Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110208

Financial Crisis
»Spain: 100 Bln in Loans With High Default Risk Granted
»Donald Rumsfeld: Saddam Hussein Placed $60m Bounty on My Daughters’ Heads
»GOP Leader: Stop Radical Islam in Egypt
»Investigators Baffled as Wheat Fields Wither
»LA Sheriff Baca Challenges Pete King, Defends Muslim Brotherhood Infiltration in America
»Mansfield — Mansfield ISD Officials Apologized to Parents Monday Night Over a Plan to Teach Arabic Culture in Every Class at One School
»Mansfield Arabic Program on Hold
»Michael Moore Turns on Weinstein Partners Over ‘Missing Fahrenheit 9/11 Profits’
»More Wealthy DC Residents Registering Guns
»Muslims Accuse Congress of McCarthyism
»New York TV Executive Convicted of Beheading His Wife
»Obama Administration Hid the Role of Political Correctness in Spawning Fort Hood Massacre
»Obama Elevates Islamic Vile Propaganda Network, Al Jazeera
»Rep. Peter King Rejects Criticism of Homegrown Terror Hearings
»Rifqa Bary on Defense Again
»Toyota Acceleration Problem Not Caused by Electronic Flaw, U.S. Inquiry Finds
»U.S. Must Reject Extremist Islam at Home
»What if 9/11 Had Been Nuclear?
»Multiculturalism Will Fail: Tarek Fatah
»Would Old, White Men Get Away With This?
Europe and the EU
»British Legion Accuses David Cameron Over U-Turn on Pledge to War Heroes
»France: The ‘Percee Du Vin Jaune’ In Jura Tomorrow
»Italy: Naples Still Littered With Trash
»Italy: President Condemns ‘Ruby’ Clashes
»Italy: Possible Naples Connection for Arcore Party Girls
»Italy: Tunisian Terror Convict Kept at Guantanamo in ‘Inhumane’ Conditions Freed
»Italy: Prosecutors May Widen Berlusconi Sex Probe
»Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood
»Netherlands: Combating ‘Black’ Schools No Longer Govt Policy Goal
»Netherlands: Wilders Trial II: Judges Take Charge
»Netherlands: Halal Lunch for Non-Pork Eating Police Officers Okay, Says Minister
»Right Turn — What’s Wrong With Europe?
»Sex Trafficking in the UK: One Woman’s Horrific Story of Kidnap, Rape, Beatings and Prostitution
»UK: ‘Judas-Like’ Teenage Sisters, 16 and 19, Locked Up for a Total of 40 Years for Murder of Their Own Father
»UK: ‘Britain’s Worst Mother’ Abandons Children for Penniless Tunisian Waiter… Again!
»UK: David Cameron’s Important Speech
»UK: Douglas Murray: Cameron’s Multiculturalism Wake-Up Call
»UK: David Cameron’s Crackdown on Extremism is Counterproductive
»UK: Expenses Fraud: Barnsley Central MP Eric Illsley Resigns
»UK: General Synod Backs Ban on Clergy Joining the BNP
»UK: Labour’s Game Plan to Free Lockerbie Bomber Revealed as Documents Show Politicians ‘Did All They Could’ To Secure Release
»UK: Muslim Anti-Terrorism Adviser to Leave Top Civil Service Job, Officials Say
»UK: WikiLeaks: No 10 Urged Commander to Play Down Afghanistan Failures
»Serbia: Getting Closer to EU Candidate Status
North Africa
»Algeria: Italian Kidnapped, Woman’s Guide Arrested
»Algeria: Population Moves Against Kidnapping in Kabylie
»Banned Islamists Say Time for Change in Morocco
»Egypt: Not Only Muslim Brotherhood, Obama
»Egypt and Tunisia Rocked by the Global Food Crisis
»Egypt: The Caliphate’s a-Comin’
»Egyptian Journalist: U.S. Is Next Target [Video]
»Egypt Crisis: Government Claim it Has a Timetable for Transferring Power
»Egypt: Top Muslim Brotherhood Member Thanks Khamenei — Hopes for Government Like Iran & Brave President Like Ahmadinejad
»Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Awakens Terrorist Wing
»Egypt: The Moment Mubarak’s Men Were Lynched
»Is Mubarak Heading to Germany?
»Libya: Amnesty Appeals for Two Berbers Arrested
»Libya: Crisis Group Monitoring Risks of Street Protests
»Libya: Press: Why the Maghreb Uprising Doesn’t Concern US
»Muslim Brotherhood Text Reveals Scope of Radical Creed
»Queen Noor: Don’t Exclude Muslim Brotherhood
»Senior US Marine Says “Multiple Platoons” Are Headed to Egypt
»Shai Baitel: The Egyptian Scorpion and the Frog
»Soros Group: ‘Normalize’ Muslim Brotherhood
»The Muslim Brotherhood Uncovered
»What if the Problem Really is the People?
Israel and the Palestinians
»Army Chief Ashkenazi: Prepare for All-Out War
»NGO Monitor Reveals Dutch Gov’t Funding for Electronic Intifada
Middle East
»Iranians Crack Down on Christian Churches
»Iraq Repairs Saddam’s Triumphal Sword Arch
»Kuwait: Death From Torture, Interior Minister Resigns
»Sultan’s TV Drama Opens Turkish Divide on Religion
»Turkish Author’s Book Explores Pious Women’s Lives Beyond Clichés
»WikiLeaks Cables: Saudi Arabia Cannot Pump Enough Oil to Keep a Lid on Prices
»Chechen Rebel Claims His Terror Cell Bombed Moscow Airport
»Islamist Rebel Says He Ordered Russian Bombing
»Vladimir Putin’s Strongman Act is Only Fuelling a Caucasian Jihad
South Asia
»Bangladesh Protest Fuel Prices, Concerns for Ethnic and Religious Minorities
»Fears Rise Over Indonesian Religious Freedom
»India: Muslim Supremacists Kill Christian Teenagers for Reading Bible
»Indonesia: Central Java: Thousands of Muslims Attack Three Churches, An Orphanage and a Christian Centre
»Indonesia: Mobs Destroy Three Churches in Central Java
»Indonesia: Over a Thousand Muslims Attack Churches in Indonesia Again
Far East
»China’s Poor Fed Fake Rice Made From Plastic
»Concrete Evidence of China’s Naval Ambitions
»Dalai Lama: I Was Very Much Attracted to Marxism.
»Philippines: MILF Divided, Mindanao Peace Process at Risk
Australia — Pacific
»Tackle ‘Extreme Islam Before it’s Too Late’ Liberal MPs Warn
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Charles Taylor Fails to Return to War Crimes Tribunal After Lawyer Row
»Eight Pakistani Muslim Preachers Arrested in Burundi on Terror Suspicions
»Italian Oil Tanker Seized by Pirates
»Finland: How Soon Will Immigrants Assimilate Into the Mainstream?
»Government’s Plan to Dissolve America’s Sovereignty
»Obama Signature Creates ‘Continental Perimeter’
Culture Wars
»White House Announces New Appointees to Faith Council
»Ambitious Mission Would Probe Depths of Jupiter’s Icy Moons
»Private Spaceflight Innovators Attract NASA’s Attention

Financial Crisis

Spain: 100 Bln in Loans With High Default Risk Granted

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 7 — The Spanish banks have granted 100 billion euros in mortgages with high solvency risk during the property boom. Of these mortgages, 56 billion were granted by savings banks or rural banks, according to figures of the Bank of Spain reported today by El Pais.

The mortgages in question, many of which similar to the subprime mortgages in the United States, regard one in five loans granted by the savings banks. Experts say that many were granted to immigrants and young people with fixed-term contracts. The default rate of these credits is 6.1%, three times as high as the average of the Spanish banking system. The institutes that have granted the most high-risk loans, starting with 80% of the taxation value, are: Caja Madrid-Bancaja, with 19.221 billion; BBVA, with 15.556 billion; Santander, with 9.286 billion; Caixa, with 9.232 billion; Caixa Catalunya, with 6.528 billion; and Banco Base, formed by Cajasur, CCM and Cam, with 5.810 billion. Looking at default levels, the institutes that are doing worst are Caja Duero-Espana; Unnim and Kutxa in San Sebastian, and the banks Sabadell and BBVA.

The Economy Ministry, the Bank of Spain and the banks are negotiating a plan to support the financial system. The decree on this system will probably be presented in the Council of Ministers on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Donald Rumsfeld: Saddam Hussein Placed $60m Bounty on My Daughters’ Heads

Donald Rumsfeld has revealed that Saddam Hussein took out a $60million hit on his daughters in revenge for the slaying of his two sons.

The ex-U.S. Secretary of Defense said that the former Iraqi dictator offered the bounty to anybody who brought him both girls’ heads.

He was given the warning in a October 2003 meeting by which time U.S. forces had killed Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay and his 14-year-old grandson Mustapha.

A similar threat was made to George W Bush’s two daughters, but the president had Secret Service protection which made him feel safer.

Rumsfeld and his family had no such privilege, sparking a rather uncomfortable pause in the National Security Council meeting.

‘Of course the president and his family had secret service protection.

‘My family did not. And it was a somewhat awkward moment in the meeting,’ he told ABC’s Good Morning America.

‘I believe (former CIA head) George Tenet said: “You have to take it seriously” because we had killed Saddam Husein’s sons and one ought not to be surprised that that kind of activity was being generated in Iraq…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

GOP Leader: Stop Radical Islam in Egypt

A top House Republican said Tuesday the primary goal of U.S. policy in Egypt should be to “stop the spread of radical Islam,” an objective that has been little mentioned by Obama administration officials in recent weeks.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., also said at a news conference he hopes the street protests taking place in Cairo and elsewhere will lead to a democratic society that respects human rights. In his remarks, Cantor did not criticize President Barack Obama over his handling of the two-week crisis.

GOP leaders have privately urged members of the rank and file not to second-guess Obama’s approach to the crisis, in which hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have staged demonstrations demanding that President Hosni Mubarak surrender power.

Asked about criticism leveled recently by another Republican lawmaker, Cantor said the last thing the president needed was 535 members of Congress telling him what to do as he grapples with a fast-changing situation.

Yet with his remarks, which aides said were planned in advance, Cantor appeared to be articulating a different policy objective than the one Obama has spoken of most frequently.

“My priority is to make sure we stop the spread of radical Islam,” he said.

Since the protests first arose, Obama has called for a transition to a government — regardless of its leader — that grants greater freedoms than Mubarak allows in a nation of 80 million. “The future of Egypt will be determined by its people. It’s also clear that there needs to be a transition process that begins now. That transition must initiate a process that respects the universal rights of the Egyptian people and that leads to free and fair elections,” the president said late last week…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Investigators Baffled as Wheat Fields Wither

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are investigating the yellowing of upward of 40,000 acres of wheat in Umatilla and Morrow counties.

So far, the cause is a mystery, and researchers do not know if the problems in the two counties are related.

In early November, Umatilla County growers noticed wheat fields turning yellow and dying, OSU Extension soil scientist Don Wysocki said.

Sixteen fields from three to 10 miles northwest of Pendleton were affected, Wysocki said. They are “more or less but not completely contiguous,” he said. Not every field in the area was affected.

The area was predominately planted to soft white Clearfield variety ORCF-102, but other varieties were also affected, Wysocki said.

“There’s probably more than one thing going on in these particular fields, like in any field,” he said.

OSU Morrow County Extension associate professor Larry Lutcher said 30,000 to 40,000 acres of wheat in his county have plants with yellow or purple tips. The discoloration spreads inward and downward on the leaf. In some cases, plants are completely desiccated and will not recover.

The symptoms have been observed in many fields in the county, Lutcher said, but do not appear tied to any particular location.

“Most of the symptoms in Morrow County are unlike anything I have ever seen,” Lutcher said.

Lutcher said he doesn’t believe the problem will spread to other fields, but he can’t be certain.

“This does appear to be a new problem — a problem that no one seems to have experience with,” he said.

[Return to headlines]

LA Sheriff Baca Challenges Pete King, Defends Muslim Brotherhood Infiltration in America

In an expected move from a longtime dhimmi, Democrat Sheriff Lee Baca is attacking Representative Peter King for his national security hearings. Hardly surprising, given that Baca loves Hamas-linked CAIR.

Lee Baca challenging Peter King on how well Muslims have cooperated with anti-terror efforts is rich. Lee Baca has previously denounced as “un-American” criticism of him for appearing at two fundraisers for the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case. Baca’s support for CAIR shows that he wouldn’t know non-cooperation even if it punched him in the face, or blew up the LAPD. CAIR has never seen an anti-terror measure that it liked or supported, and recently CAIR-California distributed posters telling Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI. So CAIR is telling Muslims in California not to aid in law enforcement efforts, and Lee Baca in Los Angeles is claiming that there’s no evidence of Muslim non-cooperation? He should look under his nose.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mansfield — Mansfield ISD Officials Apologized to Parents Monday Night Over a Plan to Teach Arabic Culture in Every Class at One School

Many parents said they hadn’t been told about the mandatory curriculum change.

Parents and teachers packed a Mansfield ISD school cafeteria to hear learn more about why Arabic language and culture could soon be embedded in everything their children learn.

Veronika Webb is a sixth-grader at Cross Timbers Intermediate School. Her parents adopted her from Russia when she was three years old. She had to learn English, but her language challenges weren’t over.

“She had to learn Spanish when she was in elementary school, and now they want her to learn Arabic,” said Bobbi Webb, Veronika’s mom.

The Mansfield ISD plans to use grant money to start a program that would look at almost every subject from an Arab perspective, but Monday was the first time they’ve explained it to parents.

“Our goal was to focus on the development of the curriculum before we actually rolled that out to parents,” said Assistant Superintendent Lamar Goree.

Some parents are upset because no one has shown them what information will be taught under the program. US: Mansfield ISD will re-tool Arabic culture curriculum

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mansfield Arabic Program on Hold

A Mansfield ISD program to teach Arabic language and culture in schools is on hold for now, and may not happen at all. The school district wanted students at selected schools to take Arabic language and culture classes as part of a federally funded grant. The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant was awarded to Mansfield ISD last summer by the U.S. Department of Education. As part of the five-year $1.3 million grant, Arabic classes would have been taught at Cross Timbers Intermediate School and other schools feeding into Summit High School. Parents at Cross Timbers say they were caught off-guard by the program, and were surprised the district only told them about it in a meeting Monday night between parents and Mansfield ISD Superintendent Bob Morrison. The Department of Education has identified Arabic as a ‘language of the future.’ But parent Joseph Balson was frustrated by the past. “Why are we just now finding out about it?” asked Balson. “It’s them (Mansfield ISD) applying for the grant, getting it approved and them now saying they’ll go back and change it only when they were caught trying to implement this plan without parents knowing about it.” Trisha Savage thinks it will offer a well-rounded education. “I think its a great opportunity that will open doors. We need to think globally and act locally.” Mansfield ISD says in addition to language, the grant provides culture, government, art, traditions and history as part of the curriculum. Some parents had concerns over religion. “The school doesn’t teach Christianity, so I don’t want them teaching Islam,” said parent Baron Kane. During Monday’s meeting Morrison stressed the curriculum would not be about religion, but about Arabic language and culture, similar to the Spanish curriculum already in place in the district. Kheirieh Hannun was born in the Middle East but raised in the U.S. She believes giving students the option to learn Arabic will give her son and others like him the option to learn more about their culture. “It was surprising, but I think it’s okay, and it will help come down on the stereotype.” Hannun says she is hopeful the class could broaden the minds of not only students, but also parents…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Michael Moore Turns on Weinstein Partners Over ‘Missing Fahrenheit 9/11 Profits’

The director is suing Hollywood movie moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein for at least $2.7 million (£1.7 million) in a row over “missing profits” from his anti-George W Bush documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Moore, 56, claims the Weinstein brothers used revenue from the 2004 film that was owed to him to pay for things such as “grossly excessive and unreasonable” travel expenses, including the cost of a private jet to fly one of them to Europe.

He also claims money used to acquire the rights of his movie, advertising costs, and payments to “distribution consultants” was deducted from what he was owed.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” focused on the administration of President George W Bush and the decision to invade Iraq. It grossed $222 million (£137 million) at the global box office and is the highest grossing documentary ever in the US.

A lawyer for the Weinsteins described the claims as “absolute baloney” and said Moore had received a total of $19.8 million (£12.3 million) from the film, which was “every dime” he should have got. Bert Fields added that the timing of the legal claim just ahead of the Oscars was “very suspicious”. The Weinsteins, who now run the Weinstein Company film studio, are on the verge of huge Oscar success for their Royal drama “The King’s Speech”, starring Colin Firth as George VI. The falling out between some of the biggest names in independent film has shocked Hollywood.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” was championed by the Weinsteins when Disney refused to release it because of its political nature. Since then, they worked with Moore on his 2009 film “Capitalism: A Love Story,” in which the director savaged the “casino mentality” and greed of Wall Street, and the effects of the capitalist system in general. In legal papers, filed on behalf of Moore’s company Westside Productions in Los Angeles Superior Court, it was claimed: “The case is about classic Hollywood accounting tricks and financial deception.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

More Wealthy DC Residents Registering Guns

WASHINGTON — Police data shows that since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Washington’s handgun ban more than 2 1/2 years ago, hundreds of residents in the District’s safest and wealthiest areas have registered handguns — more than those in poor areas with higher crime.

The Washington Post reports that since the 2008 ruling, records show more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with police. Among those, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase areas.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Muslims Accuse Congress of McCarthyism

But Boehner suggests hearings will be run as Rep. King wants

Rejecting accusations that proposed congressional hearings on the threat of domestic Islamic terrorism represent a new generation of McCarthyism, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will allow the hearings to be run as committee chairman Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., wants, a spokesman told WND today.

King, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security in the House, wants to conduct hearings this month on the “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism.”


King has criticized the Obama administration for not addressing more seriously the threat of domestic terrorism.

He’s also suggested that leaders in the Muslim community haven’t been jumping forward with cooperation. King said he’s not trying to target the Muslim community, but instead wants to look at the facts of current cases.

“It’s the fact that there’s a real threat coming from this attempted radicalization of the community, and it’s in many ways coming from overseas,” he told Politico earlier.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

New York TV Executive Convicted of Beheading His Wife

The Pakistan-born founder of a Muslim-oriented New York television station has been convicted of beheading his wife in 2009 in the studio the couple had opened to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan did not deny that he killed Aasiya Hassan inside the station that the couple established in suburban Buffalo to promote cultural understanding.

A jury on Monday rejected his claim he was the victim of spousal abuse.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Hid the Role of Political Correctness in Spawning Fort Hood Massacre

A Muslim soldier, Nidal Hasan, shot dead 12 soldiers and a civilian at Fort Hood, shouting the religious expression “Allahu Akbar.” But the Obama Administration’s inquiry into the shootings falsely suggested Islamic extremism was not a factor in the shootings. Its report on the Fort Hood massacre did not even “mention the words ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’ once,” referring to the killer simply as the “alleged perpetrator.” Instead, it claimed the tragedy resulted from “bureaucratic shortcomings” in the “sharing of information.”

But now Senators like Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins are taking issue with that whitewash report: “the federal government needs to drop the political correctness and call violent Islamic extremism what it is, according to a newly released report on the Fort Hood shooting by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.”

Prior to the shooting, the killer had said that Muslims should rise up against the military, “repeatedly expressed sympathy for suicide bombers,” was pleased by the terrorist murder of an army recruiter, and engaged in hate-speech against non-Muslims, publicly calling for the beheading or burning of non-Muslims, and talking “about how if you’re a nonbeliever the Koran says you should have your head cut off, you should have oil poured down your throat, you should be set on fire.” “In addition, Hasan openly had suggested revenge as a defense for the 9/11 attacks, defended Osama bin Laden, and said his allegiance to his religion was greater than his allegiance to the constitution.”

But the military did nothing to remove him from a position where he could harm others. Although his views were common knowledge, “a fear of appearing discriminatory . . . kept officers from filing a formal written complaint,” the Associated Press noted. Moreover, “a key official on a review committee reportedly asked how it might look to terminate a key resident who happened to be a Muslim,” as NPR noted.

As military attorney Thomas Kenniff notes, there is a climate of “obsessive political correctness” right now in the military. As Major Shawn Keller pointed out, in a column entitled “An Officer’s Outrage Over Fort Hood.” “There was no shortage of warning signs that Hasan identified more with Islamic Jihadists than he did with the US Army. . .But just like September 11, those agencies and individuals charged with keeping America and Americans safe failed to connect the dots that would have saved lives. Jihadist rhetoric espoused by Hasan was categorically dismissed out of submissiveness to the concepts of tolerance and diversity. . . . the leaders in Hasan’s chain-of-command failed to act . . . out of fear of being labeled anti-Muslim and receiving a negative evaluation report.”

The military is not like the outside world. In the civilian world, hate speech and anti-American speech are protected by the First Amendment (under Supreme Court decisions like R.A.V. v. St. Paul, and court rulings like Dambrot v. Central Michigan University). But in the military, soldiers get punished for bigotry or disloyalty all the time — but not Nidal Hasan, who escaped any punishment due to obvious favoritism.

In court cases like Goldman v. Weinberger, the Supreme Court has said that soldiers have fewer First Amendment rights than civilians. The military cites this all the time when it wants to punish soldiers for politically-incorrect speech, like the soldier who was punished for a sexist insult about liberal Congresswoman Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.) in the aftermath of the Tailhook Scandal. But the military did not apply not enforce its policies against seditious speech or bigoted hate-speech to this soldier, because of political correctness. Instead, it kept him working with injured American veterans, a position for which he was manifestly unfit…

           — Hat tip: HB[Return to headlines]

Obama Elevates Islamic Vile Propaganda Network, Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is an Islamic propagandist organ dedicated to propagating virulent anti-Americanism and vile Jew-hatred. They make no secret of who and what they are. Everything Obama does reveals to us what he is.


The Obama administration is courting the pan-Arab television network Al Jazeera in an attempt to improve a history of testy relations with one of the most influential news outlets in the Middle East.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rep. Peter King Rejects Criticism of Homegrown Terror Hearings

The new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Monday that he planned to call mostly Muslim and Arab witnesses to testify in hearings next month on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism.

Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said he would rely on Muslims to make his case that American Muslim leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the effort to disrupt terrorist plots — a claim that was rebutted in recent reports by counterterrorism experts and in a forum on Capitol Hill on Monday.

“I believe it will have more of an impact on the American people if they see people who are of the Muslim faith and Arab descent testifying,” Mr. King said.

The hearings, which Mr. King said would start the week of March 7, have provoked an uproar from both the left and the right. The left has accused Mr. King of embarking on a witch hunt. The right has accused him of capitulation for calling Muslims like Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, to testify while denying a platform to popular critics of Islamic extremism like Steven Emerson, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer.

As the hearings approach, the reaction from Muslim groups — initially outraged — has evolved into efforts to get Mr. King to enlarge the scope of the hearings beyond Muslims. They want to use the forum to reinforce the notion that the potential for terrorist violence among American Muslims is very marginal and very isolated.

“Our heads aren’t in the sand,” Alejandro J. Beutel, the government and policy analyst for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a national advocacy group, said at a forum his group sponsored on Monday on Capitol Hill. “The threat clearly exists, but I also want to put it in perspective. The threat exists, but it is not a pandemic.”

Fifty-one Muslim, civil rights and interfaith groups sent a letter last week to Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, protesting Mr. King’s hearings as modern-day McCarthyism. They said that if Congress was going to investigate violent extremism, it should investigate extremists of all kinds and not just Muslims.

“Singling out a group of Americans for government scrutiny based on their faith is divisive and wrong,” said the letter, which was led by Muslim Advocates, a legal and policy organization in San Francisco, and was signed by non-Muslim groups including Amnesty International USA, the Interfaith Alliance and the Japanese American Citizens League.

Mr. Ellison said that while he would participate, “I’m going to make it clear that I challenge the premise of the hearings.

“If you put every single Muslim in the U.S. in jail, it wouldn’t have stopped Jared Loughner,” Mr. Ellison said, referring to the man accused of opening fire on an Arizona congresswoman and her constituents. “It wouldn’t have stopped the young man who killed his classmates at Virginia Tech. It wouldn’t have stopped the bombing in Oklahoma City or the man who killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington.”

But Mr. King dismissed this line of criticism, saying: “I totally reject that. That, to me, is political correctness at its worst. If we included these other violent events in the hearings, we’d be sending the false signal that we think there’s a security threat equivalency between Al Qaeda and the neo-Nazi movement, or Al Qaeda and gun groups. There is none.”

Mr. King added, “I’m not going to dilute the hearings by including other extremists.”

In fact, he said he planned to hold three or four more hearings this year on topics like the radicalization of Muslims in prisons and Saudi financing for American mosques.

He said the only witness he had settled on for certain of the three he would call in the first hearing was Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a doctor from Arizona and an American military veteran who has little following among Muslims but has become a favorite of conservatives for his portrayal of American Muslim leaders as radical Islamists.

Mr. King said he had changed his mind about summoning as a witness Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born feminist critic of Islam who became a member of Parliament in the Netherlands and then fled because of threats on her life…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Rifqa Bary on Defense Again

Teen-convert from Islam releases 1st statement since turning 18

Rifqa Bary, the teenager who ran away to Florida claiming her Muslim parents in Ohio had threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity, has released her first public statement since turning 18 and being released from protective foster care.

Only rather than defending herself in the statement, Bary is defending her lawyer, John Stemberger, who is now facing a $10-million defamation lawsuit filed by her parents’ attorney.

The lawsuit stems from comments Stemberger made on the Fox News Channel, when he asserted Bary’s parents had fired “qualified” attorneys and hired Muslim lawyers instead “with ties to [the Council on American-Islamic Relations] and the Islamic mosque” and who were “funded by a third party.”

Stemberger’s legal defense fund claims the lawsuit, brought by Muslim lawyer Omar Tarazi, who opposed Rifqa Bary in the Ohio case, is an act of retaliation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Toyota Acceleration Problem Not Caused by Electronic Flaw, U.S. Inquiry Finds

The U.S. Transportation Department said its 10-month study of Toyota vehicles concluded there was no electronic cause of unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas reported since 2009, The Associated Press reported.

[Return to headlines]

U.S. Must Reject Extremist Islam at Home

America should listen to David Cameron right now. This past weekend, the British prime minister spoke to the issue of radical Islam and the cultural-political concessions to it in Great Britain. His major theme, at a speech delivered in Munich, Germany, can be summed up by what he said to many young Muslims who “find it hard to identify with Britain … because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.”

“Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream,” failing to provide those cultures with “a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong,” he said. Cameron also said his nation has tolerated these segregated communities “behaving in ways that run counter” to British values. Cameron was quite right in what he said about Britain, and it is equally true here in America. “(W)hen a white person holds objectionable views, racism, for example, we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them,” he said.

Was this not part of the problem Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins pointed to in their assessment of the Fort Hood, Texas, attack that was released last week? As they pointed out, our homeland security apparatus “collectively had sufficient information to have detected (Nidal) Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it.”

Their assessment found Hasan, for years before the attack, had “openly expressed his beliefs that suicide bombings were justified, that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were wars against Islam, that Muslim Americans in the U.S. military might engage in fratricide against their comrades and that his loyalty to his religion was greater than his sworn obligation as a military officer to support and defend the Constitution.”

But too many did not take him seriously — wishing his statements away as harmless, as not that unusual. We have become inured to such statements for two main reasons. We too often accept the grievance culture that has sprouted up from Islamism and accepted or adopted much of it ourselves. And we have done a terrible job of convincing this grievance culture of the merits of our own system…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

What if 9/11 Had Been Nuclear?

Iranium, the new movie premiering this week, is offering the world, especially those in the West and even more directly those in the United States, a warning about the deadly intentions of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

That nation, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, publicly has declared a goal of seeing Israel wiped off the map, has been the target of United Nations sanctions over its pursuit of nuclear power, which it claims is for peaceful purposes.

But the possibility, suspected by many outside of Iran, that its goal is a nuclear arsenal is just a component of the problem, which the movie explains is a dedicated and unadulterated hatred of all things involving the West and freedom.

The project, assembled by The Clarion Fund, features a long list of experts revealing what has gone on in Iran. The report includes graphic video evidence of the Islamic violence there.

It confirms the hatred and violence exhibited by Iran’s brutal leadership and documents the regime’s abusive treatment of their “once proud citizenry.”

Further, it “chronicles the regime’s use of terror proxies abroad to inflict deadly messages on their self-described enemies for over 30 years.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Multiculturalism Will Fail: Tarek Fatah

A prominent voice in Canada’s Muslim community said British Prime Minister David Cameron was “spot on” when he insisted British multiculturalism has failed.

And just like Britain, Canada’s will fail, said Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah.

He said Monday that, like Britain, Canada has been too tolerant in allowing Muslim immigrants to settle into closed communities, some of which preach Islamic values and a hatred toward the West.

“The Canadian multicultural model has failed, as the British model has,” said Fatah. “When first generation (Muslims) are more loyal to Canada than the second generation, then we have sufficient evidence to say that multiculturalism has failed.”

Citing the Toronto 18 terrorist plot as an example of the extremism that can result from ethnic isolation, Fatah said he hoped Canada can “pick up on” the points Cameron made in a controversial speech on Saturday.

While speaking at a security conference in Germany, Cameron called for an end to Britain’s “passive tolerance” of divided ethnic communities. He also said beefing up was needed in the prevention of extremism.

Fatah said Canada’s Liberal and Conservative governments push a tolerant, passive form of multiculturalism as a way of preserving votes.

“The newcomer finds solace in his or her own community,” said Fatah, “and when there is states-sponsored multiculturalism, there are people who make money out of the marginalization of these people.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Would Old, White Men Get Away With This?

One hundred-and- fifty-four Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan, not just for the big things such as fighting international terrorists, but for the small things, too.

Like the right of Afghan girls to go to school. Simple things, like the right to listen to music. These things were actually banned under the Taliban, which enforced sharia law.

So what would our soldiers think of Winnipeg’s Louis Riel School Division, where a dozen Muslim immigrant families have demanded changes to the curriculum to accommodate their fundamentalist view of Islam? The families don’t want boys and girls in the same classes, such as physical education.

And they don’t want their children to hear to any instruments or singing in music class, either.

Instead of sending their kids to a private or religious school, they want the public schools to change.

Superintendent Terry Borys says the families are “adamant’ about this, despite both phys-ed and music being compulsory. So the suggestion now is the children be allowed do their musical requirements through a ‘writing project.”

Brilliant. A music class with no music.

No word yet on how they’ll accommodate the request for gender apartheid in gym. How long before parents can “adamantly” demand no mere woman teaches their son — or if she does, that she has to wear a veil?

Don’t laugh. Last fall the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Muslim women can ask for a court order to clear men out of a courtroom — court staff, lawyers, even the judge — before taking off their veils to testify.

If you want a look at the future, look at the United Kingdom.

In 2007, some schools stopped teaching the Holocaust because it contradicted the anti-Semitic views held by “adamant” families there.

The history of the Crusades was dropped too, because the “balanced” approach taken by schools contradicted what the local mosques were teaching.

And in 2008, schools in Bristol yanked gay-friendly books out of libraries when Muslim parents complained.

Liberal litmus test

This is an uncomfortable subject for liberals. Equality of men and women is an essential western principle. Acceptance of gay rights is the new liberal litmus test. Teaching historical facts in the face of religious faith is the foundation of secular enlightenment.

But many liberals don’t confront bigotry when it arrives in the form of an immigrant, non-Christian visible minority…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

British Legion Accuses David Cameron Over U-Turn on Pledge to War Heroes

David Cameron was accused yesterday of breaking his promise over the military covenant — the state’s responsibility to its Armed Forces.

The ‘covenant’ is an informal understanding of the duty of care the nation pledges to troops in recognition of their sacrifices in battle.

The Prime Minister had pledged that it would be rewritten and enshrined in law for the first time in a speech last June on board the aircraft carrier Ark Royal.

The covenant was to be given legal force in an Armed Services Bill, ensuring military personnel and veterans had rights to prioritised NHS treatment, decent housing and proper education for the children of service families.

But it emerged yesterday that Mr Cameron and Defence Secretary Liam Fox have watered this down and will only legislate for ministers to publish an annual report on the covenant, instead.

Last night, the head of the Royal British Legion, Britain’s biggest military charity, launched an unprecedented attack on the Government.

Director-General Chris Simpkins said: ‘The Legion is concerned that this looks like the beginnings of a Government U-turn.

‘We hope for the sake of our Armed Forces, that the Prime Minister honours his explicit commitment to enshrine the military covenant in law.’

‘Our politicians have the authority to send our Armed Forces into conflict, so their responsibility is the greatest.

‘Equally, only legislation can ensure that, in return for the unique nature of the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, their welfare is supported, for example, by high-quality accommodation, healthcare and support for bereaved Armed Forces families.

‘To suggest an annual covenant report would be as effective as a piece of legislation is nonsense and would be evidence of the Government doing a U-Turn on their explicit promises.’…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

France: The ‘Percee Du Vin Jaune’ In Jura Tomorrow

(ANSAmed) — ARBOIS (FRANCE),FEBRUARY 4 — Jura has waited for 6 years and 3 months to tap its precious Vin Jaune (yellow wine), an outstanding product from the smallest vineyard in the world, and the occasion is reason for celebration. Starting tomorrow, the village of Arbois and its 3700 inhabitants in the heart of Franche-Comté will be literally invaded by 50,000 visitors ready to taste the 2004 vintage and witness one of the most important events dedicated to the nectar of Bacchus in all of France: ‘La Percée du Vin Jaune’. An event that has been taking place every year on the first weekend in February for 15 years, and which is witnessing a constant rise in popularity, says Percée President Jean-Michel Petit, speaking to ANSAmed. Few French people, but also few foreigners know about the unique qualities of this golden yellow nectar. Obtained from a typical white wine grape, Savagnin, Vin Jaune is aged in an extremely unique way, with methods that are very similar to those used for Sherry. “Once it is made,” explained Petit, “the wine is put into barriques that are not completely full and then they are sealed.” The original characteristics of this product come from the veil (voile) of yeasts that forms on the surface of the wine as time passes. “The veil protects the wine from excessive contact with the air,” said the president-winemaker. The ‘Percée’, which is the culmination of this long procedure, is a moment of great excitement for producers, as well as a popular festival. This year 85 wineries chose to present their wines to the public. “After the barrels are tapped,” continued Petit, “Vin Jaune will be put into unique clavelin bottles (62 cl).” The climax of the event will be on Sunday. The sacred and profane will mix at the start of the day with a procession by the wine producers and farmers from the different districts in the region. “Then the mass will be celebrated at the church of Saint Just,” continued Petit, with many barriques placed on the altar, which will later be brought to the town square, where the 200L barrels in which the yellow wine has been aged will be tapped (mise en perce) and the tasting will begin. In this small town where Louis Pasteur, the scientist who invented the rabies vaccine, worked and lived, the 2011 edition will be accompanied by culinary competitions, events, tastings, round table discussions and the traditional auctioning of over 200 bottles of vintage wine including the historic 1774 vintage. This is the largest wine auction in Europe, according to the organisers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Naples Still Littered With Trash

‘We must find a solution’ says councillor

(ANSA) — Naples, February 7 — Naples is still littered with trash months after the government pledged to clear the streets, local officials said Monday.

