Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101222

Financial Crisis
»Citigroup Fears Fresh Wave of Sovereign Defaults and Bank Failures in Eurozone
»Greece: Tough Christmas for Athens Shopkeepers
»Italy: Workers Pessimistic About Pension Plan
»Record £10bn Drop in UK Exports Blamed on ‘Banker Bashing’
»UK GDP Growth Revised Down, Fears for Austerity Britain
»ATF to Require Dealers to Report Bulk Semiautomatic Rifle Sales
»Confronting the Truth About Homegrown Radical Islamic Terrorists
»Deal for 9/11 Health Bill Reached in Senate
»Senate Passes Arms Control Treaty With Russia, 71-26
»Terrorizing Our Own
»Top US Intelligence Chief ‘Unaware of British Terror Threat’
Europe and the EU
»France: Corsica is Bloodiest Region in Europe, Press
»Germany Grows Tired of Leading Europe on Climate Change
»Germany & France Block Bulgaria & Romania From Visa-Free Travel Zone
»Islamic Terrorist Organization Recruits Norwegian Somali Youths
»Italy: All 23 Arrested During Rome Riot Out of Jail
»Italy: Berlusconi’s Daughter Upset by Sex Scandals
»Muslim Fundamentalist Group Launched in the Netherlands
»Stockholm Bombing: We Need Action Not Just Words to Prevent it Happening Again
»Sweden: Shopkeeper Whose Store Cameras Provided the Vital Footage of Stockholm Jihad Bomber Told to “Remove Cameras”
»Swedish Community Demands Protection
»The Rise of North Yemeni Islamism in Birmingham, U.K.
»Top Terrorist’s Wife Tells German Court: I Raised the Funds
»UK: Abu Hamza’s Daughter-in-Law Arrested ‘Trying to Smuggle Sim Card Into Belmarsh Prison Under Her Burka’
»UK: Benefits Christmas: Single Mother Eloise Spends £3,000 to Give Her Four Children Everything They Want for Christmas. And Guess What? You’re Paying for it.
»UK: Christmas Gifts Could be Illegal Under Bribery Act, Says Pwc
»UK: Gang Who Battered Pedestrian With Crowbar in Brutal Road Rage Attack Jailed for Nearly 20 Years
»UK: Met Police Officers Suffered ‘Worst Violence in 30 Years’ During Student Riots
»UK: Men Accused of Burning Poppies Deny Charge
»UK: Police Slammed for Failing to Spot a Car Containing Dead Body for Three Days
»UK: School Caretaker Harassed After Islamists Hack EDL
»Vatican: Pope Calls for Church to Reflect on What Led to ‘Unimaginable’ Abuse
»Wales: ‘Christmas Bomb Plotters Were Radicalised in Jail’
»WikiLeaks: USA ‘Pressured’ Italy on Calipari Case
»World’s Cartoonists Thrash Dutch Anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders
»Montenegro: GDP 41% of EU Average
Mediterranean Union
»Syria: 30 Million Euros From France for Infrastructures
North Africa
»Egypt: Press: Network Spying for Israel Uncovered
»Fatwa by Egyptian Wahabi Group to Kill Elbaradei, Anhri
»Libya: Appeal by Milan Academic, Berber Scholars Seized
Israel and the Palestinians
»Christmas Trees ‘Provocative: ‘ Nazareth Suburb’s Mayor
Middle East
»Christians Senselessly Tormented by Extremists in Muslim World
»From Lebanon: Egypt, Syria and Israel With Love
»Iraq: Around “1,100” Christian Families Have Fled to Kurdish North
»Syrian Leader Says EU Must Accept Turkey
»Turkish Man Goes on Trial for Plot to Kill Rabbis
South Asia
»Afghan Sex Practices Concern U.S., British Forces
»Afghan Taliban Leadership Splintered by Intense US Military Campaign
»WikiLeaks: Bangladeshi ‘Death Squad’ Trained by British Government
Australia — Pacific
»WikiLeaks Cables: US Intervened in Michael Moore NZ Screening
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: Imam Predicts Doom in 2011
Latin America
»Luis Fleischman: A Closer Look at Brazil’s Foreign Policy
»New Census Data Reveal Immigration is Fueling Runaway U.S. Population Growth
»Switzerland: Ex-Illegal Immigrant Shares Her Story
Culture Wars
»UK: ‘Christmas is Evil’: Muslim Group Launches Poster Campaign Against Festive Period
»UK: Christian NHS Worker Could be Sacked for Handing Out Books on Risks of Abortion
»Objective Islam, Subjective Islam
»OIC Chief Affirms Need for Strong Islamic Media

Financial Crisis

Citigroup Fears Fresh Wave of Sovereign Defaults and Bank Failures in Eurozone

Professor Willem Buiter, the bank’s chief economist and a former UK rate-setter, said the eurozone is paralysed by a “game of chicken” between the European Central Bank and EMU governments in charge of fiscal policy. Both sides are trying to shift responsibility onto the other for shoring up Southern Europe and Ireland, raising the risk of widening contagion. “The market is not going to wait until March for the EU authorities to get their act together. We could have several sovereign states and banks going under. They are being far too casual.” he said. “This is a combined sovereign and banking crisis and that is a poisonous cocktail. The policy response has been woefully inadequate. There is a very small pot of money for a very big crisis,” said Dr Buiter. Dr Buiter described the EU’s rescue fund as an “insolvency machine” because it charges punitive rates of 6pc, preventing high-debt countries from clawing their way out of their trap. “I don’t know why they bothered to create it,” he said. Mark Schofield, Citigroup’s global head of interest rate strategy, said Portugal will need an EU rescue soon and that it is “highly likely that Spain will go the same way”. This risks over-powering the €440bn bail-out fund.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Greece: Tough Christmas for Athens Shopkeepers

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 14 — The worst Christmas period of the last decade is what is being forecast for Athens shopkeepers, in particular for those whose shops are in the centre of the capital. So said Antonis Makris of Greece’s Association of the retail sales businesses to the online newspaper Since the beginning of the year, retail sales have presented a reduction of 15-17%. This is a percentage that, according to Makris, will be significantly increased if the centre of the capital is not freed from the continual protest demonstrations. In addition, according to the National Trade Confederation, during the Christmas holidays this year, sales will record a contraction of 3 billion euros, caused by the reduction in consumers’ incomes, the increase in the number of unemployed people and direct taxes during the last quarter of 2010.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Workers Pessimistic About Pension Plan

Rome, 20 Dec. (AKI) — Italian’s public pensions may fall short of supporting retirees’ lifestyles as supplementary plans fail to attract investors and government expenditure cuts reduced public funds, Italy’s central bank said on its website.

Young workers may not be able to sustain the same standard of living, according to the Bank of Italy report.

The study, a survey of 8,000 Italian families, is conducted every two years.

In 2008, Italian workers said they expected their future public pension to be on average about 64 percent of their last salary and only 20 percent of them were participating in complementary plans, the study shows.

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

Record £10bn Drop in UK Exports Blamed on ‘Banker Bashing’

Official figures show the biggest ever drop in UK exports of financial services — down by £10bn or one fifth in a year — according to a leading economist who blames banker bashing critics in Government and the media. Cynics may well ask if the economist is worried about his own end of year bonus. But Tim Congdon, founder of the respected think tank International Monetary Research, has based his analysis on Central Statistical Office figures which are difficult to question. They show that between the peak in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2008 and Q2 2010, quarterly exports of the UK’s financial services fell from almost £15bn to less than £10bn. Exports in the year to Q1 2010 were more than £10b lower than in the previous year, a figure equal to about 0.75 per cent of Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of economic output. Mr Congdon points out: “Given that Asian centres have had a great 2010, the official data suggest that the UK’s international financial services industry is being badly hit by officialdom’s assault. “The UK’s bankers are about to negotiate with their government about how much they can pay their executives and staff. Numerous press reports have appeared that the LibDems are putting pressure on the Conservatives to be ‘tough on the City’. “Who were those naive fools who thought that, under an allegedly Conservative government, market forces would be allowed to determine the pay of City bankers as well as that of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole?”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK GDP Growth Revised Down, Fears for Austerity Britain

The Office for National Statistics said UK GDP grew 0.7pc between July and September, down from the 0.8pc previously estimated. Year-on-year, growth was revised down to 2.7pc from 2.8pc. Economists had expected growth to be unrevised at 0.8pc on the quarter and 2.8pc on the year. The ONS blamed the revision on weaker outturns for production industries, construction and business services and finance. Growth in the second quarter was also revised down to 1.1pc from the 1.2pc previously reported following data which showed a surge in construction was not as strong as initially thought. Vicky Redwood of Capital Economics: “The raft of UK data do little to improve the prospects for the economy next year … The upshot is that a continued strong recovery seems far from assured — we expect GDP growth of just 1.5pc next year.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


ATF to Require Dealers to Report Bulk Semiautomatic Rifle Sales

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Friday requested emergency permission to require that gun dealers report to them bulk sales of the high-powered semiautomatic rifles favored by drug cartels — all part of the Administration’s effort to combat the flow of guns to Mexico.

It is a plan that had languished for months at the Justice Department because of concerns over what the National Rifle Association (NRA) might think. The Washington Post reports now that it was held up by the White House in the spring — around the same time that President Barack Obama promised Mexican President Felipe Calderon he’d work to prevent gunrunning south of the border.

The effort, sources told the newspaper, was shelved by Rahm Emanuel, then-White House chief of staff. The plan “was perceived as too volatile just before midterm elections,” the Post reported. But the plan made it into the Federal Register last week after ATF Deputy Director Kenneth Melson asked DOJ to try again.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Confronting the Truth About Homegrown Radical Islamic Terrorists

New York Republican Congressman Peter King, the incoming chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is being criticized by the usual suspects on the Left for his plan to hold congressional hearings on the radicalization of some in the U.S. Muslim community. Alan Colmes, appearing on The O’Reilly Factor last night, typified the Left’s kneejerk reaction when he accused King of bigotry for singling out radical Muslims. Bill O’Reilly also played a clip in which Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, joined the politically correct chorus against Congressional hearings on homegrown Islamic terrorism:

Congressman King has said a number of things that are disturbing. I think that he should demonstrate that he is not on a witch-hunt to just get the Muslim community.

But Congressman King refuses to ignore the obvious — the global Islamic jihadist war that is sucking in radicalized Muslim-Americans. This organized terrorist threat, fueled by radical Islamic ideology, is far greater than isolated instances of individual nutcases motivated by their own personal demons such as Timothy McVeigh or the fellow who flew a plane into an IRS building.

Bill O’Reilly had it right when he said during his “Talking Points” segment last night:

Individual terrorism is far different from Islamic jihad as Mr. Ellison and CAIR well know. The Muslim jihad worldwide has killed tens of thousands of people… Islamic theocracies like Iran are threatening the world.

So to say that Muslim terrorism inside the USA should not be scrutinized because a few non-Muslims have engaged in terrorism is insane. In the past two years, 24 Muslim terror plots have been exposed in this country.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Deal for 9/11 Health Bill Reached in Senate

A deal has been reached in the Senate to approve a bill that covers the cost of medical care for rescue workers and other individuals who became sick after breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at the site of the 2001 attacks on the the World Trade Center.

The action was a dramatic turn of events for a bill that stalled in the upper chamber. Only 12 days ago, Senate Republicans blocked the bill from coming to the floor for a vote after raising concerns about its $7.4 billion cost.

But Republicans eventually backed down after facing a barrage of criticism — not just from Democrats but also from traditional Republican allies, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and conservative news outlets like Fox News.

