Two suspected Muslim extremists have been arrested at a mosque in Sydney's south after threats were allegedly made against worshippers. Police say two men are in custody after an operation at the mosque in Arncliffe, in Sydney's south, on Sunday afternoon.
They said one man was removed from the mosque around 1.15pm by "members of the congregation" before being arrested by police stationed outside. Another man was arrested outside the mosque, police told AAP.
A witness at the mosque who does not want to be named, said he saw members of the congregation drag a man wearing Islamic clothing from the building around 1.00pm . . . He said the man appeared to be an Anglo-Saxon Australian and said he thought he may have been a Wahabi extremist.
Jamal Daoud of the Social Justice Network said he was contacted by a member of the Muslim community who said two Wahabi extremists had threatened Shia Muslims gathered to observe the day of Ashura at the Masjid Fatima Al Zahrah mosque.
"We have information that two men were arrested when they attempted attacking masses of Shia Muslims remembering the Ashura in Arncliffe," Mr Daoud said.
He said the action came after calls for violence against Shia were made on Facebook on Saturday.
The trouble at the mosque in Sydney is believed to have been Sunni Wahabi Muslims threatening Shia Muslims. Shia Muslims are currently commemorating the festival of Ashura, during the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar when they mourn the death of Mohammed's grandson Hussein Ali at the battle of Karbala. This was part of the warfare which took place amongst Mohammed's family and followers after his death to determine who would have power to rule after him and was how Islam split in to the Sunni and Shia observance. The Shi'ites formed from the remains of Hussein's cadre.
Elsewhere in the world this weekend: -
Saana Yemen; (Reuters)♦ At least three Shi'ite Muslims were killed on Saturday in a bomb attack targeting the first public commemoration of the anniversary of the death of a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad in the Yemeni capital in half a century. . . A statement issued by the Houthis, a Shi'ite armed group based in northern Yemen, said the attackers also sprayed the crowd with gunfire and fled.
Pakistan: Dozens of reports tell of how all Pakistan is on high alert during the month of Muharrham. This particular report of an attack is from the BBC. ♦ At least four people were killed and dozens more wounded when a bomb exploded near a Shia Muslim procession in north-west Pakistan. It was the second bombing in the city of Dera Ismail Khan in as many days. The Taliban said it was responsible.
On Saturday, eight people died, seven of them children, when a roadside bomb went off close to another procession. The bomb on Sunday went off in a shop close to a street market as worshippers passed by, witnesses said.
As with the previous attack, children were among the dead
Cairo Egypt: from Ahram on line. ♦ Egypt's police barred a number of Muslim Shias from entering Al-Hussein Mosque in Cairo to celebrate Satruday the holiday of Ashura. The decision to ban Shias from Al-Hussein Mosque reportedly came after a number Salafist Youth and a number of Sunni movements filed a complaint requesting that Shias be blocked from entering the mosque Saturday.
Meanwhile, Al-Azhar issued a statement warning against staging any celebrations in the mosque, saying that Ashura would only be celebrated through fasting and praying, adding that Egypt and Sunnis refuse any form of "heresy that will only cause sectarian conflict."
Kabul: From the Express Tribune. ♦ Afghan police said Friday they had arrested two suicide bombers planning to attack Shia Muslims in Kabul on the anniversary of the massacre of 80 worshippers on Ashura last year.
“Two suicide bombers with four suicide vests were arrested by Afghan police forces in Surobi district” east of Kabul, the interior ministry’s criminal investigation chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told AFP. “They wanted to attack crowded parts of the Ashura procession in Kabul city, and they have confessed to their crimes.” Rahimi said the two men were members of the Taliban group leading a bloody insurgency against the government of President Hamid Karzai,
But later on at the University. From The Dawn. ♦ An Afghan student was killed and eight others wounded in clashes between Sunnis and Shias at Kabul University, a senior police officer said Saturday.
“It seems the clash between some Sunni and Shia students erupted when Shia students wanted to perform the Ashura mourning ceremony in a dormitory mosque,” said Mohammad Zaher, head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department. “One person was killed and eight were injured,”
Lebanon: From the BBC again. ♦Five Syrians possessing explosives have been arrested in Lebanon, the Lebanese army has said. The army said the Syrian nationals were arrested during a raid on a home in the southern town of Nabatiyeh, where 450g (1lb) of explosives were found.
There is speculation that those arrested may have been targeting Lebanese Shia Muslims. A procession is due to take place in Nabatiyeh on Sunday to mark the Shia festival of Ashoura.
Iraq: These were last weekend during preparations for Ashura. Again from the BBC.♦ At least 17 people have been killed and dozens wounded in bombings across Iraq, on the eve of the Islamic new year and the holy month of Muharram. Six car bombs and roadside devices exploded in the capital, Baghdad, and four other cities, the AFP news agency cited officials as saying. In the deadliest attack, at least three bombs went off simultaneously in Kirkuk, killing at least five people.
Muharram is sometimes called 'the bloody month'. Whether from the way Shi'ites commemorate it by flagellating themselves with whips and chains (link here, but warning graphic content) and letting blood from their children, or how Sunni commemorate by killing the Shi'ites I don't know. But it's not the peace of God as I know it.
