A poster that appeared in the window of Copenhagen’s Palads theatre Saturday night warned patrons that due to Eid, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, more Muslims would be in the theatres than normal and they could get loud and become annoying to other cinema guests.
The sign even offered advice as to which of the films on offer could be the noisiest: "Movies like the Batman 3 [Dark Knight Rises], the Bourne Legacy, Total Recall, Abraham Lincoln and Prometheus, but one can never be sure in advance," read the warning.
Guests were advised to contact security guards if they experienced noisy Muslims. "G4S guards will be available all day, so if you experience unacceptable behaviour, please contact them,” read the notice. The notice went on to apologise “in advance” to cinema guests for any “bother” that may occur.
Tønnes said that the Palads employee that posted the sign only wanted to warn patrons that there may be more noise than usual in the cinemas due to Eid.
"It was the type of thing that could be misunderstood and perceived as offensive, and that has certainly been the case for five or six people,” said Tønnes.
. . . head of Nordisk Film cinemas, John Tønnes has apologised for the sign. "I understand that the notice was misunderstood, and I am sorry,” (he) said that the cinema has generally had few problems during Eid in previous years, but that it has experienced isolated cases of unrest in the theatres during holidays, so the cinema has opted to have security guards on hand when special celebrations are on the calendar.
Copenhagen’s CinemaxX cinema has in recent years dropped its late showings in response to unruly guests during Eid. "We take a pragmatic approach,” the theatre’s director Kim Brochdorf told Jyllands-Posten. “During the day, we have plenty of guests celebrating Eid, and it is a good day, but in the evening there are too many partiers and those who are not part of the party do not enjoy a good cinematic experience.”
Martin Henriksen, integration spokesperson for Dansk Folkeparti (DF), said that Palads was simply offering good customer service by posting a warning to its customers. "It is well known that some Muslims behave differently when they are in a group and it can make other people uncomfortable," Henriksen told Jyllands-Posten, adding that he saw no reason for the theatre to apologise. If anyone asks Muslims to quiet down, their behaviour can suddenly become threatening,” he said. “It was wise to point out that it can happen.”
Henriksen said that problems during Ramadan show that some people find it difficult to integrate themselves into Danish culture and that he saw no racist overtones in the sign posted by the theatre. “Palads put up the sign because there was a need for it,” he said.
Listen to 1330AMWEBY Middle East Round Table Discussion with Jon Schanzer of FDD and Shoshana Bryen of JPC on Sinai Troubles, Egyptâ€™s Morsiâ€™s Trip to Tehran, Syria Stalemate and Israelâ€™s Dilemma over Iranâ€™s Nukes
Listen to the latest in a series of international discussions on developments in the Middle East on 1330AMWEBY, Pensacola, Florida. This is the latest program in the periodic round table discussions led by “Your Turn” host Mike Bates and Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review and author of the new book, The West Speaks. Our guests will be Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research of the Washington, DC –based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington.
The WEBY program will air today during the 4 to 5:00PM CST (5:00 to 6:00PM EST) segment. You may listen live here.
Among the topics to be discussed:
1. Dramatic changes in Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood presidency of Mohammed Morsi and his outreach to Iran
2. Egypt’s re-militarization of the Sinai Peninsula and the recent Islamist terror attacks against Israel.
3. The ground swell of preparations by Israel for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facility, notwithstanding both sanctions and diplomatic efforts and the deteriorating economic conditions inside the Islamic Republic.
4. The stalemate in Syria given the increasing sectarian warfare, the US partnership with Islamist Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to support Muslim Brotherhood affiliates Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army. Sectarian warfare that has impacted neighboring Jordan and Lebanon, the latter with Iran's proxy, Hezbollah.
5. The prospects for a possible federated Syria preserving the rights of non-Sunni minorities in Syria: the Kurds, Druze, Alawites and Christians.
6. The dangers facing Israel from terrorists gaining control over Syria's CBW and possible nuclear capabilities abetted by Iran.
7. The reasons behind the stalemate at the UN Security Council given Russian and Chinese support of Assad’s Syria.
8. How will Israel and Middle East issues figure in the current US Presidential campaign given the Republican Convention in Tampa next week followed by the Democratic Convention in Charlotte in early September.
An article based on today’s 1330AMWEBY international round table discussion will appear in the September edition of the New English Review
Egyptian Tanks In The Sinai Violate The Peace Treaty
Israel accuses Egypt of violating peace treaty in Sinai
August 21, 2012
Aug. 9. 2012: In this file photo, army trucks carry Egyptian military tanks in El Arish, Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula. (AP)
JERUSALEM – Israeli officials said Tuesday that Egypt is violating the historic 1979 peace treaty between the two countries by deploying tanks in the demilitarized Sinai desert near the Israeli border.
The officials said they have relayed their objections to the Egyptians directly and through American mediators. An Egyptian border official confirmed that his Israeli counterparts had voiced concerns.
Egypt has been building up its military presence in the lawless area since Islamic militants there attacked an army post on Aug. 5 and killed 16 soldiers.
Under the peace accord, Egypt was only allowed to have lightly armed policemen in the zone along the border with Israel. Limited numbers of tanks were permitted only in a zone on the far western side of the peninsula, within 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the Suez Canal.
Israel, which also views the Islamic militants as a threat, agreed last year to exceptions to the treaty allowing Egypt's military to deploy troops with heavier weaponry into the most sensitive zone of eastern Sinai close to the border.
Egyptian troops moved in after the Aug. 5 attack, backed by armored personnel carriers and attack helicopters, in coordination with the Israelis. However, the Israeli officials alleged that the deployment of heavier M60 battle tanks went further than agreed and violated the accord. The Israelis say they should have been consulted.
The Israeli and Egyptian officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief reporters.
The peace accord has been a cornerstone of regional stability for three decades, allowing Israel to divert its resources away from the Egyptian border and focus on its fronts with Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories. It was Israel's first peace agreement with an Arab state.
