In Roy's formula, "Al-Qaeda represents the globalization of Islam, not of the Middle Eastern conflicts."
This is a very important point, which I also make in Onward Muslim Soldiers. Many think that peace between Israel and the Palestinians would end the global jihad, but this is in fact far from true.
Key conclusions According to the experts in the Brussels anti-terrorist cell, proving al-Qaeda's responsibility in the Madrid bombings will lead to three important conclusions: 1. Al-Qaeda is back in the spectacular attack business, even if the attack is perpetrated by affiliates. 2. Cells remain very much active around Europe, and the West as a whole remains a key target. 3. Global jihad has achieved one of its key objectives, which is to strike against one of Washington's allies in Iraq.
The jihad escalates in Thailand. From AP, with thanks to Nicolei:
Unidentified arsonists on motorcycles set a string of fires targeting mostly deserted police checkpoints in southern Thailand where Islamic leaders have warned that violence would escalate after the disappearance of a prominent Muslim lawyer, police said Friday.
The attackers set fire to nearly 40 sites in the provinces of Pattani and Songkhla late Thursday, Police Maj. Gen. Paithoon Pattanasophon said in a telephone interview.
Paithoon reported no casualties from the blazes, adding that they caused panic but no major damage.
Three government-owned trucks, five houses and at least 30 deserted police checkpoints were set on fire, he said.
Many police checkpoints, the prime targets of attacks, were left unattended following a Jan. 4 raid on an army armory by suspected Muslim separatists.
A prominent lawyer, Somchai Neelahphaiji, who is defending five Muslims accused of participating in the raid and four suspected Thai members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, went missing last Friday from a Bangkok hotel.
Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh told reporters Thursday he has been kidnapped by unidentified people but denied state involvement.
Today, International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is sponsoring a "GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION on the FIRST ANNIVERSARY of the U.S. BOMBING and INVASION of IRAQ." (Thanks to Tom for the link.)
Among those who have endorsed this "call" are the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; the Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada;
American Muslim Voice of Fremont, CA; and CAIR California, Anaheim, CA.
March 19, 2004
Captain James Yee (AP)
The Army has dropped all charges against Muslim chaplain James Yee, who had been accused of mishandling classified documents at the terrorist detention camp at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Those classified documents weren't the only thing that was mishandled. The government has been fumbling the case from the start.
The CNN story's final line suggests a plea deal of some kind, but the government is being decidedly unhelpful.
Was James Yee carrying classified information when he was searched? It seems impossible to think otherwise. If so, why? If not, why was he charged?
All charges against Army Muslim chaplain James Yee have been dropped, the U.S. Army said Friday.
Yee faced charges related to the alleged mishandling of classified information at the terrorist detention camp at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Yee, a West Point graduate and Army captain, had been serving as a chaplain for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay when he was arrested in September and originally accused of espionage. He was jailed for 76 days.
The formal charges were reduced to mishandling classified information, and Army prosecutors never introduced any evidence on what that was. They delayed Yee's preliminary hearing five times.
The only testimony about what Yee may have done wrong came from a U.S. Customs agent, who said Yee was carrying lists with names of detainees and interrogators when he arrived in Florida on leave in September. The agent searched Yee's belongings on a tip from military investigators.
The Army had added four minor charges, mainly involving adultery and pornography, at the time it filed the reduced accusations of mishandling classified information.
Earlier this month, Yee signed a proposed agreement to resign from the Army if the military would end its effort to prosecute him, according to a document his defense team said it mistakenly sent to news organizations.
One year after the start of the war in Iraq, Bill Gertz has more on the ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. But keep this info under your hat. It's top secret, and might upset John Kerry's imaginary foreign friends.
We have obtained a document discovered in Iraq from the files of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). The report provides new evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The 1993 document, in Arabic, bears the logo of the Iraqi intelligence agency and is labeled "top secret" on each of its 20 pages.
The report is a list of IIS agents who are described as "collaborators."
On page 14, the report states that among the collaborators is "the Saudi Osama bin Laden."
The document states that bin Laden is a "Saudi businessman and is in charge of the Saudi opposition in Afghanistan."
"And he is in good relationship with our section in Syria," the document states, under the signature "Jabar."
The document was obtained by the Iraqi National Congress and first disclosed on the CBS program "60 Minutes" by INC leader Ahmed Chalabi.
A U.S. official said the document appears authentic.
The Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi has criticized Islamic leaders for abusing human rights in the name of Islam, and declared that such practices have no justification in Islam. From AFP, with thanks to Nicolei:
Some Islamic countries are using the religion as a pretext for refusing to observe human rights, Nobel peace prizewinner and Iranian human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi said today.
"Islam is the religion of equality and has no contradiction with the declaration of human rights," Ebadi told a seminar in the Indonesian capital.
"Any reference to unchangeable religious and cultural relativity is an excuse to evade observing human rights." Ebadi, 56, giving the keynote speech at the seminar on Islam and Universal Values, said Islamic countries were signatories to most international rights treaties since there was no fundamental contradiction with Islamic principles.
"However they evade implementing the said treaties through religious excuses as they find it difficult to comply with human rights treaties and conventions," she said, speaking in Farsi with an English translation.
I would like to get Ebadi's impressions of a book by one of her countrymen, the Iranian Sufi leader Sheikh Tabandeh: A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There are many indications in it that the Sheikh believes that Islam and international norms of human rights are incompatible. To take just one of many examples: while arguing for capital punishment if a Muslim is killed, Tabandeh argues against it if the murderer is Muslim and the victim non-Muslim. "Since Islam regards non-Muslims as on a lower level of belief and conviction, if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim ... then his punishment must not be the retaliatory death, since the faith and conviction he possesses is loftier than that of the man slain. A fine only may be exacted from him ..."
Is Tabandeh right and Ebadi wrong about Islam? Not necessarily. But it would be helpful if Ebadi articulated precisely how and why, on the basis of Islamic principles, she rejects Tabandeh's version of Islam. If she could convincingly refute, on Islamic grounds, the Islamic justifications for violence and terrorism invoked by radicals today, she would make her most significant contribution to world peace of all.
French soldiers in a train station
From Time, with thanks to Jean-Luc.
Terrorists reminded us last week in Madrid that the specter of al-Qaeda haunts the Western world today as much as it did on September 12, 2001 — if not more so. Even as Spain appears to have arrested those responsible, security analysts on both sides of the Atlantic are already focused on one question: Where next? Italy, France, Australia, Japan and others are tightening up security procedures; the New York City Police Department, mindful of the vulnerability of the city's mass transit system, has sent experts to Madrid to study the mechanics of the train bombings that killed more than 200 commuters there. "Attack on London is Inevitable," screamed one British headline on Wednesday, quoting British security officials. . . .
Last week, CIA director George Tenet told the Senate that al-Qaeda has morphed into a loose and expanding association of regional terror cells linked less by chains of command and communication than by a common vision of jihad against the U.S. The growing embrace of the movement's goals and tactics by terror cells with no direct operational connection to bin Laden's network, said Tenet, means that "a serious threat will remain for the foreseeable future, with or without al-Qaeda in the picture."
When terror outrages from Madrid and Casablanca, through Istanbul and Baghdad, to Bali and Jakarta, are described as the work of "al-Qaeda," the name describes a broad franchise of terrorist jihad against the U.S. and its allies adopted by scores of local Islamist groups. Western intelligence agencies don't believe the men on the run in western Pakistan are actually pulling the trigger on attacks such as the Madrid bombings. Instead, bin Laden and his deputies set broad objectives in their "State of the Union" type addresses periodically released to Arab broadcast media, and those objectives can be pursued by discrete terror cells who may never have direct contact with al-Qaeda's core leadership.
Diverse groups, some of them launched by veterans of the Afghan camps, others entirely local may be bound together less by organizational loyalty to bin Laden than by a commitment to the ideas he personifies — global jihad against the U.S. and its allies. In the language of commerce, al-Qaeda has become a brand, with bin Laden its symbol —a signifier that immediately explains its content. Local jihadi groups in Iraq or Turkey that have no operational contact with bin Laden's leadership cadre nonetheless proclaim their affiliation with al-Qaeda, because that association amplifies the meaning of a specific action — the bombing of a hotel in Istanbul or an embassy in Baghdad — by tying it to a global jihad. Claiming the "al-Qaeda" imprimatur also allows such groups to burnish their appeal among local malcontents, whose anti-American sentiment is at an all-time high.
Lee Kaplan reports in FrontPage on how American textbooks have been appropriated by Islamic apologists and radicals (thanks to EPG):
Militant Islamists in the United States and their allies have set their sights on our American children. They seek to provide an education similar to that taught in the controlled regimes of the Arab world. So far, American textbook suppliers are more than willing to accommodate them.
It is well known that the Palestine Authority, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world use propaganda in their schools to support Islamic hegemony and stir up sentiment against Israel and the West. Students in the Middle East are taught to distrust Christians and Jews and are then taught to apply those lessons to opposing the free and democratic—and non-Muslim—nations of the world. These lessons serve to buttress the dictatorships of the Arab world. But now, prestigious American textbook publishers such as Prentice-Hall, Simon and Schuster, TCI and others are educating your child to the “Arab point of view” and its aspirations of world domination through what the Islamic world calls Dawa, a means of proselytizing unbelievers to the faith. They are doing this no matter how much that point of view may be distorted, farfetched or, in some extreme cases, outright lies.
The U.S. textbook publishing industry is a $4 billion-dollar-a-year business providing materials for over 45 million elementary, middle and secondary students in U.S. public and private schools. At the collegiate level, Congress has recently stepped in to create oversight on U.S. taxpayer funding in our universities of Middle East Studies centers. Influxes of Saudi and Palestinian money, frequently matched by U.S. taxpayer dollars, have financed teaching material that demonizes Israel and the United States. But even before students reach college, American students are now indoctrinated with falsehoods. Legislators and administrators have, so far, ignored the curricula offered in grammar, middle and high schools. What goes on even before students reach college years is being completely ignored on the federal and state levels to a frightening degree.
Gilbert T. Sewell of the American Textbook Council, a non-profit that reviews history textbooks, recently submitted a report that reviewed the teaching of Islam in most of our children’s history textbooks. He discovered that sections concerning Islam in books distributed by the main U.S. publishers/providers have been sanitized. In general, current or past events about Islam are not reported accurately for the sake of “political correctness.” Arab and Palestinian political goals are also strongly promoted. The Council’s report included the following world history textbooks, one of which your child in grades 7 through 12 might be using right now:
Human Heritage, by Greenblatt and Lemmo. Glencoe Publishing, 2001
Across the Centuries by Nash, Armento, de Alva, Wilson and Wixson. Houghton-Mifflin, 1994
A Global Mosaic by Ahmad, Brodsky, Crofts and Gay. Prentice-Hall, 2001
Patterns of Interaction by Beck, Black, Krieger, Naylor, Shabaka. McDougal Little. 1999, 2003
Connections to Today by Ellis and Esler. Prentice-Hall, 2001, 2003
The Human Experience by Farah and Karls. Glencoe Publishing, 1999
Continuity and Change by Hanes, Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1999
One publisher not mentioned in the American Textbook Council report was Teacher’s Curriculum Institute in Mountain View, California. The content of TCI’s book and resource material for its Modern Middle East curriculum unit is blatantly anti-Israeli. High school teachers are instructed to require class “exercises” designed to pit some students in roles as advantaged Jews against other students as disadvantaged and unfairly treated Palestinian Arabs. The teachers, representing a world power, are instructed to intentionally and unfairly side against Arabs to suggest the existence of favoritism to Jews. The course material is quite shocking and clearly biased.
Furthermore, the TCI material turns Middle East history on its head. It does not present the history of Arab terrorism against Israel much less outline its extent over the last 55 years. The theme is constantly implied, stated and reiterated that Israel is a foreign entity that stole the Palestinians’ “country.” There is no mention that more than half of Israel’s population is indigenous to the area or victims of Arab pogroms. In fact, any Arab violence discussed at all is couched as being done in self-defense against Jewish persecution or “terrorism” against Arabs in the region. The same distortions are taught in Saudi and Palestinian schools where they help raise the next generation of Islamic terrorists and suicide bombers or their sympathizers. This is the same type of educational system in the Arab world that roils and intensifies the Middle East conflict. It works over there, so why not here?
