These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 4, 2012.
Monday, 4 June 2012
A Continental Fantasy
On a flight from Copenhagen to Brussels, I read two publications that I see infrequently: the International Herald Tribune and Le Soir, the principal Belgian newspaper in French. Both, not surprisingly, had much coverage of the European crisis, and both used an expression that, to me, has a sinister ring: the European project.
As it happens, I was once interviewed by one of Le Soir’s best-known journalists, who asked me whether I was in favor of the European project. I said that I would answer if she would tell me what itwas. She did not, and we moved on to other subjects. Whatever the European project may be, those who don’t embrace it wholeheartedly—with a fervor that can only be described as mystical, considering that no one can explain or define it in simple terms— are depicted not as skeptics, but as enemies. Thus in Le Soir,we read: “Only the enemies of the Euro and of the European political project, notably the City of London, dream of such a cataclysm [the break-up of the single currency]!”
The City of London—Britain’s equivalent of Wall Street—here plays the role of the bloated plutocrat of Soviet iconography or of the Jewish manipulator of Nazi iconography, pulling the strings behind the scenes in order to achieve its malevolent design of controlling the world. One can make many possible criticisms of the City of London, but a determination to destroy the viability of the euro for some unspecified, atavistic reason is certainly not among them. If the euro is viable, the City couldn’t destroy it; if it is not, the City cannot save it. Besides, the idea that there is a congregation of malign conspirators within the fabled Square Mile who would rejoice at the euro’s implosion is absurd; the prospect is almost universally viewed with apprehension, though it would not come as a surprise to everyone. The conspiracy theory serves to suppress the thought that perhaps theEuropean project’s creators are not much wiser than those of Balnibarbi in Gulliver’s Travels.
Assuming that Germany will not agree to pay the debts of other European countries, either by allowing inflation of the euro or by direct transfer payments, the Europeans face a stark choice: ignore economic reality or ignore political reality. If they persist in a currency union without some kind of budgetary union, implosion will come sooner or later. If, on the other hand, they go for budgetary union, a political explosion will happen sooner or later.
The euro’s tragic dilemma must be what Paul Krugman, writing in the International Herald Tribune, is referring to when he calls the currency “that grand, flawed experiment in monetary union without political union.” As for “the broader European project,” he describes it as “the attempt to bring peace, prosperity and democracy to a continent with a terrible history.” One can only marvel at such hubris. Europe is not so much the God that failed as the megalomaniac fantasy that failed.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Four men who planned a shooting spree at the office of a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammed were found guilty of terrorism Monday.
The men, Swedish residents of North African and Mideast origin, were arrested in late December 2010 just hours before authorities say they planned to carry out a violent attack on the Jyllands-Posten's offices in Copenhagen.
Sentencing is expected later in the day, and the men could face about 16 years in prison.
Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm, Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri and Sabhi Ben Mohamed Zalouti had been under surveillance by Swedish and Danish intelligence agencies at the time but denied the charges during the trial. The four gave conflicting explanations about the purpose of their journey, which included New Year celebrations in the Danish capital and travel in Sweden.
Surveillance recordings played during the trial showed the four men meeting in Stockholm and discussing martyrdom, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper and how they should kill as many people as possible inside the building housing the paper and take one hostage. The recordings also revealed them discussing what to do about women and children, whose lives they were apparently going to spare.
At a prayer service in Denmark before their arrest, the men were heard on a surveillance tape saying "when you meet the infidels, cut their throats."
During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence suggesting that Aboelazm, 32, was arrested in Somalia and Pakistan in 2007 and 2009 on suspicion of terrorist activities, but he was never charged and eventually released.
Denmark has been in the crosshairs of Islamist terror groups since the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, an act that offended many Muslims and sparked demonstrations and rioting in many Muslim countries.
Saturday night in a suburb of Lyon, a mob of more than a dozen Muslim men accosted three Orthodox Kippot wearing Jewish youths with hammers and iron bars. The rampage gave rise to cries of “ shocked, shocked” from the leaders of France’s nearly 700,000 Jewish community and M. Hollande’s security ministers. This latest event follows the March Mohamed Merah rampage that killed a rabbi and two Jewish school children and in separate attacks French Muslim soldiers. Merah died in a blaze of bullets in a holdout shooting of the al Qaeda wannabee in Toulouse. But we can expect more of these attacks by Muslims given the size of the community in France and their overwhelming support for the new government of M. Hollande. The Socialist President Hollande received allegedly more than 93 % of eligible Muslim voters in France. Grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder, Prof. Tariq Ramadan was alleged to issue his usual tapes urging Muslims to vote for Hollande. Hollande was bending over to accommodate the Muslim community in France, even talking of opening up voting to ‘eligible’ resident aliens. Is it any wonder that France’s Jews, many who fled the Islamist Maghreb in North Africa have seriously considered acquiring bolt holes in Israel and America.
Three yarmulke wearing Jewish youths were brutally assaulted on Saturday night by a mob of over a dozen who beat them with hammers and Iron bars. The incident took place in Villeurbanne, near Lyon in southeast France. French blogs reported that the crime was carried out by Islamic youths.
