These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 2, 2012.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Sudan woman shackled with baby facing death by stoning
(Reuters) - A Sudanese woman accused of adultery has been sentenced to death by stoning and is being held shackled with her six-month-old baby in jail, activists said on Wednesday, in the second such sentence in the past few months in the country.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said last month that Sudan would adopt a "100 percent" Islamic constitution, prompting concerns the country would apply Islamic law more strictly after the secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan a year ago.
A court in the capital Khartoum sentenced 23-year-old Laila Ibrahim Issa Jamool on July 10 to death by stoning for adultery, said Sudanese human rights activist Fahima Hashim who has been following her and other such cases.
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), a women's rights group, said it had assigned lawyers who had appealed against the conviction and sentence. Jamool's husband had accused her of adultery, it said.
"The appeal is understood to take not less than one-and-a-half months before a response can be got from the court of appeal. During all this time, Mrs Jamool will still be shackled in Omdurman (near Khartoum) women's prison together with her six-month (old) child," SIHA said in a statement. The baby is in poor health it said, without giving further details.
Amnesty International said the conviction did not meet international legal standards and also violated Sudanese criminal law. "The stoning sentence was imposed ... after an unfair trial in which she was convicted solely on the basis of her confession and did not have access to a lawyer," Amnesty said in a statement.
In April, a Sudanese court handed out a stoning sentence for adultery against Intisar Sharif Abdalla, who activists said was in her 20s. She was released on July 3 after her lawyers successfully appealed because she had been denied a lawyer in her trial,
While the government has since sought to improve its image internationally by distancing itself from radical Islamists, it is still one of only a few countries to list death by stoning in its statutes.
The evil predator who led the Rochdale child sex grooming gang has been handed an extra three years behind bars for repeatedly raping a girl. Shabir Ahmed, who is already serving a 19-year sentence over the scandal, was today handed a 22-year jail sentence for a 'campaign of rapes' against another girl over many years.
But only three years were added to his overall sentence as the judge ordered the later jail term should be served concurrently to the earlier one.
The 59-year-old from Oldham was absent as Judge Mushtaq Khokhar passed sentence at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court because he was banished to the cells following a series of courtroom outbursts.
Earlier this month a jury in the latest case found Ahmed, formerly of Winsor Road, guilty of 30 counts of rape. They rejected his claim that the victim had either made her story up or imagined it.
Ahmed, who made a series of outrageous outbursts during the Rochdale grooming case at Liverpool Crown Court earlier this year, continued in the same vein, interrupted the judge as he was passing sentence. "It's all lies," he said, adding: "It's all concocted by the police. What are you looking at? You will rot in hell."
Judge Khokhar warned him about his behaviour and later sent him to the cells after another outburst.
He said there has been a 'background of intimidation and coercion' and that the abuse continued until she 'plucked up enough courage' to tell others about her ordeal. The judge, referring to an impact statement written by the victim, said she continued to suffer from a lack of confidence and added that her 'prospects are bleak'.
He went on: "She mentions suffering from nightmares involving this defendant. She has been psychologically affected as well as affected in other ways. These are serious offences." He added: "This was a campaign of rapes... There are no extenuating circumstances in this case."
Ahmed was jailed for 22 years and also ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for life.
Taking a leading role in the Rochdale grooming scandal, the father-of-four raped an under-age girl above a Heywood takeaway where he worked as a delivery driver before sharing her among his friends so they could also sexually abuse her.
Isabel Kershner And Elizabeth Bumiller Think Mubarak Was "A Staunch Ally Of Israel"
Hosni Mubarak "Staunch Ally of Israel"
A report by Isabel Kershner and Elisabeth Bumiller discussing the controversial letter allegedly sent by newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to Israeli President Shimon Peres provides another example of how The New York Times's distorted view of Israel and the Middle East seeps into its news reporting.
Contrasting the tense relationship between Israel and Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood political leadership, Kershner and Bumiller write,
Since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, a staunch ally of Israel, there has been no high-level dialogue between the Israeli and Egyptian political leadership...
