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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 27, 2011.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Al-Qaeda's Annual Fundraising Appeal

From AP:

CAIRO (AP) — Al-Qaida militants in Iraq made an online appeal Tuesday for new fundraising ideas, saying they are in dire need of money to help thousands of widows and children of slain fighters.

Insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq — an umbrella group for Sunni militants— have funded their operations in the past by robbing jewelry stores, banks and offices where the government pays out monthly salaries. But the group has seen its main source of money, funding from abroad, dry up, leaving the group strapped for cash.

In an Arabic statement posted on al-Qaida in Iraq's online forum, website administrator Seif Saad lamented the state of the group's finances and launched an urgent appeal for money to "feed the widows and the orphans" of mujahedeen, or holy warriors.

"A few days ago a brother was martyred, leaving behind a wife and children. There is no need to explain how we were running here and there to collect money for their minimum requirements of life," wrote Saad.

Among the new ideas to raise funds, Saad suggested insurgents find a way to extort money from foreign oil, construction, transport and cell phone companies, as well as international media agencies. If the companies refused to pay, insurgents would disrupt their operations. He did not elaborate.

He also said businessmen and wealthy families should be forced to pay annual zakat, or charity, which Islam stipulates should be roughly two percent of assets, and called for imposing fines on wealthy Shiites in Iraq "who receive aid from America and the West and steal the country's oil revenues."

Mohamed Abdel-Hadi, who identified himself online another administrator for the website, dismissed the idea of taking money from foreign companies, but said he strongly supports fining Shiites.

"All the Shiites, including merchants or government officials, are infidels and confiscating their money is part of jihad," he wrote.

A visitor on the website posted a comment suggesting militants kidnap company executives in return for hefty ransoms that could finance a prolonged insurgency.

Another contributor advised recruiting specialized Internet hackers to transfer money from U.S. banks to trusted people. The contributor did not elaborate.

The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for last year's heists of the Central Bank of Iraq and a state-run investment center.

The global arm of al-Qaida has itself appealed for funds in the past. One request was made by al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahri, who became the leader of the group after the death of Osama bin Laden.

Last year, al-Qaida's top commander in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed, also appealed for more funding, saying militants battling NATO forces were hampered by a lack of money and equipment.

Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in May, also appealed for more funds in some of his statement, urging businessmen to direct their alms to al-Qaida.

Posted on 07/27/2011 3:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Removing The Syrian Link Between Iran And Hezballah

Hossein Askari in The National Interest:

Slaying the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah Hydra

Although the longstanding links between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are indisputable, U.S. policy makers are singularly inept at connecting the dots and putting simultaneous pressure on all sides. If the Tehran regime were to fall, Assad would be isolated and forced to compromise with his Arab brethren and as well as with the United States; if Assad were to fall, the mullahs would face insurmountable hurdles in supporting Hezbollah; and with the fall of either the mullahs or Assad, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s days would be numbered (and with the fall of both his days would be almost over). Has Washington seized the opportunity to get the ball rolling, by simultaneously pressuring all three adversaries wherever it can? No.

Let’s start with Iran. While relations with Assad and Hezbollah are important for the mullahs, their future is most directly dependent on Iran’s economic vulnerabilities and fortunes, a fact the United States just doesn’t seem to grasp. While Washington has correctly forsaken military options against the Tehran regime and focused instead on economic sanctions, it has not pursued sanction options that could effectively back the mullahs into submission or collapse. Simply said, sanctions must impose sufficient pain on the regime to force it to change lest it be overthrown by popular domestic protests and upheaval. A little here and a little there does nothing except to cause unnecessary hardship with no meaningful payoff. Iran needs foreign exchange to finance its imports and to support its currency at what it deems the appropriate exchange rate. Thus lower oil prices, higher domestic oil consumption (leaving less available for exports) and more demands on its limited foreign-exchange earnings and reserves are the Achilles’ heels of the Tehran regime. [and by attacking Libya, NATO took Libyan oil off the market]

What should America be doing to exploit these vulnerabilities? The focus should be on deterring foreign investment in Iran, increasing the cost of Iran’s imports and escalating the private sector’s demand for foreign exchange (especially motivating them to take money out of the country). Washington has adopted some policies along these lines, resulting in a foreign-exchange squeeze (most recently attested by the inability of China and India to pay Iran in dollars for their oil imports and by the depreciation of the Iranian riyal). But it should have done better. Washington should be persuading oil exporters, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, to increase exports and exceed their OPEC quota in order to lower oil prices. As well, it was a horrible mistake for some prominent U.S. experts to call gasoline sanctions on Iran “the mother of all sanctions.” This pronouncement was just plain silly and counterproductive. The gasoline sanctions allowed Ahmadinejad to do what two of his predecessors were afraid to, namely, dramatically reduce Iran’s gasoline consumption and thus increase the availability of foreign exchange to the regime (in the process receiving accolades from the IMF). At the same time, the United States has not sanctioned the central bank of Iran; this would have helped increase Iran’s import costs and put a further squeeze on its foreign-exchange earnings. Nor has Washington pursued policies to accelerate capital flight from Iran. Iran’s economic collapse, prompted by a shortage of foreign exchange, would not only endanger the regime’s survival, but would also eliminate its ability to support Syria and Hezbollah, thus undermining these two U.S. adversaries as well.

While the Arab Spring has threatened the Assad regime, at first the White House lent support to Syria’s dictator, privately arguing that Assad’s fall would increase both instability in the region and border tensions with Israel. Such hypocrisy—backing oppressive regimes in Riyadh, Manama and Damascus while professing unquestioned support for human rights and democratic values—undermines U.S. credibility and influence in the Middle East, and further afield. It was as if the Obama administration could not see beyond its nose. Just think what Assad’s fall could do to the mullahs and Hezbollah! Washington’s missteps have afforded Assad valuable time, allowing Iran to rush support to bolster its Arab ally with intelligence gathering, protest-hardened manpower, materiel to quell demonstrations and badly needed financial aid, possibly saving the day for Assad. One thing is certain: if Assad were overthrown, the protestors and the new regime in Damascus would not forget Tehran’s support for their brutal oppressor, Iran would be isolated, less able to project regional power and more worried about its immediate neighborhood. Hezbollah would be left hanging.

It is with Hezbollah that the United States has minimal direct leverage. The Tehran regime needs Hezbollah to project power outside the confines of the Persian Gulf and to threaten U.S. interests in the broader region. The mullahs will do all they can to support Assad and Hezbollah, because without their mutual cooperation, Iran would be diminished in stature and much less of a threat to Washington’s interests. As long as Iran and Syria support Hassan Nasrallah, the United States can do little to confront and weaken Hezbollah—but as soon as they abandon him, Persian Gulf Arabs and Americans will be in a position to deal Hezbollah an existential blow.

It may not be too late to act simultaneously on two fronts to put Assad and the mullahs (and in the process Hezbollah) on the ropes. These states must be isolated—and isolated effectively.