In addition, a comparison of lesson plans matches materials in Palestinian classrooms as outlined in reports by the Center For Monitoring the Impact of Peace (November 2001-2003). In 1993, Palestinian propaganda ministries tried to portray Palestinians as descendents of the Philistines, a Minoan culture, in order to suggest they predated Jewish presence in Israel. In the Arab world, Ph.D.'s even claim that Israel had no Jewish population before the modern Zionist movement began in the late 19th century. They simply ignore a Jewish presence of 3,200 years—and considerable available archaeological evidence from the Biblical period, as well as the Bible itself. This tale has since been abandoned for the new lie that the Palestinians are the Canaanites. Nevertheless, TCI materials still allude to the canard of Palestinians being the ancient Philistines. As this article went to press, although TCI had earlier insisted its material was academically sound for 9th to 12th graders, the textbook publisher announced plans to revise its course material to include documentation provided by local Jewish organizations and scholars. TCI estimated it will take two years to implement. But what those revisions will actually look like remains to be seen. TCI has also chosen not to eliminate some of the scholars responsible for the current material. Meanwhile, some California school districts like Santa Rosa are still using the materials at the individual teacher’s discretion, despite news reports that falsely claim the contrary.
In a telephone interview, TCI President and CEO Bert Bower was asked which consulting professor inserted the tale of Palestinians being the ancient Philistines and what the other “scholars” had to say about this. Despite numerous calls giving him the chance to reply, he still has not answered. This is most likely because Middle East Studies departments funded by the Saudis at our universities have produced academics who, when they are hired as sources or consultants, might push a certain political agenda affecting the content of such textbooks.
An overview of the list of professors used by TCI to put together its texts and interactive materials tells us probably why Mr.Bower has not replied. The list is headed by Joel Beinin of Stanford and includes Kamran Aghaie from UCLA, Betsy Barlow from the University of Michigan, Glenn Perry of Indiana University and Abraham Marcus at the University of Texas at Austin—none of whom could be classified as pro-Israel with the exception of Marcus, who might be considered lukewarm to the only democracy in the Middle East.
Beinin, a former head of MESA, the trade group for Middle East studies professors, also helped choose all the other panelists for TCI’s books and materials. He wants Israel dismantled and has organized violent and noisy demonstrations at Stanford against pro-Israel scholars like Daniel Pipes or former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to prevent them from speaking on campus. Aghaie, of Iranian descent, specializes in Islamic studies, not the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and has emphasized the Arab perspective over America’s since 9/11; Barlow once reportedly invited a known terrorist to speak at a Middle East academic function and is a well-known, extremely vocal pro-Palestinian activist. She frequently supports and disseminates false Arab propaganda at Palestine solidarity conferences. She advocates using educational institutions to advance Palestinian goals and is a big proponent of divestment from Israel. Perry likewise follows the “anti-Zionism” creed so prevalent at MESA functions.
Erick Stakelbeck reports in FrontPage on jihadist activity in South America. (Thanks to EPG.)
Situated between Argentina and Brazil, the sprawling Iguazu waterfalls are among the most popular tourist destinations in South America, with nearly 2 million visitors flocking annually to witness their extravagant beauty. In recent years, however, the area surrounding the falls has also attracted a far less savory element. In the shadow of the Iguazu lies the “tri-border” region, a lawless zone which has become a magnet for Islamic terrorists.
Located where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, the area is home to roughly 20,000 Middle Eastern immigrants—mostly from Lebanon and Syria—and has long been a hotbed for terrorist fundraising, arms and drug trafficking, counterfeiting and money laundering. By moving freely through the region’s porous borders, operatives from the terrorist organizations Hizbollah, Hamas, and according to some reports, al-Qaeda, are able to conduct arms-for-drugs deals with secular Latin American terrorist groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Peru’s Sendero Luminosos (Shining Path). All told, U.S. officials believe that between $10 and $12 billion is funneled through the tri-border region each year, with Hizbollah among the prime beneficiaries.
Paraguayan Interior Minister Julio Cesar Fanego has said the group received between $50 and $500 million from the area from 1999 to 2001 alone. Although Hizbollah seeks to create Iranian-style Islamic “republics”—which punish narcotics offenses with flogging, imprisonment and in some cases, death—a large chunk of its tri-border funds are earned in the drug trade. Intelligence officials believe that Hizbollah’s drug profits help pay for “social welfare” programs that have enabled the group to gain popular support in its home base of Lebanon.
Paraguayan authorities have identified Assad Mohammed Barakat as the mastermind behind much of Hizbollah’s tri-border activities. Barakat—who reportedly sent some $50 million to Hizbollah in Lebanon from the region from 1995 up until his arrest by Brazilian police in 2002—allegedly ran an extensive counterfeiting and money laundering operation in the area. He was recently extradited from Brazil to Paraguay to face tax evasion charges.
Other noteworthy Hizbollah militants apprehended in the tri-border region include Ali Khalil Mehri, who allegedly set up a software pirating scheme in the area which enabled him to funnel millions of dollars to Hizbollah in Lebanon; and Sobhi Fayad, an associate of Barakat currently serving a six-and-a-half year prison sentence in Paraguay for tax evasion and criminal association.
There have also been reports that Imad Mugniyah, head of Hizbollah’s security apparatus, has guided some of the group’s activities in the area from his base in the Middle East. Muginyah is the suspected mastermind behind several infamous terrorist attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1992 car bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina.
In order to establish a greater counter-terrorism dialogue, in 2002, the U.S., along with Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, launched the “3 + 1 Group on Tri-Border Area Security.” The participating countries have met three times—most recently in Asuncion, Paraguay, in December 2003—and the U.S. has contributed $1 million to build on the initiative. But results thus far have been mixed.
Both Argentina and Paraguay have hesitated to enact new counter-terrorism laws, due in part to fear of hostile public reaction. Argentina has a history of abuses by military regimes, and in Paraguay—whose Congress has rejected legislation that would establish criminal penalties for activities related to terrorism—some believe that counter-terrorism laws could be manipulated by a corrupt government.
Another potential stumbling block to the U.S.’s tri-border initiative is Brazilian President Lula da Silva. In 1990, da Silva—a Marxist—co-founded the Forum of Sao Paulo, an annual gathering place for anti-American political movements from across the globe. Da Silva also voiced vociferous opposition to the recent U.S. war in Iraq and has established warm relations with Syria, which is listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism.
But da Silva’s reticence may be the least of the U.S.’s worries when it comes to the tri-border region. While the State Department has denied on numerous occasions that Al-Qaeda maintains a presence in the area, the Department’s counter-terrorism coordinator, J. Cofer Black, acknowledged in January that during the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, literature on the tri-border region had been found in caves used by Al-Qaeda fighters. The CIA believes that Al-Qaeda does indeed operate in the region, “mostly by laundering money and conducting arms-for-drugs deals with Latin American terrorist organizations,” according to author Rachel Ehrenfeld’s 2003 book, “Funding Evil.” And both Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—Al-Qaeda’s former third in command and the suspected mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks—are said to have spent time in the region during the 1990s. The likely presence of Al-Qaeda only strengthens U.S. Undersecretary for Border & Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson’s assertion that the area is “a haven for Islamic extremists.”
For the U.S., ignoring the tri-border region—and the implications of having a terrorist sanctuary permeating within the Western Hemisphere—is the equivalent of jumping the Iguazu Falls in a barrel. In short, a risk not worth taking.
Hilali: who cares?
Muslim spokesmen in Australia, having tried to explain away the Mufti's inflammatory jihadist statements every which way, are now trying a different tack: nobody really cares about this crazy old man anyway. From The Age, with thanks to Nicolei:
Few Australian Muslims saw Sydney's Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali as a leader, Islamic Council of Victoria president Yasser Soliman told a tribunal yesterday.
The sheikh was not Chief Mufti of Australia or spiritual leader of the nation's Muslims but honorary mufti, and even that would be "dealt with in time", Mr Soliman said.
(The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, which meets in Sydney next month, has indicated it will consider his position. Last month Sheikh Hilali reportedly called for jihad against Israel during a sermon in Lebanon and said September 11 was "God's work against oppressors". Later he met the leader of Hezbollah, banned in Australia as a terrorist group.)
"He's been built into something greater than he is," Mr Soliman told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing the state's first religious hatred case.
He said Sheikh Hilali had little influence outside Sydney's Lakemba mosque, and even there he was opposed.
March 18, 2004
Dhimmi laws forbid non-Muslims to sell alcohol where Muslims might buy it. Unless things change drastically, this is the future Europe has chosen. From Reuters, with thanks to Twostellas:
Some 100 Bahraini Islamists shouting "God is Greatest" stormed a French restaurant serving alcohol in the pro-Western Gulf Arab state and threatened diners with knives, witnesses said Thursday.
One diner managed to wrest a knife away from the Islamists and stabbed one with it, causing him severe injuries, a witness said.
They said the assailants, opposed to the consumption of alcohol banned by Islam, also threw Molotov cocktails at customers' cars parked outside the restaurant near the capital Manama late Wednesday, damaging nine vehicles.
"Around 100 young men, shouting 'Allahu Akbar' [God is greatest], came to the restaurant carrying knives and shouted at the customers: 'Why do you drink?'" Jahanshah Bakhtiar, owner of La Terrasse Restaurant, said.
"They were acting as if they had the right ideas and people should obey them," he said, adding that there were about 40 customers in the restaurant, including seven Westerners.
Security police investigating the incident declined to comment.
Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the Gulf's banking hub, has traditionally enjoyed a more liberal atmosphere than some of its more conservative neighbors.
It allows restaurants, bars and night clubs to serve alcohol but has recently witnessed a rise in protests against Western-style events deemed immoral by Islamists.
Bahraini newspapers reported Thursday that young men had attacked a house in a village where they suspected foreign workers were producing alcohol.
Khaled El-Sawy, the star of the show (right)
“It allows people to exercise a kind of hour of hate, or whatever George Orwell called it,” said Nehad Selaiha, a drama critic for Egypt’s main newspaper, Al Ahram. “It’s just a piece of political cabaret which is shallow and one-sided; it sort of panders to the feeling of political frustration.”
Some critics were especially disparaging of what appears to be a salute to suicide bombers in the middle of the play. While General Fox is giving a news conference, parrying questions about American casualties in Iraq by pretending that he cannot hear, a fanatic tries to kill him.
The huge television screen used as the backdrop then lights up with a videotaped suicide note from the would-be assassin preaching jihad. The scene never fails to draw big applause.
Mr. Sawy (writer, director and star of the play) defends the scene, noting that the attack occurs when there are only American military men on stage, not civilians.
From Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail, a splendidly insightful and honest piece on rising anti-Semitism. (Thanks to Earl.)
Since the Holocaust, old-style anti-Semitism has become taboo in the West. Jews, once barred from many walks of life, are now leaders in any field you'd care to name. This is also true in Europe -- despite a disturbing upsurge in attacks on synagogues (overwhelmingly by young Muslim men) and the despicable gang-up of the left on Israel. The Catholic Church has repudiated anti-Semitism.
But anti-Semitism is by no means dead. Throughout the Arab world, and to some extent in the wider Islamic world, it is as virulent as anything Hitler dreamed of. "The anti-Semitic virus has taken root in the body politic of Islam to a shocking degree," writes political historian Robert Wistrich. The hate speech comes from the mosques and the mainstream media. It is pervasive not only in nations openly hostile to Israel, but also in those, like Egypt, that have peace treaties with it.
Comparisons of Israel with the Nazis, denial of the Holocaust, and medieval blood libels have all appeared in Egypt's government-backed mainstream press. As Mr. Wistrich reports, newspaper cartoons depict Jews as dirty, hook-nosed, money-grabbing, vindictive, scheming and cruel. Israel is repeatedly alleged to be distributing drug-laced chewing gum and candy, intended to make women sexually corrupt and to kill children. It is assumed that the Jews run America.
In October, 2000, Al-Ahram, the leading government-sponsored daily in Egypt, ran an article explaining how Jews use the blood of gentiles to make matzoh for Passover. A recent 30-part television series, based on the notorious forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, dramatized a secret Jewish plot to dominate the world. In Syria, the editor-in-chief of a government-owned daily newspaper wrote, "Zionism created the Holocaust myth to blackmail and terrorize the world's intellectuals and politicians." Muslim children learn at a young age that, according to the Koran, Jews are descended from apes and pigs.
In 1986, Middle East historian Bernard Lewis wrote, "The volume of anti-Semitic books and articles published . . . the eminence and authority of those who write, publish and sponsor them, their place in school and college curricula, their role in the mass media, would all seem to suggest that classical anti-Semitism is an essential part of Arab [and I would add, Muslim] intellectual life at the present time." Nothing has changed.
