Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/21/2008

USA
US Agency Phones Hacked
 
Europe and the EU
Engineers to Remain in Jail Over Nuclear Probe
Report: Danes Face Worst Terror Threat in Years
Restaurant Bomb Linked to Gang Vendetta
Council Bans War Heroes’ Parade Just Months After Allowing a Gay Pride March
UK Intelligence Report: Terror Stereotype Wrong
 
Balkans
Serbianna: Islam’s Swipe at Liberty Again
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Mideast: Gaza; We Will Kidnap Other Israeli Soldiers, Hamas
 
Middle East
Iran Bans Movie Star From Leaving for Hollywood
Lebanon: Daily Close to Hezbollah Accuses UNIFIL
Iran’s Mission to Send Astronaut Into Orbit Sparks Fears it Wants to Put Weapons in Space
 
South Asia
Pakistan Bombers Hit Arms Factory
Islamic Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir Call for Union With Pakistan
 
Far East
Philippine Autonomy Deal Scrapped
 
Australia — Pacific
Jury Hears of ‘Do-It-Yourself Jihad’ Book
 
Immigration
Italy: Illegal Immigrants Arrive South of Sicily
Immigration and Births to Non-British Mothers Pushes UK Population to Record High

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Insubria, Steen, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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USA

US Agency Phones Hacked

A hacker broke into a federal Homeland Security Department telephone system during the weekend and racked up about US$12,000 (S$16,694) in calls to the Middle East and Asia. The hacker made more than 400 calls on a Federal Emergency Management Agency voicemail system Saturday and Sunday, according to FEMA spokesman Tom Olshanski.

FEMA is the principal government agency for helping victims of natural disasters. The agency is part of Homeland Security, which in 2003 put out a warning about such a vulnerability. The voicemail system is new and recently installed.

This type of hacking is very low-tech and ‘old school’, said Mr John Jackson, a security consultant. It was popular 10 to 15 years ago. ‘In this case it’s sort of embarrassing that it happened to FEMA themselves — FEMA being a child of DHS, with calls going to the Middle East’, Mr Johnson said.

Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, India and Yemen are among the countries calls were made to, Mr Olshanski said. Most of the calls were about three minutes long, but some were as long as 10 minutes.

FEMA’s chief information officer is investigating who hacked into the system and where exactly the calls were placed to.

‘This illegal activity enables unauthorised individuals anywhere in the world to communicate via compromised US phone systems in a way that is difficult to trace’, according to a department information bulletin from June 3, 2003.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Engineers to Remain in Jail Over Nuclear Probe

The two Swiss engineers, Urs and Marco Tinner, suspected of involvement in an international nuclear smuggling network have been refused bail.

The Swiss Federal Court upheld a ruling by the Criminal Court earlier this year which ordered the Tinners to remain in custody pending the outcome of an investigation.

But judges also called on the authorities to speed up the procedure or release the brothers who have been detained since 2005, according to court statement on Friday.

The pair had argued their alleged involvement could no longer be proven after the government ordered the destruction of documents on the case.

The brothers along with their father, Friedrich Tinner, are suspected of helping to supply parts for Libya’s nuclear weapons programme through a trafficking ring run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

It is believed the three worked as undercover agents for the United States intelligence service amid speculation that the Swiss government was asked by Washington to destroy any evidence suggesting cooperation with the CIA.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Music: Italy; Festival of Nations Dedicated to Israel

