While police say they haven't pinpointed a motive, Lars Hedegaard says he knows exactly why he was attacked.
Copenhagen Police said this evening that they were "looking into everything" regarding the failed assassination attempt on outspoken Islam critic Lars Hedegaard. "We have many investigation angles," police inspector Jørgen Skov said at a press briefing. "It could be anything. Lars Hedegaard is a well-known person. There could be a political motive, but we don't know yet."
Hedegaard was at home this morning when he answered his door thinking there was a post delivery. The man at his door held a package and wore a red jacket similar to the ones worn by Post Danmark employees. When Hedegaard opened his door, the suspect pointed a gun at Hedegaard and fired. The shot missed and Hedegaard fought off the attacker and when the suspect's gun jammed, he fled the scene. "I went on the attack and attempted to punch him in the head," Hedegaard told Politiken newspaper hours after the attack.
According to Hedegaard, who is the president of the Free Press Society and has often spoken out against Islam, the motive was clear. "This is after all what one can expect when you attempt to express your opinion in this country," Hedegaard said. "It comes as a surprise that I should be shot at, but apparently I should be."
Police are gathering material from Hedegaard's Frederiksberg residence, including DNA and fingerprints. They have described the suspect as a man around 25 years old, 175-180mm tall with dark hair and dark stubble. He is characterised as looking "southern or maybe Arabic" and speaks Danish without an accent.
Hedegaard’s Free Press Society believes that free speech is “being threatened, primarily by religious and ideological interests and international pressure groups,” and that Islam is the “most dangerous threat at the moment” to free expression.
Operation Bullfinch Day 16: Police refused to DNA test clothes, dad tells child sex trial jury
From the Oxford Mail - the only paper reporting this trial which is being ignored by the national newspapers. Well done Ben Wilkinson Crime Reporter at the CCC Old Bailey daily.
A DAD has said it “defies belief” his daughter was abused by a child sex gang while she was known to police, the Old Bailey heard. The father of unnamed complainant Girl 1 told the jury he would “desperately” search Oxford for his missing daughter.
Girl 1 is one of six to claim they were abused between the ages of 11 and 15 by a child sex exploitation gang in Oxford between 2004 and 2012. Her dad told the court she had gone missing more than 70 times and often returned in stained clothes looking “awful”.
And she told him police knew what was happening to her.
He said: “Under normal police protection she continued to be abused and assaulted. Which is something that defies belief.” And he said she told him: “They know where I have been, they know what’s going on.”
Police refused to do DNA tests on clothing found in the child’s room, the jury heard.
Her father said: “We believed there was something sinister going on. We were shocked and horrified they wouldn’t take the clothing.” He also said police never told him anything. He said: “They always told me there was nothing they were prepared to tell me or share with me. That was a consistent theme throughout several years.”
The man also criticised the children’s home in Henley on Thames where his daughter stayed in 2006. He said the manager had been “dismissed” after refusing to pay his daughter’s taxi fare so she was driven back to Oxford where she was abused again. He said communication with the home was “poor”, adding: “It wasn’t a place we believed was particularly well run.”
The man sobbed as he told the jury his daughter “rapidly” lost weight and came home smelling.
He said he would go out looking for her, taking a photograph of her and asking at cinemas, pubs, and nightclubs.
He said: “We didn’t have a clue what was happening. All we knew was we were terrified because our child was missing, effectively disappearing off the face of the earth for days at a time.” But he said police told him to stop looking for his daughter in 2006 as it was “detrimental to her well-being”.
The court also heard he found her bleeding and with cigarette burns. He said once she told him: “I’m not going to tell you anything because they threatened to kill my family.”
Indians Ready to Nominate Leftâ€™s Favorite Whipping Boy
By Dr. Richard L. Benkin, reporting from India
Indian Conservatives are about to do what US Conservatives refused to do for the last eight years. During the 2008 and 2012 primaries, Conservatives were split over what kind of Conservative to nominate. One faction insisted on someone identified unambiguously as a Conservative who would eschew compromise on the gamut of issues associated with the right. Only by emphasizing our basic principles and sticking to them, the narrative went, would we show voters that we offered them a real choice. The other insisted that would mean sure defeat. They believed that only a “moderate” standard bearer who would appeal to the vast number of voters in the middle had any chance of success. The latter camp won out, and the results were two terms of Barack Obama as President.
Whether the result would have been different if he first group prevailed is a matter of speculation, but Conservatives are going to have a chance to see how it works in the upcoming Indian elections that are scheduled for 2014, but according to several New Delhi insiders, could very well occur in time to have a new Prime Minister take office this October.
While India has many political parties, the battle is primarily between the Conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the left-center Congress Party, heir to the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. It is a parliamentary democracy which means that the party with the largest number of seats in the legislature, the lok sabha gets to name the Prime Minister, generally in coalition with other like-minded parties. The Congress party has maintained that position for all but 12 years of India’s existence as a nation and for the past eight years unbroken.
For months, there had been a great deal of debate and speculation that the BJP would nominate the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi as their candidate for Prime Minister and as the face of the party. The position of Chief Minister is roughly the same as a US Governor, and under Modi’s ten-year rule and the strength of his character, Gujarat has become India’s state with the most consistently increasing prosperity. That is a big part of his appeal. Very early in his tenure, Modi took a strong hand in scrapping entitlements and big government programs in favor of a pro-growth, pro-business agenda. He also helped eliminate India’s notorious corruption in his state. The results have become canon here with Gujarat’s per capita income in the most recent measure rising by 17 percent. Gujaratis are hopeful about their economic direction while polls show that much of the Indian population is pessimistic about theirs. My own, unscientific survey of Delhi taxi drivers, hotel workers, vendors, and others of modest means found that Indians want Modi to stimulate the same prosperity in the rest of India. Universally, they praised Modi as someone who would bring better jobs and an increased standard of living while eschewing more government handouts. Many remember how he stunned the country by bringing the automotive giant Tata to Gujarat in 2008. Tata was ready to abandon its not yet open plant in West Bengal, which was to produce an entirely new line of cars. At the time, West Bengal was ruled by India’s Communist party, and concerns about land appropriation, government regulations, and violence in a state where the government was often part of it convinced Tata that it was time to go. Several states were vying to become Tata’s new site, but Modi and Gujarat put together the right package of incentives, reliable labor, and a lack of government overreach to win the day and help create thousands of jobs in their state. Modi told me that he would intervene personally to create the same favorable conditions for any “joint ventures involving the United States or Israel.” (He is also a longstanding friend of Israel.)
Modi, however, has been a demon to the left both in India and worldwide. They share an article of faith that Modi was somehow responsible for the 2002 inter-religious riots that killed 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus (although Modi’s vilifiers rarely mention the latter). At the insistence of groups like the Congress on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others, the US State Department refused Modi entry to the US on the basis of these accusations. Even though every Indian court, including the Supreme Court, has exonerated Modi (as have the millions of people—Hindus and Muslims alike—who consistently vote for him); former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently re-affirmed the administration’s position.
How embarrassing for our country if this man becomes India’s Prime Minister and we ignore the people of India and their legal system.
While the mass of Indians, however, are focused on Modi’s administrative genius and the benefits he has brought his constituents in Gujarat, the left has already begun reprising their tedious and discredited arguments about 2002.
The good news for Modi, as I said to one activist on the right and a major Modi supporter, is that the left has raised the issue of 2002 so frequently that it is old news; that is, if it has not already swayed voters away from Modi, it is unlikely to do so during the campaign. They are unlikely to come up with other dirt, as Modi’s personal life is impeccable and there never has been even the hint of scandal associated with him. The left may vilify him as “anti-Islamic,” but they cannot dismiss the vocal support he receives even from imams in Gujarat who appreciate the prosperity he has have brought their followers.