This is clearly a tremendously important issue, especially since 9/11. But Western scholars -- and the media -- have ignored it. There are mountains of books and studies and popular articles and documentaries on anti-Semitism in the West, but almost none deal with hatred of Jews by Muslims or Arabs.
Why not? There are obvious reasons. Few Westerners speak Arabic, so we're largely deaf to this discourse, except on odd occasions, as when Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad says something shocking while the world media are present.
Another reason is that we don't want to know. We want to get along with Muslim cultures; we don't want to demonize them by focusing on something so profoundly negative. And many Westerners prefer to think that if the Palestinian political situation were resolved, this unpleasant speech would stop. We'd prefer to believe that hatred of the Jews is merely about Israel, that it's political at root, that only uneducated Muslim extremists think this way, and that it is not a major theme of Arab culture. For many well-intentioned reasons, as sociologist Neil J. Kressel points out in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, we'd prefer to leave this stone unturned.
But we can't afford to look away. This toxic stew of hate has helped to make the Muslim world a petri dish for terrorism. Now it's being marketed through the Internet and music videos. It was a powerful recruiting tool for the terrorists of
9/11, and the terrorists of Madrid, and the terrorists who will certainly strike next.
Should we still be worried about anti-Semitism 60 years after Hitler?
Yes. Worried to death.
Javier Solana, Mr. Terrorism's future boss
You gotta be kidding me. "Mr. Terrorism"? That's going to strike fear in the hearts of the mujahedin! "The game is up, boys! Mr. Terrorism is coming for us!" From AFP:
EU ambassadors today gave their unanimous backing to a new post of "Mr Terrorism" to coordinate the bloc's security strategy following the Madrid bomb attacks, diplomats said.
Ambassadors from the member states, meeting to prepare for emergency talks among EU interior ministers tomorrow, agreed to appoint a "high-ranking official" to the new post, one diplomat said.
"This Mr Terrorism will be placed under the responsibility of the high representative for foreign affairs (Javier Solana)," he said.
Is it finally curtains for Mr. Jihad?
Breaking, from CNN:
Pakistani forces have surrounded what may be a "high-value" al Qaeda target in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, President Pervez Musharraf told CNN.
"We feel that there may be a high-value target," Musharraf told CNN. "I can't say who."
The ferociousness of their resistance indicates that the al Qaeda fighters are protecting someone particularly significant, he said.
The military asked locals to leave and is flying helicopters overhead, "pounding" the area with artillery, he said.
U.S. and Pakistani officials have said they believe al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden probably is in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.
ADDENDUM: It ain't Osama, it's just Zawahiri.
Visoki Decani Monastery, now being shelled
Is jihad beginning again in Kosovo? From Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic, managing editor of the National Interest, a draft of a piece that will be posted in final form tomorrow on another site. (Thanks to Jim.)
A pogrom started in Europe yesterday. A UN official is quoted as saying that "Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo." Serbs are being murdered and their 800 year old churches are aflame. More than two-thirds of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever. By these deeds the Albanians have shown that all their speeches about democracy and multiethnicity, and the naïve repetition of them by the international community, are false. These words too are burning, as is the hope in the hearts of right-thinking policymakers across the world that Kosovo's barbarians can be civilized at little cost to the West.
Just as in the 1930s, a rumor became a fact and prearranged plans were put into action. Members of the victimized community, in this case, Serbian children, were accused of chasing four Albanian children into a river and causing the death of three of them. Hours later, what passes for authority in Kosovo, the UN Mission, issued a statement that the accusation against the Serbs was false, that the surviving Albanian child had told the UN that there had been no Serbs--yet the violence escalated. And today it continues unabated.
Beginning in the ethnically-divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, in the northern third of the entity, when a horde of armed Albanians crossed into the Serbian half of the city, breaching a Polish peacekeepers' line, the ensuing violence killed half a dozen people of both ethnic groups.
Busloads of Albanians were transported to areas where Serbs are concentrated--in some cases, clashing with international peacekeepers. In some areas, entire Serbian villages have been burned to the ground. The UN, ever courageous, evacuated its missions from at least three cities in Kosovo. In two of them, Serbian Orthodox churches are in flames. And it has only gotten worse during the night.
Monasteries and churches dating back to the 12th century are burning; some are already destroyed. Their cultural significance--not only for Christians but for all humanity--is irreplaceable. Photographs and memories are all the remain of these objects of civilization. And the UN fled.
The wave of violence has been too well-planned and coordinated to be a spontaneous reaction to rumors. "It was planned in advance", said Derek Chappell, the UN's Kosovo mission spokesman. All that was needed was a pretext. It is clear that some in the Kosovo Albanian leadership believe that by cleansing all remaining Serbs from the entity (having already achieved the cleansing of two-thirds of Kosovo's Serbs after "liberation" in 1999) and destroying all Serbian cultural sites, they can present the international community with a fait accompli. But ethnic purity cannot be allowed to be the foundation for democracy and independence.
Upon hearing the news of the pogrom and the burning of churches in Kosovo, a small crowd of Belgraders surrounded the city's mosque in retaliation. Windows were broken, and a fire was started. (They did the same in Serbia's second largest city, Nis.) In contrast to the scene in Kosovo, the Serbian government dispatched several hundred police to try and control the crowd; joining them was a Serbian Orthodox bishop who tried to talk the crowd down. They did not succeed entirely. The Serbian crowd is as despicable, but it is far smaller (numbering in the hundreds, not the tens of thousands), and they had to fight government authorities and disregard the pleadings of a bishop to commit their deeds. And 78 of them have been arrested. In Kosovo, where are the Albanian politicians standing in front of the Serbian holy sites? Who was guarding the Serbian churches and villages? Why are they in flames? There are 18,000 foreign troops in Kosovo. Why are they not doing more?
The Kosovo Albanian leadership, while insisting they are capable of governing an independent state, claim that they are unable to control their constituents and stop the pogrom. So while the leader of the most influential political party in Kosovo, Hasim Thaci, travels abroad preaching the virtues of multiethnicity and a civic-based identity, all five Serbian holy sites in his own home town of Prizren have burned. Meanwhile, his political party and other Kosovo Albanian parties issue statements blaming all this on the Serbs. In the 1930s, they did this as well.
Post-June1999, Kosovo's Serbs were willing to reject the lessons of history and try to work with--even trust their Albanian neighbors--and believe Kosovo's Albanian politicians who promised that religious freedom and multiethnicity would be made permanent--that the values of the West would take root in Kosovo.
At the same time, Kosovo's Serbs have for years been warning of the real nature of Albanian nationalism, and the UN and the West have thought these to be exaggerations. But as the Diocese of Kosovo's statement from yesterday makes clear, "What has happened today and is happening this evening in Kosovo and Metohija represents a horrible defeat for the entire UN mission which has been deceiving the world for the past five years with their alleged successes when in fact they were enabling militarization."
Murder upon murder, kidnapping upon kidnapping, arson upon arson, and now finally this pogrom--have led the Serbs to the awful realization that they are at the mercy of barbarians. This is ethnic aggression of the worst sort, "in the heart of Europe," as Madeleine Albright famously called Kosovo before she bombed Serbia. Today we see the true face of the multiethnicity of which they all spoke so highly. And all this is happening under UN and NATO administration. Imagine how bad it could get if they get their independence.
Senator Sam Brownback, after having met Artemije, the Bishop of Kosovo, several weeks ago in Washington, wrote a letter to President George W. Bush in which he concluded "We should not consider advancing the cause of independence of a people whose first act when liberated was to ethnically cleanse a quarter of a million of their fellow citizens and destroy over a hundred of their holy sites." What might he say now? What will we all say? Will we do nothing, just like in the 1930s?
See also this (thanks to FreedomNowNews): Albanian extremists set fire to Orthodox monastery in Kosovo.
Also this just in from the Orthodox Bishop Christodoulos:
Albanians shelling near Visoki Decani Orthodox Monastery, monks in prayer in church, U.S. reinforcements expected to arrive soon
Gracanica, March 17, 2004
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija wishes to inform the public that several mortar shells have fallen not far from Visoki Decani Monastery which were fired by Albanians at the monastery. Italian forces are presently protecting the Monastery. U.S. special forces are expected to arrive soon to reinforce defenses.
In the meanwhile the Monastery of Holy Archangels near Prizren has been evacuated because German forces were not ready to protect the monastery. The monks from Holy Archangels are safe in a German military base; however, according to some reports, the monastery has already been set on fire, as have numerous other churches in Prizren. We have also received information that the 14th century Church of the Holy Mother of God of Ljevis is in flames.
UPDATE: Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic calls these tragic incidents "ethnic aggression of the worst sort." And it is true, of course, that ethnic factors and many other elements have coalesced to cause this strife; as I explain in Onward Muslim Soldiers, adding jihad to the already volatile mix in the Balkans only makes things worse. It is thus doubly tragic that "Belgrade’s 17th-century Barjakli mosque became the target of an hours-long attack by hooligans incited by Albanian assaults on Serbs and Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo." It is a tragedy in itself, as is all wanton destruction, but it also makes it more difficult to get jihad out of the Balkan picture. For insofar as those involved see this conflict as a jihad, no negotiations or lasting peace are possible.
Killing a mass murderer like Yassin is one thing; attacking a mosque is another. Those who oppose jihad, and who don't want to see it flame forth in the Balkans, must not lash out in the same way as do the mujahedin, but adhere to standards of justice, seeking out and punishing only those responsible. In this way we will show even the jihadis a better way of life, and not lose our civilization in the process of defending it.
Madrid bombing suspects under arrest: they have many colleagues still at large
Australia's Al-Hilali, saving his own skin, is trying to wave them away from Australia, but the radical Muslim group responsible for the Madrid bombings is acting like a kid at Christmas (or Eid al-Fitr), happily enumerating places it will blow up next in order to continue advancing its agenda against the terrified, supine dhimmis of the West. From AP, with thanks to DC Watson:
The Islamic militant group that claimed responsibility for last week's Madrid train bombings has warned that its next targets could be the United States, Japan, Italy, Britain or Australia, an Arabic newspaper reported Thursday.
The London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi said on its Web site that it had received a statement from "The Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri (al-Qaida)" in which the group reiterated its responsibility for the March 11 attacks that killed more than 200 people and wounded more than 1,600.
"Our brigades are getting ready now for the coming strike," said the statement dated March 15. "Whose turn will it be next? Is it Japan, America, Italy, Britain, Saudi Arabia or Australia?"
The United States believes the Abu Hafs group lacks credibility and has only tenuous ties to al-Qaida. In the past, the group has claimed responsibility for events to which they were not connected - such as last summer's blackouts in North America and Britain.
The editor of Al-Quds al-Arabi, Abdel Bari Atwan, told The Associated Press the paper received the statement via e-mail Wednesday night. The paper has received other e-mails from this group. On the evening of the Madrid bombings, the paper released an e-mail from Abu Hafs al-Masri in which they made the first claim of responsibility.
"This statement is authentic," Atwan said, adding the group had previously claimed responsibility for last year's suicide attacks in Istanbul, Turkey, and on the U.N. headquarters in Iraq.
The same statement appeared on an Islamic Web site that has posted purported al-Qaida declarations in the past. The site carries a note disclaiming responsibility for the contents of statements.
Spanish authorities suspect an al-Qaida-linked cell carried out the bombings. Moroccan authorities have said the emerging evidence in the Madrid attacks points toward Ansar al-Islam, a guerrilla group blamed for terrorist strikes in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Other groups believed to be involved in the bombings are Salafia Jihadia and Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.
In its statement, Abu Hafs al-Masri said it was calling a truce in Spain to give the socialist government that was elected Sunday, three days after the train attacks, time to carry out its pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq.
The group appeared to boast it had the power to change governments.
"We change and destroy countries," the statement said. "We even influence the international economy, and this is God's blessing to us."
Plus some crude attempts at reverse psychology re the American election:
The statement tells American voters that Abu Hafs al-Masri supports the re-election campaign of President Bush: "We are very keen that Bush does not lose the upcoming elections."
The statement said Abu Hafs al-Masri needs what it called Bush's "idiocy and religious fanaticism" because they would "wake up" the Islamic world.
Parts of the statement were released Wednesday night by the editor of another London-based Arabic newspaper, Al Hayat. The editor read parts of the statement to The Associated Press in Cairo.
