Last September, when Iran’s uranium enrichment plant buried inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum was revealed, the episode cast light on a wider pattern: Over the past decade, Iran has quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers across the country.
In doing so, American government and private experts say, Iran has achieved a double purpose. Not only has it shielded its infrastructure from military attack in warrens of dense rock, but it has further obscured the scale and nature of its notoriously opaque nuclear effort. The discovery of the Qum plant only heightened fears about other undeclared sites.
Now, with the passing of President Obama’s year-end deadline for diplomatic progress, that cloak of invisibility has emerged as something of a stealth weapon, complicating the West’s military and geopolitical calculus.
The Obama administration says it is hoping to take advantage of domestic political unrest and disarray in Iran’s nuclear program to press for a regimen of strong and immediate new sanctions. But a crucial factor behind that push for nonmilitary solutions, some analysts say, is Iran’s tunneling — what Tehran calls its strategy of “passive defense.”
Indeed, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has repeatedly discounted the possibility of a military strike, saying that it would only slow Iran’s nuclear ambitions by one to three years while driving the program further underground.
Some analysts say that Israel, which has taken the hardest line on Iran, may be especially hampered, given its less formidable military and intelligence abilities.
“It complicates your targeting,” said Richard L. Russell, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst now at the National Defense University. “We’re used to facilities being above ground. Underground, it becomes literally a black hole. You can’t be sure what’s taking place.”
Even the Israelis concede that solid rock can render bombs useless. Late last month, the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, told Parliament that the Qum plant was “located in bunkers that cannot be destroyed through a conventional attack.”
Heavily mountainous Iran has a long history of tunneling toward civilian as well as military ends, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has played a recurring role — first as a transportation engineer and founder of the Iranian Tunneling Association and now as the nation’s president.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of big tunnels in Iran, according to American government and private experts, and the lines separating their uses can be fuzzy. Companies owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, for example, build civilian as well as military tunnels.
No one in the West knows how much, or exactly what part, of Iran’s nuclear program lies hidden. Still, evidence of the downward atomic push is clear to the inquisitive.
Google Earth, for instance, shows that the original hub of the nuclear complex at Isfahan consists of scores of easily observed — and easy to attack — buildings. But government analysts say that in recent years Iran has honeycombed the nearby mountains with tunnels. Satellite photos show six entrances.
Iranian officials say years of veiled bombing threats prompted their country to exercise its “sovereign right” to protect its nuclear facilities by hiding them underground. That was their argument when they announced plans in November to build 10 uranium enrichment plants. Despite the improbability and bluster of the claim, Iran’s tunneling history gave it a measure of credibility.
“They will be scattered in the mountains,” the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Iran’s Press TV. “We will be using the passive defense so that we don’t need to have active defense, which is very expensive.”
Mr. Gates, along with other Western officials, has dismissed that line of argument as cover for a covert arms program.
“If they wanted it for peaceful purposes,” he said of the Qum plant on CNN, “there’s no reason to put it so deep underground, no reason to be deceptive about it, keep it a secret for a protracted period of time.”
Iran denies that its nuclear efforts are for military purposes and insists that it wants to unlock the atom strictly for peaceful aims, like making electricity. It says it wants to build many enrichment plants to fuel up to 20 nuclear power plants, a plan many economists question because Iran ranks second globally in oil and natural gas reserves.
Ploy or not, any expansion seems unlikely to zoom ahead. After a decade of construction, Iran’s main enrichment plant, at Natanz, operates at a tiny fraction of its capacity. The Qum plant is only half built. Nuclear experts say the new plants, if attempted, may not materialize for years or decades. Even so, they note that tunnels would be the easiest part of the plan and may get dug relatively soon.
Despite the questions about whether the West can credibly threaten to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, analysts insist that the United States, Israel and their allies will never rule out that option. The Pentagon, in fact, is racing to develop a powerful new tunnel-busting bomb.
“Deeply buried targets have been a problem forever,” said Greg Duckworth, a civilian scientist who recently led a Pentagon research effort to pinpoint enemy tunnels. “And it’s getting worse.”
A Tunnel Expert
Mr. Ahmadinejad began professional life as a transportation engineer with close ties to the Revolutionary Guards and an abiding interest in tunnels.
He helped found the Iranian Tunneling Association in 1998, according to the group’s Web site. That year, the Tehran subway began a major expansion, and Iran, in secret, accelerated its nuclear program.
In early 2004, while mayor of Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad served as chairman of the Sixth Iranian Tunneling Conference. He praised the leaders of ancient Persia for creating networks of subterranean waterways and called for the creation of new “tunnels” between the government, universities and professional groups.
“I ask God to help us all,” he said in a paper. Such tunneling conferences, held regularly in Tehran, draw global manufacturers of tunnel-boring machines — giant devices as big as locomotives that dig quickly through rocky strata. Terratec, an Australian maker, noted early last year that Iran had recently become “one of the most active markets in the world.”
Many of the companies keep offices in Tehran. Herrenknecht, a German firm considered the market leader, lists three. Engineers say Iran has hundreds of miles of civilian tunneling projects under way, including subways in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz, highway tunnels across the country and water tunnels to irrigate the dry interior.
By all accounts, the seeds of the downward military shift were planted during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, when Iraq hit Tehran and other Iranian cities with waves of missiles. Constructing shelters, bunkers and tunnels became a patriotic duty.
An Opposition Watchdog
In 2002, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group, revealed that Iran was building a secret underground nuclear plant at Natanz that turned out to be for enriching uranium. Enrichment plants can make fuel for reactors or, with a little more effort, atom bombs.