The victims were hospitalized suffering various wounds and were subsequently released according to French newspaper L’Express. Police forces have begun a manhunt in search of the suspects.
On Sunday the Interior Ministry said that they believe the assault to be motivated by antisemitism.
Minister Manuel Valls, denounced the attack in a statement calling the act “extremely serious” and “a deliberate attack against our republican model that should enable everyone, without distinction, to live freely and safely expressing his religious affiliation “.
The assault comes just months following the brutal massacre of four by an Islamic terrorist at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
In reaction to the incident, French Jewish artist Ron Agam told The Algemeiner that, “It is about time now for the French authorities to radically search for these Imams and put a stop to the brainwashing on tens of thousands of Muslim kids in France.”
“It is unacceptable that this culture of racism and antisemitism is being tolerated by a significant number of the Muslim community, this culture must stop,” he concluded.
This morning’s World Jewish Daily in its post, “La terreur” noted the aroused concerns of France’s Jewish community;
A vicious antisemitic attack in the French town of Villeurbanne on Saturday horrified the French Jewish community; and on Monday its leading representatives stated that this is only the latest in a wave of antisemitic violence that has struck France in recent months.
[. . .]
France's Jewish leaders quickly stepped forward to say that the incident was by no means isolated. They claim that since the Toulouse atrocity in March - during which Arab racist Muhammad Merah slaughtered four people, including three children, at a Jewish school - antisemitic violence has been going up dramatically.
“There has been a series of acts like the one in in Villeurbanne,” said Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), according to Le Figaro.
Joël Mergui, president of the Central Consistory, an umbrella organization working to coordinate local Jewish communities, said the country’s Jews were under constant attack. “Not a week passes without anti-Semitic assaults in France. I refuse to believe Jews will be forced to choose between security and their Jewish identity.”
The chief rabbi of the Grand Synagogue in Lyon, Richard Wertenschlag, called the atmosphere “unbearable.”
CRIF Vice President Ariel Goldman told the French press that “In the month following the Merah terror attack we counted 140 such acts. This amounts to a third of the violent incidents we had in 2011.”
Following the Toulouse atrocity, French politicians pledged to intensify the fight against antisemitism. Much of the violence, however, is committed by France's large Muslim minority, which is many times larger than the Jewish minority and wields considerable political power.
As a result, French officials are rarely willing to pick a fight with their Muslim constituents over their attitude toward French Jews, leaving the Jewish community vulnerable to the hatred and violence of their neighbors.
Many of you will have signed my petition on Avaaz.org.Sadly today Avaaz showed it true colours and removed the petition as it felt it was against their "Community Standards". Avaaz's behaviour has been anti democratic and biased but we the friends of Israel in Ireland and worldwide must stand together and urge Minister Gilmore and the Irish Government to not seek a EU ban on Israeli goods made in the settlements.
On the 15th May 2012 Eamon Gilmore the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs suggested he may seek a EU wide ban of Israeli settlement goods.
Israeli settlements are in Area C, Area C of the West Bank under the Oslo Accord was assigned to Israel.Area A and B was given to the Palestinian Authority to control.
If Minister Gilmore wishes to seek a boycott of Israeli settlement goods,we seek an EU wide boycott of goods made in Western Sahara which is occupied by Morocco,Indonesian goods made in West Papua New Guinea and Chinese goods made in Tibet
We urge Minister Gilmore,Minister Creighton and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs not to seek a boycott of Israeli goods ,instead they should look to build bridges between various communities in the Middle East.
Singling out Israel will not secure a lasting peace.
Denmark jails Prophet cartoon plot gang for 12 years
(Reuters) - Four men were jailed for 12 years each on Monday for plotting a gun attack on a Danish newspaper over its cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, whose publication in 2005 sparked deadly riots across the Muslim world.
The men, a Tunisian and three Swedish citizens of Arab origin, were caught on police surveillance tapes discussing whether to behead or shoot their intended victims, the chief prosecutor told Reuters.
Presiding judge Katrine Eriksen said the four men had planned to carry out an attack at the offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which first published the dozen cartoons seven years ago, and kill as many people as possible.
She also ordered the four, who had pleaded not guilty to the main terrorism charge, be expelled from Denmark after serving their sentence and instructed them to pay the trial costs.
Defence lawyers had argued police surveillance recordings were insufficient proof that an attack was actually being planned. It was not immediately clear if the men would appeal. They have four weeks to do so.
Exactly 70 years ago – on February 24, 1942 – 19-year-old David Stoliar terrifyingly clung to bobbing debris in the Black Sea. At first he heard screams in the frigid waters but the voices died down. It eventually emerged that Stoliar was the sole survivor of Der Struma, an un-seaworthy vessel chuck-full of frantic Jewish refugees.
World War II was already in fever pitch. Against the enormity of the then-unfolding Holocaust, the loss at sea of 768 Jewish lives (103 of them babies and children) was at most blithely overlooked as a marginal annotation.