An estimated 1,800 tonnes of uncollected refuse filled the streets of the southern Italian city Monday, up from 1,400 Sunday. The situation was said to be “critical” in the surrounding province.

“I believe we must find a solution in the coming hours to prevent the amount of uncollected refuse growing,” said Urban Hygiene Councillor Paolo Giacomelli.

The saturation of dumps and opposition to new landfills have contributed to a slowdown in refuse collection.

When Premier Silvio Berlusconi visited the city in early November and vowed to clear the garbage in three days, there was around 2,000 tonnes piled up.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: President Condemns ‘Ruby’ Clashes

Prosecutors to file request this week, for second minor too

(ANSA) — Rome, February 7 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Monday condemned rioters who clashed with police outside Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s villa near Milan Sunday after a protest against the premier’s alleged use of an underage prostitute known as Ruby.

Napolitano said he agreed with Interior Minister Roberto Maroni that “the exercise of the constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully should not degenerate into inadmissible disorder and clashes provoked by extremist groups”.

Two people were arrested and five police hurt after 300 youths from anarchist squats threw bottles and stones at officers after a peaceful protest in which the anti-Berlusconi ‘Purple People’ movement waved underwear alluding to the Ruby scandal outside the villa at Arcore and called on the premier to resign.

Maroni said he hoped that “those responsible for the attacks on the police will get exemplary punishment” when they come up before a judge Monday.

Meanwhile Milan prosecutors said they would file a request this week to bring the premier to trial on charges of sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office in phoning police to get Ruby out of custody after her detention for an unrelated allegation of theft.

“We want to wind this up as soon as possible” said Milan Chief Prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati.

The request had been expected to be filed on Monday or Tuesday.

Judicial sources said the prostitution request would now also regard another girl, Brazilian Iris Berardi, who like Ruby was 17 when she allegedly stayed at the premier’s villa.

“A lot of false things have been said about me. I decided from the outset to speak as little as possible and that’s what I intend to continue to do,” Berardi told ANSA Monday. Using prostitutes is legal in Italy as long as they are at least 18. Having sex with an underage prostitute carries a jail term of up to three years.

Abuse of office carries a term of up to 12 years.

Berlusconi and Ruby have denied having sex.

The premier says he is being persecuted by biased prosecutors and is planning to resurrect wiretap legislation to prevent the kind of mass titillation and trial by the media he says has happened in the Ruby case and others.

He also plans to revive a trial cap which critics say is aimed at protecting him from prosecution after the Constitutional Court removed his latest judicial shield last month.

The premier has scorned calls to resign and vowed to press on with a reform agenda including fiscal federalism, a cherished project of his key ally the Northern League, as well as plans to boost growth to 3-4% within five years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Possible Naples Connection for Arcore Party Girls

Showgirl Sara Tommasi and visits to PM’s residence turn up in inquiry into counterfeit euros

ROME — A Naples connection has emerged in the investigation by the Milan public prosecutor’s office into the prime minister’s parties. Counterfeit currency trafficking involved individuals in contact with Lele Mora and Fabrizio Corona. Phone calls and text messages tapped over the past few weeks have revealed new details of how girls for Arcore and Silvio Berlusconi’s other villas were recruited. They throw into focus the accounts of participants at the soirées, confirming and corroborating statements and conversations already in the magistrates’ file in Milan. They could also provide a context for the new statements by Fabrizio Corona, who in an interview published yesterday by Il Mattino newspaper spoke about “photos of Berlusconi in the nude that are being negotiated with the underworld in Naples by representatives of weekly magazines”. In the next few days, Mr Corona will be questioned as a witness to discover whether he has any real information or whether his latest move is just another attempt to gain media attention or make money. Meanwhile, the inquiry conducted by public prosecutors Marco Del Gaudio and Antonello Ardituro has already thrown new light on the prostitution ring involving the prime minister’s homes.

Links with “Bartolo”

It all began a few months ago when the police launched an inquiry into the distribution of counterfeit euros. One of those monitored was V.S., known as “Bartolo”, who looked after the publicity campaigns and public image of a number of women. But he also tried to pass off counterfeit banknotes. Phone taps revealed his relations with Mr Corona, and in particular with Sara Tommasi, who would become a key figure in the Naples investigations, although not herself a suspect. Ms Tommasi went to Arcore several times and was there on 25 April with Ruby and the other women from the Olgettina complex when Vladimir Putin arrived. Tapped conversations enabled investigators to reconstruct other paid encounters she had in Naples. Her phone was tapped in order to find evidence for possible charges of inducement to prostitution to be brought against her interlocutors in Naples.

Sara’s stories

Ms Tommasi sent several text messages to Silvio Berlusconi, who did not reply. The messages contained merely greetings and good wishes. But the woman’s stories about the role of Lele Mora and the parties at Arcore are believed to be much more interesting. Ms Tommasi, who appeared on L’isola dei famosi [the Italian version of Celebrity Survivor — Trans.], spoke extensively about what the girls did, the methods used by “Lele” to recruit them and how payments were made. Public prosecutors are reported to have called her in as a witness before passing a copy of the file to their colleagues in Milan. What has emerged from investigations over the past few weeks appears to corroborate the charges levelled at Mr Mora but it also opens new areas of inquiry into the relations of those involved with Neapolitan organised crime over meetings for sex and perhaps more besides…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Tunisian Terror Convict Kept at Guantanamo in ‘Inhumane’ Conditions Freed

(AKI) — An Italian judge on Monday freed a Tunisian convicted of criminal association with terrorism, citing in mitigation the eight years he was held in “inhumane” conditions at the controversial US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay.

The judge in the northern Italian city of Milan sentenced Adel Ben Mabrouk to a two-year suspended prison sentence and ordered him to be released immediately. He accepted the public prosecutor’s request that he take into consideration in sentencing Mabrouk the eight years he was held at the “inhumane” and “illegal” Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.

Mabrouk, an immigrant, served a year in an Italian jail on terrorism charges, meaning he had already served nine years behind bars, the judge said.

He was delivered into Italian custody in November, 2009, together with another Guantanamo detainee, Riad Nasri.

Nasri, who was held at Guantanamo Bay between 2001 and 2009, was convicted of terrorism and assisting illegal immigration between 1997 and 2001.

Prosecutors said he was “the head of Tunisians in Afghanistan” and provided logistical support to Islamist fighters from Italy “sent to camps (in Afghanistan) where they were trained in the use of weapons and prepared for suicide operations”.

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

Italy: Prosecutors May Widen Berlusconi Sex Probe

Milan, 7 Feb. (AKI) — Investigators may expand their probe into Italian prime minister’s which they say involves paying underage prostitutes for sex. The investigators say a second young suspected prostitute might have spent the night at his villa in a Milan suburb.

Brazilian Iris Berardi (photo) may have attended Berlusconi’s parties and stayed overnight at the billionaire’s villa in Arcore on 12 December 2009. Paying for sex with a prostitute is not a crime in Italy, unless the prostitute is under 18 and Berardi was born on 29 December 1991, which means she would have been 17 years old at the time of her alleged overnight visit.

Investigating judges in Milan accuse Berlusconi of paying Moroccan Karima El Mahroug, nicknamed Ruby the Heart Stealer, for sex and abuse of his office to get her released from police custody. Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a plot by left-wing magistrates.

Mahroug, who turned 18 in November, has denied having sex with the prime minister when she was 17. She admitted to accepting a “gift” of 7,000 euros after attending a party held by the head of Italy’s government last year.

The 74-year-old premier has resisted calls for his resignation by political opponents and says that he has enough support in parliament to finish his 5-year mandate which runs until 2013.

Milan prosecutors have still not decided how they will proceed against Berlusconi and for the timebeing will probably prosecute him only for abuse of office.

Sources at the Milan prosecutors office said they want to “close the case as soon as possible,” but have run into legal problems related to separating the abuse-of-office and prostitution cases.

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

Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood

America’s diminishing number of World War II veterans, who fought valiantly to exterminate the hate-filled evil that Adolph Hitler and his Nazis represented and promoted, should have a right to be upset, even outraged, by the Muslim Brotherhood (The Brotherhood or MB) for promoting Nazi dogma throughout the Middle East. Equally disturbing is the suggestion often heard during the recent turbulence in Egypt that The Brotherhood, though outlawed in that country, is “waiting in the wings” to take over Egypt’s government if President Hosni Mubarak is forced out of office prematurely before a legitimate government can be formed.

Here’s some background. The MB was founded in 1928 by Hasam al-Banna, whose radicalism stemmed from his affiliation with Saudi Arabia’s extreme form of Islam, Wahhabism.

MB’s motto is “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Jihad, killing and violence, is an important aspect of their ideology, though in recent years they’ve downplayed violence for political reasons here in the U.S. and elsewhere. John Loftus, former war crimes investigator, regularly appears on Fox News and ABC Radio. He described al-Banna as “a devout admirer of a young Austrian writer named Adolph Hitler (author of the Nazi textbook, “Mein Kampf”) and wrote to him frequently. So persistent was he in his admiration of the New Nazi Party that in the l930s, al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood became a secret arm of Nazi intelligence. “The Arab Nazis had much in common with the new Nazi doctrines. They hated Jews; they hated democracy; and they hated the Western Culture. It became the official policy of the Third Reich to secretly develop the Muslim Brotherhood as the fifth Parliament, an army inside Egypt,” Loftus added.

Another name of importance is Amin Al-Husseini, a prominent member of MB who also hated Jews. Under his influence, the MB became the main vector of hatred against the West and Jews, Loftus explained. The British, who governed Palestine, appointed Al-Husseini Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to “accommodate him.” He headed MB’s Palestinian section. He fled to Europe following a failed attempt to create a Nazi uprising in Iraq.

Hitler welcomed him with open arms and supported him with a $10,000 a month stipend. He quickly became actively engaged in Nazi activities, broadcasting radio programs urging Arabs to resist Allied forces, and calling for a jihad against Jews. (“Vets’ Hotline,” Oct. 27, 2004.) Loftus revealed that Al-Husseini helped recruit an international SS division of Arab Nazis drawn from all over the Middle East that became known as “his troops.” He became deeply involved in the genocide of Jews, Gypsies and Serbs in Yugoslavia and Germany too. After WW II ended, Al-Husseini was sought for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The French intelligence service captured him but spirited him away from prosecution to Egypt. There he rejoined the Arab Nazis, also wanted for war crimes. Their escape had been arranged by British Secret Service, Loftus reported. Arab Nazis, and new ones, would appear later in several different venues, one being al Qaeda’s troops fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Combating ‘Black’ Schools No Longer Govt Policy Goal

THE HAGUE, 08/02/11 — Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt is resigned to the fact that ‘black schools’ are here to stay. Combating ethnic segregation in education is no longer a policy goal.

In recent years, many projects have been launched to combat segregation. These no longer have priority for Van Bijsterveldt. “It is good if people from different cultures meet each other. But for me as a minister, combating segregation is not a goal in itself,” she said yesterday in De Volkskrant. “Black schools are a fact.”

In previous cabinets, combating ethnic segregation in education was still high on the agenda. The Christian democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA) agreed in their 2007 coalition accord to strive for ethnic mixing of schoolchildren by banning early registration. ‘White’ parents in particular made use of this. In future, there was to be just one fixed registration time.

It is not important, says Van Bijsterveldt, that the Party for Freedom (PVV) does not want mixing of pupils. “Many academics too say that colour is irrelevant. And as Christian democrat, I consider it important that parents themselves can choose their school.”

On this point, the CDA minister will likely be unhappy with the situation in Amsterdam West. There, as De Telegraaf newspaper reported yesterday, ‘white’ parents have since 1 January been forced to place their children in overwhelmingly Islamic groups.

Residents of Amsterdam West must in future send their children to a school in their own neighbourhood, based on their postal code. This means that in a district like the Kolenkitbuurt, where 80 percent of the population are immigrants, a child can only be sent to a ‘black’ school.

Registering at a primary school in Amsterdam West is no longer possible at the school itself; it will have to be done at a government bureau (Schoolwijzer West). Parents who disagree with a placement can appeal against the bureau’s allocation, but this complaint is assessed by the same bureau, according to De Telegraaf.

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

Netherlands: Wilders Trial II: Judges Take Charge

The new judges sent out a clear message on day one of the trial against PVV leader Geert Wilders: we are in charge here, not the lawyer, not the accused and certainly not the cameras, writes Nico de Fijter in Trouw.

‘Your answer please’ the senior judge urged Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz who apparently took too long to react. And moments later, when he made an unsolicited comment on something his opposite number said, the judge reacted with a terse: ‘You are speaking out of turn, Mr. Moszkowicz.’

The new judges, lead by Marcel van Oosten (64) have opted for a strict, businesslike and above all decisive tone.

Tongues had been wagging about how the new judges were going to handle Wilders II. The judiciary came out of the first round with quite a lot of egg on its face. Impolitic comments and downright blunders marked the first trial and lead to the dismissal of the judges.

The judiciary administration did not fare much better: the judges lacked support and were insufficiently prepared. The question of whether or not Wilders was guilty of discrimination and inciting hatred all but disappeared in the judiciary melee.

This is why the judges, the court and the whole judiciary want to see a flawless trial that is not so much about them but about the accused. And that can only happen if the judge takes charge.

And he did. It showed in the way he ticked off Moszkowicz. The camera registration of the trial has been adapted, too. It is still transmitted live but recording will start when the judges have entered the court, not before. And when they leave, the camera’s are no longer allowed to linger either. It’s as if the judges are saying: nothing of importance is going to happen until we are here.

The impact of a televised trial was underestimated first time around, concluded the commission that evaluated Wilders I. The new judges don’t seem to be awed by the media pressure. ‘Professionals are supposed to be able to cope with this type of external communication’, Van Oosten said.

The first day of the trial outlined the trial’s legal framework. Moszkowicz is aiming for a preliminary defence plea in which he will argue that there is no case to answer. If he manages to convince the judge the charges against Wilders will not be gone through again. He again deposited a long list of expert witnesses he wants to question. The judge will rule on Monday…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Halal Lunch for Non-Pork Eating Police Officers Okay, Says Minister

Police in Gelderland can continue to hand out halal lunches to workers who don’t want to eat pork products, home affairs minister Piet Hein Donner said on Tuesday.

MPs from the anti-Islam PVV had called for the special lunches to be scrapped because they represented ‘unacceptable Islamisation’, the Telegraaf reported.

An increase in demand for vegetarian lunches did not mean the Netherlands is being ‘vegetarianised’, the paper quoted the minister as saying…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Right Turn — What’s Wrong With Europe?

Here at Herzilya the chasm between Europe and Israel was highlighted. Thankfully, for those who support a safe and secure Israel, also evident was the degree to which Britain’s mindset differs from that of its European allies. From the perspective of the German journalist and moderator, Josef Joffe, the problems started in 1967 and because of the “wars waged by Israel.” Nary a mention was made of the anti-Semitism epidemic in Europe. And no hint of criticism of Israel’s neighbors was voiced. There was zero recognition that the Muslim countries and groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction might be at the root of the problem.

The vice prime minister of Israel, Silvan Shalom, was hearing none of this. He began with a compelling analysis of the prospects of democracy in the Middle East. Citing the Palestinian election in 2006 and the Bush administration’s disastrous decision (opposed by many within the administration) to force Israel to include Hamas, Shalom made the argument that democracy is more than elections. Whether in Israel or Lebanon or Egypt, the acceptance of parties that do not accept democratic principles and do not renounce violence is a grave error. The challenge therefore is for Western democracies that share values and culture with Israel to work on the problem of Muslim countries that do not share their values. Shalom pointed out that Europe might be a more acceptable interlocutor in the Palestinian conflict if the Europeans did not reflexively take the Palestinians’ position. And he implored the Europeans to focus on the real problem: their mutual threat from an aggressive Islamic regime in Iran.

The extent of the problem was then on full display. Uri Rosenthal, the foreign minister of the Netherlands, renounced Israel delegitimization efforts. However, he then began to lecture the Israelis, as a friend — mind you — that the Jewish state needed to be more “forthcoming” in negotiations and that, after all, Israel needs to understand that the settlements are illegal. Once again, the critiques flowed only one way. The rationale was perverse: Unless Israel starts coughing up concessions, enlightened fellows such as Rosenthal will be shouted down by Israel’s critics back home. In sum, he proved Shalom’s point: Europe is estranged from Israel in large part because Europe’s approach to Israel has become cool if not adversarial. And by the way, he was mum on the news, revealed by NGO monitor, that his government provided a huge six-figure sum to Electronic Intifada, the website that spreads Islamic propaganda.

But, thank goodness Britain is not as bad as its continental brethren. Britain’s shadow defense minister, Michael Dugher, was up next, arguing that the relationship, especially economically, is “strong.” He argued that, more important, there are shared values between Britain and Israel. He made a compelling argument that with regard to Israel, there really isn’t any difference among British political parties with regard to Israel. He nevertheless was candid enough to admit to anti-Israel sentiment on college universities and in the trade union movement. He denied that Palestinian groups in Britain have influence beyond a narrow segment of the country. And then, unlike the continental representatives, he took head-on the scourge of anti-Semitism in Britain, which he declared must be fought on “all levels.” Even better, he chided the media for lack of balance, and indeed, its perpetual framing of a negative portrayal of Israel. He was candid enough to recognize the noxious role of fundamentalist Islamic groups in Britain that pose a direct threat to Israel…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sex Trafficking in the UK: One Woman’s Horrific Story of Kidnap, Rape, Beatings and Prostitution

[Comments: WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Marinela Badea, 20, was forced to work in Britain as a prostitute by people traffickers who kidnapped her and held her prisoner.