(ANSAmed) — CITTA’ DI CASTELLO (PERUGIA), AUGUST 20 — The 41st edition of the Festival of Nations, to be held as of tomorrow until September 5 in Città di Castello and other places of the Upper Valley of the Tiber, will be dedicated to Israel. Israeli and Palestinian artists will also perform together. The programme, drafted by artistic director Aldo Sisillo — president of the Festival is TV journalist Giuliano Giubilei — offers an interesting view of a less known musical environment, at the borderline compared to the usual western cultural itineraries, but closely intertwined with the history of European music. With Israel — Sisillo explained — we complete an itinerary from Poland to Bohemia and to Spain, by which the festival explored the significant presence of Jewish culture in the European history. From the interaction among different cultures, from dialogue and conflicts emerges the richness of its musical world. The event will present artists who give an idea of the music which is currently played in Israel, such as Idan Rachel with his Project, a pop star who gathered a group of musicians coming from Ethiopia, Georgia, Suriname, Iran and Israel, and internationally renowned artists in the cultured circles, such as Gidon Kremer and Shlomo Mintz, both violinists, the first with his Kremerata Baltica, in a programme ranging from Schubert to Chick Corea, the second with the New Russian String Quartet, in a more classical version of the music of Mozart and Brahms. There will also be Salvatore Accardo, in duet with pianist Laura Manzini, conductor Yaniv Dinur with the solo players from Perugia (music by Mozart, Shubert, Wiesenberg), the Israel Chamber Orchestra conducted by Gil Shonat (one of the most important composers of this country) with violinist Pavel Barman. The presence of the Arab Music Orchestra of Nazareth is quite significant as an example of the intense cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli musicians, with a tribute to Umm Kalthum, unequalled voice of the Arab soul between the ‘30s and the ‘50s. A new production by Michele dell’Ongaro will also be presented, in which Sandro Lombardi will read passages by David Grossman. Among the less habitual proposals for a European audience, there will be the performance in which singer Eya Lerner, accompanied by the violin of Pavel Vernikov and the Italian Virtuosos, will evoke scenes from daily life and crucial moments of the Bible, in a musical narration by Leonid Hoffman. The klezmer, today’s popular musical genre, which comes from the Jewish tradition of the eastern European countries, will obviously not be neglected: the Klezmerata Fiorentina, with Italian and Israeli artists, will hold a concert on “15 variations on the theme of life”. Some sections of the programme will be dedicated to cinema, dance (‘Piyut’ by Avi Kaiser and Sergio Antonino, inspired by the way of singing the verses of the Bible) and rock (Rami Fortis, founder of Minimal Compact). Among side events, the municipal art gallery will host an exhibition of Jewish parchments. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Officials Investigate Birthday Party Invite Debacle

A local council in southern Sweden has defended a local school’s policy on children’s birthday party invitations after the matter was taken up by the justice ombudsman.

Back in June, a second grader in Lund was forced to take back his birthday party invitations by his teacher, because he hadn’t invited all the students in his class.

“This is accepted practice at pre-schools and school within the district presided over by the board,” wrote the council’s administrative chief manager for schools, Lena Leufstedt, in response to the ombudsman’s query.

The council said the rule was in place to ensure the equal treatment of all pupils and to prevent social exclusion and hurtful treatment.

Two students had been left off the invitation list, prompting the boy’s teacher to confiscate all the invitations. According to school rules, if a student plans to distribute invitations on school grounds, he or she must invite the entire class, or none at all.

Alternatively, invitations can be sent to all the boys, or all the girls, but simply leaving two students out is not acceptable.

The boy’s father claimed he was unaware of the school’s detailed birthday card distribution policy. While he agreed with the concept in principle, he thought it was ill-advised of the teacher to take back the invitations once they’d already been distributed.

“My son took it pretty hard. No one has the right to confiscate someone’s property in this way, it’s just like taking someone’s mail,” he told Sydsvenskan newspaper at the time.

The boy’s father then filed a complaint with the office of the justice ombudsman, which is currently investigating the matter.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Report: Danes Face Worst Terror Threat in Years

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Denmark faces the worst terror threat in many years with a possible attack happening at any time, officials said Wednesday.

Denmark’s intelligence service said the publication of 12 Danish drawings of the Prophet Muhammad and Denmark’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped focus militant extremists’ attention on the small Nordic country.

“Right now, Denmark faces the worst threat assessment in many years and a terror attack can take place without any warning,” the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, or PET, said in a report. “There are people and groups at home that are planning acts of terror here or abroad.”

The 86-page annual report also said that militant extremists abroad wanted to target Denmark or Danish interests aboard.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Restaurant Bomb Linked to Gang Vendetta

A violent bomb explosion at a restaurant in Lund, southern Sweden, early on Thursday is thought to have been gang-related.

The bomb exploded in the Och Bar restaurant near Mårtenstorget square in the early hours of Thursday morning, causing widespread damage.

The eatery’s facade was damaged and several panes of glass were shattered in the blast. The restaurant was closed at the time and there have been no reports of any injuries.

Police believe the bomb was an act of vengeance for the June murder of a 20-year-old gangster in Malmö, south Sweden.

According to newspaper Sydsvenskan, the bomb could be one in a series of revenge attacks. It has also been connected to a shooting in Malmö on Wednesday, when a 22-year-old man was shot several times in a moped drive-by.

The victim of that attack managed to escape uninjured although his car was damaged by gunfire.

Police commissioner Tony Pallon told Sydsvenskan that there was a definite correlation between the bomb explosion and the shooting incident.

The shooting incident is allegedly part of an ongoing feud between two rival criminal gangs, which culminated in the murder of a 20-year-old man in June.

According to Sydsvenskan, both brothers had had a dispute with the murdered 20-year-old.

However, the brothers deny having anything to do with his murder. Speaking to Sydsvenskan, one of the brothers said he had heard of the bomb in the restaurant, but had not been to see the scene.