Posted on 07/27/2011 3:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
National Anthem

Our national anthem is dull. It's the tune more than the words that makes it dull, but the words aren't very exciting either - unless you consider the context. Ivan Hewett in The Telegraph:

Lewis Hamilton isn’t happy. The Formula 1 driver’s moment of glory at the German Grand Prix was cut short by the paltry length of our national anthem. “When I stand up there and Felipe Massa has won, it’s 10 minutes long,” he complained, “and when I’m standing there it lasts half a minute. I would urge the UK to make our anthem longer.”

To which I say: be careful what you wish for. Do we really want an anthem as long as the Brazilian one?

I have a vivid childhood memory of being taken as a small boy to a grand event in Bangkok, which was the family home at the time. The King of Thailand was there, looking very splendid in his military uniform, and we all stood for the “royal” national anthem (Thailand has two national anthems, one of which is reserved for royal occasions).

On and on it went, very slowly, with much ponderous crashing of cymbals at the end of each phrase. When it ended, I sat down. But no one else moved, because it hadn’t actually ended. So up I popped, and then sat down again when another ending hove into view. Wrong again. When it really ended I didn’t dare move.

Young as I was, I felt I’d transgressed against something sacred. And in a way I had, because national anthems are hugely important things. The minute an anthem begins, it’s as if the whole nation stops what it’s doing, forgets all its squabbles and jealousies, and becomes one mystical unity. Trying to change one is like taking a hammer to a hornets’ nest.

[...]

With newer nations, the business of choosing a national anthem seems less fraught. There’s no difficult history to encapsulate, only an exciting future to imagine. But to picture that future, and enshrine it in music, these new countries tend to fall back on Western models. Sometimes they follow the Austrian model of praising the country’s natural beauty, as in the Bangladeshi national anthem which declares “In Spring, O mother, the fragrance from your mango groves makes me wild with joy”.

[...]

 

The model for all these is the Marseillaise, with its cry of “Patriots to Arms! Form your battalions, let’s march, let’s march…” My favourite new anthem is Senegal’s, which harks back to the days of Senegal’s heroic past, hymned by the bards with their thumb-harps or koras. “Sound, all of you, your koras, Beat the drums, The Red Lion has roared, the Tamer of the bush with one leap has rushed forward scattering the gloom!”

Compared to that marvellous imagery, isn’t our God save our gracious Queen just a tad dull? And isn’t that a good reason for keeping our anthem short, so as not to bore everyone?

I would say not, because with just one small adjustment our anthem could be made to seem very lively indeed. To do that, we need to remind ourselves when and why it was born. The year was 1745, and the Jacobite rebellion against the Hanoverian dynasty had suddenly become serious.

The mood was defiant, but a stirring musical expression of that defiance hadn’t yet appeared – until the fateful night at the Drury Lane theatre, when “God Save our King” was sung on stage by the company.

The audience was electrified. As the Daily Advertiser reported: “The universal applause it met with, being encored with repeated Huzzas, sufficiently denoted in how just an Abhorrence they hold the arbitrary schemes of our invidious Enemies, and detest the despotick Attempts of Papal power.”

Well, we don’t fear Papal power any more. But isn’t there a threat of despotic powers of a different kind being wielded just now, under the guise of “saving the euro”?

It’s surely time to stiffen British sinews, and the perfect musical encouragement lies ready to hand, in the anthem’s second verse. They’re not much sung these days, so you may have forgotten how the words go.

Here they are: “Lord, our God, arise /Scatter her enemies /And make them fall. /Confound their politics /Frustrate their knavish tricks /On Thee our hopes we fix, /God save us all.

Perfect for the times, I’d say. So let’s bring back the second verse of our national anthem, and give Lewis Hamilton his wish.

By the way, does anyone remember the old national anthem of Siam? "Wa Ta Na Siam"?

Posted on 07/27/2011 4:34 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
"Mossad Behind Norway Attack" says Canadian Arab Federation Head

Jonathan Kay of Canada's National Post (NP) has the latest spin on the horrific Norway mass murders by a Canadian Arab leader: Israel's mossad was behind it. We knew it wasn't enough  for the eager anti-Semites and holocaust deniers and the Jihadists to paint the intellectual and grass roots activists leaders in the counter-Jihad movement as conspirators in a fictional  Israeli Mossad plot. Now they have come out from behind their rocks to create the latest 'blood libel' to spread virally on the Internet. Note his commentary in today's NP, "Canadian Arab Federation official spreads conspiracy theory that Norway attack was Israel’s handiwork".

Khaled Mouammar, outgoing president of the Canadian Arab Federation, has always had some fairly unhinged attitudes toward Israel. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that he is now distributing an article with the subject line “Possible Israeli Connection to Oslo Attacks.”

The article — which appeared on the anti-Semitic (and occasionally Holocaust-denying) web site www.veteranstoday.com — concludes as follows: “Increasingly, it looks like [the] Mossad’s fingerprints are all over [the Norway killings], perhaps cooperatively with CIA and/or MI6. Massive car bombs are one of their specialties. They’re experts at these type operations, using convenient stooges for plausible deniability, usually without their knowledge. Spread the word, and keep the pressure on Israel and its Washington paymaster/partner, masters of mass murder crimes.”

Here is the full article, as it appeared in the text of the email (the email address used for the distribution, [email protected], appears on Canadian Arab Federation press releases such as this one):

—– Forwarded Message
From: Khaled Mouammar
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 15:42:19 -0500
Conversation: Possible Israeli Connection to Oslo Attacks
Subject: Possible Israeli Connection to Oslo Attacks

Possible Israeli Connection to Oslo Attacks
by Stephen Lendman

www.veteranstoday.com

On July 24, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen suggested a Mossad link, saying “ample evidence” of its involvement exists.
Anders Breivik, the alleged bomber/gunman, calls himself a Christian conservative interested in hunting, body building and freemasonry. He’s also expressed strong pro-Israeli views, hostile to Palestinians and Muslims.

Government business records name him the Breivik Geofarm director. Norway’s media call it a farming sole proprietorship, cultivating vegetables, melons, roots and tubers.

The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang quoted a friend saying he became a wing-wing extremist in his late 20s. He’s now age 32. The paper also said he participated in online forums expressing strong nationalistic, anti-multicultural views.
On July 24, the UK Daily Mail said:

“According to witness accounts from Norwegian media, people have described shooting incidents in two different areas on the island, one with a handgun and the other with a ‘sniper rifle.’ However, there is uncertainty whether the guns belonged to one gunman or there was a second involved.”

In the confusion, no one was sure, but the possibility is real, given the implausibility that one person killed over 90 people singlehanded. Perhaps there were multiple undetected gunmen. Police said they don’t exclude the possibility.

