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These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 1, 2013.
Friday, 1 February 2013
Bullfinch trial Day 12: Girl felt let down by police, court is told

From the Oxford Mail

A WITNESS at the Oxford child prostitution trial told the Old Bailey she had been threatened with arrest for wasting police time.

The young woman, (Girl 1) who claims she was raped and sold for sex as a young teenager, said she felt “let down” by police after “nothing happened” when she reported abuse in 2006.

She also told the court she cut her arms with razor blades during the abuse.

She said: “They threatened, on a number of occasions, to arrest me for wasting police time for turning up at a police station in a state after running away.” She said police should have recognised something was wrong and it should not have been just up to her to come forward.

She said: “Any self-respecting police officer would have seen something was wrong. If you pick up a child who is covered in cigarette burns and bruises, something is fundamentally wrong. . . Adults should be doing their jobs, it’s not down to a child.”

She also said a police officer, who found her with Akhtar (Akhtar Dogar, one of 9 defendants) in September 2006, said to her: “You are not the first and you won’t be the last.” She added: “Referring to his activity, I believe, with girls.”

Andrew Jefferies, defending Akhtar Dogar, asked her if she was going to receive money for giving evidence.

She said: “I didn’t do this for financial gain. I have received no payment. I am here to tell my story and see the people who abused me found guilty.”

The young woman also told the court the gang took photographs and said it felt like they had a “catalogue or menu” of the girls on their phones.

Akhtar Dogar claims he knew the witness, but had no sexual contact with her. The court heard this week that Girl 1 had seen money changing hands and believed it was for sex with her.

But Mr Jefferies said: “My suggestion is the money stuff is all lies.”

The witness said: “It’s funny how they all have designer clothes and they could afford vodka and cigarettes and cannabis when none of them had jobs.”

Posted on 02/01/2013 5:22 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 1 February 2013
Oregon Christmas Tree 'Bomber' Found Guilty

From Sky News

A Somali-born American has been found guilty of plotting to detonate a bomb at a crowded US Christmas tree ceremony attended by thousands.

Mohamed Mohamud, 21, had denied the charge but was convicted by the jury who returned their verdict after less than a day's deliberation following the nearly three-week trial.

Lawyers for Mohamud, who faces up to life in prison for plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction, claimed he was tricked into the attempted bombing by undercover agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

But Oregon prosecutors insisted that the young man actively participated in a plot that could have killed thousands attending the event on November 26, 2010, had the bomb been real.

Sentencing is due on May 14 but Mohamud's lawyers are reported to be planning to appeal. Mohamud's defence lawyer had argued his client, who was first contacted by an undercover agent a year before the attempted bombing, was a troubled teenager led on by the FBI.

"Mr Mohamud made a series of choices over a period of several years - choices that were leading him down a path that would have ended in violence," the FBI's Greg Fowler said after the verdict. "His actions showed little regard for the rights and responsibilities that come with being an American or respect for the lives that he was prepared to take."

Posted on 02/01/2013 5:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 1 February 2013
Turkey: deadly blast outside US embassy in Ankara

From the BBC and The Telegraph

A blast outside the US embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, has killed at least one person, with reports that it was a suicide bomber. Dozens of ambulances and fire engines rushed to the scene after the explosion, in an area which is home to diplomatic missions.

According to Turkish broadcaster NTV, the explosion caused no damage inside the embassy itself.

There were no reports of any group saying it had carried out the attack.

A source at the nearby British Embassy told The Daily Telegraph that the explosion was caused by a bomb, but contradicted reports it was a suicide bomb.

Turkish TV footage showed smoke rising, with damage to the side entrance of the US embassy.

Posted on 02/01/2013 6:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 1 February 2013
Why Are American Taxpayers Being Asked To Prop Up The Muslim Brotherhood?

Egypt's $1.5 Billion U.S. Aid Questioned Amid Crackdown

Bloomberg-8 hours ago
U.S. lawmakers are questioning whether to continue sending $1.5 billion a year in aid to Egypt, setting the stage for cuts or conditions that may ...
Posted on 02/01/2013 6:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
On Australian TV, Robert Fowler, Who Was Held Captive By Al Qaeda in West Africa, Mentions the Sixth Pillar of Islam

This was a tele-interview that aired on Australian TV a day or two ago.  Robert Fowler was captured and held hostage by Al Qaeda Muslim jihadists for just under five months.  He tells ABC's Tony Jones what it was like. Follow the link to watch the video (though the ABC does not keep such things online permanently). 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-31/un-diplomat-survived-being-held-hostage-by-al-qaeda/4494748

'UN Diplomat Survived Being Held Hostage By Al Qaeda'.

'Robert Fowler, a former senior UN diplomat in Niger, who was held hostage by Al Qaeda for 130 days tells how he lived to tell his story.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER [TJ].

'Very few Westerners have direct experience of the Al Qaeda operating in the deserts o North Africa, but after the bloody hostage crisis in Algeria this month and the rebel incursion that threatened to overthrow the government in Mali, those who have are being urgently sought.

'Robert Fowler's first-hand knowledge of what's been described as the fastest-growing Al Qaeda franchise in the world came at a terrible price.

'The Canadian-born UN special envoy was kidnapped by the group and held for 130 days.  He wrote a book about that ordeal titled 'A Season in Hell'.

'A season in hell'.  True dat. - CM

'Robert Fowler joins us now from the Canadian capital of Ottawa.  Thanks for being there.

ROBERT FOWLER, UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA [RF]: Hello Tony.

TJ: Can you start by telling us what you were doing and how you were kidnapped?

RF: Well, Tony, I retired from the Canadian public service in '06 and in the summer of '08 the secretary-general of the UN asked me to take on this task of special envoy to Niger and my task was to get the Tuareg rebels and the Government of Niger to agree to sit down and talk about a peaceful end to a rebellion then ongoing in Niger.

TJ: So how were you kidnapped because you weren't kidnapped by the Tuareg rebels as we know.

RF: No that's quite right.  I was on my third visit to Niger in the middle of December '08.  We'd had meetings all day on a Friday and there were more meetings the following week.

'We had the weekend with not much to do and I decided to visit the area around the capital of Niamey.  And I was heading back into town on Sunday evening about 5.30.  We were on one of the few paved roads in the country.  We were going quickly in a UN vehicle and a truck passed us going much more quickly, slewed in front of us forcing our driver to a stop.

'We were - within moments there were two AK47s pointed at us from about four metres away.  We were quickly thrown into the back of the other truck and the whole thing perhaps took about 40 seconds and we began what I called my descent into hell (now that is a good way of describing a journey into the core of what the ummah, or Mohammedan mob, is all about - CM), which is a four-day, 1,100 km journey due north across the lower bit of Niger and right up the eastern border of Mali deep into the Sahara Desert.

TJ: How did you find out that the kidnappers were actually Al Qaeda?

RF: About 12 hours after our kidnappings, just before dawn, we - the driver who by the way is much on the internet these days as an Ansar Din commander in Mali, a fellow who's told us his name was Omar - there were three Omars, so this one was Omar One - he rolled under his truck to sleep.

'We were told to lie down.  My back was damaged so I couldn't lie down.  I was pacing up and down.  There was a sentry brewing up tea in the sand.  He looked up to me and said, "Have you figured out who we are yet?"  I asked him the question you posed a moment ago, and said, 'Are you perchance the people I'm negotiating with?"  He said, "Of course not.  I told you I was Senegalese.  No, we are Al Qaeda".  That was not one of the better moments.

TJ:  By your own account from that moment you prepared yourself for death actually or the possibility of being murdered by these guys.  You imagined the Internet footage of yourselves being killed.  How did you actually live with that fear?  It must have been quite terrifying.

RF: It was.  It was.  I thought it would end like your media colleague Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002 with a knife at his throat in a tent and that my family and friends would watch it on YouTube as apparently some 300, 000 people have watched Mr Pearl's execution.

How do you live with it?  I you'd asked me that in the abstract before I would have had no idea how to answer but of course we were bureaucrats and we had rules and we had a game plan and the pretence of those things helped us get through it but there really wasn't a moment in those 130 days that was worry-free.

Understatement of the year. - CM

TJ: Tell us what you learned about these men, because this group, the group they belong to, has become now so critical in this interplay of forces in the Maghreb, in between Algeria and Mali, and the terrible sort of consequences of what's going on there at the moment.  Tell us what you found out about them.

He found out that they were perfectly orthodox pious Muslims waging Jihad just like the book tells them to do. Except that he hasn't quite figured that out, yet. - CM

RF: Indeed, Tony, my principal captor, not the guy who grabbed me by the roadway in the south, but indeed his boss, the head of the cell or battalion or they call it katiba was a fellow called Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and he is the one who perpetrated this horror at the Ain Amenas gas facility a couple of weeks ago in Algeria.  So it's the same gang, the same battalion of Al Qaeda that did that.

'There's a great debate among secure-ocrats as to whether these guys are, on the one hand, bandits flying a flag of Islamic convenience, or on the other, latter day Robin Hoods (that, my dear sir, is an insult to the memory of Robin Hood; you should be ashamed of yourself for comparing these throat-slitting Mohammedan sharia assassins, to Robin of Sherwood and his merry men  - CM) doing a little banditry to feed the cause.  There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that it is the second.

'Yes, I know that Mr Belmokhtar is known on the internet as Mr Marlboro, and I think it's quite possible that he has a hand in or benefits from all the illegal traffic across the Sahara, traffic in cigarettes, traffic in arms, traffic in drugs, traffic in people.

'Traffic in people'.  In other words, he's merely imitating Mohammed, who took and bought and sold slaves. - CM

'But I'm quite convinced as well that he is doing that to nourish the cause.  He was known as a sort of quarter-master general of Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda's predecessors which go back 20 years.

'All this began in 1992 in Algeria after a failed attempt at democracy.  After the first tour of elections - they do it like the French with two tours - after the first tour it was clear that the Islamist party (that is, the full-on sharia pushers - CM) was going to win, and the army stepped back in and said, "That's enough of democracy".