Eventually police would discover that Marinela was an innocent victim of Bogdan Nejloveanu, 51, and his son Marius, 23, a Romanian trafficking team who last month received the longest sentence for trafficking in UK history. Her extraordinary story, revealed here for the first time, offers a troubling insight into Britain’s vast “off-street” prostitution trade. It also raises questions about the apparent indifference of the authorities to tackling trafficking and protecting vulnerable women imported into Britain as sex slaves.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Judas-Like’ Teenage Sisters, 16 and 19, Locked Up for a Total of 40 Years for Murder of Their Own Father

Two ‘Judas like’ teenage sisters were sentenced today for the brutal knife murder of their father.

Retired antiques dealer Antoni Robinson, 61, from Old Colwyn, north Wales, was stabbed 15 times as his daughters and their boyfriends tried to get their hands on the £900 which was locked in his safe.

Ashleigh Robinson, 19, and 16-year-old Holly ‘supported and encouraged’ the frenzied late-night attack on Mr Robinson in July last year, Mold Crown Court heard earlier.

The daughters were convicted of murder alongside boyfriends Gordon Harding, 20, and Sacha Roberts, 19, and their mother Joanne Barr, following a month-long trial.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Britain’s Worst Mother’ Abandons Children for Penniless Tunisian Waiter… Again!

A woman labelled Britain’s ‘worst mother’ after abandoning her two children to marry a penniless Tunisian waiter she met over the internet has returned to North Africa.

Wendy Paduch, 26, came back to Britain in October 2010 and promised her children — Dylan, six, and eight-year-old Natasha — that she would never leave them again.

But she returned to Jendouba in Tunisia in January to meet up with Wajdi Jouini, leaving her children with their 59-year-old grandmother, Beryl.

Ms Paduch now claims that her 21-year-old husband Mr Jouini wants to divorce her and will not let her return to Britain until she has agreed to his demands.

She also says that he has spent all her money so she cannot afford a flight home — or any money for clothes and socialising.

‘I’ve got no money, he’s spent it all,’ she told The Mirror.

‘I still love him but don’t want to be married to him anymore. It’s all changed now. It’s really horrible.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron’s Important Speech

With the exception of the predictably sour comments by the usual suspects, David Cameron has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to his important speech on multiculturalism last Sunday in Munich. At last, people have said, the Prime Minister has thrown off the shackles of political correctness that have paralysed debate and has spoken the truth about multiculturalism and Islamic extremism. Lord Tebbit has even gone so far as to surmise that if he goes on like this Cameron will win the next general election.

Steady on, chaps.

I have three things to say about this speech.

First, the Prime Minister did indeed travel a huge distance from the ruinous position taken by the previous government on both multiculturalism and Islamic extremism. The most important change he made was to end the absurd idea that the only threat comes from ‘violent extremism’. Cameron has understood instead that the source of the threat lies in a set of ideas, and not just in the terrorist actions that sometimes result from those ideas:

‘…we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.’

He has understood that there is a continuum here, and that those on this continuum pose a threat even if they are not involved in violence:

‘At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia. Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist worldview, including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values.’

In other words, Islamist extremism is the sea in which terrorism swims. Quite right. He is also right to identify multiculturalism as an important part of the problem because it has eroded common British values and identity, without which neither Muslims nor anyone else for that matter can feel bound in a shared national project, and has also legitimised a lethal set of double standards:

‘But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity… So, when a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious frankly — frankly, even fearful — to stand up to them. The failure, for instance, of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone when they don’t want to, is a case in point. This hands-off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared.’


Second, the Prime Minister did not go far enough. Despite the welcome advances in the previous remarks, he qualified them by reverting to some of the pusillanimous incoherence that lay at the heart of the previous failed thinking. The problem — as ever — is that although he identified ‘Islamist extremism’ as the problem, he simultaneously tried to suggest that this was nothing to do with Islam:

‘We should acknowledge that this threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam, and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens…

We should be equally clear what we mean by this term, and we must distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority…

It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand, and political ideology on the other. Time and again, people equate the two. They think whether someone is an extremist is dependent on how much they observe their religion. So, they talk about moderate Muslims as if all devout Muslims must be extremist. This is profoundly wrong. Someone can be a devout Muslim and not be an extremist. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing…

The point is this: the ideology of extremism is the problem; Islam emphatically is not.’

This is a muddle. ‘Islamist extremism’ is not a ‘warped perversion’ of Islam. It is rooted in authentic Islamic theology and history. What is certainly true, however, is that it is merely one interpretation of Islam. That’s a very different matter. Many millions of Muslims do not sign up to it, and it is important to make that clear; they themselves are amongst its potential victims. That is why I use the term ‘Islamist’, to permit a distinction between the jihadis and those Muslims who pose no threat to anyone…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Douglas Murray: Cameron’s Multiculturalism Wake-Up Call

“Multiculturalism has failed,” said David Cameron last weekend in Munich. If anybody thought they had read those words before, it is because they have. Many times. Last October German Chancellor Angela Merkel (sitting onstage with Prime Minister Cameron when he gave his speech on Saturday) pronounced a similar epitaph. Finally even Europe’s mainstream party leaders seem to be realizing what others have long seen: that multiculturalism has been the most pernicious and divisive policy pursued by Western governments since World War II.

Multiculturalism is a deeply misunderstood idea. That was one of the reasons for its political success. At the heart of that success was the fact that people were led to believe that “multiculturalism” meant multi-racialism, or pluralism. It did not. Nevertheless, for years anybody who criticized multiculturalism was immediately decried as a “racist.” As a silencing tactic it proved devastatingly effective.

But the true character and effects of the policy could not be permanently hidden. State-sponsored multiculturalism treated European countries like hostelries-and pretty open ones at that. It judged that the state should not “impose” rules and values on new-comers. Rather, it should bend over backwards to accommodate the demands of immigrants. The resultant policy was that states treated and judged people by the criteria of whatever “community” they found themselves born into.

In Britain, for instance, this meant that if you were a white English girl born into a white English family and your family decided to marry you against your will to a randy old pervert, the state would intervene. But if you had the misfortune to be born into an “Asian-background” family and the same happened, then the state would look the other way. “That’s what these people do, don’t you know? It’s their custom.”

In 1984 a British school principal in Bradford called Ray Honeyford politely suggested in an article in the Salisbury Review that it might be a good idea if students at his state-funded school were able to speak English and did not disappear to Pakistan for months at a time. The result was a siren of accusations of “racism,” which willfully ignored his arguments and precipitated the end of his career.

The multicultural model may have continued a lot longer if it hadn’t been for radical Islam. The terrorist assaults and plots across Britain and the Continent-often from home-grown extremists-finally provided a breaking-point that few sentient people could ignore. The question now is what can be done. The elegies should be for a failed policy. But if they are not followed up with action, they will be the eulogies of a failed society.

In his speech in Munich, Mr. Cameron rightly focused on the problem of home-grown Islamic extremism of the violent and non-violent kind. He stressed several preliminary steps-among them that groups whose values are opposed to those of the state will no longer be bestowed with taxpayer money. It is a symptom of how low we have sunk that ceasing to fund our societies’ opponents would constitute an improvement.

But this is a first, not a final, policy. The fact is that Britain, Germany, Holland and many other European countries have nurtured more than one generation of citizens who seem to feel no loyalty toward their country and who, on the contrary, often seem to despise it. Reversing this will require political guts…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron’s Crackdown on Extremism is Counterproductive

To be effective, UK counter-terrorism policies should always aim to achieve a degree of legitimacy and credibility in minority, often alienated, communities where terrorist movements that plan bomb attacks seek recruits, influence and support.

The need for legitimacy and credibility arises from an analysis that acknowledges the crucial importance the Provisional IRA, al-Qaida and most other terrorist movements place upon their strategies for propaganda, recruitment, retention and support. Central to this analysis in respect of UK counter-terrorism policy is the understanding that all UK residents have a potential stake in reducing violence in their towns and cities, whether it is inspired by politics or not.

David Cameron’s crackdown on extremism, however, ignores such thinking. Although he has not named names, it seems clear that some of the most effective opponents of al-Qaida influence in Muslim communities in the UK are set to be reclassified as extremist and subversive. This will no doubt be the confident expectation of Maajid Nawaz, director of Quilliam, a counter-extremist thinktank that branded mainstream Muslim organisations as “extremist” in a secret list revealed in the Guardian last August.

Cameron’s willingness to turn counter-terrorism partner into counter-subversion target is also the basis for Charles Moore’s satisfaction at the prime minister’s recognition that “non-violent extremism is the entry chamber for terrorism itself”.

For Moore and Nawaz, and now for Cameron, it seems it is worth sacrificing effective counter-terrorism partnerships with Muslim “extremists” in the long-term interests of national security and social cohesion. We would not, Moore explains, partner with BNP leaders to combat violence by far-right thugs. We should not, by the same token, the argument continues, partner with and legitimate “Muslim extremists” to counter al-Qaida terrorism in any event.

If it was based on real evidence it would be a strong argument. Instead, all of my police and research experience points to the fact that the most effective opponents of al-Qaida influence in Muslim communities in the UK are wrongly labelled extremist and still less do they provide an “entry chamber for terrorism itself”.

As a result of Cameron’s new policy, several Muslims who al-Qaida strategists regard as serious and credible opponents in the battle for young hearts and minds will be hampered in their important counter-terrorism work. Fortunately, Cameron’s decision to deny effective Muslim community initiatives legitimacy and funding will not entirely halt effective grassroots work against al-Qaida influence but it will reduce its scale and impact. It will also make life difficult for local partnerships where Muslim community groups are branded extremist and subversive by the government. As a consequence, trust and mutual respect between police and Muslim community projects will be replaced by relationships of control and distrust, or no relationships at all — both outcomes serving al-Qaida better than counter-terrorism…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Expenses Fraud: Barnsley Central MP Eric Illsley Resigns

Barnsley Central MP Eric Illsley has resigned, two days before he is due to be sentenced for dishonestly claiming parliamentary expenses.

The MP had come under pressure to step down after admitting £14,000 of expenses fraud last month.

Illsley had earlier said he “deeply regretted” his actions and would resign before his sentencing, which is due at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

A Treasury spokesman confirmed that Illsley had resigned on Tuesday night.

The spokesman confirmed that Illsley had been granted the ceremonial post of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham — the traditional way of resigning from Parliament.

A writ will be moved for a by-election in his Barnsley Central seat, where Illsley enjoyed a majority of over 11,000 at the last election…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: General Synod Backs Ban on Clergy Joining the BNP

Members of the General Synod voted to press ahead with an amendment to discipline procedures making it “unbecoming” or “inappropriate” conduct for clergy to be members of a political party with policies and activities declared “incompatible” with Church teaching on race equality.

Under the proposals, Church of England bishops would make a declaration on parties or organisations deemed incompatible with Christian teaching. Vasantha Gnanadoss, a Metropolitan Police civilian worker, and General Synod member who first won backing for the ban two years ago, welcomed the amendment and a new statement on race equality from the bishops. This put the Church’s mission to “resist racism” on a firm footing, she told the Synod.

“It is very important when the English Defence League and others are posing a fresh threat to the well-being of our diverse society. I hope that this statement will be used widely,” she said. Dr Philip Giddings, a General Synod member from Reading, said he “deplored” racism but warned that such groups could “re-form” to get round the ban.

“Even worse, is the ability of these kinds of proceedings to create martyrs who do more damage to the cause which we are seeking to fight, because we appear to be invading their right to free speech, a very important human right which is now well entrenched in British and European law,” he warned.

Clive Scowen, a General Synod member from Harrow, north west London, suggested General Synod clergy and laity members should have a right to ratify decisions on political parties made by the bishops. “We all know that this was passed to deal with membership of a particular odious party which few of us would have any difficulty in saying is so far beyond the pale that support for it is incompatible with Christian ministry,” he said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour’s Game Plan to Free Lockerbie Bomber Revealed as Documents Show Politicians ‘Did All They Could’ To Secure Release

Labour was accused yesterday of having been ‘up to its neck’ in securing the early release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Extraordinary official documents revealed the last government did ‘all it could’ to have Abdelbaset al-Megrahi returned to Libya.

In the U.S., relatives of victims reacted with fury to the disclosures, with one saying: ‘I’m not sure Britain can sink much lower.’

Ministers were accused of ‘acting like lawyers for the Libyans’ as the unprecedented release of Whitehall papers revealed how the Labour government had a ‘game plan’ and secretly plotted to ‘facilitate’ an appeal by the Libyans over Megrahi.

They were determined to seal a BP oil deal and strengthen political ties with Libya, a review headed by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell found.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Anti-Terrorism Adviser to Leave Top Civil Service Job, Officials Say

The status of a prominent Muslim civil servant working on counter-terrorism in the Home Office is in jeopardy as the government attempts a clearout of staff working inside the civil service on community relations.

Asim Hafeez is head of intervention in the office of security and counter-terrorism and involved in devising government strategy to avert the radicalisation of Muslims, but government sources said he is about to leave his post.

Another individual working in the department for communities and local government was also being said to be considering their position.

The continuing employment of Hafeez has been in the sights of the home secretary, Theresa May, since the government signalled a change of strategy towards Muslims at party conference last year which culminated in a speech by the prime minister in Munich last Saturday.

Cameron called for an end to tolerating “non-violent extremists” who may stop short of violence but, by often allowing literature disparaging democracy and promoting community separatism, were also “part of the problem”.

Such groups had been “showered with public money”, the prime minister said, but actually did not help combat terrorism. He ruled that they would no longer go on to receive public money; nor share platforms with ministers.

Government sources said his speech raised obvious questions for advisers working in the civil service who are themselves said to have these views.

In particular, Hafeez was said by government sources to have been key in promoting such groups, with the prime minister’s new position placing the pair at odds.

From his appointment, Hafeez unnerved advisers across Whitehall who feel government strategy should be to only engage with moderate Muslims and not those who, like Hafeez, are said to advocate engaging with more radical Muslims.

Birmingham-born Hafeez is said to have become more devout at Swansea University. In April 2002, he joined the Welsh assembly as a race and religion advisor before becoming a member of staff for Prevent — the government’s strategy for dealing with Muslim communities at risk of being radicalised…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: WikiLeaks: No 10 Urged Commander to Play Down Afghanistan Failures

Mr Brown, the prime minister at the time, visited the country and met Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US military commander, who described the growing threat posed by the insurgency and warned that the Afghan authorities faced a crisis of confidence.

A cable states that a security adviser to Mr Brown told Gen McChrystal — with Mr Brown present — that his “bleak assessment” could result in negative press coverage.

Gen McChrystal, who was later forced to resign, refused to back down. The cable, passed to The Daily Telegraph by the WikiLeaks website, states: “COMISAF [Gen McChrystal] replied that while he was sensitive to that impression, he would maintain his intellectual honesty — and that what might be perceived by some as a bleak assessment, might be considered by others to be ‘realistic’.”

At the time, Mr Brown was under scrutiny over equipment shortages and the number of British soldiers being killed. He was being urged by Army chiefs to “get more boots on the ground”. The cable states: “COMISAF stressed that while the situation in Afghanistan was “serious and deteriorating”, the mission could still be accomplished with proper resources and a focus on ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] expansion and partnering.

“Threats to security emanated from a resilient and growing insurgency, a crisis in confidence toward the government and its abilities and overall questions about Nato commitments.

“COMISAF said that without additional resources, current efforts would be “fixed” — but with more resources, enough terrain could be controlled to deny the Taleban strategic traction.” The meeting was held at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand in August 2009.

Mr Brown said that the British public needed to see more evidence of progress. “He repeated that the UK domestic audience needed to be able to judge successes ‘month-to-month, not year-to-year’.” Just over a month later Mr Brown attended a similar meeting in London with David Miliband, then foreign secretary, Gen McChrystal and Adml Mullen, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Simon McDonald, then head of foreign and defence policy, asked the Americans to show “sympathy for the pressure” that Mr Brown was under. Mr Brown “repeatedly and forcefully” underscored the need for Afghan forces to play a much greater role. According to the cable, Mr Brown said his challenge was “persuading the British people that there was a way forward and not a stalemate”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Getting Closer to EU Candidate Status

(ANSAmed) — BARI, FEBRUARY 7 — Serbia, after answering the more than 2,400 questions of the EU questionnaire which the country had been asked to fill out ahead of receiving the status of candidate country for EU accession, is counting on a decision in the coming months, certainly before this autumn. Belgrade is also counting on getting the candidate status this year and wants to agree on a date for starting accession talks immediately after. Meanwhile a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will visit Belgrade between February 10 and 23 for the definition of the seventh and final tranche of the loan of almost 3 billion euros which was granted to Serbia in May 2009. The delegation will discuss the state of reforms and the new 2011 budget law with the government, which were launched on the basis of indications supplied by the Fund.