Madsen connected Breivik to Pam Geller and Richard Pipes, “ciphers for Israeli intelligence and propaganda elements….provid(ing) a clear link between Breivik and Mossad, which is under orders to stage false flag attacks to garner support for Israel against Palestine, Cyprus and Norway being the two most recent examples of Mossad-staged attacks.”
On July 19, Voice of Russia broadcasting headlined, “Norway to support Palestinians – Norwegian FM,” saying:
“Norway will support Palestinians who are set to press for recognition of the independence of their state by the United Nations, says the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store.”

In January, Store said:

“Norway will be among the first (European) states (to) recognize (an independent) Palestin(e) when there is an act as an international team” to do it.

He also said:

“We are working to develop the economy of Palestine,” and believe the political process toward peace can be successful.”
Heading a committee in charge of raising international aid for Palestine, he added that Norway is committed to rallying donor help to build Palestinian institutions.

His July comment followed talks with Palestinian National Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, adding he believes independence is no hindrance to Middle East peace.
Earlier in July, Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper quoted Labour Party-affiliated Workers Youth League (AUF) leader Eskil Pedersen saying:

The “time has come for more drastic measures against Israel, and (he) wants the Foreign Minister to impose an economic boycott against the country,” adding:

“The peace process goes nowhere, and though the whole world expects Israel to comply, they do not. We in the Labour Youth will have a unilateral economic embargo of Israel from the Norwegian side.”

Dagbladet said:

“The AUF has long been a supporter of an international boycott of Israel, (and) the decision at the last congress demands that Norway impose a unilateral economic embargo….and it must be stricter than before.”

Last August 24, Reuters and Haaretz writer Shuki Sadeh headlined, “Norway government-run pension fund drops Africa Israel group shares,” saying:

“Norway’s 450 billion euro oil-riches fund has excluded two Israeli firms involved in developing settlements, as well as a Malaysian forestry firm, on ethical grounds, Norway’s finance ministry said on Monday.”

Excluded are Africa Israel Investments and its engineering subsidiary Danya Cebus. Both are controlled by Lev Leviev, billionaire Israeli businessman, involved among other interests in constructing Israeli settlements.

Norway’s central bank-managed fund follows ethical guidelines, excluding investments in companies producing nuclear weapons, cluster munitions, environmentally harmful products, building illegal settlements, or abusing their workers.
The fund specifically said Leviev’s Danya Cebus subsidiary engages in settlement construction in East Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood, as well as West Bank Ma’ale Adumim and Modi’in Illit settlements.

The fund said its “Council of Ethics emphasizes that construction of settlements in occupied areas is a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.”

Finance Minister Sigbjoern Johnsen added:

“Several United Nations Security Council resolutions and an International Court of Justice advisory opinion have concluded that the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is prohibited under this Convention.”
Africa Israel replied, saying neither it or its subsidiaries engaged in West Bank settlement construction for some time, whether or not true. At the same time, it left unmentioned its East Jerusalem projects, where Israel steals Palestinian land for settlement development.

In 2009, Norway’s pension fund divested in Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense electronics firm, because of its involvement in building Israel’s illegal Separation Wall.

On March 29, 2011, EuropeNews headlined, “Norway: Socialist Left Party to Vote on Motion Calling for Bombing Israel if it Acts against Hamas in Gaza,” saying:

Former Finance Minister, now Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen’s Socialist Left Party (SV), (part of Norway’s three party ruling coalition with the Centre Party and the Labour Party) supports a measure supporting military action against Israel if it attacks Hamas. Part of its statement said:
“The credibility of the world community in its confrontation with (Gaddafi) is undermined when there is no reaction against other states in the region (that) commit injustices against (their) civil population. The greater world community must therefore also react against Israeli air attacks on the Gaza strip.”

The proposal didn’t get majority support but shows Norwegian concern for Palestinian rights. It suggests why Breivik targeted Labour Party children on Utoeya island. The previous day, they held a pro-Palestinian rally. Foreign Minister Store met with them, and while there, children told him Norway must recognize Palestine. In response, he said:

“The Palestinians must have their own state. The occupation must end. The wall must be demolished, and it must happen now.”

Breivik expressed strong hatred for Muslims and others with left of center views. His recently opened Twitter account posted a single July 17 comment, quoting John Stuart Mill saying:
“One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.”

However, at issue isn’t him or his views. It’s who planned the attack, perhaps used him (among likely others) to commit it, and why.

Derailing Palestinian independence and de jure UN membership, as well as retaliating against Norway’s backing both, its divestment of Israeli assets, and its criticism of Israeli policies combines a trio of reasons perhaps behind the Oslo attacks.

Increasingly, it looks like Mossad’s fingerprints are all over them, perhaps cooperatively with CIA and/or MI6. Massive car bombs are one of their specialties. They’re experts at these type operations, using convenient stooges for plausible deniability, usually without their knowledge. Spread the word, and keep the pressure on Israel and its Washington paymaster/partner, masters of mass murder crimes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]

 

Posted on 07/27/2011 4:57 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Tommy Robinson of the EDL in a BBC Interview

A hat tip to  the Vladtepesblog.

The English Defense League (EDL) was cited along with a host of prominent counter-Jihadists referred to in Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring  Breivik's  Manifesto, posted on-line. Some in the media, in America, the EU and the UK,have seized upon his Manifesto's citing of legitimate counter-Jihad authors, analysts and  bloggers and portrayed them as extremists engaged in inciting the murderer. Here we find an example of the BBC in this interview attempting to paint  EDL leader Tommy Robinson with this tar brush. Robinson does not give an inch, responding ably to the thinly disguised  allegations of this BBC interviewer

Watch this BBC interview with Tommy Robinson of the EDL, here.

 

 

 

 

Posted on 07/27/2011 5:18 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
The Mind of Anders Breivik

HOW does a man in one of the most peaceful societies in the world come to the conclusion that shooting a large number of people unknown to him is to serve the cause of his country?

Several ingredients must be in the witch’s brew of Anders Breivik’s mind.

First is resentment; second, self-importance; third, the desire for fame or notoriety; fourth, the search for a transcendent meaning to life, and fifth, a difficulty in forming ordinary human relationships, whether of love or friendship.

A final precondition is an above-average level of intelligence, for this is necessary in order to rationalise the commission of a deed that would otherwise be repugnant.

Resentment arises when you are not treated or rewarded as you think you deserve to be. Your merits, whether by virtue of birth or accomplishment, go unrecognised. You are therefore a victim of injustice. By definition you can do no wrong when you try to right them.

Self-importance prevents you from putting the wrongs you think you have suffered into any kind of perspective.

You do not see that, by the standards of most people, you have suffered little. You cannot see the difference between mere inconvenience or distaste and severe oppression.

In a world in which celebrity seems so important, obscurity is felt by many as a wound to their ego. Why should others be famous and not me?

If you cannot achieve celebrity by force of talent, then you can do so by means of murder – witness the Crossbow Cannibal.

A wider cause gives meaning and purpose to your life, and persuades you that your resentment, your anger, is not petty or personal, but something much grander. Breivik thought that by acting on his personal resentments he was a saviour of Europe; he might just as well have been an animal rights activist as a nationalist. His monomania relieved his inner emptiness.