Israeli officials have grown increasingly jittery following last year's ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the ascension of Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The fundamentalist Islamic group has said Egypt will continue to abide by the accord but repeatedly called for changes in the treaty's limits on troops in Sinai, seen as humiliating.
The Israeli officials said the new tank deployment does not pose a direct threat to Israel, but they fear that Egypt is trying to set a precedent for future modifications in the peace deal. Morsi also recently sacked Egypt's military chief, removing a key figure in what has historically been a close security relationship with Israel.
An Egyptian security official confirmed that some M60 tanks are now located in the Sinai near the port of El-Arish. He said the vehicles are there solely to protect the city, which is roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Israeli border. The exact number of the tanks was not immediately known.
Egyptian presidential spokesman Yasser Ali denied receiving any complaints from Israeli. "Security Sinai is among Egypt's national security priorities, and nothing can stand in front of this," he said.
When asked if this means Egypt can send troops regardless of Israeli's approval or objection, he declined to answer.
But an Egyptian intelligence official confirmed a meeting with his Israeli counterparts to discuss the issue. "We sat together. They said, `We are worried about the military presence in Sinai," the official said.
The peace accord permitted "no more than one division (mechanized or infantry) of Egyptian armed forces" within 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the Suez Canal. El-Arish is well beyond that radius.
Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Cairo, said it's a joint Israeli and Egyptian interest to keep the Sinai quiet, so he didn't expect the issue to turn into a major crisis. "In the final analysis, the Egyptian military is coordinating with Israel, but I cannot say for certain when that is done or how," he said.
Family handoutWilliam Plotnikov, left, and an unidentified man. Plotnikov — a former boxing champion who immigrated to Canada at age 15 — was killed by Russian security forces during a gun battle in Dagestan in July. He is the first Canadian convert to die fighting in the name of jihad
In the video he shot inside his hut in the mountains of Dagestan last winter, William Plotnikov narrated as he panned from the black flag of jihad to three bearded rebels and their assault rifles.
Then he turned the camera on himself.
“I ask Allah that the next season he’ll give us the opportunity to kill as many kafirs [non-believers] as we can, just to shred them to pieces,” William said. “Allah is almighty.”
Watching the clip on the computer in his apartment north of Toronto last week, Vitaly Plotnikov looked both heartbroken and perplexed. It was hard for him to accept that this was his son.
“It’s just like a different person to me,” he said.
Russian security forces announced last month that they had killed William, a 23-year-old Canadian, during a gun battle in Dagestan. Since then, the Canadian government has been trying to verify the Russians’ account.
But in an interview with the National Post, Mr. Plotnikov confirmed William’s death and spoke for the first time about his son’s rapid transformation from Toronto teenager and champion boxer to Muslim convert and jihadist fighter.
What seemed to amaze Mr. Plotnikov most was how fast it all happened. His son only became interested in Islam in 2009, he said. Within a year, he had left Canada and by July he was dead. He had gone from convert to martyr in less than three years.
He is not the first radicalized Canadian to die under such circumstances, but he is believed to be the first Canadian convert to die fighting in the name of jihad— all the others having been born into their faith. His father said William became so radicalized he did not even consider the other Muslims he met to be true Muslims. He claimed that Canada and the U.S. were a source of evil for Muslims.
“How can the mind of a person be changed in such a short period of time?” Mr. Plotnikov asked inside the York Region apartment where he keeps William’s boxing medals in a copper trophy on a shelf.
Before moving to Canada, the family lived in Western Siberia, where Mr. Plotnikov worked for an oil company. An athlete himself, he introduced his son to boxing at age nine, and William went on to twice win the Russian youth championships.
After losing his oil company job, Mr. Plotnikov found work at a bank but he wanted more than Russia had to offer. He and his wife also wanted to make sure William got a good education, and they were concerned about the gangs that attracted some former Russian athletes, so they decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of emigrating to the West.
Mr. Plotnikov immediately felt at home in Toronto. Soon after arriving, he got a job stocking shelves at a Highland Farms supermarket on Dufferin Street. “I came as though I was born here,” he said, speaking through a Russian translator.
Canadian boxer William Plotnikov (left), in Dagestan, winter 2012.
The move was more difficult for William. He was 15 and had left his friends. He could not understand why the boys at his new high school wore baggy pants and piercings, and he was turned off by the heavy drinking of the Russian expats he met.
Boris Gitman saw athletic potential in the lanky teen who turned up at his boxing club in Thornhill. “I was impressed. His coach in Russia did a good job,” said Mr. Gitman, who coaches at the European Boxing School.
Tall and skinny, William needed to work on his strength and endurance. “He was not physically strong but he was very, very talented.… Very smart,” Mr. Gitman added. “In boxing, it’s very important to be smart. He understood about boxing a lot and I just knew he needed a couple of years. From my experience I thought he would be a good Olympian.”
Canadian boxer William Plotnikov, right, in Dagestan, winter 2012.
The coach dedicated himself to William and came to respect his parents. “I know that his father used to work hard, very hard. He did everything possible just to support his family,” Mr. Gitman said. “A very nice man.”
William began to win fights in Ontario. He won a silver medal at the 2006 Brampton Cup, and followed that by winning a club bout at Exhibition Place. He won another silver at the 2007 provincial championships in Windsor.
But by the time the Plotnikovs became Canadian citizens in 2008, William was drifting away from boxing. He tried Jujitsu, Aikido and Thai boxing. Mr. Gitman said the young athlete was struggling to adjust to Canada.
“Two of my sons came here almost at the same age and I know how difficult it was for them because they lost a lot of friends over there,” he said. “All their life was in Russia and, especially William, he had a good life over there.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian, was among seven insurgents killed in Dagestan when they were ambushed by the police and military, Russian media outlets reported.
“He came here and he sees that his parents are working somewhere, not a good position maybe. And like any kid he has some difficulties — language difficulties, to study at school, different culture, different everything.”