[Return to headlines]

Senate Passes Arms Control Treaty With Russia, 71-26

The Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a new arms control treaty with Russia, scaling back leftover cold war nuclear arsenals and capping a surprisingly successful lame-duck session for President Obama just weeks after his party’s electoral debacle.

The 71 to 26 vote sends the treaty, known as New Start, to the president for his signature, and cements what is probably the most tangible foreign policy achievement of Mr. Obama’s two years in office. Thirteen Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus to vote in favor, exceeding the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution.

The ratification vote was the third bipartisan victory for the president in the waning days of the session, while Democrats still control both houses of Congress.

[Return to headlines]

Terrorizing Our Own

Airline travelers flying the unfriendly skies are presented with two options, that are actually only a single option, to have themselves and their children degraded in public in order to spare Muslim feelings. That we have a ban on profiling travelers, but no ban on molesting or humiliating them, tells us everything we need to know about why we have the current system that we do.

In a war we terrorize the enemy. In a siege we terrorize our own. And we have been terrorizing our own for a long time now. In 1999, we dropped thousands of tons of explosives on Yugoslavia, bombing trains, fuel depots, homes, bridges and people. We did that in order to give the Muslim drug dealing terrorists of the KLA their own state. Today that state is a gateway for drug trafficking and sex slaves into Europe, and a training ground for terrorists.

Since 1991, we have been bribing, intimidating and pressuring Israel to give the Muslim-Marxist terrorists of the PLO their own state. Flip open any newspaper and you can find articles and editorials dripping with outrage because after 18 years of terrorism, the terrorists still haven’t gotten their own state.

Now we’re terrorizing ordinary Americans for being critical of Islam. Drop a bible in the toilet, and you’ve created art. Drop a Koran in the toilet, and you’ve committed a hate crime. What’s the difference? Muslim privilege. Offending Jews or Christians results in strongly worded letters. Offending Muslims results in murder. And to avoid murder, we privilege Muslims. We give them special rights. We ban criticism of their ideology. We refuse to publish cartoons that will touch off their homicidal urges.

But we go beyond that still.

We molest 3 year olds in airports, because we can’t possibly screen Muslim terrorists. No, we must spread the abuse and humiliation to ordinary Americans, so that the people who are trying to kill us never feel bad about it.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Top US Intelligence Chief ‘Unaware of British Terror Threat’

James Clapper, President Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, was taking part in a joint interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News on Tuesday, along with John Brennan, White House anti-terrorism chief, and Janet Napolitano, Director of Homeland Security. “First of all, London,” Sawyer asked. “How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here?” Mr Clapper, a retired lieutenant general in the United States Air Force, was silent for several seconds and then quietly turned his head to his colleagues, asking them: “London?” Mr Brennan stepped in to explain that the British had informed American officials about the plot, revealed publicly several hours earlier. “Oh,” Mr Clapper said. Attempting to retrieve the situation, Mr Brennan said to Sawyer: “You referenced London but you didn’t talk about the arrests.” The Obama administration said on Tuesday night that Sawyer’s question was “ambiguous” and that Mr Clapper’s knowledge of worldwide threats was “profound and multidimensional”. By Wednesday morning, however, the White House admitted Mr Clapper had not been briefed about the arrests. Mr Brennan said: “I’m glad that Jim Clapper is not sitting in front of the TV 24 hours a day and monitoring what’s coming out of the media. What he is doing is focusing on those intelligence issues the president expects him to focus on.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Corsica is Bloodiest Region in Europe, Press

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 15 — “Corsica is the bloodiest region in Europe” is the title of a long article published today in the French daily newspaper Le Parisien, according to which the French island “is the region of European where the most murders take place. More than in Sicily, the cradle of the mafia, considered to be the continent’s most violent region.” In 15 years, explains Le Parisien, 558 murders have been recorded, on an island of 220,000 inhabitants. Today members of parliament from the ‘Ile de Beaute’, as the French call it, are meeting to try to find a solution against large-scale crime. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany Grows Tired of Leading Europe on Climate Change

For the Cancun climate change agreement to be effective, the European Union would have to further cut greenhouse gas emissions. Germany, though, no longer wants to be the model EU pupil and is asking others in the club to step up.

The atmosphere was jovial and party-like in Cancun, Mexico as the United Nations Climate Change Conference came to an end. Attendees from around the world clapped rhythmically and the host, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, was glorified as a “goddess.” Everyone was relieved that the meeting did not end in failure as the climate summit in Copenhagen had.

Now, though, the European Union faces several tough decisions — and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is at the center of the wrangling. She no longer wants to play the role that the other 26 EU member states have come to expect of her — Germany doesn’t want to be Europe’s leader on climate protection anymore.

Germany is the only country in the EU to have committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020, relative to 1990 levels. Other countries in the club are appreciative of Berlin’s pledge — but none have followed the example. As a block, the EU has committed to reducing its emissions by just 20 percent, a target which includes Germany’s ambitious reduction goals.

Vague Targets

The climate summit in Cancun, however, upped the pressure on the EU to raise the common target from 20 to 30 percent. According to the Cancun agreement, only those countries which are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol must commit to emissions reduction targets — to be reached by 2020. The European Union and other Kyoto countries vowed to follow the lead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has called for reductions of between 25 percent and 40 percent below 1990 levels. The US and China, which are not subject to the Kyoto commitments, escaped with vague targets. Kyoto Protocol signatories such as Japan, Canada, Australia and Russia have indicated that they will not intensify their CO2 reduction targets.

Economist Reimund Schwarze of the government-funded Climate Service Center in Hamburg feels that the EU has an obligation, if only from a computational standpoint: “Under the Cancun package, 30 percent is set for the EU, and perhaps it will even have to be substantially higher.” Given the Cancun agreement, environment organizations believe that a solo effort of the part of the EU may even be the only way to reduce global CO2 emissions. They are calling on European leaders to increase the EU target in the spring…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany & France Block Bulgaria & Romania From Visa-Free Travel Zone

Germany and France have voiced their concerns to the European Commission over letting Bulgaria and Romania to join Europe’s visa-free travel zone.

Both countries feel that it is too soon for them to sign the Schengen Agreement and that a wrong decision could have ‘grave consequences’ for the bloc’s security.

But the warning by Europe’s political and economic heavyweights received an angry reception in the continent’s southeast where Romania’s president, Traian Băsescu, sharply criticised it as ‘discrimination’. A spokesman for Germany’s interior ministry said minister Thomas de Maiziere and his French counterpart Brice Hortefeux agree the two countries, which joined the EU in 2007, do not yet fulfill the requirements for entering the continent’s visa-free travel zone.

More than 400 million citizens are able to travel without border checks within the so-called Schengen Area, which covers 25 EU member states, as well as three non-EU members — Iceland, Norway and Switzerland — but does not include Britain and Ireland.

Living outside the Schengen Area — named after the small wine-making village and commune in far south-eastern Luxembourg where the agreement was signed in 1985 — means more hassle for travellers and doing business is more complicated.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islamic Terrorist Organization Recruits Norwegian Somali Youths

Islamic Somali militant group Al-Shabaab is actively recruiting young Scandinavians to join its terror network. At least five Norwegian-Somalis are involved with the organization.

An anonymous informant in Gothenburg that broke away from Al-Shabaab tells NRK that members of the group recruit young Somalis living in Scandinavia.

“It happens in mosques, but Imams are not involved. Other, less visible people come to mosques to recruit youngsters who are vulnerable and easily-led.”

Last Saturday’s suicide bomb attack in the heart of Stockholm put the possibility of terror firmly on the Norwegian menu, according to the Police Security Service (PST). It suspects fundraising for the organization is taking place in Norwegian territory.

Janne Kristiansen, head of the PST, has previously warned that terror organizations in Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are recruiting Norwegian youths.

Leader of the Somali Network in Norway, Bashe Musse, says he knows of specific cases where parents have travelled with their children to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab. He is concerned what might happen if they return here and meet the Norwegian values.

“It might be tough for them to accept our society, dress, freedom of speech, and such things. I do not know what they can do, but I’m afraid they might blow themselves up,” he says.


Somali expert Stig Jarle Hansen, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås, is also concerned. He says his sources in Somalia tell him there are five or six Norwegian Somalis fighting for Al-Shabaab.

“I am worried that some of those who are taken down there and come back to Norway will return with a different mindset than before they left.

Bashe Musse believes second-generation Norwegian-Somalis are more vulnerable to extremist ideologies because of the language and cultural barrier. Often, their parents only speak their mother tongue.

“There is an emotional distance between parents and children, and communication is not present at all,” he says.

He believes the key to fighting any recruitment attempts by terrorist organizations is for parents to develop closer relationships to their children.

“They should know who and where their children are. A lot of Somali parents know little about them.”

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

Italy: All 23 Arrested During Rome Riot Out of Jail

Mayor blasts releases as ‘unjust’

(ANSA) — Rome, December 16 — All of the 23 protesters arrested during Tuesday’s riot in Rome are out of jail after a court ordered the release of 11 people on Thursday, sparking outrage from Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

One of the protesters is under house arrest but the other 22 are free while their cases are dealt with after violence on the day of a crunch confidence vote Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government won.

“I’m forced to protest in the name of the city of Rome against the decision to release almost all of those facing charges for Tuesday’s incidents,” said Alemanno, who estimated Wednesday that the riot caused 20 million euros of damage. “There is a profound sense of injustice about these decisions because the damage caused to the city and seriousness of the incidents require a very different type of firmness in the magistrates’ judgement of those allegedly responsible”. On Tuesday hooded youths infiltrated what was meant to be a peaceful student demonstration against the government and its bill to reform Italy’s higher education system before unleashing mayhem that left over 100 hurt, 57 police and 62 protesters.

They attacked police with clubs, stones, smoke bombs and paint, set alight cars, police vans and barricades they had set up and trashed one of the capital’s main shopping streets, smashing windows and throwing around everything in their path.

Alemanno has compared the scenes to the political violence and terrorism Italy endured in the 1970s and 80s, the so-called ‘years of lead’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi’s Daughter Upset by Sex Scandals

But 26-year-old Barbara still trusts her dad

(By Romina Spina) (ANSA) — Rome, December 21 — Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter Barbara said she was bitter at the recent sex scandals involving the Italian Premier but added that, while she did not agree with her father’s conduct, she still trusted him.

“These events saddened me and it’s difficult for me to talk about it,” 26-year-old Barbara said in an interview to be published Wednesday by the Italian edition of Vanity Fair. “I would like readers to put themselves in my shoes. “I obviously don’t agree with certain kinds of behaviour, but I also have to believe my father’s side of things,” Barbara Berlusconi said. Silvio Berlusconi has traded on a playboy image throughout his political career and has come through a series of recent sex scandals largely unscathed, boasting that he loves pretty girls and has never paid for sex. He defended himself from allegations this year that under-age girls were present and sex was involved at parties at his home, saying the call girl who made them and others who have made similar claims, had been paid to do so.

In the interview, Barbara Berlusconi also spoke out against some women politicians in her father’s entourage, expressing doubts about their abilities. She attacked Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna, criticizing her recent remarks denouncing political chauvinism she claimed to be victim of in Italy.

Carfagna, a former model and television starlet who was made a minister of Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition in 2006, should “have the decency to shut up”, the premier’s daughter said. “If she feels discriminated against — she went from TV awards to becoming a minister — that is just preposterous”.

Barbara Berlusconi added that “seeing certain girls in (government) staff cars isn’t good for the country’s image, because it’s hard to grasp why they deserve to be there”. Nevertheless, Barbara defended the premier saying that the Italian people voted for him.