Satellite photos showed the Iranians burying two cavernous halls roughly half the size of the Pentagon. Estimates put the thickness of overhead rock, dirt and concrete at 30 feet — enough to frustrate bombs but not to guarantee the plant’s survival.
The disclosure of Natanz set off the West’s confrontation with Iran. Two years later, the International Atomic Energy Agency found to its surprise that Iran was tunneling in the mountains by the Isfahan site, where uranium is readied for enrichment. “Iran failed to report to the agency in a timely manner,” an I.A.E.A. paper said in diplomatic understatement.
Then, in late 2005, the Iranian opposition group held news conferences in Paris and London to announce that its spies had learned that Iran was digging tunnels for missile and atomic work at 14 sites, including an underground complex near Qum. The government, one council official said, was building the tunnels to conceal “its pursuit of nuclear weapons.” The council further charged that Mr. Ahmadinejad and the tunneling association were providing civilian cover for military work and acquisitions.
The council’s assertions got little notice. Some Western experts saw them as overstated. Some questioned the council’s objectivity because it sought the government’s overthrow. Perhaps the biggest impediment was a suspicion of defectors at a time when the American invasion of Iraq was proving to be based in part on Iraqi dissidents’ false claims about Saddam Hussein’s unconventional weapons.
United Nations atomic inspectors did check out a few of the tunnels at Isfahan, but not at Qum because the plant was on a military base and thus off limits for inspection without strong evidence of suspicious activity.
Frank Pabian, a senior adviser on nuclear nonproliferation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, strongly disagreed. “They’re right 90 percent of the time,” he said of the council’s disclosures about Iran’s clandestine sites. “That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, but 90 percent is a pretty good record.”
In 2007, the council announced that Iran was tunneling in the mountains near Natanz, the sprawling enrichment site. Satellite photos confirmed that.
And Qum became a vindication, though belatedly, in late September, when President Obama, flanked by the leaders of France and Britain, identified “a covert uranium enrichment facility” being constructed there.
In December, the opposition group capitalized on its new stature to issue a report on Iranian military tunneling. It said Iran had dug tunnels and bunkers for research facilities, ammunition storage, military headquarters and command and control centers. “A group of factories” in the mountains east of Tehran, it said, specialize in “the manufacturing of nuclear warheads.”
Over all, the report raised to 19, from 14, the number of locations where it said tunnels — often multiple tunnels — were hiding military bases and work on arms.
American war planners see Iran’s tunnels — whatever their exact number and contents — as a serious test of military abilities. Most say there is no easy way to wipe out a nuclear program that has been well hidden, widely dispersed and deeply buried.
Among the difficulties, military experts say, are decoy tunnels and false entrances, the identification of which requires good intelligence. The experts add that Iran’s announcement about new enrichment plants may simply produce a blur of activity meant to confuse Western war planners.
David A. Kay, a nuclear specialist who led the fruitless search for unconventional arms in Iraq, said the hiding of a plant or two among the rocky labyrinths could pose a particular challenge for Israel. “They have limited intelligence for targeting,” Dr. Kay said, adding that the United States was better equipped to map out Iran’s nuclear terrain.
Raymond Tanter, an Iran expert at Georgetown University who served in the Reagan White House, agreed. “So far, the tunneling has not succeeded to the point that the American technology couldn’t get to it,” he contended. “But it makes Israel’s options more problematic, because they have less of a military edge.”
Doubts notwithstanding, the Obama administration has been careful to leave the military option on the table, and the Pentagon is racing to develop a deadly tunnel weapon.
The device — 20 feet long and called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — began as a 2004 recommendation from the Defense Science Board, a high-level advisory group to the Pentagon.
“A deep underground tunnel facility in a rock geology poses a significant challenge,” the board wrote. “Several thousand pounds of high explosives coupled to the tunnel are needed to blow down blast doors and propagate a lethal air blast.”
The bomb carries tons of explosives and is considered 10 times more powerful than its predecessor. It underwent preliminary testing in 2007, and its first deployments are expected next summer. Its carrier is to be the B-2 stealth bomber.
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters in October that budget problems had delayed the weapon but that it was now back on track. Military officials deny having a specific target in mind. Still, Mr. Whitman added, war planners consider it “an important capability.”
Possibly for painting on the side of an ICBM (for else what are Intercontinental Missiles for?) as American crews did on B-17s in wars gone by: :
"Canst work i' the earth so fast? A worthy pioner!"
Today is El Dia de Los Reyes along the Gran Via, and all roads radiating outwards from it, even unto the New World and Its People. Epiphany, named after the Patriarch Epiphanos II, who got into such trouble with Suleiman the Magnificent because of that famous firman. That, at least, is what someone with a learned air explained to me at the bar of the Faculty Club last night.. My god, it's hard to keep things straight. And history -- there's just so damn much of it. And someone keeps making more of it up every minute. It's enough to get you down. So much stuff to learn and so much stuff to then try not to forget. I never thought I'd have to know all about Islam, and all about places where Muslims conquered, such as Byzantium, and India, and Spain. I bet you didn't, either.
Maybe we could just call a Time Out. Maybe, unintentionally, in gang-agley fashion, that's where we're headed anyway -- to calling a Time Out.
A year into the Obama administration, a pattern has been established for public diplomacy with Israel versus the Palestinians. For Israel, the administration airs an ongoing series of petty complaints, most of which relate to housing construction in Obama-disapproved neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Such construction is hurting the peace process, intones Robert Gibbs; it prevents the recommencement of negotiations and is inconsistent with the Road Map, he laments.
Even defensive IDF operations, such as the one last week that eliminated three Fatah murderers, are now reason for public finger-wagging from the administration and requests for “clarification.” This was done on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. There indeed should have been a request for clarification, but it should have been directed at the PA, given the fact that the terrorists in question were on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party, Fatah.