Exiled hate preacher: I trained four Brits for jihad war
FOUR British extremists are being trained to fight in Syria at a camp run by exiled Omar Bakri, The Sun can reveal.
The hate preacher, who is banned from the UK, boasted of his military-style courses for Islamic fanatics on the lawless border with Lebanon. In a chilling interview, Bakri revealed one recruit was a computer programmer in his 20s from London, while another was an Midlands-based IT worker.
And he claimed: “Others like them will follow”. He said: “Of the four, two of them have Syrian connections. But they are all born in UK and have professional backgrounds. “After their training they will do their duty of jihad (holy war) in Syria and maybe Palestine.”
He boasted of exploiting the clashes between Israel and Gaza to focus on “military activities”. He added: “I’m involved with training the mujahideen (fighters) in camps on the Syrian borders and also on the Palestine side.”
Where political bright ideas come, can fiasco be far behind? Only 15 per cent of those eligible voted in the recent elections for the position of local police commissioner, a new nadir in the history of universal suffrage in Britain, and the whole business cost the taxpayer £75 million. It is obvious that members of the government ought to reimburse the taxpayer this money from their personal capital or income; but what ought to happen and what does happen hardly ever coincide where the political class is concerned.
I loved the explanation for the fiasco given by the woman in charge of the elections as reported in the Guardian: they occurred at ‘an unfamiliar time of year.’
What exactly did she mean by this? That the British people were unfamiliar with the fact that October was succeeded by November, or that they had forgotten what November was like, seasonally-speaking? Or did she mean that the British people were unaccustomed to voting in November? (As it happens, 6 of the 55 general elections since 1812 have taken place in November, rather more frequently than the 4.583 elections that would have taken place in November had such elections been spread equally between the months.)
Let us suppose for the sake of argument, however, that the British people are indeed unfamiliar with elections in November, than no elections had ever taken place before in that month (just as there has been no general election in September): what exactly are we asked to believe? Surely that the British people are so mentally inflexible, so utterly incapable of grasping anything, that they are unable to fathom out what an election in November would be like, or how to comport themselves should there be one. Where, one might ask, does this leave the justification for having elections by universal suffrage in the first place?
The reason for the low turn-out during this election was that the British people can still recognise a pseudo- or para-reform when they see one. What the British people want from their criminal justice system, of which the police form a part, is safe streets and protection from crime: the one thing against which they know that the political and intellectual class has set its face. Popular indifference is caused by an awareness that our political class will move mountains to produce trifles, and produce trifles to move mountains.
Transcript of a PBS Newshour segment on Iran, Nov. 23, 2012:
RAY SUAREZ: Next, to Iran.
Journalists and human rights groups there have charged the government with imprisoning dissidents, part of a campaign to silence criticism of the regime.
The NewsHour, along with the Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED San Francisco, have obtained interviews from an Iranian journalist to help tell that story.
NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports.
SPENCER MICHELS: This is a rare event in Iran today, a party in a private apartment to celebrate the birthdays of 10 human rights activists who are all in prison.
Their relatives and friends gathered, including the husband and children of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an attorney who has defended many of the activists. She was sentenced to 11 years for opposing the regime.
To the surprise of many, no one at this party was arrested. But gatherings like this are increasingly infrequent, as the government has made it more difficult than ever for dissidents even to meet, much less to openly push for free speech, free elections and human rights.
For a decade, Sotoudeh defended Iranians accused of all manner of crimes, and it has cost her and her young family a lot. Here she is five years ago, working the phone giving media interviews, trying to prevent the execution of a teenager. The next day, the youth's life was spared.
During the Green Movement, an uprising that followed the disputed reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, people took to the streets, demanding their votes be counted.
Many were emboldened to speak out for issues like human rights that had been suppressed for years. But the regime quickly dashed any hopes with a violent and firm response.
Sotoudeh was one of a few attorneys who dared to defend the protesters, pushing for rights for women, juveniles and dissidents, and not always winning.
Her 17-year-old client in this case was accused of political activity against the government, and he was hanged at the age of 20.
Sotoudeh herself was charged, like many dissidents have been, with acting against national security by talking with the media. Her husband, Reza Khandan, says it goes deeper than that.
REZA KHANDAN, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh (through translator): The reason for my wife's arrest, I think, was that she insisted on representing political prisoners. In general, the idea was to prevent the lawyers from going to court and following up on human rights cases.
SPENCER MICHELS: All of this has taken a heavy toll on the dissidents' families. For Sotoudeh, whose prison sentence was reduced to six years on appeal, her children are only allowed to visit their mother occasionally.
REZA KHANDAN (through translator): They make it very hard on political prisoners. In the first eight months that my wife was in prison, we didn't even have one unrestricted visit.
SPENCER MICHELS: Finally, the children, now 5 and 13, did see their mother, but only behind prison glass.
REZA KHANDAN (through translator): In addition to cameras and microphones, there are guards who stand there and watch us. They listen to every word of what the children tell their mother. They watch all emotions and feelings. The children become a means to put pressure on their mother.
SPENCER MICHELS: The Iranian press office at the U.N. responded in writing to our inquiry about Sotoudeh's case, saying: "Mrs. Sotoudeh has been duly prosecuted and convicted, and she has enjoyed all her rights, including access to her attorney and regular visits with family."