A difficulty in forming normal human relationships is another cause for resentment of a man like Breivik, and of yet another wound to his ego. It has to be compensated for somehow, and producing an event of historic importance is one way to do it.

A man must be intelligent to act like Breivik – for he needs not only to plan and execute his “historic” deed, but to be able to weave a coherent, if paranoid and ultimately stupid, justification for it.

The pity for others of a mass killer like Breivik is nil; for himself, infinite.

First published in the Daily Express.

Posted on 07/27/2011 9:55 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman Of The National Transitionial Council (Rebels) In Benghazi

You can see him, in a picture worth a thousand words,

Posted on 07/27/2011 9:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Freeing Of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was a 'great mistake' says William Hague

From The Telegraph

The release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, to Libya was a "great mistake", William Hague said on Wednesday.The Foreign Secretary slammed the medical advice which justified the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds as "pretty much worthless".

The comments came after television images from Libya showed him alive, although frail and in a wheelchair, at a rally in support of Col Muammar Gaddafi almost two years after doctors supposedly said he had only three months to live.

Mr Hague said: "I think the appearance of Mr al-Megrahi on our television screens is a further reminder that a great mistake was made when he was released. . . I think many people, particularly the families of those killed at Lockerbie, I think their anger and outrage at this release will be further intensified by what we have seen.," he said. "So it has always been our view this was a mistake and this simply confirms that."

Posted on 07/27/2011 9:22 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
A Musical Interlude: Time On My Hands (Lee Wiley)

Listen here.

Posted on 07/27/2011 10:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
"The Hindu Threat," Or, One More Attempt To Manipulate And Exploit A Madman's Murders

From TodaysZaman.com:

US Muslims call for probe on Norway killer's ties with Hindu nationalists

 
27 July 2011
 
             
 
American Muslims have urged mosques and Muslim schools to increase security and have demanded an investigation into militant Hindu supremacist groups in the US after it became clear that the suspect in the bombing and mass shooting that killed 76 people in Norway praised nationalist Hindutva elements.
 

Muslim Peace Coalition USA and Indian Minorities Advocacy Network (ImanNet) leaders Seemi Ahmed and Dr. Shaik Ubaid have condemned the heinous terrorist massacres in Norway and expressed their heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, according to a statement released by the Muslim Peace Coalition USA on Tuesday.

Addressing a meeting of civil rights and human rights activists in New York, they expressed alarm over the connection between Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian suspect, and international Hindutva supremacists. They demanded that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security investigate militant Hindutva supremacist groups in the US. They also appealed to Indian consulates and Hindu temples to not allow Hindutva groups the use of their premises.

In his over 1,500-page manifesto titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik talks of Hindutva elements as allies and urges them to fight shoulder to shoulder with him to stem the spread of Islam in Europe.

“The Hindu-supremacist Hindutva movement in the US is a well-funded and powerful movement that has been involved in brainwashing American Hindu children and youth in the US with their brand of violent anti-Muslim and anti-Christian hate. These groups have been actively involved with the recent Islamophobic campaign in the US,” Ubaid said.

“For the last thirty years they have been busy infiltrating and gaining power among the various professional and trade associations of the Indian diaspora in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Far East. For the past two decades they have been using the growing economic and political clout of India on the international stage to infiltrate the power centers in the US under the guise of being ‘representatives of the Indian diaspora.' The more militant among the Hindutva fronts have openly formed alliances with white American hate groups and known Islamophobes,” he added.

Hindu nationalists have dismissed Breivik's praise of Hindutva as “motivated propaganda.”

“His entire so-called manifesto quotes conservative writers from both sides of the Atlantic. Ideological similarities have been drawn from all over, so to say suddenly that it is linked to Indian nationalists or Hindutva is simply motivated propaganda,” Ram Madhav, a senior leader of Indian nationalist movement the RSS was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

 
 

 

Posted on 07/27/2011 10:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Lunatic Logic in Oslo and Chinese Restaurants

The incomprehensible and shocking mass murder of scores of Norwegian young people following the detonation and destruction of an important government building in the center of Oslo by a lone maniac defies any analysis or comparison in real world terms. It is so grotesque that it simply cannot be put in any box. The lone killer was possessed with a lunatic logic that directed his wrath against his own people and neighbors as well as the country’s national leaders whom he believed had enabled turning Norway, once the most homogeneous nation in Europe (after Iceland), into a problematic and riven multicultural society.

The fact that no party, movement or even band of eccentrics rushed to claim responsibility for this heinous act apart from an Islamic one, (which rushed to take credit and then quickly withdrew its assertion), is the best indicator that  his actions could only appeal to and benefit the very devil he had tried to exorcise.

I will offer up an attempt at an analogy that puts the lunatic logic into a comparable framework, just as grotesque and fantastic. Imagine after Pearl Harbor in 1941 that a lone individual in the United States – a native born White American (an atheist or agnostic with no ties to any church), angry at the attack and bent on revenge for the murder of several thousand American sailors and civilians, carried out a massacre and devastating attack on crowded Chinese restaurants in New York’s Chinatown, issuing a declaration of over 1500 pages that all those eating and enjoying Chinese food (but especially Caucasians, native born White Americans like himself and Jews as well as Blacks) were guilty of betraying their own cultural heritage and American traditions. His claim asserted that these individuals all deserved to die at his hands because Chinese Americans in New York and working on the western railroads had preceded the immigration of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii and California thus providing legitimization of a fifth column responsible for Pearl Harbor.

He concluded that both the white and black patrons of these Chinese restaurants had been misled and corrupted by the presence of many Jewish patrons who, no doubt, had conspired to make Chinese food so popular in America.

Their corrupting behavior had thus contributed to the decline of white Christian Civilization (although not religious himself, he regarded American Civilization as White and Christian by historical circumstances).

No, not even MAD magazine in its heyday could have come up with a scenario as absurd as that which occurred in Norway or my fictional analogy. The reality of the world we live in of 2011 is that demented individuals who are anarchists in their hatred not just of the “others” (by race, religion, ethnicity or gender) but all those who disagree with their demented vision, have the opportunity and means to carry out mass mayhem.

The flaws and dangers of the presence in Europe of millions of unassimilated Muslim immigrants who are unwilling to become responsible citizens sharing equal civic duties and who crave special rights will not disappear; nor will the justifiable unwillingness of the police and fire services today to enter many predominantly Muslim residential areas that are considered “No-Go.”

These problems will not go away or diminish because of the crazed act of an individual. If my fantastic scenario of 1941 had really occurred, it would not have changed the course of events or the outcome of World War II nor my continued love of Chinese food.

Posted on 07/27/2011 11:12 AM by Norman Berdichevsky
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Rep. Peter King's Opening Statement At Today's Hearings On Al-Shabaab


King Opens Third Committee on Homeland Security Hearing on Radicalization, Focusing on al Shabaab

Washington, D.C. (Wednesday, July 27, 2011) – This morning, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, convenes the hearing entitled “Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland.” The prepared opening statement of Chairman King follows:


“Good morning. Today, we hold the third in a series of hearings on radicalization in the Muslim-American community.