The other brother lives upstairs from the restaurant and was at home when the bomb went off at 3am on Thursday morning. He was not injured and was one of the first to be questioned by police.

So far police have no information on how strong the explosives were, nor what type of explosive was used.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Council Bans War Heroes’ Parade Just Months After Allowing a Gay Pride March

Council bosses are under fire after telling war veterans to scrap a parade — after allowing a gay pride march and a mayor’s procession. Last year 3,000 former and current soldiers who served in wars ranging from the Second World War to Afghanistan marched on the first Veterans’ Day ever held in Doncaster.

But now the Royal British Legion claims the council has told it the event cannot be staged because of a ‘lack of facilities’. Doncaster has recently staged a gay pride parade and festival as well as a civic parade in which dignitaries, community workers and the public took part.

Legion district secretary Ken Wood, 46, says he asked for permission for the parade and was refused. ‘The council do not seem to care about the achievements of servicemen,’ he said. ‘I am not homophobic but the council supported Doncaster Pride and the mayor’s civic parade.

The ban has caused fury among war veterans.

Drummond ‘Spike’ Windows, 83, of Hatfield, Doncaster, a former Royal Commando and Yeoman of the Guard said: ‘I think it is disgusting that the council can provide cover for about every other effort they want. It is an affront to ex-servicemen.’

A council spokesman said today: ‘We are always willing to hold parades as long as the police are able to assist with the traffic management through the town centre.’

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Housewife Wins Battle With Publisher to Remove Swear Word From Book by Best-Selling Children’s Author

A housewife has taken on the combined might of one of Britain’s best-selling children’s authors and a leading publishing house and won. Random House Children’s Books has agreed to remove a four-letter swearword from a popular book by Dame Jacqueline Wilson, after complaints from Anne Dixon, who insists she is standing up for values of common decency.

She complained to Asda, in Stanley, County Durham, where she bought the book, and the store initially removed it from sale. Now the publishers said they will — by altering one letter — substitute the word with “twit” when the book is reprinted.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Former MP Attacked With a Cream Cake

Former GroenLinks (Green Left) terrorist MP Wijnand Duyvendak was left covered with whipping cream after being attacked with a pie by a man in a ‘black baseball cap’ at the launch of his autobiography yesterday.

The meeting, at Amsterdam’s new library, was heavily guarded, said the NRC. Nevertheless, right-wing extremists disrupted the presentation by throwing pamphlets from the first floor balcony printed with the word ‘terrorist’.

Duyvendak quit as an MP last week after admitting breaking into the economic affairs ministry during his life as an environmental activist in 1985, revelations which have made him unpopular on both political flanks.

Three people, including the cake thrower, were arrested. Duyvendak now intends to make a formal complaint to the police about the attack. ‘I am opposed to violence,’ the NRC reported him as saying. The cake incident was both ‘literally and figuratively tasteless’.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


UK Intelligence Report: Terror Stereotype Wrong

The majority of people involved in terrorism in Britain aren’t loners or religious zealots, an intelligence report has suggested, challenging stereotypes of extremists in hopes of better understanding what prompts attackers to strike.

The report by MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, was leaked to the Guardian newspaper, which published details on Thursday. It concludes that there’s no simple method for figuring out who might be involved in terrorist activities.

“Crucially, the research has revealed that those who become terrorists are a diverse collection of individuals, who fit no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism,” the newspaper quoted the report as saying.

The report, which carried a “restricted” level of security, looked at several hundred people who were “known to be involved in or closely associated with violent, extremist activity,” the newspaper said. The study group included people involved in activities which ranged from raising funds to planning suicide bombings in the U.K.

The theory that people turn to terrorism because they’re mentally ill or have pathological personality traits — “mad and bad” — isn’t reflected in the sample, the newspaper said, adding that the ethnic makeup of people involved in terrorist activities reflects Britain’s population.

Most of the people involved are men, but they’re not loners. They’re usually in steady relationships, and most have children, the report said. Many of the people examined by MI5 are not extremely religious, the report said. They lack “religious literacy,” have been brought up in secular households, and some drink alcohol, take drugs, and visit prostitutes.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Serbianna: Islam’s Swipe at Liberty Again

Islam’s latest global swipe on liberty, peculiarly enough, starts from Serbia where the western media has been telling us, despite the evidence, that Muslims do not exhibit militancy but tolerance.

To the delusions in the Western media, particularly UKs, the ‘I told you so’ moment came yesterday when a Serbian book publisher Aleksandar Jasic pulled a book after the official Islamic Community in Serbia attacked Sherry Jones’ novel The Jewel of Medina set to go on sale this week.