Moreover, although these Jews fled the Nazis, in the pedantic literal sense they weren’t executed by Third Reich henchmen.
This atrocity was the coldblooded handiwork of Great Britain (committed while it combated the Germans but remarkably without compassion for their Jewish victims), supposedly neutral Turkey (whose so-called nonalignment didn’t extend to outcast Jewish refugees), by the Arabs (who were openly and unreservedly Nazism’s avid collaborators and who pressured London into denying endangered Jews asylum in the Jewish homeland) and, finally, by the Russians (who targeted the immobilized sardine can that carried Jews to whom nobody would allow a toehold on terra firma).
The entire world seemed united in signaling Jews how utterly unwanted they were anywhere.
Such apathy-cum-enmity hasn’t disappeared. Only its form and context had mutated but the essence is still ultra-relevant to the Jewish state. We’re still threatened with annihilation. Nonetheless, unmistakable harangues from Tehran notwithstanding, the international community worries about an Israeli preemptive strike – not a genocidal strike against Israel.
To put it plainly, our fate today interests other nations just about as much as the fate of the Struma’s Jews did back then, which (to resort to understatement) was hardly much.
Today’s disingenuous post-Holocaust lip-service is invariably accompanied by hand-wringing about lack of foreknowledge of Germany’s fiendish plot to systematically exterminate the defenseless Jewish people (unmistakable harangues from Berlin notwithstanding).
What sets the Struma apart and imbues it with extraordinary significance is that from December 16, 1941, until the afternoon of February 23, 1942, its ordeal was played out before the entire watching but unfeeling world. No country could deny awareness of the impending calamity and yet all countries let it happen in full view.
The Struma, then a 115-year-old Danube cattle barge, was a pitiful peanut-shell of a boat packed with nearly 800 refugees from Romania. Bound for the Land of Israel, they desperately fled Hitler’s hell and the horrors of Bucharest’s fascist regime. Pogroms and ghastly atrocities had already sullied cities like Iasi, where thousands of Jews were assembled in the market square and mowed down with machine guns. Venerable old rabbis and Jewish community leaders were impaled on meat hooks in town centers.
The Struma wasn’t struck suddenly. It was slowly tortured, accentuating with demonic deliberation how disposable Jews were, just when genocide’s monstrous machinery was switched into high gear. This 75-day shipboard melodrama underscored the total helplessness and humiliation of Jews without power.
Struma passengers gathered in the Romanian port of Constanza on December 8, 1941. For four days, Romanian customs officials “examined” their belongings. In fact, they pilfered all they saw – clothing, underwear, jewelry and most important, food. The immigrants left on the perilous journey bereft of provisions and medications. But the Struma did carry 30 doctors, 10 engineers and 15 lawyers.
On December 12, the rickety vessel chugged out to sea. After four hair-raising days (instead of the routine 14 hours) the Struma unsteadily dragged itself into Istanbul Harbor. It couldn’t continue. Its makeshift motor had sputtered its last. There was no fuel, food or water.
Several passengers held valid entry visas into pre-independent Israel. All others were “illegals.” The hope, though, was that once in Turkey, they’d all be allowed to proceed to their destination. After all, with Europe in the throes of war, thousands of Jewish immigration certificates (British Mandate permits) remained unutilized.
But the British authorities refused unequivocally. The Arabs raged and rallied against giving haven to Jewish refugees. Eager to appease pro- Nazi Arab opinion, Britain chillingly declared that under no circumstance could the Struma’s human cargo set foot in Eretz Yisrael.
Furthermore, Britain pressured Turkey not to let anyone off the crippled boat at its end either. Obligingly, the Turkish premier argued that “Turkey cannot be expected to serve as a refuge or surrogate homeland for people unwanted anywhere else.”
Thus hundreds were imprisoned in narrow, unventilated confines. A sign saying “Help!” was suspended over the Struma’s side. One of the visa-holders, who after weeks was allowed ashore, described the boat as a “floating coffin.”
The freezing hull below reeked, but there wasn’t sufficient room on deck. Refugees took turns to climb up for a breath of air. There was no sleeping space for all, no infirmary, no galley, no bathing or sanitary facilities. Minimal food rations, provided by local Jews, were smuggled aboard after enough Turkish palms were greased.
An official Jewish Agency appeal, forwarded to the British on January 19, 1942, stressed that the Struma transported refugees escaping the most tangible threat of massacre. The Mandatory authorities didn’t even dignify the Jewish Agency with a reply.
On the next day, the Struma’s 35th in Istanbul, the Wannsee Conference opened in suburban Berlin to formally decide on “the final solution for the Jewish problem.” Hitler surely hadn’t overlooked this latest demonstration of utter callousness toward hapless Jews.
The British didn’t bother to answer ensuing emotional Jewish Agency entreaties on January 30 and February 10. Then they acquiesced to the entry of four visa-holders, who only at this point were permitted to disembark. More news of the dreadful conditions on the Struma now came out.
The new British line was that the Struma’s refugees were suspect Nazi agents because they came from enemy territory. The assertion that the Germans’ most hideously persecuted victims were their tormenters’ spies was labeled “Satanic” in embryonic Israel.