Today, reports out of Iran indicate the government is squashing the fledgling protest movement that once thought it a chance at reform by arresting and in some cases torturing critics and cracking down on journalists who report on it.
The most well-known of those critics is Shirin Ebadi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. She was Sotoudeh's most famous client and her mentor. Ebadi founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center. After receiving threats on her life, she is now living in exile in England.
In 2005, she presided over a meeting of leading human rights activists, many of them, including activist Narges Mohammadi, attorney Mohammad Seifzadeh, and Abdolfattah Soltani, another attorney, are now in prison because of their activities.
In October, thousands of Iranians, including striking merchants from Tehran's bazaar, protested the declining economy and the devaluation of the rial. Sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European countries have contributed to the downturn.
Stanford Iranian scholar Abbas Milani, himself a human rights activist before he fled Iran, says the government responded with force to the demonstrations.
ABBAS MILANI, StanfordUniversity: The regime is more paranoid today than probably any time since June 2009. They brought out 15,000 Revolutionary Guards into the streets in what was clearly advertised as an exercise in control of social disturbances.
This was a show of force that had only one meaning: We know you're unhappy. We know the economy's in a shambles. We know you might explode, but, no, we are ready for you.
SPENCER MICHELS: Since many journalists and activists are in jail, stories about the crackdown on dissidents have been hard to find in the press. An Iranian journalist whose who asked not to be identified brought us video of some of the participants.
Last summer, as the families of political prisoners met, Jila Baniyaghoob, a journalist who has since been sent to jail, talked about her husband, also a journalist and an economist, who was sent to prison for three years for anti-state activities.
JILA BANIYAGHOOB, journalist (through translator): For several years, he had been writing about widespread corruption in government circles.
SPENCER MICHELS: On his release, he will be given 34 lashes.
This fall, the United Nations Human Rights Office declared that Iranian authorities have embarked on a severe clampdown on journalists and human rights activists in a run-up to next June's Iranian presidential elections.
The Iranian delegation to the U.N. dismissed the report as unfair and biased, and said the republic has worked wholeheartedly to realize the rights of its citizens.
In an e-mail to the NewsHour, the Iranian U.N. mission claimed the report leveled "general allegations in the absence of authentic and reliable evidence aimed to serve propaganda."
The communication also stated that political parties "enjoy the right of freedom of speech and free activities," and the Iranians accused the U.S. of "a long list of gross and systematic violations of human rights, both at home and abroad."
Regime critics say they risk years in prison for their actions. Abdolfattah Soltani, an attorney and co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, tried to represent leaders of the minority Baha'i faith. His daughter, Maedeh Soltani, was interviewed in Germany.
MAEDEH SOLTANI, daughter of Abdolfattah Soltani (through translator): My father was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and, in addition, 10 years of disbarment. In the trial, the judge told my father, as soon as you are in jail and you don't work, that's good enough for us.
They don't want him to do his job.
SPENCER MICHELS:Besides fighting for their own rights to protest, the dissidents have long fought for women's rights, equality in marriage and inheritance, an end to polygamy and restrictions on women's dress, all dictated by clerics who enforce a strict interpretation of Islam. [for "a strict interpretation of Islam" read "enforce the Holy Law of Islam"]
Anything can be regarded as a form of protest, says Abbas Milani, who is teaching a seminar at Stanford on dissent in Iran. Milani told his students the regime is very clever in using force.
ABBAS MILANI: I don't think this is a regime that uses force randomly. They use force when they need it. They're brutal when they need to be. The number of people killed by this regime is in tens of thousands.
In one short period alone, they killed almost 4,000 political prisoners who were already serving time on another crime.
SPENCER MICHELS: I asked him what the regime is afraid of. Why is it so paranoid, as he put it?
ABBAS MILANI: They're afraid, because they know the reality. The Iranian society doesn't want them.
They are, in my view, not supported by any more than 20 percent to 25 percent of the people. It's that 20 percent to 25 percent that is taking the lion's share of the oil wealth. They are robbing the country blind.
SPENCER MICHELS: The dissidents' earned international recognition recently when imprisoned attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh and banned filmmaker Jafar Panahi were awarded the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov Prize for human rights work. The Iranian government refused to let the prize winners meet with the prize sponsors.
Still, despite the crackdown, dissidents keep trying to change a regime that is now also under pressure from upcoming elections and a stressed economy.
RAY SUAREZ: You can read the full response from the Iranian government to our reporting on our website.
The video of a motorcade features about a dozen Palestinian gunmen joyfully riding nine motorcycles, shooting in the air in victory and dragging behind the body of a man they had just killed on suspicion that he was collaborating with Israel. The victim was one of the six Palestinians the Palestinians had killed.
The same video also shows dozens of younger Palestinians, some aged, perhaps, 8 or 9, proudly filming the scene or taking pictures of the historic moment with their cell phones. About a day later, the mood in the Gaza Strip turned more joyful. Another “hudna” – temporary peace – had been “won,” and the enemy had been “defeated again.”