By contrast, the administration has been indifferent to Palestinian terrorism and its official celebration by the PA. I can’t recall a single instance in which the president or a prominent member of his administration criticized the Palestinians for anything. Maybe it’s because the PA has been doing such a commendable job when it comes to incitement and terrorism? Not quite.
In just the past week, official PA television has hailed the first female Palestinian suicide bomber; PA president Mahmoud Abbas personally honored Dalal Mughrabi, a legend of Palestinian terrorism who participated in the coastal-road massacre, the deadliest act of terrorism in Israel’s history (37 innocents were murdered); and both Abbas and the supposedly moderate PA Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad, celebrated the killers of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai, who was gunned down by members of Fatah while driving last week.
Meanwhile, Politicoreported that a federal judge “complained that the Obama administration was ‘particularly unhelpful’ and the State Department ‘mealy-mouthed’ in refusing to provide official guidance” on a lawsuit that implicates the Palestinian Authority in the terror murder of an American citizen.
President Obama is repeating one of the worst mistakes of the Oslo period, when the official promotion of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority was studiously ignored on behalf of the larger “peace” mission. We know how successful that strategy was.
In celebration of free speech and in response to the latest Islamist assault on freedom of expression, Laughyourheadoff.org has announced the Second International Islamic Cartoon Contest.
"In light of the latest attempted murder of Danish cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, it is vital at the outset of a new decade that artists, writers, and citizens in all free nations renew our commitment to a free press and freedom of expression," said Walter Skold, of laughyourheadoff.org.
"We are urging cartoonists, journalists, and all supporters of artistic and political liberty to submit cartoons or just promote the contest," he said.
In 2006, the US-based Laughyourheadoff.org launched the 1st Islamic cartoon competition in order to support those editors, artists and political figures who defended artistic and press freedoms against the growing chorus of those who supported some form of censorship for publications and artworks deemed "offensive."
The winning cartoon in the 2006 contest was a satire suggesting that Danish people learn the Koran by printing it onto toilet paper, but Skold said that lighthearted entries are most welcome.
“Besides those who send in sarcastic cartoons, I urge Muslims to send in their own positive cartoons related to Islam so that non-Muslims can learn to appreciate their humor,” said Skold, referring to a long history of humor in Islam.
Skold points out that the original cartoons which prompted such violent actions were not written with the intent to offend Muslims, but rather to satirize Danish artists who gave into pressure to not draw pictures of Mohammed for a children's book.
"On the other hand, Islamic Hadiths teach that Mohammed had poets killed, and modern Islamists have killed filmmakers, authors, and journalists in his name," said Skold, who is a poet and former journalist.
"Because of persistent attempts by Islamists to intimidate and terrorize, and also because of the continuing efforts by the Organization of the Islamic Conference to regulate free expression," he added, "Individuals as well as governments need to keep making it clear that commitments to liberty of speech and expression are essential and non-negotiable tenets."
Skold feels that most citizens in Western nations are probably not aware that most Islamic nations have never signed onto the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which states (in Article 19) that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression..."
"It is the "offended" Islamic individuals and pressure groups in Western nations that need to submit to our rule of law," says Skold, "Not free people who should submit to the repressive tenets of Sharia law."
Even Skold admits he did not like some of the cartoons submitted for the first competition, but he feels strongly that in the current cultural and political climate it is more important to heed the affable Mr. Bean, rather than submit to self-censorship because of threats of terror.
In January, 2006, Rowan Atkinson, known as Mr. Bean to millions, gave a speech against a proposed "religious hatred" bill being debated in Parliament, in which he said:
"In my opinion, freedom of expression is being allowed to cause trouble, or create discomfort, or offense, as long as your words or behaviour are not threatening."
"Every artist and every thinker who dares to publically challenge Islamist advances -- we are all Kurt Westergaard," said Skold.
From an article on why King Abdullah of Jordan is "uncomfortable" having any news about Jordanian collaboration with the C.I.A. made known to his own people:
"It is no secret that Jordan is the most pro-western country in the Arab world. Squeezed uncomfortably between Iraq in the east and Israel to the west, it has always been pragmatic about both – while remaining a close and loyal US ally."
When the author of this article writes that "Jordan is the most pro-western country in the Arab world" he is attempting to express the idea that Jordan is the country whose people, in every opinion poll taken, consistently demonstrate a viciously anti-American and anti-Western attitude, but that, for reasons of calculated self-interest, the monarchical regime collaborates, in certain ways, and for certain benefits in return. Why, the late King Hussein had season tickets to all the best escort-to-hotel-room services, with the tab picked up by the American taxpayers through the C.I.A., and that wasn't all he received.
This has nothing to do with Jordan being a "pro-Western country." Nothing.
WHo sayes that fictions onely and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?
Is all good structure in a winding stair?
May no lines passe, except they do their dutie
Not to a true, but painted chair?
Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow course-spunne lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lovers loves?
Must all be vail’d, while he that reades, divines,
Catching the sense at two removes?
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing:
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime
I envie no mans nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with losse of rime,
Who plainly say, My God, My King.
Egyptian soldier killed in clashes over George Galloway convoy
From The Times
Protests over an international aid convoy to Gaza, led by George Galloway, turned violent today killing one Egyptian soldier and leaving dozens injured.
The Britain-based Viva Palestina convoy included more than 500 international activists bringing humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip in protest at the Israeli blockade of the coastal strip.
Scuffles between activists and Egyptian police broke out last night after part of the convoy was barred from entering Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinians rushed to the border to support the convoy, hurling rocks and opening fire at the Egyptian guards from across the border.
Activists said that one Egyptian soldier was killed in a gunfight, and that at least three Palestinians were taken to hospitals.
Egypt has come under fire recently for supporting the Israeli blockade, and stepping up efforts along the Egyptian border to stop tunnel smugglers from moving supplies into Gaza. Egypt’s construction of an underground barrier to cut off the tunnels has drawn criticism from a number of neighbouring Arab states, who call the barrier a “wall of death.”
Egypt maintains that it is protecting its borders, and that aid to Gaza should be sent via internationally recognized channels.
One Jordanian activist who took part in the convoy said the group had refused to enter Gaza through its crossings with Israel, as they refused to recognize Israeli control of Gaza.
Speaking to Sky News Mr Galloway said that Egyptians had breached the agreement they had made with the convoy.
“It’s completely unconscionable,” he said.
Though Egyptian authorities had permitted the convoy to enter Gaza, they stopped 59 of the 200 vehicles, arguing that the private cars could not enter through the Rafah crossing. An Egyptian security official said the vehicles were carrying pickup trucks, sedans, generators and other equipment that are not allowed to pass through the Egyptian crossing at Rafah. Only medical aid and passengers are allowed through, the official said.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said that the activists had “provoked” the fight. “We did not mislead anyone. They have their interests ... and they want to make up problems and clash with Egypt,” he said.
The fights intensified yesterday, when Gaza’s Hamas rulers called for a protest over the delay of the convoy, rallying hundreds of youths to the border to clash with the Egyptian guards.
Cardinal says Christian Europe is to blame for Islamisation
From The Telegraph A leading Catholic cardinal has said Europeans only have themselves to blame for allowing Islam to "conquer" the continent.
Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the Archbishop of Prague, said Muslims were well placed to fill the spiritual void "created as Europeans systematically empty the Christian content of their lives".
"Europe will pay dear for having left its spiritual foundations and that this is the last period that will not continue for decades when it may still have a chance to do something about it," he said.
"The Muslims definitely have many reasons to be heading here. They also have a religious one – to bring the spiritual values of faith in God to the pagan environment of Europe, to its atheistic style of life.
"Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamised and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society."
"Europe has denied its Christian roots from which it has risen and which could give it the strength to fend off the danger that it will be conquered by Muslims, which is actually happening gradually," he said.
"At the end of the Middle Ages and in the early modern age, Islam failed to conquer Europe with arms. The Christians beat them then.
"Today, when the fighting is done with spiritual weapons which Europe lacks while Muslims are perfectly armed, the fall of Europe is looming." I disagree with him in one thing - that Islam brings anything of spiritual value.
Sitting with some friends over Christmas including their family dog, who is a rather nice re-homed ex racing greyhound with a few health problems, one of which is his teeth.
Now that the holiday is over my friends have to get organised to clean his teeth regularly with meat flavoured tooth paste, which will be supplied through the vet.
The reaction of one of the party, a vegetarian, at thr thought of meat flavoured toothpaster was yuk!
I recalled when the teenager was small and hated mint toothpaste being unable to locate any flavour other than mint, spearmint (which I dislike myself) or freshmint, despite my own childhood memories of Philips childrens strawberry paste.
A discussion statred about potential alternative suitable flavours for tooth paste. I suggested lemon, as also having a clean fresh taste, (which cinnamon and spices don't have) but no one could imagine it. Anything other than mint didn't seem right.
NER readers come from all over the world. Are other flavours used and popular elsewhere?
I would be interested to know.
On the thirteenth day of Christmas, the feast of Epiphany. This isn't mine, it is the work of John McGraw on the Pubsgalore website. The Evening Star at Cliffe in Kent, just north of Gravesend and Rochester.
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement this last 2 weeks.
I recently watched the television interview with Knesset Member Zahalka, where the Arab MK got carried away with stories, arguing that Defense Minister Ehud Barak “listens to classical music, but killed 1,400 children…” The issue of classical music seemed to greatly bother Zahalka and he repeated it several times.
But I am not interested in discussing Barak’s favorite symphonies or the question of whether it was professionally appropriate for interviewer Dan Margalit to be dragged into a loud debate (which in retrospect was revealed to be a superb PR asset.) Just before he left, Zahalka called Margalit “an immigrant.” This comes on top of Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi’s statement that the Jews are immigrants, and some of them are fascists.
It is noteworthy that both Zahalka and Tibi have a Ph.D. Yet whatever their areas of specialty are, history of the Land of Israel is certainly not one of them. Two such intelligent people are unaware of the basic history of the country where they reside. After all, Kfar Qara, where Dr. Zahalka resides, was only established in the 18th Century under the auspices of the Arab occupation of Eretz Yisrael. Meanwhile, Arabs only arrived at Taibe, where Dr. Tibi hails from, in the 17th Century from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as attested to by the last names of some residents.
Do they truly believe that the “Palestinians” nobody heard of until the 20th Century, truly grew from the land? Don’t they know that under Arab villages in the Galilee one can find synagogues from the Second Temple period? Don’t they know that by the end of the 19th Century, only about 140,000 non-Jews resided in the Land of Israel, while by 1948 this number grew tenfold, mostly because of Arab immigration to Eretz Yisrael?
“This neighborhood used to be Sheikh Munis,” Zahalka yelled before leaving the Tel Aviv studio, thereby revealing the truth. As it turns out, the appetite of Zahalka and his voters is not confined to the territories. Yet the village of Sheikh Munis, where Tel Aviv University is located today, was only established in the 19th Century, when the Land of Israel was being conquered by Ibrahim Pasha. This took place about 2,500 years after the Shiloh inscription was written in Jerusalem, using the same Hebrew I use to write my column.