Americans are probably tired of hearing about “historical election,” but it is no understatement to characterize India’s as one. Its economic miracle has stalled while its government has grown, and people have seen their purchasing power fall significantly under its increasing entitlements and handouts. Moreover, while many of us recognize the Islamist threat that might already have come to our shores, there is no question of it in India. Narendra Modi and the people around him who will help shape foreign policy under a Modi government, have made it clear to me and others that they not only recognize the threat but also known that it must be fought unequivocally. Under Modi’s tenure, Gujarat has been free of the Islamist and Leftist terrorism that has plagued much of India and claimed the lives of over 10,000 Indian civilians and security personnel since 2004. Amitabh Tripathi, a long time Modi supporter and someone with his finger on the pulse of things here, told me that he expects the two foes “to test us with soft and hard attacks and see how we react.” He believes that the current policies would be disastrous in that context.
Right now, Narendra Modi’s popularity and intense backing seems to be at a zenith. Will it continue at that level or even higher once the media and his opponents unleash their fury in the campaign? And the left has started already. This week, for instance, as Modi made a major policy speech at a Delhi school, setting out a pro-growth agenda for India to thunderous applause, leftist students engaged in noisy protests. The more leftist media outlets spent more time on the noisy students outside than on the significant events inside.
I am betting that Modi’s popularity will continue. For ten years, he has refused to address the left’s accusations, preferring to let the Indian court system do so. It has proven a good strategy that allowed him to pursue his conservative principles without letting his opponents set the agenda. Should Narendra Modi become India’s next Prime Ministers, expect him to usher in a new age for India and new opportunities for a mature US-India relationship. His victory might also provide US Conservatives with some guidance in how to approach the next round of elections.
‘They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work,’ said the Soviet worker in the good old days; the British criminal could nowadays say with equal reason, ‘They pretend to punish us and we pretend to reform.’
Recent statistics show that two thirds of young criminals ordered to wear electronic tags break their court orders almost with impunity. Nothing could better reveal the hall of mirrors that the British criminal justice system long ago became than the response of Keith Vaz, the chairman of the House of Commons all-party Home Affairs Committee, to very similar news last year. ‘The public,’ he said, ‘must be convinced that community sentences are an effective form of punishment.’
In other words, the problem is not how to make community sentences work, but how to create the misleading public impression that they do. This has for decades been the ruling imperative of that great friend to the British criminal, the Home Office (and now the Ministry of Justice). It struggles might and main not to reduce criminality but to reduce the public’s supposedly neurotic fear of crime, and it does so by sowing confusion — confusion with a roseate glow.
Forked-tonguery remains the order of the day among the British political class. Who does not remember Mr Blair’s ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’? In an interview with the Daily Telegraph this month, the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, said that he would like to see longer prison sentences for hardened criminals while also arguing for the use of more electronic tagging, only a matter of five days before he announced the closure of seven prisons as a cost-cutting measure and only a few more days before figures showing the uselessness of electronic tagging were issued from his own department. I’ve known burglars more honest and straightforward than British politicians: who, incidentally, are overwhelmingly the largest single cause of crime in this country.
Let me give a small example of the obfuscatory official methods used to confuse the public. For quite a long time the Home Office recorded the two-year reconviction rate of people given community sentences. Suddenly, and without warning or explanation, it started to publish the three-month ‘reoffending’ rate. Why the change?
First, criminologists say it made genuine comparison almost impossible: were things getting better, worse, or remaining the same? Nevertheless, the impression of improvement was created because the reoffending figure for the shorter period was, naturally enough, lower (10 per cent) than for the longer period (50-plus per cent). Ten per cent doesn’t sound quite so bad.
Second, and more sinister, the new terminology — reoffending rather than reconviction rate — was in effect a deliberate lie. The two rates would be the same if, and only if, the police solved every recorded crime, instead of 28 per cent of such crimes (and a much lower rate of all crimes, since not all are recorded).
But there is an implicit lie even in the reconviction rate. This is because it is calculated in a binary fashion: conviction or no conviction. Thus multiple convictions, either on one or on many occasions, count as one; and here it should be remembered that 30 per cent of offenders convicted of indictable offences (most of whom are probably already under so-called supervision) have 15 or more previous convictions.
‘Well I’ll be burgered.’
Almost everything possible, then, is done to limit the public’s understanding of the scale of reoffending by people on community sentences. It is easy to work out that hundreds of thousands of crimes, possibly even millions, are committed by people serving community sentences (incidentally, a fifth of crimes in Scotland are committed by people already on bail). The true reoffending rate of people on community sentences is probably several hundred per cent. In a way this is encouraging: it suggests that the great majority of crime, even nowadays, is committed by a relatively small proportion of the population, and that with a little honesty, courage and determination, alas the very qualities that our political class entirely lacks, a marked reduction in the rate of crime would be possible. Another fact pointing to the same conclusion is that the vast majority of offending, to judge by the age of prisoners at entry into prison, ceases spontaneously by the age of 39.
Instead of clarity, however, we get smokescreens, for example bogus comparisons and near-suppression of relevant facts. The recidivism rate of criminals sentenced to short terms of imprisonment is often compared with those of people given community sentences. This comparison is bogus. First, the recidivism rate of prisoners is calculated from the date of their release while that of people with community sentences is calculated from the day of their sentence. Next, the great majority of prisoners have already been through the community sentence charade, often many times. A Home Office study once found that most prisoners admitted to 140 crimes in the year before their incarceration. What the public is interested in is not the bogus relative rates of recidivism, but a comparison of the number of crimes similar criminals commit within a certain period. It is obvious that the two-year reoffending rate of a prisoner who spends two years in prison approaches zero (he can offend against other prisoners, of course, and if he is a member of a criminal gang may arrange crimes from inside); but someone on a community sentence of two years is almost certain to commit more than one crime during that period. Recidivism, incidentally, tends to decline with length of prison sentence, a fact that could surprise only intellectuals.
When it comes to electronic tags, it was known perfectly well from the outset that they did not work; despite this, the official decision was taken to use more of them. For example, one Home Office trial undertaken in 1996-7 on 374 criminals demonstrated that 73 per cent were reconvicted within two years. Their reoffending rate, then, must have been astronomical. In other words, the whole programme was expanded in the full and certain knowledge that it did not work. Some 280,000 offenders have been tagged since David Cameron came to power.
Even the most minimal reflection should have been sufficient to realise that there was no reason why it should have worked. Tagging keeps offenders indoors for up to 12 hours, leaving 12 hours in which they can commit crimes. Most criminals are not great travellers; they commit crimes very near where they live. Probation is even worse nonsense, at least for recidivists, as are the vast majority of people on probation.
The British criminal justice system has become an elaborate sham, in which lawyers, private companies, the Home Office and criminals prey in concert on the rest of the population. Here is an example of the frivolity of the system, taken at random from the weekly local newspaper I have in front of me.
A 36-year-old man who had broken with his girlfriend sent her threatening messages, including to destroy all her future relationships, to cut off the head of her cat and post it through the letter-box, and ‘do over’ her father. On two occasions he assaulted her; on the second, he dragged her by her hair into the street, in public, where he got her to the ground, hit her on both sides of the head and kicked her several times in the abdomen. He was stopped only by the intervention of a neighbour.
His lawyer claimed that he was deeply remorseful; that he recognised that his behaviour was ‘inappropriate’; that he did not intend to harm the woman (a therapeutic kicking, then); and that he wanted to learn from the whole experience. The magistrates pretended to believe it and sentenced him — with a probation order — to an ‘Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme’.
The report does not say, but I am sure that he was dragged from the dock screaming, ‘No, not an Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme! Anything but that! I’ll go straight, guv, if only you don’t give me the Integrated!’