After graduating from high school, William enrolled in the international travel and tourism program at Toronto’s Seneca College. He also began asking life’s Big Questions. He reflected in his diary about human existence. He read the Bible, the Torah and the Koran.
Curious about why Muslims prayed five times a day, he decided to visit a Toronto mosque. “So he went to the mosque to clear that up and he just got caught up with a mullah who had very radical views,” his father said, although he does not know which mosque or cleric. “Islam on its own, it’s not a bad religion,” he added. “But like in any other case, the extremists are not always good.”
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian, during his boxing days. Plotnikov was among seven insurgents killed in Dagestan when they were ambushed by the police and military.
Before long, William was praying five times daily and fasting for Ramadan. He stopped shaving and eliminated pork from his diet. He became withdrawn and isolated from friends and family. “It wasn’t extremism but first of all his behaviour changed. He practically stopped communicating with us,” Mr. Plotnikov said.
His father tried talking to him.
“We’re Christians,” he said, but William countered that his mother’s family were ethnic Tatars, who had a tradition of Islam. His father explained that William had been baptized in a church. “You didn’t ask me, did you?” William responded.
Early in September 2010, Mr. Plotnikov and his wife returned from a Florida vacation and found a note on the table. It was from William. He said he was sorry and that he had gone to France for Ramadan.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian, during his boxing days. Plotnikov was among seven insurgents killed in Dagestan when they were ambushed by the police and military, Russian media outlets reported.
“He just took $3,500 from the bank and left with it, and we ended up paying the debt for him,” Mr. Plotnikov said. “We waited for a week, two, one month, two months. Then we found out that he’s in Moscow.”
The family got word that William was staying there with a friend from Toronto who had grown alarmed by William’s hardening beliefs. “William started expressing his radical views, that basically from here he was already a ready-to-go, prepped fighter,” the father said. “He only was looking for a chance to get inside, into mujahed [jihadist] forces.”
From Moscow, William travelled by train to Dagestan. Sixteen hundred kilometres south of Moscow, Dagestan is a republic in the North Caucasus region of Russia. It shares a border with Chechnya, a notorious magnet for Islamist militants in the 1990s.
After Russia brutally crushed the Chechen insurgency, some rebels crossed into Dagestan, spreading jihadist ideology and calling for “holy war” — although the region has long practiced the moderate Sufi school of Islam.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian.
Jihadist groups such as Shariat Jamaat formed to implement Islamic law throughout the North Caucasus, and began committing almost daily attacks on police and security forces, as well as government officials and moderate clerics. In March 2010, two suicide bombers from Dagestan attacked the Moscow metro during rush hour, killing 40.
Russia’s crackdown in response to the insurgency has been blamed for further inflaming the conflict. In its 2011 World Report, Human Rights Watch accused law enforcement and security agencies of torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
The Dagestan conflict is driven mostly by local issues ranging from corruption and unemployment to the divide between traditional Sufi Islam and intolerant Salafi Islam. But it has drawn a handful of outsiders.
Probably the best known was Alexander Tikhomirov, alias “Said Buryatsky,” a Russian volunteer who was responsible for a 2009 train bombing that killed 26 and other attacks until his death in 2010.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian.
“He converted and ended up becoming one of the most charismatic insurgents around, and he used a lot of audio lectures and the Internet to rally a following, especially among young people,” said Sabine Freizer, a North Caucasus analyst at the International Crisis Group. “He was really seen as a kind of white hero of the insurgency amongst young fighters.”
So when William arrived in Dagestan, there was already a precedent of converts fighting for the rebel forces. William lived in a village of about 3,000, called Utamysh, not far from Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, his father said.
Concerned after hearing about the radicalism William had expressed in Moscow, his father called the Russian Interior Ministry. He hoped the Russian authorities would stop William and explain the consequences of his actions. The Russians subsequently raided the house where William was staying and told him to go home. He returned to Moscow, but soon made his way back to Dagestan.
William did not communicate with his family at all during this time. But photos Mr. Plotnikov received from a local newspaper following his son’s death made clear what the Canadian was up to. They showed William standing in the leaf-carpeted mountains, posing guerrilla-style with other armed men.
He wore an olive windbreaker with a camouflage ammunition belt over top. He had one hand in his pocket and held an assault rifle in the air with the other. In another photo, he sat in the dark reading a pocket Koran with a headlamp.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian.
Although it is unknown what, if any, attacks William took part in, during the months he spent in their company, the rebels killed dozens of police officers and soldiers in bomb and shooting attacks. In May, two suicide bombings, 15 minutes apart at a police roadblock, killed a dozen people in the capital.
“It’s not only that they were reading the Koran in the forest, they were attacking the forces, the troops, the military,” said Mr. Plotnikov, 58, who works for a Toronto-area produce company. “I have the movie.”
In the video file, also given to the family after William’s death, the young Canadian offered a brief glimpse of rebel life, showing food cooking on a wood stove and a man dressed in camouflage joking about the merits of his assault rifle.
“What do you do?” William asked a man sitting on a bunk (according to Mr. Plotnikov, that man was a Turkish national who fought in Chechnya and Afghanistan and, like the others, is now dead.)
“Terrorism,” he replied. “I kill kafirs.”
William then put the camera down and sat next to him.
“So this is the way we live and suffer,” William said. His hair was trimmed short and he wore a sleeveless black Adidas shirt that showed how gaunt he had become since leaving Canada.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian, was among seven insurgents killed in Dagestan when they were ambushed by the police and military, Russian media outlets reported.
“We have food to cook and eat, thanks to Allah. And also have brothers and try to do as much as we can for Allah. Kafirs, you’re not going to get what you expect. Allah is with us. He protects us. You don’t have a protector.
“We will kill you. We’re going to build plans against you. But no matter how many plans you make, nothing is going to succeed because whatever He described in His book is the truth. Allah is the truth,” he said. “All of you others are waste, garbage.”