'The Islamists then got the gun and they formed an army, that was an insurgency. ('Insurgency'.  In other words: a jihad to make Algeria into a more purely Islamic entity. - CM).  They were first of all the Islamic Salvation Front, then they were the Armed Islamic Group, then they were the Group for Preaching (that is, Da'wa - CM) and Combat (that is, Jihad - CM), and in the fall of '06 they began negotiating with the boys in the Tora Bora about taking out effectively an Al Qaeda franchise which was sealed in January '07.

'After they took out that franchise they became more aggressive towards foreigners (that is, toward non-Muslims - CM), including foreigners in their sights as well as the (deemed-insufficiently-Islamic - CM) government of Algeria, and they began using suicide bombings.

And now for the part of this interview that probably matters the most.  Anyone who watched this program will now have heard the phrase 'sixth pillar of Islam'; and one may hope that it will 'connect' in their minds with the curious phrase 'sixth pillar' which featured on some of the T-shirts worn by raging, rioting Mohammedans in the centre of Sydney in September last year. - CM

'But they are the most focused group of young men I have ever encountered.

Possibly terms like 'brainwashed' and 'fanatical' and 'sharia-crazed' might be better words than 'focused'. - CM

'I have had a fair amount to do with soldiers and I'm sure it's not the case in Australia but in Canada soldiers sort of tend to think about and talk about cars and girls and sports and these guys would not have understood a single word of that conversation.

'They were dressed in rags, they didn't want cool stuff, they weren't interested in neat shoes or sunglasses or nickel-plating their kalashas, they were focused on their jihad.

They believed jihad was the sixth pillar of Islam (which it traditionally is - CM) and they fully expected to die in jihad which would take them instantly to paradise beside those rivers of milk and honey.

In other words, they were thoroughly orthodox Muslims doing exactly what the Quran, Sira and Hadith program them to do; wage jihad fi sabil allah. - CM

TJ: Of course the terrible spectre we see now is of this group becoming vastly better armed than they had been in the past, not only because they put together vast sums of money from kidnapping and so on (and how much was paid, or had to be spent, to extract Robert Fowler and his companions from the grip of that particular gang of pious imitators of Warlord Mohammed? - CM) but also because of the flow of weapons from Libya after the fall of Gaddafi.  Just how big a threat are they now, do you believe?

Not so much, if only we'd just stop allowing Muslims from anywhere to immigrate into the lands of the non-Muslims...- CM

RF: First of all there's absolutely no doubt that the looting of Gaddafi's obscenely excessively stocked armouries which we the attackers of the Libyan regime did nothing to prevent (and why were not those armouries simply ...blown up? - CM), those weapons and both the sophistication and the quantity of those weapons have now polluted one o the most unstable areas in the world across an 8,000 km strip from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and rendered that whole area much more unstable.

By arming all the Muslims therein. - CM

'My captor, the guy who did this horror in Afghanistan two weeks ago, Belmokhtar, gave an interview with Mauritanian television in which he asked the interviewer, "Surely you agree it was logical that I would take advantage of those weapons".

'Tony, I have to agree with him, yes, it was logical.  And he's barely taking...

TJ: 'Robert, sorry, can I just interrupt you there, because we're now seeing a French military intervention in Mali. The Algerians are talking to the British, the Algerians have the biggest army in the region, if they get involved, that could be one way of defeating these people.  But how can you stop them?

'Their ultimate aim is to create a caliphate.  

Nice to see that word being used.  Now, I wonder how many ABC TV viewers went off and googled 'caliphate' and found out all sorts of things.  Such as the fact that it is also the aim of the Muslim Brotherhood to create a caliphate. - CM

'They're highly motivated and now heavily weaponised as you said and they've got other resources as well. Can you stop them by Western military intervention or is that going to fall into the same sort of traps the West found in Afghanistan and Iraq and to some degree Libya?

RF: 'Tony, first of all I think it's important not to talk in absolutes.  In other words, stop them, destroy them, defeat them.  Probably no, is the answer.

Why not start talking about 'containment'?  Or about 'quarantine'?  I wonder whether Robert Fowler has read Conor Cruise O'Brien's essay from 1995, on the jihad in Algeria?  Or whether he has ever heard of C S Hurgronje, and his advice to the Dutch, in Aceh, as found in the first volume of his book, 'The Acehnese'? - CM

'Did the British stop, defeat, destroy the IRA over 40 years of fighting in Northern Ireland? The answer is no.

False analogy.  The aims of the IRA were local.  The aim of the Muslim jihadists is global; indeed, its ultimate aim is the subjection of the entire planet to Muslims, and the sharia. - CM

'I think it is indeed possible to seriously degrade them, diminish them to the point that the improved Malian army, along with the local African regional force, might be able to handle the threat, the diminished threat that they represent.

So long as a vast swathe of Africa from the Sahel to the Mediterranean remains majority Muslim, Jihad will continually break out there, in various forms.  And the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob, will continually seek to push out from the turf already Islamised, into the neighbouring as-yet-unislamised 'turf' - into Europe, and into the animist and Christian regions of sub-saharan Africa. - CM

'But let's bear in mind that these guys have been fighting the Algerians - the huge army that you spoke of - for 20 years, and the Algerians have not defeated them.

'Another point I should make is there is a debate about whether these different jihadi organisations in Africa are all joined up, or not.  In other words is Al-Shabaab in Somalia, is Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, pursuing the same aims as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb? And the answer is - hell yes.

There need not be any formal organisational link at all.  The link, the common factor, is... Islam, Islam pur et dur. They all take the jihad imperative of Islam seriously.  They are all piously imitating Mohammed the warlord. - CM

'One of my captors was a kid from Kunnawa, Nigeria.  In yours and my terms, he was a Boko Haram exchange officer working with Al Qaeda.  So, yes, they share the same aims, yes, they are linked up.  There are all kinds of reports by the UN secretary-general of foreign fighters streaming into northern Mali and indeed there are reports of Boko Haram fighters in northern Mali and AQIM people in northern Nigeria.

The same thing has been observed in Syria, in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. Anywhere there is active combat Jihad, there will be pious Muslims hastening toward it from all directions. - CM

'So yes, they are linked up, and pose a very real threat that I think we must counter.  We can't eliminate it, because that's hard to do in insurgencies, but we sure can diminish it.

And one way we could definitely diminish it, within our own lands, would be by placing a complete and permanent ban on all further entry of Muslims into our countries.  And, furthermore, whenever pious Muslim males from the Muslim colonies they've already established in our countries go trotting off to Mali or Syria or Yemen or wherever, to wage jihad there, we could make it impossible for them to return hither.  The fewer Muslims we have within our own territories, the fewer Jihad plots we will have to worry about. - CM

TJ: One of the big questions being asked is whether the French have bitten off more than they can chew, because, as you point out, the Algerians have been fighting an insurgency (that is, the somewhat-less-Islamic Muslims in Algeria have been trying to fend off a power bid by the much-more-fervent Muslims - CM) for 20 years.

'If the French get drawn into an insurgency in Mali, or if these groups cause mass casualty terrorist attacks in France, what are going to be the consequences?

The way public opinion among the Infidels - still a large majority of the population - in France is tilting, I'd hazard the guess that one or more mass casualty jihadist terror attacks within France itself might well result in a lot more expulsions of Muslims from France than we are currently seeing, already. - CM

RF: 'Let me be very clear on this, I think the French acted brilliantly.  By that I mean I think they acted within about a 36 hour window and I think frankly there are very few Western countries that could mobilise and move that quickly.

'If they hadn't done it, as the jihadists surged southwards through that narrow neck of Mali, they would, I believe, have taken the capital, and they would have spread outward from there, and instead of the French having seven hostages in the hands of these guys, they would have - the 6,000 French citizens in the southern part o Mali, and the many, many other Westerners would have been in extreme peril.

And so would Mali's indigenous Christians - quite a few of them apostates from Islam - who are mostly found in the south. - CM

'So the West in the UN urged on by the French had been discussing a plan to deal with the northern Mali situation for five months over last fall.  A plan that culminated in UN Security Council resolution 2085 of 20 December.  The plan was characterised by the US ambassador to the United Nations, the almost secretary of state Susan Rice, as "crap".

TJ: Robert, we're nearly out of time, and I just want to ask one final question.  Just give us a kind of 30 second summary, if you can, of what you think is going to happen next.

RF: All right, the French, after a slow beginning and some real military difficulty, have succeeded in retaking all the very few major towns and cities of northern Mali.

'They've taken back Gao, Timbuktu, Menaka and yesterday Kidal.  The jihadists did not fight for those towns.  They have now melted into the desert and the hard part now begins.  Winkling them out of the desert.

I wonder where the wells are - the really reliable ones - and how many of them there are, and how many days' travel (by motor vehicle) apart they are.  Where are these guys getting their water from?  How much water can they carry at any one time? No-one can live more than three days without water.  I wonder how detailed the old French colonial maps are.  - CM

'You made the comparison with Afghanistan.  Whether we make it Afghanistan or not, I think it's really up to us.  The important thing here is to maintain the aim, the aim is to degrade and diminish Al Qaeda.  It's not to turn Mali into an Australian state or a Canadian province.

No 'nation-building'.  No 'winning hearts and minds' nonsense.  At least Fowler has grasped that.  130 days in the clutches of zealous jihadists has taught him that there is nothing there to win. - CM

TJ: Robert Fowler, we'll have to leave you there. One thing that's absolutely clear is you don't suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.

Thank you for taking the time to join us.

RF - It's a pleasure, Tony".

Mr Fowler hasn't grasped the full extent of the problem, by any means. But he's a little further along, I think, than some. - CM

Posted on 02/01/2013 5:04 AM by Christina McIntosh
Friday, 1 February 2013
France deports Moroccan it says has radical Islam ties
(Reuters) - France deported a Moroccan man on Thursday suspected of links to the radical Islamist group Forsane Alizza, the Interior Ministry said, after the threat of domestic attack escalated following its intervention in Mali.