Jasic apologized but the chief Imam in Serbia went public pretending to be the sage of a human soul and said that the apology is not enough and that he needs to “sincerely repent”.

Similar calls for sincerity in atonement were also heard in Denmark or Holland in prior cases where authors of books and artwork did not repent sufficiently enough in the eyes of the Muslims who beheaded them.

Of course, Imam Zukorlic of Serbia never read Jones’ novel and some more sane do understand that the Imam is just part of the world-wide Islamic mob mentality, the Umma, that has one of the lowest number of books published per head…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Terrorism: Ex Varese Imam; If Accepts He is Innocent, Bouchta

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 20 — “If he has the courage to accept to be extradited in Morocco for such serious charges it means that he is sure he will prove his innocence,” former imam of Turin, Bouriqi Bouchta, obliged to return in Morocco in 2005 but for a measure of expulsion of then Interior Minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, answers in reference to the case of the former imam of Varese, Abdelmaji Zergout. A case which he does not know directly, he stated, but which does not stop him from affirming that the Moroccan justice knows how to do its job, and that if the charges on terrorism in reference to Zergout are founded he “risks to pay much”. He adds that the fear expressed recently by the former imam of Varese to suffer ill-treatment in the Moroccan prisons is unfounded. “In Morocco there is no torture anymore, these black years ended years ago. The country has changed, it is approaching Europe, it knows the human rights,” he answers. But not for that reason Boutcha has given up his fight to return in Italy. He is actually waiting for the result of the appeal against the expulsion to the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio (TAR) which last month decided to ask the interior ministry for the documents, so far hidden by the state secret service, on whose basis, in application of the anti-terrorism law, he was expelled three years ago. “There has never been prove against me and I have never been put on trial in Italy. I was expelled for political decision because I was a nuisance with my fight for the immigrants’ rights, but upon my arrival in Morocco four hours of investigation were enough to come out that there was nothing against me. And I also could run in the elections,” he underlined. Elections which he ran in 2007 with a list of Islamic inspiration, an attempt without success, but which he will repeat with another party at the next elections. But he underlines that the wish to return in Italy is still strong; he had a butcher’s in Turin’s quarter Porta Palazzo. “Not for money because here I have a job, in the wholesale. But because I believe in the constitution and I want to show the civil society that we are not terrorists only because we have beards. And to build a new stage of integration of the Muslim community. Because we are against the underworld and violence too,” he specified. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mideast: Gaza; We Will Kidnap Other Israeli Soldiers, Hamas

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, AUGUST 20 — The Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed section of Hamas, are threatening to kidnap other Israeli soldiers after Ghilad Shalit, the Corporal who is being held captive in Gaza since June 2006. The warning came from the spokesman of the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, at the end of a military drill conducted last night in the south of the Gaza Strip. Abu Obeida stated that Hamas considers it legitimate to kidnap Israeli soldiers with the purpose to free Palestinian prisoners kept in Israel. While commenting the absence of progress in the indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange, Abu Obeida warned that time is not playing in favour of Israel and that “Ghilad Shalit risks to end up like Ron Arad”. He referred to the navigator of an Israeli Phantom, which fell in 1986 in southern Lebanon, who was captured by a Lebanese Shiite militia and of whom there are no news. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mideast: Pressure for Accord Could be Boomerang Effect, Livni

(By Giorgio Raccah) (ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 21 — Intense international pressure on Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement, without first overcoming all bones of contention, risks to have a boomerang effect, create misunderstandings and spark off new violence, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in Jerusalem speaking to foreign reporters today. “I believe that timeline is important, but what’s more important is the content and the nature of the understanding that we can reach with the Palestinians,” she said. Any international pressure, Livni said with an eye apparently cast also on the forthcoming visit in the region of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, of trying to overcome prematurely the existing gaps in the positions of the two sides “can lead to clashes, this can lead to misunderstandings, this can lead to violence as we had, as we faced, after Camp David 2000 and the circumstances, in a way, are similar”. Rice would like to lead the parties to an agreement before the end of the term in office of U.S. President George W. Bush next January. “We must learn from the past and I represent here not only the Israeli government’s policy and its understanding of the situation but also of the Palestinians,” Livni added. Livni, who is leading the negotiations with the Palestinians, affirmed that the objective is to come to an agreement “to answer to the worries of all parties” and to be immediately plausible once the right conditions are created. Therefore, for example, the sides need to go beyond fixing “vague borders”. The creation of a Palestinian state is in the interest of Israel, as long as it is demilitarized and all measures the Jewish state requires for its security are stipulated, she said. In the past days the Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had offered the withdrawal of Israel from 93% of the West Bank and exchange of territories for another 5%. The head of the Israeli diplomacy reiterated that the basis on which the negotiations are being held is that “Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people and the Palestinian state is the homeland for the Palestinians”. The constitution of the Palestinian state, she said, “must be the solution for the Palestinians, for those who live in the West Bank and Gaza as well as those who live in the refugee camps waiting for what (the Palestinians) call right to return (in Israel), which is not an option in this vision of two states”. “Without this concept, there is no agreement,” she said. Israel has chosen to negotiate with the incumbent leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as it is pragmatic, unlike Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, whose ideology against the very existence of the state of Israel makes the pursuit of a peace agreement impossible, she said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Hezbollah-Sunni Extremists Agreement Frozen