When the video finished playing on his computer, Mr. Plotnikov opened an old photo of William wearing his athletic training clothes, looking like just another Canadian youth. “See and compare the way he was,” he said. “You see this is the way he became. It’s like two different things, the sky and the ground.”
Before midnight on Friday July 13, Russian troops ambushed a group of gunmen in the forests near Utamysh. The Russians had “received information about the possible movements” of insurgents, according to a Russian government news release.
William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old also known as The Canadian.
During the ensuing firefight, several security personnel were wounded and one was killed. By morning, seven militants were dead, including two local faction leaders. Islam Magomedov, alias Hamster, headed the Sergokala jihadist group and had been wanted since 2010 for various attacks.
Also killed was Arsen Magomedov, who headed a jihadist group in nearby Izberbash and “was involved in numerous murders of law enforcement officers and a number of IED explosions on the railway.”
The other dead were named as Isa Dalgatov, Shamil Akhmedov, Amin Ibiyev, Magomedsaid Mamtov and William Plotnikov. The jihadist website Kavkaz called William a martyr. “May Allah reward all the brothers.”
The Plotnikovs thought it was an Internet scam when they started getting emails expressing condolences over their son’s death. Then they saw the news reports and realized it might be true.
It is uncertain how many Canadians have met similar fates. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service would not disclose how many Canadians have died fighting for foreign armed groups. It’s possible the agency does not know, since many have gone to countries with non-functioning governments, or where missile strikes leave little in the way of remains.
Studies on radicalization suggest that converts are particularly vulnerable to extremist ideologues, who prey on their ignorance and zeal. According to a study on the RCMP website, conversion “can create an emotional experience that is easy for radicalization agents to manipulate.” As newcomers to their beliefs, converts may also feel the need to prove themselves to the group, a New York Police Department study said.
“You see it’s just like the Christians,” Mr. Plotnikov said. “There are Catholics, there are Orthodox, there are Seven Day Adventists. The same thing in Islam. Islam has lots of movements. Whatever he chose, it was not approved by his friends. And he was told that, ‘You went the wrong way.’ But like it says, blessed are those who believe. So he was programmed. He knew where he was going, he knew the aims.
So this is what he did.”
Because William was not wanted for any major crimes, and had only been a member of the insurgent group, Russian authorities agreed to release his body and Mr. Plotnikov flew to Dagestan to collect his son’s remains.
He buried William in Utamysh according to local Muslim traditions. “Because he converted to Islam, he was fighting for them, he lived there for some time. That’s why I buried him there. We will try and maybe fly over there, maybe once a year.”
Between visits, he said, the villagers will tend to the gravestone. It is a simple marker, about the size of a book. Inscribed on it are William’s name, birth date, date of his death and the symbol of a crescent moon.
Yesterday, Reza Khalili, a former CIA-spy in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of A Time to Betray, pointed out in a forthcoming NER interview the desperate situation of fellow Iranians. Iranians who try to survive under the continual surveillance of the Islamic Republic’s dreaded security and religious police and para-military basij motorbike thugs. Clare Lopez, ex-CIA analyst, veteran Iran watcher and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Center for Security Policy, and I fed questions to colleague Steve Amundsen of The United West. Amundsen had the opportunity to debrief a recent visitor to Tehran. We wanted to elicit responses on what living conditions were like, evidence of oppression of basic human rights, indications of how they feel about the Iranian Islamic regime, America and Israel.
What follows is a brief glimpse behind Iran’s green curtain. The responses indicate the beleaguered condition of Iran’s population and their earnest desire to somehow replace the Islamic regime. The respondent’s comments evince positive feelings towards the US and Israel as Khalili and others have frequently suggested. On the other hand, they also note that the US did not come to their aid during the near revolution of the green movement following the fraudulent elections of June 2009. Here is a digest of Amundsen’s notes from the initial debriefing.
Life for the average Iranian is much worse than it was four years ago. Meat and vegetables are not plentiful, hard to get and the prices are high. There is a midnight curfew on all stores, which is strictly enforced. You have to be very careful when talking out in public as both plain clothes security and religious police are everywhere.
The respondent spent most of the time in Tehran with a side trip to the Caspian Sea. On the way to the Caspian Sea they were thirsty as the temperatures were high. At about 10 minutes after midnight they spotted a store open and stopped to get some cold drinks. As they were leaving the store, police pulled up and started giving them problems along with the store owners. They threatened the owners that they would shut down the store if they were ever to find it open past midnight.
The people encountered seemed very beaten down and for the most part have lost their spirit and just survive.
The average person disagreed with Obama for not helping the green movement back in 2009. The respondent met with a friend who was imprisoned for one year after the 2009 uprising. Her husband is still jailed as he would not admit that he was wrong and bow down to the Ayotollah. So he was given a five year sentence.
They are hoping that if Romney wins the election he might help them overthrow the current regime.
One shopping center in Tehran which in the past (even 4 years ago) really was flourishing is down to 3 stores from 25.
All homes have satellite dishes for TV reception. Most popular viewing are CNN and American movies. The internet is highly regulated. Facebook is banned along with other social networking sites. However there whiz kids all over who know how to get around the filters that are put on Facebook. They are able to communicate on FB.
The Islamic regime was very slow in sending rescue and search teams to the recent earthquake area. People felt as though the regime did not care or want to help the victims.
I think I mentioned before that beef and chicken are available but very pricey. Overall the quality of food is poor. They always buy food and take it home to cook and eat so they can inspect it first. They never go out to restaurants as they do not trust the quality of food they will be served.
Most people hold the regime responsible for the poor economic conditions. I am not sure what percentage still have a favorable view of the United States, but certainly there is a good number holding that view. Same with Israel. I got the feeling that the people want peace and a good life. They are tired and losing their spirit.
They do have their pro Palestinian march every week down the street. However, the general feeling is that people blame the regime for their poor living conditions. The overwhelming feeling is that people want this regime to go.
The underground movement is alive.