Italy is closely following Serbia’s approach to Europe because of the close bilateral ties between the countries and the large number of Italian firms that are active in Serbia (the most recent agreement signed by the Benetton group includes an investment of 43.2 million euros and the creation of 2,700 jobs).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Italian Kidnapped, Woman’s Guide Arrested

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, FEBRUARY 7 — All investigative leads are being followed in Algeria in the attempt to find the kidnappers of Maria Sandra Mariani, the Italian tourist taken hostage by an armed group on February 2 near the Djanet oasis not far from the border with Niger. Her guide, Aziz, has been arrested, while no claim of responsibility has yet been made by Al Qaida for the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Over the past few days, the Algerian army has inflicted a harsh blow to the organisation by breaking up a ring which had been preparing to strike in Europe and by killing Kamel Bourihane, alias Abou Hafs, considered the right-hand man of the leader Abdelamelk Droukdel. It is difficult if not impossible to get hold of any information on what has happened to the Florentine tourist. While some say that it is clearly an act of AQIM, which has taken a number of Western hostages in the region of the Saharan Sahel, others say that inexperienced kidnappers, perhaps smugglers, may later sell the hostage to terrorists.

“Security services are following all leads,” ANSA was told by Anis Rahmani, editor of the daily paper Ennahar, one of the most well-informed on Algerian terrorism. He was also the one to report that one of Maria Sandra’s guides had been arrested, news which was later confirmed by Ahmed Kherrani, head of the tour agency which has been organising the woman’s tours in southern Algeria for years. The arrest “is a very positive sign” said Rahmani, who is convinced that “the tourist will soon be released”. In his words, “many signs point to a non-professional network of kidnappers being behind it” : “Why use a telephone before getting the hostage to ‘a safe place’?”, and “why did the guides alert the security forces only 24 hours later?”. Of an entirely opposite view is Kherrani. “Aziz,” he said, referring to the guide arrested, “has been working with me for 16 years” and “Sandra is more than a friend, she has become part of our family”. Since her first trip in 2007, said the head of the travel agency, she had been so enthusiastic that she even “asked me to work here”. Since then the woman has gone back to the oasis every year with “the same guide”. “ The hostage takers are people from far away, and will soon be out of the country,” in his opinion. Other Algerian sources have spoken over the past few days of “men with Mauritanian accents”. It is certain that for the past three years the North African branch of Al Qaeda has sprung up in a number of places, and, from northern Algeria — where they continue to strike sporadically — they have stepped up their actions, attacks and kidnappings of Westerners in the vast, lawless desert between Mauritania, Mali and Niger. A ring of the organisation under the Mauritanian Emir Ibrahim Ould Mohamed Ouldna has been broken up near Batna, 300 km east of the capital. The Emir, in direct contact with Osama Bin Laden and after having worked in Mauritania was sent to Algeria, according to the press, where he was organising attacks against Europe and especially France. Another 14 people have been arrested, including a young electronic engineer who was stopped in Annaba when attempting to leave for Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Algeria: Population Moves Against Kidnapping in Kabylie

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, FEBRUARY 7 — While Al Qaida for the Islamic Maghreb targets Western citizens in the Sahara region, in the north of Algeria, in Kabylie, the local population has been living under the constant threat of being kidnapped by armed group for years now. After yet another kidnap attempt involving a local industrialist, the owner of the Cosmos company Abdenour Lazib, reported by the local press, the inhabitants of his village Ihesnawen, near Tizi Ouzou, have raised the alarm.

Representatives of the villages in the area have come together for an emergency meeting. The situation is “unbearable”, said the chairman of the chamber of commerce and industry in Kabylie, Ameziane Medjkouh.

“We are looking for a solution of the problem that has halted economic and social development in the region”. Around 60 people, entrepreneurs, industrialists and children of the local rich, were kidnapped between 2006 and today in several areas in the Berber region, near Algiers. The victims are usually released soon after being captured, on payment of a ransom.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Banned Islamists Say Time for Change in Morocco

The banned Islamist group Justice and Charity, believed to be Morocco’s biggest opposition force, has said “autocracy” will be swept away unless the country pursues deep democratic reform.

Authoritarian Arab leaders are watching carefully for signs of unrest spreading through the region after revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch have said Morocco is the least likely Maghreb state to be affected by the wave of popular unrest. [ID:nLDE7130EC]

The group of Sufi inspiration is believed to have 200,000 members, most of whom are university students, and is active mainly in the poor districts of some cities. Banned from politics, its avowed aim is to achieve a peaceful transition to a pluralist political system inspired by Islam.

In a statement posted on its website late on Sunday, Justice and Charity said the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia left “no place today for distortions … and empty, false promises.

“The gap between the ruler and the ruled has widened and confidence is lost.

“The solution is either a deep and urgent democratic reform that ends autocracy and responds to the needs and demands of the people, or the people take the initiative and (it) erupt peacefully … to sweep autocracy away,” it said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Not Only Muslim Brotherhood, Obama

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 7 — Egypt will not be going back now, and will never again be Mubarak’s country. The change is irreversible and above all must occur “now”. In the evening just before the Super Bowl finals, Barack Obama modified the line of US policy once more towards Egypt. And he did it with a brusque specification which shows how wary the US is of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood: they are one of many factions in Egypt and “do not represent the majority of the country”.

Obama also noted that they are a well-organised movement but that some parts of their ideology have anti-American tendencies.

And so, the United States is in favour of the dialogue which has got underway with the Muslim Brotherhood but does not entirely trust them, and so has simply opted to confirm its line on Egypt: that of concrete steps toward transition, to be taken immediately.

However, on the day of the Super Bowl, US diplomacy remained in a state of anticipation while closely watching events as they were unfolding in Cairo — and especially after the diplomatic gaffe which on Saturday led to the de facto ousting of the US envoy to Egypt, Frank Wisner, who had said what many in Washington think: that it would be better if President Hosni Mubarak were the one to lead the country through these difficult days. It was a gaffe which confirmed a certain measure of confusion within the line of policy to take as concerns Mubarak’s role in the democratic transition. Slight differences of opinion which seemed confirmed also by Obama’s words, which were much more severe than those used by Hillary Clinton yesterday morning.

Despite the fact that Wikileaks files report the worrisome analysis that Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman endorsed in Washington in reporting on the extremism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Clinton was forced to give her ‘blessing’ to the dialogue that Suleiman himself has set in motion with the Muslim Brotherhood.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt and Tunisia Rocked by the Global Food Crisis

Tunisia’s government has fallen and Egypt’s is facing insurrection — and this could be just the start. Food and economic analysts are warning that these governments could be the first victims of the global food crisis, and others are similarly vulnerable.

What seems clear is that surging food prices helped trigger both uprisings and protests elsewhere in north Africa. The region depends on bread and imports half of its wheat. So when world wheat prices soared by 50 per cent in 2010, Egypt massively increased spending on the cereal to sell to its poorest citizens as subsidised bread. Yet bread prices rose 25 per cent on private markets in Cairo.

This especially affected the lower middle class, which Claire Spencer of the London-based think tank Chatham House says is key to the uprisings. While the poorest must keep working to eat, she says, the slightly better-off have more freedom to stage sit-ins. And if food is far from the only reason for discontent in Egypt, it can nonetheless be a trigger, she says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: The Caliphate’s a-Comin’

America has everything to fear with the fall of Mubarak. With the old dictator removed, a vacuum will be left gapingly open for those who want to seize the opportunity to rule.

Islamic extremists and Marxists will overcome the demands for democracy and lay claim to Egypt. Soon a domino effect will remove governments across the globe and from the ashes will arise a new Islamic caliphate.

Rising to assume the mantle of caliph and throne of the new world order is none other than notorious socialist, suspected Muslim and anti-Christ candidate, Barack Hussein Obama.

The caliphate will oppress the populations of the entire Middle Eastern world and subjugate free countries like Spain, France and the United Kingdom. The entire world will be enslaved under strict Islamic law and the rule of the caliph.

Hence, he shall rule for a thousand years with an Islamic iron fist.

Just remember: He said he’d bring change…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Journalist: U.S. Is Next Target [Video]

An Egyptian journalist interviewed on the nation’s Al-Rahma TV outlined a plan for increasing Muslim influence over America, boldly declaring, “The U.S. will be transformed into an Islamic republic.”

Shortly before massive riots backed by the Muslim Brotherhood broke out in Egypt, journalist ‘Ata Abd Al-Aal told his interviewer in a video translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute that he had even heard a sheik in America declare that “the most important place for the future of Islam, after Mecca and Medina, was the U.S.”

Learn Islam’s global agenda to secure all nations under its only religious law: Get “Islam Rising” on DVD!

The presence of Islam in the America, Abd Al-Aal insisted, has grown so rapidly that it has become “of great alarm to the Zionist circles in the U.S.”

Video of the interview can be seen below:…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Egypt Crisis: Government Claim it Has a Timetable for Transferring Power

Under renewed pressure after hundreds of thousands crammed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the largest show of force since the uprising began over a fortnight ago, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s powerful new vice president, attempted to buy time with fresh concessions. Giving ground on a number of central demands by opposition groups, he hinted that Mr Mubarak would yield at least some powers before elections in September usher in a new president. The president, who has held office for 30 years, has already promised not to contest the poll. “A clear road map has been put in place with a set timetable to realise the peaceful and organised transfer of power,” Mr Suleiman said. Mr Suleiman, the long-time head of military intelligence until the crisis forced his promotion last month, gave no details of the timetable and the offer is unlikely in itself to end the mass demonstrations seeking the president’s overthrow.

After signs earlier this week that it was starting to falter, the uprising has been rejuvenated by the release of Wael Ghonim, a Google executive and online activist who disappeared shortly after the protests began.

On Monday, Egypt’s state security finally acknowledged that Mr Ghonim had been in its custody and he was freed after being held blindfolded and handcuffed for 12 days.

An interview he gave to an independent Egyptian television station on Monday evening, in which he broke down in tears after seeing photographs of dead protesters, has brought the uprising new support at a moment of seeming stalemate.

A number of protesters said they had been moved to come to the square yesterday because of Mr Ghonim and when he arrived late in the afternoon, he was greeted with a tumultuous cheer. Mr Ghonim was behind one of the Facebook pages that help to spark the revolt. Speaking briefly, Mr Ghonim declared: “I am not a hero but those who were martyred are heroes.”

He added: “We will not abandon our demand and that is the departure of the regime.”

Yet there has been no unified position among protesters about what regime change — beyond the immediate removal of Mr Mubarak’s powers — actually means.

In Washington and other Western capitals there is increasing support for the notion that, at least until elections in September, Mr Mubarak should yield most of his powers to Mr Suleiman for a transitional period meant to usher in meaningful reform.

Yet there is great distrust for the new vice president, who is seen as presiding over an intelligence service that was instrumental in keeping Mr Mubarak in power.

“I consider Suleiman a dirty copy of Mubarak,” said Abdul Munam Mahmoud, a youth activist and former member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. “At the end of the day, he was the chief of the most important security structure that ran everything.”

A Muslim Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian, said they would give Mr Mubarak a week to resign and then reconsider their participation in negotiations with Mr Suleiman…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Top Muslim Brotherhood Member Thanks Khamenei — Hopes for Government Like Iran & Brave President Like Ahmadinejad

Kamal al-Halbavi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed gratitude to Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei for his support of the revolution. Al-Halvavi said he hoped that Egypt would have a “a good government, like the Iranian government, and a good president like Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is very brave.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Awakens Terrorist Wing

Look what Obama’s support for Islamist group is doing

JERUSALEM — An Egyptian Islamist terrorist organization founded by the Muslim Brotherhood is re-establishing itself amid the political upheaval in Cairo, WND has learned.

Both Egyptian and Israeli security officials said the group, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, is being reconstituted at the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The officials affirmed Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya serves as the de fact “military” wing of the Brotherhood, which originally founded Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Egypt: The Moment Mubarak’s Men Were Lynched

New video shows brutal mob justice in action as protesters vow to reignite revolution.

[Comments: WARNING: Graphic content.]

Fresh footage of the full brutality of violence on the streets of Egypt has emerged, showing vicious clashes between protesters and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak.

Posted on YouTube, the videos feature a pro-Mubarak van driver being surrounded and dragged from his vehicle by a mob of anti-government demonstrators.

Another scene sees supporters of the Mubarak regime driving a jeep towards protesters.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Is Mubarak Heading to Germany?

Rumors are swirling that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may soon head to Germany for health checks, in a face-saving exit that would likely be heralded as victory for demonstrators calling for his ouster and would also give Egypt’s new vice president some breathing room to implement U.S.-backed reforms.

It’s unclear whether the 82-year-old leader has any immediate health problems. But such a trip, under the guise of medical reasons, could be one way for Mubarak to plan a graceful departure from the political turmoil surrounding him, though it’s unclear whether he’s amenable to it. Last week, he delivered a speech on state TV vowing to die on Egyptian soil — a jab at those demanding his exile.

Sources at a luxury hospital in southwest Germany told Der Spiegel newspaper that they’re preparing for Mubarak’s possible arrival, under a plan hatched by the U.S. government that would have Mubarak fly to Germany for a “prolonged health check.” U.S. officials refused to comment on the report, and a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel told Dow Jones that Germany has received no requests to grant Mubarak exile.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Libya: Amnesty Appeals for Two Berbers Arrested

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 7 — Amnesty International has launched a campaign for the freeing of two brothers of Berber ethnicity being held in Libya. Mazigh and Madghis Bouzakar were arrested in their home on December 16 by what are thought to have been officers of Libya’s secret services (ESA) and one of them has apparently been tortured.

According to a report on the Amnesty website, it is possible that the two brothers are being held for crimes of opinion, “simply for their interest in the Amazigh culture. One of the two is alleged to have been tortured at the hands of the Libyan security forces while he was being held. Both are at risk of being tortured in Jdaida Prison where they are being detained” after being taken there on January 27. According to the Amnesty report, the brothers have been charged with “spying and collaboration with Israel and Zionism”. The human rights organisation states that the two brothers were arrested because they belong to the World Amazigh Congress and engage in other activities to promote Amazigh (Berber) culture.

The father of the two brothers says that Madghis is being held in solitary confinement and has been subjected to torture and mistreated during interrogations by ESA agents for more than a month now. He was beaten with clubs and rifle butts, including beatings of the soles of his feet. His ‘investigators’ are questioning him about an article he wrote about the Amazigh and Jewish communities living in Libya.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Crisis Group Monitoring Risks of Street Protests

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, FEBRUARY 7 — With street protests raging across North Africa and the Middle East, Libya is keeping a close eye on the possibility of anti-government protests at home. Local sources say that Libya’s Foreign Ministry last February set up a crisis group led by the Foreign Minster Moussa Koussa, and by the Public Safety Minister, General Younis Al Obeidi and the Economy Minister, Mohammed Al Huweji.

Signs of impatience in the country have appeared on Facebook, Twitter and on a number of blogs, where there are plans for “demonstrations in Tripoli and Bengasi on February 8 and 17”.

The first meeting of the crisis group, according to local sources, took place in Bengasi, the main city in the Cyrenaica region, on February 3. In the same region, which is considered the most at risk of anti-government protests, the “discreet presence” of a greater number of police has been signalled over the last few days.

Other signals of “alert” have been recorded by foreign embassies. Italian diplomats in Tripoli drafted a statement saying that “The embassy is continuing to monitor the situation in the country, in light of events in the region. There are currently no reasons for concern regarding possible reactions in Libya to events elsewhere, particularly in Egypt”. The statement also features the telephone numbers of embassy staff to be used by expatriates and the assembly points “in case of natural disasters or emergency situations”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Press: Why the Maghreb Uprising Doesn’t Concern US

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, FEBRUARY 7 — Newspapers in Libya, despite not being read on a large scale, keep focusing on what is described as “the events” in its neighbouring countries Tunisia and Egypt. Libya in fact forms a buffer zone between these two countries. The press does so, as a regime befits, underlining the differences between the governments that are under siege by its people and the unique system that forms the foundation of the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”, the official name of Gaddafi’s Libya. The government newspapers call the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt “popular uprisings” and “intifadas against traditional regimes”. Al Shames (The Sun), speaks for example of “the result of the lack of democracy and good government”, and underlines that the ongoing events in the neighbouring countries have been caused “most of all by the absence of a large-scale participation of all sectors of the civil society in the power structure”. The newspaper stresses the difference between the situation in Tunisia and Egypt and the system used in the Great Jamahiriya, which is based on the Green Book which theorises the Third universal theory which was introduced by the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi. This theory says that Libya has instituted a kind of direct democracy based on people’s committees, in which the entire population participates.

Other newspapers warn the people against the risk that “some opportunist may step forward now that the doors of interference by foreign powers have been opened; these foreign powers are only interested in settling in the region”. Al Zahaf Al Akhdar, the newspaper of the revolutionary committees, agrees. After a long philosophic excurses on the value of popular uprisings, the daily concludes in its leading article that “the liberation of the people only resides in self-government and the sovereignty of the masses”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Muslim Brotherhood Text Reveals Scope of Radical Creed

One of the greatest beneficiaries of the unrest in Egypt has been the Muslim Brotherhood.

Banned but tolerated for decades by successive Egyptian regimes, the Islamist movement is now emerging as a central player in the country’s resurgent opposition.

On Tuesday, two Brotherhood representatives participated in an opposition delegation that met with Vice President Omar Suleiman for the first set of talks over implementing political reforms.

Pundits have portrayed the Brotherhood as uncompromising zealots or beneficent providers of social services that long-deprived Egyptians desperately need.

But a translation released Tuesday of a 1995 book by the movement’s fifth official leader sheds light on just how Egypt’s Brotherhood views itself and its mission. Jihad is the Way is the last of a five-volume work, The Laws of Da’wa by Mustafa Mashhur, who headed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002.

The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday saw excerpts of the text, compiled by Palestinian Media Watch found Itamar Marcus and analyst Nan Jacques Zilberdik.

They detail the Brotherhood’s objectives of advancing the global conquest of Islam and reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate, the public and private duties of jihad and the struggle Muslims must wage against Israel.