The Muse, the student publication of Newfoundland's Memorial University, reports on a talk by Islamic apologist Jamal Badawi. (Thanks to Nicolei.) The talk was part of Islamic Awareness Week at the University, and was designed to counter media misstatements:
The group hopes to give interested students the opportunity to learn about the prominent and ancient religion of Islam. “[The purpose of Islam Awareness Week] is to give an idea of the true Islam, not the Islam of the media,” said Mahmoud Abu-Kharma, president of the Muslim Students’ Association.
The group held a series of lectures and information sessions to break down media stereotypes and inform the general public about the different aspects and roots of Islamic culture.
In the course of his talk, Badawi made this curious statement:
To most Muslim people, Islamic culture does not have to conform to human standards; if it did, it would change the word of the prophet Mohammed, and that in turn would be the ultimate ignorance, said Badawi.
What does that mean? In what way does Islamic culture not have to conform to human standards? Human standards of human rights or equality of dignity and rights of all people?
Badawi also assailed "the media" for its treatment of jihad:
The misuse of the word jihad by the media since Sept. 11, 2001 was one of Badawi’s concerns. He explained that jihad is actually derived from the word jahada, meaning to struggle. Therefore, jihad means the act of struggling.
This contrasts the media’s misconceptions. Jihad does not mean holy war, for war is never holy. And the term holy war is never mentioned throughout the Qur’an. Holy war stands to remain only as a contradiction in terms.
In Onward Muslim Soldiers, I discuss how another Islamic scholar, Khaled Abou El Fadl, argues that Islam has no concept of holy war on the basis of the fact that "jihad" doesn't mean "holy war."
From both El Fadl and Badawi, this is outrageously disingenuous: Islam has a highly developed system of theology and law regarding religious war — a system without parallel in any other religion. It is inconceivable that they do not know this, and so it's hard to see their denials of its existence as anything but attempts to bamboozle non-Muslims.
What's more, Badawi's attribution of the mischaracterization of jihad to "the media" is ridiculous: evidently he breezed right by the fact that armed terrorists are waging jihad everywhere, and they don't mean by the word anything but warfare to spread the hegemony of Islam.
I have asked Dr. Badawi a series of questions about his presentation of Islam in this article. I never have received any answer, but Dr. Badawi, please feel free to contact me anytime.
After having provoked an international furor with his jihadist remarks, yet keeping his job, Australia's Mufti Al-Hilali is trying to repair his image as a moderate Muslim. This has him today discouraging Al-Qaeda, drunk with its Spanish victory, from carrying out its threatened attack against Australia. From AAP, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
Islamic spiritual leader Sheik Taj el-Din Alhilaly warned Muslims around the world a terrorist attack on Australia would be stupid and reckless and would only harm the faith.
The warning came as a statement attributed to al-Qaeda threatened "America's lackeys", including Australia, with attacks similar to those in Madrid last week.
The statement singled out Australia, Japan, Italy, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as possible terrorist targets.
Sheik Hilaly issued a statement condemning all acts of terrorism.
"We assert on religious authority to any person on the face of this earth who may entertain any notion of Australia as a military target, that such a notion is contrary to the teachings of Islam and the natural laws of human behaviour," Sheik Hilaly said.
"Any destructive behaviour that threatens the security of this country is an act of stupidity, recklessness and madness that is harmful to the Muslims and is at odds with the forgiving nature of religion."
Sheik Hilaly also urged Australians to unite and remain vigilant of any suspicious behaviour.
But he expressed confidence Australia would not become a target, despite its alliance with the United States.
"The hand of terror and evil will not find any path to our land or our people," Sheik Hilaly said.
Meanwhile, the Sheik wrote to Prime Minister John Howard and other political leaders this week in an attempt to smooth over reports that he defended terrorist activity.
Sheik Hilaly allegedly made inflammatory remarks about September 11 at a sermon he presented in Lebanon.
But he blamed malicious fabrication for the reported comments.
"As for the allegation that I called for Jihad against Israel, this is a malicious fabrication that has no basis in truth," he wrote.
"As for the claim that I referred to the tragic events of September 11 as `God's work against oppressors', this is a terrible mistranslation.
Sheik Hilaly said his visit to Lebanon was for humanitarian purposes and he did not visit any weapons factories or military bases.
A sobering piece on the future of the West from the Belfast Telegraph (thanks to Nicolei):
SEMSIYE ALLAK, a 35-year-old Turkish Kurd, was caught as she fled with her married lover, Hilal Acil, across the wilderness of south-east Turkey. Pregnant with Acil's child, she was held to have brought such shame upon her family that she must be punished.
Sentence of death had been duly agreed at a family council meeting. Her family caught up with the pair outside the town of Mardin, near the Iraqi frontier, and attacked them with stones and knives.
Acil was killed quickly. Semsiye, rendered unconscious with a fractured skull, got to hospital. There, she took more than six months to die.
One day last June she was buried in a pauper's grave at Diyarbakira, a long way from her home, attended only by the cemetery workers and a couple of women campaigners seeking an end to the barbarity which had cost her her life.
There are two important facets to this tragic story which interlock.
The first is that Semsiye's family are Muslims. They were indulging in an "honour" killing, necessary to avenge the dishonour she had brought upon them by consorting with a married man. The second is that all this happened in Turkey, a candidate country knocking on the door in Brussels, seeking entry to the European Union.
Suddenly, in the wake of Madrid, what at first seems remote from northern Europe becomes very immediate.
There are now some two million Muslims living in the United Kingdom. Birmingham alone has 70 mosques. By no means all of them would countenance Sharia law, the Islamic code which prescribes stoning to death as the punishment for adultery.
But it has its devotees within the UK. Members declare open support for Osama bin Laden. Associates run secret week-end training camps round London and Birmingham. There youths practise the martial arts, learn first aid and are later sent abroad for military training. Some of the Twin Towers' hijackers trained in Britain.
The problem faced by European governments like our own is that, however peaceful all but a few of their Muslims may be, the philosophy of Islam is not to identify with the culture of the particular nation state within which its people have settled.
Northern Ireland, of all places, knows how high the price can be when the notion of nationhood is either denied or disputed.
It is from the nation that there flows the vital social cement which creates a community; and it is from the community that common ideals grow; from common citizenship derives the shared allegiance which can override ancient tribal loyalties.
Yes, we are getting near the knuckle here; for this is the crucial weak point of the Belfast Agreement. There has been no shared allegiance; and without it no government will survive for long.
Common allegiance is becoming a source of concern for the nation states of Europe for two reasons. One is that man has never before been so mobile. Whole communities are on the move. The second reason is that three refugees in every four are Muslims.
Ask a Muslim in Britain whether it is more important for him to be Muslim or to be British. Eight out of ten will choose their religion. This presages problems. Religions are not democratic. They have absolute rules.
These rules can conflict with the mix of rights and responsibilities which are the lot of a citizen in a democracy. The Sharia code is an extreme example. It is Muslim Turkey's mixed rights record that is slowing its bid to gain admission to the EU.
Christianity has come to terms with democracy by compromising on its absolute rules. They are not forcibly applied. People are free to choose. But Islam is still the sort of religion Christianity used to be: confident that it possesses a monopoly of truth and bent on extending allegiance to that truth worldwide, sometimes with limited scruple about the means.
In Britain, fundamentalist Muslims' preference for not integrating in the culture of their chosen state bodes ill for the future. It sets the scene for racial friction.
Dr Kalim Saddiqui, a political spokesman for British Muslims, advocates that Muslim employers actively discriminate in favour of their own people.
"A proselytising religion cannot stand still," he said. "It can either expand or contract. Islam hopes that one day the whole of humanity will be one Muslim community."
Many British Muslims will resent this militancy because they know it spells nothing but trouble in the long term.
They know also that the easy-going British, now mostly lying loosely to their Christian heritage, but inured to a culture based on justice, democracy, freedom and toleration, may be obliged eventually to confront another which embraces the burning of books, passes the death sentence on a man with unorthodox views and, in extremis, would permit young women to be stoned to death.
The imams were suspended for preaching violent jihad:
After secretly monitoring thousands of sermons over the past few months, ministry spokesman Salih al-Sadlan confirmed the suspensions due to "various flaws and shortcomings" in what imams told mosque-goers.
A professor of law at Riyadh's Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, al-Sadlan said the advisory committee would hold seminars in every region of the kingdom to correct "frequent mistakes" in Friday sermons. . . .
It was not clear when the Islamic officials were suspended, but the government has tried to rein in those who refuse to toe a moderate line. . . .
Authorities also suspended 1357 religious officials from their duties last year.
It also ordered them to undergo training in accordance with a programme introduced by the Islamic affairs minister to boost the performance of mosque employees.
Those officially suspended from duties included 517 imams, 90 Friday preachers and 750 callers to prayer.
They were all instructed to undergo "theological training" to be able to work more efficiently at mosques.
Saudi Arabia employs about 80,000 people - including part-time preachers - at tens of thousands of mosques run by the government.
The kingdom's religious establishment has come under fire, particularly in the US, for allegedly fuelling the kind of thinking that led to the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which 15 of 19 presumed hijackers were Saudi.
Let's see. 900 imams this year, 517 last year, plus 840 others. That's around 2200 people. Out of 80,000. I guess it really is a tiny minority of extremists -- unless, of course, others are in place who are teaching the same things, which seems likely.
A new article by Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer explains why we shouldn't be surprised that Spain caved in to terrorism -- in fact, we should be surprised that it sent troops to Iraq in the first place. It's popping up here and there; you can read it today at FrontPage.
Yashiko Sagamori in Arutz Sheva says there are no moderate Muslims, and explores the strange dhimmitude that comes over respected analysts when they look at Islam. I would make one clarification: there are in my experience many moderate Muslims, but a moderate Islam is harder to find -- and this is a significant weakness that is a primary cause of the persistence of terror. Unless and until it is corrected, terrorism will continue. (Thanks to "Allah.")
The official, politically correct point of view says that Islam is just another monotheistic religion, not that different from Judaism or Christianity. If that is true, then moderate Muslims must exist, just like moderate members of other faiths. However, moderate members of other faiths do not require sacrificial mollification - that's basically how we tell moderates from extremists. Therefore, either moderate Muslims are mythical creatures, or we need substantially different criteria to identify them. That dilemma alone should make us suspicious as to whether Islam is "just another religion". Obviously, it is important that we determine how a moderate Muslim can be distinguished from a Muslim extremist.
Why not ask Muslims themselves? Irshad Manji, a young Canadian author, has published a book titled "The Trouble With Islam." Since we don't hear too many Muslim voices criticizing their religion, her book deserves our attention. This is what the author herself says on her promotional website
"I appreciate that every faith has its share of literalists. Christians have their Evangelicals. Jews have the ultra-Orthodox. For God's sake, even Buddhists have fundamentalists. But what this book hammers home is that only in Islam the literalism is mainstream."
Apparently, the terms "literalism" and "fundamentalism" in the quotation above are used interchangeably, as synonyms of religious extremism. Unfortunately, the author fails to mention the most important difference between "literalists" in Islam and other religions. Evangelical Christians may believe that heaven is reserved for them alone. Ultra-Orthodox Jews may display intimate understanding of the murkiest places in the Talmud. I have no idea what extreme fundamentalist Buddhists do that sets them apart from their moderate coreligionists. What I do know however is that no religion except Islam pursues the idea of physical extermination of those who believe differently. The concept of holy war is unique to Islam. Jihad is the absolute monopoly of Muslims. There is no parallel to it in any other religion in the world (Yes, I have heard about Crusades, but Christianity does not mandate them, and do you know when the last Crusade ended?).
So, here we have it in plain English, as simple as A, B, C:
A. According to the Koran, holy war against the infidels is a sacred duty of every Muslim.
B. According to Ms. Manji, mainstream Muslims interpret Koran literally.
The conclusion is inevitable:
C. Mainstream Muslims perceive war against the infidels - meaning you and me - as their sacred duty.
Once you understand that, you don't need books to explain to you what exactly the trouble with Islam is. The trouble with Islam derives from the fact that mainstream Islam openly calls for murder of all infidels. That's why Islam is not "just another religion". That's what, in my view, allows to classify all its followers as extremist.
What then, besides our stubborn, groundless faith in the general goodness of our fellow human beings, leads us to believe that moderate Muslims are not just a figment of our imagination? How do they manifest themselves in the real world?
It would be utterly useless to look for them in Gaza, Judea, or Samaria. Unlike bin Laden, terrorists occupying Israeli lands do not live in caves. They live in small towns, villages, and crowded refugee camps where everyone knows everything about everyone else. They couldn't survive for a day without popular support. When someone gives them a reason to doubt the sincerity of his support, they label him a collaborator and murder him on the spot. Indeed, the PA-sponsored educational system guarantees that innocent children are indoctrinated in the most murderous variety of Islamic extremism - thereby losing their innocence - at the earliest possible age. Therefore, in Israel, a moderate Muslim is a dead Muslim, which is bad news for those who want us to believe that there is a peaceful solution to the continuing Arab war against Israel.