Barbara is the eldest of the three children Silvio Berlusconi had with actress Veronica Lario. In the past, she has spoken about her parents’ divorce describing it as a painful affair for both. She spoke of her family as being “a fine one” and said she wanted to be close to both her parents.

Asked if her parents had shared a “great love”, Berlusconi replied “I’m certain it was the case for my mother”. The premier and Lario became involved 30 years ago and had their children while Berlusconi was still married to his first wife. They eventually married in 1990. Lario, 20 years the premier’s junior at 54, announced plans to seek a divorce in 2008 amid allegations of Berlusconi’s involvement with other women. Lario lodged a request for official separation in November 2009. The couple must wait three years from the date at which the separation is legally recognized before a divorce can be finalized. According to reports, Lario was keen to ensure her three children Barbara, Eleanora and Luigi would be guaranteed a role in Berlusconi’s business empire on a level with that of his children from his first marriage to Carla Dall’Oglio, Marina and Piersilvio. Barbara Berlusconi brushed off rumours of possible hereditary settlement issues between Marina and Piersilvio and Lario’s children.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Muslim Fundamentalist Group Launched in the Netherlands

A group — Sharia4Holland — calling on Muslims to fight for the setting up of a Dutch Islamic state has started operating openly in the Netherlands, writes the Protestant daily newspaper, Trouw.

The group, which has split from Sharia4Belgium, wants Islamic sharia law to be introduced in the Netherlands. Dutch National Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Erik Akerboom and the Dutch AIVD intelligence agency say they are aware of the group and its activities. Mr Akerboom believes it is too soon to intervene. “As far as we are aware, no crimes have as yet been committed,” he tells the paper.

He declines to go into the scale of the group or who might be behind it. It is to be found on the internet, including on YouTube and facebook, where Sharia4Holland says it is “a group of young people from the Netherlands” who are prepared to fight for the law of Allah.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Stockholm Bombing: We Need Action Not Just Words to Prevent it Happening Again

It could have ended badly. Really badly. If the young man, Taimour Abdulwahab, who blew himself up in Stockholm a week ago, had succeeded he could have killed and injured hundreds of people. Either he was a complete amateur or something unexpected happened. The only one he killed was himself.

What went through his mind in his last minutes we cannot say. He had prepared a statement, as suicide bombers normally do. The Swedish people should be punished for all the suffering we have caused Muslims, especially in Afghanistan. Children, women, Muslims; it did not matter. All those walking on the streets should die. Most likely he believed that his cause was just.

This is the first suicide bomber in Scandinavia and I am surprised that so many are — surprised. It reminds me of when the passenger jets crashed into the towers in New York. I never understood the surprise that followed. Wasn’t this exactly what we had expected? A situation where the extreme, the desperate and the furious attacked the western world that for so long had humiliated Muslim countries. An attack that would be understandable but nevertheless wrong and worthy of condemnation.

I remember thinking to myself that the reaction in many cases was completely honest. But in other cases it was more a question of covering up the fact that those in charge of security had not made the correct assessment of different threats and the information at hand.

I am not saying that the Swedish security police should have detected Abdulwahab: I am certain it is impossible to monitor all those who might be preparing a terrorist attack. But the reaction of surprise suggests that many Swedish people do not fully realise what this extremism can lead to. There have been warnings. The Swedish artist Lars Vilks, for example, has ridiculed Islam and the Prophet in some of his work. It was well known that some people wanted to kill him, but no one really believed that the threat would mean something even more serious.

However, many people in Sweden seem unable to grasp that by having troops in Afghanistan we are now the enemies of the extremists. Our troops should never have been sent there. I am not saying that I am afraid of extremists. But I do not want Swedish soldiers to fight a war that is not ours, but that of the United States’.

The reaction from leading Muslims in Sweden was unusually good and unusually fast. At the Friday prayers a couple of days after the bombing, the country’s leading Imam condemned the attack. Other Muslim organisations also reacted strongly against the attack. The problem is that this is not enough. When the mass media invokes an anti-Islamic opposition, the reaction from leading Muslims is inadequate. It is perfectly clear that words are no longer enough. As always, the action has to prove the word, not the other way around.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Shopkeeper Whose Store Cameras Provided the Vital Footage of Stockholm Jihad Bomber Told to “Remove Cameras”

(UKPA) A shopkeeper whose security cameras gave police vital video footage of the Stockholm suicide bomber has been told to remove them because he does not have the correct permit. Naresh Lakhwani owns a watch store in the shopping district where the bomber blew himself up and injured two people on December 11. Mr Lakhwani said that security cameras he had installed outside the store caught the bomber on tape before the explosion and he did not hesitate to hand it over to police. “I have pretty much the whole sequence of events on there, with the bomber running up and down the street,” he said. He said investigators were grateful for the tape, but that did not stop the County Administrative Board, which handles permits for security cameras, from taking action. A legal expert at the board, Cecilia Forssell, said it had ordered Mr Lakhwani to remove the equipment after receiving several complaints.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Swedish Community Demands Protection

The Swedish Jewish community has appealed to the authorities for greater security provision after an Islamic suicide bomber struck a busy shopping street in the capital, Stockholm. In a statement, Lena Posner-Körösi, president of the Swedish Central Jewish Council, said: “We have, on numerous occasions, expressed our concern to the authorities and explained our vulnerability. We know from experience that Jewish targets are appealing to terrorists.” The 28-year-old, Iraqi-born suicide bomber, Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, was the only fatality in the 11 December attack in Stockholm. He emigrated to Sweden at the age of 10 and graduated from Luton’s Bedfordshire University with a degree in physical therapy. Days after al-Abdaly narrowly missed wreaking havoc among Christmas shoppers, the Swedish intelligence agency Säpo declared that they had identified 200 violence-promoting Islamic extremists in Sweden. Al-Abdaly had not been known to the agency, however. The police have now stepped up security at Jewish institutions in Sweden, including in Malmö, the third largest city, which has seen a surge in antisemitic hate crimes. The JSS has advised Jews there not to wear kippot or other Jewish symbols. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre — the Los Angeles-based Human Rights organisation — has issued a travel advisory, urging Jews to avoid visiting Sweden. A representative of Jewish Security Sweden (who wants to be anonymous for security reasons) said that al-Abdaly had not directed any threats at Jewish institutions or individuals. He added: “Naturally, Jews in Sweden are particularly concerned, however. We have received phone calls from parents with children in the Jewish school who are afraid that they might be targeted in the future. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in other terror attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere, Jews are at the top of the list of targets for Muslim fundamentalists.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Rise of North Yemeni Islamism in Birmingham, U.K.

One of the reasons generally given for the rise of extreme Islamism is the Arab defeat at the hands of Israel in 1967 in the six day war.

It is theorised that, from this defeat (or Naksa as the Arabs refer to it), loomed the beginning of the end of Arab Nationalism and other, largely secular ideologies, which had hitherto led the struggle to liberate the Middle East from western domination and zionist colonialism. This defeat created the vacuum political Islamism has supposedly filled since.

This theory tends to be strongly insinuated at and espoused by British writers such as Seamus Milne, Jason Burke and the late Chris Harman. The theory overlooks one very important British initiated strategy played out in the Middle East and South East Asia during the Cold War. That is the employment by Britain (and then America) of extreme Islamists to counter left-wing, nationalist and communist parties or movements because these movements were considered by the West to be threats to their interests and to their allies in the region.

One of the ways Western backed regimes in the Middle East and South Asia guaranteed a steady flow of extreme Islamists was through ‘Islamising’ the education system or promoting a parallel Islamist education system alongside the official state education system.

The schools that were and are part of the Islamist education system are popularly referred to as ‘madrassas’. Graduates from these madrassas tended to have been highly receptive to the militant Islamist cause. Even more so if this cause happened to dovetail with Western interests, such as Afghanistan in the 1980’s.

It is in the 1980’s that madrassas became popular. According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani academic, “madrassas provided the US-Saudi-Pakistani alliance the cannon fodder they need to fight the holy war” in Afghanistan.

The madrassas in Pakistan catered for both Pakistani political groups and the Afghan refugees from the Soviet invasion. Free lodgings and food obviously made them even more popular.

Hoodbhoy claims that there could be up to 22,000 madrassa’s in Pakistan churning out 1.5 million students. While Ahmed Rashid in his popular book on the Taliban claims that there were 25,000 unregistered madrassas in Pakistan alone by the late 1980’s.

Another country where madrassas played a role in defeating the left and other secular ideologies is North Yemen. Here, the madrassas, were called ‘Scientific Institutes’. Like the madrassas that served the Pakistanis and Afghans, these ‘Scientific Institutes’ ran parallel with North Yemen’s official state education.

They were initially established in the mid-1970’s with Saudi Arabian finance. The person that was overall responsible or ‘guide’ for this Islamist educational operation was Abd al-Majid al-Zindani. In 1983, al-Zindani was appointed education minister in North Yemen.

Abd al-Majid al-Zindani also eventually served as a co-leader of the North Yemeni initiated Islamist, Islah Party alongside the tribal Sheikh Abdulla al-Ahmar.

Also in 1983, a ‘Scientific Institute’ was parachuted into Birmingham, England’s second major city by the then North Yemeni cultural attaché, Abdulla al-Shamahi.

The ‘Scientific Institute’ was initially based at 517 Moseley Road, in the Balsall Heath region of Birmingham before finally moving to the Bordesley Centre, in the Sparkbrook region of Birmingham. I was informed that Mr. al-Shamahi put forward £17k towards the purchase of 517 Moseley Road, a converted church. The purchase of the Bordesley Centre was largely financed by the Yemeni entrepreneur, Hayel Saeed.

There is a small Yemeni sub-community in Birmingham which originally arrived here in the late 1950’s and 1960’s for the same reasons that Caribbean, Indian and Pakistanis came to the UK: to fill the gap of the post world war labour shortage. Many Yemeni’s were from South Yemen (which was then a British protectorate) but there was a good proportion of North Yemenis. It maybe, because of this that Mr. al-Shamahi based himself in Birmingham.

Al-Shamahi like Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American alleged to be behind the Christmas day bomber, is a son of the Yemeni political establishment. al-Shamahi’s father was said to be a ‘political advisor’ to the North Yemeni President in the late 70’s, while al-Awlaki’s father served as Agricultural Minister in North Yemen.

The curriculum of the ‘Scientific Institute’ was devised to make North Yemenis and whoever came into contact with it more than receptive to extreme Islamism. One British-American academic even goes as far as saying that the educational methods eventually utilised at the ‘Scientific Institutes’, were first used in Afghanistan “to indoctrinate young men against the Soviets.”

Although it was a dubbed an ‘Arabic School’ by young adults who were compelled to attend, the emphasis in the curriculum was religious instruction. Arabic was taught to facilitate the imbibing of Islamist indoctrination. The ‘Scientific Institute’ taught Arabic within an Islamist ‘indoctrination’ framework.

The ‘Scientific Institute’ operated largely on a daily basis. Young Yemenis were bussed in from Birmingham’s inner city and the surrounding Black Country, at the Scientific Institute’s expense, to receive their daily dose of North Yemeni scientifically institutionalised “education”. Anecdotally, I would say about 65-70% of young second generation Yemenis in the West Midlands passed through, at some stage, this ‘Arabic School’ in the 1980’s. In North Yemen, like Afghanistan, one of the major functions of the ‘Scientific Institute’ was to help the North Yemeni government in its war against left wing rebels, known as the National Democratic Front, in the southern part of North Yemen in the 1980’s. As one academic study put it, “they provided a useful bulwark against the rising leftist challenge from the…NDF.”