Our focus is the result of a lengthy investigation the Committee has conducted into the threat the U.S. homeland faces from al-Shabaab, the Somalia affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Anwar al-Aulaqi’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The Committee has been briefed by intelligence agencies and we have interviewed dozens of experts on al-Shabaab.

I welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses. They have some of the most extensive insights into the problems uncovered by our Committee’s investigation and we are grateful they are sharing their knowledge.

You will hear how al-Shabaab, who bin Laden called “One of the most important armies” of Islam, is engaged in an ongoing, successful effort to recruit and radicalize dozens of Muslim-American jihadis, who pose a direct threat to the U.S.

Some argue that al-Shabaab is only a Somali problem, and that the group will never strike outside of the Horn of Africa region.

That kind of thinking is a glaring example of what the 9/11 Commission called a failure of imagination.

With al-Shabaab’s large cadre of American jihadis and unquestionable ties to al-Qaeda, particularly its alliance with AQAP, we must face the reality that al-Shabaab is a growing threat to our homeland.

Our investigation into this threat has led to alarming findings: Notably, that al-Shabaab has successfully recruited and radicalized more than 40 Muslim-Americans and 20 Canadians, who have joined the terror group inside Somalia.

Of those, at least 15 Americans and 3 Canadians are believed to have been killed fighting with al-Shabaab, the Committee has learned.

Not al-Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad.

Three Muslim-Americans became suicide bombers, such as Shirwa Ahmed from Minneapolis -- the first confirmed American suicide bomber in our history.

There also are radicalized converts like al-Shabaab commander Omar Hammami who was raised a Baptist in Alabama, and who has repeatedly threatened the U.S. homeland.

Three American al-Shabaab fighters have been arrested after returning home and one was collared in the Netherlands.

Other radicalized Muslims have been arrested in the U.S. and Canada before they reached Somalia, which is now much easier to get to for jihad than Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan or Yemen.

But as many as two-dozen Muslim-Americans with al-Shabaab -- who in many cases were trained by top al-Qaeda leaders -- remain unaccounted for.

The Committee found that al-Shabaab-related federal prosecutions for funding, recruiting and attempting to join al-Shabaab are the largest number and most significant upward trend in homegrown terror cases filed by the Justice Department over the past two years.

At least 38 cases have been unsealed since 2009 in Minnesota, Ohio, California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Virginia and Texas.

Al-Shabaab is recruiting inside American mosques in Somali communities like Minneapolis and San Diego, according to the Justice Department.


One Minnesotan recruited was suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed whose 2008 attack in northern Somalia sent a shockwave of alarm through U.S. homeland security agencies, because of its implications.

Another would-be bomber from Minneapolis was shot and killed in Mogadishu by peacekeeping troops on May 30, moments before detonating his suicide vest.

When one cleric spoke out against al-Shabaab inside the Minneapolis mosque where many of the missing young Somali-American men had once worshipped, he was physically assaulted, according to police.

For those still skeptical that there are still jihadi sympathizers inside that community, it’s worth mentioning that the Committee learned of the mosque assault when an audiotape of the incident was posted on overseas jihadi Internet forums before authorities in Minneapolis even knew about the incident.

There is an enormous amount of travel by Somali-Americans between U.S. cities and East Africa. While most of this travel is legitimate senior U.S. counterterror officials have told the Committee they are very concerned about individuals they have not identified who have fallen in with al-Shabaab during trips to Somalia, who could return to the U.S. undetected.

They fear an al-Shabaab fighter operating under law enforcement’s radar – someone like a Zazi, a Shahzad, an Abdulmutallab – may attempt an attack here.

It is deeply troubling that from the very beginning, the Muslim-Americans in Somalia were trained by top al-Qaeda operatives, including several who were tied to Yemen’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is now generally considered our biggest homeland threat.

Al-Shabaab operative Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was charged this month for doing weapons deals and explosives training with AQAP in Yemen, and to, “Provide AQAP with material support including... personnel.”

Al-Shabaab has long harbored top al-Qaeda leaders, such as the mastermind of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, who was gunned down this month in Somalia after a 13-year manhunt.

Al-Shabaab has paraded in Somalia in support of AQAP and sent fighters to battle the weakened Yemeni government this year -- as well as flying the battle flag of al-Qaeda-in-IRAQ.

Finally, an al-Shabaab bombing in neighboring Uganda one year ago that targeted Westerners killed 74 people including one American.

President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has said the Administration remains, quote, “Vigilant that al-Shabaab may expand its focus from fighting to control Somalia to plotting to attack the U.S. homeland.”

That convinced me of the necessity to launch a careful examination of that threat.

Dozens of experts the Committee interviewed agreed this threat is real, and that al-Shabaab leaders’ public calls for attacks against America -- including in retaliation for killing bin Laden -- must be taken seriously.

With a large group of Muslim-Americans willing to die as “martyrs,” and a strong operational partnership with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in Yemen, al-Shabaab now has more capability than ever to strike the U.S. homeland.

We look forwarding to hearing more about the rising al-Shabaab threat from our exceptional witnesses, as well as the Minority’s distinguished witness.

Finally, I note that certain elements of the politically correct media—most egregiously the vacuous ideologues at the New York Times—are shamelessly attempting to exploit the horrific tragedy in Norway to cause me to refocus these hearings away from Muslim-American radicalization.

If they had even a semblance of intellectual honesty the Times and the others would know and admit that there is no equivalency in the threat to our homeland from a deranged gunman and the international terror apparatus of al-Qaeda and its affiliates who are recruiting people in this country and have murdered thousands of Americans in their jihad attacks.

Let me make this clear to the New York Times and their acolytes in the politically correct, moral equivalency media--I will not back down from holding these hearings. I will continue to hold these hearings so long as I am the Chairman of this Committee.

Apart from all the strategic and moral reasons why these hearings are vital to our security, they are liberating and empowering to the many Muslim-Americans who have been intimidated by leaders in their own communities and are now able to come forward.

I also owe it to all the friends, neighbors, and constituents I lost on September 11th. I will not back down.”

Posted on 07/27/2011 12:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Johann Hari's "Shocking Comments And Behaviour" In Central Africa

 Damian Thompson at The Telegraph here, and the comments following, on the subject of Johann Hari in the Central African Republic. .

Posted on 07/27/2011 1:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Umberto Eco: Of The Reading, As Of The Making, Of Books There Is No End

From The National Post:

 

Open Book: This is Not the End of the Book

Andrea Comas/Reuters

Andrea Comas/Reuters

Italian writer, thinker and critic Umberto Eco has no fear the written word, including the book, is going to disappear: “The Internet has returned us to the alphabet … From now on, everyone has to read. In order to read, you need a medium. This medium cannot simply be a computer screen.”