The full text, translated by PMW, will be posted Wednesday on the organization’s website,

“The Islamic ummah,” it says, referring to the supranational community of Muslims, “can regain its power and be liberated and assume its rightful position which was intended by Allah, as the most exalted nation among men, as the leaders of humanity.”

Elsewhere, it exhorts Muslims, “Know your status, and believe firmly that you are the masters of the world, even if your enemies desire your degradation.”

Marcus spoke to the Post about what he views as the danger of downplaying the Brotherhood’s ideology, or expecting it to moderate its objectives after being allowed into the political process. The movement differs from international terror groups like Al-Qaida, he said, only in tactics, not in its goals.

Marcus cited passages in the text that urge Muslims to wage jihad only when circumstances are ripe.

“The Brotherhood is not rushed by youth’s enthusiasm into immature and unplanned action which will not alter the bad reality and may even harm the Islamic activity, and will benefit the people of falsehood,” Mashhur wrote.

“One should know that it is not necessary that the Muslims repel every attack or damage caused by the enemies of Allah immediately, but [only] when ability and the circumstances are fit to it.”

Jihad is the Way explicitly endorses the reinstatement of a worldwide Islamic regime.

“It should be known that jihad and preparation towards jihad are not only for the purpose of fending off assaults and attacks of Allah’s enemies from Muslims, but are also for the purpose of realizing the great task of establishing an Islamic state and strengthening the religion and spreading it around the world.”

“Jihad for Allah,” Mashhur wrote, “is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, and the State of Islam established.”

Hassan al-Banna, the movement’s founder, “felt the grave danger overshadowing the Muslims and the urgent need and obligation which Islam places on every Muslim, man and woman, to act in order to restore the Islamic Caliphate and to reestablish the Islamic state on strong foundations.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Queen Noor: Don’t Exclude Muslim Brotherhood

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan believes Egypt could be a model for a peaceful transition, and that enacting the reforms necessary to ensure stability in the country, though challenging, present “enormous opportunities” for the nation and the region. “But there’s going to have to be some concrete steps, not cosmetic steps and not just rhetoric. They’re going to have to give some form to this as soon as possible,” she said on CNN Monday night.

“I think and hope and pray that’s what will be the focus of different governments and people and parties in our region as a whole,” the Queen said. “I think what’s happening in Egypt, Tunisia today, and perhaps elsewhere, these can be models for peaceful transition to more open, more accountable governance, and towards societies that offer more opportunities — social, economic, and political — for a cross-section of their people.

“And I truly believe — and I have for 30 years, I used to argue this in Jordan as well — that to achieve true national security, which is the issue in the debate that has always predominated in Egypt and many of these other countries and has justified a multitude of policies, that you can’t divorce that from human security.

“And if you see your national security and your human security as one and the same thing, your people engaged, free and feeling a sense of investment in their own country, that is the way you achieve true national security,” she said. “And that is where America will find her strongest and most reliable allies.”

Queen Noor, who was born and raised in the United States and educated at Princeton University, said that the U.S. is “extremely polarized, not unlike some of the societies in the Middle East that we’re talking about right now. Depending on who you’re watching on television or which cable news channel, you’re getting very different kinds of analysis and perhaps projections of what this means for the future and for the United States.

“So I would say that the first and most important thing for people in this country to do is to really look for thoughtful analysis of what is taking place and to look for the areas in the center, rather than listening to the extremes,” she told interviewer Piers Morgan.

She was particularly struck by remarks made by those she feels lack an understanding of the role of religion in Egypt today, inflating its function as a political force compared to other societies.

She was asked to comment on remarks made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

on Monday in which he condemned any outreach by the U.S. to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of Egypt’s leading opposition groups. (Gingrich said, “I think this is absolute, total misreading of history. The Muslim Brotherhood is a mortal enemy of our civilization. They say so openly. Their slogan says so openly. Their way is jihad, their method is death. For us to encourage in any way the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood is fundamentally wrong.”)…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Senior US Marine Says “Multiple Platoons” Are Headed to Egypt

A senior member of the US Marine corps is telling people “multiple platoons” are deploying to Egypt, a source tells us.

There is a system within the US Marines that alerts the immediate families of high-ranking marines when their marine will soon be deployed to an emergency situation where they will not be able to talk to their spouses or families.

That alert just went out, says our source.

This senior Marine told our source that the Pentagon will deploy “multiple platoons” to Egypt over the next few days and that the official reason will be ‘to assist in the evacuation of US citizens.”

Our source was told that “the chances they were going over there went from 70% yesterday to 100% today.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shai Baitel: The Egyptian Scorpion and the Frog

Looking at what is happening in Egypt these days the following fable, slightly adjusted, comes to mind:

A frog and the scorpion, met one day on the bank of the River Nile, which they both wanted to cross. The frog offered to carry the scorpion over on his back provided the scorpion promised not to sting him. The scorpion agreed so long as the frog would promise not to drown him. They mutually agreed to the deal and started to cross the river. Half-way to the other bank the scorpion stung the frog with his venom. “Why did you do that?” gasped the frog, as it was dying. “Why?” replied the scorpion, “I couldn’t help it. This is the Middle East.”

It is a precarious situation and there is no way to know how the upheaval will end and who will emerge victorious in the end.

In a Washington Post op-ed, published on February 3, well-known businessman, financier, and philanthropist George Soros gave his view of the Egyptian turmoil, the subsequent American reaction and the role of Israel. In his piece he calls on Obama to ‘get Egypt right’ and notes that there are some signs of hope for an actual positive development of events that will lead to a democratic process in Egypt. Nobody knows what the future will hold and analysts and observers have to make do with informed guesses. But given what we do know it is necessary to point out, with all due respect and appreciation of a man who makes a difference in the world, that George Soros’s take on Egypt is too simple, too hopeful. It is with regret to have to point this out because he is a true intellectual and thinker who takes into consideration the strongest counter arguments to his position. Not so in this op-ed.

The fears of adverse consequences regarding free elections are not that they will be held at all but that they will be rushed without having prepared the reemergence of a secular opposition, provided for minority rights, freedom of expression, movement, and assembly, an independent judiciary, a free press and so forth. If Mr. Soros had thought of the example of Gaza he would recall that democracy is more than holding elections. This, the notion that the spread of extremist politics must be avoided, and the other examples he cites, are not “the old conventional wisdom about the Middle East.” These fears are based on historic precedent and it would be prudent not to dismiss them as obsolete.

Moreover, Mr. Soros claims that “[t]he Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who is seeking to run for president, is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system.” Really? It is impossible not to think of the poor frog on the bank of the Nile. He fell for the guy who could not escape his true nature…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Soros Group: ‘Normalize’ Muslim Brotherhood

Urged Egypt to allow creation of Islamist political party

An international “crisis management” group led by billionaire George Soros long has petitioned for the Egyptian government to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The International Crisis Group, or ICG, also released a report urging the Egyptian regime to allow the Brotherhood to establish an Islamist political party.

The ICG includes on its board Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the main opposition leaders in Egypt, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a June 2008 report entitled, “Egypt’s Muslim Brothers Confrontation or Integration,” Soros’ ICG urges the Egyptian regime to allow the group to participate in political life.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Muslim Brotherhood Uncovered

The downstairs entrance is littered with rubbish, and the stairwell is dark and cramped. Only the opulence of the second-floor door — a broad, ornate colossus of a door — offers any clue as to what lies inside this unprepossessing apartment block in an unfashionable corner of Cairo’s Roda Island.

Behind the door are the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that — depending on who you believe — is about to either give Egypt the Taliban treatment or help steer the country through transition to a pluralist democracy.

Given the international opprobrium that its name often inspires, perhaps it’s not surprising that the brotherhood prefers a low-key, almost shabby feel for its headquarters. “We are not in the forefront,” smiles Essam el-Erian, a senior brotherhood leader. “We keep a step behind.”

A step behind is exactly where the brotherhood has been accused of being during the past two weeks of momentous upheaval in Egypt, two weeks in which the world’s oldest Islamist organisation found itself out on the sidelines as a new political reality unfolded before its eyes.

When the call first went out for mass pro-change protests on 25 January, the brotherhood responded as it always has to any major anti-government activity originating outside its own sphere of influence — it dithered. With that dithering came a loss of credibility, as the demonstrations gathered momentum and coalesced into nothing short of a revolutionary challenge to 30 years of entrenched dictatorship.

Now, though — having been wrong-footed and overtaken by largely non-religious young activists — the brotherhood is seeking to regain its standing as the country’s leading opposition movement, without turning either local or western opinion against it.

Playing catch-up has seen the brotherhood engaging in dialogue with a government that has long kept it outlawed — thus gaining a legal legitimacy denied since 1954 — while at the same time trying to avoid accusations of a sell-out from the hundreds of thousands who continue to pack Tahrir Square and who want to see President Hosni Mubarak gone before any negotiations towards a democratic transition can begin.

“There is no compromise,” Erian (above right) told the Guardian on Tuesday. “We reassess our position every day, maybe every hour. We give them some time to discuss … [Those around Mubarak] are arranging their affairs because he was a symbol of the regime and he was controlling them. They need some time. We give them this chance. A week.”

The “Brother Muslimhood” — as the vice-president, Omar Suleiman, repeatedly called it this week during a TV interview with Christiane Amanpour — also faces a potentially more difficult tightrope walk internationally.

Its need is to position itself at the forefront of Egypt’s post-Mubarak future without sounding alarm bells in western capitals, where Mubarak’s warnings about the dire threats posed by the brotherhood have often been taken at face value. It’s a dilemma that Erian is only too aware of. “Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton, Mr Cameron, Mr Sarkozy, when they see us at the front they say we are another Khomeini, another Iranian [revolution],” he says…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

What if the Problem Really is the People?

A thousand talking heads and neo-conservative experts on the region assure us that a bright future stretches out before Egypt like a magic carpet. “Democracy,” “Freedom”, “Representative Government” are the buzzwords that trickle wetly out of their printers. All cynicism is disdained and skepticism swept into the dustbin. History is being made here. But the tricky thing about history is that it isn’t a point on a map, but a continuous wave. Like the tide, history is made and remade over and over again, formed and repeated, washed and beached on the shores of time.

Mubarak is the problem, we are told. And he certainly is their problem. The pesky 82 year old air force officer standing in the way of their dreams of a new Egypt. If not for him, Egypt would be a liberal model for the region. Just like Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq. But is it the dictator or the people who are the problem? The protesters are unified by a desire to push out Mubarak. But what do they actually stand for, besides open elections.

59 percent of Egyptians want democracy and 95 percent want Islam to play a large part in politics. (As Egypt has approximately 5 percent of Christians that means 100 percent of Muslims want Islam to play a large part in politics.) 84 percent believe apostates should face the death penalty. That is what Egyptian democracy will look like. A unanimous majority that wants an Islamic state and a bare majority that wants democracy. Which one do you think will win out? A democratic majority of the country supports murdering people in the name of Islam. Mubarak’s government does not execute apostates or adulterers. But a democratic Egypt will. Why? Because it’s the will of the people.

The cheerleaders shaking their pom poms for Egyptian democracy don’t seem to grasp that the outcome could be anything other than positive. It’s an article of faith for them that freedom leads to freedom. That open elections give rise to human rights. That the problem can only be the dictator, not the people. Never the people. That is their ideology and they will stick to it.

Ever since World War II, we have been working off the “Hitler Paradigm”. The “Hitler Paradigm” says that there are no bad nations, only bad governments. The people themselves are perfectly fine, but occasionally a tiny minority of extremists size power. This allows the liberally minded to reconcile the need for occasional wars with their faith in mankind. Instead of fighting wars against nations, they fight wars to liberate nations from their despotic regimes. And ever since we have been fighting these “Wars of Liberation.”

We fought to free Korea and Vietnam from Communism, but we lacked one basic thing. Ground level support from the people we were fighting to protect. Today South Koreans like Kim Jong Il more than they like us. We fought to free the tyrants of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. As a reward, they financed the terrorists who have been killing us ever since. We fought to free Iraq from Saddam, and the entire country imploded into armed camps. Our “Victory in Iraq” came about because we cut a deal with the Baathists against the Shiites and Al Qaeda, essentially restoring a broken version of Saddam’s old status quo. We fought to liberate Afghanistan, and now we find ourselves allied with some Muslim warlords who abuse women and rape little boys— against the other Muslim warlords who abuse women and rape little boys.

Handing out democracy like candy does not fix existing cultural problems…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Army Chief Ashkenazi: Prepare for All-Out War

Given recent changes in the Middle East, Israel must prepare for a battle in several theaters, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday at the Herzliya Conference.

“The connection between the different players requires us to contend with more than one theater,” he said.

The radical camp in the Middle East is gaining strength, Ashkenazi warned, adding that “the moderate camp among the traditional Arab leadership is weakening.” He also made note of what he characterized as the “fascinating phenomenon” whereby power is shifting to the people of the region thanks to online social networks.

The army chief said that in the wake of the growing threat of radical Islam among Israel’s neighbors, the defense budget would have to be boosted in the coming years. The main change faced by the army is the widening spectrum of threats, he said.

“Because of this spectrum, we must prepare for a conventional war…it would be a mistake to prepare for non-conventional war or limited conflicts and then expect that overnight the forces will operate in an all-out-war,” he said.

Praising Israel’s youngsters However, Ashkenazi said that both Hamas and Hezbollah pose only a limited threat to Israel at this time. “I do not underestimate Hamas or Hezbollah, but they cannot take over the Negev or Galilee,” he said.

Hezbollah and Hamas understood that encountering the IDF on the classic battlefields is lethal, and are therefore fighting out of urban areas, the army chief added.

Ashkenazi also praised Israel’s youths and said they possess impressive qualities despite their lowly image. The army chief also highlighted the growing desire among Israel’s youngsters to join combat units.

“We are going to the schools, and I want to tell you that these young people, with the piercing and tattoos or whatever you call it, are enlisting,” he said. “These are incredibly high-quality youths.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

NGO Monitor Reveals Dutch Gov’t Funding for Electronic Intifada

Electronic Intifada (EI), a website that publishes articles that compare Israelis to Nazis and promotes campaigns for anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions), has received funding indirectly from the Dutch government. The Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), a Netherland-based NGO has supported EI since at least 2007, including a 3-year funding commitment. ICCO receives 95% of its budget from the Dutch government and the EU.

In 2008, ICCO received €124 million in Dutch government funds, representing 90% of its €139 million budget. An additional €8.5 million (6.1%) came from the European Commission (Annual Report, p. 135). When NGO Monitor contacted ICCO regarding funding for EI, our researcher was directed to the coordinator of government funds, Mieke Zagt. Ms. Zagt did not return NGO Monitor’s phone calls or emails.

As documented by NGO Monitor, EI plays a central role in the Durban strategy of political warfare against Israel, with frequent accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “slow genocide.” Articles on the EI site justify violence against civilians, call Gaza a “concentration camp,” and label Palestinian participation in peace talks as “collaboration.” EI has an extensive section supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah, as well as other contributors, also employ antisemitic and anti-Israel themes in their writings and Twitter statements.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, ICCO praised EI as an “internationally recognized daily news source” that “contributes to a balanced opinion.”

In an article (Jerusalem Post, November 26, 2010), journalist Benjamin Weinthal quoted Netherlands Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal: “I will look into the matter personally. If it appears that…ICCO does fund [EI], it will have a serious problem with me.”

In sharp contrast, Chairman of ICCO’s Executive Board Marinus Verweij called EI “an important source of information” and said “in no way is the EI anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.” The Post also reported that ICCO informed the Dutch government that EI “was funded with Dutch subsid[ies] until 2010. From 2010 on it has allocated only non-subsidy funding.” The evidence for this claim has not been provided…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranians Crack Down on Christian Churches

While Islamist extremism is advancing in Pakistan and Egypt, one of the bastions of the Jihadist ideology is facing a challenge its mullahs are having a hard time countering: the Christian Church is growing in Iran.

Just as a wave of persecution swept over the Christian minorities in other Muslim countries this past Christmas, Iran’s Christian remnant has suffered terribly the past several months. According to an article by Lisa Daftari at, 70 Christians have been arrested since December, and further persecution is expected:

Since Christmas, reports say more than 70 of Iran’s Christian minority have been taken into custody, making it the most significant and widespread attack on this minority group in Iran’s history. State television reported that Tehran’s governor, Morteza Tamadon, confirmed more arrests would be made.

In a series of government raids, grassroots Christian groups and organizations have been targeted for posing a threat to the government, which suspects these groups of attempting to convert Muslims and spreading Western influence.

The roundups have been specifically targeted toward Christian converts, one of Iran’s three major Christian communities, consisting of the Armenian Christians who migrated to Iranian Azerbaijan in the 11th century, Assyrian Christians who have lived in Iran since the time of the Assyrian Empire, and a large and growing web of Christian converts who have left Islam and have converted to various sects of Christianity.

Christians are not the only victims of the latest round of persecution; Zoroastrians have also been subjected to similar treatment. But the spread of Christianity has clearly alarmed Muslim extremists, and the result has been a bloody crackdown. However, Iranian Christians have many generations of experience dealing with such oppression, and the government is discovering that the influence of the Internet and the difficulty of locating “house churches” can make it hard to find the new converts.