A reality check is in order here. The former Egyptian president maintained the peace agreement with Israel and cooperated on isolating Hamas-ruled Gaza. For that he deserves praise. But a staunch ally? The New York Times has set the bar so low here it would challenge an expert limbo dancer. Under Mubarak's long rule, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish invective flourished in Egypt, including its state-controlled media. Economic relations stagnated and tourism was in one direction only - from Israel to Egypt. Mr. Mubarak, himself, set an example by never visiting Israel in an official capacity in 30 years as president. He visited Israel only once - a non-state visit - to attend Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.
With staunch allies like that, who needs tentative allies?
Yet another book, according to Kirsty Brimehow QC in The Times, purports to "challenge a way of thinking and straightens many popular misconceptions about Sharia". Sadakat Kadri's Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law sets out to disabuse us of what one Guardian review calls "any illusion we might have that the sharia is a uniform, unchanging code, whose application is a crude and simple thing". And perish the thought that Islam oppresses women. We need to challenge that stereotype immediately:
When you think of the hijab, you probably don't think "political". Or "independent". Or "empowered". Feminist? Certainly not – feminism is far better known for burnt bras and slut-walks than headscarves.
Actually, these days we probably do think "political", "independent" and the rest. And how could we forget "empowered"?
When a Muslim or Muslim apologist claims to "challenge popular misconceptions" about Islam, you can bet your right hand woman that those "popular misconceptions" are that Sharia oppresses women or chops off hands. But is this really the stereotype? Isn't it rather that Muslim women are "empowered" that Muslim Spain was a haven of tolerance, and that Muslims were designing clocks while Christians were burning witches?
Then again, we must remember that Islam Is Not Monolithic. How dare we assume that all Muslims are empowered and enlightened and tolerant and wise. It is our duty as Westerners -- if we can spare the time from burning bras and witches -- to challenge this misconception and find an exploding honour killer. And if we can find one who wasn't oppressed by Israel, the stereotype is blown sky-high.
In other news, Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting believes that we live in a "post-truth society". Well she would say that, wouldn't she?
Spanish police have arrested three suspected members of al-Qaeda who had amassed explosives and were thought to be targeting military bases, including Gibraltar.
The three - a Russian, a Russian of Chechen descent and a Turk, according to Spanish police - were detained Wednesday. Two of the terror suspects had practiced flying light aircraft.
The Turk was arrested in the southern city of La Linea bordering the British colony of Gibraltar, while the other two were picked up near the central city of Ciudad Real as they traveled toward a northern Spanish town near the border with France. The Turkish suspect, described by police as a "facilitator", worked in Gibraltar.
Enough explosive material was found in the house in La Linea where the Turk lived to blow up a bus, and the material could be especially dangerous if combined with shrapnel, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, Spain's interior minister said. (He also said) the suspects had information about remote-controlled airplanes, and some of them "have experience producing explosives and car bombs and training in shooting." The alleged cell members had been mastering the art of flying on motorized paragliders, leading Spanish investigators to believe the group was planning an attack from the air.
"This is one of the most important operations carried out against al-Qaeda," Fernandez Diaz told reporters. He said the operation involved close collaboration with intelligence services from "Spain's allies," without identifying any of the countries.
Spanish authorities had been watching the suspects for "some time," the minister said and decided to arrest them after the Russian and the Russian of Chechen descent took a bus toward France. The two arrested in the bus were traveling from southern Cadiz to the northern town of Irun, possibly intending to cross into France, the minister said. The pair had been in Spain for about two months. Cadiz is near the large US military base in Rota alongside the Mediterranean. "Police moved to arrest them when it became known that they planned to leave Spain," he said.
Fernandez Diaz did not disclose the suspects' names, but said two were suspected al-Qaida operatives while the Turk was a facilitator. Pictures of the suspects were released by Spanish authorities but they were identified only by their initials: C.Y. for the Turk and A.A.A. and M.A. for the other two. The mug shots showed three men who appeared to be in their 30s, two with crew cuts and one with hair down to his shoulders.
Interview with Jerry Gordon on The Electronic Armageddon -The EMP Threat to America Live Stream 8-2-12 at 11:00AM EDT
Listen to this interview with Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor and co-host of The Electronic Armageddon with Rob Schilling of Newsradio 1070 WINA in Charlotville, VA discuss the EMP Threat to America and what can be done about it.Tom Trento, Director of The United West and Jonna Bianco, Director, Task Force on National and Homeland Security will join Gordon as hosts of this live streaming event.