With the implementation of the curriculum in 1983 in Birmingham, teachers eventually arrived from North Yemen. For instance, Yahya Rassam, Ahmad Nu’man, Ahmad al-Rowny, Abdullah al-Himyairy, Faisal al-Za’za’y and Dtarash Abdullah all arrived during this period. They were later to be joined by home grown teachers such as Adnan Saif.

These teachers were not here to guide young second generation adults to meet the challenges of institutional racism, educational under-achievement or even maintaining one’s cultural heritage.

In sharp socio-political contrast to the vast majority of Yemenis in Birmingham, these teachers arrived here to implement the North Yemeni socio-political agenda, that is to ‘indoctrinate’ second generation Yemenis. The question is how were these teachers sourced? Who selected them to be teachers? Were these teachers paid? If so, how much and since Abdulla al-Shamahi was the cultural attaché of the North Yemeni embassy, was it he that paid them?

Since these ‘Scientific Institutes’ were initially supported by Saudi Arabia, did they provide the funds for the Birmingham operation as well? These are questions that Mr al-Shamahi, who still resides in Birmingham, does not answer.

More so, knowing what we now know about the collusion between US/UK and Islamism in foreign fields in this period, it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether al-Shamahi was given the green light to set up this educational operation by MI5 or MI6?

Indeed, Margaret Thatcher was enthusiastic for the people of the Middle East to, “build on their own deep religious traditions” so as not to “succumb to the fraudulent appeal of imported Marxism.” She even went onto claim that the mujahideen (holy warriors) fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980’s were in “one of the most heroic resistance struggles known to history.”

Osama bin Laden who was also in Afghanistan during this period would have agreed, but probably now thinks the ‘War on Terror’ was “one of the most heroic resistance struggles known to history.”

In 1987, there were 1126 ‘Scientific Institutes’ in North Yemen churning out ready-made, ‘indoctrinated’ graduates. It is not known how many there were by the time the Yemeni government (North and South Yemen united in 1990) abolished them in the mid-1990’s. As such the Bordesley Centre ceased to offer this curriculum.

The teachers, on the other hand, remained in the UK rather than return to Yemen where they could enjoy the fruits of their so-called ‘Scientific Institute’. I understand, some went on to work for the various Islamic charities but others continue to be garrisoned at the Bordesley Centre in teaching and non-teaching capacities. The Bordesly Centre has not responded to my questions about them.

Unlike other teachers, Adnan Saif, a teacher and former manager of the ‘Scientific Institute’ as well as trustee of the Muath Trust which runs the Bordesley Centre, was not parachuted in the mid-1980’s to specifically teach the Islamist curriculum. He had been in the UK since arriving as the son of the late, Ahmad Ali Hasan al-Shamairy and is currently employed as Chief Executive of Urban Living for Birmingham City Council.

Furthermore, writing in a personal capacity, Mr. Saif positively compares the late co-leader of the Islamist, Islah party, Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar with Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi. He claims that Abdulla al-Ahmar was to Yemen what, “Ghandi and Mandela were to their respective countries.” Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr.Saif draws this analogy because members of the al-Ahmar family were executed by the pre-revolution ruler of North Yemen, the ‘Imam’. He seems to give the impression that by virtue of them being killed by a despotic Imam they therefore must have been struggling for a good cause. Indeed, they were killed by the Imam but it was not “for opposing him and supporting the struggle for freedom.”

Abdulla al-Ahmar’s father and brother were executed by the Imam over a dispute in which the latter demanded the restitution of a tribute payment. Actually, the tribute was paid for assistance in quashing a perceived anti-Imam rebellion. When Abdulla al-Ahmar’s father and brother declined to return the payment, the Imam had them both summarily executed. Therefore, they were not killed “for supporting the struggle for freedom” as Mr. Saif would have us believe, but in support of holding onto their tribute. Mr. Saif has hitherto not responded to my enquiries about the ‘Scientific Institute’ at the Bordesley Centre, Birmingham.

Concentrating on the supposed defeat of Arab Nationalism and other secular ideologies is all very well but it does not fully explain the phenomena of the rise of political Islamism in the Middle East, South Asia or Birmingham, UK. Other compelling factors such as the role of madrassas, charities, state sanctioned political-military cells and financial institutions need also to be taken into consideration.

Today, Sheikh Abdulla al-Ahmar’s children are part of Yemeni economic and political elite. Indeed, one member of the al-Ahmar family is said to run “no less than 300 companies.” While, Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, his former co-leader in the Islamist, Islah party and the overall guide for the ‘Scientific Institutes’, is an internationally wanted man…

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

Top Terrorist’s Wife Tells German Court: I Raised the Funds

The Muslim wife of a convicted terrorist kingpin admitted Wednesday to a German court that she raised funds for associates of al-Qaeda and posted Islamist videos on the internet. Her convert-to-Islam husband, Fritz Gelowicz, is now serving 12 years for a foiled plot to set off a series of car bombs in Germany. The couple were fascinated by jihad or holy war against infidels. Dressed in a black veil from head to toe, the wife, 29, whose parents immigrated to Germany from Turkey, told a Berlin court she had been convinced that funding the jihad was a way of standing up for orphans and poor Afghans suffering from the war. ‘Yes, I wrote texts to publish on the internet and collected money. Of course I knew the money would be spent on weapons,’ she said. ‘Today, I realise that what I did just made everything worse.’ She said she had been been ‘carried away’ by her outrage over civilian suffering and had re-posted terrorist video messages on the internet out of a sense of defiance. But she denied knowing about her husband’s bomb plot and claimed she only began fund-raising for the jihad after he was arrested in 2007.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Hamza’s Daughter-in-Law Arrested ‘Trying to Smuggle Sim Card Into Belmarsh Prison Under Her Burka’

The daughter-in-law of hate preacher Abu Hamza has been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle a mobile phone sim card into his jail under her burka.

Chayme Hamza, 26, was apprehended by guards during a routine search when she went to visit the firebrand cleric in Belmarsh high security prison in south-east London last Friday.

Police were called and she was arrested on suspicion of bringing a prohibited article into a prison.

The sim card was found in a pocket in clothing under her burka, according to The Sun.

Hamza’s eldest son Mohamed Kamel Mostafa — Chayme’s husband and a convicted terrorist — was arrested over the same incident the next day.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Benefits Christmas: Single Mother Eloise Spends £3,000 to Give Her Four Children Everything They Want for Christmas. And Guess What? You’re Paying for it.

Like many mothers, Eloise Little has been stockpiling her four children’s Christmas presents for months.

She’s had to budget, too: what with the designer clothes and expensive gadgets on their wish lists, she needs to spend at least £300 to £400 on each of them in order to meet the demands for laptops, computer games, trainers and bikes.

Then there’s all the food and drink required to see the family through the festive season.

That, she reckons, will set her back several hundred pounds, on top of the thousand of pounds or so she spends on other presents and festivities over the season.

They’re the sort of figures that would surely make the average working parent stare gloomily into their Christmas eggnog — few, after all, are in a position to contemplate spending such a sum.

But then, as 27-year-old Eloise, from Penryn, Cornwall, admits, she’s not a member of your average working family.

She’s on benefits, meaning that effectively it’s your money which is paying for her children’s Christmas — Xboxes and all.

Moreover, as far as Eloise is concerned, it’s all entirely fair — in fact, the merest hint of a raised eyebrow at her circumstances is enough to make her see red.

‘It makes me furious when people criticise how I choose to spend my money,’ she says.

‘Taxpayers seem to feel that they have the right to tell people on benefits how to spend their money,’ she adds. ‘They don’t — the government decides what people like me are entitled to, not the taxpayer.

‘If it’s offered to us, then of course we’re going to take it and we shouldn’t be criticised for doing so. Frankly, I believe it’s my right to do what I want this Christmas with the benefits I deserve.’


As she puts it: ‘I went to the JobCentre and we worked out that if I went back to work I would actually be £10 a week worse off. I receive £21,528 in annual benefits, and I’d need to earn 30 grand a year before tax to match that.

‘I’m not qualified to do a job which pays me that, so it makes no sense for me to do anything other than stay at home. I defy any parent in my position not to do what I’m doing.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Christmas Gifts Could be Illegal Under Bribery Act, Says Pwc

However, mouse mats, modest Christmas lunches attended by the hosts and even Kindle electronic readers should pass the “corruption smell test” under the Act, which takes effect on April 1, says PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). “This is the last year for Christmas gifts,” said Edwin Harland, a director in PwC’s forensic services practice. He listed lavish hampers, invitations to sporting events where the host is not present, anything delivered to a home address and a tablet computer as likely to be caught from April. Promotional expenditure which is “reasonable and proportionate” should not cause problems, but Ministry of Justice draft guidance does not provide monetary levels, leaving companies to work out for themselves where to draw the line. The legislation introduces the new offence to “offer, promise or give a financial advantage or other advantage, to another person to bring about improper performance of a relevant function or an activity, or to reward a person for the improper performance of a relevant function or an activity”. Mr Harland said: “I can’t pretend that Christmas gifts will be at the top of the Serious Fraud Office’s [SFO] priority list. But it will be taken into account on the day of reckoning. Your gift policy is one of the adequate procedures they talk about and you have to have in place.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Gang Who Battered Pedestrian With Crowbar in Brutal Road Rage Attack Jailed for Nearly 20 Years

A gang of thugs who stabbed a pedestrian in a road rage attack, torturing him with a crowbar, hammer and broken bottle have been jailed for almost 20 years.

A 30-year-old man was subjected to a brutal attack after almost being run over by a car as he left a popular Indian restaurant in Whitechapel, east London.

When the pedestrian swore at the driver in anger, he was confronted by three thugs who got out of the convertible BMW and another car following behind.

Rashel Hussain, 20, and his friends, twin brothers Jubhare and Taharak Hussain, both aged 21, battered the victim with a crowbar, causing serious injury to his left hand.

Terrified, the man ran back to Tayyabs restaurant — regarded as one of the best Indian restaurants in London — only to find himself trapped in the doorway as the doors had been locked by frightened staff.

Taharak knifed the man a number of times before running off with the others to get more weapons.

As the victim attempted to get help, stumbling towards the Royal London Hospital nearby, his attackers returned with a larger group of men who leapt on him.

Rashel Hussain battered him with a hammer, while another man, Shah Alom, 22, slashed him with a glass bottle and two others, Jubhare Hussain and Shofiqul Islam, 21, rained down punches on the defenceless man leaving him with serious neck, arm and thigh injuries.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Met Police Officers Suffered ‘Worst Violence in 30 Years’ During Student Riots

Metropolitan Police officers experienced the worst sustained violence in the past 30 years during the recent student riots, the force’s Commissioner said today.

Sir Paul Stephenson praised the ‘control’ of his staff who were forced to defend themselves during the protests against tuition fee rises.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I spoke to an officer with 27 years’ service, an inspector. ‘He said to me he has been present on many of the violent protests in the past, he was there during the Poll Tax riots, he was there at Tottenham.

‘What he faced [during the student riots] was the greatest degree of sustained violence he’s faced on any public order of his career.

‘There’s clearly a sense of anger out there that’s led to a level of violence.’

He said some protesters were determined to breach police lines and had come prepared, and added: ‘I think we have got a sense of a real passion about a cause out there. Within that, there are various levels of passion that lead to extremism.’