Ali Benhammou, who was sent back to Morocco, had been involved in two cells linked to the French group Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride) which "had made France a priority target," the ministry said in a statement. Benhammou been trying to travel to Iran, with the ultimate objective of reaching Afghanistan, the ministry said.

French authorities have increased security measures in the wake of the Mali intervention earlier this month, which prompted Islamist rebels to call on followers to carry out reprisal attacks on Mali's former colonial ruler. Islamist militants said an attack that killed 38 hostages earlier this month on a gas plant in Mali's neighbour Algeria, another former French colony, was a response to France's intervention in Mali.

Valls, who has taken a hard line on law and order, has warned that France is faced with an "enemy from within" as it tries to weed out militants.

Forsane Alizza is an outlawed group in France that came to prominence in 2010 after members invaded a McDonald's outlet shouting anti-Semitic slogans, and publicly burnt a copy of the French penal code the following year.

Mohammed Merah who murdered a Jewish family and French paratroopers in Toulouse last year was believed to be a member.

Posted on 02/01/2013 3:34 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 1 February 2013
Pervez Hoodbhoy On Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal

From The Indian Express:

Nukes could be hijacked by radicals, warns Pak scientist

 Feb 01 2013,

"Safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is of a major concern. The growing radicalisation within the military, given attacks on its own internal bases, could lead to these nuclear weapons being hijacked by radical Islamists," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, who was here for the London launch of his book 'Confronting the Bomb'.

The nuclear physicist and defence analyst estimated Pakistan's arsenal to be similar to India's, at around 120-130 warheads.

He was answering questions from members of the Indian Journalists' Association at the Indali Lounge here last evening.

"Earlier, such weapons were seen just as a means of deterrence. The most dangerous development is the increasing search for fissile material as a new dimension of tactical nuclear war has entered the picture. This means the number of weapons will steadily increase," he said.

Hoodbhoy, who received his PhD in nuclear physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stressed that the issue needs to be addressed for the sake of sub-continental as well as global security.

"India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war at least five times in 1987, 1990, during Kargil (1999), after the attack on the Indian Parliament (2001) and the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Given the history of nuclear tension, we can't afford to be passive on this issue. The fallout, from the blast itself to the radioactive effects, will be felt not just in the sub-continent but around the world," he said.

"Confronting the Bomb: Pakistani & Indian Scientists Speak Out", published by Oxford University Press and edited by Hoodbhoy, is a compilation of essays by scientists from both sides of the border.

It kicks off with the atomic age in India in 1974, followed by Pakistan and traces the furious nuclear race after the 1998 nuclear tests.

"Pakistan started developing its nuclear weapons only because India embarked on it. India has remained primary enemy. But to some extent that perception is changing, with Gen Kayani [Chief of Pakistani Army Staff] recently saying that Pakistan's major challenge is the enemy within.

So there seems to be a doctrinal shift within the army but Kayani himself is under attack within the forces," said Hoodbhoy, who admits receiving threats against his own life.

"Jihadists still operate within Pakistan and the state's policy regarding Islamists has been a confused one," added Hoodbhoy, a visiting professor in the physics department at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

He is known for speaking out against the Pak's nuclear establishment.

He is now even sceptical of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in India and Pakistan.

"Whether electricity generated from nuclear sources is really efficient is a big question mark.

"The construction of nuclear reactors is very expensive and should an accident similar to Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011 were to occur in India or Pakistan, both countries may not have the capacity to deal with it the same way," he added.

Posted on 02/01/2013 6:36 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
Independence For Kurdistan And Balochistan

The first, created in the now-autonomous region of northern Iraq,  would force the issue of Arab supremacism, and of Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism, into the consciousness of non-Muslims and, especially, of non-Arab Muislims.. It would focus attention -- it needs to be focussed -- on the treatment of non-Muslim and non-Arab peoples all over North Africa and the Middle East. It would hearten Kurds in Iran, Turkey, and Syria, and cause endless problems for the governments of Iran, Turkey, and Syria -- all of which are now ruled by unpleasant people whose sole interest, when it comes to independence, is for one more group of Arabs --- the soi-disant "Palestinian" Arabs, invented for the occasion after the Six-Day War, in order to re-package the continuing (and endless) Jihad against Israel as a struggle, first for  "national liberation" (that phrase then fell into desuetude about two decades ago), and then a struggle -- as ignorant Westerners are fooled into believing, or malignant Westerners pretend to believe -- between "two tiny peoples" (the Jews and the "Palestinians" rather than the Jews and the Muslim Arabs) which appears to give Israel its sympathetic due even while grotesquely misrepresenting the nature of the war being waged, on all fronts and forever, by the Arabs and Muslims.

And if there were an independent Balochistan, free of the Pakistani imperialists forcing the Baluchis -- look at nineteenth century maps that show, quite clearly, a separate "Balochistan" -- to remain within Pakistan and to give up the wealth resulting from Balochistan's resources, especially the revenues from natural gas -- that would weaken the malign state of Pakistan. And the other malign state that would be weakend would be Iran, for historic Balochistan exists both in Iran and Pakistan.

Right now the Balochis appear to have responded to their condition in two ways. On both sides of the border, Sunnis in Balochistan have been attacking Shi'a. In Iran, it is Iranian Shi'a. In Balochistan, it is Hazaras (how so many  Hazaras ended up in Balochistan is a long story). In the first case, such attacks can be seen as part of the war against Farsi imperialism -- Iran is still an empire, with Azeris, Arabs, Kurds, and Balochis along with Farsis. In the second case, it's a misplaced aggression, directed at the vulnerable Hazara minority (who in Afghanistan were attacked by the Taliban, and were rescued only by the intervention of American troops), rather than at the Pakistan army, which has as little right to be in Balochistan as it did to be in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan).

Take an interest in, and take the side of, independence for Kurdistan and Balochistan.

_________________________________________________________________

A little note to Kurdish and Baluchi visitors:

Not quite in the spirit of Peter Galbraith, now enjoying his Vermont respectability, and who pocketed two hundred million dollars by exploiting his government service in Iraq to wheel-and-deal among the Kurds, and to inveigle them into making him their middleman (he allowed the Kurdish oil authorities to believe he had special contacts in the American government, special powers to fend off interference from Baghdad) in contracts signed with a Norwegian oil company, I hope that grateful Kurds and Balochis, aware of all the support I will of course gather for them, will be even now selecting the Kurdish and Baluchi rugs they intend to send to me, as a token of gratitude. Of all the rugs described as Oriental, they have always been, fatidically, my favorites.

Posted on 02/01/2013 6:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
"We Are Muslims, We Came Here To Impose Sharia"

From The New York Times:

February 1, 2013

Timbuktu Endured Terror Under Harsh Shariah Law

TIMBUKTU, Mali — When the Islamist militants came to town, Dr. Ibrahim Maiga made a reluctant deal. He would do whatever they asked — treat their wounded, heal their fevers, bandage up without complaint the women they thrashed in the street for failing to cover their heads and faces. In return, they would allow him to keep the hospital running as he wished.

Then, one day in October, the militants called him with some unusual instructions. Put together a team, they said, bring an ambulance and come to a sun-baked public square by sand dunes.

There, before a stunned crowd, the Islamist fighters carried out what they claimed was the only just sentence for theft: cutting off the thief’s hand. As one of the fighters hacked away at the wrist of a terrified, screaming young man strapped to a chair, Dr. Maiga, a veteran of grisly emergency room scenes, looked away.

“I was shocked,” he said, holding his head in his hands. “But I was powerless. My job is to heal people. What could I do?”

After nearly 10 months of occupation by Islamists fighters, many of them linked with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the people of this ancient mud-walled city recounted how they survived the upending of their tranquil lives in a place so remote that its name has become a synonym for the middle of nowhere.

“Our lives were turned upside down,” Dr. Maiga said. “They had guns, so whatever they asked, we did. It was useless to resist.”

It has been only a few days since French and Malian troops marched into Timbuktu after heavy airstrikes chased the militants away, part of a surprisingly rapid campaign to retake northern Mali from the militants who held it captive for months. On Thursday, France’s defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French radio that the intervention had “succeeded” and reached “a point of change.”

French President François Hollande will travel to Mali on Saturday, his office announced in a statement on Friday. Accompanying Mr. Hollande will be the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of defense and the minister of development.

The French newspaper Libération reported Friday that Mr. Hollande would visit Timbuktu, but his office declined to confirm or deny that report, citing security concerns.

Indeed, while the Islamist militants have retreated to the desert, there are no illusions that they have ceased to be a threat. As American officials praised the speed of the French-led operation to recapture northern cities, they also cautioned that a lengthy campaign would be needed to root out the militants from their desert redoubts — and that it was not immediately clear who would carry out the daunting task.

“This is all being done very much on the fly,” one American official said of the intervention. “The challenge will be to keep up the pressure when the sense is to declare victory and go home.”

Here in Timbuktu, life is certainly a long way from returning to normal. Shops owned by Arab tradesmen have been looted. Some residents have fled, a foretaste of ethnic strife that many fear will roil Mali for years to come. Electricity and running water are available only a few hours a day. The cellphone network remains down.

Many of the residents who left — first to escape the occupation, then to escape the French airstrikes — have no way to return. Always remote, the city remains dangerously isolated: the dusty tracks and rivers leading here wind through forbidding scrubland territory that could still provide refuge for the Islamist fighters who melted away from the cities.

Those who remained told stories of how they survived the long occupation: by hiding away treasured manuscripts and amulets forbidden by the Islamists, burying crates of beer in the desert, standing by as the tombs of saints they venerated were reduced to rubble, silencing their radios to the city’s famous but now forbidden music.

“They tried to take away everything that made Timbuktu Timbuktu,” said Mahalmoudou Tandina, a marabout, or Islamic preacher, whose ancestors first settled in Timbuktu from Morocco in the 13th century. “They almost succeeded.”

The occupation of Timbuktu, a center of learning for centuries, was the latest in a long historical list of conquests — by Arab nations, by the Songhai and Maasina empires, by France. Once again, powerful global forces were in play in this fabled city: a network of Islamic extremists, the armies of France and West Africa, and to a lesser extent the United States, which has flown in French forces and refueled French warplanes during the campaign.