  Jul 15, 2011

Fear not, bookworms and library rats. Two fellow bibliophiles, novelist (The Name of the Rose) and critic Umberto Eco, and playwright and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, have collaborated on a volume whose title says it all: This is Not the End of the Book: A Conversation Curated by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac.

Eco lays out his argument very early in this “conversation.” (Don’t ask me what “curated” means.) “There is actually very little to say on the subject,” Eco states. “The Internet has returned us to the alphabet … From now on, everyone has to read. In order to read, you need a medium. This medium cannot simply be a computer screen.” The implication of Eco’s logic is clear. E-books have their place in the world of letters, but not necessarily one of total dominance. “One of two things will happen,” Eco continues in his march of logic. “Either the book will continue to be the medium for reading, or its replacement will resemble what the book has always been, even before the invention of the printing press. Alterations to the book-as-
object have modified neither its function nor its grammar for more than 500 years. The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved.”

Now that what little to say on the subject has been said, we can savour what this particular book is really about, the spectacle of two European intellectuals exchanging aperçus. Here are the fruits of a lifetime of reading, stockpiled and readily available to both speakers. At one point, Carriere directs our attention to forgotten French baroque poets. Eco responds with a reference to neglected Italian baroque poets. They move on.

What really drives the conversation, however, is the subject of their book collections. “Not counting my collection of legends and fairy tales, I own perhaps 2,000 ancient books, out of a total of 30,000 or 40,000,” Carriere says. “I have 50,000 books in my various homes,” Eco comments. “I also have 1,200 rare titles.” Both men maintain they are interested in previous owners of their books. “I love owning books that have belonged to others before me,” Carriere says. Eco concurs. “I own some books whose value comes not so much from their content or the rarity of the edition as from the traces left on them by an unknown reader, who has underlined the text, sometimes in different colours, or written notes in the margin.”

Eco’s collection is more focused than Carriere’s. It is a “collection dedicated to the occult and mistaken sciences.” It contains works, for example, by the misinformed astronomer Ptolemy but not by the rightly informed astronomer Galileo. “I am fascinated by error, by bad faith and idiocy,” Eco tells us. He loves the man who wrote a book about the dangers of toothpicks, and another author who produced a volume “about the value of being beaten with a stick, providing a list of famous artists and writers who had benefitted from this practice, from Boileau to Voltaire to Mozart.” He adores the hygienist who recommended, in his treatise, the practice of walking backwards. Eco does not tell us how many of these books he actually owns, or how much he would pay for a first edition in mint condition.

Eco and Carriere exchange insider information about book collecting. You can find the occasional bargain, Eco says. “In America, a book in Latin won’t interest the collectors even if it’s terribly rare, because they don’t read foreign languages, and definitely not Latin.” A Mark Twain first edition is what excites them. De Tonnac asks each man about his dream find. Eco’s response is conventional: “I’d like to dig up and keep, selfishly, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book ever printed,” he says. Carriere opts for the discovery of “an unknown Mayan codex.”

A more interesting question, posed by de Tonnac, is whether “an unknown masterpiece might still be discovered.” Eco’s response is similar to the comments of the late critic Hugh Kenner. Kenner pointed out that if a copy of the Iliad turned up for the first time today it would arouse an archeological curiosity but little more. Eco agrees. “A masterpiece isn’t a masterpiece until it is well known and has absorbed all the interpretations to which it has given rise, which in turn make it what it is,” he says. “An unknown masterpiece hasn’t had enough readers, or readings, or interpretations.” Shakespeare, in contrast, is getting richer all the time. Disagreeable though it is to admit this, the anti-Western canon agitators have a point — literary masterpieces don’t simply drop from the heavens, or emerge from the brain of an inspired individual. Fate and politics play their roles.

The conversation in this book is full of interesting and sometimes heartening tidbits. “We are living in the first era in any civilization to have so many bookshops, so many beautiful, light-filled bookshops to wander around in, flicking through books,” Eco assures us. It is also salutary to be reminded that the preservation of cultural memory is an ongoing, urgent task. We assume that the contents of libraries and archives are being digitized, for example, without loss of significant printed material. This is not so. Carriere says that a truck arrives at the National Archives in Paris every day, “to take away a heap of old papers that are to be thrown out.” [what? I want them.]

Of the two conversationalists, I prefer Eco. Carriere is a little bit too cozy with the eminent. “I sometimes visit second-hand bookshops with my friend, the wonderful author and well-known bookseller Gerard Oberle,” he will state, or he will refer to, “My friend, the great Brazilian collector Jose Mindlin,” or he will find occasion to recall scenes with his good friends Luis Buñuel or Jorge Luis Borges or Jean-Luc Godard. I know it is hard for a top drawer French intellectual to avoid this, and I may simply be jealous. But I also notice that when a banality or an outright piece of misinformation pops up, it always comes from Carriere. You would never have Eco stating, for example, that the Gnostic Gospel According to Thomas is “a verbatim account of the words of Jesus,” or repeating an even hoarier canard, that St. Paul was “the real inventor of Christianity.”

Still, Carriere helps Eco keep the conversational ball in the air and free from any taint of theoretical jargon. Three cheers for these two hardy veterans of the cultural industry.

Posted on 07/27/2011 12:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
A Musical Interlude: La Gelosia Non È Più Di Moda (Trio Lescano)

Listen here.

Posted on 07/27/2011 12:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Who Serves In The IDF

July 27, 2011

Minorities in the IDF

By Aryeh Tepper

 

Christian Arab soldiers decorate a Christmas tree (2005).

Recently, while driving by the Israeli settlement of Nokdim (where Avigdor Lieberman lives), I picked up a hitchhiking soldier. We started chatting, and I asked the soldier his name. "Mustafa," he said. "You're a Muslim?" I asked. "Yes," he answered, "from Haifa." As our conversation progressed, I asked him his thoughts about Lieberman's criticism of Arab-Israeli society, saying that I thought the foreign minister wouldn't have any problem with an Arab-Israeli who serves in the army. Mustafa demurred: "Lieberman only loves me so long as I'm in uniform."

The Key to Social Mobility  Anshel PfefferHaaretz.  More and more groups that have grown used to living on the sidelines of society are joining the IDF to change that pattern.  SAVE

Israel's Arabs vs. Israel  Efraim KarshCommentary.  Just as French Jews fought German Jews during World War I, and Italian Americans and German Americans fought Italians and Germans during World War II, why should Israel's Arab citizens not undertake to defend their country against its enemies? (PDF, 2003)  SAVE

When most people think of the conflict in the Middle East, they naturally enough imagine Israeli Jews fighting Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims. But non-Jews from the Muslim, Druse, and Christian communities in Israel serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) alongside their Jewish peers. After completing their basic training, these soldiers swear fealty to the state of Israel on a copy of the Quran or the New Testament instead of the standard Hebrew Bible.