Let's look elsewhere. Afghanistan, liberated by the United States from the medieval tyranny of the Taliban is about to publish the draft of its first constitution. Their new constitution is going to be firmly based on Islamic principles. The country itself is soon to be renamed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We wouldn't call a Jew or a Christian who wanted his religion to become the basis of his country's constitution a moderate, would we? Here, in the United States, we value the separation of church from state so much that we launch court battles to remove the Ten Commandments and every reference to God from everything that is even remotely related to the government. If Islam is "just another religion", shouldn't the same criteria apply to Muslim countries? And if the same criteria do apply, we have to conclude that President Karzai installed in Afghanistan by the American military and unable to survive now or in the foreseeable future without the American military presence, is not a moderate Muslim, but an outright religious extremist. His "Very correct" remark to Mahadir's call for the extermination of Jews shows that he is a political extremist as well. Therefore, the only practical question regarding Afghanistan is why did the United States have to waste lives of its soldiers and tens of billions of dollars in order to replace one bunch of Muslim extremists with another? It might have been worthwhile had it improved our security at home, but, as we know, that didn't happen. Therefore, we have to conclude that the United States has once again won a battle but lost the war. The same will inevitably happen in Iraq.
The desperate search for moderate Muslims goes all around the world. It is especially urgent in Europe, whose face is being irreversibly altered by mass immigration from Islamic countries. Recently, the British government appealed to the growing British Muslim community to isolate extremists in their midst. It's not hard to predict the response. Actually, there will be no response, because everyone in any Muslim community is an extremist. Such is the nature of Islam, and the only thing that I find hard to comprehend is the self-imposed blindness of the British government. Apparently, such is the price of liberalism and political correctness. Bye-bye, Europe. We are next.
I don't think World War II could be won if the Allies, instead of eradicating Nazism, attempted to replace Nazi extremists with moderate Nazis. Actually, nobody was looking for moderate Nazis during World War II. But those were simpler, purer times. Today, the mythical moderate Muslim remains the focal point of the US foreign policy in the Middle East. The blind faith in his existence has already led the United States to many monumental failures, and many more are to be expected in the future. Meanwhile, the moderate Muslim, along with the Big Foot, the unicorn, and the Loch Ness monster, remains more elusive than a cure for cancer. There is at least a theoretical possibility that a cure for cancer can be found one day, unless of course Islam takes over and drags us all down into its own endless Dark Ages.
Again, what Sagamori is really searching for is moderate Islam: a version of Islam that is both peaceful and convincing to Muslims in its full harmony with the Qur'an and Hadith. What we have instead in the world are many peaceful Muslims who are such because they simply want to live ordinary lives, and can't be bothered with religious fanaticism. But their lack of a theoretical foundation makes all of them vulnerable to a wily terror recruiter, as was established not long ago in Lackawanna, New York.
Sandro Magister in Chiesa (thanks to Nicolei) writes about the latest researches of "Christoph Luxenberg," a scholar who studies the origins of the Qur'an and early Islam. The kind of work he does with the Qur'an is the same sort of thing that innumerable scholars do with the Bible -- but while such biblical scholars enjoy comfortable tenured positions in universities, "Luxenberg" publishes under a pseudonym and fears for his life.
That Aramaic was the lingua franca of a vast area of the ancient Middle East is a notion that is by now amply noted by a vast public, thanks to Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," which everyone watches in that language.
But that Syro-Aramaic was also the root of the Koran, and of the Koran of a primitive Christian system, is a more specialized notion, an almost clandestine one. And it's more than a little dangerous. The author of the most important book on the subject - a German professor of ancient Semitic and Arabic languages - preferred, out of prudence, to write under the pseudonym of Christoph Luxenberg. A few years ago, one of his colleagues at the University of Nablus in Palestine, Suliman Bashear, was thrown out of the window by his scandalized Muslim students.
In the Europe of the 16th and 17th centuries, mangled by the wars of religion, scholars of the Bible also used to keep a safe distance with pseudonyms. But if, now, the ones doing so are the scholars of the Koran, this is a sign that, for the Muslim holy book as well, the era of historical, linguistic, and philological re-readings has begun.
This is a promising beginning for many reasons. Gerd-Rüdiger Puin, a professor at Saarland University in Germany and another Koran scholar on the philological level, maintains that this type of approach to Islam's holy book can help to defeat its fundamentalist and Manichean readings, and to bring into a better light its ties with Judaism and Christianity.
The book by "Christoph Luxenberg" came out in 2000 in Germany with the title "Die Syro-Aramäische Lesart des Koran" ("A Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran"), published in Berlin by Das Arabische Buch. It is out of print, and there are no translations in other languages. But a new, updated edition (again in German) is about to arrive in bookstores.
Here follows an interview with the author, published in Germany in the newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and in Italy in "L'espresso," no. 11, March 12-18, 2004:
From the Gospel to Islam
An interview with "Christoph Luxenberg" by Alfred Hackensberger
Q. - Professor, why did you think it useful to conduct this re-reading of the Koran?
A. - "Because, in the Koran, there are many obscure points that, from the beginning, even the Arab commentators were not able to explain. Of these passages it is said that only God can comprehend them. Western research on the Koran, which has been conducted in a systematic manner only since about the middle of the 19th century, has always taken as its base the commentaries of the Arab scholars. But these have never gone beyond the etymological explanation of some terms of foreign origin."
Q. - What makes your method different?
A. - "I began from the idea that the language of the Koran must be studied from an historical-linguistic point of view. When the Koran was composed, Arabic did not exist as a written language; thus it seemed evident to me that it was necessary to take into consideration, above all, Aramaic, which at the time, between the 4th and 7th centuries, was not only the language of written communication, but also the lingua franca of that area of Western Asia."
Q. - Tell us how you proceeded.
A. - "At first I conducted a 'synchronous' reading. In other words, I kept in mind both Arabic and Aramaic. Thanks to this procedure, I was able to discover the extent of the previously unsuspected influence of Aramaic upon the language of the Koran: in point of fact, much of what now passes under the name of 'classical Arabic' is of Aramaic derivation."
Q. - What do you say, then, about the idea, accepted until now, that the Koran was the first book written in Arabic?
A. - "According to Islamic tradition, the Koran dates back to the 7th century, while the first examples of Arabic literature in the full sense of the phrase are found only two centuries later, at the time of the 'Biography of the Prophet'; that is, of the life of Mohammed as written by Ibn Hisham, who died in 828. We may thus establish that post-Koranic Arabic literature developed by degrees, in the period following the work of al-Khalil bin Ahmad, who died in 786, the founder of Arabic lexicography (kitab al-ayn), and of Sibawwayh, who died in 796, to whom the grammar of classical Arabic is due. Now, if we assume that the composition of the Koran was brought to an end in the year of the Prophet Mohammed's death, in 632, we find before us an interval of 150 years, during which there is no trace of Arabic literature worthy of note."
Q. - So at the time of Mohammed Arabic did not have precise rules, and was not used for written communication. Then how did the Koran come to be written?
A. - "At that time, there were no Arab schools - except, perhaps, for the Christian centers of al-Anbar and al-Hira, in southern Mesopotamia, or what is now Iraq. The Arabs of that region had been Christianized and instructed by Syrian Christians. Their liturgical language was Syro-Aramaic. And this was the vehicle of their culture, and more generally the language of written communication."
Q. - What is the relationship between this language of culture and the origin of the Koran?
A. - "Beginning in the third century, the Syrian Christians did not limit themselves to bringing their evangelical mission to nearby countries, like Armenia or Persia. They pressed on toward distant territories, all the way to the borders of China and the western coast of India, in addition to the entire Arabian peninsula all the way to Yemen and Ethiopia. It is thus rather probable that, in order to proclaim the Christian message to the Arabic peoples, they would have used (among others) the language of the Bedouins, or Arabic. In order to spread the Gospel, they necessarily made use of a mishmash of languages. But in an era in which Arabic was just an assembly of dialects and had no written form, the missionaries had no choice but to resort to their own literary language and their own culture; that is, to Syro-Aramaic. The result was that the language of the Koran was born as a written Arabic language, but one of Arab-Aramaic derivation."
Q. - Do you mean that anyone who does not keep the Syro-Aramaic language in mind cannot translate and interpret the Koran correctly?
A. - "Yes. Anyone who wants to make a thorough study of the Koran must have a background in the Syro-Aramaic grammar and literature of that period, the 7th century. Only thus can he identify the original meaning of Arabic expressions whose semantic interpretation can be established definitively only by retranslating them into Syro-Aramaic."
Q. - Let's come to the misunderstandings. One of the most glaring errors you cite is that of the virgins promised, in the Islamic paradise, to the suicide bombers.
A. - "We begin from the term 'huri,' for which the Arabic commentators could not find any meaning other than those heavenly virgins. But if one keeps in mind the derivations from Syro-Aramaic, that expression indicated 'white grapes,' which is one of the symbolic elements of the Christian paradise, recalled in the Last Supper of Jesus. There's another Koranic expression, falsely interpreted as 'the children' or 'the youths' of paradise: in Aramaic: it designates the fruit of the vine, which in the Koran is compared to pearls. As for the symbols of paradise, these interpretive errors are probably connected to the male monopoly in Koranic commentary and interpretation."
Q. - By the way, what do you think about the Islamic veil?
A. - "There is a passage in Sura 24, verse 31, which in Arabic reads, 'That they should beat their khumurs against their bags.' It is an incomprehensible phrase, for which the following interpretation has been sought: 'That they should extend their kerchiefs from their heads to their breasts.' But if this passage is read in the light of Syro-Aramaic, it simply means: 'They should fasten their belts around their waists.'"
Q. - Does this mean the veil is really a chastity belt?
A. - "Not exactly. It is true that, in the Christian tradition, the belt is associated with chastity: Mary is depicted with a belt fastened around her waist. But in the gospel account of the Last Supper, Christ also ties an apron around his waist before washing the Apostles' feet. There are clearly many parallels with the Christian faith."
Q. - You have discovered that Sura 97 of the Koran mentions the Nativity. And in your translation of the famous Sura of Mary, her "birthgiving" is "made legitimate by the Lord." Moreover, the text contains the invitation to come to the sacred liturgy, to the Mass. Would the Koran, then, be nothing other than an Arabic version of the Christian Bible?
A. - "In its origin, the Koran is a Syro-Aramaic liturgical book, with hymns and extracts from Scriptures which might have been used in sacred Christian services. In the second place, one may see in the Koran the beginning of a preaching directed toward transmitting the belief in the Sacred Scriptures to the pagans of Mecca, in the Arabic language. Its socio-political sections, which are not especially related to the original Koran, were added later in Medina. At its beginning, the Koran was not conceived as the foundation of a new religion. It presupposes belief in the Scriptures, and thus functioned merely as an inroad into Arabic society."
Q. - To many Muslim believers, for whom the Koran is the holy book and the only truth, your conclusions could seem blasphemous. What reactions have you noticed up until now?
A. - "In Pakistan, the sale of the edition of 'Newsweek' that contained an article on my book was banned. Otherwise, I must say that, in my encounters with Muslims, I have not noticed any hostile attitudes. On the contrary, they have appreciated the commitment of a non-Muslim to studies aimed at an objective comprehension of their sacred text. My work could be judged as blasphemous only by those who decide to cling to errors in the interpretation of the word of God. But in the Koran it is written, 'No one can bring to the right way those whom God induces to error.'"
Q. - Aren't you afraid of a fatwa, a death sentence like the one pronounced against Salman Rushdie?
A. - "I am not a Muslim, so I don't run that risk. Besides, I haven't offended against the Koran"
Q. - But you still preferred to use a pseudonym.
A. - "I did that on the advice of Muslim friends who were afraid that some enthusiastic fundamentalist would act of his own initiative, without waiting for a fatwa."
A letter claiming to be from Al-Qaeda indicates that the new Foreign Minister of Spain, Osama bin Laden, has granted his lastest conquest will enjoy a period of peace. From "Opheera McDoom" at Reuters, and Peter Rockas:
A group claiming to have links with al Qaeda said on Wednesday it was calling a truce in its Spanish operations to see if the new Madrid government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, a pan-Arab newspaper said.