Through it all, the city’s residents, whose ancestors endured such ravages for the better part of a millennium, have adapted as best they could.

On April 1, the day rebels arrived in this city, Mr. Tandina had just returned from the first, predawn prayer of the day. He made bittersweet tea to the murmur of a French radio broadcast. The news was bad: Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, had fallen to Tuareg rebels, the nomadic fighters who had been battling the Malian state for decades.

His hometown was almost certainly their next target. When shots rang out in Independence Square, just behind Mr. Tandina’s house, he knew that Timbuktu’s latest conquerors had arrived.

“The barbarians were at our gate,” he said with a sigh. “And not for the first time.”

The Tuareg fighters took control of the city, and for two days they looted its sprawling markets, raped women, stole cars and killed anyone who stood in their way.

“Then the man with the big beard came,” Mr. Tandina said.

Barrel-chested and dressed in a blue tunic, the leader of Ansar Dine, an Islamist group with links to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, arrived with several truckloads of fighters. The new rebels called the city’s people to a public square and made an announcement.

“They said, ‘We are Muslims. We came here to impose Shariah,’ ” Mr. Tandina said.

At first, Timbuktu’s people were relieved, he said. Beginning a hearts-and-minds campaign, the group garrisoned the fearsome Tuareg nationalists outside of town, which stopped the raping and pillaging.

They did not charge for electricity or collect taxes. Commerce went on more or less as usual, he said.

Then a mysterious group of visitors came from Gao, heavily armed men riding in pickup trucks, trailing desert dust.

“They told us they were here to establish an Islamic republic,” Mr. Tandina said.

It started with the women. If they showed their faces in the market they would be whipped. The local men grew angry at attacks on their wives, so they organized a march to the headquarters of the Islamic police, who had installed themselves in a bank branch.

The Islamists greeted the protesters by shooting in the air. Many fled, but a small group, including Mr. Tandina, insisted that they be heard.

A young, bearded man came out to meet them. Much to Mr. Tandina’s surprise, he recognized the Islamic police official. His name was Hassan Ag, and before the fighting began he had been a lab technician at the local hospital.

“When I knew him he was cleanshaven, and he wore ordinary clothes of a bureaucrat,” Mr. Tandina said.

Now he was dressed in the uniform of the Islamist rebellion: a tunic, loose trousers cut well above the ankle, in imitation of the Prophet Muhammad, and a machine gun slung across his shoulder.

“I told him our women were being harmed,” he said.

Mr. Ag was unmoved.

This is Islamic law,” he said, according to Mr. Tandina. “There is nothing I can do. And the worst is yet to come.”

Soon it came. They began destroying tombs of the saints venerated by Timbuktu’s Muslims. Armed with pickaxes and sledgehammers, they reduced to rubble the tomb of Sidi Mahmoud, a saint who, according to legend, protected the city from invaders.

Venerating saints, an ancient practice here, was considered un-Islamic in the austere version of the faith proclaimed by the occupiers.

Mr. Tandina said he tried to use his decades of Koranic education to argue with the Islamists, citing verses about respecting the burial places. They would not listen.

Before long, he said, amputations started. Then came the executions. Again he said he tried to intervene, going to the Islamic court with stacks of Islamic law books under his arm.

“Islam was whatever they said it was,” he said. “They did not respect the holy book. They respected nothing but their own desires.”

For hundreds of years, Timbuktu was one of the world’s most important centers of Islamic learning. The city has dozens of mosques, and it is famous for the ancient, handwritten manuscripts that city residents have collected for generations, preserving them against waves of invaders and creating a priceless trove of knowledge about the Islamic world and beyond. Many families have long traditions of Islamic learning, passed from father to son.

So many here bristled when the Islamists called the population to lecture them about the proper practice of the religion in which they had been raised.

“What they call Islam is not what we know is Islam,” said Dramane Cissé, the 78-year-old imam at one of the city’s biggest and oldest mosques. “They are arrogant bullies who use religion as a veil for their true desires.”

But like many Muslims here, he hid away his amulets, prayer beads and other banned religious items. In his mind his faith remained the same.

“I was born in my religion and I will die in my religion,” Mr. Cissé said. “I know what I believe and nothing can change that.”

The compromises Dr. Maiga made to keep his hospital going continue to haunt him.

After the young man’s hand was cut off, the Islamists held it aloft and shouted “God is great” over and over, he said.

Dr. Maiga and his team hustled the young man into the ambulance and rushed him into the operating room to cauterize the wound, giving him powerful painkillers.

“I did what I had to do,” he said. “God help us.”
Posted on 02/01/2013 7:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
In Iraq, Sunnis Urged To Take Up Arms Against A Sea Of Troubles, And By Opposing, End Them

From FoxNews:

Sunnis in Iraq stage anti-government protests, as al-Qaida front urges them to take up arms

 February 01, 2013

AP

Tens of thousands of Sunni protesters blocked a major highway in western Iraq on Friday, as an al-Qaida-affiliated group called on Sunnis to take up arms against the Shiite-led government.

The protest comes at a time of mounting sectarian tensions in Iraq. Minority Sunnis complain of official discrimination against them, and the arrests of bodyguards of a senior Sunni politician in December have sparked weekly anti-government demonstrations.

Friday's rallies were staged in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi that straddle the highway running through Anbar province, a former al-Qaida stronghold that saw some of the fiercest fighting against U.S. forces during the Iraq war.

Friday's turnout appeared to be among the largest since the protests began in December.

In Fallujah and Ramadi, demonstrators performed Muslim noon prayers, the highlight of the religious week, on the highway, which links Iraq with Jordan.

Last week, at least five protesters and two Iraqi soldiers were killed in clashes in Fallujah and on Friday, demonstrators held up pictures of some of those killed.

Sunni cleric Abdul-Hameed Jadoua told the crowd that "the blood of the martyrs was shed so that the dignity of our Iraq and our tribes will be restored."

He demanded that soldiers be put on trial for killing protesters and said the army must stay out of the area. "From this place, we tell the government that we do not want to see a soldier from now on, not only in Fallujah, but in all its suburbs and (surrounding) villages," he said.

The cleric appeared to be rebuffing a call to arms. "I tell the young people that we do appreciate your zeal .... but you should be disciplined and adhere to the directives of the clerics and tribal leaders so that we act in a reasonable way," he said.

Al-Qaida has expressed support for the protests. On Friday, an al-Qaida-affiliated group, the Islamic State of Iraq, called on Sunnis to resort to violence against the government.

Sunnis can either bow to Shiites or take up arms and restore "dignity and freedom," said spokesman Mohammed al-Adnani in an audio statement posted on the group's website.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has suggested that al-Qaida and members of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime are involved in the demonstrations. Organizers insist they have no links to terror groups.

The protesters seek the release of Sunni detainees held in Iraqi jails and the cancellation of a tough counterterrorism law and other policies they believe overwhelmingly target Sunnis. Many of the demonstrators link their cause to the broader Arab Spring uprisings and are calling for the ouster of the government.

Al-Maliki has released hundreds of detainees in a concession to the protesters. On Thursday, the prime minister was quoted as saying he would address what he described as "legitimate demands." He said a committee dealing with these issues has made progress.

Posted on 02/01/2013 7:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
It's Friday In Pakistan

From The New York Times:

Attack on Mosque in Pakistan Kills at Least 21

February 1, 2013

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — An explosion in a market in northwestern Pakistan on Friday killed at least 21 people and wounded 33 in what police described as a suicide bombing.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack about 70 miles west of Peshawar in Hangu, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Abu Omar, a  Taliban commander in the tribal region of North Waziristan, said in a telephone interview that the attack was in revenge for the killing on Thursday of a Sunni cleric.

 The cleric, Mufti Abdul Majeed Deenpuri, 60, was shot in the southern port city of Karachi, setting off fears of reprisals against Shiites.  

Mr. Deenpuri was one a senior teacher at Jamia Binoria, one of the largest seminaries in Pakistan. A gunman opened fire on the vehicle carrying the cleric and a colleague at a busy intersection and then escaped.

While the security situation is precarious across Pakistan, Rehman Malik, the interior minister, had warned of the potential for an attack in Karachi. Cellphone services were suspended in the sprawling, violence-prone port city from noon to 3 p.m., during Friday prayers.

 Hangu has seen sectarian violence in the past, often forcing the authorities to impose a curfew. The town borders the Orakzai tribal region, where the army and paramilitary forces are fighting Taliban militants.

Friday’s explosion occurred just after the weekly prayers as worshipers filed out of a Sunni mosque and a nearby Shiite place of worship, police officials said. "People were coming out of the mosque when the explosion occurred, said one officer in Hangu, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Another police official in Hangu said that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives. While Shiites were the likely target, the dead included people from both sects, he said. "There are Sunnis and Shias killed.”

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch released its World Report 2013 (http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013), which sharply criticized the Pakistani government and its military and intelligence agencies for failing to reduce human rights abuses.

“Pakistan’s human rights crisis worsened markedly in 2012 with religious minorities bearing the brunt of killings and repression,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, the director in Pakistan for Human Rights Watch. “While the military continued to perpetrate abuses with impunity in Baluchistan and beyond, Sunni extremists killed hundreds of Shia Muslims and the Taliban attacked schools, students, and teachers.”
Posted on 02/01/2013 7:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
French Tax Hell

During his election campaign, French president François Hollande openly described his dislike of the rich and promised to impose a temporary tax of 75 percent on those with annual incomes above $1.3 million. He hoped that voters would take these positions as a sign of the warmth of his heart. Hatred of the rich, however, is not quite the same as love of the poor; besides, such emotions are not necessarily the soundest basis for economic policy. In any event, the French Constitutional Council recently struck down Hollande’s proposal, though more on a technicality than as a matter of principle.

The press has focused most of its attention on Hollande’s desire to raise the income tax—as justified by the Orwellian term “contribution exceptionelle de solidarité,” as if the feeling of solidarity were something that tax inspectors could wring from the human heart. But France already endures a much more harmful tax: the ISF, or L’Impôt sur la fortune, a tax on capital assets irrespective of whether they bring the owner any income. It is this tax that induced the French actor, Gérard Depardieu, to announce initially that he was moving to Belgium (before becoming a Russian citizen). In fact, income taxes have always been higher in Belgium than in France; but Belgium has no ISF.

Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, imposed a “bouclier fiscal,” a fiscal shield, according to which no one would have to pay more than 50 percent of his income in taxes, however great his assets. But now the shield is no more, and so it will be theoretically possible, even likely, for many people to pay more in taxes than they receive in income. The ISF tax thus amounts to outright confiscation; whether the Constitutional Council will allow it to stand remains to be seen, but the government has sent a clear message that it regards possession of capital as inherently selfish, antisocial, and in need of moral rectification. This does not mean, of course, that individual members of the government have any interest in lowering themselves to the average or even median standard of living.

For the moment, though, the ISF remains overshadowed by Hollande’s now-defeated proposal. The Journal du Dimanche reports that the decision of the constitutional court provoked many reactions, including from “the president of the Football League, Frédéric Thiriez, who called it ‘a beautiful and necessary victory.’’’ It was necessary because, without it, players in the French league would have taken their services elsewhere in Europe; and the French public would thereby have been deprived of one of the most important circuses of the modern bread-and-circuses polity. It is only circuses, after all, that stand between us and real social unrest.

There is ever more pressure in Europe for fiscal uniformity. France’s government opposes any form of fiscal competition between countries. The French for “tax haven” is paradis fiscal, a tax paradise. Hollande would much prefer an enfer fiscal, a tax hell, because it would be so much more moral and socially just.

First published in City Journal.

Posted on 02/01/2013 8:44 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Friday, 1 February 2013
"Wahabi-Takfiris" Kill Shia Leader In Pakistan

Karachi: Shia leader martyred in Wahabi-Takfiri terrorists attack

31 January 2013
Written by Shiitenews Reporter

shaheed iqbal masoodNoted Shia leader Iqbal Masood was shot martyred in a targeted attack of takfiri-Wahabi terrorists of outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban in Karachi on Thursday. 

The notorious terrorists of banned outfits of Sipah-e-Sahaba (Yazeed) and Taliban opened fire upon Iqbal Masood near at his home Landhi 2 near C-1 Area District East Karachi. He received three bullets on his chest and immediately shifted to the local hospital, where he embraced martyrdom. Iqbal Masood was the former Vice President of Markazi Tanzeem-e-Aza and Chief of local Matami Anjuman Tableegh-e-Aza Landhi.

Shia parties and leaders have condemned the targeted killing of Senior Shia leader Iqbal Masood by the Armed wahabi militants. They demanded that the terrorists involved in the attack on Shia leader should be arrested forthwith.

Posted on 02/01/2013 8:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
Dore Gold: F-16s For The Muslim Brotherhood


F-16s to the Muslim Brotherhood

Dore Gold

The latest American crisis with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, Muhammad Morsi, came out into the open on January 14, 2013, when the New York Times published a report on its front page that three years earlier he used blatantly anti-Semitic motifs for describing "Zionists" as “...bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.” The interview was videotaped and distributed by MEMRI, which has been documenting and translating from Arabic the statements of leaders across the Middle East for many years.

To make matters worse for Morsi, he was also filmed addressing a rally in 2010 in the Nile Delta at which he declared: “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” This video clip was actually broadcast on Egyptian television.

Then the crisis over Morsi's anti-Semitic statements seemed to only get worse in the aftermath of a meeting he recently held with a delegation of seven U.S. Senators, led by John McCain (Rep.--Arizona). According to Senator Chris Coons (Dem.--Delaware), Morsi only dug deeper into the hole he created for himself when he tried to explain the crisis that was unfolding by using more anti-Semitic references: “Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don’t view me favorably.”

Senator Coons told Foreign Policy after the meeting that the senators had no doubt that Morsi was implying that the American media was under Jewish control. Coons concluded: “I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion.”

What has made the revelations about Morsi's comments especially problematic was that during January, the U.S. supplied four F-16 fighter aircraft to Egypt, out of a total package for 20 such fighters that was originally signed when President Mubarak was still in power. The U.S. will also be supplying 200 Abrams tanks to Egypt.

As a consequence, when Senator John Kerry appeared before Congress prior to the vote on his confirmation as the next secretary of state, he was asked how the U.S. could provide advanced arms to a country led by a president, like Morsi, who had such values that were antithetical to everything for which the U.S. stood. More practically, Senator Rand Paul (Rep.--Kentucky) asked Kerry if the new U.S. warplanes would be a threat to Israel or even to America.

For decades the U.S. has developed means to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge, even as Washington supplies advanced weapons to the Arab states. In the latest sale to Egypt, a publication specializing in the U.S. defense industry points out that at this point, Egypt will not receive the same advanced air-to-air missiles that Israel deploys on its F-16s, thereby assuring Israeli air superiority vis-a-vis the Egyptian Air Force.

Undoubtedly, there will be U.S. officials who will argue that arms sales to Egypt will at least keep the Egyptian armed forces friendly to Washington. In his first major struggle with the Egyptian army, however, Morsi showed that he was willing to challenge its general staff when he forced General Tantawi to retire. Every senior Egyptian officer now knows that his advance up the chain of command will be dependent on the approval of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

Some Egyptians are reading into the completion of the F-16 sale a political signal from Washington towards the Egyptian regime and its opposition. It is being seen as a kind of vote of confidence in Morsi and his government. Ambassador Hussein Haridi, a former assistant foreign minister, told the Egyptian newspaper, al-Ahram, in mid-January that the sale indicated that the level of support for Morsi and the Brotherhood was continuing, despite the demonstrations against his regime that were already underway in mid-December.

But there is a more fundamental issue that needs to be addressed in this discussion about advanced arms for Egypt. Morsi's statements point to the fact that he is still strongly tied to the hard-line ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood , which it must be remembered is a revolutionary movement that could down the line put at risk important Arab allies of the U.S.

Indeed, during 2011, Jordanian officials accused the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of being involved in growing street disturbances in Amman. In December 2012, security forces in the UAE uncovered a Muslim Brotherhood plot to overthrow its government. Egyptian nationals were arrested and imprisoned. Cairo sent a high-level delegation, including Morsi's intelligence chief, to Abu Dhabi to help reduce tensions with the UAE, but they came back empty-handed. Both the UAE and the Saudi press have been notably critical of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in recent months.

Indeed the Muslim Brotherhood over the years has been seeking to overthrow existing Arab regimes, replacing them with a unified Arab state. The Arab Spring has provided new opportunities for the movement to realize its long-term goals. Eventually, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood seeks the re-establishment of the caliphate, whose global regime will cross current state borders.

There is a history of Egyptian adventurism towards neighboring states that could be rekindled in the future if it were to have the backing of a strong Islamist ideological orientation. Take for example the case of Saudi Arabia. In the 19th century, during the rule of Muhmmad Ali, Egypt dispatched an expeditionary force into the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, occupied the capital of the first Saudi state, and sent its Emir to Istanbul for execution. In 1962, when Egypt was led by President Nasser, it intervened in the Yemen Civil War with tens of thousands of troops and even used its air force to strike border towns in Saudi Arabia, which was backing the opposite side.

Right now, Egypt has too many troubles at home to follow this kind of aggressive political agenda. Morsi just declared a state of emergency and a curfew in Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said after escalating violence in those cities. But in the long-term, if Egypt adopts the Muslim Brotherhood program in its relations with the rest of the Middle East, then Israel will not be the only state that should be concerned.

Arms transfers do not change the balance of power overnight, especially if only a few aircraft are involved. The present sale represents a qualitative upgrade for Egypt, which until now has only received older models of the F-16. However, it would be more advisable to build up Egypt's ability to assure its internal security in places like Sinai, where al-Qaeda affiliates have built up for themselves a substantial foothold.

But investing in weapons for projecting Egyptian military power over long distances should be re-thought until its leadership clarifies what its intentions are with respect to its Middle Eastern neighbors.

Posted on 02/01/2013 7:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
Young woman scarred for life and almost blinded in random acid attack on London street

From the London Evening Standard

A young woman was facially disfigured and almost lost her eyesight in a horrific unprovoked acid attack on the streets of London.

Naomi Oni, 20, was on her way home from work when an unknown attacker dressed in a niqab threw a chemical substance at her leaving the retail assistant with severe burns on her head, neck, arms, legs and body.

These shocking images have now been released by Ms Oni in an appeal for help to catch the attacker whose identity was concealed behind the Muslim women’s dress which completely covers the face apart from the eyes.

Ms Oni, who is employed by Victoria’s Secret at the Westfield Stratford shopping centre, was five minutes from home in Dagenham, east London when she was attacked on December 30.

The 20-year-old was only released from Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford last weekend after spending almost a month receiving skin grafts and specialist treatment in the hospital’s burns unit. (As an aside older British readers may remember the world famous Billericay Burns Unit. This is now at Broomfield hospital and they are still excellent!)

Ms Oni, who is sole carer for her disabled mother Marian Yalekhue, 52, has decided to speak out after police failed to establish any motive behind the attack or identify a suspect.

The store assistant had just got off the bus and was talking to her boyfriend Ato Owede, 23, on her phone when she felt someone walking behind her in Lodge Avenue in Dagenham at around 12.40am. She said:“I’d been working a late shift and was talking to my boyfriend about what we were going to do for New Year when I saw this Muslim woman wearing a niqab covering her face. I thought it was a bit strange at that time of night, but she didn’t say anything and I kept on walking.

“Then I felt a splash on my face. It burned and I screamed out. I started running and screaming, holding my face, all the way home. I didn’t look back. I got home and I was screaming and banging on the door. I was hysterical. Luckily my godmother, who is a pharmacist, was at home with my mum and she helped me and kept dipping my face in water and trying to calm me down until the police and ambulance got there. I was in shock. Saying: ‘Who would do that? Who would do that?’ How could anyone do this?”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said acid attacks were “extremely rare” and that detectives were keeping an “open mind as to the motive.”