But soldiers like Mustafa are still very rare. For various reasons (including security concerns), Israeli Arabs are not drafted—though some still do serve voluntarily. A recent documentary film, Ameer Got His Gun, explores the decision of one eighteen-year-old Arab-Israeli Muslim to voluntarily enlist in the IDF. The film is a bit saccharine, following the trajectory of Ameer's untested idealism, but the (Jewish) producer and director thankfully refuse easy moralizing, and let the characters speak for themselves. The film's most touching scene follows the intense preparations of Ameer's family for what turns out to be a sparsely-attended enlistment party. Why throw a party? "To show everyone that you're not ashamed," says Ameer. After all, in the eyes of many Arab Israelis—Palestinians, according to their own self-definition—Ameer and his fellow Muslim soldiers in the IDF are nothing less than traitors.

Obviously, this attitude is not held among all minority groups. The Druse, for one, offer a radical counter-example. An offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, Israeli Druse number approximately 115,000, and aside from the Golan Druse who maintain their loyalty to the Syrian regime, the overwhelming majority of men proudly serve in the IDF. This has been so since 1949, when the Druse leadership requested that military service be obligatory.

Not only do they serve, but they serve with distinction. When the second Lebanon war broke out in 2006, an all-Druse battalion was the first unit to enter Hizballah country (on the first day of the war), and the last to leave.  After a month of combat, the battalion took down 15 Hizballah terrorists, with no casualties of its own. 

Like the Druse, the Sunni Muslim Circassians (of whom around 4,500 live in Israel) also loyally serve in the IDF. The Circassians, who practice a moderate, consciously non-nationalistic Islam, established good relations with the Jews in Israel at the end of the 19th century, thanks in large part to the language and culture they shared with Jewish immigrants from Russia. Since 1958, again at the request of their leadership, all Circassian men have been conscripted into the Israeli military. 

The Israeli Bedouins pose a more complicated case. Also Sunni Muslims, the Bedouins distinguish themselves from mainstream Arab society by their more rural (and sometimes desert-dwelling) ways. While not obligated to serve in the IDF, it's estimated that between 5 and 10 percent of draft-age Bedouin youth volunteer for army service, often as trackers. Amos Yarkoni, one of the most celebrated trackers in the history of the IDF, was actually a Bedouin named Abd el-Majid Hidr. In recent years, enlistment has fluctuated wildly, likely because of the increased influence of the Islamic movement among Bedouin communities.

Which brings us back to the larger Israeli-Arab communities. Each year, only a few dozen Arab Christians volunteer to serve in the IDF.  The army, which believes that the number could be much higher, has been redoubling its recruitment efforts in the community. One sign that the policy might be bearing fruit is the career of Cpl. Elinor Joseph, the first Arab woman to become a combat soldier in the IDF. But among Arab Muslims, while there are families like Ameer's, some boasting three generations of IDF fighters, voluntary enlistment remains low.

What drives minorities to volunteer their service? On the individual level, some are motivated by a sense of duty to defend their country, an idea that permeates the air of Israeli society. Druse and Circassian Israelis often identify deeply with the state. Others make a pragmatic calculation that serving in the IDF will ease their social and economic integration into Israeli society (as Mustafa's complaint demonstrates, this expectation is sometimes frustrated). On the communal level, groups who send their sons to serve in the IDF gain a greater hearing in their demand for government resources.

In many respects, the IDF's efforts among minority groups resemble the efforts under way with the ultra-Orthodox. While also exempt from military conscription, many in this group are increasingly sending their boys to units specially designed to meet their religious needs. In both cases, the army is reaching out to communities located along the margins of Israeli society in order to fill in the gaps created by a general shortage of manpower. It's intriguing to imagine the day when both the ultra-Orthodox and, as Efraim Karsh has speculated about, all of Israel's Arabs are drafted into the IDF. But that day won't be arriving in the foreseeable future, and so, for now, young soldiers like Mustafa remain few and far between.

Posted on 07/27/2011 12:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
An Artistic Interlude: La Tempesta (Giorgione)

Posted on 07/27/2011 12:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Iraq-War Profiteers, Arab And Non-Arab, And How They Operate In Jordan
Image: Florida News - July 14, 2011
Taylor Jones  /  Zuma Press
Plaintiff Mohammad al-Saleh, brother-in-law of Jordan's King Abdullah II, testified he was elbowed out of a partnership that supplied fuel to U.S. forces in Iraq.
By
Special to msnbc.com

A billionaire oilman was ordered to pay $28.8 million to a member of the Jordanian royal family on Wednesday in a lawsuit arising from a business dispute over a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply fuel to U.S. troops in Iraq.

While the dispute between Mohammad al-Saleh, the brother-in-law of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and Florida businessman Harry Sargeant III and his oil company was at the center of the case, the testimony often seemed to have sprung from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel, with allegations of bribery, double-crossing and war profiteering involving massive U.S. defense contracts leveled during the three week trial.

In a case first reported by NBC News in June 2008 , The eight-person jury affirmed that Sargeant conspired to deprive al-Saleh of a one-third share in profits from the contract. In an email, defense attorney Roger Kobert said his client expects to appeal.

The verdict could foreshadow another legal entanglement for Sargeant. The Justice Department is investigating the alleged bribery, according to al-Saleh’s court filings. If a criminal case materializes, it would become one of the largest-ever prosecutions under the Foreign Corruption Practices Act, whose enforcement the Obama administration has made a top priority.

Image: Florida News - July 14, 2011
Taylor Jones  /  Zuma Press
Harry Sargeant III, the co-founder of the International Oil Trading Co., a major Pentagon contractor, is under investigations for possible violations of the Foreign Corruption Practices Act, according to court filings.

A former Top Gun pilot and high-level GOP fundraiser, Sargeant did not attend the reading of the verdict. In his place at the defendants’ table was Marty Martin, one of the oil company’s top executives and formerly a senior CIA operative who, for two years after 9/11, advised former President George W. Bush on terrorism.

In 2007, he left a long career in covert intelligence for a lucrative post at Sargeant’s firm, the International Oil Trading Co. (IOTC) of Boca Raton, Fla. Martin was not a defendant in the trial but became one of its central characters when al-Saleh alleged that he was hired to replace him and then orchestrated a massive bribery scheme in Jordan.

Filing out of the courtroom past a beaming al-Saleh, the former head of the CIA unit formed to track down Osama bin Laden looked stricken.

During the trial, al-Saleh alleged that Sargeant and Martin directed $50 million in graft to the highest levels of the Jordanian government. The money, he claimed, bought the oil company a continued monopoly on supply lines of fuel through Jordan to U.S. forces in Iraq.

The existence of that monopoly cost the American military as much as $200 million in excess charges, according to a congressional investigation and Pentagon audit.

On the stand, Sargeant denied the payments were bribes and claimed that the government reports actually exonerated him.

Sargeant rarely speaks to the press. But during the trial, a portrait emerged of a tanned, hard-driving oilman obsessed with crushing competitors – or “bleeding them out like pigs,” as Sargeant put it in one email. That competitive instinct, the court ruled, prompted him to turn on al-Saleh, formerly a close friend and business partner.