My daughter came home drunk so I grounded her, unaware paedos had threatened to kill her. Evil was always going to win
From the Sun. Parents of Rochdale gang rape victim speak out.
GLANCING at the strangers walking past her in the town centre, Susan Smith cannot help but wonder, “Did you rape my child?”
Susan* is the mother of “Girl A” — the 15-year-old victim of the Rochdale child sex trafficking gang who passed her, and scores of other children, around local paedophiles to be raped and abused.
It was Girl A’s shocking testimony that was key to seeing the nine-strong gang of Asian men each jailed for between four and 19 years at Liverpool Crown Court last May.
Knowing I could get into a taxi being driven by someone who abused my child but got away with it, or that the stranger I just walked past might have been one of her rapists, kills me on a daily basis. And it only adds to the terrible feeling that this nightmare for us will never truly end.”
The girls who were trafficked — some only 13 — were described in court as from chaotic, broken homes on council estates. Police said this made them easy targets.
But this assumption that she came from a feckless background and was unloved and uncared for only adds another dimension to their distress.
“It hurts that people think our daughter’s home life somehow helped to make her a victim,” says Girl A’s dad, John*. “She couldn’t have come from a more settled and loving background. Yes, we live on a council estate, but that doesn’t make us bad parents. We’re decent people and our daughter had a lovely, normal childhood.
“Her mum and me have been married for 20 years. She grew up enjoying all the things any little girl could hope for. She’s had dancing and singing lessons, lots of birthday parties and family holidays at the seaside. We ate together at the table every evening. There was nothing in the least bit chaotic about the way she was raised.
“But she got in with the wrong crowd at an impressionable age and it led to something that went beyond most parents’ worst nightmares.”
At court every day, John hoped that seeing the gang members jailed would give him some closure. Instead, the evidence he heard still plays on his mind every day.
Girl A told how she was picked up from school and driven around a succession of sordid flats and houses in the north of England where she would be raped by up to five men each night. This happened up to five times a week. Warned by the gang that if she did not comply they would kill her and burn down her home while her family slept inside, she was too frightened to expose them. It was not until she became pregnant, and was no longer of use to them, that she finally escaped their clutches.
(John said) “We are proof that this could happen to any of our daughters. I beat myself up wondering what I could or should have done differently to protect her. I thought she was just a teenager going off the rails. I had no idea what she was actually caught up in or who I was really fighting against. So, when she was coming home drunk having been plied with alcohol, the biggest thing I could threaten her with was to ground her. These men were telling her they’d slit her throat or rape her little sister if she didn’t do what they said. That kind of evil was always going to win.”
It was when Girl A approached 15 that what appeared to be normal teenage rebellion rose to terrifying proportions . . . But Girl A defied every curfew they set, and refused to accept it when she was grounded, often disappearing for days at a time. Unbeknown to her parents, she was already in the clutches of the gang.
“I pleaded with social services to help us,” says John. “They said she’d soon be 16 and she was making lifestyle choices that we might not like but there wasn’t much that could be done about it. But we are not the kind of parents who were ever going to shrug our shoulders and accept it. We knew something had gone terribly wrong with our daughter — we just never imagined for a moment how horrendous things had got.”
In the end social services did step in when their daughter fell pregnant. Warned that her baby would be taken away at birth unless she moved out (with other young girls in a house owned by one of the paedophiles)
she returned home to her parents.
“She wasn’t the same,” says Susan. “She was quiet and withdrawn, and obviously young to have become a mum. We were just glad to have her home and thought the nightmare had ended.”
John says: “In many respects as parents our nightmare was only just beginning. But at least she was away from them now.”
Today Girl A is rebuilding her life. She is studying at college and lives near her parents with her son, now three.
Both homes have a panic alarm in case of retributions from gang associates. “She should have been put into witness protection,” says John. “If she’d helped smash a local drugs ring she wouldn’t still be living on the same estate they were dealing from”
CAIRO (Reuters) - Leaders of Islamic nations called for a negotiated end to Syria's civil war at a summit in Cairo that began on Wednesday, thrusting Egypt's new Islamist president to center stage amid turbulence at home.
The summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation opened on a day when the assassination of a leading Tunisian opposition politician highlighted the fragility of "Arab Spring" democratic revolutions in North Africa.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki canceled his trip to the Cairo meeting after Shokri Belaid, a staunch secular opponent of the moderate Islamist government, was shot dead outside his home, triggering street protests.
With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making an ice-breaking visit to Egypt after 34 years of estrangement, the two-day meeting was focusing on how to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad counts Tehran as one of his last allies.
In a keynote address, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi called on "the ruling regime" in Damascus to learn the lessons of history and not put its interests above those of the nation, saying that rulers who did so were inevitably finished.
Mursi urged all OIC members to support the Syrian opposition's efforts to unite and bring about change.
Heavy fighting erupted in Damascus on Wednesday as rebels launched an offensive against Assad's forces, breaking a lull in the conflict, opposition activists said.
Ahmadinejad earlier told Egyptian journalists there could be no military solution and he was encouraged that the Syrian government and opposition were moving towards negotiations to end a conflict in which at least 60,000 people have died.
"Fortunately in Syria at the moment matters between the two parties - the opposition and the government - are heading towards establishing the idea of dialogue and talking together," al-Ahram daily quoted him as saying.
OFFER OF TALKS
Opposition Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib offered on Sunday to meet Assad's ceremonial deputy, Farouq al-Shara, for peace talks if the authorities released thousands of prisoners. There has been no response from Damascus so far.
The leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Iran met on the sidelines of the summit to support the peace initiative, an Egyptian presidential spokesman said, adding that Mursi had brought together the most influential players in the conflict.
Saudi Arabia, a key supporter of the Syrian rebels and a member of an "Islamic Quartet" formed by Mursi last August to try to broker a solution, did not attend, diplomats said.
Saudi Crown Prince Salman told the summit the Syrian regime was "committing ugly crimes" against its people. He said the U.N. Security Council, which has so far been paralyzed by Russian and Chinese opposition to sanctions, should act to "finalize the transition of power". [curious, isn't it, that Russia and China -- the latter is much more dependent on imported oil than the United States -- apparently have no fear of any retaliation from the Arabs and Muslims, while the Western world is terrified even of cutting aid to those Arabs and Muslims]
A communique drafted by OIC foreign ministers and seen by Reuters blames Assad's government for most of the slaughter and urges it to open talks on a political transition.
Diplomats said Iran had objected to the wording and it might be toned down to spread responsibility more evenly.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the statement had to be adopted by consensus and would stress the need for dialogue and a political solution.
The draft text also urged the opposition to speed up the creation of a transitional government "to be ready to assume responsibility in full until the completion of the desired political change process".
Without mentioning Assad, it says: "We urge the Syrian regime to show wisdom and call for serious dialogue to take place between the national coalition of the Syrian revolution, opposition forces, and representatives of the Syrian government committed to political transformation in Syria and those who have not been directly involved in any form of oppression..."
Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, sought to project his country as the leader of the Islamic world in his speech, seven months after becoming Egypt's first democratically elected head of state. [a "leader of trhe Islamic world" who is both permanently hostile to,, and hopelessly dependent on the Infidel Americans, for the economic and military aid that has been, and continues to be, mindlessly lavished on Egypt, as on so many other Muslim states (all of which might, one would think, be told to ask their fellow fabulously rich because resource-rich Arabs for money instead).
He told the assembled kings, presidents and prime ministers that the "glorious January 25 revolution" that toppled Egypt's autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 "forms the cornerstone in the launching of this nation to new horizons of progress".
Egypt is taking over the OIC chair at a time of upheaval in the Arab world and sectarian tension between the main branches of Islam. Mursi is also grappling with sustained protests at home by liberal and leftist opponents who accuse him of seeking to monopolize power.