And so, the “immigrant” tales are baseless even when compared to the Brothers Grimm fairytales. So why then do Arab Knesset members blatantly lie to the cameras? Aren’t they scared to be condemned publicly?
No, they are not scared. Lies, manipulations, and deception are fundamental pillars in Arab dialectic. First of all, because Arab representatives create fear and hatred through them. Continuing to fan the flames of the conflict is a vital interest for them. After all, the conflict preserves their status as MKs and makes them popular among their voters.
In addition, the Arab MKs realize that the vast majority of Jews will not be able to respond to the “immigrant” argument. And not because it’s a winning argument...
Muslim propagandists in America count on our ignorance as well. It is our own ignorance of Islamic doctrine and of history that allows them to take us in. And they do take us in.
A British embassy official in Washington directed me to phone the Scottish government in Edinburgh. There, a Scottish official advised me to contact the East Renfrewshire Council. Unbelievably, the municipal authorities of this Glasgow suburb, where Megrahi had been serving his time in a two-room cell with a television set and a prayer area, are responsible for monitoring his health in Libya, thousands of miles away, and enforcing the conditions of his compassionate release—when not dealing with rubbish collection and pothole repair, of course.
“Whenever we need to be in touch with the client, we have all the contact we need to have,” explained George Barbour, senior media officer for the East Renfrewshire Council. By “client,” apparently, Barbour meant the bomber. “The license for his release says we should receive a monthly report from his doctors in Libya.”
Barbour said Megrahi has been cooperating with those and other terms of his release, including taking periodic phone calls from an official of the Community Health and Care Partnership of the East Renfrewshire Council, and participating in the occasional meeting by video link. The formal release license admonishes: “You shall be of good behaviour and shall keep the peace. You shall not travel outside Libya without the prior permission of your supervising officer. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in the revocation of your license and your recall to custody.”
It seems absurd to believe that the East Renfrewshire Council has the means to make good on such conditions, and the terrorist’s health status is decidedly not public information. “I can’t talk about that,” Barbour told me. “The privacy of the client’s medical details must be respected. It doesn’t matter who he is. It’s the same for him or any other client.”
For years, the United Arab Emirates' capital Abu Dhabi played the role of rich but bland neighbor as flashy Dubai strutted to international stardom. That all changed when the bills came due.
Abu Dhabi — awash in oil wealth — sent a total of $25 billion to Dubai last year to help the former boomtown fend off creditors after the global recession brought growth to a standstill. The white knight rescue further reinforced Abu Dhabi's image as a hub of serious power and ambitions — a place that forged deals for satellite branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim while Dubai plotted fantasy cities in the desert.
As the capital of the United Arab Emirates — a collection of seven semiautonomous emirates and the world's third largest oil exporter — Abu Dhabi has long tried to become the undisputed center of gravity for the country.
Dubai has put up the most resistance to any outside supervision or control.
But Abu Dhabi's cash injection may change the way Dubai is doing business with the West and — more important — could affect the sheikdom's massive trade with Iran. Dubai has served as a transshipment and banking hub for Iranian merchants, enabling the government in Tehran to try to circumvent U.S. sanctions.
Abu Dhabi's rulers — like many other Arab leaders — are much more suspicious toward Persian Iran and its efforts to expand influence in the region.
And Abu Dhabi has remained more faithful to Gulf's traditional values — unlike Dubai, which has sped up its development and loosened many of Gulf's strict Islamic codes to become one of the world's most multinational cities.
With almost no oil left, Dubai several years ago believed it had to act fast if it wanted to attracted foreign investment and become a tourist destination.
The ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, plowed ahead with dozens of megaprojects such as the palm-shaped island pushing into the Gulf as well as some dazzling follies such as a now-stalled city in the desert with imitations of the Eiffel Tower and Egypt's Pyramids.
Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi is going forward quietly, with no sign that decision on policy and economy will be anything but a family affair among its ruling clan.
Bruce Bawer While Europe Sneered Kurt Westergaard and other brave critics of Islamic fanaticism continue to fend for themselves.
5 January 2010
Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to an article entitled “Eurabian Follies” on the website of the journal Foreign Policy. The author, Justin Vaïsse, took to task several authors, including me, who have warned in recent years of the Islamization of Europe. Vaïsse countered these authors’ mountains of hard facts with a big helping of the usual supercilious sneering. His thesis: Europe is chugging along just fine; Islam poses no real challenge to the continent’s freedom and prosperity; after all, the “experts” say so. Never mind the draining of European welfare systems by Muslim families, the explosion in rapes and gay-bashings and Jew-baitings, the proliferation of honor killings and forced marriages and no-go zones; never mind the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh by fanatics who objected to those men’s positions on Islam; never mind the threats directed at critics of Islam, such as Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Robert Redeker, which have obliged them to live in hiding or with round-the-clock bodyguards.
The timing of Vaïsse’s article was unfortunate—for him, anyway: it appeared around the time of the Christmas Day terrorist attack on Detroit-bound Northwest Flight 253 and the New Year’s Day assassination attempt on Kurt Westergaard, creator of the famous Mohammed-in-a-bomb-turban cartoon published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. (Only a bathroom that had been converted to a panic room in Westergaard’s house saved the artist from an axe-wielding Islamist maniac.) Let’s not even mention the over 1,000 cars torched in French cities on New Year’s Eve, which is becoming an annual tradition among that nation’s Muslim youth.