Later during the day, the international press reported celebratory bursts of gunfire, cheering and chanting, minutes after the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas came into effect. Gunmen from all corners of the Gaza City emerged on the streets to celebrate “victory.” Some of the “victors” let off fireworks from rooftops. Along Gaza City’s waterfront, a loudspeaker on a mosque repeated over and over: Allahu Akbar. God is great.
A local told the Guardian: “They bombed us, they killed our women and children, but they could not stop the resistance. So, they had to surrender and agree to stop the assassinations. They learned we cannot be defeated by their bombs.”
When Adel Mansour spoke these proud words, about 150 Palestinians and five Israelis had lost their lives. In the eight-day war, the Israeli military had targeted more than 1,500 sites in Gaza with air strikes and shelling, more than 1,000 rockets had been fired at Israel and a blast had ripped through a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 17 people.
Yet another hudna is another victory. So think the Palestinians. And they celebrate. They celebrate their dead women and children. They celebrate the “victory” with bursts of gunfire, cheering, chanting and fireworks. Fireworks for 150 or so coffins. Fireworks to celebrate the 150 martyrs and five enemies.
Fireworks to celebrate because the enemy had failed to kill more than 150. Fireworks to celebrate because five “Jooos and six traitors” had been killed. Victory, that is. Or so think the willing martyrs.
Like the previous ones, the latest hudna is a pause, not peace. It reminds one of Ambrose Bierce’s “The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary,” which describes peace as “a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.” Peace, that is, victory.
Meanwhile, the victors keep on celebrating their victory. All the same, there is something bizarre in the whole picture. The victors celebrate their dead while the entire world, including this columnist, keeps on mourning the loss of innocent lives.
Is there something wrong with us, the silly mourners? Should we celebrate instead of mourning, like the kin of the dead do so proudly? Should Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu have cheered and chanted in Gaza instead of so humanely weeping along with the relatives of the dead and the injured?
No, I personally would prefer a human Mr. DavutoÄŸlu instead of a foreign minister who shoots in the air in celebration of “victory.” And I would prefer a human Mr. DavutoÄŸlu questioning the wisdom behind celebrating 150 martyrs, knowing, all the same, that my wish is sillier than the victory day celebrations in Gaza.
When I wrote in this column “Why Golda Meir was right,” (Aug. 23, 2011), I knew exactly why Israel’s fourth prime minister, or the “Mother of Israel,” was right. I still know why she was right when she said that peace in the Middle East would be possible only “when Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”
Qatar is a small country with few people (1.87 million of which only 300,000 are citizens), yet it casts a giant shadow over N. Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It has the highest GDP per capita in the world and the highest energy reserves per capita in the world. While it treats its women more liberally than S. Arabia does, it has been indicted for immigrant labor violations and human trafficking. It is notorious for how badly it treats its foreign workers.
Qatar is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser extent, forced prostitution. [They] voluntarily migrate to Qatar as low-skilled laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions of involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious physical or financial harm; withholding of pay; charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible; restrictions on freedom of movement, including the confiscation of passports, travel documents, and the withholding of exit permits; arbitrary detention; threats of legal action and deportation; threats of filing false charges against the worker; and physical, mental, and sexual abuse. In some cases, arriving migrant workers have found that the terms of employment in Qatar are different from those they agreed to in their home countries; businesses and individuals in Qatar reportedly promised migrants employment opportunities that never materialized.
Why would such a rich country treat its invitee workers so meanly?
The world’s attention has been focused on Saudi Arabia whose attention has been focused on the U.S. It has built 80% of the mosques in America and has installed Wahhabi Imams in all of them. For almost a century, it has cultivated relations with the State Department and the White House making certain to reward diplomats and presidents, when they retire, with oodles of money for “good behavior”. It also has made grants in the tens of millions to some high profile U.S. universities such as Harvard U, Columbia U. and Georgetown U. See "The Vast Power of the Saudi Lobby".
Qatar, on the other hand, is a Mohammed-come-lately.
After the Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. opened the Al Udeid air base in Qatar.
The Emir of Qatar is a Wahhabi fundamentalist. He founded Aljazeera in 1996 and it broadcasted in Arabic only for many years. It enabled the Emir to greatly influence the Arab masses and to radicalize them. It gained worldwide renown due to its coverage of the Afghan War.
In ’02 the US signed a mutual defense pact with Qatar and began using the Al Udeid base for the USAir command Center in the Gulf. This base now serves as a logistics, command, and basing hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time, the US Army built the Sayliyah army base in Qatar. It serves as the world's largest pre-positioned army equipment base.
Obviously the US and Qatar are joined at the hip.
About half a dozen years ago:
1) Qatar built Education City and attracted many prestigious universities from around the world including the US with generous grants from the Qatar Foundation,
2) Aljazeera International, began broadcasting in English 24/7 throughout the world and
3) Brookings Institute, the most respected think-tank in the world, opened up a service center in its capital Doha, known as Brookings Doha Institute.
Thus Qatar came of age. Qatar was positioning itself to become an international mediator.
Since the mid-2000s, Qatar has become one of the world’s most active mediators in regional and intra-national conï¬‚icts across the Middle East and parts of Africa. The most notable of these have involved mediation efforts in Lebanon, Sudan, and Yemen, with similar though lower-proï¬�le efforts undertaken in Palestine and in the border conï¬‚ict between Djibouti and Eritrea. In the process, Qatar has actively cultivated an image for itself as an honest broker interested in peace and stability.