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Men Accused of Burning Poppies Deny Charge

Two men from east London accused of burning poppies on the anniversary of Armistice Day have each denied a public order offence. Mohammad Haque, 30, and Emdadur Choudhury, 26, were arrested during a demonstration by Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades. The group held a noisy and confrontational demonstration in Kensington, west London, on November 11. Haque, of Mace Street, Bethnal Green, east London and Choudhury of Hunton Street, Spitalfields, east London, stood in the dock during the short hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court to confirm their respective names, ages and addresses. The pair, who both had beards and wore traditional black Muslim robes under their coats, each pleaded not guilty to one count under section five of the Public Order Act. It is alleged that on November 11 at Kensington Gore both employed threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within hearing or sight of persons who could be alarmed or distressed by this. Outlining the charge, Prosecutor Malachy Pakenham said: “It is a matter of so-called protest. They burned poppies on Armistice Day, it is as straightforward as that.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Slammed for Failing to Spot a Car Containing Dead Body for Three Days

Police failed to spot a car containing a man’s dead body lying at the side of a busy dual carriageway on the outskirts of Leicester for three days.

An investigation was today launched into how officers were unable to find father-of-one Martin Kent, despite being alerted to his crashed car’s exact location.

The 23-year-old is believed to have died on December 12 after an accident while driving to his home in the Newfoundpool area of the city.

A lorry driver who knew Mr Kent spotted his vehicle the following day and informed his family, who passed the information on to police.

But officers were unable to find the car.

It was only on December 16 — four days after the accident occurred, and three days after police were made aware of its location — that the lorry driver again called to say the car was still there.

Mr Kent’s friend, Jason Jones, then drove to the scene and found evidence of the crash.

Police returned to the spot and, following a second search, the car and Mr Kent’s body were recovered.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: School Caretaker Harassed After Islamists Hack EDL

A school received hatemail targeting its caretaker after he was wrongly identified as a fascist by opponents of the English Defence League, based on data stolen by an Islamist hacking group.

The headmaster of the comprehensive school in Dorset, which The Register has agreed not to name, summoned the caretaker to his office early last week.

He was shown anonymous emails which accused his wife of being a member of the English Defence League (EDL) and urging that he be sacked. The couple live together with their children inside the school grounds.

The emails cited data recently exposed by an attack on the EDL’s website. The hacker posted his haul — lists of hundreds of members and financial supporters of the far-right group — on several sites frequented by anti-fascist activists.

“At first I was very confused and more than a little worried as the tone of one of the emails was threatening,” the caretaker told The Register.

“I was sure I wasn’t married to a fascist or a football hooligan as the email implied.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Pope Calls for Church to Reflect on What Led to ‘Unimaginable’ Abuse

(AKI) — Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said the Catholic Church has to reflect on how the Christian lifestyle and the Vatican’s message may have led to the sexual abuse of children.

The pope said the Church must improve its training of priests to prevent further abuse. He also said the Vatican must understand how to help victims heal.

Benedict spoke to cardinals and bishops who gathered at the Vatican for the traditional Christmas speech. The pope often uses the occasion to speak about important issues facing the Church hierarchy.

“We must ask ourselves what we can to to fix the injustice that has been done. We must ask ourselves was wrong in our message, in the whole way in forming the way of being Christian,” he said..

The pope has expressed regret for the abuse of thousands of children over decades that has come to light this year in an international scandal that has rocked the Vatican.

The pope on Monday said the scale of abuse reached an “unimaginable dimension.”

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

Wales: ‘Christmas Bomb Plotters Were Radicalised in Jail’

A neighbour of three men arrested in Cardiff said that, after they were convicted of theft and drugs offences, they “went to prison as petty criminals and came out expressing extreme views”. Twelve men, mainly British nationals of Bangladeshi origin, were still being questioned by anti-terrorism officers last night following co-ordinated raids in the Welsh capital, London, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham on Monday. Sources said the gang was planning a “spectacular” attack on banks, shops and “iconic” sites in London. Lord Carlile, the Government’s counter-terrorism watchdog, told MPs yesterday that there were allegations of a “significant” terrorist plot. Giving evidence to the Commons home affairs select committee, he said: “The gestation period for the arrests has been long. I was aware of an operation some time ago which led to these arrests. On one occasion I was able to observe, literally observe, some of it occurring. I believe that it is very possible that people may well be charged and prosecuted.” The alleged cell was said to have been linked to the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun and its offshoot Islam4UK, as well as Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical al-Qaeda preacher based in Yemen.

The neighbour of the three Cardiff men said he believed a “radical preacher” had “politicised” them in prison.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

WikiLeaks: USA ‘Pressured’ Italy on Calipari Case

Intelligence offier killed in Iraq in 2005 by ‘friendly fire’

(ANSA) — Rome, December 21 — The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks on Tuesday made public transcripts of additional diplomatic cables which appeared to indicate that the United States pressured Italy on a 2005 case involving an Italian intelligence officer killed by US troops in Iraq.

On Monday, Wikileaks released a dispatch from the US Ambassador to Rome at the time, Mel Sembler, who said that the Italian government in 2005, then as now headed by Premier Silvio Berlusconi, would move to ensure that the Italian parliament did not initiate any in-depth probe into the death of Nicola Calipari.

The Italian agent was killed March 4, 2005 when US troops at a checkpoint opened fire on the car he was using to take a just-released Italian hostage to Baghdad airport.

The hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, was wounded in the incident while another Italian agent, who was driving the car, suffered minor injuries.

According to Sembler’s May 2 cable — sent after he had met with then-foreign minister Gianfranco Fini, now the House Speaker, and Cabinet Secretary Gianni Letta — Italy’s probe into the incident would be “specifically designed” to stress the unintentional nature of the friendly fire.

Both sides agreed, he added, that it was important to maintain bilateral relations and avoid Rome making any accusations against Washington.

Rome’s “determination” to avoid any problems with the US, Sembler added, was confirmed by the fact that no one raised the “fundamental” question of “why only one car was fired upon of the 30 which passed through the checkpoint that day”.

Berlusconi’s office on Monday flatly denied the allegations made in the ambassador’s dispatch and said the meeting with Sembler had only seen “an exchange of views”. In an interview published by the Turin daily La Stampa on Tuesday, the agent’s wife, Rosa Calipari, said “we’ve always known that the Italian government would never step on the accelerator in discovering the truth”.

The widow, who is now an MP for the center-left opposition Democratic Party, told another daily, Corriere della Sera, that “the only thing new is that a cable was sent. I knew nothing of this but the rest has been common knowledge for the past five and half years”.

She also said that her husband’s death had been a “political murder” because “he was not a secret service ‘agent’ and they keep saying he was. He was a department chief. He was not a soldier, like the one who shot him, he held the rank of general. It was not normal that he should have been there.

People of his rank are usually sitting behind a desk”.

The American soldier who shot Calipari was identified as Mario Lozano and a cable made public on Tuesday indicated that on March 20, 2007, seven months before the Italian judiciary decided not to press charges against the marine, the then-Bush administration sought to put pressure on the center-left government of the time, headed by Romano Prodi.

According to the transcript, Washington wanted Rome to make it clear to Italian magistrates that actions on the battlefield were outside their jurisdiction.

The cable made reference to a meeting between the then-US deputy secretary of state, and later intelligence ‘czar’, John Negroponte and Rome’s ambassador to Washington, Giovanni Castellaneta.

Negroponte was said to have explained to the ambassador that placing Lozano on trial would be “very problematic” and that trying the solider in absentia “would send a terrible message and must be stopped”. The ambassador replied that under Italian law crimes committed against Italians outside Italy were under Rome’s jurisdiction and that while for the Washington and Rome “the case is closed”, there was little hope that the Italian government could stop a trial.

Nevertheless, the ambassador said he would make Washington’s position known to then-foreign minister Massimo D’Alema.

On October 25, 2007, Rome’s third court of appeals ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to bring Lozano to trial, a decision later confirmed by the supreme Cassation Court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

World’s Cartoonists Thrash Dutch Anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders

The international video journalist and cartoonists platform, VJ Movement, asked cartoonists in Islamic and other countries how they saw the increasing criticism of Islam in Europe.

The call produced 30 satirical drawings, most of them featuring Dutch rightwing anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders. Six are included in this article.

According to spokesman Tjeerd Rooyaards of The Hague-based VJ Movement, “Mr Wilders’ face is well-suited to being caricatured”. Next month, VJ movement will launch a separate platform, Cartoon Movement.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Montenegro: GDP 41% of EU Average

(ANSAmed) — PODGORICA, DECEMBER 17 — Montenegro is ahead of four countries in the region according to the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita measures by the purchasing power parity. Montenegro recorded GDP per capita in the amount of 41% of the EU average, while Serbia recorded 37%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 31% and Albania 27%. Luxembourg recorded the highest GDP in the EU and Bulgaria the lowest, while Croatian reached 65% of the European average.

In the group of candidate countries, which includes Croatia, the remaining two countries, Turkey and Macedonia, recorded worse results than Croatia.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Syria: 30 Million Euros From France for Infrastructures

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 21 — A financial package worth thirty million euros has been announced by the French Cooperation Agency as aid to Syria for a project to improve water infrastructure in the Damascus area. According to the Italian Foreign Trade Commission in Damascus, the loan will be used for improving the water distribution network in the outskirts of the city — an area inhabited by 34,000 people.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Press: Network Spying for Israel Uncovered

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 20 — A network of spies working for Israel, which intercepted telephone conversations of members of the Egyptian government and passed them on to Israel’s secret services, has been uncovered and dismantled in Egypt, the Egyptian press writes. Press agency MENA writes that the country’s legal system has arrested an Egyptian man, and that two Israelis are on the run. According to the independent daily Al Masri Al Yom, four Egyptians have been arrested. Egypt’s public prosecutor has indicted the three and has handed them over to the high court for State security, accusing them of harming national interests, MENA writes without specifying further details. According to Al Masri Al Yom, the recorded telephone calls were passed on to a liaison office in Tel Aviv. The network, the newspaper writes, started its activities after a meeting between one of the two wanted Israeli officials and the Egyptian man, who works at a travel agency.

MENA writes that the name of the Egyptian man is Tarek Abdel Razek Hussein, 37 year old and owner of an import-export firm.

The Israelis are Eddie Moshe and Joseph Dimor.

According to the Egyptian prosecutor, Abdel Meguid Mahmud, when he was in Israel Hussein gave his Israeli contacts information on Syrians, Lebanese and Egyptians working in telecommunications who could be recruited as moles for the Mossad. The three have been charged with “spying and harming Egypt’s national interests, and activities that could have led to a break in ties with Syria and Lebanon”.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Fatwa by Egyptian Wahabi Group to Kill Elbaradei, Anhri

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DEC 20 — The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) today deeply resented that a Muslim cleric, in charge of the association Ansar elSunnah elMuhammadiya in Damanhur, would issue a fatwa calling to force elBaradei, Former President of the International Agency for Atomic Energy and a likely candidate for the presidency, to repent otherwise the Egyptian government would have the right to imprison or kill him to prevent sedition.

Mahmoud Amer presents himself on the website of this association as holder of Bachelor in Islamic law and a Diploma in preaching. These degrees — if true — are not equivalent to a Master’s degree rendering him incompetent of issuing fatwas, reports an ANHRI communique. This extremist fatwa comes several days after elBaradei has slammed rigging of the last public elections asserting that the citizens have every right to peaceful demonstration to demand change.