In a statement sent to the Arabic language daily al-Hayat, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed 201 people, also urged its European units to stop all operations.
"Because of this decision, the leadership has decided to stop all operations within the Spanish territories... until we know the intentions of the new government that has promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq," the statement said.
"And we repeat this to all the brigades present in European lands: Stop all operations."
Skepticism has greeted previous claims of responsibility by the group for attacks in Turkey and Iraq. U.S. officials say its links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network are unclear.
An unrelated videotape of a man describing himself as al Qaeda's European military spokesman also claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombing, saying it was in retaliation for outgoing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's domestically-unpopular support for the U.S.-led Iraq war.
In a shock election result three days after the Madrid bombs, Spain voted in the Socialist party, which has since said it will probably withdraw its troops from Iraq.
"The Spanish people... chose peace by choosing the party that was against the alliance with America," the statement said.
The alleged Al-Qaeda message also has the organization behaving counterintuitively by endorsing George Bush, but in strange, mocking terms that suggest they may want to keep people from thinking that Kerry is a Zapatero-style appeaser:
WE WANT BUSH TO WIN
The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."
In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:
"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."
"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."
The group said its cells were ready for another attack and time was running out for allies of the United States.
"Whose turn is it next? Will it be Japan or America, or Italy, Britain or Oslo or Australia?" the statement said, adding Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were also targets.
The group is named after Muhammed Atef, also known as Abu Hafs, a close bin Laden aide killed in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.
Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald (thanks to Gold) explains why the global mujahedin will never be satisfied by appeasement, and why Australia shouldn't cower before Al-Qaeda the way Spain has.
The alternative is to turn our backs on the world's only superpower, base our foreign policy on the whims of Osama bin Laden and still be on the terrorist hit list, for the simple fact we are a nation of "infidels". We were already top of the pops with bin Laden anyway, since he singled out "crusader Australian forces" in a videotape aired in November 2001, well before the invasion of Iraq, because of our role in the United Nations-led liberation of East Timor. The terrorist attack in Bali, which killed 88 Australians, had nothing to do with Iraq, either. . . .
It is always tempting to respond to the seductive siren call of the appeasers, drawing you to false hope that terrorism will disappear if only we are nice enough, tolerant and reasonable enough. Who doesn't want a fear-free life?
That's the siren call of Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban and who spoke at the University of Sydney this week about "media lies and manipulation" in the war on terrorism.
On Tuesday she told John Laws on radio 2UE: "As a journalist I would like to ban that word [terrorism]." When asked if a suicide bomber was a martyr or a terrorist, she said: "A martyr is someone who gives up their life for a cause. People get so ... hung up on words."
And yet, later in the interview she claimed words are the solution. "Let's go for the Irish situation and go for words not bombs ... The only way to end the cycle of violence is to sit down and start talking. The Spanish people have led the way."
But Ridley's solution is a mirage. Bin Laden, in his statements since September 11, 2001, has shown no interest in words: "The only language between you and us is the sword that will strike your necks," he has said....
Bin Laden's "letter to the American people", published in 2002, is the closest to a coherent statement of demands: "The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam. The second thing we call you to is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you ... Reject fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and trading with interest." Showing himself to be a bit of a greenie, he also listed as a grievance America's "refusal to sign the Kyoto agreement".
Al-Qaeda's end goal is a pan-Islamic state, a new "caliphate", a Muslim empire where sharia holy law reigns supreme. So those who want to follow Spain's path of appeasement should also be ready to follow Ridley's example and convert to Islam.
March 17, 2004
Now that Spain has shown that terrorism works, we're going to see more and more of it. From MSNBC, with thanks to Susan:
A powerful bomb destroyed a five-story hotel in central Baghdad on Wednesday night, killing at least 27 people, wounding 41 and leaving a crater 20 feet across. Foreigners were among the hotel guests.
Rescuers were searching for other victims in the Jabal Lebanon Hotel, Army Col. Ralph Baker of the 1st Armored Division said. Americans, Britons, Egyptians as well as other foreigners were staying at the hotel, resident Faleh Kalhan said.
An old Jihad Watch thread on the jihad rap video produced in Britain has just received a new comment from a person giving the obviously false email address "email@example.com":
All of you bastards you can't even handle the truth can you ?
More videos come out like this one the better...
Posted by: Mujah1deen at March 17, 2004 11:26 AM
"Uktul yahood" is Arabic for "Kill the Jews."
This post came in from Amsterdam, Netherlands (his IP address is 18.104.22.168). Welcome to the new Europe.
ADDENDUM: I am not all that technically adept, and several people have told me that this poster actually hails from Great Britain, as you can see in the comments.
Is this the face of moderate Islam?
Joel Mowbray has the goods on CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper in today's Washington Times (thanks to Nicolei).
Appearing on Fox News recently, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Ibrahim Hooper, said that in 20 years worth of trips to mosques, "I've never heard violence preached; I've never heard anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism preached."
When asked in a subsequent phone interview with this columnist if his statement also holds true for any Muslim events, conferences and rallies he has attended, Mr. Hooper said it did and added, "In fact, if I had heard that I would have called them on the carpet and asked them why they're saying such hate-filled, divisive things." (In a follow-up conversation, Mr. Hooper said he did "not include rallies.")
Mr. Hooper's claims, however, are somewhere between disingenuous and just plain dishonest.
At a now-infamous Washington rally on Oct. 28, 2000, then-president of the American Muslim Federation Abdurahman Alamoudi shouted to a cheering crowd, "We are all supporters of Hamas." In the second phone interview, Mr. Hooper acknowledged being there but claims he did not hear Mr. Alamoudi.
In the media frenzy that followed, though, neither CAIR nor Mr. Hooper publicly criticized Mr. Alamoudi's avowed support of the terrorist organization.
Less than a year later, Mr. Hooper joined roughly a dozen leaders of various Muslim groups in staging a "sit in" in front of the State Department in June 2001. During the event, American Muslim Council Director Ali Ramadan Abu Zakouk "preached violence" by labeling the mass murder of innocent civilians in suicide bombing attacks as a "God-given right."
"The question of resistance to occupation is a God-given right. And the occupied people can use any means possible for them. They have no limitation," Mr. Zakouk explained. Mr. Hooper was listed as the contact person for the press release sent out in advance of the "sit in," though he first claimed he "did not remember" and later that he "did not hear" Mr. Zakouk's defense of suicide bombings.
Videotape footage of the event (provided by the Investigative Project), however, clearly shows Mr. Hooper standing barely a few feet behind Mr. Zakouk as the comments were made.
Without video or a published record noting his participation, it is impossible to know what other pro-violence, anti-American or anti-Semitic propaganda Mr. Hooper has personally witnessed. But there are plenty of examples of reprehensible rhetoric spouted either by CAIR officials or at CAIR co-sponsored events -- any of which Mr. Hooper, as longtime CAIR spokesman, would almost surely be aware of.
At the Islamic Association of Palestine's third annual convention in Chicago in November 1999, CAIR President Omar Ahmad gave a speech at a youth session praising suicide bombers who "kill themselves for Islam." "Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam -- that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam, " he said.
The executive director of CAIR's New York chapter has made similar comments that would likewise fall under the heading of "violence preached." At an interfaith event shortly after September 11, CAIR-NY's Ghazi Khankan started with the obligatory disclaimer that "those who attack civilians are wrong," but then he explained that any Israeli adult was a "soldier" and thus not a civilian.
Mr. Khankan rationalized as follows: "Anyone over 18 is automatically inducted into the service and they are all reserves. Therefore, Hamas, in my opinion, looks at them as part of the military." Driving home the point that it's OK to blow up any Israeli adult, Mr. Khankan added, "Those who are below 18 should not be attacked." (When asked about this speech -- but not being told who gave it -- Mr. Hooper said, "I condemn it.")
CAIR co-sponsored a May 1998 New York conference titled, "Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation," where one of the guest speakers taught participants a song that included lyrics: "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."
Mr. Hooper insists that CAIR was not a co-sponsor of the event and added, "I don't even know if that happened." But an e-mail sent out to a Muslim e-mail list the day before the event clearly identifies CAIR as one of the 11 co-sponsors -- and audiotape of the conference (provided by the Investigative Project) recorded the anti-Semitic song.
Even when given the opportunity by journalists to "call on the carpet" designated terrorist organizations, Mr. Hooper demurs.
When asked by The Washington Post in November 2001 if he would condemn Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Mr. Hooper responded, "It's not our job to go around denouncing." Asked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February 2002 to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, Mr. Hooper called such questions a "game" and explained, "We're not in the business of condemning."
Asked in an America-Online-sponsored chat in August 1998 who was responsible -- the terrorists or America -- for the East Africa embassy bombings, Mr. Hooper wrote that, although he condemned the bombings, "a great deal of what happened is responsible due to misunderstandings on both sides."
When it comes to "misunderstandings," though, Mr. Hooper's record leaves none as to whether or not he has heard or directly knows of plenty of violence and anti-Semitism preached by Muslim leaders.
It's in the Qur'an: Suras 2:62-65, 5:59-60, and 7:166. Why then should we be surprised when Muslim spokesmen call Jews apes and pigs? From IMRA, with thanks to Alyssa Lappen:
Gaza Palestine Satellite TV Channel in Arabic, official television station of the Palestinian Authority, carries on 13 March 2004 at 0958 GMT a live sermon from Zayid Bin-Sultan Mosque in Gaza.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mudayris delivers the sermon, which he begins by saying that life is a continuous struggle between right and falsehood and that such a struggle exists in the territories between Palestinians and Jews. The Palestinians, he says, are defending a just cause and will triumph in the end.
The imam recalls how the prophet dealt with the problem of Jewish existence before establishing the State of Islam in Medina. He says that the prophet first fraternized the warring Arab tribes of Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj. Then victory in the Battle of Badr gave him the military strength to deal with Jewish existence in Medina, he adds.
The imam says: "Here are the Jews today taking revenge for their grandfathers and ancestors, the sons of apes and pigs. Here are the extremist Jews demanding their rights. Some extremists even demand their rights in Medina."
He adds: "This is the extremist tendency of Jews. They are extremists and terrorists who deserve death, while we deserve life, since we have a just cause. Here they are avenging for their grandfathers, taking revenge on us, Muslims, by seizing our holy places and lands forcefully. Last week was a bloody week in which they killed 40 youths, children, and women within the sight of the whole world. No one made a move against these massacres."
The British scene
"Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister, said: 'The idea being put about by some people that, if you did not support the war you are safe, is simply not true.'" From The Telegraph, :
A terrorist attack on Britain is now thought to be "inevitable", Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said yesterday. Trains, buses, pubs and nightclubs are all potential targets.
Sir John said the police and the security services had dramatically increased their efforts and were "working three times harder than ever" to foil any plot aimed at London or other cities.
His acknowledgement that Britain was in the front line coincided with a YouGov opinion poll showing that three quarters of Britons felt "more vulnerable" to terrorist attack after the Madrid bombings that killed 201 people.
The poll suggested that a similar bomb attack in Britain during a general election could cost Labour support.
The fallout from Madrid and Spain's collapse continues. From Reuters, :
Algerian authorities, on heightened alert ahead of presidential elections next month, have killed 17 Islamic rebels in separate attacks over the past week, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.
Seven of the militants belonged to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a hardline group that is fighting for a Taliban-style state and has declared its allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
Algerians go to the polls on April 8 and authorities have warned that Islamic rebels may try to disrupt the election.
The Interior Ministry statement said the operations were carried out in the provinces of Medea, M'sila and Djelfa -- all within 124 miles of the capital Algiers.
Over the past decade more than 150,000 people have died in rebel-linked violence in the North African country, according to human rights groups, sparked by the annulment of general elections a now-banned Islamic party was set to win in 1992.
Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia told a news conference that authorities would be prepared for any attack.
"Without wanting to go into details, security measures have been taken," Ouyahia said. "Unfortunately until all terrorists have been eliminated they will be using opportunities like this (election) to plan attacks."
Some 100 Algerians, two-thirds of them rebels, have been killed since the start of the year, according to media reports and official statements.
Western diplomats and security analysts fear the group was seeking to forge greater ties with al Qaeda. Last year it claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 32 European tourists in the Sahara desert.
Could there be suicide bombings in Italy? Could they happen for the same reason as the Madrid bombings, and be intended to bring about the same effect? From Reuters, with thanks to Twostellas:
Cells of Muslim militants willing to carry out suicide bombings exist in several areas of Italy, a leading newspaper reported on Wednesday, quoting a secret report by anti-terrorist investigators.