But mediation isn’t the half of it.
The object of the NATO lead war in Libya, according to Pepe Escobar in Asia Times, was:
…about NATO ruling the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, it was about Africom’s war against China and setting up a key strategic base, it was about the French and the Brits getting juicy contracts to exploit Libya’s natural resources to their benefit.
You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud.
Qatar was quick to join the fighting in Libva both with troops on the ground and fighter jets in the air with all stripes. It became the first country after France to recognize the Provisional Transitional National Council of Libya.
David Roberts explains what’s behind Qatar's Intervention In Libya in an article published by Foreign Affairs.
Qatar hopes to insert itself as the key mediator between the Muslim world and the West. Qatar sees its role as a highly specialized interlocutor between the two worlds, making -- from the West's point of view -- unpalatable but necessary friendships and alliances with anti-Western leaders, including the Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, Hezbollah's spiritual leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and the Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, to name but a few recent visitors to Doha.
Similarly, Qatar recognizes that Islamists are an indelible part of the political landscape in Libya and a potentially combustible one, given that, per capita, eastern Libya alone provided twice as many would-be jihadists as any other Arabic-speaking country to the Iraqi resistance in 2007 and 2008. Ignoring or marginalizing this demographic would not be prudent; but from the West's perspective, engaging with even reformed Islamist fighters is difficult. This is the niche that Qatar is trying to fill in Libya and elsewhere.
This is a facility President Obama is anxious to avail himself of.
A year ago, Qatar and Saudi Arabia set up a this mobile intervention Sunni Muslim force out of al Qaeda linked-operatives for rapid deployment on the Turkish-Syrian border.
A force of 2,500 has been recruited up until now, our sources report. The hard core is made up of 1,000 members of the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya-IFGL, which fought Qaddafi, and 1,000 operatives of the Ansar al-Sunna, the Iraqi Islamists which carried out 15 coordinated bomb attacks in Baghdad last Thursday killing 72 people and injuring 200.
The new Sunni force, funded by the Persian Gulf oil states, is silently backed by the US and NATO members, with Turkey in the forefront of this support group.
The nature of the Benghazi disaster is now clear. Ambassador Stevens was engaged in smuggling sizable quantities of Libyan arms from the destroyed Gaddafi regime to the Syrian rebels, to help overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. Smuggling arms to the so-called “Free Syrian Army” is itself a huge gamble, but Obama has been a gambler with human lives over the last four years, as shown by the tens of thousands of Arabs who have died in the so-called Arab Spring — which has brought nothing but disaster to the Arab world.
For the last four years, the Obama policy has been to offer aid and comfort to violent Islamic radicals in the delusional belief that their loyalty can be bought.
Finally Qatar recently played host to representatives of the Syrian opposition and successfully arranged an agreement for a unified opposition.
To think that Qatar’s investment in the overthrow of Assad has a humanitarian agenda is a bit of a stretch. Not only do Qatar and Saudi Arabia want to sever the Syrian’s connection to Iran to weaken Iran, but they also want to end up controlling Syria so that they can build a gas pipeline from their countries through Jordan and Syria to the Mediterranean. That’s also one of the reasons why Iran is fighting so hard to retain control of Syria. Iran wants to build her own pipeline.
Just prior to Hamas escalating its violence against Israel, The Emir of Qatar visited Gaza thereby becoming the first head of state to do so since Hamas seized power there in 2007. This visit has great geopolitical significance. At a time when funding of the PA has declined dramatically he offered $400 million in aid to Hamas thereby giving unqualified support to rejectionist Hamas and rejecting the PA and the two-state solution.
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, declared that the Emir had “thrown peace under the bus,” “It helps Hamas entrench themselves in Gaza, not to yield one inch to the P.A., and enhancing the division and the reality of two de facto states..”
A few days later Hamas escalated the violence.
An Italian journalist, Giulio Meotti has investigated Qatar’s reach into Europe:
Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who has cultivated the image of a pro-Western reformist, vowed to “spare no effort” to spread the teachings of Wahhabi Islam across “the whole world”. Last December Qatari Emir inaugurated the “Imam Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab” Mosque in Doha, dedicated to the founder of the most virulent, anti-Jewish and totalitarian Islamic school of religion.
Qatar’s octopus is working on three fronts: overthrowing despotic Arab regimes and replace these with sharia-based countries; destroying Israel by financing the terror groups (the emir just visited Gaza) – and Islamizing the European continent through mosques and investments.
In addition to itemizing the enormous investments in Europe made by Qatar which affords her considerable leverage and influence, he highlights her anti-Semitic agenda:
Qatar is a bastion of anti-Semitism, which goes around the world along with the investments. A Qatari television show, based on a book by late Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani, shows a Holocaust survivor who resorts to prostitution and claims the Nazis did no wrong. “I didn’t see any gas chambers”, she is seen saying. An actor depicting former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin calls on Jews to murder Arab civilians.
Qatar is also hosting many conferences which demonize the Jews.
In Doha’s Friday sermons, Jews are called “parasites”. Back to the Nazis.