Iranian law contains constitutional provision which offers a few protections to those who are raised in the Christian faith; however, engaging in evangelism is punishable by death, and if someone who was raised in the Christian faith converts, for a time, to Islam, he is subject to the death penalty if he ever returns to the faith of his childhood. As Daftari explains:

Armenians and Assyrian Christians have certain rights and are recognized under the Iranian Constitution, but converting, or more specifically, the act of turning from Islam, is punishable by death. To leave the Islamic faith or to attempt to convert others away from the faith warrants capital punishment under Sharia Law. Under this law, a Muslim who becomes Christian is called a mortad, meaning one who leaves Islam. If the convert attempts to convert others, he is called a mortad harbi, or a convert who is waging war against Islam. Killing such a person is deemed a good deed and is the obligation of all Muslims, both according to the fatwa and reinforced in the Islamic Republic’s penal code. New Christians are therefore forced to print any books, pamphlets or other literature in covert fashion to avoid arrests. While Armenians can have Bibles printed in Armenian and services conducted in their language, converts are prohibited from printing Bibles or conducting Christian services in Farsi. This forces Christian Farsi speakers to practice in underground Church groups.

Apostasy — leaving Islam — is a capital offense in Iran, and this practice is upheld by the Iranian regime as being in conformity with the brutal tenets of Sharia law and the personal teaching of Mohammed. The Iranian regime has not hesitated to carry out such death sentences; according to a story published by (“Evangelical Christians Face Death in Iran”), offers several examples of the persecution which confronts Christians in Iran:…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Iraq Repairs Saddam’s Triumphal Sword Arch

Officials in Iraq have begun to restore the notorious “Hands of Victory” arch in Baghdad, enraging many who see the massive bronze sculpture commissioned by Saddam Hussein to mark the war with Iran as a symbol of the brutality and excesses of his long rule.

The sculpture’s fists were modelled on the dictator’s own hands, and its restoration is part of a multi-million-dollar project to beautify the city ahead of an Arab League meeting in Baghdad later this year. The imposing 140ft monument — commissioned at the height of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war — fell into disrepair after the US-led invasion ousted Saddam in 2003, and was partially dismantled four years ago.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Death From Torture, Interior Minister Resigns

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 7 — The Emir of Kuwait, Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has accepted the resignation of the country’s interior minister, which had been submitted in mid-January after a man died from torture and maltreatment in a police station, reports the daily paper Kuwait Times. Taking former Interior Minister Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah’s place will be Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah, 60 years old, member of the royal family and the emir’s advisor. Not new to politics, he had previously held the same post in the first government after the Gulf War (1991-1992) and was Defence Minister in 1994. The outgoing minister had submitted his resignation the day of the death of Mohammad Ghazzawi Al Mutair, a Kuwaiti citizen who was being held by the police. However, the government had asked him to remain in his position during the investigation. The parliamentary commission which conducted the inquiry into Al Mutairi’s death has now concluded that the man died after excessive torture he was subjected to within and outside of the police station. The results of the inquiry were to have been discussed in parliament in March, but yesterday the emir accepted Al Sabah’s resignation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sultan’s TV Drama Opens Turkish Divide on Religion

A steamy television period drama about a 16th century sultan has angered conservative Muslims in Turkey and sparked a debate over the portrayal of the past in a country rediscovering its Ottoman heritage.

“The Magnificent Century” chronicles the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled the Ottoman Empire in its golden age.

Scenes which have particularly offended show a young and lusty sultan cavorting in the harem and drinking goblets of wine, pursuits frowned upon by the Muslim faithful for whom the sultan had religious as well as temporal authority.

Producers of the series, which has drawn huge audiences and boosted sales of history books on the period, said they wove in imagined elements to the love story between Suleiman and his favourite slave concubine, and later wife, Hurrem, with the aim of presenting the characters as more human.

But for many pious Turks, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who leads a government with its roots in political Islam, the series is an insult to the nation’s forebears.

That is not something he welcomes at a time when he is trying to revive Turkish influence in the old Ottoman domains across the Middle East. Tens of thousands of complaints have been filed with the national TV watchdog.

Known as the “Lawgiver” among Turks, Suleiman is regarded as a sacred character, whose rule from 1520 to 1566 marked the height of the Ottoman military, political and economic power, when it stretched from Budapest to Mecca, Algiers to Baghdad.


Last month, demonstrators chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) staged a protest outside the offices of the TV channel broadcasting the series, and the state broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, told producers the show was “contrary to the values of the national and moral values of the society.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkish Author’s Book Explores Pious Women’s Lives Beyond Clichés

Compiling interviews with prominent conservative women, journalist Selin Ongun’s new book “Veiled Women Speak: Veiled Men” reveals the changes in gender relations in religious circles.

Ongun decided to write the book when a series on conservative women published in a newspaper attracted a lot of attention. “A lot of sociologists called me and said they needed more information,” she said, adding that analysis based on cliche’s that suggested that some veiled women had attained modernity because they “drive jeeps” or “wear Dolce&Gabbana” was unhelpful.

The women she interviewed were open-minded and genuine, Ongun said in several interviews following the book’s publication, adding that this suggested that the old habits of maintaining secrecy about their world were changing.

“I understood that, as the media, we are missing a whole lot about veiled women. We rely on stereotypes,” she said.

Conservative women are resentful of the same prejudices and double standards shared both by men who identify themselves as “secular” and conservative men, Ongun said in the book.

She also said such women are offended by comments such as “She is veiled but she is well educated,” or “she is veiled but she is a prominent person.”

“Conservative women claim that even conservative men believe that not wearing a headscarf is a sign of modernity. They believe that conservative men value uncovered women in social and business life more [than women who wear headscarves],” said the author.

“In other words even conservative men have built a hierarchy between covered and uncovered women,” Ongun said.

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

WikiLeaks Cables: Saudi Arabia Cannot Pump Enough Oil to Keep a Lid on Prices

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom’s crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels — nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco’s 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.

According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12m barrels a day in 10 years but before then — possibly as early as 2012 — global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as “peak oil”.

Husseini said that at that point Aramco would not be able to stop the rise of global oil prices because the Saudi energy industry had overstated its recoverable reserves to spur foreign investment. He argued that Aramco had badly underestimated the time needed to bring new oil on tap.

One cable said: “According to al-Husseini, the crux of the issue is twofold. First, it is possible that Saudi reserves are not as bountiful as sometimes described, and the timeline for their production not as unrestrained as Aramco and energy optimists would like to portray.”

It went on: “In a presentation, Abdallah al-Saif, current Aramco senior vice-president for exploration, reported that Aramco has 716bn barrels of total reserves, of which 51% are recoverable, and that in 20 years Aramco will have 900bn barrels of reserves.

“Al-Husseini disagrees with this analysis, believing Aramco’s reserves are overstated by as much as 300bn barrels. In his view once 50% of original proven reserves has been reached … a steady output in decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it. He believes that what will result is a plateau in total output that will last approximately 15 years followed by decreasing output.”

The US consul then told Washington: “While al-Husseini fundamentally contradicts the Aramco company line, he is no doomsday theorist. His pedigree, experience and outlook demand that his predictions be thoughtfully considered.”

Seven months later, the US embassy in Riyadh went further in two more cables. “Our mission now questions how much the Saudis can now substantively influence the crude markets over the long term. Clearly they can drive prices up, but we question whether they any longer have the power to drive prices down for a prolonged period.”

A fourth cable, in October 2009, claimed that escalating electricity demand by Saudi Arabia may further constrain Saudi oil exports. “Demand [for electricity] is expected to grow 10% a year over the next decade as a result of population and economic growth. As a result it will need to double its generation capacity to 68,000MW in 2018,” it said.

It also reported major project delays and accidents as “evidence that the Saudi Aramco is having to run harder to stay in place — to replace the decline in existing production.” While fears of premature “peak oil” and Saudi production problems had been expressed before, no US official has come close to saying this in public.

In the last two years, other senior energy analysts have backed Husseini. Fatih Birol, chief economist to the International Energy Agency, told the Guardian last year that conventional crude output could plateau in 2020, a development that was “not good news” for a world still heavily dependent on petroleum…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Chechen Rebel Claims His Terror Cell Bombed Moscow Airport

A website affiliated with Chechen rebels has released a video in which an insurgent leader claims responsibility for last month’s deadly suicide bombing at Russia’s largest airport.

Doku Umarov also threatens more bloodshed if Russia does not leave the region.

The Kavkaz Centre website said it received the video late yesterday. It was not clear when or where the video was recorded.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Islamist Rebel Says He Ordered Russian Bombing

Umarov, 46, speaking in a video carried by the Islamist website, said there would be further such attacks in pursuit of an independent Muslim state governed by Sharia law in Russia’s Caucasus region — a territory embracing Chechnya, Dagestan and other nearby territories.

Umarov appeared in the video, apparently made on the day of the January 24 attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, wearing combat fatigues, talking quietly and hesitantly.

“The special operation today in Moscow … was carried out on my orders,” said Umarov, who styles himself the Emir of the Caucasus.

“These special operations will continue … to show the chauvinist regime of (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin in Moscow … that we can carry out these operations where we want and when we want,” he said, pointing a finger toward the camera.

The attack bore the hallmark of Caucasus rebels but Monday’s video was the first time Umarov had claimed direct responsibility for it.


Putin launched a war in late 1999 that crushed a rebel government in Chechnya and has made re-establishment of Kremlin rule there a personal political priority. The military operation has largely subdued insurgency in Chechnya, but Islamist rebels now operate with increasing force in neighboring Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Violence is fed by poverty, corruption, clan rivalries and religious militancy. President Dmitry Medvedev has called insurgency in the Caucasus the biggest threat to national security in the vast multi-ethnic country stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Vladimir Putin’s Strongman Act is Only Fuelling a Caucasian Jihad

Doku Umarov, the Chechen warlord who styles himself the “emir of the Caucasus”, warned the Russian government last Friday that his jihadis were ready and willing to launch more terrorist attacks like last month’s horrific suicide bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, for which he admitted responsibility. Sadly, his was no idle threat. Not only has Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, no credible plan to halt the attacks, his blinkered policy is actually making further atrocities more likely.

Putin’s initial response to Domodedovo was typical of the unthinking aggressiveness that has characterised his outlook since he rose to the presidency in 2000 on the back of a promise to hunt down Chechen rebels and kill them “in the outhouse”. Those behind the bombing would be caught, he said. “Revenge is inevitable.”

Putin also rejected the almost universal assumption that Umarov was involved, arguing there was “no relation to the Chechen republic”. That’s because, in Putin-speak, the Chechen problem was supposedly solved several years ago.

The opposite is nearer the truth. According to the official line, the installation in Grozny of a pro-Kremlin president, Ramzan Kadyrov, whose militia has become a byword for brutality, pacified Chechnya after a decade of bloodshed. But Kadyrov could not prevent a daring attack on Chechnya’s parliament last October. And while violent incidents there have declined relatively speaking, Umarov’s Chechen insurgency has spread extensively to neighbouring, mainly Muslim republics such as Dagestan and Ingushetia, and mutated from a separatist struggle into a pan-Caucasian jihad for independence.

Putin’s achievement, since he first became prime minister in 1999, has thus been to turn a containable local insurgency into an escalating regional war, in which trans-national groups such as al-Qaida have a close interest. At the same time, tough domestic counter-terrorism measures have strengthened the Kremlin’s powers and reduced individual liberties while making little impact on the problem at hand. This, in turn, has led many Russians to wonder why Moscow does not just have done with it, and let the north Caucasus secede from the post-1991 federal republic.

“What are the terrorists trying to achieve by detonating bombs in the Moscow metro?” asked commentator Yulia Latynina in the Moscow Times after a previous devastating attack. “Answer: they want Allah, not Russia, to rule the north Caucasus. They hate the West and despise both Putin’s rule and democracy … In the United Sates, terrorist attacks occur about once every five years, but in the north Caucasus they occur every five minutes.”

Latynina went on: “Under former president Boris Yeltsin, political Islam was a relatively marginal phenomenon but after 10 years of Vladimir Putin’s ‘power vertical’, the situation has changed radically. For example, Dagestan’s Wahhabis were only a marginal force in 1999 but they have become so powerful now that Russia’s law enforcement agencies are afraid to go after them… Under Putin, Ingushetia was transformed into a safe haven for the mojahedin … It seems that Russia will be forced to part with the north Caucasus in the same way that France was forced to leave Algeria.”

A growing number of Russians, as distinct from “ethnic Russians” of Caucasian origin, appear to share this view, judging by violent demonstrations in Moscow in December and January. Thousands of nationalist protesters, many of them working-class football fans angered by a reportedly racially motivated murder, mounted protests near Red Square, demanding the “expulsion” of Caucasians and attacking non-Slavic looking passers-by…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh Protest Fuel Prices, Concerns for Ethnic and Religious Minorities

Thousands take to the streets of major cities across the country calling for the resignation of the government, accused of oppressing the population. Over 40 injured in clashes with police. Bishop of Dinajpur underlines the risk of manipulation by Islamic extremists. Education and interfaith dialogue witnessed by the Church the two basic elements to give more rights to minorities and lead the country toward change.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — Thousands of people took to the streets of the main cities of Bangladesh yesterday to protest against rising prices and demand the resignation of the government accused of oppressing the population and imprisoning dissidents and activists. At the moment the toll is more than 40 injured and 43 arrests. More protests and strikes are planned in the coming days.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Mgr. Moses M. Costa, Bishop of Dinajpur (northern Bangladesh), said that the economic and political crisis could give way to Islamic extremists, with a serious threat to the ethnic and religious minorities. For the prelate free education and the work of interreligious dialogue witnessed by the Church are the two basic elements to give more rights to minorities and lead the country towards full democracy.

Bishop Cote was ordained Bishop of Dinajpur in 1996. The diocese has about 50 thousand Catholics, mostly tribals. More than 2 million people live in the district of Dinajpur and Muslims are the majority.

How do you see the situation in Bangladesh in the light of the riots that occurred in the Middle East?

We are concerned about the events that are hitting the Arab nations. I discussed this problem with some of the faithful of my diocese and we are trying to figure out what kind of impact it could have in our country. The pressure of Islamic extremists is growing and over the past five years Saudi Arabia has financed more than 34 thousand new Islamic schools. A long time will be needed before we can arrive at a true democracy. Currently the two main parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Awami League, are led by two women who continue to struggle for power and this causes discontent among Muslims. But I am confident that something will change in the future. I have several contacts with the moderate Islamic groups that have more liberal positions, but they have made no public statements for fear of the fundamentalists.

What is the witness of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh?

The main witness of the Church is in education open to all. In Bangladesh we Christians are less than 1% of a population of 129 million and in our diocese we only have one high school and several elementary schools. The most important institution has about three thousand students. Of these, only 200 are Catholics, the others are all Muslims and tribal. Thanks to this openness, people willingly send their children to our schools and use our services for the poor and sick.

Another type of witness are the sisters of Mother Teresa. In the diocese of Dinajpur, there is only one convent of the Missionaries of Charity. Despite their small number, the nuns are doing a wonderful job. They assist patients of all faiths and visit the most remote villages, bringing hope to the people. Just because we are a tiny minority all benefit from our work.

How integrated are Christians in society?

In general we have a good relationship with the government and the majority of Muslims. But our problems go unnoticed because we do not have enough voice to make ourselves heard. We often suffer discrimination. The common people are not against us, but are indifferent to our problems. Our children will not go to public schools, where they are mistreated just because they speak a language other than the national language. For this reason the tribal need small schools to be able to learn Bangla, the national language, which is necessary to go to school and overcome the inferiority complex that separates them from society.

How does the state treat minorities?

Minorities are not named in the Constitution and do not have any guarantee. That is why our people have no possibility of development and emancipation. Tribal and other minorities have to compete with the Muslim majority in every aspect of life and do not have the proper training to face such difficulties. They are poor even from the religious point of view, because they do not deepen the meaning of what they believe in. We have conversions and vocations, but often the person asking to become a priest has a weak cultural background. The minorities need opportunities, particularly in vocational training, in order to exploit the most competitive sectors. Without training and education our people have little chance of development.

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

Fears Rise Over Indonesian Religious Freedom

The beating to death of three followers of a minority Islamic sect and the burning of churches have raised concerns about escalating religious intolerance in Indonesia.

Human rights groups are accusing Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, of failing to defend one of the six constitutionally recognised religions after a mob killed three Ahmadiyah members at the weekend.

In a separate incident, on Tuesday, hundreds of men — many wearing Muslim prayer caps or scarves — set fire to two churches and stormed a court house in Temanggung, central Java. The men were enraged by the outcome of a court hearing against a Christian man convicted of blasphemy. A priest was reportedly beaten.

Ahmadiyah has been persecuted for years in Indonesia, the world’s largest majority-Muslim country, because its followers controversially believe their founder, not Muhammad, was the religion’s last prophet. Rights groups say attacks on Ahmadiyah have escalated dramatically since 2008, when Mr Yudhoyono banned the sect from worshipping in public.

Indonesia prides itself on its religious tolerance and analysts say that if such attacks on minority groups are not stopped its reputation could suffer.

Mr Yudhoyono expressed “regret” at the deaths and ordered a full inquiry into the rampage against the Ahmadis. Police said on Tuesday they had arrested two suspects in connection with the mob attack.

Officers have been criticised, however, for failing to prevent the outbreak of violence.

In Sunday’s attack, disturbing amateur video images posted on the internet showed police standing by as dozens of culprits, some shouting “Allah akbar!” (God is Great!) and “infidel!”, struck at the half-naked bodies of the victims sprawled in the mud.

“Why didn’t the police do more to protect us?” said Zafrullah Ahmad Pontoh, a spokesman for the Ahmadis, who number roughly 200,000 in Indonesia, in a population of nearly 250 million. “The attack was planned. We knew about it since Friday and warned the police.”

Rather than protect the home of a local Ahmadiyah leader, Boy Rafli Ahmad, a police spokesman, said officers had warned the Ahmadis not to provoke trouble by worshipping “that made the local people upset”, and suggested they leave.