LIVE STREAM EVENT -FRIDAY- AUGUST 3, 2012 - 11am EDT.
The Electronic Armageddon-The EMP Threat to America
Featured Guests : R. JAMES WOOLSEY - Former Director, CIA REZA KAHLILI - CIA Covert Operative REP ROSCOE BARTLETT - House Armed Services Committee Chairman DR. WILLIAM FORSTCHEN - NYT Best Seller of EMP Novel "One Second After" AMB HENRY COOPER - Former Director of Strategic Defense Initiative Organization FRITZ ERMARTH - Former Chairman National Intelligence Council DR. WILLIAM R. GRAHAM - President Reagan's Science Advisor, NASA Administrator Chairman EMP Commission
Iraq Refuses To Extradite Hezbollah Commander Who Killed American Troops
From The Washington Post:
Iraqi court refuses to send Hezbollah commander to US trial for 2007 deaths of American troops
August 2, 2012
BAGHDAD — An Iraqi court has rejected a request to send a Hezbollah commander to the United States for trial, a decision that likely ends the Obama administration’s push to prosecute the Lebanese militant held in Iraq for the 2007 killings of five American soldiers.
The U.S. believes Ali Mussa Daqduq is a top threat to Americans in the Middle East, and had asked Baghdad to extradite him even before two Iraqi courts found him not guilty of masterminding the 2007 raid on an American military base in the holy Shiite city of Karbala.
But the July 30 decision by the Iraqi central criminal court, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, ordered that Daqduq be freed immediately. It also makes it clear that Iraq believes the legal case against him is over.
“It is not possible to hand him over because the charges were dropped in the same case,” the three-judge panel ruled. “Therefore, the court decided to reject the request to hand over the Lebanese defendant Ali Mussa Daqduq to the U.S. judiciary authorities, and to release him immediately.”
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad declined to comment Thursday and referred questions about the case to Washington.
At the Pentagon, Defense spokesman Lt. Col Todd Breasseale said Daqduq “should be held accountable for his crimes. Period.” Breasseale said the Pentagon “will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government to explore all legal options to pursue justice in this case.”
In an AP interview last month, the national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden said the White House has asked Iraq’s highest appeals court to review and overturn its order to free Daqduq. It was not immediately clear Thursday whether that review was continuing.
Biden called Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday to discuss unspecified issues between the U.S. and Iraq, according to a statement released by the premier’s office. The statement did not mention Daqduq, but Biden has been following the case closely and has asked Iraq’s government to keep the militant locked up for as long as legally possible.
Daqduq’s lawyer, Abdul-Mahdi al-Mitairi, said the militant is still being held under house arrest in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. But he said he will push to have Daqduq released before the end of Ramadan, the ongoing Muslim holy month that ends later in August.
Washington believes the Lebanese-born Daqduq worked with Iranian agents to train Shiite militias to target the U.S. military during the years of sectarian violence that gripped Iraq over the last decade. His case has illustrated the tricky aftermath of the long U.S. military campaign in Iraq that ended last year and has elements of both Iraqi and U.S. internal politics.
Daqduq was detained for more than four years by the U.S. military before it left Iraq last December. He was handed over to Iraqi authorities as required when the troops left, amid a debate between the Democratic White House and Republicans in Congress over whether high-risk terror suspects should be brought to the U.S. for trial.
Republican lawmakers said Daqduq was too much of a public threat to be incarcerated on American soil, and wanted him to be held at the contentious military detention center at the Navy base on Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. President Barack Obama refused. He has promised to close the detention center at Guantanamo, which became a worldwide symbol of detainee abuses during the Republican administration of President George W. Bush.
Since then, two Iraqi courts have cleared Daqduq of the terrorism and forgery charges that Iraq’s government lodged against him. The new court order says the Pentagon issued the extradition request but did not specify when.
Iraqi government officials privately acknowledge they have little, if any, legal basis for continuing to detain him.
Three suspected al-Qaeda members with enough explosives "to blow up a bus" were arrested in southern Spain on Thursday amid fears they were on the verge of launching an attack on Gibraltar or the European mainland.
The suspects, from left, listed as AAA and MA, of Russian origin, and CY, a Turk
Two were detained on a bus bound for France, while the third was seized in a flat in La Linea de Concepcion, in the southern province of Andalucia.