With an imperial flux of money and ideology, the former British protectorate of Qatar is discouraging Muslim integration in Europe in order to better dominate it, fomenting anti-Semitism and cultural separation, actively encouraging jihad against the State of Israel.
Qatar’s course of action is very practical: convincing Europe that the real name of Jerusalem is Al Quds, that the Koran replaced the Bible and that the Jewish Temple Mount is just a conspiracy.
It is bad enough that a small country like Israel has to contend with the likes of Qatar and their fellow travelers in the Arab world, but to have them embraced by the ruling elites in the US and Europe increases the danger to Israel exponentially. It used to be that anti-Semites were shunned by western societies. But now, they are embraced and sought after with nary a word said. Furthermore these societies and countries assist the Arabs to realize their agendas by participating in the deligitimization and defamation of Israel and Jews.
This embrace is emblematic of a broader embrace. President Obama, from day one of his administration, has aided and abetted Islamists in Libya, Egypt and Syria to come to power. He has embraced PM Erdogan of Turkey who is also Islamist and calls him his new best friend. Many have argued that he is undermining King Abdullah of Jordan in the expectation that the Muslim Brotherhood will replace him. All this represents extreme danger to Israel. But it also represents extreme danger to America. It is compounded by Presidents Obama’s embrace of Islamists in the US who now have undue influence in the FBI, The State Department, Justice, Homeland Security and the Whitehouse. Except for a few lone voices in the Republican Party, Republicans have not challenged Obama’s Islamist embrace. Silence is consent.
A Literary Interlude: Once By The Pacific (Robert Frost)
Once by the Pacific
The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the light was spoken.
Suicide bombs kill 11 at military church in Nigeria
(Reuters) - Two suicide bombs killed at least 11 people on Sunday at a church in a barracks in northern Nigeria, where the Islamist sect Boko Haram is waging a campaign of violence, the military said.
Army spokesman Bola Koleoso said a bus drove into the side of the St. Andrew Military Protestant Church at the Jaji barracks in Kaduna state and exploded at around 1105 GMT, five minutes after a service had started. Explosives inside a Toyota Camry were detonated outside the church ten minutes later, he said. The military said at least 30 were injured.
A military source who witnessed the attack said the second bomb was the most deadly, killing people who went to help the injured from the first blast. Witnesses said the barracks was cordoned off and ambulances carried the wounded to hospital.
Christians in the northern city of Kano yesterday were also targeted in a separate attack in which two motorcycle-riding gunmen killed a couple and their child as the family made their way to church. The family’s other child escaped the shooting unhurt.
SYRIAN rebels have seized the training camp of a pro-regime Palestinian faction in Damascus province and taken control of an arms depot after fierce clashes, a watchdog says.
"Rebels stormed a Popular Front-General Command (PFLP-GC) training camp in the Rihan area of Damascus province, after violent clashes with local fighters," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
It said the rebels took full control of the camp after launching an attack on Saturday, with casualties suffered on both sides, including among the families of a number of the Palestinian militants.
Separately, rebels took over an arms depot after several days of fighting in Deir Suleiman, also in Damascus province, seizing weapons and ammunition, the Observatory said.
The training camp "functioned for over 30 years as a base of resistance, graduating thousands of Palestinian youth and hundreds of guerrillas who have humiliated the Zionist enemy with important operations," the PFLP-GC said in a statement condemning the attack on Saturday.
State news agency SANA quoted an official as saying that the attack was "carried out by armed terrorist groups ... Mossad proxies working for the Zionist enemy in response to operations carried out by the Front against Tel Aviv".
The PFLP-GC on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a Tel Aviv bus bombing in which 29 Israelis were wounded.
"Our guerrilla cells in the heart of Palestine managed to bomb one of the city buses in Tel Aviv and send a strong message to the leaders of the enemy that committing massacres against our civilians will not pass without punishment," it said.
The Israeli internal security service, Shin Bet, arrested members of a cell accused of the bombing on Thursday, allegedly "associated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad". It said that the men had recruited an Israeli national to carry out the attack.
In early November, the PFLP-GC fought alongside loyalist troops against rebels in Yarmuk in southern Damascus, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria.
Activists said other Palestinian factions fought with the rebels.
The PFLP-GC is headed by Ahmad Jibril, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, who has been fighting an unprecedented revolt against his regime that began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011.
Israeli soldiers, above, this month watched the launch of an Iron Dome antimissile weapon designed to blast Hamas missiles out of the air.
TEL AVIV—Israel's Iron Dome rocket-defense system spent the past two weeks successfully blasting Hamas missiles out of the sky—many in dramatic nighttime explosions—helping to end the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas in just seven days.
The battle to build Iron Dome, however, lasted years and provided fireworks of its own.
Before Wednesday's cease-fire, Iron Dome knocked down 421 rockets launched from Gaza and bound for Israeli cities, an 84% success rate, according to the Israeli military. The system limited Israeli casualties to six during the seven days of bombardment. As a result, there was markedly less political pressure on Israel's decision makers to invade Gaza.
"If it was not for Iron Dome, for sure you would have seen a more aggressive action in Gaza by air and ground," said an Israel general and member of Israel's joint chiefs of staff.