Excerpts of a recent secret report by the ROS, the crack special section of the Carabinieri para-military police, were published by Rome newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday.
The 1,000-page document warned that at least 80 militants were clustered in cells dotted throughout Italy.
Many Italians fear they are next in line for a terror attack in the wake of last week's Madrid bombings because of Rome's forthright support of the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
In interviews with Italian dailies published on Wednesday Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said no country was safe from al Qaeda and added that he feared Muslim militants could link up with European terror groups.
In a statemment on Wednesday afternoon, ROS said there were no specific "projects or threats" of suicide attacks in Italy.
La Repubblica said the ROS report was based on wire taps and other forms of surveillance that showed that some of the militants had no visible form of employment but that they owned apartments, cars and mobile phones.
"Some, if called on, have declared that they are willing to blow themselves up for the cause," the newspaper quoted the document as saying.
The ROS document added that some cell members were responsible for mobilising so-called "sleepers" to participate in attacks and that the cells had links with groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Malaysia, Morocco and Algeria.
In February, a public parliamentary report on secret services said Italy was no longer just a place where terror groups could find "logistical and financial support" but had become a "base of departure for aspiring members of Islamic Jihad and suicide bombers" for attacks in Iraq.
Italy says it has increased security at key sites following the Madrid carnage.
Security officials are particularly concerned that attacks may take place on March 20, the first anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, April 11, Easter Sunday, and the days around European elections on June 12-13.
"No city in the world can have defences that make it invulnerable. This is especially true of democratic countries," Pisanu told Corriere della Sera newspaper, adding that international and domestic militants might join forces.
"And this is what worries me. Because it would show for the first time that Islamic terrorism can find active accomplices in Europe, not only among the extremist fringes of Muslim immigrants but also in national terrorists movements," he said.
Some experts believe the Vatican, where security has been recently beefed up, is a prime target for an attack because of its religious significance and because its open spaces are difficult to protect.
But others say Pope John Paul's strong position against the Iraq war might serve to dissuade a strike.
Boulanour and Abdelhadi
Madrid suspect Jamal Zougam isn't a terrorist: he's just an ordinary guy who goes to a gym. He was targeted because he's a Muslim and has a beard, you see. This kind of thing would be much more effective if every Muslim who ever gets arrested weren't portrayed as an ordinary guy who has fallen victim to racism. Here's a fine example of journalistic dhimmitude from the Sydney Morning Herald (thanks to Jean-Luc).
"Do I look like a terrorist to you?" asks Mohamed Boulanour, an Algerian immigrant, smiling yet deadly serious.
"If you are Muslim they accuse you of being a terrorist. I had problems with the police a month ago, but thanks to my lawyer they had to let me go. They were saying I was part of al-Qaeda because I have a beard."
Mr Boulanour, 40, now has much more than that. He has a notorious neighbour, the chief suspect in Madrid's train bombings, Jamal Zougam, who has been arrested with two other Moroccans in connection to the mobile phones used to detonate the 10 backpack bombs that killed 200 people.
Authorities have previously linked Mr Zougam, 30, to the al-Qaeda cell that helped plan the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Yesterday his alleged involvement in the Madrid bombing strengthened after police interviewed a new witness who claimed to have seen him leaving a backpack on one of the ill-fated trains. The backpack did not explode, providing investigators with vital clues to the identity of the bombers.
In the city's poor, crime- and drug-ridden Lavapies district, the home to thousands of North African Islamic migrants, Mr Zougam was known as a muscular, gym-loving and devout man who ran the popular Nuevo Siglo (New Century) mobile phone shop. It is now locked, the shutters down.
Moroccan-born Joudi Abdelhadi, 37, who owns a nearby grocery, said: "He was just an ordinary guy who worked and tried to make a living. He struggled like the rest of us because he is an immigrant."
Neither Mr Abdelhadi nor Mr Boulanour claimed they knew Mr Zougam intimately, although the rundown, narrow Tribulete street is a place where neighbours appear to look out for each other. But Hussan Serouth, 24, a hairdresser, said: "He's not a terrorist. He's my friend. We go to the gym together.
"He was picked up two years ago because he knew one of these bearded guys who was supposed to be with al-Qaeda. The police have picked him up again because of that. Proof in Spain is like a dog fighting a cat."
None of the Tribulete men, who were all friendly and seemingly open, had nothing but condemnation for the Madrid bombers. "The bombings were a terrorist act and those who have done it deserve the death penalty," Mr Abdelhadi said. "But you have to put a full stop after terrorist. They are not Islamic terrorists or Christian terrorists."
Abdelhadi must know how sweet that statement sounds to Western multicultural ears. But where is the global network of Christian terrorists, justifying their murders with the Bible and Christian theology? The fact that there is such a network of Muslims, but not of Christians, is not politically correct but it is no accident. Until Muslims reform and reject the doctrines that give rise to this network, terrorism will continue.
Meanwhile, from AP (with thanks to Nicolei), a story about the gym-going Zougam's terror ties:
Spanish authorities knew as early as 2001 that Jamal Zougam, a central suspect in the Madrid bombings, had contacts with accused terrorists linked to al-Qaida, an investigator told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Despite his suspicious ties, Zougam maneuvered with ease in Spain while making extensive contacts with key militants, from the alleged leader of the Spanish al-Qaida cell to a Kurdish guerrilla group in Iraq, according to court documents and wiretapped conversations.
Zougam also traveled back and forth to his hometown of Tangiers, Morocco, which he left on April 20, 2003 - just weeks before a deadly bombing in Casablanca, Morocco killed 45 people, including 12 attackers.
Zougam was placed under surveillance after the Casablanca bombings, Moroccan officials told AP. He was one of three Moroccans arrested over the weekend after Thursday's bombings in Madrid, which killed 201 people.
Jean-Charles Brisard, a French private investigator, told AP that in a conversation wiretapped by Spanish police, Zougam and his half brother Mohamed Chaoui - also arrested in the Madrid case - were described as being close to Said Chedadi, an alleged al-Qaida member jailed in Spain.
Chedadi was arrested weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States on charges that he belonged to al-Qaida and that he had a hand in the preparation and carrying out of the attacks.
The leaders of Eurabia
Real anti-terror resolve, or just words? "One must look at the roots" of terror, they say, but do they know what those roots really are? Or do they think that just throwing money at the problem will make it go away? From CNN, :
French police have opened an investigation after a Paris newspaper published a letter from a Muslim group threatening the French people.
The letter from the group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise" was addressed to the head of the French government and published in the Paris daily "Le Parisien."
It was signed with the name "Commando Movsar Barayev," on behalf of the shadowy group, the newspaper said.
Movsar Barayev is the name of the Chechen rebel and alleged leader of a deadly hostage-taking raid October 2002 on a theater in Moscow.
Russian special forces stormed the theater and killed Barayev.
The French Justice Department opened the investigation in conjunction with special police services.
Interior Ministry Nicolas Sarkozy said the letter is being analyzed.
Investigators said they had not heard of the group.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the letter contained "menacing threats for the entire nation..."
The threat was revealed as French President Jacques Chirac pledged to step up the fight against terrorism to protect citizens and institutions.
"Europe must always fight terrorism with all its strength," Chirac told reporters.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, appearing with Chirac after bilateral talks in Paris, said he agreed with that assessment.
The leaders were meeting in the French capital nearly a week after bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 201 people.
Both leaders expressed solidarity with Spain in the wake of the terrorism, and vowed better cooperation among European nations to collect intelligence on various attacks.
Military force is not the only solution, Schroeder said. "One needs to look at the roots of it," including lack of development in the developing world.
Meanwhile, officials of anti-terrorist services from across the European Union were preparing to travel to Spain in the next few days to coordinate the investigation and exchange information after the Madrid bomb attacks.
"We have called a meeting for the coming days of the most important anti-terrorist services from the European Union who will meet here in Madrid," Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes told Reuters Monday.
"This will be to coordinate inquiries and efforts, exchange information and plan for the future."
The EU will also hold an emergency meeting of EU interior and justice ministers on Friday before a summit of European leaders on March 25-26. The issue of terrorism is sure to overshadow scheduled talks on economic reforms.
Among EU proposals being floated after Thursday's Madrid train bombings is the possibility of appointing a special EU anti-terrorism czar, Reuters reported.
From AP, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
ISRAELI troops yesterday arrested a boy, 12, who didn't know he had a bomb in his schoolbag.
Security officials said the boy, who worked as a porter helping to carry the belongings of Palestinians forbidden to drive through a Nablus checkpoint, was hired to carry baggage by militants linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.
But he did not know the contents of the backpack.
The commander of the army unit that caught the boy said soldiers' suspicions were aroused by the weight of the school bag. When they examined it, they found a bomb, laced with nuts and bolts to increase its killing power.
"It was a pretty serious bomb, between 7kg and 10kg," the officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Guy, said. "It was ready for detonation, apparently with a mobile phone."
Officials said the militants planned to explode it as the boy passed through the checkpoint, but it failed because of a technical fault. The explosion would have killed the boy and nearby soldiers.
Security sources said the boy was freed after several hours' questioning.
Israeli security officials said the army had received intelligence warnings of an attempt to mount an attack from Nablus.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday ruled out peace talks with Palestinians and began considering ways to retaliate for a weekend double suicide bombing that killed 10 Israelis.
"Israel will have to act according to its own understanding alone," he said, referring to his proposal for a unilateral withdrawal from most or all of Gaza, removal of Jewish settlements, and a realignment in the West Bank that would include evacuating some settlements and imposing a border.
Spain's Appeaser-elect (AFP)
The Sydney Morning Herald (thanks to Nicolei) has articulated the obvious: that Spain's elections are perceived by Al-Qaeda as a capitulation to the jihadist intimidation of the Madrid bombings, and so radical Muslims will be emboldened to try to influence elections elsewhere with the same tactic.
Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups may be moving toward a potent new strategy - targeting Western nations at election time for the maximum political effect.
This scenario was raised yesterday by US intelligence officials and the FBI's most senior counter-terrorism agent, who is in Sydney for a regional police commissioners' conference. . . .
US intelligence analysts and political strategists said yesterday they have been forced to consider anew the possibility of an attack in the US in the run-up to the presidential elections in November.
They said there has been a steady flow of "chatter" among suspected al-Qaeda members and their affiliates about the timing of the election. This suggests the group hopes to exploit the election cycles of the US and other nations in an effort to peel away popular support for the war on terrorism.
"Al-Qaeda would love to do something close to the election, an 'October surprise'," said the CIA's former anti-terrorism chief, Vince Cannistraro.
"Al-Qaeda thinks strategically. Are they considering what effect this would have on our political system? Yes."
In Sydney, the FBI's John Pitsole said yesterday it "raises the stakes" of international terrorism if the Spanish elections were a target of the Madrid bombings.
"In terms of the attack in Madrid, I would hate to give whatever terrorist group credit for influencing the election," Mr Pistole said. "If that was the intended outcome and that was what was achieved, then that raises the stakes in terms of the vulnerabilities and potential that we must deal with."
Meanwhile, the Washington Post (thanks to "Allah") claims that Zapatero won because Spanish voters were angry at the Aznar government's early insistence that the Basque group ETA, and not Al-Qaeda, perpetrated the attacks. The Toronto Star, in a similar vein (thanks again to "Allah"), opines that "Spanish voters were not bowing to terrorists when they threw out the ruling conservative Popular Party on Sunday. Instead, they were punishing a government they believed was trying to mislead them. They also were rejecting a government that joined the United States in backing the Iraq war, against the wishes of the vast majority of Spaniards."
Neither of these face-saving analyses stand up to scrutiny. The Post's founders on the large amount of clear evidence that Spanish voters were voting quite consciously with Iraq and Al-Qaeda in mind, not because of anger with Aznar over an alleged deception regarding the bombing: see, for example, the photo and story here. Now: were they bowing to terrorists or simply voting against Bush and Blair and their alleged lies about Iraq? Unfortunately for the Toronto Star, this is a distinction without a difference. As the Sydney Morning Herald story above illustrates, Al-Qaeda and other radical Muslim groups will see it as the same thing. What's more, "Allah" also points to this AFP story, which illustrates that Spanish voters didn't seem upset enough about Iraq just before the bombing to turn out Aznar. Only with the bombs did everything change.
Mark Steyn nails it again. From the Telegraph, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
"When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, naturally they will like the strong horse." So said Osama bin Laden in his final video appearance two-and-a-half years ago. But even the late Osama might have been surprised to see the Spanish people, invited to choose between a strong horse and a weak horse, opt to make their general election an exercise in mass self-gelding.