Gamal Eid, ANHRI executive director said: “This association published a statement in 2005 calling to support Mubarak as a Khalif (leader of all Muslims). This fatwa inciting to murder is a reminiscent of the fatwas that spread in the nineties of the past century calling to kill secular writers and thinkers, leading to the murder of Farag Fuda and an attempt to kill Naguib Mahfouz, a Noble Laureate”. “We cannot live that atmosphere of terror again, the government has to take a clear stance from these Fatwas to kill opponents, as the classic governmental indifference in such situations would imply approval and a license to kill”, added Eid.

The website of this association was created by a Saudi extremist institute in order to promote such hard line Wahabi concepts, ANHRI informs, judging the Arabic Network as an indicator to the popularity of this radical way of thinking.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Appeal by Milan Academic, Berber Scholars Seized

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 21 — A young Libyan academic, Madghis Buzakhar, “has been seized along with his brother by Lybian security officials in plain clothes and nothing has been heard of their fate since December 16”. The denunciation, which picks up on an alert across various internet sites, comes from Vermondo Brugnatelli, a lecturer at Milano-Bicocca University who also chairs the Berbera cultural organization. Brugnatelli has made an appeal to the Italian government to intervene in order to cast light on the affair.

Mr Brugnatelli points out that archive material was also confiscated, along with some books the Milan academic had given them during their recent visit to Italy: “The reason for this kidnap-arrest appear to be alleged contacts the two had with an Italian tourist with whom they spoke about the situation in Yefren, their native village in the Berber region of Gebel Nefusa”.

“It is justifiable to talk of a fresh Gaddafi offensive against the Berbers: seeing that this kidnapping has come just a few weeks after the 5-year prison sentence given to a Berber singer from Libya, Abdullah Ashini, from Zuara. The singer was guilty of having sung a song in Berber during the Las Palmas Festival of Berber Music two years ago”.

“Given these serious violations of human rights, the Berber Cultural Association is appealing to all of Italy’s authorities, and to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in particular, to act in order to obtain the immediate release of the two brothers as well as the restitution of the confiscated materials: the overturning of the sham trial given to Abdullah Ashini and his immediate release from prison, the end to any form of persecution against Berbers in Libya and the recognition of Berber as a national language alongside Arabic”.

“It is inconceivable that a democratic nation such as Italy should abide by a Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation with a country that repeatedly violates the most basic human rights. For this reason we are calling on Italy to freeze this treaty until the persecution of the Berbers in Libya comes to an end”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Christmas Trees ‘Provocative: ‘ Nazareth Suburb’s Mayor

The mayor of a Jewish suburb of Nazareth sparked outrage on Wednesday after refusing to allow Christmas trees to be placed in town squares, calling them provocative. Predominantly Jewish Nazareth Illit, or Upper Nazareth, is adjacent to Nazareth, where Jesus is said to have spent much of his life. It has a sizable Arab Christian minority, as does mostly Muslim Nazareth itself. “The request of the Arabs to put Christmas trees in the squares in the Arab quarter of Nazareth Illit is provocative,” Mayor Shimon Gapso told AFP. “Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen — not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor,” he said of the northern Israeli town. “Nazareth is right next door and they can do what they want there,” he said. His decision angered the town’s Arab and Christian minority, who accused him of racism. “The racism of not putting a tree up is nothing compared to the real racism that we experience here,” said Aziz Dahdal, a 35-year-old Christian resident of Nazareth Illit. “When we asked the mayor to put up a Christmas tree in the Arab neighbourhoods of Nazareth Illit he said this is a Jewish town, not a mixed town,” said Shukri Awawdeh, a Muslim Arab member of the town council.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Christians Senselessly Tormented by Extremists in Muslim World

The Christmas season encourages us to think of Jesus, so highly revered and loved by both Christians and Muslims. So it is even more tragic to contemplate relations between the two religions today — and particularly the plight of Christians in the Muslim world. In Iraq, savage killings of Christians have led thousands to flee the country. In Egypt, Christians are under severe pressure and siege. In Pakistan, there are too many cases like that of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who is facing a death sentence under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws for allegedly slandering the Prophet of Islam. For both of us, a Muslim and a Christian, this violence is a matter of utmost gravity. One of us, Akbar Ahmed, was educated by Roman Catholic priests at Burn Hall, in North Pakistan, and then Presbyterian teachers at Forman Christian College in Lahore, and gratefully acknowledges the immeasurable debt he owes them, which he attempts to repay in promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue. The other, John Chane, is concerned as a bishop but also as someone also passionately devoted to promoting good relations between Christians and Muslims. We find that the situation has reached a breaking point because of the crisis in the Muslim world. Extremist Muslims feel that Islam is under siege by the West and seek to lash out at Christians, seeing an attack on Christians in their countries effectively as an attack on Israelis, U.S. troops in Iraq or the intelligence agencies behind U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

From Lebanon: Egypt, Syria and Israel With Love

I confess! I was wrong when I doubted the wisdom of Ahmet “Strategic Depth” Davutoglu’s ambitious peace plans for the always chaotic Middle East. The Turkish foreign minister’s vision has already created what was unthinkable only a few years ago: Israel, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon are agreeing on borders — well, not their own, but Cyprus’s offshore borders.

About three years ago, Cyprus launched a plan to draw, through bilateral agreements, the borders of its Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, with the aim of controlling all economic resources within this specified zone including fishing, mining and oil and natural gas exploration.

Naturally, the Cypriots needed offshore “partners” in order to map their EEZ, and started talks with their offshore neighbors. That unnerved Ankara since an internationally-ratified Cypriot EEZ could have unwanted economic and political implications for Turkey. Hence, the repeated Turkish objections to Cyprus’s oil and gas exploration in eastern Mediterranean.

Luckily, the first doors the Cypriots knocked on were the Turks’ Muslim friends. All the same, before Ankara could move a finger, Orthodox Cyprus ratified an offshore border deal with Islamic Egypt. Bah… Egypt is Egypt. But Turkey’s neo-Ottoman vision would surely work with Lebanon where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a folk hero.

In 2007, Turkey warned Lebanon about maritime agreements with Cyprus. Ankara said it would not recognize the delimitation of the EEZs and alleged that Lebanon should ask for Turkey’s opinion before signing any agreement with Cyprus. With the failure of that friend-to-friend warning, a year later Cyprus protested to the United Nations and the European Union over what it called Turkish harassment of ships conducting exploration surveys in its EEZ.

In early October 2010, Cyprus and Lebanon agreed to delimit their EEZs, pending parliamentary ratification at the Lebanese parliament. The same month, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Cyprus and said Lebanon would soon define offshore boundaries with Cyprus and Syria. During the same visit, Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias thanked Mr Hariri for reconfirming “the principled position of Lebanon on the Cyprus problem for a solution.”

Apparently, Cypriot policy, through the strategic EEZ campaign, has done more than Turkish mediation efforts in bringing together major Middle Eastern adversaries. Last week, Cyprus announced that an agreement with Israel had been signed on the two countries’ sea border that will allow the offshore neighbors to press ahead in their search for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Experts agree the demarcation is an important step for oil and gas exploration.

The Cypriot campaign looks like the real interfaith dialogue the Turks have been thriving for over the past several years: it unites one Jewish, three Muslim and one Orthodox state around common offshore borders, without a single bullet shot, a suicide bomb exploded or a rocket launched. The dialogue even stretches across the Aegean.

Greece, which in the 1980s was widely considered the European country most hostile to Israel —the two countries, in fact, did not have any formal diplomatic relationship until 1992 — today has soaring bilateral ties with Israel, thanks to Mr Davutoglu’s “zero-problems with neighbors” policy.

Apart from being on a Turkish list that bans land sales to their citizens, Jewish Israel and Orthodox Greece enjoy spectacularly improving ties. According to Arye Mekel, Israel’s ambassador to Athens, “Greece and Israel have opened a new chapter in their ties [following] a decision to develop multifaceted cooperation in the fields of politics, security, economy and culture.”

Meanwhile, the Turkish diplomats in Ankara are increasingly worried that a critical dispute is spinning out of control, and in a direction they would hate the most: an internationally-recognized EEZ for the internationally-recognized, EU member state of Greek Cyprus. Mssrs Erdogan and Davutoglu would certainly propose a faith-based explanation if the Cypriots had signed offshore maritime agreements with Israel only. Ironically, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria are Turkey’s “Muslim friends” in the region.

The world owes a lot to Turkey’s Israel policy since it is making the eastern Mediterranean a genuine sea of peace. Hats off to Mr Strategic Depth! But wait a minute…

Wire services reported Monday that Turkey summoned the Israeli envoy to convey its unease over the deal with Cyprus. The services said Ambassador Gaby Levy was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Thursday, a day before the agreement was signed. According to Anatolia news agency, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu warned Levy the agreement would have an adverse impact on efforts between Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish communities to end the 36-year division of the island.

I have no idea if Ambassador Levy asked Undersecretary Sinirlioglu why the 36-year division remained for 36 years prior to, or without, the Cypriot-Israeli offshore border deal, or whether the Turkish Foreign Ministry was equally upset when Cyprus signed the same deals with Lebanon or Egypt.

But let’s look at the bright side of life: the Lebanese cheers over Mr Erdogan’s visit last month calls for the revival of the Ottoman Caliph — in the personality of Mr Erdogan — and the memorable moments during the prime minister’s public rally in the former Ottoman lands are still fresh memories.

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

Iraq: Around “1,100” Christian Families Have Fled to Kurdish North

(AKI) — Around 1,1000 Christian Iraqi families have abandoned Baghdad for refuge in the north of the country where Kurds are the dominant group, according to Iraqi Christian website Ankawa, citing a government official.

“At the moment there are 1,100 Christian families that have found refuge in the north following the October attack” on a Christian church in Baghdad, secretary-general of Iraq’s council of ministers, Ali Mohsen Ismail al-Allaq. “Unfortunately this is in the interest of the Islamic terrorists.”

Separately, human rights group Amnesty International on Monday called on Iraq’s government to step up protection of Christians, after 44 worshippers were killed on 31 October in an attack on a Baghdad church.

Amnesty “called on the Iraqi government to do more to protect the country’s Christian minority from an expected spike in violent attacks as they prepare to celebrate Christmas,” the rights group said in a statement.

“Attacks on Christians and their churches by armed groups have intensified in past weeks and have clearly included war crimes” Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and north Africa, said in the statement.

A branch of Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the October attack and said Christians are “legitimate targets.”

Iraqi defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari on Monday said the army’s special forces troops killed three Libyans who were planning suicide attacks against Christians in the northern city of Mosul.

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

Syrian Leader Says EU Must Accept Turkey

The European Union must accept Turkey as a member if it wants to avoid being a “Christian club,” according to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Without Turkey, “the EU would become only a Christian club,” al-Assad told daily Hürriyet and German daily Bild in a recent interview. “Europe talks about intercultural dialogue, yet isolates itself culturally. You cannot [refute this argument] by demonstrating that 5 million Muslims live in Germany and 7 million Muslims live in France.”

Al-Assad also praised Turkish foreign policy, saying Turkey, which he deemed to be playing a vital role in the peace process of Middle East, had handled the process of Mavi Marmara incident adroitly after the death of nine Turkish activists who were bringing support to Gaza.

“That was a very complex problem. The way Turkish people coped with the situation was very successful. If Israel doesn’t apologize or pay compensation to the families whose relatives died, you cannot talk about the fact that you need a relationship with Israel. You cannot say, ‘We can continue our relationship with Israel without getting anything.’ This is your pride and right. In fact, it is Israel cutting this relationship,” said al-Assad.

