When Finsbury Park mosque opened nearly 20 years ago it was intended to be a centre for peaceful worship, feted by the Prince of Wales and seen as an emblem of multi-cultural Britain. But the Guantánamo files disclose that by the late 1990s the mosque in north London had become a “haven” for extremism where disaffected young men from around the world were radicalised before being sent to al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. At least 35 Guantánamo detainees passed through Finsbury Park and a network of other centres used by extremists in Britain, including Regent’s Park mosque, East London mosque and a rented room above the Four Feathers Youth Club near Baker Street. I can't place that last one, but Baker Street runs along the southern end of Regent's Park.
The mosques became recruitment centres for an al-Qaeda cell led by Abu Hamza, the radical imam formerly based in Finsbury Park, who is serving a seven-year sentence at Belmarsh high security prison, and Abu Qatada, a fanatical Muslim cleric described by British intelligence as “Osama bin Laden’s ambassador to Europe”. Together, they turned London into a hub of global terrorism, taking in impressionable immigrants by the dozen and churning them out as killers-in-waiting.
As well as the men who passed through mosques in London, another 10 were radicalised outside the capital, mainly in Birmingham.
The majority were economic migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. They included seven Algerians, three Moroccans and two Saudi Arabians. The experience of many of the Algerians is typical. After reaching Italy or France they obtained false passports and visas on the black market, often in the suburb of Barbes in Paris, where the “availability of forged travel passports is well known among Arabs”,
For the young men, the mosques became their home, providing accommodation, food and a sense of community. For the extremist clerics who ran the mosques, however, the stream of young men coming through their doors were ripe for recruitment. Read it all here.
WASHINGTON — He peers out from the photo in the classified file through heavy-framed spectacles, an owlish face with a graying beard and a half-smile. Saifullah Paracha, a successful businessman and for years a New York travel agent, appears to be the oldest of the 172 prisoners still held at the Guantánamo Bay prison. His dossier is among the most chilling.
Working with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 planner who in early 2002 gave him $500,000 to $600,000 “for safekeeping,” Mr. Paracha offered his long experience in the shipping business for a scheme to move plastic explosives into the United States inside containers of women’s and children’s clothing, the files assert.
“Detainee desired to help Al Qaeda ‘do something big against the U.S.,’ ” one of his co-conspirators, Ammar al-Baluchi, told Guantánamo interrogators, the files say. Mr. Paracha discussed obtaining biological or nuclear weapons as well, though he was concerned that detectors at ports “would make it difficult to smuggle radioactive materials into the country,” the file says.
Mr. Paracha’s assessment is among more than 700 classified documents that fill in new details of Al Qaeda’s efforts to make 9/11 just the first in a series of attacks to cripple the United States, intentions thwarted as the Central Intelligence Agency captured Mr. Mohammed and other leaders of the terrorist network.
The plots reportedly discussed by Mr. Mohammed and various operatives, none of them acted upon, included plans for a new wave of aircraft attacks on the West Coast, filling an apartment with leaked natural gas and detonating it, blowing up gas stations and even cutting the cables holding up the Brooklyn Bridge...
Things like this keep putting doubts in the public mind, despite repeated declarations as to the President's Christian faith on the part of the his spokesmen. Keith Koffler writes:
Just when I thought the current team running the White House might have used up all its allotted mistakes comes word that President Obama failed to issue either an Easter or a Good Friday greeting to the nation.
Now, let’s forget for a moment that these greetings, which presidents issue on many holidays and commemorations of events, are largely perfunctory and symbolic gestures that nobody cares about.
Until there’s a problem with them.
Fox News first caught the blunder and put it into context that makes the omission insulting to Christians. The mistake is odd enough to call into question just what Obama’s priorities are.
By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays and released statements in 2010 on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.
The White House . . . did release an eight-paragraph statement heralding Earth Day. Likewise, the president’s weekend address mentioned neither Good Friday or Easter.*
Obama, Fox notes, did head out to church yesterday and held an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House last week.
Obama is on a roll for religious holiday greeting screw ups. Fox News writes:
In 2010, Obama was criticized for releasing an all-inclusive Easter greeting. He reached out to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and people of no faith at all in a statement about a holiday that is uniquely Christian.
And as I noted last week, the president released a Passover greeting this month that compared the ancient Jewish exodus from Egypt to the Arab political awakening this year, which would be a beautiful thing if most Arabs didn’t seek Israel’s destruction.
UPDATE: Asked during this afternoon’s briefing about the issue, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested Obama’s “high profile” visit to a church Sunday should suffice.
“I’m not sure if we put out a statement or not, but he obviously personally celebrated Easter with his family,” Carney said, adding ”the president took his family out to church in a very high-profile way.”
Carney added that Obama is a “devoted Christian.”