Officers from Barking and Dagenham are investigating. No arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing.

This happened not so very far away from the home of Sunny Islam who was sentenced to life imprisonment last year for raping 4 local women as a punishment for their daring to venture out at night. He is behind bars but I don't believe that he is unique in his views. And there are precedents for Muslim men borrowing a niqab for committing a crime.

Posted on 02/01/2013 11:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 1 February 2013
Is Hagel Prepared To Run The Largest Bureaucracy In The World? Has He Given Any Sign Of Understanding The Menace Of Islam?
Read the report on his first day of hearings here.
Posted on 02/01/2013 1:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
Hagel Wants To Toe The Obama Line, But He Can't Quite Figure Out What That Line Is

From The New York Times:

February 1, 2013

On Iran, Hagel Muddles the Message

Dealing with Iran is complicated, but President Obama's policy on the question of whether a nuclear-armed Iran could be successfully "contained'' - the way the Soviet Union was during the cold war - is simple.

His answer is no.

But in the weeks of preparation for his Senate confirmation hearing to be defense secretary on Thursday, either no one explained that to Chuck Hagel, Mr. Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, or he forgot it. And so on his first outing, Mr. Hagel fell immediately into the trap that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and several other administration officials have complained about in recent years. He became the latest official to send what many inside the administration fear has been an inconsistent and confusing message to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, about whether the Obama administration would, if there was no other option, take military measures to prevent Iran from possessing a weapon.

"It's somewhere between baffling and incomprehensible," a member of Mr. Obama's own team of advisers on Iran said on Thursday night when asked about Mr. Hagel's stumbling performance on the question during the all-day hearing. The worry was evident in the voice of the official, who would not speak on the record while criticizing the performance of the president's nominee. For those who question whether the no-containment cornerstone of the Obama approach to Tehran is for real, or just diplomatic rhetoric, Mr. Hagel clearly muddled the message, he said.

Mr. Hagel's flubbing of the answer was even more remarkable because in his prepared remarks to the committee, which were carefully vetted by the White House and then e-mailed to reporters before the hearing, he got the president's position exactly right. "As I said in the past many times, all options must be on the table,'' Mr. Hagel said, in a statement meant to clean up past comments by the former Nebraska senator suggesting that an attack on Iran's nuclear sites would be so disastrous that it was not a feasible alternative. "My policy has always been the same as the president's, one of prevention, not of containment. And the president has made clear that is the policy of our government.''

So far, so good.

But then, Mr. Hagel went down a different road. "I support the president's strong position on containment," he said, appearing, perhaps by imprecision, to suggest that the president's view was that a nuclear Iran could be contained. (Mr. Obama has gone on to explain that containment would fail because other players in the neighborhood - probably led by Saudi Arabia - would race for the bomb as soon as Iran had one.)

Then an aide slipped a piece of paper to Mr. Hagel. He glanced at it, then said: "By the way, I've just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president's position on containment. If I said that, it meant to say that obviously - on his position on containment - we don't have a position on containment."

That made it worse. So the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, tried to rescue Mr. Hagel. "Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment: which is we do not favor containment.''

Why might any of this matter? Perhaps it won't; it could just be another in the litany of Iran slips, like the time in December 2011 when Leon E. Panetta, the man Mr. Hagel hopes to replace at the Pentagon, described how any attack on Iran would strengthen the country's position in the region and help it shed its pariah status. (He was probably right, but it made it sound as if the defense secretary really thought there were no military options on the table.)

But Mr. Hagel's stumbling caused heartburn inside the administration because it made him appear unfamiliar with his brief. And even before he spoke, American credibility on the question of whether it would allow nations to get the bomb has been less than impressive.

The United States warned Pakistan against pursuing the development of a nuclear weapon during the Clinton administration. It conducted a nuclear test in 1998, responding to an Indian test, and both countries briefly suffered American economic sanctions. Then, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the sanctions were lifted, Pakistan became a "major non-NATO ally'' and India signed a commercial nuclear agreement with the United States.

Then there is North Korea. President George W. Bush said he would never "tolerate'' a North Korea with nuclear weapons. North Korea set off its first nuclear test in 2006, and its second a few months after Mr. Obama became president. Satellite photographs suggest that a third may be only days or weeks away.

That record, many believe, could prompt Iran's leaders to conclude that once countries get a weapon, or the capability to build one, America shrugs its shoulders and declares that containment will work fine. Mr. Hagel raised that possibility in a 2007 speech - though he stopped short of endorsing it - which is why the administration wanted to make sure he got on the same page with the president. He didn't, and there is little doubt that the Iranians noticed.

Posted on 02/01/2013 2:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
And What About The Teacher And His Mixed Signals, And That "Introduction To Congress" Junior-High Course?

Dozens of students withdraw in Harvard cheating scandal

Feb. 1, 2013

BOSTON (Reuters) - As many as 60 students have been forced to withdraw from Harvard University after cheating on a final exam last year in what has become the largest academic scandal to hit the Ivy League school in recent memory.

Michael Smith, Harvard's Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, sent an email on Friday saying that more than half of the students who faced the school's Administrative Board have been suspended for a time.

Roughly 125 undergraduates were involved in the scandal, which came to light at the end of the spring semester after a professor noticed similarities on a take-home exam that showed students worked together, even though they were instructed to work alone.

The school's student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, has reported that the government class, Introduction to Congress, had 279 students enrolled.

"Somewhat more than half of the Administrative Board cases this past fall required a student to withdraw from the College for a period of time," Smith wrote. "Of the remaining cases, roughly half the students received disciplinary probation, while the balance ended in no disciplinary action."

The cases were resolved during the fall semester, which ended in December, Smith said. Suspensions depend on the student, but traditionally last two semesters and as much as four semesters.

In the last few months, the university has also worked to be clearer about the academic integrity it expects from students.

"While all the fall cases are complete, our work on academic integrity is far from done," Smith added.

Posted on 02/01/2013 4:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
What Ma'An Likes To Publish, And When Caught Out, Pretend To Take Back

From PMW (Palestinian Media Watch):

Ma'an removes Antisemitic article

following PMW's exposure

 by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Following Palestinian Media Watch's exposure yesterday of a venomous Antisemitic article published by the independent Palestinian Ma'an News Agency, Ma'an removed the article from its website.

Ma'an's administration wrote that it removed the article "because it contains incorrect information and hateful content that are unjustified and which do not in any way represent the opinion of Ma'an or its editorial policies." (See full statement below.)

Among others, the Antisemitic article included the following statements:

"[The Jews] feel inferior to the nations and societies in which they live, because of the hostility and evil rising in their hearts towards others and for their plots and schemes against the nations who know with certainty that the Jews are the root of conflict in the world, wherever they reside."
"[Jews are] outcasts in every corner of the earth, and not one nation in the world respects them... but Allah's curse upon them and his fury at them cause them to continue with their transgression."
"Allah has stricken fear in their hearts and decreed humiliation and degradation upon them until Judgment Day." (see full article below.)
Ma'an removed the article and posted its retraction in Arabic three hours after PMW's exposure.

Ma'an News Agency is part of Ma'an Network which partners with the European Commission (the EU), UNDP, UNESCO, the Government of Denmark, the Government of the Netherlands, and UKaid.

The following is the complete retraction on Ma'an's Arabic website:

 "'Israel is Trembling!' - This item has been deleted"
by: The Administration

"This article has been removed.
It was written by one of the [news] agency's readers, Sawsan Najib Abd Al-Halim, and not by one of Ma'an's journalists, writers or editors.
[The article has been removed] because it contains incorrect information and hateful content that are unjustified and which do not in any way represent the opinion of Ma'an or its editorial policies. It was published during the war against Gaza (i.e., in response to Hamas rockets, Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense targeted the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip), and [Ma'an's] staff was unable to examine it thoroughly because of the workload caused by the war. [The article] was published in the articles' section intended for [submissions by] readers.
However, Ma'an will re-examine the policy of publishing readers' articles to avoid the occurrence of similar mistakes."
[Ma'an News Agency's website,
posted Jan. 30, 2013, accessed Jan. 30, 2013]
The following is the Antisemitic article that Ma'an published and then removed:

"Israel is Trembling"
by Sawsan Najib Abd Al-Halim

 "We're used to seeing vampires in Dracula movies, where the murderer and the vampire act in the dead of night, and as soon as dawn breaks, the murderer disappears and hides during the day.


The brave warrior, who at the very least has moral values, fights in the daytime. In all wars, in all eras, honorable nations conducted their battles during the day and slept at night. But has Israel even a trace of morality?


A brave warrior is proud when he confronts another [warrior] as brave as he, and the more he is struck, the stronger he grows, proud in his struggle and respectful of his adversary. But since Jews are - as our grandparents said of them - sons of death (expression of contempt, meaning 'a coward,' -Ed.), they are too cowardly to confront an enemy face to face, especially if their enemy is as well armed as they...


Jews think that their fortresses will protect them from death, but any breach of these fortresses or protective walls instills panic and fear in their hearts, and they are seized by fear and trembling. If a missile falls beyond their protective walls or if even a bullet passes over them, you can see how their hearts fill with horror - and this is because Allah has stricken fear in their hearts and decreed humiliation and degradation upon them until Judgment Day...


Historically, it is known that the lives of Jews have always been war and fighting. The only reason for this is that they have been outcasts in every corner of the earth, and not one nation in the world respects them, for they cause strife, and scheme everywhere they settle. We know that they have been defeated in every war they have fought throughout history, and they have been dispersed in every direction, but Allah's curse upon them and his fury at them cause them to continue with their transgression and tyranny.


A coward acts brutally when he can, but runs for cover humiliated, when he faces anyone who is his equal. Our fathers told us of one Palestinian before 1948 who was holding a stick while walking the streets of Tel Aviv, and he drove away scores of cowardly Jews...


Psychologically, they have been defeated through the ages and feel inferior to the nations and societies in which they live, because of the hostility and evil rising in their hearts towards others and for their plots and schemes against the nations who know with certainty that the Jews are the root of conflict in the world, wherever they reside.
Jews think that every shout is against them, and what better proof is there than the slogan they voiced to the world - which is 'Antisemitism.'