In a very long February 13 communication to the Mandatory government, the Agency noted that Britain was helping with much fanfare to resettle in the Mideast thousands of non-Jews – Greeks, Yugoslavs, Poles and Czechs – all of whom came from German-controlled areas. More than any of them, Jews had reason to be loyal to the Allies.
On February 15, the British announced they’d make an exception in the case of Struma children aged 11 to 16. Wartime rationing was cited as the pretext for barring younger or older kids. The Jewish Agency guaranteed maintenance for all 103 underage Struma captives. In the end no child was freed.
Meanwhile, Turkey, egged on and emboldened by Britain, threatened to tow the floundering deathtrap beyond its territorial waters. The Jewish Agency warned that “the boat is in total state of disrepair and without life-saving equipment. Any sea-journey for this vessel cannot but end in disaster.”
The Turkish government, however, pitilessly ordered the condemned Struma tugged out to the Black Sea. Hundreds of truncheon-wielding Turkish policemen were dispatched to the Struma on February 23. They viciously clubbed passengers below deck. Despite resistance from the refugees, the anchor was cut, the Struma was towed out and was left paralyzed, to drift precariously without supplies or a drop of fuel.
On February 24, an explosion ripped it apart.
A Soviet submarine, Shchuka-213, patrolled northeast of the Bosporus. Stalking Axis craft, it torpedoed the wobbly barge, which sank in minutes. It’s estimated that as many as 500 were killed outright by the blast. The rest flapped feebly in the waves, till they expired of wounds, fatigue and hypothermia. Stoliar alone hung on, semi-conscious.
In pre-state Israel there was shock and grief. Demonstrations were mounted. For one day all work and commerce were halted and the population imposed a voluntary protest curfew on itself. Posters appeared on exterior walls everywhere bearing British High Commissioner Harold Mac Michael’s photo and announcing that he was “Wanted for Murder.”
The Struma’s heartrending end marked the effective end to most attempts to break Britain’s anti-Jewish blockade until the conclusion of WWII. A few fishing and sporting sailboats briefly tried to ferry handfuls of refugees. Some of them were sunk. Europe’s Jews had no escape left. Embattled Britain took time out from the war to make sure of it.
Stoliar was imprisoned by the Turks for six weeks for the crime of not drowning. He was finally allowed into Mandated Palestine despite Mac Michael’s warnings that “this would open the floodgates” and “completely undermine our whole policy regarding illegal immigrants.”
Today, to most Israelis, Struma is a curious street name in a few towns. Israeli school children barely encounter its esoteric story. Politically correct authors and trendy leftwing filmmakers shun the subject, preferring postmodern portrayals of Arab terrorists as Zionism’s prey.
Oblivion is perhaps the greatest sin against the Struma but also against ourselves. If we forget the Struma, we forget why this country exists, why we struggle for its survival. We forget the justice of our cause.
Dimmed memory and self-destructive perverse morality hinder our ability to protect ourselves from the offspring and torchbearers of the very Arabs who doomed the Struma. They haven’t amended their hostile agenda. We just don’t care to be reminded.
The state the Jews created is threatened with destruction and its population with obliteration. Yet there’s negligible sympathy for Israel and even less practical support to avert tragedy. The Struma’s story is seminal in understanding why the Holocaust was possible and why a second Holocaust cannot be ruled out. More than anything, the Struma powerfully illustrates what happens when Jews rely on others’ goodwill
For Some Saudi Royals, Even The Unmerited Billions Aren't Enough
Saudi Royal does ‘$8 million runner' from Paris hotel
June 04, 2012
The front of a "Caprices de Lili" lingerie store where Saudi Princess Maha Al-Sudairi had previously left an unpaid bill. AFP
IF you were trying to dodge a hotel bill you might just slip out of a side door late at night and walk away quietly.
However, when a Saudi princess tried a moonlight flit from the five-star hotel where she owed £5m (nearly AU$8 million)it was never going to end well - not least because of her retinue of 60 servants and a mountain of suitcases.
Princess Maha Al-Sudairi’s planned escape with her entourage immediately led staff at the exclusive Shangri-La hotel in Paris to call police.
And when officers showed up at 3.30am last Friday the wayward ex-wife of Saudi Crown Prince and deputy prime minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz - who is second-in-line to the Saudi throne - was stopped as her extensive luggage was being bundled into a fleet of limousines.
Most offenders in her position would have been arrested on the spot, charged and perhaps would already be behind bars.
But because the princess is protected by diplomatic immunity, police were unable to arrest or even charge her with an offence. Instead the French authorities can only approach the Saudi embassy to get them to help.
In the meantime the princess and her small army of servants have been offered refuge from their troubles - at another luxury hotel, the Royal Monceau, near the Champs-Elysees.
The five-star hotel is owned by 'family friend', the Emir of Qatar, who has offered to put her up while the matter is resolved.
The princess arrived in Paris with her entourage on December 23 last year and booked out an entire 41-room floor of the Shangri-La.