On Tuesday, he embraced Ahmadinejad and gave him a red-carpet airport welcome, but his foreign minister hastened to assure Gulf Arab states that Egypt would not sacrifice their security in opening to Tehran.
Syria was not present at the Islamic summit after being suspended from the OIC last August. The Syrian opposition said it had not received an invitation and would not be attending.
Chokri Belaid, A Leader Of Tunisian Non-Primitives, Killed By A Primitive
From The Australian:
Assassination of Chokri Belaid takes Tunisia to the brink
February 07, 2013
Human rights activist Mokhtar Trifi, left, mourns with Basma Choukri, the wife of the assassinated Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, at a clinic in Tunis. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
OPPOSITION leader and outspoken critic of Tunisia's Islamist government Chokri Belaid was shot dead last night, in what the Prime Minister called an "act of terrorism" as the country grapples with growing political instability.
The family of Mr Belaid, who headed the opposition Democratic Patriots party, accused the ruling Ennahda party of being behind the murder.
The assassination sparked angry protests by his supporters and attacks on offices of the ruling Islamist party.
The murder prompted President Moncef Marzouki[a convinced secularist] to cut short a foreign tour, as the presidency urged "restraint and wisdom".
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali denounced the murder as an "act of terrorism", while the presidency in a statement dubbed it an "odious" crime designed to "lead the Tunisian people to violence". Protests erupted in several Tunisian towns and demonstrators torched one Ennahda party office and ransacked another, as Mr Belaid's brother accused the Islamist Ennahda party of being behind the assassination.
The head of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, denounced the murder of the secular opposition leader, saying the killers wanted a "bloodbath" in Tunisia. [Rached Ghannouchi is a practiced liar, caught on tape telling supporters of his, and Ennahda's, stealth strategy for taking complete control of Tunisian society]
"They want a bloodbath but they won't succeed" in creating one, Mr Ghannouchi said.[in other words, he doesn't want retaliation against Ennahda]
"We can only condemn this cowardly act, which is aimed at (undermining) the revolution and the stability of Tunisia."
At least 1000 people protested outside the Interior Ministry in Tunis shouting abuse at Ennahda.
Mr Jebali, from the Ennahda party, said a lone gunman wearing the traditional hooded long burnous robe shot Mr Belaid with three bullets fired at close range as he left his Tunis home.
"This is a criminal act, an act of terrorism not only against Belaid but against the whole of Tunisia," Mr Jebali told private radio station Mosaique FM, while promising to do everything possible to swiftly arrest the murderer.
"The Tunisian people are not used to such things. This is a serious turn . . . our duty to all, as a government, as a people, is to be wise and not fall into the criminal trap which seeks to push the country into chaos." France condemned the murder, describing Mr Belaid as a courageous fighter for human rights.
"This murder robs Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices," President Francois Hollande said.
Mr Belaid's wife Basma Choukri told told Mosaique FM her husband was hit by two bullets.
The murder of Mr Belaid comes at a time when Tunisia is witnessing a rise in violence fed by political and social discontent two years after the mass uprising that toppled ex-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Several opposition parties and trade unions have accused pro-Islamist groups of orchestrating clashes or attacks against them.
The killing fuelled anger across Tunisia.
Demonstrators torched Ennahda offices in Mezzouna near Sidi Bouzid and ransacked Gafsa in the centre of the country while protests rocked several cities, including Sidi Bouzeid.
Sidi Bouzid was where the desperate act of a jobless young man who set himself alight in late 2010 triggered the Tunisia uprising.
Mr Marzouki scrapped foreign engagements to rush back home, his office said.
Mr Marzouki was in Strasbourg, where he took part in a session of the European parliament and met French President Mr Hollande, and was due to fly later to Cairo to attend a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
European Parliament president Martin Schulz said: "Long live Tunisia, long live freedom, long live democracy."
Mr Belaid's party belonged to the Popular Front coalition of leftist parties that has emerged in opposition to the government.
No-Nonsense French Briskly Kill -- Mainly By Bombing From On High -- Hundreds Of Fanatics
French troops kill 'several hundred' Islamist militants in Mali, official says
February 06, 2013
Feb. 6, 2013: A French tank is seen heading north at the tail end of a 60-plus military convoy in Gao, northern Mali. (AP)
Hundreds of Islamist militants have been killed in Mali by French troops, France’s defense minister said.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said "several hundred" militants died in airstrikes on vehicles carrying fighters and during combat with French forces, resulting in “great damage on the jihadist terrorist groups," the BBC reports.
It is unclear how France came up with the death total, but the country says only one of its own -- a helicopter pilot -- has died since its Jan. 11 intervention.
France has around 4,000 troops on the ground in Mali alongside forces from the African Union, while it estimates that the Islamist groups are 3,000 fighters strong, the BBC reports.
France, fearing Mali was becoming a haven for international terrorists, became involved in the conflict after Islamist extremists started moving toward the capital.
President Francois Hollande said Wednesday France may start pulling out its troops out of Mali at the end of March.
Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem added that at a Cabinet meeting, Hollande "confirmed that if all goes as planned, by the end of March the number of French troops engaged in Mali can begin to diminish."
Vallaud-Belkacem said the pullout will depend on an increase in the deployment of African forces, who are meant to take over the international effort to secure Mali and help its weak army keep the peace.
French forces are now clashing with Islamist militants who have been firing rocket launchers in the northern Malian city of Gao.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said French aircraft are continuing airstrikes every night on suspected militant arms depots and mine-making sites.
Malian soldiers on Wednesday found a stash of industrial-strength explosives in Gao that can be used to make roadside bombs.
Soldiers, patrolling on foot, made the discovery after a local official alerted them to the scene.
An Associated Press reporting team also viewed the stash of Nitram 5, which had been hidden inside rice bags that were dumped in a small square with other garbage from the town.
There have been concerns of a counterinsurgency in the weeks since French troops took over the cities of Timbuktu and Go, especially after four Malian soldiers were killed when a land mine went off near their vehicle.
Pope Tawadros II, Egypt's Most Intelligent Public Figure
"We are not a minority when it comes to value, history, interaction and love for our nation."
Coptic Pope Tawadros II criticises Egypt's Islamist leadership, new constitution
5 Feb 2013
In interview with Associated Press, Egypt's recently-enthroned Coptic patriarch dismisses country's new national charter and questions efficacy of President Morsi's calls for national dialogue
Egypt's Coptic patriarch delivered a cautious but unusually sharp criticism of the nation's Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, dismissing the new constitution as discriminatory and rounds of national dialogues sponsored by the president as meaningless.
Pope Tawadros II's dive into politics came as he tried to energize the spiritual solidarity of a demoralized community with a visit to a historic monastery that no Coptic pontiff has been to in decades because of security tensions in southern Egypt.
He joined the black-robed monks in a two-hour pre-dawn prayer at the ancient Virgin Mary chapel in the al-Muharraq monastery, said to be on a site where the Virgin Mary took refuge with Jesus and her husband Joseph from Roman persecution.
Tawadros has taken an unusually vocal political activist stance since being enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of the Copts, the main community of Egypt's Christians.
His papacy comes as Christians are increasingly worried over the rise to power of Islamists in the country and the rule of President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a show of his more assertive stance that Christian complaints must be better addressed, Tawadros appeared less patient with media events that project a false harmony between Egypt's Muslim and Christian leaders.
His late predecessor, Shenouda III, would often receive Muslim leaders at his cathedral after significant attacks on Christians as a demonstration of unity.
Asked by the AP if he would do the same, Tawadros did not respond directly but said, "Realistically, we want actions not words. We don't want a show. Egypt has changed, we live in a new Egypt now."