He said the crowd had swelled to about 1,500 and with just 90 police officers they could do nothing to prevent it. “We tried to persuade them not to conduct any (religious) activities at the house?.?.?.?but they insisted,” he said. Two suspects and 15 witnesses were being questioned…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

India: Muslim Supremacists Kill Christian Teenagers for Reading Bible

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) — Suspected Islamic militants have killed two Christian teenagers who were reading the Bible in the disputed Kashmir valley, divided between India and Muslim Pakistan, BosNewsLife established Tuesday, February 8.

The victims were identified as Arifa, 17, and Akthar, 19, the daughters of Gulam Nabi Dar, said local missionary Mercy Ciniraj, who knew them well. “The [murdered] girls were believers and used to read the Bible through underground ministries.”

She told BosNewsLife that “the girls were shot dead” last Monday, January 31, in the Baramulla area in Indian-controlled northern Kashmir, bordering Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Central Java: Thousands of Muslims Attack Three Churches, An Orphanage and a Christian Centre

Parish priest of Catholic Church badly beaten. A police vehicle torched and the court Temanggung destroyed. The wrath of the crowd unleashed over a blasphemy sentence deemed to lenient (5 years in prison instead of death penalty).

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Thousands of angry Muslims attacked three churches, a Christian orphanage and a health centre that is also a Christian. The violence took place this morning at 10 am (local time) and only ended with the intervention of police in riot gear and police vans. One of the vans was set on fire by the crowd.

The revolt took place in Temanggung regency (Central Java), and started right in front of the town hall: first the crowd attacked the court where a trial against Richmond Bawengan Antonius, a Christian born in Manado (North Sulawesi) , accused of proselytizing and blasphemy was being held.

Bawengan was arrested in October 2010 because during a visit to Temanggung he had distributed printed missionary material, which, among other things, poked fun at some Islamic symbols. The profanity has cost him five years in prison, but the crowd were demanding the death sentence. The violence was sparked by their dissatisfaction with the verdict.

Instead of leaving the court, the crowd started pushing, shouting provocative slogans and then destroyed the building. Hundreds of police rushed in to intervene but failed to appease the thousands of Muslims who began to march en masse to “target Christians” on the main street of the city.

The Catholic Church of St Peter and Paul on Sudirman Boulevard was the first to be attacked, according to AsiaNews sources, the parish priest, Fr Saldhana, a missionary of the Holy Family, was violently beaten as he tried to protect the tabernacle and the Eucharist against the mob.

The crowd then attacked a Pentecostal church. According to the pastor Darmanto — another Christian leader of Temanggung — the main goal was the Pentecostal church, which was then burned. The mob, however, still not appeased went on to destroy in a Catholic orphanage and a health centre of the Sisters of Providence.

Another Protestant church in Shekinah was burnt down.

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

Indonesia: Mobs Destroy Three Churches in Central Java

(AKI/Jakarta Post) — Mobs destroyed three churches in Indonesia’s Central Java, province on Tuesday in violence that broke out following a blasphemy hearing.

The angry crowd torched the Bethel Church and Pantekosta churches in Temanggung and threw stones at Santo the Petrus and Paulus Church,

Stores in the city were closed and traffic was reportedly chaotic because of the violence.

The violence broke out as prosecutors had demanded that a local court sentence defendant Antonius Richmond Bawengan to five years in prison for his alleged blasphemy against Islam via books and articles in October 2010.

Islamic hardliners have repeatedly targeted minority Christian churches in Indonesia in the past few years.

In September last year, two local church leaders were savagely attacked in Bekasi, West Java. In that attack, local church leader ST Sihombing was left in a critical condition after being stabbed in the stomach and local priest Luspida Simanjuntak was hit on the head with a wooden plank and beaten.

In late January 2010, hundreds of Christians fled their homes in North Sumatra province following attacks against two Protestant churches and a pastor’s home amid tension between Muslims and Christians over the presence of unregistered churches in the area..

About 1,000 Muslims set fire to two churches in Sibuhuan, in North Sumatra’s Padang Lawas district. The attack, the first in the history of North Sumatra where both Muslim and Christian communities live together, caused no serious injury or fatalities.

Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in September last year broke his silence and condemned the attacks on churches.

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

Indonesia: Over a Thousand Muslims Attack Churches in Indonesia Again

More than 1,000 Muslim protesters have stormed a courthouse and burned two churches in central Java, Indonesia. The attacks in Temanggung happened after a Christian man was sentenced to five years in jail for distributing leaflets deemed insulting to Islam. Indonesian police said the crowd considered the sentence too lenient and were demanding the death penalty.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s Poor Fed Fake Rice Made From Plastic

China’s history with food safety is a rocky one, but even in the annals of robbery and abuse, this will go down in infamy.

Various reports in Singapore media have said that Chinese companies are mass producing fake rice made, in part, out of plastic, according to one online publication Very Vietnam.

The “rice” is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic. The potatoes are first formed into the shape of rice grains. Industrial synthetic resins are then added to the mix. The rice reportedly stays hard even after being cooked.

The Korean-language Weekly Hong Kong reported that the fake rice is being sold in the Chinese town of Taiyuan, in Shaanxi province.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Concrete Evidence of China’s Naval Ambitions

China has secretly built a concrete aircraft carrier for pilot training as part of its military build-up, intelligence sources have disclosed.

The large concrete structure, complete with a bridge, landing deck and ski ramp take-off platform has been constructed far inland near the city of Wuhan.

The “carrier” will allow Chinese navy pilots to practise landing approaches and train ground crew.

It is unclear whether planes have actually taken off or landed on the structure, but secretly taken pictures have shown what appears to be a Su-33 Flanker strike jet and naval helicopters on the flight deck.

Intelligence reports have dismissed the idea that it could be a theme park because it has been built on the roof of a government building. They believe it signals China’s intent to become a global “blue water” naval force and is a direct challenge to America’s supremacy in the Pacific.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Dalai Lama: I Was Very Much Attracted to Marxism.

The Dalai Lama was once “very much” attracted to Marxism and even wanted to join the Chinese Communist Party, which he now feels is bereft of Communist ideology.

“I was very much attracted to the internationalism of Marxism. I wanted to join the Chinese Communist party, (but) today the Chinese Communist Party is without Communist ideology,” he said in an interaction after delivering a lecture in memory of Buddhist scholar D D Kosambi.

The spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetan Buddhists, living in exile in India for decades, still does not find anything wrong about Marxism as an ideology.

“As far as socio-economic theory is concerned, I am a Marxist,” he said terming the present day Communism in China as “Capitalist Communism”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Philippines: MILF Divided, Mindanao Peace Process at Risk

Leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front create a new army and leave the line of dialogue supported by the rest of the group. AsiaNews sources emphasize the risk of a new civil war in the Muslim majority region.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) — Ameril Ombra Kato, one of the toughest leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has decided to leave the extremist group and announced in a video the creation of a new armed movement. Its goal is to continue the war against the Philippine military and to make Mindanao an independent Islamic state, putting the peace process with the government in difficulty. Kato’s message dates back to on Dec. 6, but MILF only made it known to the media yesterday.

Marvic Leonen, head of negotiations for the government stated that “the separate existence of another armed group, calls into question the ability of MILF to keep their commitments with Manila, ahead of talks that were to be held on 9 February in Kuala Lumpur “. Despite the internal crisis, Ebrahim Murad, MILF leader has ensured that the Islamic group will maintain engagement with the government and try to convince Kato to go back on his position.

AsiaNews sources in Zamboanga, stress that the conflict within MILF could trigger a new civil war. The new group created by Kato, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has already attracted membership of over one thousand Muslim guerrillas. According to the source the idea of fighting for an independent Islamic state is still strong among Islamic militants and many would follow Kato.

In August 2008 the leaders violated the cease-fire agreement with the government, leading to the initiation of a new war between the army and MILF, after ten years of ceasefire. Between 2008 and 2010, the leaders ordered attacks against several predominantly Catholic villages. The conflict has caused hundreds of deaths and displaced more than 750 thousand.

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

Australia — Pacific

Tackle ‘Extreme Islam Before it’s Too Late’ Liberal MPs Warn

AUSTRALIA risks becoming a nation of “ethnic enclaves” that unknowingly buys livestock slaughtered “in the name of Allah”, senior Liberal MPs have warned.

Opening up a new political faultline, former immigration minister Kevin Andrews lashed out at political leaders who failed to speak out on the rise of extreme Islam, claiming the silence contributes to the rise of One Nation-type movements.

Another Liberal frontbencher, Mitch Fifield, warned of the danger of “parallel societies” developing as has occurred in Europe where hardline Muslim groups preached sharia law rather than Western values.

Amid a robust debate in Europe over failed “state multiculturalism”, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi warned Australia must avoid the mistakes of nations that allowed religious fanatics to prosper “before it is too late”.

The Government and the Greens dismissed the fears, saying the nation should focus on the “positive” aspects of its diverse ethnic heritage.

“There is a risk (of enclaves) in Australia,” Mr Andrews told the Herald Sun. “What actually concerns me the most is that we can’t have a discussion about it.”

Senator Bernardi warned of a growing “cultural divide” in Australia as hardline followers of Islam turned their backs on mainstream values.

He cited the advent of Muslim-only toilets at a Melbourne university and the halal method of meat slaughter as cultural practices that must be opposed.

“I, for one, don’t want to eat meat butchered in the name of an ideology that is mired in sixth century brutality and is anathema to my own values,” he said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Charles Taylor Fails to Return to War Crimes Tribunal After Lawyer Row

The trial of the former Liberian president on 11 counts of war crimes, including charges of murder, rape and sexual slavery, has lasted more than two years and is finally reaching its conclusion. UN prosecutors have accused Mr Taylor, 63, of trading in “blood diamonds” to fund a 10-year campaign of terror conducted largely against civilians and carried out by rebels in Liberia’s neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Supermodels and Hollywood actresses have been called to give evidence against him in a dramatic trial that has combined tales of celebrity lifestyle with horrific testimony from Sierra Leonean victims, many of whom who had been mutilated by Liberian backed rebels. Defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths QC walked out of the court as the prosecution began its concluding arguments because the panel of UN judges had refused to accept his full defence papers, which had been submitted late due to court delays.

Mr Taylor was forced by two armed UN guards to stay seated, as his lawyer refused to obey orders from the presiding judge and left the courtroom, saying that he would not “lend legitimacy to a complete farce”.

“How will posterity judge the credibility of this court if, at this 11th hour, they prevented Mr Taylor from presenting 90 per cent of his closing arguments?,” he asked.

UN prosecutors insisted that the trial continue but judges later excused Taylor from the proceedings because “he was very upset and needed some rest.”

The Sierra Leone civil war claimed 120,000 lives between 1991 to 2001 as the Liberian backed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels sought to seize control of diamond mines and mutilated thousands of civilians who had their hands and arms severed.

Brenda Hollis, the chief UN prosecutor, accused the former Liberian leader, finally handed over to UN war crimes investigators in March 2006, of carrying out atrocities to feed his “greed and lust for power”. “Charles Taylor bears the greatest responsibility for the horrific crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone through the campaign of terror inflicted on them,” she said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Eight Pakistani Muslim Preachers Arrested in Burundi on Terror Suspicions

Burundian police have arrested eight Pakistani Muslim preachers in a mosque in the central province of Gitega, according to police and local officials.

“A group of eight people calling themselves Pakistani Muslim preachers arrived two days ago and started holding unauthorised meetings, day and night, in the Bihororo mosque,” the Daily Times quoted local official Alexis Manirakiza, as saying.

“Residents became suspicious at the presence of these foreigners in a remote area at a time when there is a terror threat from Somali rebels and they informed the police,” he added.

A police officer said on the condition of anonymity that all the eight were travelling to the African nation on Pakistani passports.

“We’re investigating to find out exactly who they are and what they were doing in this part of the world without informing the security services or the administrative authorities,” the officer said.

The arrests came less than a week after the US Embassy in Burundi warned its citizens in the central African country that terror organisations, including Somalia’s al Qaeda-inspired Shebab, could carry out terror attacks in February…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italian Oil Tanker Seized by Pirates

Savina Caylyn ‘heading for Somalia’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 8 — An Italian oil tanker was seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean Tuesday.

The Savina Caylyn was attacked early Tuesday morning by a group of five men in a boat, naval sources said.

“The vessel was boarded after a sustained attack by one skiff with five suspected pirates firing small arms and four rocket-propelled grenades,” the European Union’s anti-piracy mission EUNAVFOR said.

The tanker is heading for Somalia, the Atalanta force said.

“They will presumably try to establish contact with the owners to ask for a ransom,” said EUNAVFOR-Atalanta spokesman Commander Paddy O’Kennedy. “That’s what has happened in all the other cases, it’s almost standard procedure,” he added.

O’Kennedy said the Atalanta mission had tried “every way” of getting in touch with the tanker’s captain or crew but without success.

Two Italian frigates were sailing towards the hijacking zone but the nearer one was 600 miles away and would take two days to reach the area, Italian navy sources said.

The pirates attacked the Savina Caylyn some 670 miles east of the Yemeni island of Socotra, about 500 miles off the coast of India and 800 miles from the Somali coast.

None of the 22-strong crew of 17 Indians and five Italians was hurt.

The medium-sized ship, with an estimated cargo value of about $60 million, was sailing from Sudan to Malaysia.

The tanker is owned by the Fratelli D’Amato shipping line, based in Naples.

Somali pirates have seized dozens of ships in the last few years and have added billions of dollars to the costs of shipping through the Indian Ocean.

They are currently holding some 35 ships and about 650 hostages.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Finland: How Soon Will Immigrants Assimilate Into the Mainstream?

A seminar on Muslim issues was arranged at the National Museum of Finland on Wednesday, February 2nd.

Finland’s Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors discussed the problems faced by the Muslim community with two representatives of the Islamic minority in Finland with different backgrounds, namely with Imam Walid Hammoud and with Pia Jardi, a Muslim woman of Finnish descent.

Imam Walid Hammoud is a teacher of Islamic faith at an upper secondary school in Helsinki, and he has lived in Finland for 20 years. Pia Jardi is a Finn who has converted to Islam.

What are the internal problems of the Muslim community in Finland?

“Forced marriages and polygamy are facts. Sometimes Muslim men do not consent to a divorce even though it has been legally confirmed. These problems must be resolved together. It is a problem that the Muslims have no representative. Even the Islamic societies represent only a small part of the Muslim community”, notes Imam Walid Hammoud.

“We will have to discuss female circumcision and honour killings point-blank. Both practices are illegal in Finland. Religion must not be used to violate anybody’s right to self-determination. These are issues that we need to talk through”, says Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors (Swedish People’s Party). “Girls’ circumcision and honour killings are no essential problems in Islam, as Islam unequivocally condemns them”, comments a man from the audience.

Will an immigrant ever be accepted as a real Finn?

“The society does not regard the second-generation immigrants as Finnish citizens. They will always remain immigrants, even though they were born in Finland. ‘Go back to your own country’, people shout at them, even if they were as much born here as the nearest Finn”, says Finnish convert Pia Jardi…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Government’s Plan to Dissolve America’s Sovereignty

Corsi documents shocking reason U.S. won’t secure its borders

Understanding the plan to merge the U.S., Mexico and Canada, says Corsi, is “the only context in which the current immigration travesty makes sense — and it must be stopped.”

In “The Late Great USA,” Corsi shows how the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, an agreement signed in 2005 by President George W. Bush, Paul Martin of Canada and Vicente Fox of Mexico, is nothing less than a full-frontal assault on American sovereignty.


“A North American Union would not just be the end of America as we know it,” claims Corsi, “but the beginning of an EU-like nightmare — a bureaucratic coup d’etat foisted upon millions of Americans without their knowledge or consent.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Signature Creates ‘Continental Perimeter’

Move described as key step in advance of North American Union

Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper quietly have taken a major step toward erasing the border between the two nations with a new “Beyond the Border” bilateral declaration.

In a ceremony designed to remain below the radar of national public opinion, Obama and Harper bypassed Congress to sign on the basis of their executive authority a declaration that put in place a new national security vision defined not by U.S. national borders, but by a continental view of a “North American perimeter.”

It happened Friday, the day the Obama administration usually pushes through issues that it prefers the media ignore.

By signing the declaration, the Obama administration has implemented without congressional approval a key initiative President Bush began under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, moving the United States and Canada beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as NAFTA, toward a developing North American Union regional government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

White House Announces New Appointees to Faith Council

The White House announced a dozen appointments to its faith advisory council on Friday, with the leader of the nation’s largest evangelical group and the head of the nation’s leading Christian denomination serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are both on the list.

Here’s the full list of the appointees and brief biographies released by the White House:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ambitious Mission Would Probe Depths of Jupiter’s Icy Moons

American and European scientists are firming up the details of an ambitious joint mission to Jupiter to explore oceans on the giant planet’s icy moons. The overarching theme of the Europa Jupiter System Mission, a combined effort by NASA and the European Space Agency, will be “the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants,” the two space agencies announced Friday (Feb. 4). The proposed mission, if approved, would send orbiters to two of Jupiter’s ocean-harboring moons. A NASA craft would head to Europa, while an ESA orbiter would circle the moon Ganymede, officials said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Private Spaceflight Innovators Attract NASA’s Attention

Garver’s visits with space entrepreneurs groups included Feb. 4 discussion with Bigelow Aerospace president and founder Robert Bigelow, a Las Vegas-based general contractor, real estate tycoon, hotel businessman and developer. In 2006 and 2007, the space company launched orbiting space station prototypes, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Garver and Bigelow discussed several issues, including the prospect for a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) — an inflatable room for the International Space Station. BEAM would be a larger version of the already flown Genesis-type unit.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]