Alleged to be a "facilitator for al-Qaeda", the third man is believed to be a Turk who worked in the construction business in Gibraltar for several years.
The three men had been under police surveillance for some time and Spanish police sources said they had been seen in recent weeks using a motor-powered paraglider around Gibraltar, where Britain has a military base, leading to speculation that they may have been planning an airborne attack.
All three reportedly received training in military camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan before basing themselves in Spain. One was alleged to be an expert in explosives and poisons.
"There is a clear indication that those arrested could have been planning an attack in Spain and/or [elsewhere] in Europe," Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the Spanish Interior Minister, told a news conference.
"These are extremely dangerous people. This is one of the biggest investigations which has been carried out up until now against the al-Qaeda terrorist group at an international level."
Two of the suspects, of Russian nationality and reportedly of Chechen origin, were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday at a service station in Ciudad Real, 125 miles south of Madrid. One of them had "used uncommon strength to resist arrest, using the military training he received, and special forces had to intervene," said Mr Fernandez.
The Turkish suspect was arrested later at his home in La Linea where police reportedly seized explosives as well as computers, manuals for flying light
aircraft and remote controlled aircraft. Last night he was identified locally as Cengiz Yalcin, who worked as a site manager at a building firm on Gibraltar, crossing the border each day from his home.
An acquaintance in the construction industry recognised Mr Yalcin from photographs released by Spain's interior ministry of the three suspects.
"I saw his photo flash up on the news and immediately recognised him as a site manager I have met on numerous occasions," said the industry worker, who did not wish to be named. Mr Yalcin is named as site manager on the website of Profield Contractors Ltd, one of the larger building firms on Gibraltar and one that has secured several government contracts.
An employee at the firm confirmed that Mr Yalcin was the man arrested but declined to comment further.
It is understood that he has worked for the firm for at least three years. Fellow workers in the industry believe he previously worked for another firm that had secured contracts with Britain's Ministry of Defence, but that could not be confirmed last night.
Photographs of the three suspects were released by the interior ministry but they were identified only by their initials: C.Y. for the Turk and A.A.A. and M.A. for the other two.
Gibraltar's government sought to reassure the public that there was no immediate threat of attack, but security at the border had been stepped up and on Wednesday evening every vehicle was stopped at the frontier for document checks, causing lengthy crossing delays.
The authorities declined to comment on reports that the suspects had links to Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group behind the November 2008 attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Last month, two Spanish citizens were arrested in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, on suspicion of terrorism.
In March, Spanish police arrested a Saudi citizen described as "the librarian" of al-Qaeda, in charge of its propaganda and recruitment activities.
"Give Us Stingers! Give Us Javelin!" --Because If You Don't "You'll Pay A Heavy Price For This"
From the Christian Science Monitor:
Syria's rebels have a new villain: the United States
The US has stepped up its rhetoric against President Assad and is providing covert support to rebels. But for many fighting the Assad regime, it is not enough.
By Scott Peterson, Staff writer / August 2, 2012
A Syrian government helicopter flies overhead on the first day of a Syrian government military offensive against rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), in the rebel held district of Salaheddin in Aleppo, Syria, on July 28. Aleppo has become a critical battleground in the 17-month uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which has claimed an estimated 17,000 lives.
But as the death toll rises and Syria marks 17 months and counting of revolt, many in the embattled city of Aleppo say they have added another, perhaps surprising, villain: the United States.
The US is an arch-foe of the Syrian regime. US officials have stated plainly and repeatedly that Assad "must" go. And President Barack Obama earlier this year signed a secret order authorizing clandestine aid to rebel forces, it was reported today.
But in the rebel-held enclave of Salaheddin, guerrilla gunmen and ordinary Syrians alike wonder why the US has not acted to stop the killing by at least ending the Syrian Army's artillery bombardment and imposing a no-fly zone on the helicopters and planes that menace them from the skies.
"We all believe the US and all Western countries want Assad to stay in power," says the coordinator for the Revolutionary Council in Aleppo, who gave his name as Abu Thaier.