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 20 — Only 24 hours after the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah and the Salafist Sunni movements, the later announced the “freezing” of the document, the Beirut media reported this morning. “We decided to freeze the memorandum of understanding because we need more time and further consultations in order to examine it,” Sheikh Hasan Shahhal, representative of the Salafist currents and signatory of the document last Monday with the head of the political office of Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, said. The pact was signed with the purpose of “bringing the Muslims back together” and “avoiding the repetition of the misunderstandings and the tension of the past”. At the time of the signing, Shahhal assured that the memorandum has already been approved by the leadership of the Sunni movement al-Mustaqbal, which leads the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority. But only a few hours later, representatives of al-Mustaqbal disowned Shahhal distancing themselves from the document. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said yesterday he was “surprised by the atmosphere of hostility triggered by the renewed approach of the two Lebanese parties”. Shiite militants of Hezbollah and their pro-Syrian allies carried out a military blitz against several Sunni neighbourhoods of Beirut last May, targeting in particular the key centres of al-Mustaqbal. Over 60 people were killed in the clashes that expanded to other areas of the country too. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran Bans Movie Star From Leaving for Hollywood

Farahani stars in “Body of Lies” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe (File)

Iran has banned an award-winning young actress from leaving the country over her appearance in a star-studded Hollywood production, the state news agency IRNA said on Wednesday.

“Golshifteh Farahani was banned from leaving by the authorities at the airport on Tuesday when she was about to leave for Hollywood to examine a new offer,” IRNA said quoting an informed source.

The state agency said the decision was prompted by her starring in Ridley Scott’s latest movie “Body of Lies” with Hollywood heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.

IRNA said Iranian actors are required to obtain a permit from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance in order to appear in foreign movies.

The 25-year-old Farahani is one of Iran’s most popular actresses. She has also starred in Kurdish director Bahman’s Ghobadi’s “Half Moon”, which won the 2006 Golden Seashell in the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Her appearance in “Body of Lies”, which tells the story of a CIA agent sent to Jordan to track down an al-Qaeda leader, marked the first by an actress living in Iran in a Hollywood production.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Syria: President Makes Official Visit to Russia

Moscow, 20 August (AKI) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in the Russian capital Moscow on Wednesday for a two-day official visit.

Al-Assad is expected to discuss the Middle East peace process and bilateral relations in talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday.

Al-Assad’s visit is taking place as Russia faces widespread international criticism for its armed occupation of neighboring Georgia.

It has rejected a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of its armed forces.

Russia’s military said this week Israel had supplied military vehicles and explosives to Georgia and helped to train its army.

Syria is reportedly interested in Russia’s Pantsyr-S1 Air Defence Missile systems, BUK-M1 surface-to-air medium-range missile system, military aircraft and other hardware.

But Moscow has been criticised for previous arms sales to the Middle Eastern state.

Israel and the US have long urged Russia not to sell weapons to Syria, which was a Moscow ally during the Cold War.

In an interview with Russian daily Kommersant ahead of his trip to Russia, al-Assad is reported to have accused the West of bias and misinformation regarding its Russia’s conflict with Georgia in order to isolate Moscow.

“On this issue we fully support Russia… Georgia started this crisis, but the West is blaming Russia,” said al-Assad.

“The war, which was triggered in Georgia, is the culmination of attempts to encircle and isolate Russia.”

(The west is guilty of ) “total disinformation, distorting facts and attempts at international isolation.”

In regard to closer military ties, the Syrian president said:

“Of course military and technical cooperation is the main issue. Weapons purchases are very important,” he said.

“I think we should speed it up. Moreover, the West and Israel continue to put pressure on Russia.”

Russia’s military claims that Israel supplied military vehicles and explosives to Georgia, and that it provided training for its army.