Morsi is facing mounting criticism to his rule by the mostly secular and liberal opposition who accuse the Brotherhood of monopolizing power and an independent media that is ruthlessly ridiculing him.[one good thing that came out of the uprising -- not "revolution" -- two years ago, is greater freedom to criticize the government]
Tawadros was dismissive of a series of national dialogues that Morsi has been holding, ostensibly as a way to broaden decision-making in response to criticism of the concentration of power with the Brotherhood. The group has emerged as Egypt's most powerful political group following autocrat Hosni Mubarak's ouster in a popular uprising two years ago.
Most opposition parties have refused to join the dialogue, as has the Coptic Church, calling it mere window dressing.
"We must and will actively take part in any national dialogue in which we see a benefit for the nation," Tawadros told the AP. "But when we find that a dialogue ends before it starts and none of its results are implemented then we realize that it is not in the interest of the nation."
Tawadros' active public political stance reflects a new attitude among Christian activists, who say the community must become more vocal in demanding equal status with Muslims.
In the past, activists say, Christians relied too much on the church to represent them behind the scenes with the country's power-brokers, a strategy they argue consigned Christians to second-class status.
The previous pope, Shenouda, was cautious about public criticism of Egypt's leadership, working instead in backroom arrangements. He was close to Mubarak, who until his ouster in February 2011 was seen by many Christians as the community's protector against Islamists.
Tawadros said he was pleased to see more and more Christians taking part in the wave of protests that has swept Egypt since early in 2011, but made clear that they should remain peaceful. Islamic militants have repeatedly charged that Christians made up the bulk of anti-Morsi protesters. They have produced no evidence to support their claim.
Tawadros' visit was the first by a Coptic pope in three decades to the 4th century al-Muharraq monastery, 180 miles (300 kilometers) south of Cairo in Assiut, which has one of the largest Christian communities of any of Egypt's 27 provinces.
Tenuous security in the area during an Islamist insurgency in the 1980s and 1990s kept Shenouda from visiting. Two monks were shot dead outside the monastery's gate by suspected militants in 1993. Two years earlier, a monk was murdered by local farmers in dispute with the monastery over land.
Tawadros received a hero's welcome at the monastery Monday, with scores of black-clad monks lined up and waiting singing hymns and burning incense on his arrival.
Outside the monastery's walls, a replica of those protecting Jerusalem's old city, several thousand waited for hours to catch a glimpse of him and went into frenzy when his motorcade arrived.
Assertive but calm, the 60-year-old pope took issue in the AP interview with references to Egypt's Christians as a minority, underlining that the community — which is believed to make up about 10 percent of the country's 85 million people — must be seen as having an equal voice with the Muslim majority.
"We are a part of the soil of this nation and an extension of the pharaohs and their age before Christ. Yes, we are a minority in the numerical sense, but we are not a minority when it comes to value, history, interaction and love for our nation," he said.
The patriarch also criticized the country's new constitution, which Morsi's Islamist allies rammed through to approval in December, angering opponents who said the move reflected the determination of the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies to impose their way without building consensus.
The document allows for a far stricter implementation of Islamic Shariah law than in the past, raising opponents' fears that it could bring restrictions on many civil liberties and the rights of women and Christians.
"The only common bond between all Egyptians is that they are all citizens ... the constitution, the base for all laws, must be under the umbrella of citizenship and not a religious one," he said. "Subsequently, some clauses were distorted by a religious slant and that in itself is discrimination because the constitution is supposed to unite and not divide.
Morsi has repeatedly pledged the dialogue will identify the disputed clauses and agree on amendments. But many doubt this will happen, given his fellow Islamists' resolve to protect the document in its current form.
Tawadros said he hopes for changes after the next parliamentary and presidential elections due respectively around April and in 2016.
"Maybe the constitution will change with the next parliamentary and presidential elections. Or maybe it will temporarily stay unchanged and be amended later," he said.
Even under Mubarak's rule, Christians complained of widespread official discrimination and said police failed to move against those accused in attacks on Christians or on churches.
Egypt has seen a string of such attacks, before and after Mubarak's fall — sometimes the result of local feuds that take on a sectarian nature, sometimes outright sectarian attacks. In the past two years, hardline Islamists have also become more open in their anti-Christian rhetoric.
Speaking to the AP, Tawadros borrowed a leaf from his own monastic past to counsel Egypt's Christians.
"Keep the hope, work earnestly and lift your heart with prayers that could make miracles."
Noman Ansari: In Pakistan, You Must Be Muslim To Have Things Named After You
From The Express Tribune:
In Pakistan, you must be Muslim to have a monument named after you
December 14, 2012
It seems that that our ruling bodies believe that religion rather than personal achievements dictate how far certain personalities must be promoted in Pakistan. PHOTO: IJAZ MAHMOOD/EXPRESS
How far does religious background, rather than actual character, go towards establishing respect in this country?
The news that the plans to rename the Shadman Chowk roundabout in Lahore after historically instrumental freedom fighter Bhagat Singh have been scrapped isn’t surprising, considering the rising level of intolerance in our nation.
Reports state that after pressure from right-wing religious organisations, the ‘Dilkash Lahore Committee’ opted for poet Habib Jalib’s name instead. I have nothing against the Pakistani poet, who by all accounts was as impressive at his prose- as he was in his stance against oppression.
What is actually regrettable here is the reason for this change of heart from the Dilkash Lahore Committee. Bhagat Singh was a freedom fighter who helped kick start the expulsion of the British rule from the Indian subcontinent. Coming from a family of revolutionaries, Singh exacted revenge for the assassination of a prominent Indian politician named Lala Lajpat Rai, who had been killed for his views against the British Raj.
Later, Singh gained overwhelming support from India after giving himself up to the police and going on a hunger strike to protest against other atrocities by the British Raj. Had it not been for these actions by Singh, perhaps we here in Pakistan would still be speaking in fake British accents, and pretentiously sipping tea during sunset.
OK, so that part of our culture hasn’t changed much actually.
But I digress.
It seems that that our ruling bodies believe that religion rather than personal achievements dictate how far certain personalities must be promoted in Pakistan. [of course they do, just as only adherence to one religion allows one to be assured of state protection of one's life and property]
I am now going to give you another example.
It is sad to say that one of our greatest national treasures is named after a cruel tyrant of a man. This was a man who robbed his nation of its wealth while his people suffered. Over the years his government faced countless complaints of torturing and murdering those that opposed them. This was also a man who along with his militia was accused of raping women in the country with frightening regularity, gaining a sick human rights abuse record that would even make the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia blush.
The man I speak of ofcourse, is the disgraced former dictator of Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who among other things was also a terrorist.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the former justice minister of Libya has gone on record as admitting that Gaddafi personally ordered the bombing Pan AM flight 103 in 1988, which killed 270 people. And we have named our historic cricket stadium after this man?
Gaddafi was always said to be a vicious snake and his family’s cruelty knew no bounds. At one point his daughter-in-law even burned their Ethiopian maid, Shweyga Mullah, scarring her with scalding hot water because the poor woman didn’t obey like a slave.
Poor Shweyga was tied up by the wife of Gaddafi’s eldest son Hannibal (who fittingly shares the same name as the fictional man eating Dr Hannibal Lecter), and then screamed as boiling water was poured on her.
She refused to beat Hannibal’s children for crying too much.
So, I have a question for the government of Pakistan. Why is it that our historic cricket stadium in Lahore, the embarrassingly named Gaddafi Stadium, is still titled after this tyrant?
Is being a ‘supposed Muslim leader’ qualification enough for such a grand honour?
Instead of renaming innocuous roundabouts, should we not first correct this massive mistake?