"I believe that Syrian intelligence up to this moment is cooperating with the CIA," the wizened revolutionary told the Monitor. "The Westerners are afraid of the destiny of Israel; this is what stops them. Assad takes advantage of that, and says, 'These terrorists [rebels] will go to Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan and we must crush them.'... Western countries gave up on the Syrian people because they believe most demonstrators are Islamists," he says.
'Petroleum is worth more than Syrian blood'
Syrians under fire from government troops often bring up Washington's perceived neglect when they see an American journalist.
"We look on Americans as the most important people to look after democracy," says Abu Thaier. "We consider the torch of freedom in New York a torch for all humanity, not just America. We hope that the Statue of Liberty did not yet lose its real meaning."
He brings up Libya and the US-orchestrated NATO intervention last year that was instrumental in ensuring that rag-tag rebels were able to bring down Muammar Qaddafi. The only difference, he asserts, is that Libya has oil, and Syria does not.
"They think petroleum is worth more than Syrian blood," asserts Abu Thaier. "Now if you are living in Western countries, if someone kills 50 or 100 [pet] animals, the response would be more than for Syrians."
The United Nations puts the death toll in Syria at 17,000, while rebel groups assert that it is closer to 20,000.
US officials would take issue with that pessimism. Almost a year ago, Mr. Obama stated: "For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside."
And earlier this year Obama approved an intelligence finding that authorizes the CIA and other US agencies to support the rebels against the regime, Reuters reported today.
The US has stepped up its rhetoric against President Assad and is providing covert support to rebels. But for many fighting the Assad regime, it is not enough.
Under provisions of the finding, a government source acknowledged to the news agency, the US was "collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies" at Adana, 60 miles from Turkey's southern border with Syria, which also hosts the US air base and intelligence center at Incirlik.
That work was being done with Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the Persian Gulf sheikhdom that last year sent special forces troops to eastern Libya to assist anti-Qaddafi rebels.
"The White House is for now apparently stopping short of arming the rebels directly, even though some US allies are," the agency reported. [is Saudi Arabia an "ally"? Is Qatar? Are the rich Gulf Arabs who as individuals are helping Al-Qaeda in Syria, "allies"? Is Erdogan an "ally"? Why?]
Dissatisfaction, even among evidence of US help
Indeed, there is evidence on the ground that weaponry is getting through to this frontline at critical moments of the fight. During three days in Salaheddin, the Monitor witnessed supplies arrive overnight in unmarked gray-painted wooden crates, just hours before Syrian government forces launched a tank assault.
The rocket-propelled grenades and shoulder-held launchers in those boxes were among those that stopped a handful of tanks and armored vehicles – and the Syrian advance.
That night – after more than 15 hours of fierce artillery bombardment on the five- and six-story apartment blocks in this rebel-held district – a factory-fresh Dushka-style heavy machine gun arrived with crates of ammunition.
When asked in recent days what he would tell Assad, the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta replied: "I would say if you want to be able to protect yourself and your family, you better get the hell out now."
The timely military support may well have had US help getting to Salaheddin, in some way. But many Syrians in the enclave felt abandoned, acutely aware that Russia and China had vetoed UN Security Council resolutions that would have reprimanded the regime and imposed sanctions.
The US knows "how to end it" but does not, says a gynecologist volunteering in a rebel field hospital, named Umm Huda. "In my opinion, they want [Assad] to stay, to protect the borders of Israel. Iran and the US, they do it together. They are enemies, but they are more than friends."
"We see America the same as the Russians and Assad," says Mohamed, a civilian from the neighborhood.
"Do you believe America does not know who is doing the killing? America has the capability to know everything," he says, voicing a common view. "But every day we listen to Clinton and Obama, who say 'This should stop.' And what do they do? Nothing, nothing. At the beginning of the revolution we asked for a no-fly zone. We believed."
One rebel fighter shows a text message that appeared on his mobile phone: "... [the] America government would not help us and they will pay heavy price for this."
Another rebel fighter called for the US to provide anti-aircraft weapons. "My heart is burning just to destroy this helicopter," he said, as regime helicopters circled over the district, firing bursts from their heavy machine guns, and occasional rockets.
"Give us Stingers! Give us Javelin!" shouted another rebel.
"The Syrian people insist now to topple this regime... we will go on with this revolution until they are all gone," says Abu Thaier. "We insist that we respect the American and Western people, and we request they share with us their humanity, as we all share living on this planet."