Therefore, the only way we can deal with them, when we are weak militarily compared to Israel's power, is to stick to the threat to annihilate Israel, not to submit to its [Israel's] desire for a cease fire, and keep the flame of resistance burning. Rather than [violently] resist and then back off somewhat, whereby we give them the impression that we are afraid of them. There is nothing wrong with our sitting with them to talk, but the resistance must always continue. Late President Yasser Arafat, peace be upon him, understood the Jews' weakness, so he showed them the face of peace in negotiations, and at the same time raised the slogan 'Every day a settler.' This is the slogan that terrorized the Jews, and which many Palestinians have forgotten. They may have forgotten why the comrade-fighter Marwan Barghouti was arrested. Wasn't it because he was the one given the job to fulfill this slogan? (Marwan Barghouti is serving 5 life sentences for orchestrating terror attacks against Israeli civilians. -Ed.)


Let us again be united in the message against the Jews and turn the weapons against them. Every time the guns and stones are directed at the Jews, they become angry, seized by fear, their brutality increases and our sacrificing increases more and more. Jews know that the more their brutality increases, so our resolve and defiance are strengthened against them, until Allah will strike terror in their hearts and they will be driven away from our land humiliated. This is revolution until victory."[Ma'an News Agency's website,
posted Nov. 18, 2012, accessed Jan. 29, 2013]

Posted on 02/01/2013 4:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
Clinton "Confident About The Direction We Have Set"
Married, after all, to a cheat and charmer who has always been a supreme Confidence Man, Hillary Clinton is brimming with another kind of confidence herself. Leaving the State Department, she told a crowd of cheering acolytes that she was, is "confident about the direct that we have set." 
Query: Is that direction in the direction of the Right Side Of History?

Clinton leaves State 'confident about the direction that we have set'

NBCNews.com
57 minutes ago
Written by
Michael O'Brien
By Michael O'Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News. Follow @mpoindc. Updated 4:32 p.m. - Hillary Rodham Clinton left the State Department on Friday"confident about the direction that we have set," handing off the secretary of state's job to former Sen.
Posted on 02/01/2013 4:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
Proposed Legislation That Would Have Further Suppressed Free Speech in Australia Is, Fortunately, Modified

As reported by Simon Cullen for Australia's ABC on 31st January.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-31/roxon-moves-to-scrap-controversial-discrimination-law/4492742

'Roxon climbs down on "offends and insults" law".

Just as well.  We all know who has the biggest chip on their shoulders: the members of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage.  They take full advantage of any laws that criminalise 'offence and insult".- CM

'Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has moved to scrap a controversial element o the Government's proposed anti-discrimination laws amid a public backlash over concerns it could limit free speech.

'Ms Roxon has asked her department to redraft sections of the legislation to remove a clause that would have prohibited conduct that "offends or insults".

Good. Looks like we've dodged a bullet, for now. Imagine if Muslims had been able to claim they felt 'offended and insulted' - and sue people -  if a woman walked past with a miniskirt on, in a street where Muslims live; or if they felt 'offended and insulted' by the sight of a cross on a church steeple, or the sound of church bells, or the presence of a pub or bottle shop, or the sight of somebody walking their pet dog in a park in an area that Muslims were busy colonising...Let alone if they'd been able to claim they were 'insulted' and 'offended' by anybody's publicly saying anything at all that could be construed as criticism of Mohammed, Islam, and / or the conduct and practices of Muslims. - CM

"It seems to me clear that there are better options than the one that's being proposed and we'll take it forward from there", Ms Roxon told AM.

Ms Roxon: although we do not have an explicit law protecting freedom of speech, such as the USA has, we have still, historically, enjoyed and practised an unwritten tradition of being able to 'take the mickey' - especially, of being able to 'take the mickey' out of anybody who behaves as if they think they have tickets on themselves (and today, Muslims are putting themselves in this category more and more) and we would like to preserve it, thank you very much. - CM

"There are different ways to consolidate this law and we certainly are not trying to encroach on existing protections for freedom of speech".

Strengthening those protections would be a good idea, not trying to find ways to weaken them, which is what the current proposed legislation, in its unmodified form, would have done. - CM

'The Government is trying to simplify the existing anti-discrimination laws by merging them into one bill, so that there is a clearer definition of what behaviour is considered unacceptable and how people can make complaints.

I don't see why existing laws to do with libel and slander (against which, truth is the traditional defence), and existing public order laws covering what a western country defines as disorderly conduct and obscene language, cannot be left alone to do their job.  Anything more than that is dangerously intrusive.  - CM

'But the exposure  draft legislation (should that be, 'the exposure of the draft legislation'? - CM) prompted widespread concern, including from Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, who suggested that particular elements had probably gone too far and should be dumped in order to protect the thrust of the remaining changes.

'A Senate committee looking into the proposal has received nearly 600 submissions and has already begun public hearings.

'Australia's largest media organisations, including the ABC, Fairfax and News Limited, made a joint submission to the inquiry arguing against the inclusion of material that "offends or insults" in the anti-discrimination provisions.  It said many media organisations publish or broadcast material that some members of the public will find offensive at times, ranging from satirical programming to political commentary.

Good to hear our mass media here in Oz standing up for freedom of speech. Now, let's write to every one of them - SBS, ABC, and the commercial TV channels - and ask each of them whether they would be prepared to broadcast  the whole of Theo Van Gogh's and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's short - and very arty, 'edgy' and intelligent - film "Submission"...and to do it either on Mardi Gras, or in early November on the anniversary of the sharia murder of Theo Van Gogh in a Dutch street in broad daylight.  With Ms Ali to be invited to introduce the film before it is aired, and speak about her murdered friend and colleague.  Let's see if they're prepared to exercise free speech and broadcast something that is guaranteed to be found 'offensive' by pious Muslims in Australia.  - CM

"Whilst these, and similar topics, may be offensive or insulting to some viewers, this does not make them discriminatory", the media organisations argued.  "Rather, the inclusion of such content within the national conversation is essential for fostering robust social and political debate and therefore to ensuring a healthy democracy".

Yes. Now, gentlemen, I must say that I have observed, in the past ten years or so, a significant degree of self-censoring in all your outlets, as regards a certain Religion of Peace; much more so than as regards any other subject.  So, now that you have proclaimed your commitment to freedom of speech - even as regards material considered 'offensive or insulting to some viewers' - can we expect to see a reduction in or even a complete end to that self-censoring, in future?  When Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders visits Australia later this month, I shall expect to see some prime-time interviews with him being aired, and any speeches he gives should be printed - or broadcast - in full, not in edited and 'framed' snippets. - CM

'Shadow attorney-general George Brandis said the proposed laws amounted to an attempt to shut down controversial debates.

'Fellow Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has welcomed Ms Roxon's decision to back down on elements of the bill.

"I'm sure everyone who cares about free speech, which is almost all Australians (hmm...I like that careful 'almost'...and who might those be, who do not care about free speech?  I would hazard the guess that it comprises pretty nearly all the Muslims in this country. - CM) would be pleased that she's recognised that the bill that she was proposing was outrageous", Mr Turnbull told AM.

"We all are concerned to ensure that Australia is a harmonious society and that there isn't hate speech being perpetrated and so forth, but this was a very ill-considered piece of legislation".

Yes.  And I would add that 'harmony' is not served by sweeping unpleasant things under the carpet.  Best to have things out in the open where they can be seen and heard: the good, the bad and the ugly.  And there should not be a 'heckler's veto'. -  CM

'Ms Roxon says the proposed legislation was released for public consultation for the very purpose of making sure the changes were properly considered and appropriate.

'She says the Government never had any intention of extending the reach of existing anti-discrimination legislation".

Hmmm. I'm not so sure. A much better idea would be to have a good long look at the Bill of Rights in the USA, and to read Milton's Areopagitica, and then to think about how the right to free speech (free speech on all subjects, but right now, in particular, free speech on the subject of Islam, because Islam with its odious sharia law that prescribes death for 'blasphemy' , and its adherents' dismal track record of threatening and attacking all perceived critics, dissenters and questioners, is a massive threat to free speech worldwide) and freedom of expression may be strengthened, not lessened.  - CM

Posted on 02/01/2013 4:04 PM by Christina McIntosh
Friday, 1 February 2013
Koenraad Elst: Is The Problem With Muslims Due To Islam?

"In the 24 years since I first wrote in a critical sense about Islam, pro-Islamic responses have mostly been of this calibre. Rather than going into the contents of the criticism of Islam, where they know they can’t win, the friends of Islam pretend that there is no honest debate because Islam critics are a bunch of loonies. The whole Islam debate is between well-informed critics quoting chapter and verse, and superficial sympathizers resorting to rhetorical tricks."

                                                                                                      [Koenraad Elst]

From the Brussels Journal:

Are All Problems With Muslims Caused By Islam?

In the blog magazine Dagelijkse Standaard, Joost Niemöller writes (15 december 2012, “Het Marokkanenprobleem is geen islamprobleem”, “The Moroccan problem is not an Islam problem”) that the reduction of all problems to Islam is stupid: “Look, this kind of thinking is not just dumb, it is also dangerous. Whoever can only think of Islam as the root of all evil, moves through the world blind with anger and has lost all ability to correct himself.” He calls this thinking “hysterical”. [a strawman as there is no one known to me -- is there to you? --  who thinks that Islam "is the root of all evil."] Replace "all" by "a great deal" and go from there.]

That article was probably written after its author had a discussion with someone who obsessed over Islam, as described. But except for this putative debating partner, is there really anyone to whom this allegation applies? I have never met or read such a person, and I say this after having met many victims of Islam in South Asia. Even Geert Wilders, whose Party For Freedom is routinely labeled as an “anti-Islam party” in the media, has campaigned for the 2012 elections on another plank, viz. the relations between the Netherlands and the European Union. In my experience, people who reduce all problems to Islam are a figment of the Islam defenders’ fondest imagination.