As it happened, I received the link to Vaïsse’s article on the same day that I discovered that my dear friend Hege Storhaug had once, like Westergaard, been a target of violence, apparently because of her criticism of Islam. Hege is a former journalist and longtime women’s rights activist in Oslo whose concern about the treatment of women and girls in Muslim communities made her a pioneering critic of Islam in Norway. Time and again she has taken extraordinary personal risks to stand up for females who are confined to their homes, who are denied educations and careers, and who are the victims (or potential victims) of honor killing, genital mutilation, forced marriage, and sundry forms of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
In 2006, her book But the Greatest of All Is Freedom: On the Consequences of Immigration became a huge—and controversial—best-seller in Norway. At the time, Hege lived in a neighborhood called Kampen, a part of Oslo that brings to mind the Haight-Ashbury or East Village of the 1960s. Hege notes that after her book began to sell big—and draw harsh media attacks—her neighborhood was papered over with posters featuring a photo of her with an X drawn over her face, along with the slogan NO TO RACISTS IN KAMPEN. Then one day—as Hege revealed in a powerful account posted yesterday on the website of Human Rights Service, the small foundation where she works—one or more people broke into her home, beat her, and left her bruised and unconscious in a pool of blood on the floor. Nothing was stolen. The date was January 1, 2007—three years to the day before the attempted murder of Westergaard.
At first, Hege kept the crime secret, for fear that publicizing it would discourage other critics of Islam from speaking out. Not until a month later did she report the brutal event to the police, and then only after a lawyer friend had secured a guarantee that the report would not be made public. But the steady rise in Muslim violence in Europe, culminating in the Westergaard attack, helped changed her mind about publicly revealing the assault. She also wanted to underscore the fact that many in the media—people like Vaïsse, I might add—were by their see-no-evil approach to the subject encouraging physical attacks on people like her and Westergaard. This state of affairs, she felt, needed to be addressed publicly and its real-world consequences made clear.
The fact is that for years Hege has been the target of a ruthless, tireless, and breathlessly mendacious campaign of criticism by the far-left Norwegian media. She’s become Public Enemy Number One among not only radical Muslims but also Communists, socialists (whose numbers in Norway’s capital are not insignificant), and what Hege calls “organized anti-racists.” These are members of Scandinavia’s many government-funded organizations who claim to be liberal opponents of racism but are in fact largely concerned with defending even the most illiberal aspects of immigrant cultures. Indeed, Hege doesn’t believe that her assailants were Muslims; she suspects that they were far leftists of the sort who proliferate in neighborhoods like Kampen and who have made common cause with European Islamists. Hege is also convinced—as am I—that the media’s concerted effort to identify her as a racist and Islamophobe influenced her attackers. This is not difficult to believe: it was, after all, the Dutch media’s demonization of Fortuyn that helped put him in an early grave instead of in his country’s prime ministership.
In her Monday post, Hege suggested that if all the influential newspapers in Europe had published the Danish cartoons, “it would have been much more difficult to build up the increasingly brutal climate we see now all over Europe: the fact that people are not just the subjects of attacks, and of attempted murder, but are denied virtually all personal freedom in their daily lives, so that Westergaard cannot set foot outside his home without the police on his heels, just as Robert Redeker is living underground in the homeland of Voltaire.” And she asked: “Will Europe manage to set its foot down strongly enough . . . that there will be no doubt that the continent never will give up its founding values? Or will the commentariat and political elite continue to give way, inch by inch . . . ?” Any of us, she warned, can end up a Kurt Westergaard if we dare to speak our minds. But don’t tell that to the “experts” at Foreign Policy.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Federal prosecutors say an Arkansas doctor bombed the head of the state's Medical Board last year to retaliate for being censured by the board.
A grand jury charged Dr. Randeep Mann on Wednesday with using a weapon of mass destruction in the February 2009 attack outside Dr. Trent Pierce's home in West Memphis. Pierce lost an eye and suffered severe burns.
Prosecutors would not say whether Mann himself placed the bomb in Pierce's driveway. But they said he planned the attack on Pierce because he was angry that the medical board in 2006 took away his power to prescribe narcotics.
The board found that at least 10 of Mann's patients died after overdosing on drugs he prescribed them.
It turns out there is more to the story. According to the very intriguing criminal complaint filed in March 2009, Dr. Randeep Mann was separately charged with illegal possession of 98 grenades that were found buried less than 900 feet from his home, and one-half mile from the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant. Dr. Mann had paperwork to allow his ownership of over $1 million worth of weaponry found at his home, including grenade launchers and more than 100 fully-automatic machine guns, but not for the grenades themselves.
During a search of their home, BATF agents found more than $50,000 in cash at the home, including $34,000 stashed in the trunk of a family car.
It is not clear how (or why) a country doctor in Arkansas can afford a $1M gun collection. That's a lot of "turn-your-head-and-cough" visits.
Dr. Mann is an NRI, Non-Resident Indian, and a naturalized U.S. citizen. According to this story at NDTV, the family does not speak Hindi. Randeep and Sangeeta (his wife) do not sound like Muslim names, and of course all of the news stories studiously avoids mention of their religious affiliation, if any. I am curious whether BATF investigators would also find this line of inquiry beyond the limits of gentility. Regardless, I hope his social contacts and background are investigated in depth.
French court fines Turkish woman in ‘genocide’ case
A French court has rejected a complaint of discrimination from an ethnically Turkish woman who had to withdraw her candidacy in a local election last year amid pressure to publicly recognize claims of an Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. S?rma Oran Martz was also sentenced to pay a fine of 1,500 euros, reportedly for abuse of the right to petition.
“The ruling is shameful,” Oran Martz, who has been living in France for 19 years, told the Anatolia news agency on Wednesday. “It is a completely political decision that goes well beyond law, and I don’t think it will do anyone any good,” she said, explaining that the ruling will have negative effects in France, Turkey and Armenia and for Armenians living in Turkey and Turks living in France.
Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols in October to normalize their relations, agreeing, among other things, to establish a board of scholars to study Armenian claims of genocide, rejected by Turkey. Oran Martz said the reconciliation process did come up during court debates but the judges did not take it into consideration when ruling on the case.
Oran Martz had to withdraw her candidacy for city council in Villeurbanne, Lyon, after she had been pressed by Mayor Jean-Paul Bret to visit an Armenian “genocide” monument in Lyon and make a public statement backing the genocide charges. Oran Martz, the daughter of Professor Bask?n Oran, a liberal who campaigns in Turkey for reconciliation with Armenians, then filed a complaint against Bret at a Lyon court on charges of discrimination, saying no other candidate had been subject to a similar treatment.
“If you translate this ruling, it means the court is telling me ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’” Oran Martz said, promising to appeal the ruling first in France and eventually at the European Court of Human Rights.
Hammami gets his average white bread looks from his Baptist mom; his dad is a Muslim. According to the Levine Fox News article, Omar was raised a Baptist until his high school years, when he got bored and made a conversion to Islam. Apparently, he did well academically, taking lots of AP courses in high school in Daphne and graduated early at 17 and went across Mobile bay to attend the University of South Alabama (USA) where he became head of the campus Muslim Student Association, frequenting the Islamic Society of Mobile.
According to the USA student newspaper, The Vanguard, Hammami was ‘shocked, shocked’ at 9/11 eight years ago. He went on record saying: "difficult to believe a Muslim could have done this."
Hammami told The Vanguard he was worried there could be misguided acts of retribution against Muslims.
"The only way to diffuse this is to get the word out," said Hammami, who would later drop out of college and travel to several countries before landing in Somalia. "With ignorance comes fear and with fear comes violence."
Violence is what Hammami, as al-Amiriki, now says is necessary in Somalia — even as he remembers the life he left behind in Alabama.
"The only reason we're staying here away from our families, away from the cities, away from, you know, ice, candy bars, all these other things is because we are waiting to meet with the enemy," he said in the April video posted online.
Al-Amriki's most recent message came out in July, a month after President Barack Obama promised "a new beginning" with the Muslim world during a speech in Cairo.
"Despite the fact that you have been ... forced [by Muslim fighters] to at least pretend to extend your hand in peace to the Muslims, we cannot and shall not extend our hands," al-Amriki said in an audiotape. "Rather, we shall extend to you our swords, until you leave our lands."
Hammami skipped out eight years ago to join al Shabaab and fight whatever passed for a government in Somalia. Hammami alias al-Amriki was investigated by a US grand jury in Mobile on charges of providing material support for terrorists. The FBI plays it mum referring calls about him to the US attorney in Mobile.
One of the most visible leaders of an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist militia in Somalia spent a year in Toronto ingratiating himself into the Somali immigrant community as a convert to Islam.
Omar Hammami – known to followers as Abu Mansour “Al-Amriki” (the American) – ate at Somali restaurants and prayed in Somali mosques. He married a Toronto woman of Somali origin and had a daughter with her.
Then, after learning Somali ways, he left to join the Horn of Africa’s top terror group, Al-Shabaab, to wage Islamic jihad and recruit other foreign nationals to the cause, say former friends and relatives speaking publicly of the terrorist’s Toronto connections for the first time.
“He betrayed us,” says a former friend who worked with Hammami at a Weston Rd. pizzeria. “For a man to be saying that, Islamically, it is okay to be killing innocent people – and yesterday you fed him bread and welcomed him into your houses – it kind of shatters you.”
On a 2008 recruitment video, referring to one of his dead fighters, Hammami says, “We need more like him.
“So if you can encourage more of your children and more of your neighbors, anyone around, to send people like him to this jihad, it would be a great asset for us.”
“We are striving to establish the Islaamic Khilaafah from East to West,” Hammami writes in an Internet posting of Jan. 8, 2008, “after removing the occupier and killing the apostates.”
In June 2005, the couple left for Cairo. Hammami told people he wanted to study Islam at Al-Azar University.
That summer the baby was born. In September, Hammami told his wife they were going to Somalia but she balked. She phoned her father, who helped her and the baby return to Toronto.
Speaking for the woman, Scarborough lawyer Faisal Kutty would say only that his client legally separated from Hammami in June 2007, has had no contact with him for more than two years and “has fully co-operated with Canadian intelligence officials on this.”
Hammami arrived in Mogadishu in late 2005, only to be arrested as a spy by leaders of the Islamic Courts Union, says Abdi, who has been tracking his former friend through personal networks.
But Hammami’s credentials checked out. The Union, on its way to controlling much of the south in 2006, assigned him to its youth wing – Al-Shabaab. Its leader, Aden Hashi Ayrow, sent him to Raas Kamboni training camp at the Kenyan border.
“He began to rise in the ranks,” Abdi says. (A U.S. air strike killed Ayrow on May 1, 2008.)
In October 2007, Hammami appeared, his face covered, on an Al Jazeera TV report, still accessible on YouTube, about Al-Shabaab’s and Al Qaeda’s “common goal.” The report identified him as fighter and military instructor “Abu Mansour the American.”
In May 2008, he starred in a 31-minute Al-Shabaab video, face plainly visible, leading what he called an ambush against invading Ethiopian troops near the south-central city of Baidoa.
In April 2009, the ambush video went mainstream. Fox News and other media outlets reported on it. In September, Al-Amriki was identified as Hammami, prompting his indictment in Alabama on terrorism charges.
By then, Hammami had issued an anti-Western diatribe called “The Beginning of the End,” still on YouTube, his answer to U.S. President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech, “A New Beginning.” Human rights, Hammami claimed, go against Islamic traditions such as stoning, cutting off hands and giving a woman no choice but to wear a headscarf.