The Syrian president also said the West was withdrawing from Turkey, in response to a question about Turkey’s foreign policy axis. Although Turkey has relationships with the West, it is wrong to define Turkey as the West, he added.

“Turkey should carry on the role it has been playing for the last three years. Especially, after Sept. 11, diverse balances were created in this agitated region,” said al-Assad.

In Islamic societies, people fear becoming a more conservative society and such debates occupy the agenda of Islamic world, said al-Assad.

“Extremism has gained strength in the Islamic world for the last 10 years and as Muslim people our responsibility should be struggling with this extremity,” he said.

As secular states, Turkey and Syria have moderate Muslims in power, but every Islamic country does not possess this variety, said al-Assad, adding that other religions should be accepted and that people should learn to live in harmony without getting into conflicts or killing each other.

Asked whether he would like to see more or fewer women wearing headscarves in Syria, al-Assad said everybody had the right to live as they choose.

“We don’t look at the issue this way in Syria. We look at how the minds operate and how they approach other cultures,” said al-Assad.

Noting that a variety of lifestyles and beliefs exist in Syria, al-Assad said that the headscarf was sometimes a look, part of an identity or the symbol of conservatism.

“Once you attack Islam, people sometimes want to put their identities to the forefront. At times, they show it with their looks,” said al-Assad.

Terrorism is more powerful than it was on Sept. 11 and finds its place within societies, said al-Assad, noting that the West was as fragile to the threat of terrorism as Middle Eastern countries.

“How long can you permanently make your soldiers ready at airports or other places? I don’t think anybody needs such a thing. Wars always create more terror,” said al-Assad after being asked whether the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would protect the West from terrorism.

“No war can protect the West. The thing shielding the West is politics and economics. They should think about what they can do to help other countries flourish. They should give a response to terror this way,” said al-Assad.

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

Turkish Man Goes on Trial for Plot to Kill Rabbis

A Turkish news agency says a court has released a man whom prosecutors accuse of plotting to murder Jewish rabbis and the Istanbul-based leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

The Anatolia agency says suspect Ismet Recber was freed pending the outcome of the trial following the first hearing Wednesday.

Recber, a carpenter, faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of plotting to kill Patriarch Bartholomew I. He denies the accusations.

Anatolia says the man was arrested after an anonymous letter was sent to authorities claiming that a suspect in a separate trial had chosen Recber to carry out the killings.

The separate trial involves an alleged secularist plot to bring down the Islam-oriented government.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Sex Practices Concern U.S., British Forces

A document released by WikiLeaks described efforts by high-ranking Afghan officials to quash reports of police officers and other Afghans arrested for “purchasing a service from a child.”

The leaked diplomatic cable quoted former Minister of the Interior Hanif Atmar’s concern that publicity about the arrests, which involved the hiring of “dancing boys,” would “endanger lives.” The author of the diplomatic cable fretted that the case would be “blown out of proportion, an outcome that would not be good for either the U.S. or Afghanistan.” The vast gulf between U.S. and Afghan attitudes about homosexuality and pedophilia has generated concern among U.S. advisers in Afghanistan since the American presence there began to expand.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Afghan Taliban Leadership Splintered by Intense US Military Campaign

The US military onslaught against the Taliban in Kandahar has dealt a major blow against insurgent commanders who have been forced to flee areas they used to control and reduced two of the most senior insurgent field commanders to squabbling over footsoldiers, residents in the critically important southern province say.

Tribal elders and ordinary villagers living at the centre of Barack Obama’s military surge in and around Kandahar city say it has severely damaged the Taliban’s capability, with senior commanders and foreign fighters quitting the key districts of Zhari, Panjwai and Arghandab altogether.

Local fighters have been promoted to leadership positions and left to fend for themselves and continue attacks against coalition forces. But local people say that, cut off from their leaders, local Taliban have shied away from fighting.

“Two months ago the Taliban were everywhere,” said Malim Juma Gul, a tribal elder from Zahri district. “They were attacking Nato forces every day and they were searching people and arresting anyone whom they suspected of working for the government. But after the big operations began, the commanders all ran away and the local fighters now just stay at home, or they work as day labourers and even on US cash-for-work schemes.”

Zhari and other districts bordering Kandahar city have been the main targets of a major effort to quell the insurgency in the Taliban’s home province of Kandahar.

US officials hope the upsurge in American troops and a huge increase in night raids targeting Taliban commanders will deal a devastating blow to the insurgency in the south and reverse its momentum countrywide.

Local people say such raids, which have been condemned by Afghan president Hamid Karzai, have made it extremely difficult for commanders to communicate with their men or even feel safe sheltering for the night.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

WikiLeaks: Bangladeshi ‘Death Squad’ Trained by British Government

Members of paramilitary group the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were trained by British authorities in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”, according to wires from US ambassador to Dhaka James Moriarty. In a cable dating from May 2009, Mr Moriarty writes: “The US and UK representatives reviewed our ongoing training to make the RAB a more transparent, accountable and human-rights compliant paramilitary force. “The British have been training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement. “They said that the training had been widely disseminated within RAB and that they were undertaking an assessment of its effectiveness.” The latest revelations from the cache of US embassy cables also revealed British police provided training to members of the RAB to address the allegations of human rights abuses.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

WikiLeaks Cables: US Intervened in Michael Moore NZ Screening

Whatever else WikiLeaks may have revealed, one fact has been repeatedly confirmed: the US government under George Bush really loathed the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.

After a leaked cable from US diplomats in Havana falsely claimed Cuba had banned Moore’s documentary Sicko — when in fact it was shown on state television — another cable reveals US officials flying into a panic after hearing a rumour that a New Zealand cabinet minister was hosting a screening of Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11.

Labelling the event a “potential fiasco”, the classified cable from the US embassy in Wellington in 2003 reads like a failed plotline for an episode of In the Loop, breathlessly reporting a series of calls to the New Zealand prime minister’s office and to the minister involved, Marian Hobbs.

Michael Moore, appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday night, said the New Zealand cable uncovered by WikiLeaks showed the unsettling reach of US influence. “If they were micromanaging me that much, if they were that concerned about the truth in Fahrenheit 9/11 that they have to go after a screening in a place I don’t even really know where it is — I know it’s way too long to sit in coach for me — I want to know. Because I think it speaks to a larger issue: if they have the time for that, what else are these guys up to?”

Sadly for the world’s only superpower, the New Zealand government wasn’t concerned in the slightest, based on the puzzled responses recorded by the US deputy chief of mission, David Burnett, to his protests.

Burnett contacted the prime minister’s office, to be told they knew nothing about a screening. He then called Hobbs, only to be rebuffed by a receptionist. “The minister’s office declined to make her available to discuss the matter,” Burnett sniffed.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Imam Predicts Doom in 2011

The Spiritual Leader of the Salawatia Muslim Mission of Ghana, Sheihu Imam Rashid Hussein Salawat Qutubu Az-zamaan, has revealed that natural disasters such as landslides, earthquakes, storms, thunders, volcanic eruptions and floods would occur in the country and entire world in 2011.

According to Salawat Qutubu Az-zamaan, the disasters are expected to occur “as a result of the unbalanced nature of the world where there is too much weight to one side.” He averred that the situation can only be prevented if huge pyramids are constructed along the equator. He stressed that Ghana could escape the world disaster if President Mills allows Muslim leaders to recite the Holy Quran 220 times, slaughter 7 white and 6 brown cows to feed the poor and provide $490,000 as alms to the needy in society.

The renowned Islamic scholar made the prophecy at the Rashiddiya Mosque in Tamale last Sunday when addressing this year’s Ayaam U1-Lah. “The 2011 year will also be a year of prosperity and blessings where there will be plenty of agricultural produce around the world. Businesses will flourish in some countries, while some will overcome their economic difficulties and other challenges,” Imam Rashid Hussein told the congregation.

The spiritual leader’s predictions about the future of the world have over the years come to reality. In 2009, for instance, he revealed that 2010 will experience a lot of disasters such as earthquakes, floods, wind fires, air crashes, volcanoes, epidemics severe weather conditions and many deaths among the youth. Continuing, he intoned that prominent politicians and chiefs would pass away in 2011, if principles of “Unfolding the Scriptures” are not properly adhered to. The Islamic concept of Unfolding the Scriptures is an old Islamic ritual or tradition, where every year scriptures from the Holy Quran are revealed to depict the future.


[DF — “too much weight to one side.” — LMAO . Natural disasters occur every year. More people on the planet means more people living in areas prone to natural disasters.]

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Luis Fleischman: A Closer Look at Brazil’s Foreign Policy

Latin America is increasingly turning into a geo-political and international challenge. On the one hand, Venezuela, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez, continues to support the Colombian narco-guerilla group known as the FARC. The FARC protects the activities of drug cartels, and cooperates with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. On the other hand, a number of Southern Cone countries led by Brazil (and supported by Argentina and Uruguay) did not go as far as Venezuela but have conducted a foreign policy which is detrimental not only to the United States but to the free world, in general.

Brazil under the government of Jose Inazio Lula Da Silva took advantage of the country’s economic growth (which was the cumulative result of years of economic and developmental polices that began before Da Silva took office) to flex its muscles in the regional and international arena.

President Lula Da Silva surprised the world, when despite having a left-wing background plus having been a co-founder along with Fidel Castro of the anti-American Foro de Sao Paulo, appointed conservative figures to his cabinet. That move was aimed at maintaining the continuity of Brazil’s economic development which was pretty much based on the strong role and cooperation of the business community. The fact that Lula did not go left on domestic and economic polices led many people in the region and in Washington to believe that Brazil’s stand in the international arena would be similar…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


New Census Data Reveal Immigration is Fueling Runaway U.S. Population Growth

Today’s release of 2010 Census data reveal that the U.S. population grew by more than 27 million during the last decade — representing a nearly ten percent increase in our population in just ten years. The single largest factor in this enormous, and unwelcome, increase was excessive legal and illegal immigration.

Here is how the math works:

  • During the past decade, about 13 million new immigrants arrived in the United States legally and illegally. Accounting for emigration and deaths, the net foreign-born population increased by some 8 million people.
  • An additional 10 million births to foreign-born women were recorded during the 2000 decade.
  • Net immigration plus births to immigrants swelled the U.S. population by some 18 million people during the previous decade, accounting for about two-thirds of the population growth during that period.
  • The population surge of the 2000s was the third largest in U.S. history, exceeded only by the 1950s and 1990s.

The new data also confirm warnings by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) that continued mass immigration places this country on an unsustainable population growth trajectory. Unless significant reductions in overall immigration to the United States are enacted, soaring U.S. population growth will further strain our natural resources and steadily diminish quality of life for all Americans.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Ex-Illegal Immigrant Shares Her Story

It is estimated that Switzerland is home to 70,000-180,000 illegal immigrants. One of them was Colombian Annalilia Sanchez, who has shared her story with

Sanchez, now 41, managed to live in Switzerland illegally for 14 years before she received a much-desired residence permit three months ago after applying as a hardship case.

“This residence permit is the best gift ever — I can still hardly believe my luck,” Sanchez* tells, her eyes shining. Yet the old fear of being discovered and deported still lingers.

“If I pass a police officer or there’s an unexpected knock at the door, I still get jumpy. Illegal immigrants live as though they’re in prison,” confesses the petite woman with curly dark hair.

Without proper papers, you can neither rent an apartment nor sign up for mobile phone service — never mind visit the doctor.

Sanchez, dressed in jeans and a grey sweatshirt, tells the story of a friend who broke her leg but didn’t dare go to hospital. Thanks to the support of an organisation that helps illegal immigrants, Sanchez has had health insurance for a couple of years.