Kahlili after reading these responses noted:
People were shouting against Palestine and blame the regime to care more for Palestine than people at home. Majority of Iranians careless about Palestine.
The marches are annual and are orchestrated by the government which gathers all of its forces and their families in plain clothes.
Western companies that do business in Israel must weigh the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran
You’re the CEO of IBM or Intel or Siemens or Nestlé or any one of the 500 other Western companies that have opened up operations in Israel, home to the developed world’s fastest-growing economy.
What do you do should Iran get the bomb? Do you continue to invest in Israel, on the hope that Iran doesn’t make good on its promise to wipe it off the map? And even if, from the safety of your head office in Europe or North America, you do decide that Israel’s business environment justifies the risk of continued investments, would your top executives agree to stay in or relocate to Israel, knowing that they would be putting their families at risk of perishing in the same mushroom cloud that could snuff out the tiny country?
This calculation is today being made not by Western CEOs as much as by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his minister of defence, who must weigh the consequences of allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb. Even if Iran doesn’t explode a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv, they believe, living under the shadow of that mushroom cloud represents an existential risk for Israel.
According to accounts of Netanyahu’s views that appeared in the Israeli press this week, he expects that an Iranian bomb would end foreign investment in Israel, the engine of growth that has seen the country’s GDP soar four-fold in the past two decades. Without Israel’s vast economic superiority over its well-armed and far larger enemies, it would be hard pressed to support the massive cost of its armed forces and its homeland defences needed to keep the country safe.
How important is foreign investment to Israel’s economic success? According to a study last year from Columbia University, the average annual value of foreign direct investment into Israel is a staggering 5% of GDP, an amount that in recent years represents almost 30% of gross capital formation. The foreign multinational enterprises that operate in Israel account for fully 40% of Israel’s exports. If these massive components of the Israeli economy dry up upon Iran’s acquisition of the bomb, as Netanyahu believes, the country faces a wrenching future, particularly if Israel also sees a massive exodus of its best Israeli brains, as Netanyahu also expects. With another 20% of Israeli exports coming from Israeli multinationals with affiliates in foreign countries, Israelis who decide to flee the country in the face of nuclear annihilation would have ready-made options.
Netanyahu’s assessment of multinational behaviour and its consequence for Israel’s economy carries weight, and not just because his free-market reforms are widely credited with spurring the foreign investment that did so much to make Israel the “start-up nation.” Prior to becoming a politician, Netanyahu learned the ropes of international finance at the Boston Consulting Group, the same global management firm that gave Mitt Romney his start, and at the MIT Sloan School of Management, following which he began a business career in Israel while also writing books and founding an anti-terror institute that, according to U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, helped shape U.S. policy on international terrorism.
Netanyahu’s assessment is not universally accepted. It runs counter to a current school of thought in the U.S. State Department, for example, which believes Israel can live with a nuclear-armed Iran, much as the West lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Better to let Iran have the bomb and manage the consequences, this school states, than to risk an attack that could engulf Israel in an expensive and possibly calamitous multi-front war with its more populous, well-armed enemies to its north, south and east.
Except the Soviet Union was atheistic, materialistic and of this world, rebuts Netanyahu, unlike religiously fanatic Iran with its apocalyptic welcome of the hereafter. As for the war-is-expensive argument, in the choice between living with the bomb and militarily preempting it, the economically prudent course is war.
Although many see Netanyahu as a military hawk, he is an Israeli leaders who has kept Israel out of war, an accomplishment that rivals his grasp of Israel’s economy. The irony is that, to protect Israel’s economic accomplishment, he may now need to go to war.
RAMA, Lebanon — As Syria’s civil war drags on, the recent arrest of a former Lebanese government minister allied with the Syrian leadership on charges that he planned a campaign of bombings and assassinations has led many in Lebanon to conclude that President Bashar al-Assad is trying to push this fragile country into a sectarian war.
The kidnapping of nearly 50 Syrians last week by Shiite tribes seeking to avenge abductions by rebels in Syria has also added to the sense that Lebanon’s tenuous stability is waning. Here among the rolling hills of the border, Sunnis say they are gathering weapons for a sectarian battle.
“The Shiites think these people should stay in Syria, even if they are dying,” said Amer Mohammed, a Sunni leader here angered by what he sees as provocations by Lebanese Shiites. “We have the means to fight them, and we will if we have to.”
Lebanon has volatility at its core, and world and regional powers have frequently made it a proxy battlefield because its location is as strategic as its state is weak. The levers of government are divided among sects, and the two largest groups — the Sunnis and the Shiites — are aligned with competing foreign forces. The Shiites, led primarily by Hezbollah, are allies of Iran and Syria, while the Sunnis are aligned with the West and Saudi Arabia.
That divide put Lebanon in play as soon as the uprising in Syria began last year. But fears that Mr. Assad would use his influence to make Lebanon a new front line have been increasing since the spring, when the Syrian Foreign Ministry described the border here as “an incubator for terrorist elements.”
Intensified shelling from Syria followed. For months here in Rama, a tiny village in the Wadi Khaled Valley, artillery blasts have been heard almost every morning before dawn. There has also been fighting in Tripoli between Alawites supporting Mr. Assad and Sunnis backing Syrian rebels. On Monday, a firefight there left one man injured. On Tuesday, the Lebanese Army reported that at least two people had been killed in clashes that started Monday night.
But for many in Lebanon, the arrest of Michel Samaha, a former minister of information, revealed the hand that Syria aims to play. The arrest on Aug. 9 of Mr. Samaha, a Christian with close ties to Mr. Assad, suggested that Syria saw chaos and bloodshed in Lebanon as beneficial, part of a strategy apparently intended to distract the international community’s attention from Syria and to raise the stakes if the Assad regime collapses.
“Assad is trying to say to the world, when Syria is destabilized, the region will be too,” said Boutros Hareb, a former member of Parliament with the pro-Western March 14 coalition, who was the target of an assassination attempt this month. “It’s him asking: are you capable of handling this regional chaos, and if you’re not, protect my regime.”
The evidence presented against Mr. Samaha has been considerable. Security officials told reporters he was caught with explosives that he had driven in from Syria after making plans to target “big crowds” and Sunni leaders who support the Free Syrian Army. (Mr. Samaha initially confessed, then recanted.)
A senior security official said in an interview that the evidence included about 90 minutes of video footage showing Mr. Samaha meeting with an informer whom he had hired to carry out the attacks. In two videos, Mr. Samaha described his plan in general terms, the official said, and in a third he can be seen in a Beirut parking garage, transferring more than 200 pounds of explosives from his car to the car of the informer.
The Lebanese official, who asked not to be named because the courts have not made the evidence public yet, added that the final recording shows Mr. Samaha paying the informer $170,000. That was how much the Syrians had promised, he said.
While the Shiite response has been relatively muted, Hezbollah defended Mr. Samaha until investigators described the evidence. Since then, the organization has said virtually nothing, indicating that at least in this case Hezbollah’s agenda diverges from that of its longtime patron in Damascus.
Because Hezbollah’s legitimacy stems in part from its role as a leader in the resistance against Israel and its allies, “they are aware that if an internal Sunni-Shia conflict happens, they will lose their role as the resistance,” said Talal Atrissi, a political analyst and Hezbollah expert in Beirut. “They would be dragged into an internal war and lose that role.”
The abduction of dozens of Syrians, however, suggests that Hezbollah is not willing to stand idly by. Analysts and security officials said the kidnappings would probably not have occurred without a green light from the organization.
“It is an indirect war, small-scale, that Hezbollah doesn’t mind engaging in,” said Imad Salamey, a political science professor at the Lebanese American University.
Abdel Rahim Murad, a former defense minister who is Sunni and pro-Hezbollah, said that the kidnappings were tribal and that, as a result, sectarian conflicts would be limited.
But many Sunni leaders and militants here in northern Lebanon offered a more aggressive interpretation of the Samaha case and the kidnappings. In Tripoli, a Sunni commander who called himself Abu Albara said his men were already making plans to kidnap Shiites.
Other Sunni fighters and activists are calculating that the events of the past two weeks reflect a broadened campaign by Syria and its Shiite allies — which may soon include another attempt at mass bombings — to preserve the regional status quo.
“Who are the biggest losers if the Assad regime falls?” said Mr. Mohammed, one of the main Sunni leaders in Rama, where about 130 refugee families are living in borrowed concrete homes and other families’ basements. “It’s Hezbollah and Iran.”
Mr. Mohammed said the war at the border was intensifying. Here in an area where the borderline is unclear — there are no fences, and few checkpoints — he said Shiite tribes were attacking refugees crossing into Lebanon. Though there was no way to confirm the details or sects of those involved, Mr. Mohammed said Shiite gunmen killed a man last week after he and his friends rushed out to help an elderly Syrian woman make her way into Lebanon.
Mr. Mohammed’s house was also recently set ablaze. He surmised that it was because he helped Syrian refugees. But the line between refugee and warrior in Lebanon is getting blurrier. The 24 armed committees he said he recently formed include both residents and Syrians who have fled.
“The Shiites want to keep them inside Syria so their voices are never heard,” he said.
But now, they do more than describe atrocities. During the day and at night, the new protection squads stand guard on main roads and on balconies with sightlines into Syria. Their weapons are loaded. They say they are ready to fight.
British pakistani Christian Association to demonstrate outside Pakistan High Commission tomorrow in support of Rimsha Masih
Rimsha Masih is the 11 year old Christian girl with Downes syndrome who, along with her mother and aunt, is currently in prison (ostensibly for her own protection from the mob) after it was alleged that she (albeit unwittingly) damaged some pages of a koran. This is the information released by BPCA tonight.
Date: Wednesday 22nd August 2012
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Location: Pakistan High Commission, 34- 36 Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN
Getting there: Nearest Station Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line) Follow this link for a map and bus directions http://phclondon.org/HC/ContactUs.asp
At our protest Catholic Band Oooberfuse said to be "the Pope's favourite Electro-pop Band" will be performing songs to remember Asia Bibi, Shahbaz Bhatti and now young Rimsha.
The High Commission for Pakistan in United Kingdom www.phclondon.org
After coming out of the station follow the directions (marked with green line) on following map to reach the High Commission
The High Commission for Pakistan in United Kingdom.
This is Michael Burleigh of the Daily Mail on the lack of interest in Rimsha's case in some quarters.
The jailing for blasphemy of the girls of Pussy Riot led to protests from almost every superannuated rocker one could think of.
There has been no such concern about Rimsha Masih, a young Christian girl who lives in a slum area called Meharbadi on the outskirts of Islamabad. Or rather lived, since she is currently in an insalubrious adult jail in Rawlpindi, apparently for her own protection. Her family have also fled their home, along with about a thousand of their (Christian) neighbours.
Rimsha Mashi is illiterate and has Down's Syndrome; her family are lowly street sweepers. Her offence? While helping her family, she burned a heap of rubbish. Since she cannot read, she did not notice they included a textbook used to teach the Quran. Although few locals were bothered by this, a cleric and two shopkeepers immediately got on the case, inciting an Islamist rent-a-mob. 'What good are your prayers?' the cleric asked 'if your Quran is being burned'
The girl then had to be arrested to prevent her being killed, for it is the mob rather than the Pakistani state which most ferociously seeks to enforce blasphemy laws.
The Pakistani government has not been spared the hand of diabolical fanaticism either. The Governor of the Punjab was murdered by his own bodyguard for questioning the laws on blasphemy. The only Christian in the government, Sahba Bhatti, was killed for calling for reform of these laws. (and his support of Asia Bibi. That she is still alive in prison after nearly two years is something of a miracle)
So far, I have not heard a word from the likes of millionaire socialite ("journalist") Jemima Khan nor any of those who eagerly latched onto the brilliant self-publicists called Pussy Riot, who doubtless, do not deserve to be in jail. When I do, I'll take them at their own estimation as serious people.
The report also states that over 100,000 native Germans have converted to Islam in recent years.
German Intelligence Chief Gerhard Schindler has issued a warning saying that Europe is at great risk of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists.
In a wide-ranging interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, Schindler said the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is particularly concerned about the threat posed by homegrown terrorists, individuals who are either born or raised in Europe and who travel to war zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen to obtain training in terrorist methods.
Schindler said: "A particular threat stems from Al Qaeda structures in Yemen. They want to bring Jihad to Europe. Among other tactics, this involves the 'lone wolf' model, which involves individuals who are citizens of the targeted country and who go abroad for training. We know that this is strategy is currently high on Al Qaeda's agenda, and we are accordingly attentive."
Schindler's warning also comes amid the backdrop of a high-security court trial of four suspected Al Qaeda members which began in the German city of Düsseldorf on July 25. German public prosecutors say the defendants -- three home grown Islamists born in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and one Moroccan national -- were planning to stage a "sensational terror attack" in Germany.
Also known as the "Düsseldorfer Cell," the defendants are also accused of plotting to assassinate the former commander of German Special Forces (KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte) as well as to attack the US Army base in the Bavarian town of Grafenwöhr.
German authorities began monitoring the group in early 2010, when the American Central Intelligence Agency alerted German police to the fact that the Moroccan, Abdeladim el-Kebir, 31, had entered Germany after having been trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Waziristan along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2010.
German public prosecutors say El-Kebir, also known as Abi al-Barra, was the ringleader of the Düsseldorfer Cell and, following orders from an unidentified senior Al-Qaeda operative, in November 2010 began working on a plot to blow up public buildings, train stations and airports in Germany. After several months of surveillance by German police, El-Kebir was arrested in April 2011.
Before his arrest, El-Kebir also recruited three accomplices he knew from his student days in the German city of Bochum: a 32-year-old German-Moroccan named Jamil Seddiki, a 21-year-old German-Iranian named Amid Chaabi, and a 28-year-old German named citizen Halil Simsek. The three were arrested in Germany in December 2011.
Prosecutors say that Seddiki was in charge of producing explosives while Chaabi and Simsek were responsible for communications with the al Qaeda leadership.
During testimony in court, it emerged that all four defendants led inconspicuous lives. Simsek, for example, who was born in the German city of Gelsenkirchen, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bochum. He had wanted to become a German police officer but his application was rejected for medical reasons. Chaabi, who was born in Bochum, was studying Information Technology at the University of Hagen when he was arrested. Seddiki, a high school graduate, was working as an electrician.
Prosecutors have compiled 260 ring-binders containing evidence gathered by investigators; the prosecutor's arraignment runs to 500 pages. The main accusation against the men is that they set up a terrorist cell and prepared to commit murder.
Federal Prosecutor Michael Bruns told the court that the defendants "planned to carry out a spectacular and startling attack" in Germany and that the defendants "wanted to spread fear and horror."
The trial is expected to run for 30 days; a verdict is expected in November. If the four accused men are found guilty, they face up to ten years in prison.
(In November 2011, a federal court in Brooklyn, New York indicted el-Kebir on charges of conspiring to provide Al-Qaeda with explosives and training. If extradited and convicted, el-Kebir faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.)
Underscoring German officialdom's anxiety over home grown Islamic terrorism, the German state of Lower Saxony recently published a practical guide to extremist Islam to help citizens identify tell-tale signs of Muslims who are becoming radicalized.
Security officials said the objective of the document is to mitigate the threat of home-grown terrorist attacks by educating Germans about radical Islam and encouraging them to refer suspected Islamic extremists to the authorities -- a move that reflects mounting concern in Germany over the growing assertiveness of Salafist Muslims, who openly state that they want to establish Islamic Sharia law in the country and across Europe.
According to the report, German security agencies estimate that approximately 1,140 individuals living in Germany pose a high risk of becoming Islamic terrorists. The document also states that up to 100,000 native Germans have converted to Islam in recent years, and that "intelligence analysis has found that converts are especially susceptible to radicalization…Security officials believe that converts comprise between five to ten percent of the Salafists."
Soeren Kern is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the New York-basedGatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him onFacebook.
'Syrian-born Sheik Mustapha al-Majzoub was reportedly in the country to assist with the delivery of humanitarian aid amid ongoing violence between rebels and forces loyal to president Bashir al-Assad.
'Humanitarian aid'. Maybe. To his fellow Sunni Muslims; I severely doubt he would offer humanitarian aid to an Alawite, a Shiite or a Syrian Christian. Basically, he was there to egg on and assist the attempt by Sunni Muslims, in Syria, to overthrow the heretical Alawites and install a Sunni Muslim state within which Alawites, Shiites and Christians would be made to know their place: under the Sunni boot and scimitar. - CM
'He was a teacher at the Islamic College of Australia at Lakemba and was married with three children.
'He was also the brother of sheik Fedaa Majzoub, the only Australian (member of the opposition Syrian National Council.
'Australian'. Australian-born? - Australian-raised? But I doubt he could be called 'Australian' in any meaningful sense of the word, his Australian passport being obviously just a temporary and tactical convenience. If he is a member of the Syrian National Council, then his loyalty is to Syria, or more correctly, to the Sunni Muslim Ummah in Syria and for that matter anywhere else - not to the Infidel nation state of Australia - and dar al Islam is where he and his family, if any, belong. - CM
'Keysar Trad, the founder of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia (Keysar Trad, who has been, in the past, famously described by an Australian legal eagle, as being "a disgraceful individual", on the basis of, inter alia, viciously antisemitic statements - CM) says Sheik al-Majzoub was killed in an attack by pro-regime forces on Monday.
"People in the community have confirmed the sad news that Assad regime soldiers brutally...shelled the pound where this man was ministering to the people's spiritual needs (yeah, I'll bet: gingering them up for Jihad? - CM) and they killed him", he said.
'Ministering to the people's spiritual needs.' Like all those other sheiks, imams, mullahs and ayatollahs who may be seen in all their shrieking, hysterical glory on youtube and in accurate and deadly translation on MEMRI video clips, every day of every week, from all over the Islamic countries and also from within the west, ranting and raving and inciting Jihad, Jihad, Jihad? - CM
'Mr Trad says Sheik al-Majzoub will be missed.
Not by me and all other Islamosavvy Australian Infidels, he won't. - CM
"He was a very nice man, very down to earth, very helpful", he said.
"He would be the sort of person who would minister to the spiritual needs of other people ('other people': translation, 'other Sunni Muslims' - CM) and give them moral support in their time of need".
'The uprising against Mr Assad is in its 18th month and has spiralled into an armed conflict...".
Today President Obama warned Syrian dictator Bashir Assad that “use or deployment of … weapons of mass destruction” would be crossing a “red line,” that would prompt U.S. intervention. Former Iraqi Parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi told The Algemeiner this morning in a phone interview from Iraq that he believes President Obama should call for a United Nations Security Council Resolution stating Syria must give control of its WMD to the international community. He also shared his thoughts on Israel’s recent signals regarding Iran and what he sees as America’s responsibilities in the region.
Alusi, who served two terms in Iraq’s Parliament, has championed counter-terrorism cooperation among democracies, including Iraq, Israel, and the United States. Following his groundbreaking trip to Israel in 2004 to attend a counter-terrorism conference, extremists murdered his two grown sons, apparently as “payback” for Alusi’s visiting Israel. Refusing to be intimidated, Alusi has stayed in Iraq and continued to advocate for liberal values there including human rights, press freedom, rule of law, and cooperation among democracies.
Alusi has frequently been prescient about developments in the region. In 2006, he told this reporter that Iran was supporting both sides of the Iraqi insurgency—a claim that was controversial at the time but was ultimately confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources.
In a series of interviews from February through April of this year, Alusi gave this reporter a detailed account of what he characterized as extensive money-laundering being perpetrated in Iraqi banks by Iranian agents, as well as transport of “hundreds of millions of dollars in cash … in suitcases” by Iran’s agents from Iraq to Iran via Syria in order to skirt U.S.-led sanctions and prop up Iran’s regime. He asserted that many Iraqi politicians are aware of this activity, that some are taking bribes from Iran, and that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is being used as a “tool of Iran.” This week, The New York Times reported that a network of Iraqi banks are indeed “providing a crucial flow of dollars” that are helping Iran skirt U.S.-led sanctions, and that “American and Iraqi officials, along with banking and oil experts, say that Iraqi government officials are turning a blind eye to the large financial flows, smuggling, and other trade with Iran” and that in some cases Iraqi government officials are directly profiting from the activity.
This week, Alusi expressed grave concern that Assad’s weapons of mass destruction could wind up “in the hands of al Qaeda or Hezbollah” and be used against Israelis or others in the region. “They [al Qaeda or Hezbollah] would use them, they don’t care,” he said. He added that the fact that no one knows the location of the WMD within Syria is cause for serious concern.
Were Obama to bring the international community together behind such a U.N. resolution regarding Syria’s WMD, it would provide information on the role of Russia and China in supporting extremists in the region, Alusi said.
“We [would] see what China and Moscow will do,” Alusi said. “This kind of resolution will show us how far Russia will go to protect the regime in Damascus.”
That said, Alusi believes the U.S. should focus its efforts on preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. He has long warned that the Iranians are closer to attaining nuclear capability than many in the West have believed. He believes that Iran is heavily involved in promoting Assad’s crackdown in Syria and that “Iranians now maybe will use their agents, Syria, to transport chemical weapons, to use on Israel.” Moreover, he believes Assad’s crackdown is aided and abetted by Iran – to distract the U.S. from Iran.
“Iran would like for the U.S. to be tied up in Syria,” Alusi said. He believes the U.S. should not get militarily involved in Syria, but should keep its focus on stopping Iran, which he said is driving and strengthening much of the region’s extremism, including Assad and Hezbollah.
Alusi thinks that President Obama should, in coming days use the “huge space [that exists] in the Iraqi political arena and economy.” Obama could call for a conference of gulf states, to be held in Baghdad, Alusi suggests. The topic could be the importance of keeping open the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway vital to the economies of numerous gulf nations that Iran has threatened to close. President Obama could invite numerous gulf states whose economies are dependent on access to the Strait–including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel – and Iran.
“We will see who is ready to come and who is not ready,” said Alusi. “I believe the Israelis will be willing to come. So this is a signal of peace. This is proof for the international community the Israelis don’t want war.
“If Iran says, ‘We don’t want to come’ then we have proof they do not want to cooperate and we make clear for the international community who wants to make trouble and who does not. It also makes clear it is an international issue … And if the U.S. puts this together, it is proof no one wants a war.”
That said, Alusi has long favored a pinpointed, U.S.-led, multinational military operation to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if Iran fails to comply with international demands to cease its nuclear weapons quest.
Because he believes Iran is a threat to the security of the Mideast and the world, Alusi has said he does not believe it is Israel’s responsibility to launch a military operation, alone, to contain Iran.
“Americans have a responsibility,” he said. “Iraqis, Israelis, others in the region–we need you.”
Alusi believes it would be “not fair” for the entire burden of containing Iran to fall to Israel, and that if President Obama expects Israel to hold off on attacking Iran’s nuclear program, he should stake his legacy on the assurance that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.
“If it’s OK for the region for Israel to wait, then let President Obama come out and give a guarantee that there is time and Iran will not have a bomb by next summer,” he said. “I’ve always said Israelis should not have to do it alone, but if the international community doesn’t understand the danger of a second Holocaust or the [mentality of the Iranians], then the people who have the responsibility, have to act.”