In November 2003, Sargeant jumped on the opportunity to profit from the war in Iraq, flying his private jet to Baghdad in search of deals. Then, on a stopover in Amman, Jordan, he met with King Abdullah II, laying the groundwork for a new business venture that would make Sargeant, with Exxon and BP, one of the main dealers of oil to the Pentagon.

In 2004, Sargeant formed a company called International Oil Trade Center, a three-way partnership between him, defendant Mustafa Abu-Naba’a, and al-Saleh, who was “useful” to the company because of his royal connections.

Using those connections, the company secured a letter of authorization from the Jordanian government that gave IOTC an exclusive right-of-way in trucking oil through Jordan to U.S. bases in Iraq. The Pentagon would only award contracts to firms with that letter.

According to trial testimony, al-Saleh leaned on his government to keep the letter of authorization in IOTC’s hands and out of the hands of competitors.

But while he was doing so, he said, Sargeant and Abu-Naba’a formed a new company in Florida with the same acronym and a nearly identical name – the International Oil Trading Co. -- to win another U.S. fuel contract for the forces in Iraq.

Shortly after Martin was hired in mid-2007, he told a representative of Jordan’s all-powerful spy agency over email that al-Saleh’s partnership had been terminated. Martin said the company would continue to seek “direct interaction and cooperation” on the fuel deals with the spy agency and the offices of the king, according to evidence presented at the trial.

Martin also asked the spy representative for the Jordanian government to convey assurances to Washington that IOTC would remain the only bidder with the prized letter of authorization. In November 2007, a month after he made the request, Martin wired a $9 million payment to a mysterious figure referred to as “Basha,” who was Gen. Mohammad Dahabi, then-head of the Jordanian intelligence agency and second in power to the king.

Al-Saleh’s attorneys alleged that the money was a kickback intended to curry favor with the Jordanian government even as a member of its royal family was being elbowed out.

Sargeant presented an alternative narrative. His attorney, Kobert, framed al-Saleh as a money-grubber prone to explosive “hissy-fits” and issuing death-threats. He had become an embarrassment to the king, and so was ordered out of the fuel deal against Sargeant’s wishes, Kobert argued.

Kobert claimed that the spy agency and the king replaced al-Saleh with a new partner for IOTC, a Jordanian firm called Taurus Trading Co. The $9 million, though wired to a government account, was the first in a series of payments to Taurus Trading that totaled $50 million, Kobert said.

But under cross-examination by al-Saleh’s attorneys, IOTC officials testified that they did not know for sure where the $9 million wound up and were unable to clarify exactly what services Taurus Trading performed in exchange for what eventually totaled $50 million in payments.

And Kobert told msnbc.com that there was no contract or any written agreement with Taurus Trading, despite the enormous payments to the company and its involvement in the risky fuel shipments to U.S. forces.

Posted on 07/27/2011 4:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
German Muslim converts appear in London on terror charges

From Expatica and the BBC

Two German men appeared at a British court on Wednesday after they were arrested at an English port on suspicion of terror offences. Robert Baum, 23, and Christian David Erkart Heinz Emde, 28, were detained at the southern English port of Dover on July 15 after they were found with computers which allegedly contained ideological material relating to Islamist extremism.

The Muslim converts were charged at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court with collecting or possessing data likely to be useful in a terrorist act. The men refused to stand in the dock, saying through an interpreter it would be an act of worship against Islam.

They were remanded in custody until 24 August. Neither defendant gave an indication of how they intended to plead to the allegations.

 

Posted on 07/27/2011 4:32 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner on Norwegian Mass Murderer Anders Behring Breivik

Dr. Michael Welner, Chairman of the Forensic Panel

Yesterday, Dr. Michael Welner, renowned Forensic Psychiatrist and Chairman of The Forensic Panel in Manhattan, gave radio and TV interviews in Canada on the devastating events in Norway perpetrated by mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. We have frequently posted on Welner’s valued comments  concerning Jihadi killers like Maj. Nidal Hasan and Canadian Afghan Omar khadr.  Welner testified for the prosecution in Khadr’s military tribunal that were chronicled in a series of NER articles. Welner understands depraved minds perpetrating evil from his professional  practice and expert testimony in a number of landmark cases. 

Welner has a different take from some pundits in the media who immediately jumped to conclusions about what influenced Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik to undertake this spectacle of mass murder. Pundits have also lashed out at prominent counter-Jihadists accusing them of fomenting this horrific event through alleged inciteful postings on blogs or commentary in articles and books. The combined effect has been to silence some, but certainly not all valued criticism of Islamization in Norway, the EU and here in America. Welner has read through Brevik’s 1500 page Manifesto. While he found the document lucid, he also found it toxic and dangerous in the hands of extremist groups like al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Last night Welner was interviewed on the CBC TV News program Connect with Michael Kelley. He also did a longer radio interview with Arlene Bynon of 640AM Talk Radio in Toronto. Watch the CBC News interview with Michael Kelley, here. Listen to the Bynon audio interview, here.

A hat tip to mrcTv.org.

 

 

Welner sent us the following digest of the points raised during the Canadian interviews. Here are his remarks:

Psychotics have an ideology shared by none other than themselves. Fanatics have ideas shared by only a fringe few. Spectacle mass murderers graft ideas shared by many and attach them to a grandiose nihilism that recognizes they will become larger than life if they kill many, or kill shockingly. Their general fascination with destruction wraps itself in a mainstream ideology in order for them to argue the legitimacy of their atrocity with righteous indignation.

The anti-tax movement inspired Joseph Stack to fly his plane into the IRS building in Austin, TX . That in no way delegitimized the anti-tax movement. The Black Panthers murdered symbolic targets to create shock value. But the civil rights cause was legitimate. So it is that Breivik co-opted the movement in Europe to resist Shariah’s growing influence in European society and to engage the inability of Islam to assimilate into Europe.

For public officials to target political ideologies as responsible does a great disservice to the victims and their families. They were killed by a criminal who wants us to think others would do as he would, and there is no evidence to date that he even acted in a conspiracy. In my professional experience, it is healthier for victims and their families to focus on the perpetrator and his co-conspirators because they can more readily separate those depraved actors from the rest of benevolent society. If politicians and the press broad brush segments of society as responsible, then victims and their families look at their neighbors with suspicion and resentment, and the fabric of society unravels. Those who use political finger-pointing in the aftermath of such tragedy score political points and manipulate public opinion, but because they pit people against one another, they devolve their communities into insecurity and the inability to see things differently. It polarizes communities and those who do it should not be in positions of responsibility.

For more on what Welner has to say about the Oslo Mass Murderer, plan on watching tonight’s edition of The Joy Behar Show on CNN-Headline News  at 10:00PM  EDT.

 

Posted on 07/27/2011 6:29 PM by Jerry Gordon

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