Here's the title of the on-line "discussion" of the use of drones to eliminate threats from Muslims, including those who happen to have acquired American citizenship:
When Can the U.S. Kill One of Its Own?
"One of its own"? In what sense are those who have been killed "one of America's own? What makes Anwar al-Awlaki, or the other blowhard in Yemen, "one of our own"?
Anwar Al-Awlaki happened to be born in New Mexico, when his Saudi father was enrolled (I won't say "studying" because I am too familiar with Saudi and other Arab students in the West to use that word) in an American university. Plenty of Arabs and Muslims don't even have to be studying to have children with automatic citizenship: the country is full of anchor-baby hotels, where Arab and pregnant Muslim women arrive, half-way or closer to term, to take advantage of the by-now dangerous and even idiotic law that allows those born in this country, no matter how alien and dangerous they may be to the survival of that country's laws, customs, mores, and mental freedoms, to acquire as one of the accidents -- in every sense -- of birth, American citizenship.
There are, all over the Western world, people running around who now have American, Canadian, Australian, British, French, German, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, and other precious citizenships, but unlike many other immigrants, they are not and cannot possibly accept the basic assumptions and principles, the laws and customs, of those Western countries whose citizenship they have, in a sense, falsely acquired. Why "falsely"? Because with or without an oath, there has been an assumption, made by Western governments entirely too negligent -- and to the increasing distress of their peoples, especially those who have suffered, or seen others suffer, from this alien invasion of those whom they recognize as being permanently unintegrable, as long as they are adherents of Islam -- that everyone can more or less fit in, that the Muslim immigrants are just like the others, who in the past were objected too and yet managed, over time, to fit in. No. It's different. Read the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira. Study the texts and teachings. Then study the history of Muslim behavior toward all the many different non-Muslim lands and peoples that Muslms have conquered, over the past 1350 years. And then look at what is happening around the world today, to non-Muslims in Muslim lands, and look especially at how, over the past few decades, Muslims in Western Europe have behaved. Everywhere, in countries very different, with very different histories and political arrangements, Muslim immigrants have been the source of every kind of disruption, in schools and hospitals and shops and in the housing estates, have shown every conceivable kind of calculated taking-advantage of whatever the local Infidels may innocently or trustingly provide, and everywhere have been a source of growing misery and dangerous for those indigenous non-Muslims, and for other, non-Muslim immigrants as well. Why should all this evidence continue by our rulers, those who presume to protect and instruct us, be ignored?
Let's Hope That Morsi Accepts Ahmadinejad's Kind Offer
If he did accept, it would have the following effects:
1) Make it easier for those who wish to cut American aid to Egypt to point to "rich" Iran -- and the rich Gulf States -- as the proper bank for Egypt. It is in the West's interest to see that the rich Arabs and Muslims be put on the spot, and asked to share Allah's wealth -- those oil and gas revenues -- with fellow members of the Umma;. After all, that's what Allah wants.The rich Arabs of the Gulf will have to explain why, if they are so afraid of Iran, they would allow a fellow Arab state, Egypt, to be beholden to, and move closer to, Shi'ite Iran? Save for a tiny sum -- a billion or two -- from Qatar -- the Gulf Arabs have shared none of their trillion-dollar surpluses with Egypt. They are a little more than kin, but proving to be less than kind. For shame.
2) It will further infuriate Iranians against their own government, and against the transfer of Persian wealth to help Arabs. They have been especailly indignant over the money sent to the "Palestinians" and the even greater amounts sent to Hezbollah. Such aid to Egypt will inflame them further.
3) It will infuriate the (quasi) secularists in Egypt who see Morsi as a kind of Khomeini, and the islamic Republic of Iran as what he might, if allowed, try to turn Egypt into.
4) It will infuriate the enemies of the secularists in Egypt - those who belong to the Salafi movement, and those in Morsi's own Muslim Brotherhood, for whom the Shi'ites are quasi-Infidels. For some Sunni clerics, especially but not only in Saudi Arabia, Shiites are not merely Infidels, but "the most dangerous kind" of Infidels
Ahmadinejad has had a wonderful idea. How can Morsi possibly turn it down?
CAIRO Iran's president on Wednesday offered to help rescue Egypt's failing economy with a "big credit line," another possible sign of improving relations between two regional powers after a freeze of more than three decades.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the proposal during the first trip to Egypt by an Iranian leader since 1979. It came at a time when his own economy is staggering from the effects of Western sanctions over Iran's suspect nuclear development program, and it was unclear how he could spare funds or credit for his new ally.
"It is a smack in the face of the Iranian people," Potkin Azarmehr, an Iranian blogger based in London told CBSNews.com. Azarmehr, a vocal critic of the Islamic cleric-led Iranian government, says many normal Iranians are struggling to make ends meet as the sanctions have forced prices on essentials like food and travel through the roof.
The latest bad news for Egypt's economy, meanwhile, came Tuesday with an announcement that the country's foreign currency reserves dropped 10 percent in the past month. Even before that, the treasury warned that the reserves were at a "critical" low point.
Egypt's government had no immediate reaction to Ahmadinejad's offer, made in an interview with the state-run Al-Ahram daily.
"We can provide a big credit line to our Egyptian brothers," he told the paper. "If the two peoples cooperate and join forces, they can become an important element."
Egypt and Iran have grown closer since President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt last summer. The two countries severed relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution and Egypt's peace treaty with Israel the same year.
Ahmadinejad is attending an Islamic nations summit in Cairo but arrived a day early for talks with Egyptian leaders.
Ahmadinejad's reception in Egypt has not been entirely welcoming. On Tuesday, he had to flee an ancient mosque in downtown Cairo after a Syrian protester took off his shoes and threw them at him, an especially grave insult in the Arab world. Iran is Syrian President Bashar Assad's main regional ally in the civil war there.
Then Egypt's most prominent cleric chided Ahmadinejad for interfering in the affairs of Sunni nations. Iran is the leading Shiite Muslim power. Egypt and other Mideast nations are predominantly Sunni.
In the Al-Ahram interview, he tried to downplay the concerns with a story.
"For example, 40 people are sitting in a bus and they differ among themselves, but they are all heading to the same destination and to the same goal," he said in reference to Muslim world. "What is common among us is bigger than our differences."
Dying, Egypt, Dying: That Burning Barge Of State On The River Nile
After all, what has the Ikhwan, what has Dr. Mohamed Morsi, done?
The Egyptians had what they optimistically called a Revolution. Bigshots in Washington -- whose chief characteristic was that they knew little or no history, and didn't understand why that even mattered -- excitably hailed the Egyptian, the Tunisian, the Libyan, the Syrian, etc. revolts, as examples of Getting On The Right Side Of History. But in none of these cases was three a true Revolution of the only kind that would have mattered -- a revolution, or at least a change, or at least some hint of a dawning understanding, in the hearts and minds of men. Local despots, mainly because of their corruption and not their cruelty, were overthrown. But the real source of the trouble in these countries, the cause of the mainy local failures, political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual -- Islam itself -- was not and cannot openly be identified as something to limit. There are as yet no Arab Ataturks, though for a while, in Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba went as far as he could.
These were not Revolutions, but Uprisings. And in Egypt, the Egyptians themselves, unused to freedom, brought back, and with every kind of vengeance, Despotism, and then managed to produce, along with the Despotism, the Anarchy in the streets and squares. Egypt today: overpopulation, a failing economy, total dependence on the outside world, and especially on those very Infidels whom Mohamed Morsi deeply, truly hates (though he can smile and smile, and be a villain), and Despotism and Anarchy at the same time. A neat trick, but not beyond the abilities of those Egyptian bashibazouks, those beard-and-zebiba boys, those backstreet bezonians. And while, though bardash behavior for baksheesh is hardly unknown in this as in other repressed-and-perverse Arab societies, hardly a "pretty dimpled boy" of the kind that so enchanted Andre Gide and other Frenchmen in the Frenchified parts of North Africa are apparently to be found in Egypt. But what can be found, because of that burning barge of state on the Cydnus-supplanting river Nile, is an apt occasion to repeat, endowed with a new meaning, a famous line from an old poet, as describing what the Egyptians over the past two years have done to themselves.