For Israel's primary foes Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, their weapon of choice—rockets and missiles—could soon prove nearly obsolete. That could alter the strategic calculation for Israel and its enemies alike. Despite initial Pentagon misgivings, President Barack Obama has given $275 million to the project since 2010 with the aim of reducing the rocket threat and eventually bolstering chances of a peace deal by making Israel feel more secure to agree to territorial concessions.
For years, Pentagon experts dismissed Iron Dome as doomed to fail and urged Israel to instead try a cheaper U.S. approach. Iron Dome faced similar skepticism at home. But an Israeli mathematician-general, along with a labor-organizer-turned-defense-minister, pushed the project through, overcoming the opposition of some of Israel's most powerful military voices.
In 2004, then-Brig. Gen. Daniel Gold was named director of the Ministry of Defense's Research and Development department, responsible for overseeing the development of new weapons systems. Mr. Gold, who also has a Ph.D. in mathematics, took up the rocket challenge with a zealot's gusto, according to people involved in the project.
That August, he put out a call to defense companies for proposed antirocket systems. Few took notice within the defense establishment.
Israel's Hezbollah foes in Lebanon first turned to short-range rockets in the mid-1990s. The first Hamas-fired Palestinian rocket hit Israel in early 2001. The crude projectiles rarely hit their intended targets, yet over the years they rained down by the thousands—some 4,000 by 2008.
Almost no one in Israel's military brass believed rocket defense could work. Palestinian rockets from Gaza fly erratically and can hit Israeli communities within seconds. Most are just a few feet long and a few inches wide.
Gen. Gold and his team, deep in the bowels of the Defense Ministry in central Tel Aviv, reviewed the options. They considered lasers and giant shotguns. In March 2005, they agreed on a patched-together concept for the system that would become Iron Dome, drawing on technologies from three Israeli defense companies.
European Pressphoto Agency
421: The number of Hamas rockets destroyed in flight by a hotly debated rocket-defense system during the latest skirmish.
He called up Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., an Israeli weapons maker, and asked the company to head the project. A 2008 audit by the Israeli state comptroller, an independent government-oversight office, criticized this step, saying he bypassed required approvals from the military's general staff, the defense minister and the Israeli government.
That report didn't lead to formal charges of wrongdoing. But it fueled years of heated political criticism of the project and its backers—showing how close the highly controversial Iron Dome idea came to never happening at all.
Gen. Gold said in an interview that the auditor's report misrepresented some facts, declining to be more specific. He disputes any allegation that he broke rules, saying he simply sidestepped red tape.
"I just canceled all the unnecessary bureaucracy," Gen. Gold said. "I left only the most crucial bureaucracy needed for success."
At the time, according to Gen. Gold as well as to the auditor's report, he told Rafael's chairman of the problem that no one in the government had agreed to pay for the project. Rafael's chairman, Ilan Biran, confirms that account.
In an interview, Gen. Gold said he told Mr. Biran he could use $5 million to $6 million from his research budget to get the project started if Rafael would agree to match. Mr. Biran said in an interview that he agreed to take the risk after his engineers assured him they could pull off the feat.
It was no ordinary feat. The project's specs demanded a system that could continuously scan all of Gaza, detect a rocket the instant it was fired, no matter how big or small, pinpoint its likely strike location, and finally, if it was going to hit a city, blast it out of the sky with a missile. The system needed to do all that within about 15 seconds.
Gen. Gold also said the interceptor missiles would need to cost about one-tenth of what your average air-to-air missile costs, or else Israel's rocket-flinging foes would be able to bankrupt Israel. And instead of taking 10 years or more to develop, typical for new weapons systems, Iron Dome needed to deploy in half that.
In the summer of 2006, war broke out with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Over the 33 days, Hezbollah fired more than 4,200 rockets into northern Israel, killing 44 Israelis. Suddenly, stopping rockets was a government priority.
So in August 2006, Gen. Gold and his team briefed the man who was then Israel's minister of defense, Amir Peretz, on Iron Dome. Mr. Peretz had spent most of his career as a labor organizer. As a civilian with little military experience, he had been an unlikely choice as defense minister. He hails from Sderot, a southern Israeli town that borders Gaza and has born the brunt of Palestinian rocket fire.
During his brief stint as Defense Minister from 2006 to 2007, Mr. Peretz was well known for a photograph during the Lebanon War of him reviewing the battlefield through binoculars with lens caps on. When he resigned as defense minister in 2007 over his handling of that war, his political career seemed doomed.
In the weeks following the Lebanon War, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was briefed on Iron Dome for the first time. Nearly all the military advisers in the room slammed the project, Mr. Peretz recalled. Mr. Olmert refused to divert government funds for Iron Dome, according to Mr. Peretz.
Mr. Olmert didn't return calls seeking comment. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahranot, Mr. Olmert praised Mr. Peretz's persistence in pushing Iron Dome.
Instead of scaling back the program, Gen. Gold upped the ante. In November 2006, he "directed Rafael to begin full-scale development of the Iron Dome project when Rafael had no order to do so," according to the Israeli comptroller's audit report. "The directive was not under his authority," the report concluded.
"I cannot say that the report is wrong," said Yossi Drucker, who headed the team at Rafael overseeing the system's development. "But if you want to achieve something in a very short time…you have sometimes to bypass the bureaucracy."