* Fox News is incorrect. Obama does mention Easter in his weekend address, though he does so only briefly and not as a message or greeting to Christians celebrating the holiday.
Multiple multicultures - why can't we all just get along?
Peter Guillam tries to argue that mulitculturalism isn't so bad really because we're all so different as to be all the same. From The Guardian:
Imagine Steve, a white English man who can trace his ancestry back to the Norman conquest, who owns a small business, is a Tory, has children, lives in the countryside, loves cricket and is a practising Christian. Who does he have more in common with? Yousef, a Pakistan-born man who owns a small business, is a Tory, has children, loves cricket, lives in the countryside and is a practising Muslim? Or Katie, a female Welsh factory worker with no children, who hates all forms of competitive sport, is an atheist city-dweller and a member of the Socialist Workers party? If culture means shared values, then Steve has far more in common with Yousef than with Katie.
Family man? Loves cricket? Practising Muslim? Kerr-boooom!
Daffy politics and taffy voice aside, give me Katie or give me death.
Tennesseeâ€˜s Material Support Act - SB1028/HB1353 â€“ Advances Towards Possible Enactment
Muslim Protesters at Tennesee Legislature
Hundreds of Muslims thronged the plaza before Tennessee’s Capitol Building in Nashville today. They gathered to protest legislation, Senate Bill 1028/ House Bill 1353, which they claim is a thinly disguised attack on Islamic Sharia law. Renamed the Material Support Act, its co-authors, Rep. Judd Matheny and Sen. Bill Ketron had expunged original references to Islam, Sharia and terms like ‘designated Sharia groups’ instead modeling it on federal terrorism legislation. The original intent of the legislation was to expose underlying Islamic political doctrine aimed at supplanting both the US and Tennessee State Constitutions, federal and state human and civil rights laws and statutes.
Watch this Channel 4 WSMV report on today’s Muslim community protests at the Tennessee State Capitol.
Could you, one day in the near future, be subject to arrest in Tennessee simply because the faith you were born into and believe in contains principles that state officials disagree with?
The answer, sadly, is yes — if legislators and the governor approve Senate Bill 1028/House Bill 1353, formerly known as the “anti-Shariah law bill’’ and newly worded to quash concerns over its potential to stir up discrimination against Muslims in Tennessee.
The rewording did not work. This bill, now presented as an anti-terrorism measure, manages through its broadened vagueness to demonize not only Muslims — its prime target — but any group because of its ideology, even if its conduct is exemplary and its members break no laws.
Under pressure, Sen. Bill Ketron’s and Rep. Judd Matheny’s bill has been refashioned to remove pages and pages of reference to the evils of Shariah law, which is based in Islam but is not known to be practiced anywhere in Tennessee. What they did not remove was the ability of the governor and state attorney general to designate a group as a domestic or foreign terrorist organization based on its thoughts and not its deeds.
In their attempt to remove the proposed law’s conflict with the First Amendment, the Republican legislators seem to have forgotten about the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fifth Amendment guarantee of a fair trial and due process. Incidentally, they still have First Amendment problems, too, in terms of religious freedom and the right to peaceably assemble.
Still Ketron and Matheny will tell you that the law now mirrors federal statute on designating groups as providing “material support’’ to terrorists.
As the American Civil Liberties Union has pointed out, with the federal law in place, why add a redundant state law?
Notwithstanding these objections raised in the Tennessean editorial, today, SB 1028/HB1353 passed the House Judiciary Committee 12 to 4 (1 Republican and Three Democrats dissenting) and the Senate Judiciary Committee (6 to 3). Both measures will now go to the respective finance committees in the House and Senate for consideration. Should the law become enacted it will mark a first for Tennessee and the nation; certainly, it would be an interesting precedent for other states to consider adopting. If that occurs it will set the stage for the arrival of Islam critic, Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders given his appearances in Mid-May at both public and private meetings in Middle Tennessee.
Doubtless, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) might intervene seeking to overturn the law based on conflicts with existing federal terrorism laws and perhaps First, Fourth and Fourteen Amendment issues. Muslims, as represented by what was said by the Imam of the Nashville Islamic Center, Mohamed Ahmed and many of the Muslim protesters bussed into downtown Nashville today, would contend that the law is a thinly disguised attempt to paint Islam and Sharia as a terrorist ideology. This reflects the First Amendment Freedom of Worship matters raised in Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearings of last fall. You may recall that the US Attorney for Middle Tennessee and the Interfaith Committee on Mosques formed by the ADL filed amicus briefs during the Murfreesboro Chancery Court hearings on the expansion project of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro last September based on these issues and federal laws exempting religious institutions from local zoning approvals under the provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. For these reasons and others, the odds are probably better than even that the Obama Administration’s DOJ would quickly bring filings in Federal courts seeking to overturn the Tennessee Material Support Act.