Up until then she had been confined to a palace in Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah after leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills with luxury firms across Europe, reportedly including Dior, jewellery outlets Chaumet and Victoria Casal, and at least one hotel.
She repeatedly dodged demands from the hotel to settle her ballooning bill, the newspaper Le Parisien reported.
Matters finally came to a head last week when police found her and her servants attempting to leave the hotel.
This is not the first time the royal has found herself in hot water. Her global over-spending has been well-documented in the past.
She was originally 'cut off' by a furious King Abdullah after racking up massive debts all over the world during the last few years.
In June 2009, she claimed diplomatic immunity in France after amassing £15million (AU$23million) in unpaid shopping bills, including £60,000 (AU$95,000) on designer lingerie alone.
The following year, she was once again bailed out by her oil-rich government after she ordered £18,000 (AU$28,000) worth of glassware and silverware from a Paris store.
Despite this, her fabulously wealthy credentials meant the IOU notes handed to shopkeepers which read ‘payment to follow’ were usually accepted.
Over the years, up to 30 of Paris's most exclusive retailers have fallen foul of her bouncing credit notes, French newspapers reported.
Shop owner Jacky Giami, who owns Paris's Key Largo leisure wear store, said the princess and her relatives had more than £100,000 (AU$159,000) worth of his stock.
Last night, police in Paris said they were unable to arrest or charge her because she was claiming diplomatic immunity.
They said they would be asking the Saudi embassy to help settle her accounts.
One brother, Qayum Karzai, is mulling a run for the presidency when his brother steps down in 2014. Other brothers have been battling over the crown jewel in the family empire — the largest private residential development in Afghanistan. The conflict over the project, known as Aino Mena, has provoked accusations of theft and extortion, even reports of an assassination plot.
“It’s family,” Qayum Karzai said. “They get upset, and over time they get over it. I hope they get over it.”
One Karzai brother is also said to have imprisoned a longtime Karzai aide in an effort to make him disclose the whereabouts of money and assets that relatives suspect were hidden by Ahmed Wali Karzai, another of President Karzai’s brothers and the political boss of southern Afghanistan who was assassinated last year. He was often accused of benefiting from the Afghan opium trade and an array of corrupt deals, though he denied such claims.
The looming withdrawal of American and NATO troops by 2014 from the still unresolved war, along with President Karzai’s coming exit, is causing anxiety among the Afghan elite who have been among the war’s biggest beneficiaries, enriching themselves from American military contracts, insider business deals with foreign companies, government corruption and narcotics trafficking.
“If you are one of the Afghan oligarchs, where you put your money and where you live is an open question now,” Seth Jones, an analyst at the RAND Corporation, said. “That means you are thinking about moving your money and finding a backup option about where to live.”
The president’s family — many of whom are American citizens who returned to Afghanistan after an American-led coalition toppled the Taliban in 2001 and brought Mr. Karzai to power — are among those who have prospered the most, by the accounts of many Afghan businessmen and government insiders.
Several political observers in Kabul said any candidacy by Qayum Karzai, a longtime Maryland resident who has served in the Afghan Parliament, would be a long shot because of the nation’s fatigue with Hamid Karzai and widespread resentment over the rampant corruption that has tainted his government.
Even some of the Karzai family’s own business partners are among the critics.
“We have an illegitimate and irresponsible government because of Karzai and his family,” said Abdullah Nadi, an Afghan-American developer from Virginia who is a partner in the Aino Mena housing development, but who is trying to get out of the venture.
While exploiting their opportunities in Afghanistan, the extended Karzai family has for years simmered with tensions, jealousies, business rivalries, blood feuds and even accusations of murder. With the often-fractious family, it can be difficult to discern the truth, but everyone agrees that the conflict over control of its empire can be traced back to the death in July 2011 of Ahmed Wali Karzai, who had risen from working as a waiter in Chicago to become one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan, serving as the chairman of the Kandahar Provincial Council.
No one expected much from him. Quiet and reserved, he was largely overshadowed by Ahmed Wali Karzai, and even lived in his more powerful brother’s compound in Kandahar.
But Shah Wali Karzai has been transformed in the past year. In addition to his role as tribal chief, he serves as project manager of Aino Mena, the sprawling residential development on the outskirts of Kandahar being developed by AFCO, a corporation owned by another brother, Mahmoud Karzai, and his four partners.
They have built 3,000 homes, with plans for a total of 14,700. The developers are building on 10,000 acres, land that Afghan military officials have claimed was illegally seized from the Ministry of Defense.
Emboldened after Ahmed Wali Karzai’s death, Shah Wali Karzai appeared no longer satisfied to serve just as an employee at Aino Mena. At some point in the past few months, he created his own corporation in Kandahar and then secretly moved all of the cash from the housing development’s bank accounts to those of his new business.
According to several AFCO partners, Shah Wali Karzai had transferred about $55 million. “He simply opened another company, and put the money in that company,” Mahmoud Karzai said in an interview.