The gamble paid off. In early 2007, Mr. Peretz threw his full ministerial weight behind the project, committing another $10 million in Ministry of Defense funds to keep Iron Dome alive. The government's auditors later found he violated regulations by committing the funds without military or government approval for the project.
But if the government hoped to have enough Iron Dome batteries to provide meaningful protection against rockets, it would need more money than that. Israel's Defense Ministry approached the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush with a request for hundreds of millions of dollars for the system. The reception at the Pentagon was frosty, according to current and former U.S. defense officials.
Mary Beth Long, the assistant secretary of defense who oversaw the Iron Dome review process, sent a team of U.S. military engineers to Israel to meet with the developers. After the trip, in a meeting in her office, the team voiced skepticism about the technology, citing poor performance in initial testing, Ms. Long said in an interview.
Rafael's Mr. Drucker recalls an even harsher U.S. response. He said the U.S. team told them: "This is something that cannot be done."
Some U.S. military officials argued that Israel should instead consider using a version of the U.S.'s Vulcan Phalanx system, which the Army was deploying in Iraq to try to shoot down incoming rockets, current and former defense officials say. Gen. Gold's team had already considered and dismissed the Phalanx system.
By the end of 2007, Mr. Olmert and Mr. Peretz's successor as defense minister, Ehud Barak, had both come around to backing Iron Dome. That December, the government gave the project its first big cash infusion of roughly $200 million.
As it became clear that Israel was going to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on rocket defense, the industry scrambled. Rafael's rivals lobbied for their proposals to be reconsidered.
Israel's government auditors began investigating the project and issued a report singling out Gen. Gold for launching a billion-dollar project without the necessary approvals. "Brig. Gen. Gold decided on the development of Iron Dome, determined the timetables and ordered predevelopment and full development before the relevant authorities had approved the project," the report said.
But Iron Dome was making lightning progress. An all-star team of engineers assembled from across Israeli defense companies worked around the clock. Pensioners were called out of retirement. The contest to design the warhead for the interceptor missile pitted a 25-year-old woman, fresh out of university, against a 30-year veteran of Rafael. [read that paragraph again. Now once more. Doesn't it make you feel good?]]
And in 2009, during the first field test, an Iron Dome prototype successfully intercepted an incoming rocket.
Iron Dome got a significant boost soon after President Obama came to office in 2009. Mr. Obama visited Sderot as a presidential candidate and told his aides to find a way to help boost Israel's defenses from the makeshift rockets, his aides said, although defense officials at the time still doubted Iron Dome was the way.
As president, Mr. Obama tapped Colin Kahl to run the Pentagon office overseeing U.S. military policy in the Middle East. Mr. Kahl found the Iron Dome request on his desk, decided to take another look and had what he later described as a light-bulb moment. "Ding, ding, ding. It just made sense," Mr. Kahl said.
In 2009, the peace process topped Mr. Obama's foreign-policy agenda. But the administration's call for a freeze in Jewish settlement growth badly strained ties with Israel's right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Top Obama administration advisers saw supporting Iron Dome as a chance to shore up U.S.-Israel security relations and balance some of the political strains.
At the direction of a White House working group headed by then-National Security Council senior director Dan Shapiro (who today is the U.S. ambassador to Israel), the Pentagon sent a team of missile-defense experts to Israel in September 2009 to re-evaluate Iron Dome. The decision raised eyebrows in some Pentagon circles. Iron Dome was still seen as a rival to the Phalanx system, and previous assessment teams had deemed Iron Dome inferior.
In its final report, presented to the White House in October, the team declared Iron Dome a success, and in many respects, superior to Phalanx. Tests showed it was hitting 80% of the targets, up from the low teens in the earlier U.S. assessment. "They came in and basically said, 'This looks much more promising…than our system,' " said Dennis Ross, who at the time was one of Mr. Obama's top Middle East advisers.
That summer, Mr. Kahl's office drafted a policy paper recommending that the administration support the Israeli request for roughly $200 million in Iron Dome funding.
Mr. Ross said the threat posed by Iran was also part of the calculation to invest in Iron Dome. By showing how seriously the U.S. took Israel's security needs, the administration hoped Israel would "provide us the time and space to see if there was a diplomatic way out of the Iranian issue," Mr. Ross said.
The system went operational in March 2011. It shot down its first Palestinian rocket on April 7. Within three days it had shot down eight more rockets. But it wasn't until the recent Gaza flare-up that the system made its mark on the public consciousness.
Mr. Peretz went to a bar mitzvah earlier this week. When the one-time political pariah walked into the reception hall, 200 people rose to give him a spontaneous standing ovation, according to aides in his office. On the fourth day of the war, Gen. Gold, now retired, sat at a cafe in central Tel Aviv. Two women stopped and asked to have their photographs taken with him.
Pakistani Taliban Was "Shocked" At Execution Of Mumbai Murderer
Pakistan Taliban "shocked" over execution of Mumbai attacker
Nov 21 2012
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's Taliban movement expressed shock on Wednesday over India's execution of the lone survivor of a militant squad that killed 166 people in a rampage through the financial capital Mumbai in 2008.
"There is no doubt that it's very shocking news and a big loss that a Muslim has been hanged on Indian soil," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.