To be sure, there are all kinds of John Kerry-esque footnoted nuances to Sunday's stark numbers. One sympathises with those electors reported to be angry at the government's pathetic insistence, in the face of the emerging evidence, that Thursday's attack was the work of Eta, when it was obviously the jihad boys. One's sympathy, however, disappears with their decision to vote for a party committed to disengaging from the war against the jihadi. As Margaret Thatcher would have said: "This is no time to go wobbly, Manuel." But they did. And no one will remember the footnotes, the qualifications, the background - just the final score: terrorists toppled a European government.
What was it all those party leaders used to drone robotically after IRA atrocities? We must never let the bullet and the bomb win out over the ballot and the bollocks. Something like that. In Spain, the bombers hijacked the ballot, and very decisively. The Socialist Workers' Party wouldn't have won, except for the terrorism.
At the end of last week, American friends kept saying to me: "3/11 is Europe's 9/11. They get it now." I expressed scepticism. And I very much doubt whether March 11 will be a day that will live in infamy. Rather, March 14 seems likely to be the date bequeathed to posterity, in the way we remember those grim markers on the road to conflagration through the 1930s, the tactical surrenders that made disaster inevitable. All those umbrellas in the rain at Friday's marches proved to be pretty pictures for the cameras, nothing more. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the slain. In the three days between the slaughter and the vote, it was widely reported that the atrocity had been designed to influence the election. In allowing it to do so, the Spanish knowingly made Sunday a victory for appeasement and dishonoured their own dead.
And, if it works in Spain, why not in Australia, Britain, Italy, Poland? In his 1996 "Declaration of War Against the Americans", Bin Laden cited Washington's feebleness in the face of the 1992 Aden hotel bombings and the Black Hawk Down business in Somalia in 1993: "You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew," he wrote. "The extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear." To the jihadis' way of thinking, on Thursday, the Spaniards were disgraced by Allah; on Sunday, they withdrew. The extent of their impotence and weaknesses is very clear.
Or, as Simon Jenkins put it in a hilariously mistimed cover story for last Thursday's Spectator arguing that this terrorism business is a lot of twaddle got up by Blair and Bush: "Bombs kill and panic the panicky. But they do not undermine civilised society unless that society wants to be undermined." And there's no chance of that happening, right?
Jenkins's argument, such as it is, is that a bomb here, a bomb there, nothing to get your knickers in a twist about: that's one thing we Europeans understand. But what he refuses to address is the shifting facts on the ground.
Europe's home-grown terrorism problems take place among notably static populations, such as Ulster and the Basque country. One could make generally safe extrapolations about the likelihood of holding Northern Ireland to what HMG used to call an "acceptable level of violence".
But in the same three decades as Ulster's "Troubles", the hitherto moderate Muslim populations of south Asia were radicalised by a politicised form of Islam; previously broadly unIslamic societies such as Nigeria became Islamified; and large Muslim populations settled in parts of Europe that had little or no experience of mass immigration.
You can argue about what these trends mean, but surely not that they mean absolutely nothing, as Sir Simon and the Complaceniks assure us: nothing to see here, chaps; switch back to the Test and bring me another buttered crumpet; when Osama vows to avenge the "tragedy of Andalucia", it's just a bit of overheated campaign rhetoric, like Kerry calling Bush a "liar", that's all.
For the non-complacent, the question is fast becoming whether "civilised society" in much of Europe is already too "undermined". Last Friday, for a brief moment, it looked as if a few brave editorialists on the Continent finally grasped that global terrorism is a real threat to Europe, and not just a Bush racket. But even then they weren't proposing that the Continent should rise up and prosecute the war, only that they be less snippy in their carping from the sidelines as America gets on with it. Spain was Washington's principal Continental ally, and what does that boil down to in practice? 1,300 troops. That's fewer than what the New Hampshire National Guard is contributing.
The other day, the editor of Le Monde, writing in the Wall Street Journal, dismissed as utterly false the widespread belief among all Americans except John Kerry's campaign staff that France is a worthless ally: "Let us remember here," he wrote, "the involvement of French and German soldiers, among other European nationalities, in the operations launched in Afghanistan to pursue the Taliban, track down bin Laden and attempt to free the Afghans."
Oh, put a baguette in it, will you? The Continentals didn't "launch" anything in Afghanistan. They showed up when the war was over - after the Taliban had been toppled and the Afghans liberated. And a few hundred Nato troops in post-combat mopping-up operations barely registers in the scale against the gazillions of Americans defending the Continent so that EU governments can blow their defence budgets on welfare programmes that make the citizens ever more enervated and dependent.
The only fighting that there is going to be in Europe in the foreseeable future is civil war, and when that happens American infantrymen will want to be somewhere safer. Like Iraq. There are strong horses and weak horses, but right now western Europe is looking like a dead horse.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) acting president Qazi Hussain Ahmad on Monday warned the government it would would launch a great protest movement if it tried to take the 'jihadi' inculcations out of school syllabi.
Speaking at the Jamaat-e-Islami's Mansoora Degree College, he said the government was eliminating words like jihad and mujahid and quranic verses regarding jihad from school textbooks, which was tantamount to treachery with the nation and the ideology of Pakistan. "To combat this, a major jihadi campaign has become necessary," Qazi declared.
Criticizing President Musharraf's polices, he said the Pakistan First slogan was misleading the nation. "He has no concept of ummah, but the general should note that the country came into existence on Islamic ideology and it could survive on that basis alone", he said, criticizing the US for wanting to overwhelm 'the ummah' mentally and physically.
From The Australian, with thanks to Nicolei:
TERRORISTS may be using New Zealand as a "safe haven" to plot attacks or obtain passports, according to the country's security chief, who has already denied citizenship to three people with suspected terror links.
But the three unnamed individuals were still in New Zealand, Security Intelligence Service director Richard Woods said yesterday, signalling he was frustrated they had not been expelled.
New Zealand was realising physical isolation did not make it immune from terror, he said in Wellington. "We are identifying more people in or from New Zealand who are of terrorist or other security concern," he said. "In the year 2002-03 I objected to three people getting citizenship."
Asked what the three were suspected of planning or doing, he said: "I referred earlier to the safe haven concerns."
In response to a question about whether he was unhappy about their remaining in the country, Mr Woods said: "You should make your own judgment on that."
Mr Woods's rare public remarks brought a terse response from the Government. "New Zealand is not a safe haven for terrorists," Prime Minister Helen Clark said.
Immigration Minister Paul Swain said the SIS had not objected when the three applied for residency several years ago.
"However, (the SIS) became aware later of security concerns, which is when it recommended they be declined citizenship and consequently a New Zealand passport. The SIS has not recommended their residency be revoked," Mr Swain said.
The SIS is under fire over the case of Algerian detainee Ahmed Zaoui, an elected Algerian parliamentarian who fled the country after a military coup in 1992. He has been held in an Auckland prison for more than a year because the SIS suspects he has terrorist links, despite being granted refugee status.
Security scares are not new. In 2000, Auckland police announced they had discovered a group of Afghan refugees plotting to blow up Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, although they had insufficient evidence for a trial. The men still live in Auckland.
Also yesterday, New Zealand announced a review of security for visiting ships after HMAS Success was daubed with graffiti in Wellington Harbour on Monday reading "J Howard US Bootlicker".
Miss Clark said she was "concerned" at the attack and Foreign Minister Phil Goff said it showed a terrorist could have blown up the ship.
Terrorists could launder money or obtain weapons in New Zealand, Mr Woods said.
"Individuals may simply use New Zealand as a place to lie low for a while, perhaps acquiring citizenship and then travelling overseas on that immensely valuable document, a New Zealand passport," he said.
New Zealand passports enabled wide travel "without attracting much attention, and there are visa-free arrangements for a number of countries", he said. New Zealand passport-holders are automatically granted visas when entering Australia.
Think Saudi Arabia is reforming? Think again. Also note that Saudi Arabia most closely approximates today the society that radical Muslims want to visit on the rest of the world. From CNN, with thanks to Nicolei:
Four "liberal reformists" have been arrested in Riyadh and Jeddah for making statements that do "not serve the unity of the country," the kingdom's Interior Ministry has said.
One of the people detained is a lawyer, known for his political and social activism, and two others are professors of political science.
All are known for calling for major changes in the kingdom and for their support of a constitutional monarchy.
"A number of people have been arrested for questioning regarding accusations and allegations that they had issued statements that do not serve the unity of the country and the community, which is based on Islamic sharia," the statement from the Interior Ministry said.
Sharia law is based on the tenets of Islam.
This sounds just swell until you see who is the featured speaker. From the Western Herald, with thanks to Bruce Gordon:
Members of the Muslim Student Association and the community will have the chance to sample Middle Eastern cuisine and learn how to better bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity during upcoming events at Western Michigan University.
MSA will be sponsoring an event titled "Islam and Christianity: Coalition or Collision?" from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Thursday in the North Ballroom of the Bernhard Center.
"The purpose of this event is to promote peace, tolerance and understanding between the two largest religions in the world," said Sarah Husain, sophomore majoring in business and president of the public relations committee of MSA.
William Baker, an internationally known speaker from California and founder of Christians and Muslims for Peace, will be at the event, Husain said.
Baker, according to the Orange County Weekly, "has resurfaced as a frequent guest speaker at Muslim functions across North America despite articles in OC Weekly in 2002 that outed the Laguna Hills resident as the former head of the neo-Nazi Populist Party and led to his ouster as a close associate to the Reverend Robert Schuller of Garden Grove's Crystal Cathedral."
Despite all the questions that swirl unanswered around the Council on American Islamic Relations, it is still generally accepted by the media and the public as a neutral, mainstream civil rights organization. From Daniel Pipes, with thanks to Bruce Gordon:
CAIR Accepted as "Mainstream." I will intermittently post items here to document how, despite its terrorist associations and other legal tribulations, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is gaining acceptance among the gullible, the ignorant, or the foolish as a legitimate "civil liberties group."
Elderhostel ("a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing extraordinary learning adventures for people 55 and over") is pleased to announce a new series of programs titled "Building Bridges to Islam" in March and April 2004. So far so good. But the first one, to be held four times in Santa Clara, California, will be held in collaboration with CAIR. Elderhostel's publicity incorrectly describes CAIR as "a mainstream organization that regularly works with national law enforcement authorities, elected officials, media and other civil liberties and minority groups." Responding to a protest about the Elderhostel-CAIR connection, Jay Rittenberg of Elderhostel's Customer Service Group wrote this drivel: "Please note that CAIR is America's largest not profit organization that promotes civil rights for Muslims in America. Its aims are to promote a better understanding of Islam and the American Muslim community. The CAIR chapters that Elderhostel is currently working with to provide programming have worked with the Federal Government to educate and train US troops and federal law enforcement officials on the Islamic community and culture."
KERA ("public TV and radio for North Texas") announces that it and CAIR together are presenting an advance screening of the PBS series "The New Americans" on March 18 in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. KERA informs readers that the screening will feature two items: an episode from "The New Americans" about a Palestinian immigrant and a segment from "The Islam Project."
Jihad rages already in neighboring Nigeria, and now it is spreading to other areas of West Africa. From AP, with thanks to Twostellas:
Faced with a growing threat from Islamic militants, Niger is deploying extra troops to its troubled northern deserts with plans to multiply army patrols and set up a permanent forward operating base to improve security, the defense minister said Tuesday.
Fighters from the Salafist Group for Call and Combat are operating in Niger, and the army has battled them several times since Feb. 22, Defense Minister Hassane Bonta told reporters during a rare news conference.
The Salafist group is an Algerian Islamic militant organization believed to have links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida.
It is "imperative to equip the Niger army with the means to act against this new situation," Bonta said, calling the militants "terrorists."
The defense minister didn't say how many extra troops would be deployed or what other equipment they would receive. He also declined to say where the new northern army base would be established.
Niger's army first exchanged fire with the Salafist group Feb. 6 in Midal, about 370 miles northeast of the capital, Niamey, Bonta said.
The same day further north, troops battled a Salafist group that attacked French tourists, he said.
On March 5, in a joint operation with troops from neighboring Chad, soldiers cornered a group of Salafist guerrillas on Niger's eastern border, near a military base at Dao Timi, Bonta said.
Reinforcements were sent to the region and skirmishes continued, ending in the death of 43 last week.
Chadian officials reported the fighting Friday, saying it took place between March 8-9 near a remote village on Chad's western border with Niger, from where the Salafist militants had come. Bonta said Niger troops