Mr. Nadi, one of the partners in Aino Mena, accused Shah Wali Karzai of forging his signature on documents to make it appear as if he had approved the creation of Shah Wali Karzai’s company as the new corporate parent of Aino Mena. “I had no clue what the hell was going on,” Mr. Nadi said in an interview.
When Mahmoud Karzai discovered what his brother had done, he demanded that Shah Wali return the money. But Shah Wali refused, and instead insisted that he be made a partner in Aino Mena. Mahmoud and his partners refused, and the two sides settled into a bitter stalemate.
Shah Wali Karzai does not deny transferring the money to his corporation. But he justified his actions by saying that he is protecting the money for the sake of the people of Kandahar. He has told others in Kandahar that if he had not taken the money, Mahmoud Karzai could have moved it to secret bank accounts in Dubai. Aino Mena would then have risked failure just like Kabul Bank, another of Mahmoud Karzai’s business ventures, he argued.
Mahmoud Karzai was a key figure in the scandal surrounding the near-collapse of the bank, which was Afghanistan’s largest, in 2010. It lost about $900 million in insider deals, much of which is believed to have ended up in secret bank accounts in Dubai. Last year, a federal grand jury in New York began a criminal investigation into Mahmoud Karzai’s business activities in Afghanistan, pursuing accusations of tax evasion, racketeering and extortion. No charges have been brought against Mahmoud Karzai, who is a United States citizen.
“The money belongs to the people of Kandahar,” Shah Wali Karzai said in a statement in response to questions about transferring the housing development funds. “They paid much of that money for the infrastructure at Aino Mena.”
He added, “When I became project manager, they owed money to the bank and local contractors, and all the money was paid off as I turned around that company from an almost bankrupt one to a successful one.”
Mahmoud Karzai said he and his partners have filed complaints with the Afghan attorney general, accusing Shah Wali Karzai of stealing their money and using extortion to gain a partnership stake in Aino Mena. The attorney general has refused to move against Shah Wali Karzai, apparently unwilling to get involved in what he sees as a family battle.
Qayum Karzai said he attempted to negotiate a settlement, but has backed off. “Tempers were flaring up,” he said in an interview. “I tried to mediate, but I failed.”
President Karzai has been reluctant to take sides in the family dispute, though his government has been drawn into the matter. The Afghan Central Bank has finally intervened, freezing the bank accounts of Shah Wali Karzai’s company. Mahmoud Karzai said a deal was in the works, but other partners said the dispute had not been resolved.
In the midst of the conflict, Afghan security officials uncovered a plot to kill Mahmoud Karzai. About two months ago, the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan domestic intelligence agency, identified at least three Afghans, including two former employees of the Aino Mena development, who had been involved in a plot to kill Mahmoud Karzai and possibly others. One man was arrested and later released. The two former Aino Mena employees implicated in the plot had both been fired by Mahmoud Karzai.
Afghan security officials have not accused Shah Wali Karzai of any involvement in the scheme. He denies any involvement in it, and Mahmoud Karzai said in an interview, “I refuse to believe that my brother had anything to do with it.”
Family members said that Shah Wali Karzai had also been trying to unlock the secrets of his dead brother’s fortune.
After Ahmed Wali Karzai was killed, his most trusted aide, Zamarai — like many Afghans, he uses only one name — moved to Dubai. Reports of his lavish lifestyle there fed suspicions within the family that Zamarai had access to riches hidden by Ahmed Wali Karzai, perhaps through accounts and properties that had been placed in Zamarai’s name.
When Zamarai returned recently to Kandahar — some family members claim he was lured back by Aziz Karzai, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Russia and President Karzai’s uncle, an account the envoy flatly denies — he was detained by security personnel working for Shah Wali Karzai, according to relatives.
Mahmoud Karzai says he believes that Zamarai knows the whereabouts of “one or two million dollars.” Others familiar with the matter say that Shah Wali Karzai suspects that Zamarai knows about hundreds of millions of dollars more hidden in Dubai and elsewhere, including assets in Afghan businesses and real estate.
Zamarai is being held at Sarposa Prison in Kandahar, where he is guarded by Shah Wali Karzai’s security personnel rather than the regular prison guards, according to several people familiar with the matter but who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from the Karzai family.
He has not been charged with any crime.
When asked through Gerald Posner, a Karzai family lawyer, about Zamarai and whether he is holding him, Shah Wali Karzai declined to comment.
Spirits and surroundings were in harmony as we gathered under blue skies for Commencement, marking the close of Harvard’s 375th anniversary with poetry and song. It was a fitting end to a celebration that began in October with a boisterous, albeit rain-soaked, birthday party in Tercentenary Theatre, a celebration improved by the announcement a week earlier that seven of the year’s thirteen Nobel laureates were Harvard alumni. Now, with milestones passed and revelry concluded, I thought I would share some reflections on the events of the past academic year and on the progress we continue to make together.
Harvard endures because Harvard changes. If it was an academic year of celebrating the past, it also was one of looking to the future and launching new initiatives, new partnerships, and new spaces that will strengthen the University for generations to come. We introduced the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching to develop innovative approaches to teaching and to share more broadly the best in established and emerging methods with faculty across our Schools. We announced edX, a partnership with MIT that will enable us to embrace the promise of online learning for our students while sharing our knowledge more widely with the world. And we opened the Harvard Innovation Lab, a hub where student inventors and entrepreneurs from across the University can work closely with faculty and with members of the broader innovation community to turn their ideas into products and services.
At the same time, we reaffirmed commitments that will stand us in good stead as we move deeper into the 21st century. We are progressing with plans to transform the Harvard Library, ensuring the preeminence of one of the University’s most cherished resources. We have begun renovating Old Quincy, the test project for our ambitious renewal of undergraduate Houses. We continue to adapt our graduate and professional programs, as well as the spaces they inhabit, to meet the needs of changing times. The Business School introduced a new M.B.A. curriculum that includes an immersive international experience for all first-year students. The Graduate School of Education, in close collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, developed a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in education that will bring together faculty from across the University to address urgent issues related to education. And the Law School completed the construction of the Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center, Clinical Wing, a new home that provides ample space for students and faculty to gather and collaborate.
At heart, of course, Harvard is about its people. This year, we welcomed Provost Alan Garber and announced the appointments of three new campus leaders: Lizabeth Cohen became Dean of the Radcliffe Institute; David Hempton will succeed William Graham as Dean of the Divinity School, and Jonathan Walton will serve as Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals. Paul Finnegan will join the Corporation in July, his appointment the latest step in implementing changes intended to enlarge the Corporation and enhance Harvard’s governance structure. I look forward to working closely with each of them as we continue to define our goals for our upcoming capital campaign, an opportunity to articulate the University’s aspirations at a transformative time for all of higher education.
“The books stand open and the gates unbarred.” The final line of Seamus Heaney’s “Villanelle for an Anniversary,” delivered once again by the poet during our Morning Exercises, is a resonant reminder of our highest purposes. Through the examples I have highlighted and the many more achievements that distinguished the past academic year, we have perpetuated knowledge to posterity, expanded the circle of inclusion, and imagined a world improved by our individual and collective efforts. Looking now toward the culmination of Harvard’s fourth century, we begin again, guided by our history and inspired by one another.
With warmest wishes for an enjoyable summer,
Drew Gilpin Faust
President and Lincoln Professor of History
Jay Bergman is a Professor of Russian History at Connecticut Central State University. Bergman is a friend of long standing in Connecticut. The Jerusalem Post published an opinion article today by him, "Understanding the Iran talks". It is about something that we have written about frequently, appeasement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Czechoslovakization of Israel by Obama. Professor Berhman connects the dots in this article between the patent appeasment of the P5+1 talks with Iran and the history of patent appeasement of the West with Hitler and the destruction of pre-war Czechoslovakia.
Asa professional historian, I normally do not place much stock in historical analogies. They usually obscure and confuse more than they clarify.
But in the case of the recent P5 + 1 talks in Baghdad that will resume in Moscow later this month -- when the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, will try again to negotiate an agreement with Iran that will prevent its nuclear program being used to develop nuclear weapons -- an analogy comes to mind that suggests what the results of these negotiations are likely to be.
The analogy is with the Munich conference at the end of September 1938, at which Nazi Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain forced Czechoslovakia to cede to Germany the so-called Sudetenland, in the western part of the country, where some (but by no means all) of the three million ethnic Germans living there were demanding, in the name of self-determination, that it become part of Germany.
Hitler favored this because it made easier the destruction of Czechoslovakia, which in turn would facilitate the acquisition of lebensraum (living space) in Russia for the Aryan race. Additionally, the Czech government was required by the Munich agreement to cede to Poland all parts of Czechoslovakia where the population was more than 50% Polish, and to Hungary all territory where the population was more than 50% Magyar.
THAT THE agreement was negotiated by the four heads of state -- Hitler, Mussolini, Edouard Daladier for France, and Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister -- rather than by their foreign ministers underscored its significance. Hitler had scheduled an invasion of Czechoslovakia for October 1 - a fact known to the British and the French -- if it did not meet the Sudeten Germans' demand, and for that reason the Munich agreement seemed to preclude a European war. In reality it merely postponed it.
Conspicuously absent from the conference were the United States, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia itself, whose vital national interests the participants at Munich did not consider legitimate enough for the Czechs to be present to protect. The closest any representatives of the Czech government got to the negotiating table was a room adjacent to it, where two lowlevel functionaries sat in silence, forbidden to participate in the negotiations.
For good reason Munich has become code for the appeasement of regimes that cannot be appeased because there is no limit to the demands they will make.
The obvious analogue of Czechoslovakia in the P5 + 1 talks is Israel. Like Czechoslovakia in 1938, it is the only country whose existence is deemed illegitimate by a participant in the talks, namely Iran. The Iranian government has repeatedly, and with increasing vehemence, threatened to annihilate Israel -- most recently by Major General Hassan Firouzabadi in a speech in Tehran this past Sunday. Nonetheless, Israel is not represented at the talks; there are not even any Israelis in an adjacent room. And like Nazi Germany in 1938, Iran will not be deterred by any agreement it signs from its longstanding intention of acquiring nuclear weapons for the purpose of annihilating Israel and dominating the entire Middle East. Like Hitler, who six months after Munich ordered German troops to occupy the rump that remained of Czechoslovakia, the Iranians several times have agreed to limits on their actions, for example on the percentage to which they will enrich low-grade uranium, only to ignore these limits when it became possible politically to do so.
By consenting to America's participation in these talks, President Obama is acquiescing in a process that can only jeopardize the lives of the six million Jews (and the one million Arabs) who live in Israel. That he is doing so while claiming "to have Israel's back" is an act of cynical calculation worthy of the appeasers at Munich.
The writer is a Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and the author, most recently, of Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov.
Morgan State student Alex Kinyua admits to eating housemate
This undated photo provided by the Hartford County Sheriff's Office shows Alexander Kinyua. (AP Photo/Hartford County Sheriff's Office)
(AP) BALTIMORE - A Maryland college student accused of killing a housemate and eating his heart and part of his brain was kicked out of a ROTC program after he punched holes in the walls of the cadet computer lab and a military instructor referred to him as a "Virginia Tech waiting to happen," according to a campus police report months before the attack.
Alex Kinyua, 21, a native of Kenya and a student at Morgan State University, admitted using a knife to kill and carve up 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie before eating his organs, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said last week. The older man, a native of Ghana, had been staying with the Kinyua family for about six weeks at their townhouse in the Baltimore suburb of Joppatowne. Investigators haven't given a possible motive.
Two weeks before he was killed, he said he was ready to come home and get a job and dreamed of someday becoming president of his native land of Ghana, his relatives from that country told The Associated Press.
"Daddy is in a state of shock, does not want to believe his son is dead," Gloria Boahema Asante, the youngest of four siblings, said in an interview with The Associated Press in Accra. "We look at the picture that went with the story and see the smiles on his face and do not want to believe that he is dead."
A Morgan State campus police report obtained by The Baltimore Sun said that after Kinyua's outburst in the classroom in December, Staff Sgt. Robert Edwards, a senior military instructor at the school, made the Virginia Tech comment. The report that the Sun referred to on Monday does not provide any rationale for the mention of the massacre in which 32 students were killed by a student who committed suicide.
University officials referred questions about the report to campus police, who did not provide it to AP immediately.
The report does say Kinyua was barred from campus until a meeting with school officials and that two officers didn't think a psychological evaluation was needed, though one did call a counseling center emergency number. When they got no response they released him to his physics professor father, Antony Kinyua. His father is who asked Agyei-Kodie to move in when he hadn't worked for three years and was trying to re-establish his life, said James Holt, a friend of the victim for about 10 years.
The report notes Kinyua was kicked out of the school's ROTC program because of the outburst. ROTC officials have declined to discuss the reason why Kinyua in January was "disenrolled" in the college-based U.S. military program that allows students to be commissioned as officers when they graduate. Officials said Monday that Edwards was now deployed to Afghanistan.
In a January forum, Kinyua mentions Virginia Tech while advocating for a greater focus on protecting young men and women from university violence, according to a video released by the university. He then suggests the hazing policy include "blood sacrifice." It's not clear what he means and his short comment is met with applause from the crowd.
Virginia Tech was a subject again in his Facebook page posting in February. He referred to it and "other past university killings around the country" and warned "ethnic cleansing is the policy, strategy and tactics that will affect you, directly or indirectly in the coming months."
And in more violence in a separate case on May 19, police said Kinyua beat a man with a baseball bat on Morgan State's campus, fracturing his skull and making him lose sight in one eye. Kinyua was freed on $220,000 bail just days before Agyei-Kodie was killed. He is now being held without bond on a murder charge.
Grieving relatives last spoke to Agyei-Kodie was when he called for Mother's Day, said his younger sister, Irene Konadu Asante, who was dressed in mourning clothes of red and black.
"We took turns to talk to him and he expressed his desire to return home within months. He even asked my husband to start looking for jobs for him," she said through tears. "My brother's dream is to become the president of Ghana and that is why he had spent so much time educating himself in the U.S."
Agyei-Kodie, the son of a retired banker, attended the prestigious St. Augustine's College at Cape Coast and went on to Presbyterian Boys Secondary School in Accra before graduating from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a degree in chemical engineering.
He had his problems in the U.S., though. He had studied at Morgan, but had not since 2008. He was sentenced to at least a year and half in jail after a 2008 conviction in Baltimore County for sex offense, assault, harassment, stalking and telephone misuse for making repeated calls to a woman, according to court records. An immigration judge ordered him removed from the country in 2010, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was waiting for documents from Ghana before returning him to his country.
Agyei-Kodie maintained his innocence to the end and hoped to clear his name, Holt, his friend, told AP.
Gloria Konadu Asante recalled that her brother always "hammered" on the importance of education.
"Brother Kujoe is every little sister's dream of a big brother. He was always encouraging me to go to school and did all he could to help me in my education," she said. "Education would take you anywhere and did everything to see me through university."