Also by then, Kenya’s Daily Nation had reported that “Abu Mansur al-Meriki” had become No. 2 commander of an Al-Shabaab unit of 180 foreign fighters led by Kenyan national Saleh Nabhan. (A U.S. helicopter raid killed Nabhan on Sept. 16 near Barawe.)
In September, an undated Al-Shabaab video “At Your Service, Osama,” showed Hammami leading military exercises.
Abdi says he heard in October that Hammami had been fighting near the Ethiopian border, and is recovering in hospital from bullet wounds and mental problems.
We wouldn’t be too surprised to read that Hammami may have been taken down in a fire fight in Somalia saving the US courts the trouble of prosecuting for aiding and abetting terrorism.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer of History News Network (HNN) has a highly praiseworth comment on the new book , "Jihad & Genocide "by our esteemed collegue, Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein. She quotes extensively from Bat Ye'or's praisewiorthy review. We will publishing my interview with Dr. Rubenstein in the February edition of the New English Review.
Note her comments:
One of the best fringe benefits of blogging is the opportunity to befriend outstanding individuals, the type of persons who when the times get tough, they get going. The eminent Rabbi and historian, Richard L. Rubenstein is such an activist prince amongst men, octogenarian or not. He has just notified me that the English version of the book he has been working on has just been published and the French edition is due in the spring.
It could not be more timely for it is time that we face reality that Islamism is on the rise, the West wishes to pacify it and if another Jewish genocide is the price of peace, it will pay it just as it had paid it in the Forties. Indeed, recent efforts to delegitimatize Israel is nothing but a way to make such repeated mass murder palatable. As an eminent Holocaust scholar, Rubenstein understands the stakes and the process. In her excellent review of the book published in the New English Review, Bar Ye'or writes:
Using primary sources, religious injunctions, and related modern literature, Rubenstein exposes the universality of the jihad threat. Muslims are under the religious obligation to expand the abode of Islam by war, by peaceful means such as immigration, and da’wa (proselytism). Islamists believe global peace can only be achieved through the worlwide domination of Islam. With scholarly objectivity and balanced arguments, the author analyses the structure and implementation of jihad deployed in time and space.
He underlines the two opposing interpretations of jihad, the Muslims and the non-Muslim. The Muslim sees jihad and its consequence – Islamization – as a benefit for humanity. They judge resistance of non-Muslims to Muslim forces to be a criminal war against Islam that prevents universal obedience to Allah’s injunctions. That principle dominates contemporary Islamist international policy and is used to justify its hatred against Israel, regarded as guilty of defending itself, as well as its accusation that America is itself guilty of 9/11 for its “sinful” opposition to Islamist imperialism. Similarly, western opposition to Islamization and the alleged sin of “Islamophobia” are condemned as crimes. . . .
Rubenstein pleads for recognition that the world is engaged in a religious conflict. Here he candidly touches on the great taboo, the truth hidden at all costs: neither Israel nor the West have been willing to recognize the religious dimension of the conflict. Given the nature of their societies, they fear that they have no viable solution. But falsehoods do not change the nature of the conflict; they only enable it to simmer and strengthen from Chechnya to India, from Nigeria to Finland, from Spain to Armenia.
Meanwhile we see the Islamist Turkish regime loosening its ties with Israel and joining the OIC Islamist front in view of bringing the restoration of the Caliphate that dominates already at the UN and has taken Europe hostage. Blinded by a vicious repressed antisemitism, the West supported jihad against Israel and consequently failed to suppress an ideology that targets itself and the world with the same, if not greater, violence. Riddled with an immigration that fuels social conflicts within its population, surviving on disinformation and security ransoms, it has become at best the auxiliary of the OIC.
Agree or disagree, it is a thought provoking book by a first rate scholar and as such worthy of a careful examination.
The Only Thing Missing Is Clinton Calling It A "Holistic Approach"
More of the same transfer of Infidel money to Muslim states, when the Americans owe many trillions of dollars, and everything is falling down, and meanwhile, little Abu Dhabi alone sits on a squirreled-away surplus of $850 billion dollars (with the Saudis, Kuwaitis, and other Muslim states having squirreled away trillions more) but the Muslim countries give almost nothing, and we never ask, and we never publicize their determination to let Infidels take care of all the oil-less Muslims of this world.
More from Xinhua here:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday the United States achieves "best results" when development, diplomacy and defense are approached as a whole, signaling a change of tactics in U.S. diplomacy.
"The United States achieves the best results when we approach our foreign policy as an integrated whole, greater than the sum of its parts," Clinton said in a prepared speech in Washington, noting development is central to advancing U.S. interests and solving global problems.
She also said the administration is adopting a development model based on partnership, not patronage, pledging to work with developing countries and invest in evidence-based strategies with clear goals.
Clinton's message of bundling development and defense together came at a time when the country is grappled by a sudden surge of security concerns, after a failed terror attack on a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, and threats against the U.S. embassy in Yemen, a country long neglected by U.S. development aid.
According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation, U.S. development aid to Yemen declined from 56.5 million U.S. dollars in 2000 to 25.5 million in 2008, during which period the terror network of al-Qaeda regrouped in the poverty-stricken country.
Prior to Clinton's speech, a senior U.S. official who declined to be named said the administration has to focus on areas where development results are needed "as part of our broader security strategy."
In places such as Yemen, the official said, the administration has to pursue security goals and development goals simultaneously, because "without development, you're never going to have security."
The White House announced on Monday that President Barack Obama has asked for a significant increase in foreign assistance to Yemen in fiscal year 2010. Development and security aid to that country could be as much as 63 million dollars, representing a 56-percent increase over fiscal year 2009 and a 225-percent increase over fiscal year 2008 levels.