Ten francs for four words

Her German is very good — she says she’s been working on it since she came to Switzerland. Sanchez, who admits that she doesn’t know much about politics, concedes that it would be hard to “legalise” all immigrants.

Yet in her view, each case should be examined individually: “We’re not just illegal immigrants; we are people with hearts and families.”

Sanchez adds that she doesn’t understand why foreigners can’t do domestic and garden work, considering that so few Swiss people are willing to do it.

It was work that brought Sanchez to Switzerland 14 years ago. Her cousin, working as a cleaner here, was expecting a child.

Sanchez jumped in to take her place — and the women settled in a small attic apartment without a kitchen or a shower. Neither could speak the local language.

In the beginning, Sanchez could only afford to buy phone cards worth about ten francs. Yet after exchanging just three or four words with her mother and daughter in Colombia, the credit ran out.

“I cried a lot at the beginning, but having to rely on myself made me strong,” Sanchez remembers.

A tough life

Sanchez comes from a very poor family. Her mother worked as a washerwoman — not with a machine, but with soap and a rock. When she became ill, Sanchez had to drop out of school and get a job.

Her father suffered a fatal accident at the age of 49. This left the six-child-family without money or any prospects.

Sanchez, herself a single mother without an education, wanted a better life for her own daughter. Yet she has had to make a lot of sacrifices.

Her daughter, who stayed behind in Colombia with her grandmother, has only visited Switzerland three times. As Sanchez recalls, “I thought about her all the time. That gave me strength.”

Thanks to her work as a cleaning lady for a doctor’s family, Sanchez has been able to support her mother financially and send her daughter to school.

“If I had stayed in Colombia, I wouldn’t have been able to help my family,” Sanchez concludes. Her daughter now supports herself as a flight attendant…

* Not her real name

Corinne Buchser,

(Translated from German by Susan Vogel-Misicka)

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

Culture Wars

UK: ‘Christmas is Evil’: Muslim Group Launches Poster Campaign Against Festive Period

Organisers plan to put up thousands of placards around the UK claiming the season of goodwill is responsible for rape, teenage pregnancies, abortion, promiscuity, crime and paedophilia.

They hope the campaign will help ‘destroy Christmas’ in this country and lead to Britons converting to Islam instead.

Labour MP and anti racist campaigner Jim Fitzpatrick branded the posters ‘extremely offensive’ and demanded they were immediately ripped down.

The placards, which have already appeared in parts of London, feature an apparently festive scene with an image of the Star of Bethlehem over a Christmas tree.

But under a banner announcing ‘the evils of Christmas’ it features a message mocking the song the 12 Days of Christmas.

It reads: ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me an STD (sexually transmitted disease).

‘On the second day debt, on the third rape, the fourth teenage pregnancies and then there was abortion..’

According to the posters, Christmas is also to responsible for paganism, domestic violence, homelessness, vandalism, alcohol and drugs.

Another offence of Christmas, it proclaims, is ‘claiming God has a son’.

The bottom of the poster declares: ‘In Islam we are protected from all of these evils. We have marriage, family, honour, dignity, security, rights for man, woman and child.’

The campaign’s organiser is 27-year-old Abu Rumaysah, who once called for Sharia Law in Britain at a press conference held by hate preacher leader Anjem Choudary, the leader of militant group Islam4UK.

Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson banned Islam4UK group earlier this year, making it a criminal offence to be a member, after it threatened to protest at Wootton Bassett, the town where Britain honours its war dead.

Mr Rumaysah told the Mail that he was unconcerned about offending Christians.

He said: ‘Christmas is a lie and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it.

‘But our main attack is on the fruits of Christmas, things like alcohol abuse and promiscuity that increase during Christmas and all the other evils these lead to such as abortion, domestic violence and crime.

‘We hope that out campaign will make people realise that Islam is the only way to avoid this and convert.’

Mr Rumaysah, who said his campaign was not linked to any group, boasted that the posters would be put up in cities around the country, including London, Birmingham and Cardiff.

The campaign was highlighted by volunteers from a charity which distributes food and presents to pensioners and the lonely at Christmas.

Sister Christine Frost, founder of the East London Neighbours in Poplar charity, said: ‘The more posters I saw, the more angry I got.

‘Someone is stirring hatred which leaves the road open to revenge attacks or petrol bombs through letter-boxes.

‘I told the Mayor we are all scared.

‘If we said such things about Muslims, we’d all be hanging from lamp-posts.

‘The posters appear to be professionally printed’.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Mr Fitzpatrick said: ‘These posters are extremely offensive and have upset a lot of people — that’s why we jumped on it and asked the council to remove them.

‘Sister Christine is rooted in the community and doesn’t take offence lightly.

‘But these hate posters really upset her. Christmas is close to her belief.’

A Met Police spokesman said they had received complaints and were investigating.

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman said the posters had ‘upset and antagonised many residents’.

He added: ‘The messages on these posters are offensive and do not reflect the views of the Council or the vast majority of residents.’

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Christian NHS Worker Could be Sacked for Handing Out Books on Risks of Abortion

A Christian health worker is facing the sack for giving a colleague a booklet about the potential dangers of abortion.

Margaret Forrester was ‘bullied’ and ‘treated like a criminal’ after she handed the pro-life leaflet to a family planning worker at an NHS centre.

Miss Forrester, 39, said she offered the booklet during a private conversation, because she felt the NHS did not give enough information about the potential risks.

It told of the physical and psychological problems suffered by five women after terminating pregnancies. But her NHS employers have launched disciplinary action against her and she fears she could lose her job.

Miss Forrester, a Roman Catholic, has been accused of ‘distributing materials some people may find offensive’.

It is the latest example of Christians facing disciplinary action for expressing religious views.

Miss Forrester attended an internal disciplinary hearing yesterday, but will not be told the outcome until January, meaning she faces Christmas without knowing whether she will lose her job.

She said: ‘My pro-life views do come from my Christian belief, but a lot of people have a religion. It’s not a criminal offence.

‘A religious opinion is expressed in the booklet, so therefore it’s not entirely neutral, but I believe women considering abortion should have a full range of information.’

Miss Forrester has worked for the NHS for six years and is a mental health worker at the Central North West London Mental Health Trust, in Camden, North London.

In early November she gave two copies of the booklet called Forsaken — Women From Taunton Talk About Abortion to a female colleague with whom she had been discussing the information offered to patients.

It features five women who have experienced what it describes as ‘post-abortion syndrome’, including depression, relationship issues, suicidal feelings and fertility problems.

Miss Forrester said there was no sign her colleague was offended by the £4 charity leaflet, or by their conversation. But a few days later her manager told her she was being sent home on ‘special leave with full pay’..

She was ordered not to see any patients and to stay away from any NHS site while the trust investigated.

Miss Forrester was then told she had not been suspended and to return to work but claimed she was not allowed to do her normal job.

Instead she was put on other duties, which she found ‘bullying and offensive’, adding: ‘I felt physically sickened by their bullying.’

She was eventually signed off on sick leave and has not been back to the health centre since.

After her hearing, Miss Forrester said: ‘There is an authoritarian management at work here, which is encroaching on very basic freedoms. It is a kangaroo court.’

NHS advice says ‘repeated abortions’ can cause damage to the womb, which can result in fertility problems.

Its website says research suggests abortion does not lead to psychological problems, ‘however, some women can feel sad or guilty after an abortion, and post-abortion counselling services are widely available’.

Miss Forrester’s case is backed by the Christian Legal Centre, whose director Andrea Minichiello Williams said: ‘The level of intolerance in the public sphere, particularly in public sector employment, is deeply worrying and suggests we are living in a society that is less and less free.’

Earlier this year, nurse Shirley Chaplin, 54, lost a tribunal over her right to wear a crucifix at work.

Lillian Ladele, a registrar with Islington Council in North London, lost a case at the Appeal Court in which she argued she was entitled to refuse to conduct gay civil partnership ceremonies because they were against her beliefs. She has since left her job.

A spokesman from the NHS trust said she could not comment on internal disciplinary cases.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]


Objective Islam, Subjective Islam

You can sort the written and spoken words about Islam into two categories — negative and apologist. Closer observation shows that the negative camp and the apologist camp use different logic, as well as come to different conclusions.

An easy way to see this is to go to a reporting source on the web such as a newspaper that has an article about Islam. Read the comments. The negative comments tend to be more based on ideas taken from the Islamic source material from the Koran and Mohammed. Or they quote a jihadi, a poll or a historical fact.

The apologist comments tend to quote a Muslim friend or establishment expert and attack those who criticize Islam. Critics are called bigots, neo-Nazis, Islamophobes or some other cruel name. In essence, having negative comments or judgments about Islam is labeled as evil. The term hate speech is even bantered about. The critic of Islam is a failed sinner who is shamed and morally condemned. It is all very personal and very much about feelings.

A good apologist will have a second attack on the problem of, “Is Islam good or bad”? Islam must be supported by something besides an attack on the person. There must be with some facts about Islam from other apologists, mainly Muslim scholars and academic types. These experts are authorities who can deliver judgment from on high. But, many times they don’t have facts, only opinions.

If you are to base your arguments on what some expert says, then what “expert” do you ask? What imam or what professor? If you quote a Jew-hating Saudi imam found on MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) you fail the criteria of the expert the apologist needs, because the “expert” must be a moderate, at all costs. So that fire breathing Palestinian jihadi just won’t do.

If you turn to Google, you can wind up at sites like ReligionLink, a website for reporters. This looks very official, very authoritative; surely you can trust them, but if you are knowledgeable, there are organizations on the site that are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, such as ISNA, which should raise a flag to the knowing.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

OIC Chief Affirms Need for Strong Islamic Media

Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), on Wednesday emphasized the need for a strong media to confront the smear campaign against Islam and Muslims.

“There is big negligence from the part of Islamic media organizations in keeping with the fast developments in the media world,” he told the General Assembly of the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU), an affiliate of OIC.

Ihsanoglu said the extraordinary OIC summit that was held in Makkah in 2005 at the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah had called for strengthening OIC media agencies such IBU and the International Islamic News Agency (IINA).

Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja, who presided over the meeting, emphasized the need to strengthen IBU in order to realize the hopes and aspirations of the Ummah.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

Everyone here needs to read and understand the full text of the above article by Daniel Greenfield entitled Terrorizing Our Own. Greenfield's article effectively articulates why EVERY practicing Muslim is a mortal threat to EVERY non-Muslim.

In addition, to understand Islam and the Koran and Muslims in their full context, go to google and search on Statistical Islam published by the Center for the Study of Political Islam (cspipublishing).

kloutlichter: Please read the article and website items that I listed above as well as my reply to your last comment on the previous thread called An Axe to the Roots. There is hope for you yet! :)

Anonymous said...

Everyone here needs to read and understand the full text of the above article by Daniel Greenfield entitled Terrorizing Our Own. Greenfield's article effectively articulates why EVERY practicing Muslim is a mortal threat to EVERY non-Muslim.

In addition, to understand Islam and the Koran and Muslims in their full context, go to google and search on Statistical Islam published by the Center for the Study of Political Islam (cspipublishing).

kloutlichter: Please read the article and website items that I listed above as well as my reply to your last comment on the previous thread called An Axe to the Roots. There is hope for you yet! :)

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam also has a great article entitled "Objective Islam, Subjective Islam" that you can read above.

His article illustrates HOW critics of "Islamophobes" participate in patently emotional arguments and vicious character assassinations to distract from objective facts that are easily ascertained from Islamic source documents.