And given all the dangers we have passed, and that are to come, it would be a pity not to use it:
Demand Police Protection for the Intended Victims - Not for the Assailants!
My good friend and comrade Lars Hedegaard of the Danish Free Press Society foiled an assassination attempt on his life by at least one assailant dressed as a Danish postman delivering a parcel at 11 AM yesterday morning in Copenhagen. The would be assassin drew a pistol as soon as Lars opened the door and fired a shot at his head that missed. Lars grappled with him and the assailant was able to keep the door open but was unable to fire the weapon again and fled.
The Danish government bears responsibility for the dreadful campaign of slander and legal actions against Lars and seeks to cow all those in Denmark who will not be intimidated by a growing radical Muslim element that refuses to accept the basic principles of tolerance for others, democracy, free speech and a peaceful participation in civil society.
After being hounded and convicted of “racism”, Lars was found innocent by a unanimous vote ( 7 – 0) of the Danish Supreme Court.
The American media will no doubt show a total lack of interest in the case because it refuses to acknowledge the same refusal as the Danish authorities to proclaim loud and clear that the emperor of multiculturalism has no clothes. It is only by the hand of providence that Hedegaard was not added to the list of Dutch victims Theo Van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn.
Hundreds of well-wishers have sent their greetings and congratulations to Lars Hedegaard on his facebook page and the Danish Free Press Society has received an enormous surge of applications for membership – the phone has been ringing off the wall!
Demand Police Protection for the Intended Victims. Not for the Assailants!
Qaradawi, The Most Infliuential Sunni Cleric In The World, On Death For Apostates As The Key To Islam's Survival
Here, thanks to the Media Research Center, is Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, explaining on television to an audience of Muslims that death for apostates has been indispensable in Islam, that without such a punishment, Islam would not have survived. It's quite an admission. See that it gets around.
Pakistani Immigrants Find America A Land Of Opportunity
From NBC NEWS:
ID theft/fraud ring netted $200 million and counting, feds allege
AP Photo/The Jersey Journal
FBI agents enter Raja Jewelers in Jersey City, N.J., on Tuesday, investigating what a criminal indictment describes as an international credit card fraud ring.
By Bob Sullivan, Columnist, NBC News
In an indictment that reads like an instruction manual for nearly every type of identity theft and credit card fraud yet invented, prosecutors alleged on Tuesday that more than a dozen crooks ran roughshod over America's credit system for six years, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and living like kings.
The techniques deployed by the crime ring ran the gamut, from child ID theft to setting up fake stores to process credit card payments, says the indictment, which was unsealed on Tuesday. It alleges that suspects created so-called “synthetic identities,” in which invented Social Security numbers were used to create fake credit reports that enabled them to borrow huge sums; faked utility payment histories to fool credit bureaus; designated themselves as "authorized users" of real victim's identities; and minted real and fake merchant credit card processing accounts to trick banks into depositing large sums of cash into bank accounts they controlled. In one case, they even used a 6-year-old's Social Security number to get credit, it said.
With the proceeds of the scheme, they bought luxury cars, electronics, spa treatments, and millions of dollars in gold, the indictment said. Authorities found $68,000 in cash hidden inside the kitchen oven of one suspect, it said.
“This elaborate network utilized thousands of false identities, fraudulent bank accounts, fake companies and collusive merchants to defraud financial institutions of hundreds of millions of dollars in order to facilitate extravagant lifestyles they could otherwise not afford,” David Velazquez, FBI acting special agent in charge, said in a statement.
A set of jewelry stores in Jersey City, N.J., just across the Hudson River from New York City, was at the center of the fraud, according to the indictment. False charges were run through the stores’ merchant credit card processing accounts, allowing the criminals to turn fake IDs and fraudulent credit cards into cash. Jewelry stores, which routinely process high-priced transactions, are perfect for such a fraud.
According to the indictment, the extent of the brazen operation and its support network was staggering. There were 7,000 fake identities created in all, and 25,000 fake credit cards, it said. To fool banks and credit bureaus, 1,800 fake "drop box" snail mail addresses were used, so criminals could accept real mail -- such as utility bills -- and make them part of the scheme, it said.
The FBI estimates the fraud netted a total of $200 million, but because some conspirators have not yet been arrested and the investigation is ongoing, it expects that figure to rise. Money was sent around the world, to Canada, Pakistan, India, China and Japan. While the operations centered on the New York metropolitan area, with 13 individuals arrested in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the scam actually touched 28 U.S. states, according to the indictment.
Babar Qureshi, who is the accused ringleader, made a single wire transfer of $500,000 recently, the indictment alleges, and a total of $1 million flowed through his accounts during the operation. The FBI says it has identified 169 bank accounts through which $60 million in proceeds flowed -- most ultimately withdrawn in cash.
The general technique the criminals allegedly used is not new, or novel, and is sometimes called a "bust-out" scheme. In the indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office calls it "make up, pump up and run up." Here’s how it works: Criminals gain control of a real or invented credit identity, but don't use it for fraud right away. Instead, they patiently pay bills or otherwise build up the creditworthiness over time. Then, when the account is "primed" so that potential creditors are convinced it is legit and their fraud-fighting software lets its guard down, a large fraud is committed.
A chart in the federal indictment breaks down the various identities authorities say were linked to suspects arrested in the fraud ring.
There’s a lesson in these allegations for victims of credit card account number theft -- smart criminals don't commit fraud immediately after stealing account numbers. If your account number is compromised, don't believe you are in the clear just because there's no fraud in the first few months.
Merchant accounts -- credit card transaction processing accounts that businesses use to accept credit cards and get paid -- are particularly valuable to criminals. The biggest barrier credit fraudsters have is turning data into cash. It's risky to purchase items with stolen credit cards, or to attempt ATM cash withdrawals, as that creates a paper trail and perhaps a surveillance video record. But by working with a merchant account, criminals can pretend they are processing legitimate transactions and automatically have the payments deposited directly into their checking accounts. The criminals can go from stolen account numbers to cash in a fully electronic transaction. There's still a paper trail, but that's why these criminals maintained an extensive network of fake IDs, the government alleges – so they could hide behind layers of false identities when setting up the merchant accounts. Jewelry store accounts, with their high-ticket purchases, would be particularly useful in this kind of crime.
The 18 defendants charged in the indictment -- including five who are still at large -- range in age from 31 to 74. Four of the suspects live in Iselin, N.J., about 45 minutes south of New York City. One is in Philadelphia. The rest are scattered among New York City and nearby suburbs..
Attorney Angelo Servidio, representing defendant Tarsem Lal, said his client was free on bail, and wanted to remind people that his client is innocent until proven guilty.
"They are all presumed innocent. There are a lot of people involved in or alleged to be involved in this case," he said. "From what I can see, this case (may have) been under investigation since 2008, so there are going to be a lot of documents to sift through."
Servidio said he hadn't seen any of the evidence against his client yet.
"Other than his connection with a jewelry store, I don't know what evidence they have," he said.
Simply fill those orders for the 787s, and with each plane that is delivered, place on top, but inside the shrink-wrapped User's Guide, clearly visible, as a kind of cover letter, this note:
Batteries Not Included.
Simple, and elegant. Why didn't anyone else think of that?
Well, why did it take two centuries, and millions of miles of quite unnecessary misery for travellers, for someone to figure out that wheels could be attached to luggage? Why did it take a Christopher Columbus to figure out how to make an egg stand up? People say that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Are they wrong. In this case, it was 100% inspiration.