Some people, allegedly, claim that Islam is the reason for e.g. the misbehaviour of Muslim youngsters.[that is, "misbehavior" -- hostility, aggression, hatred -- toward non-Muslims, and how could it be otherwise, given the way Muslims are raised in an atmosphere suffused with Islam, and Islam incuclates such hatred, and it is by choosing to ignore much of what Islam inculcates that a Muslim can manage not to be aggressive, hostile, full of hatred toward non-Muslims]Niemöller, by contrast, proposes “cultural, pedagogic and genetic explanations” in addition to the Islam problem. Or even: “Moroccan boys are raised by their mothers as little princes, and so they start behaving as spoiled brats.” There are no indications that Turkish boys are raised that differently, yet according to the author they have a lower crime rate. For that matter, Hindu boys are raised likewise and they stand out by a low crime rate. So, Niemöller’s explanation by educational factors falls flat. However, the shortcomings in the examples he chooses need not invalidate the case he is making. Indeed, we are convinced, along with him, that Islam is not the only factor of evil. 

Thus, to reiterate some examples he uses, the high rate of violence in Brazil or the vast and variegated problems of Black Africa exist outside the reach of Islam. Indeed, most world religions are older than Islam and have a whole theology of evil, often with prescribed punishments for a number of specified crimes. It seems that evil existed before Mohammed, and we will still have it on our hands after Islam has gone. Many critics of Islam are Christians, and Christianity famously teaches that all men are inheritors of the Original Sin, so Islam only added to a pre-existing store of evil.

Niemöller only expects criticism of his arguments about Moroccan boys’ upbringing, so he counters it beforehand: “Now the ‘true’ Islam critics will undoubtedly start saying that this is a typical Islam problem, and then surely a Quran quotation can be found that points in that direction. But that is of course nonsense.”

Frankly, that one phrase is the reason why unlike so many media articles on Islam, this one provided me with a reason to respond: “But that is of course nonsense.” (Maar dat is natuurlijk lariekoek, in the original Dutch). In the 24 years since I first wrote in a critical sense about Islam, pro-Islamic responses have mostly been of this calibre. Rather than going into the contents of the criticism of Islam, where they know they can’t win, the friends of Islam pretend that there is no honest debate because Islam critics are a bunch of loonies. The whole Islam debate is between well-informed critics quoting chapter and verse, and superficial sympathizers resorting to rhetorical tricks.

Actually, in this specific case, Islam as a factor of problems is a valid (if only partial) explanation. The double standard in the treatment of the sexes, by mothers as by everyone else, already exists in the animal world, not to speak of most human societies. Even hermaphrodite lower animals prefer the male to the female role; the preference for a male over a female birth is much older than Islam. If any problem predates Islam, or any other organized religion, sexism certainly is it. But the effect of religion is to stick to such natural habits even against the pressure to reform. And this is where Islam trumps other religions: whereas others make compromises with the modern world, Islam is still standing firm. Feminism is making big inroads in Christianity, as exemplified by the woman bishops in the Church of England; but hardly any into Islam. 

Thus, when Copts from Egypt or Sudan settle in Europe, they go by the rule: “When in Rome, do as the Romans”, so they abandon any plans to circumcise their daughters. By contrast, Muslims from the same region will stick to this custom, sanctioned by Islam though dating from much earlier, against their European neighbours and even against European law. They believe that their law is supreme, while the law of the land is negotiable. Sexism was not invented by Islam, of course not, but today Islam is a strong upholder of sexism in a world adopting more egalitarian norms regarding the sexes.

In fact, very little was invented by Islam. Except for the veneration of the person of Mohammed, most doctrines and rules in Islam are taken from Arab Paganism, Judaism or Christianity. The double standard in treating Muslims and non-Muslims was adopted and adapted from a universal ethnic discrimination between in-group and out-group. But whereas modernity consists in combating this natural tendency, Islam upholds it. That parents frowned if their daughter married someone from another religion, was common elsewhere too, but today only Islam insists that she can never marry a non-Muslim, to the point of killing the groom or even their daughter in order to prevent it.

That is why Islam poses a very specific problem, different from the general immigration problem. Immigrants from, say, Russia or Congo do pose certain social problems, but because they do not militate against assimilation, at least their children are bound to blend in and ultimately become Europeans with the Europeans. In the case of Islam, it is the reverse: the present generation of Muslims is less integrated than their parents. In expectation of becoming strong enough to take our countries over, Islam cultivates separateness for now.

At the fag end of his article, Niemöller also admits that Islam, while not being the sole problem, is nonetheless a problem. He cites and rejects the opinion that “criticism of Islam is really criticism of Muslims and therefore hurting and annoying”. He also counters the usual remark about “the kind Muslim neighbour” by saying that “he is mostly kind in spite of, and not because of Islam”. I can live with his conclusion: “Yes, Islam is a problem. But not all problems with Muslims are an Islam problem.”

Posted on 02/01/2013 9:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 1 February 2013
A Report Confirms Israeli attack on possible Syrian CW/BW Complex

Syrian Damaged Building, January 30, 2013

Source Reuters

by Jerry Gordon with Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst

In our earlier post we  speculated whether  a Syrian CW/BW complex  near Jamarya  might have been destroyed as alleged by statements from the Assad regime.  On Friday,  Time Magazine   reported  confirmation   from a US intelligence official  that one of the targets hit by the IAF raid was  Syria’s Scientific Studies and  Research Center  (SSRC) with equipment  for deployment of  CW/BW.  Moreover, we noted   in our earlier post the strident statements of the Russian Foreign Minister that criticized Israel for invading the sovereignty of its waning ally Syria.  Russia has exposure vis a vis supply of advanced weapons such as the SA-17 anti-air mobile missile system   reported to have been in a convoy attacked by the IAF near the Lebanese border.  The Russian Foreign Minister’s statement may reflect fear of collateral damage involving some of the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens in Syria.  Some of whom might have been engaged in collaborative research.  

The Jerusalem Post  reported   Iraqi media and western diplomatic sources indicating the alleged attack at the Syrian target may have resulted in heavy casualties to Iranian special Revolutionary Guards and Russian specialists at the  SRRC.  The Post noted:

The report about a strike on a convoy to Lebanon was probably meant to divert attention away from the main objective of the operation, which used F-16 aircraft to fire at least eight guided missiles at the facility.

The source also said that the base was heavily fortified and contained experts from Russia and at least three thousand Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who have been guarding the site for years.

The report by Time, appears to have resolved the conflicting stories and confirmed our suspicion that one of the multiple targets hit on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 was the CW/BW complex at the SSRC.  It  noted the information came from a U.S. intelligence official.   Ha’aretz  reported:

Israeli jets attacked several targets in Syria Tuesday night in addition to the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamarya, outside Damascus, Time Magazine reported Friday.

In the hours and days after the airstrike allegedly carried out by the Israeli Air Force conflicting reports surfaced regarding the nature of the strike. Syria accused Israel of attacking the research center in Jamarya but denied that an attack on a convoy transporting SA-17 ground-to-air missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon had taken place as was reported elsewhere.

"At least one to two additional targets were hit the same night," a Western intelligence official indicated to Time, adding that Israel received a “green light” from the United States to carry out further attacks in the future.

According to the report in Time among the buildings destroyed in the attack on the Jamarya research center were "warehouses stocked with equipment necessary for the deployment of chemical and biological weapons."

The U.S. was "poised to carry out similar airstrikes around Aleppo if rebels threaten to take sites associated with weapons of mass destruction in that region," an American intelligence official told Time.

An article published in Israel Defense by Ronen Solomon  the significance of SSRC. He noted:

The facility is part of a military complex that includes schools, war reserve units, training areas for special forces, and a communication center by a Syrian-Korean company. The facility also houses the technological school that belongs to the Syrian agency for scientific research, which is entrusted with developing the country’s unconventional weapons, including the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. The military complex  [near Jamarya] is protected by Russian-produced antiaircraft missile batteries.

 [. . .]

The SSRC is an enormous organization that employs thousands of employees in a variety of departments that encompass all fields of technology and scientific development which have military possibilities. The departments that are of special interest are the nuclear departments, and the "Immunology Laboratory,” where Syria develops its biological weapons alongside the laboratory for environmental research. The special cooling towers that are characteristic of facilities for the production of chemical weapons can be clearly identified in the photos from Al Safir. The production process is complex and involves the disposal of very toxic substances emitted during the production of chemical weapons.

We note that the SSRC is  on a facility list targeted by both Israeli and western intelligence agencies.

We discussed in the NER 2007 and 2013   interviews the SSRC involvement with BW developments.  In the most recent 2013 interview  Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst identified the necessity of reducing the Syrian BW complex:

Middle East threat reduction requires a far more aggressive and comprehensive approach to deter the proliferation of biological weapons. In my view, any new threat reduction paradigm must have a component wherein ultimately we take out those scientific teams. BW is heavily underpinned by knowledge transfer and we need to be prepared right now to target and take out their scientific teams as has been done in Iran with several of their nuclear scientists. This must be a component of a total threat reduction plan. We need to prepare to systematically take out sites in Damascus, Cerin, Tal Snan, Sjinsjar, Latakia, Palmyra, and many others. I believe we will have an opportunity to do so as state structures collapse. It is imperative that we don’t let that opportunity slip by as we could immediately face an array of bio-chem armed terrorist organizations.

 As biological weapon programs require an infrastructure significantly different than that required for chemical weapons, targeting such facilities is in many ways more feasible to conduct. Within the current context of threat reduction for Syrian BW programs, striking facilities like the SSRC near Damascus is a crucial and clear method of reducing the threat posed by this type of proliferation. While the SSRC is the premier research and development center for Syria's BW complex, other BW branches, associated with Syria's chemical weapon complex will need to be targeted. Striking BW facilities such as the SSRC with conventional munitions is effective in that biological warfare organisms are highly sensitive to heat and light.  This removes issues related to pathogens becoming airborne or in any way posing an environmental threat. Within the scope of threat reduction and non-proliferation, this is by far the most efficient method to interdict this type of weapon complex. 

Posted on 02/01/2013 11:11 PM by Jerry Gordon with Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst

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