The visit is the third by al-Assad to Russia after holding talks in 2005 and 2006 with former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]


Gulf: Iran Like Israel as Regards Island Occupation, GCC

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 21 — Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdul Rahman al-Attiya accused Iran’s policy of “irresponsibility” as regards the territorial dispute for three small strategic islands, comparing it to the Israeli policy of occupation of the Palestinian territories. The news was reported by daily The National, quoting extracts of a television interview broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV late last night. “There should not be, at this delicate moment, any occupation like the one of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Al-Attiya stated speaking on behalf of the six Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE and Oman). “The GCC member states showed their good intentions inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the area and take part in our last summit,” he continued, harshly criticising Tehran’s silence after the clamour of protests of the past days following the announcement of the creation of new centres on Abu Musa Island, disputed, as well as Greater and Lesser Tunb, by Iran and the United Arab Emirates. The territorial dispute has been dragging on for more than 35 years and has recently gained particular international significance with Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. The three small islands are actually situated in the mouth of the strait, through which 40% of the world’s crude oil travels, and which Tehran is threatening to block if the policy of tightening the sanctions against its nuclear programme continues. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Lebanon: Daily Close to Hezbollah Accuses UNIFIL

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 21 — The soldiers of the U.N. force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) provoke the inhabitants in the south and do not respect the accords made regarding the recruitment rules and coordination with the Lebanese army, Beirut daily al-Akhbar, close to the Shiite movement Hezbollah, affirmed today. According to “official security reports”, quoted by the newspaper, “there are grave transgressions” by the blue berets operating between the Litani River and the Blue Line, the demarcation line with Israel, “as regards the recruitment rules and coordination with the army”. The daily quotes also “some mayors in the western sector, where the Italian battalion operates,” according to whom “the U.N. soldiers provoke the inhabitants with exaggerated and at times incomprehensible movements of means, pushing their units deep to the narrow streets of the villages and in the blind alleys, photographing any moving and unmoving thing, asking even the children news about the members of Hezbollah and their movements”.”With the youngest the blue berets behave as the Israeli army behaved during the massive invasion in 1982: they attract the children with sweets and toys,” the daily continues. The article ends with a warning: “The UNIFIL soldiers, who have already lost any hope to obtain information on the movements of the resistance and on the transportation of weapons, had better avoid any provocation as it is not in their interest. In case of a conflict with the people in the south, the UNIFIL soldiers would get the worst of it”. Contacted by ANSA, UNIFIL sources would rather not comment. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran’s Mission to Send Astronaut Into Orbit Sparks Fears it Wants to Put Weapons in Space

Iran has launched a mission to send its first astronaut into space within the decade. The Islamic Republic plans to send a manned rocket into space in the next 10 years, state television said on Thursday, just days after announcing it had put a dummy satellite into orbit..

The Republic has long held the goal of developing a space program, generating unease among world leaders already concerned about its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

U.S. security officials said Tehran’s attempted satellite launch was a failure that fell short of claimed successes, but an analyst said the test marked a technical advance for Iran. The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons.

Iran says it has no such intention.

“One of the aims of Iran’s 10-year space programme is to send a manned rocket into space,” state television quoted Reza Taghipour, the head of Iran’s aerospace organisation, as saying. “Within in the next six months to one year, the exact date of this mission will be determined,” he added.

Taghipour said Iran would cooperate with Islamic countries in building a satellite that television said would be called, Besharat, meaning ‘good news’. He also said Iran was working with Russia and other Asian states to launch another satellite.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan Bombers Hit Arms Factory

At least 63 people have been killed and dozens injured in twin suicide bombings outside Pakistan’s main munitions factory in the town of Wah, police say.

The attack is the deadliest on a military site in Pakistan’s history.

The bombs hit the town, some 30km (18 miles) north-west of Islamabad, as workers were leaving the factory.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taleban said they had carried out the attacks, which he said were a response to army

Speaking to the BBC, Maulvi Umar of the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan said the bombings in Wah were in retaliation for the deaths of “innocent women and children” in the tribal area of Bajaur.

He said more attacks would take place in Pakistan’s major urban conurbations unless the army withdrew from the tribal areas.

Pakistani Prime Minister Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani promised to punish the perpetrators.

Wah is a strategically important town normally under heavy security as it is home to a large industrial complex producing conventional arms and ammunition, correspondents say.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Islamic Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir Call for Union With Pakistan

— the effect of failed policies of Manmohan Singh

The terrorists of Kashmir, in the name of Islam called for a union with Pakistan — the epicenter of terrorism. What happened is the net result of failed policies of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. The terror operators only understand the signature of strength. They do not understand the meaning of amicable compromise.

This is exactly what happens when you try and get Muslim votes by hook and crook and make alliance with pro-Pakistani PDP to control power and money. Ultimately, when these so called Jihadists keep killing Hindus and proclaim their allegiance and parenthood to Pakistan, the UPA coalition becomes the biggest laughing stock after the cash for vote scam.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani Monday demanded the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan, as leaders of the moderate Hurriyat faction spoke about independence and a dialogue over the state.

Kashmir is integral part of India. Every Indian is ready to die to check Pakistan, China and anyone else that try to insult Mother India. It is time to say Jai Hind. It is time to chant Bande Ma Taram.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Carnage as Pakistan Arms Site Bombed

Twin suicide bombers last night attacked one of Pakistan’s most protected military targets, causing heavy casualties among workers at an arms manufacturing complex at Wah, outside Islamabad. Initial reports said at least 64 people were killed and 80 injured, many of them critically, in the blasts, which were timed for the end of a shift.

Officials said the toll was likely to increase considerably, as witnesses reported bodies strewn around the gates. Army units immediately threw a heavy security cordon around the cantonment area and a red alert was sounded across the country, amid warnings that more suicide attacks may be imminent.

The Wah complex, one of Asia’s biggest with more than 20 arms and ordnance factories, employs between 25,000 and 30,000 workers. In addition to supplying the needs of Pakistan’s armed forces, it exports to about 30 countries.

The Wah ordnance factory, close to the historic archeological site of Taxila, is one of Pakistan’s most sensitive military areas and stringent security measures are always in force.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippine Autonomy Deal Scrapped

The Philippine government has pulled out of a controversial autonomy deal with Muslim separatist rebels in the south, following days of fighting. A presidential spokeswoman described the move as a “painful step”, but said leaders were still open to talks.

The government had agreed to expand an existing Muslim autonomous zone in a bid to end decades of violence. But Christian communities opposed the deal and when the Supreme Court blocked it, the rebels launched attacks.

Earlier this week, raids by guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on several towns near the border of the existing autonomous zone in the southern island of Mindanao left at least 30 people dead.

The government had hoped that the autonomy deal — which would see the existing region expanded by 712 villages — would kick-start talks with the rebels. But on 4 August the Supreme Court suspended the agreement after Christian lawmakers argued it was unconstitutional and would increase sectarian tensions.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting, villages have been burned and shops looted. President Arroyo “will seek a new agreement within the boundaries of law set within the constitution,” she said. “Furthermore, the president will not allow adventurism by MILF forces to pressure government to sign any agreement even if it is for peace.”

More than 100,000 people have been killed in almost four decades of fighting in the south.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Jury Hears of ‘Do-It-Yourself Jihad’ Book

A do-it-yourself jihad book provided terrorists with the basics of a “recipe for disaster”, a Sydney jury has been told. Giving evidence at the trial of Belal Saadallah Khazaal today, US international terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann agreed the book did not give instructions on how to make explosives or poisonous materials.

But he told crown prosecutor Peter Neil, SC, it could be used by “homegrown cells’’ in combination with such instructions as could be found elsewhere. “It is a recipe for disaster when you mix them together you have a cocktail for a terrorist attack,’’ he said in the NSW Supreme Court.

Khazaal, of Lakemba in Sydney’s southwest, has pleaded not guilty to knowingly making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act. He also had denied attempting to incite the commission of a terrorist act.

Khazaal is accused of producing a 110-page book in September 2003 and later causing it to be posted on an internet website. The book is titled: Provisions on the rules of jihad — short judicial rulings and organisational instructions for fighters and mujadideen against infidels.

Mr Kohlmann told the jury the book was “do-it-yourself jihad’’. He said some assassination methods listed in the book had been used in successful terrorist acts, while others had been used in attempted acts.

Mr Kohlmann said items on his website were “carefully edited examples’’ and terrorists would be “terribly ill advised’’ to visit his site, as he monitors the identity of all users. He agreed the site had an item about suicide vests, but he said it only referred to how to sew them, not other details.

Asked about a beheading shown on his site, Mr Kohlmann said he had cut most of it out and only shown someone sitting in front of men and then “a guy picking up the knife’’. He had placed the material on the site to show people beheadings did happen.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Italy: Illegal Immigrants Arrive South of Sicily

Lampedusa, 21 August (AKI) — A vessel carrying 355 illegal immigrants arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa near Sicily on Thursday.

Members of the Italian coast guard spotted the vessel 30 nautical miles south of Sicily. Among the immigrants were 53 women and 13 children.

All were transferred to the island’s temporary reception centre.

Their arrival came a day after a report said that hundreds of illegal immigrant children had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa in the past three months without parents or family members.

The report was issued by the non-governmental organisation Save the Children Italy.

Italy has the European Union’s longest coastline — 4,500 kilometres — making it difficult to police and a preferred destination for migrants.

Lampedusa is a tiny island that is closer to Africa than the European continent and a favourite drop off point for the people smugglers.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]


Immigration and Births to Non-British Mothers Pushes UK Population to Record High

The rate of immigration into the UK has soared to record levels with more than 600,000 people arriving last year — more than double the level when Labour came to power. Government statisticians said the nation’s population rose to just under 61million by mid-2007, up by almost two million since 2001.

As well as record immigration, the number of UK residents leaving to settle abroad leaped to 406,000 — also the highest level since records began, leaving net immigration of just under 200,000.

While immigration now accounts for 52 per cent of population growth, officials said the huge number of immigrants in recent years were now driving a dramatic increase in the UK birth rate — which as a result is set to take over as the main driver behind the soaring population within the next year or two.

In some parts of the country well over half of all babies are born to mothers from outside the UK, with the highest figure of 75 per cent found in the London borough of Newham. The rate of growth meant around one million people were being added to the country’s population each year — the equivalent of a city the size of Birmingham — and was consistent with earlier projections predicting a population of 71 million by 2031.

Mr Goodwin said a rise in the birth rate — 84,000 more babies born last year than in 2001 — was also contributing significantly, but migration was again a key factor, accounting for births by foreign born women.

He said the inflow of migrants into Britain was at the “highest recorded” level and added: “It translates into 1,650 people a day coming into the country.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

General

Not Only is Freedom of Speech Threatened by Muslims, So is Freedom of Religion

How incredibly horrible it is that American soldiers are being killed in an effort to export “democracy” to Iraq and Afghanistan while Muslims are exporting Sharia law to western Countries. To us freedom is free speech and free religion. Muslims are using the UN to limit criticism of Islam globally, which basically means putting the entire world under Islamic rule and denying religious freedom in the process.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Book About Muhammed’s Bride Aisha May be Published in Denmark

Denmark’s FreeSpeech Library reacted immediately after book was turned down by publishers in the US and Serbia due to Muslim threats

By Lars Hedegaard


The Copenhagen daily Berlingske Tidende www.berlingske.dk/article/20080820/kultur/708200045 was first with the news that The Free Speech Library has offered to publish a Danish edition of the American writer Sherry Jones’ controversial book about Muhammed’s favourite wife Aisha.

The publisher’s spokesperson Helle Merete Brix tell Berlingske Tidende that The Free Speech Library has been in contact with Sherry Jones’ agent and received a preliminary, positive response.

In a mail to The Free Speech Library Ms. Jones’ agent Natasha Kern expresses her appreciation that a Danish publisher is prepared to stand up for free speech after all that Denmark has already been through.

Sherry Jones originally signed a contract with the major US publisher Random House, but after warnings that the book might offend radical Muslims, the Random House decided to cancel the contract.

A spokesman for Random House said that it would not jeopardise the security of the author or its own employees. Ms Sherry expressed her surprise over this reaction, particularly because the book was not intended to offend. According to the author it paints a positive picture of Muhammed and Islam.

Among the sharp critics of Random House’s decision are the novelist Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, responsible for the famous drawing of a prophet with a bomb in his turban. Westergaard expresses his dismay that “one of the large publishers that is now bowing to intimidation. That is not a good omen for free speech. If the major publishers loose their nerve then I’m afraid that others will follow suit. The big publishers ought to set a good example. The fanatics have won.”

A Serbian publisher had also decided to print the book, but after protests from Muslim circles, is withdrew 1.000 books from the bookstores. Muslims in Serbia have subsequently accepted the publisher’s apology.

The Free Speech Library is an independent company under its own management but with close ties to Denmark’s Free Press Society — an organisation devoted to the protection of free speech.

Among the Library’s coming publications is a up-dated Danish translation of Bruce Bawer’s noted book entitled While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

5 comments:

Natalie said...

Hello, Gates of Vienna commenters. I have had a hiatus because of travelling but I just thought I'd stop by now since I've got a chance...

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

You picked a great moment. I think world war three might just be starting on here...

knldgskr said...

Am I getting old or does England have different 4 letter words? For the life of me I can't see what "twit" could have been. Give me a clue.

Robin Shadowes said...

I think that if they have just changed one letter, then I assume they mean the word twat which is a typical british swear word. I have heard it many times in comedy series on tv which also must be viewed by younger audiences as well, so I can't really see the problem here. My guess is that this lady is some stiff upper lip conservative xian old bag. :P

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Nah, twit comes from the old english ætwītan, whic means "to reproach towards". :)