Canadian "Citizenship Is Predicated On Loyalty ToThis Country"
Questions for study and discussion:
If those Muslims who engage in violent Jihad do so not abroad, but in Canada, shouldn't they too have their Canadian citizenship revoked?
If those Muslims who engage in violent Jihad are not dual citizens, but possess only Canadian citizenship, should that be a reason not to be able to strip them of their citizenship? If it were to be that, then such people would make sure that they were not dual citizens, in order not to be stripped of citizenship in a Western country.
If those Muslims who have acquired Canadian citizenship do not participate directly in violent Jihad, but offer financial support, or propaganda on behalf of the goals of Jihad, or even attempt to mislead non-Muslim fellow citizens about Islamic texts and teachings, and the way Muslims have treated the non-Muslims they have subdued and subjugated in many lands, over many years, are these not all ways of engaging in Jihad, of furthering the very same goals of those who engage in terrorism? And if the goals are the same, and only the methods differ, do not the governments and peoples of the non-Muslim West have a right and a duty to protect themselves, by taking measures to limit the Muslim presence in their countries, and the ability of Muslims to freely spread their doctrine. which has until now not been subject to sufficient scrutiny and intelligent analysis?
Canada considers revoking citizenship from dual citizens linked to terrorism
TORONTO — Canada’s immigration minister said Wednesday his government should consider stripping Canadians with dual citizenship who commit terrorist acts of their Canadian status. The remarks follow revelations that a Canadian with dual Lebanese citizenship is suspected of being involved in a bus attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that one of the suspects was born in Lebanon, came to Canada at age eight, became a Canadian citizen and then left at age 12. He said he assumed the man was a dual Lebanese- Canadian citizen.
“I understand he may have been back to Canada a few times since then, but he has not has been a habitual resident in Canada since the age of 12,” Kenney said.
A top Bulgarian security official said Wednesday the two living suspects behind the bus attack have been identified and both are now living in Lebanon. The bomb that exploded July 18 as the Israeli tourists were boarding a bus at the airport in Burgas also killed a Bulgarian bus driver and the suspected bomber. Three men are suspected in the attack, including the dead bomber.
On Tuesday, an official Bulgarian report said investigators had “well-grounded reasons to suggest” that two of the suspects belonged to the militant wing of the Islamist group Hezbollah. The report said they had been living in Lebanon for years, one with a Canadian passport and the other with an Australian one.
“The confirmed involvement of a Canadian citizen in the Hezbollah bombing in Bulgaria last year is deeply concerning to us,” Kenney said.
A Conservative Canadian lawmaker has a bill before Parliament that would revoke citizenship from dual nationals if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian military. Kenney said could be amended to include acts of terrorism abroad.[and what about declared adherence to an ideology that inculcates hatred for Infidels, their laws, their customs, the continued existence of their countries? How conceivably is that compatible with citizenship in any Western country?]
“Canadian citizenship is predicated on loyalty to this country and I cannot think of a more obvious act of renouncing one’s sense of loyalty than going and committing acts of terror,” Kenney said.
Canadian government officials noted other countries have the ability to revoke the citizenship of its citizens. Opposition Liberal leader Bob Rae said the government should not do “policy making on the fly” and urged more study of the matter.
Tuesday’s revelation is the second by a foreign government in recent weeks that Canadians allegedly took part in terrorist attacks abroad. Canada has to yet to confirm a claim by Algeria that at least one Canadian was among terrorists who staged a deadly attack on a Saharan gas plant last month. Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Tuesday he hasn’t even been provided with a name from Algerian authorities.
A number of Western citizens [all Muslims] have been linked to terrorism both in their home countries and abroad in recent years.
Bravo to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) for bringing the Hagel nomination to a halt with his letter to his Senate Armed Services Committee colleagues. Hagel did himself in when he refused to disclose foreign contributions to non-profit groups he joined since leaving the Senate in 2009. Credit for the halt issued by Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) also goes to Secure America Now that has been relentless in lobbying Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and leading Republican Minority members, including John McCain (R-AZ), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Cruz. Hagel's refusal to disclose and Chairman Levin's hold on a confirmation vote for Hagel may reflect more than just his poor presentation at his nomination hearing.
In late January, Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beaconreported several pro-Iranian and anti-Israel progressive groups that Plowshares Fund financed; Hagel was a board member. Kredo wrote:
Hagel sits on the board of Ploughshares Fund, a progressive foundation that has granted more than $2 million to organizations that employ some of Hagel’s most outspoken advocates, who favor lifting sanctions on Iran, oppose military action against its nuclear program, and hope to weaken the U.S.-Israel alliance.
Organizations that have received donations from Ploughshares include the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the Center for American Progress (CAP), J Street, the National Security Network (NSN), and the Truman National Security Project, among others.
[. . .]
NIAC, an advocacy group long suspected of concealing its illicit ties to the Iranian regime, has emerged as perhaps the most vocal defender of Hagel’s nomination as it pertains to Iran.
The group has received more than $600,000 in grants from Ploughshares since 2007.
“Hagel’s prospective nomination should never have been controversial in the first place,” NIAC President Trita Parsi recently wrote in the Huffington Post. “Hagel is a highly respected military mind who served both in the military and in the Senate with dignity and courage.”
This halt in Hagel’s nomination process reflects the arrogance of the Obama West Wing who just might be frustrated a second time in seeking a Senate vote on confirmation of Hagel to run The Pentagon. Let us not forget what happened to US UN Ambassador Susan Rice who unwisely spun the early Administration line about the anti-Islam film triggering the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi on Sunday Morning news programs in October 2012. She and her West Wing minders had no alternative but to have her graciously withdraw her name from nomination. Next up tomorrow is John Brennan who is now caught up revelations about drone wars against American Jihadi terrorists.
Note the role the Cruz letter played in halting Hagel’s nomination in this Fox News Report:
A letter to Hagel from 23 Republican senators, obtained by Fox News, expresses concern about fees Hagel may have collected for speaking engagements from various groups. The senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn, argue Hagel did not disclose to the panel which “entities” he has dealt with.
“Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light," the letter reads.
The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said in a written statement Wednesday that he had hoped to hold a vote when the committee met on Thursday for a separate hearing on the deadly attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.
But Levin said the committee's review of President Obama's nomination has not been completed. He said he would schedule a vote as soon as possible.
May we suggest that Hagel’s nomination vote may never be scheduled? Further, among those embarrassed by that possibility would be New York Senator Charles Schumer who gave Hagel his support after the latter allegedly answered his questions satisfactorily. He took his cue from the positions of major American Jewish groups. Mort Klein, President of the National ZoA ,and Irwin Hochberg, Vice Chairman, in a recent Jerusalem Postop ed commented:
Yet, following Hagel’s nomination, virtually all Jewish groups except the Zionist Organization of America refused to oppose Hagel. Even the Orthodox Jewish groups, like the Orthodox Union, were silent.
AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman asserted that “AIPAC does not take positions on presidential nominations.”
AJC’s executive director David Harris explained that, though still “concerned,” AJC is “not in the opposition camp.”
ADL’s Foxman averred: “I respect the president’s prerogative” – something no-one had called into question and which in no way reduces the corresponding prerogative of the Senate to decline confirmation.
NJDC issued a statement saying, “We trust that when confirmed... Hagel will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel.”
In contrast, Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel was strongly opposed to Hagel’s nomination before it was even announced. It has dispatched a delegation to Washington to lobby senators against confirmation.
Powerful Jewish lobby? It looks more like neutered cats, unwilling to face up to pressure from the Obama White House. A White House bound and determined to hollow out our military imperiling our national security and that of our only democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel.