Three persons have been arrested in connection with the online abuses and threats to the all-girl rock band of Kashmir, which forced them to quit singing.
Irshad Ahmad Chara, resident of S D Colony, Batamaloo, was arrested late last night by the police, who was raiding different places to apprehend him.
Tariq Khan, was apprehended from Bijbehara, a town in South Kashmir, and Rameez Shah was also arrested from Ganderbal in central Kashmir last night, police sources said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "I'm glad the police in Kashmir has identified and arrested people for the online threats made to the girls... I'm told more arrests are possible."
Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Ashok Prasad, who is closely monitoring the case, has directed stepping up of patrolling in the areas where two of the three girls of the band group reside.
A member of the band had yesterday said they decided to call it quits as they respected the decree of Kashmir's grand mufti who found singing un-Islamic. "We respect the Mufti sahib who said it (singing) is 'Haram'. We respect the opinion of people of Kashmir also. That is why we quit," she said,
Aneeka Khalid, guitarist of Pragaash, said she never expected their band would generate so much controversy. Speaking to Mail Today on Tuesday, she claimed she didn't feel threatened, but said: "I am no longer interested in music or in the rock band. I have given it up."
She also spoke about her respect for grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din, whose fatwa against the girls taking up rock music triggered protests across the country. "I respect grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din and his advice and have decided to quit music,"
Aneeka said she is aware the band has got huge support from people within and outside the state. "Say thanks to all those who have supported us, but we are not going to go outside the state to learn music or perform in any show. We have given up music," she insisted.
Kashmir may be part of India but it is Muslim majority - and who wants their daughters to suffer like Malala Yousafzai?
If you only tuned in for former Sen. Chuck Hagel's opening statement in the Senate confirmation hearing last week on his nomination for secretary of defense, you might have thought, what's all the fuss?
Hagel hit all the right notes in a sweeping, forceful endorsement of the muscular use of American military power around the world to defend the nation's security. He voiced strong support for Israel and said he would maintain pressure on terrorist groups in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.
"I believe, and always have, that America must engage — not retreat — in the world," Hagel declared, sounding much like his highly praised predecessors, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates.
But then came the questions from the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Queries that Hagel should have drilled out of the park, given that he'd prepped intensively for this performance. Instead, Hagel stumbled, bumbled and fumbled.
One squirm-in-your-chair example: Hagel declared the Obama administration's policy on Iran's nuclear weapons program was "containment," meaning the U.S. could tolerate a nuclear-armed Tehran. An aide handed Hagel a slip of paper to remind him that the administration's position is that Iran will not be allowed to terrorize the world with a nuclear weapon.
Slap to forehead.
Was that a simple Hagelian slip of memory? Or a statement of genuine belief? Hagel has suggested the world could tolerate a nuclear Iran and rely on deterrence, the threat of retaliation, to keep Iran from using its weapons.
That blunder came weeks after Hagel's Second Thoughts Tour, in which he wooed Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and other Democrats by repudiating most of the Iran-coddling and anti-Israel statements he has expressed over a decade.
Has Hagel really changed his views to fit the administration's position on Iran and other foreign policy challenges? Or is he mouthing tough words written for him by his administration handlers?
Sen. John McCain grilled Hagel about his opposition to the 2007 troop surge in Iraq ordered by President George W. Bush. Hagel refused to say whether he had been right or wrong. He said he'd await the "judgment of history." If he had spoken with candor, he would have acknowledged that the surge helped win that war and hasten the safe departure of U.S. troops. Why the reluctance to say so?
There was a puzzling assertion by Hagel that Iran's rulers are "legitimate" and "elected." The despotic ayatollah who rules Iran and all those who rigged the last presidential election must still be chuckling over that.
Even Hagel's defenders blanched at his astonishingly poor performance. "I'm going to be candid," Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri told MSNBC. "I think that Chuck Hagel is much more comfortable asking questions than answering them."
We'll be candid, too: He should be in some other job, not running the Pentagon.
Hagel is expected to be confirmed, largely with Democratic votes, largely out of deference to President Barack Obama. A vote in the Armed Services Committee is expected to be held Thursday.
A president should enjoy a certain level of deference in his Cabinet choices. But in this case we stand with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who has announced he will vote against Hagel's nomination.
The nation needs a defense secretary who is consistent, who is well-versed in defense planning and policy, and who will give frank and independent advice to the president about when and when not to project U.S. power. Hagel inspires no confidence on any of those counts.
A defense secretary who will not need to be reminded that the president has vowed to thwart Iran's drive to develop nuclear weapons.
A defense secretary who has enough credibility to muster support in Congress for a long-planned downsizing of the U.S. military to a smaller, less-expensive footprint. The Wall Street Journal had a wistful reminder on Tuesday of what might have been: an insightful op-ed on Pentagon spending cuts by Michele Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy who was passed over by Obama for the nomination.
If the likes of Iran and al-Qaida "believe that the United States has decided, for any reason, to relax its vigilance or relinquish its leadership role, the result could be catastrophic," former U.S. Ambassador Robert J. Callahan writes in a perceptive essay on today's Perspective page. "Our security, and that of much of the planet, depends on our constant and resolute efforts to keep the rogue states and terrorists at bay."
Syria is unraveling. So is Egypt. North Korea threatens another nuclear test. Al-Qaida plots in havens around the world. All of those threats — and many more unforeseen — await the advice of the next defense secretary to the president.
Chuck Hagel served this country honorably in Vietnam. But his troubling position on key defense issues and his disastrous performance at his hearing last week should prompt the Senate to turn down the nomination.
Recently, I was interviewed at my home by David Birnbaum, author of Summa Metaphysica, Parts I and II, on my book, After Auschwitz, and my theological views starting with the question, “Is God dead?” (Short answer, No). The interview has now been placed on You Tube in three segments. For those who might be interested, the segments can be viewed at:
Why do politicians use business jargon, asks Sally Davies. From the BBC, whose bloated management ought to read it:
There was a line that stood out in Barack Obama's second inaugural address last month, but not in a carve-it-on-the-Lincoln-memorial sort of way.
Before 800,000 onlookers, the freshly anointed US President had just recited the famous passage from the American Declaration of Independence, proclaiming man's unalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".
Then, his lips moving mesmerically on the jumbo TV screens that lined Washington's National Mall, he went on: "Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing."
The phrase "self-executing" emerged sounding peculiarly glib and corporate. It brought to mind so-called "self-executing clauses" in treaties or commercial contracts. Perhaps the term was a hangover from Obama's days as a law professor. To be fair, it echoed the reference to "self-evident" truths in the declaration itself.
But Obama's version seemed more technical, more hollowed-out of meaning. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D Roosevelt and John F Kennedy would have been unlikely to recognise such a slick and contemporary way of speaking.
Linguistic novelty ought to provoke suspicion when it stands in the way of precision and lucidity. Why would the president pluck an opaque phrase from the lips of lawyers and besuited executives to articulate the lofty principles on which his nation was founded? How could a truth be "self-executing", anyway?
American politicians have been salting their speech with business jargon for some time, says Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based political adviser and a former member of Bill Clinton's media team. It began in earnest in the early 1980s, he reckons, when the growth of global capitalism and the waning influence of labour unions lent corporate-speak a patina of prestige.
"Business language became a way of seeming neutral," Sheinkopf says.
With free-market principles gaining greater acceptance on both the left and the right sides of American politics, the lexicon of business schools - "outcomes", "bottom lines" and "results" - has become a way for politicians to appear authoritative and objective. He attributes the success of this terminology among politicians to the imperative to claim the middle ground, "now that we're a personality-driven polity, rather than an ideological polity".
Despite these worrisome incursions of corporate jargon, US speechifiers have reason to hope. They are partly protected from the malignancy of business-speak by the country's tradition of speaking out in defence of its founding values, forged during the high-minded Enlightenment era. Australia and the UK, however, have not been so lucky.
Recently, Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to deploy the language of truck and barter in his speech announcing a referendum on the country's membership of the European Union: "I do want a better deal for Britain, not just a better deal for Europe."
Charlie Beckett, the director of the Polis media think-tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science, chalks up the prevalence of this talk in Britain to politicians' desire to sound dynamic.
Corporate-sounding language been a feature of every administration since the prime ministership of Tony Blair, who sent his advisers to study the "messaging" tactics honed by the professional class of political and business consultants in the US. The idea is to sell government as one would sell a product, says Beckett - a project at which British spin-doctors may have to work harder, given the more demure tenor of the political conversation compared with America.
For politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, corporate terminology is also a way of ducking scrutiny by the media at a time when it is more searching and extensive than ever before. It is risk-averse language, Beckett notes. "Nowadays you can start conflicts, shift markets or have people burning down your embassies if you put a word out of place."
Business-speak helps leaders avoid firing up the public's passions or explaining policies that could prove controversial. The irony, says Beckett, is that they "are trying to play it safe, but it just reinforces the sense that they're careerists who have lost touch". By contrast, those who refuse to stoop to sanitised corporatese may cannily use their gaffes to burnish popular, straight-talking personas - as US Vice President Joe Biden and London Mayor Boris Johnson have managed to do.
Australia is a special case. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her cabinet are notorious for their repetition of wonkish, managerial-sounding slogans. Her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, was a career bureaucrat, and known for his use of luminous phrases like "programmatic specificity".
In part, it's the fault of "the egalitarian spirit of this place", says Don Watson, a prolific Australian critic of business jargon and speechwriter to former Prime Minister Paul Keating. "In America there's a culture of high rhetoric. In Britain, language is preserved by tradition and by the institutions of that tradition."
"Moving forward also means moving forward” -Julia Gillard
But in Australia, politicians are particularly loath to put on airs, and so are unafraid to reach for the prosaic language of commerce when speaking before the public.
Americans may be find some consolation in these words. But some may have huddled a little closer inside their coats, out on the Mall last Monday, as Obama invoked the need to "harness new ideas and technology" and to "empower our citizens".
As long as they're citizen-centric. At least management-speak tends to be ephemeral -- I notice that "heads up" and "cascade" are now at one with Nineveh and Tyre. But it looks as if we're stuck with moving forward.
Judging this book by its title -- and nowadays, what with Kindle and Nook, it's getting hard to judge a book by the only other conceivable alternative, its cover -- it is an elaboration on the theme of the venerable Latin adage, Post Coitum Omne Animal Triste. Oras G. B. Shaw observed, "Sex is what you always want until after you've just had it."
You can read this in hardcover ($19.95) or, if you prefer, you can order it up on the screen of one of those hand-held devices everyone is so enthusiastic about.
Imagine a sectarian conflagration, fueled by Al Qaeda, raging across the Fertile Crescent.
In the days of the Ottoman Empire, British diplomats referred to the Arabic-speaking territories of the empire as “Turkish Arabia.” It was these Arabic-speaking lands that Britain and France, in the aftermath of the First World War, divided into the modern Arab states we know today: Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Those arbitrary colonial boundaries have endured for the better part of a century, but the people within them have never fully acknowledged the legitimacy of the lines that British and French officials drew for them.
Tribal confederations that span the borders, adjacent river towns, minority co-religionist communities—in these places, people have continued to live as they had done for centuries, intermarrying, trading, fighting, and migrating with light regard for the political borders of the states in which, by an accident of history, they happened to be residing. It is for this reason that political and social developments in one part of the former “Turkish Arabia” can spread so quickly to another, as they have done at key points in modern Arab history such as the revolutionary year of 1958.
Photo credit: Austen Hufford
Today, Turkish Arabia is at another such point in its history, as political forces unleashed in one region are spreading to others. The revolt that began in Syria in early 2011—itself inspired by events elsewhere in the Arab world—is on the verge of becoming a sectarian war spanning the entirety of Turkish Arabia. The most powerful of the Syrian revolutionary forces, the Nusrah Front, has been formed around a core of what we have previously known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent and terrorist organization once led by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In its battle against the Iraqi government and the U.S. military from 2004 to 2011, Al Qaeda in Iraq relied on a deep support network of fixers, safe houses, financiers, and radical religious figures in Syria, who helped to push thousands of jihadists in Iraq to kill and maim tens of thousands of Iraqis.*
Al Qaeda Takes Root in Syria
Now, the operational and support networks have been reversed, so that the operatives of the Nusrah Front in Syria draw upon an extensive support base in Iraq. Syrian observers report increasing numbers of Iraqis and Jordanians in the Nusrah Front’s ranks, experienced fighters who have brought with them the skills they honed against U.S. and Iraqi troops. Just as Al Qaeda in Iraq has ostensibly been fighting to free Baghdad from what it calls heretical “Persian”—read “Shia”—domination, the Nusrah Front today fights to free Syria from the supposedly heretical rule of the nominally Shia Alawite regime of Bashar al Assad.
For Al Qaeda in Iraq, then, the Iraqi and Syrian conflicts are one theater of war, where Al Qaeda and its allies seek a common objective of beating back the forces of what its leaders consider an Iranian-led coalition of Shia sectarian parties from Iraq, the Assad regime, and Lebanese Hizballah.
What is the next stage in this conflict? It is not hard to predict if we recall how the Nusrah Front behaved in Iraq in its earlier Al Qaeda in Iraq incarnation. Initially welcomed into Iraq in 2004 and 2005 by more nationalist Sunni insurgent groups who were glad of reinforcements, Al Qaeda quickly moved to take command of the entire Iraqi rebellion itself and transform an insurgency into a sectarian war.
Al Qaeda leaders, well-provisioned by wealthy Gulf financiers, could easily outspend their local Iraqi nationalist rivals, hiring away the labor pool of young Sunni fighters who were the foot soldiers of the Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups. Al Qaeda’s leaders then installed a reign of terror in Sunni territories, murdering Iraqi tribal and community leaders who defied them, imposing Taliban-style Islamic law, and forcing Iraqi tribes to surrender their daughters into marriage with Al Qaeda commanders.
Having established bases in Iraq, Al Qaeda also sought to expand its jihad beyond the country’s borders, launching massive attacks against hotels in Amman, Jordan, with the aim of opening a war against the Jordanian monarchy (though the effort backfired when it horrified the Jordanian population). Eventually, Al Qaeda leaders even attempted to become the political alternative to the Iraqi state, declaring themselves the government of an “Islamic State of Iraq” in 2006. Al Qaeda’s overbearing treatment of Iraqis ultimately resulted in the local backlash known as the “Awakening,” and, by 2007, the terrorist organization was in a full-blown war with the Iraqi Sunnis that had originally welcomed them.
In retrospect, Al Qaeda in Iraq did these things because it could not help it. It is in this totalitarian organization’s nature to attempt to bring its narrow religious ideology into reality on the ground. In its current guise of the Nusrah Front, we can expect them to do the same. Having been welcomed into Syria by hard-pressed rebels who were eager to see the arrival of well-armed, well-trained, well-financed reinforcements, we will increasingly see Nusrah commanders use their Gulf cash to hire away the foot soldiers of other non-jihadi rebel groups.
As the Nusrah Front conquers more and more territory from the Syrian regime, we will see Nusrah commanders imposing strict Islamist rule over their local fiefdoms, and it will not be long before some grouping of Nusrah commanders declares the “Islamic Emirate” or this or that sub-region of Syria—probably beginning with an emirate in the vast desert area of the Jazeera or Deir ez-Zour in eastern Syria, adjoining the Iraqi provinces of Anbar and Ninewa that were longtime Al Qaeda strongholds. The creation of such Islamist enclaves will be a relatively easy matter for Nusrah if Syria continues to break into warring communal pieces, a la Yugoslavia, as it appears to be doing.
Are Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon Next?
We are told by journalists and Syrian observers that the Nusrah Front contains in its ranks a large contingent of Jordanians, just as Al Qaeda did. Once Nusrah has confidently established some territorial bases in Syria, Nusrah fighters will likely begin to branch into Jordan, as Al Qaeda in Iraq’s Zarqawi unsuccessfully attempted to do in 2005. This time, Nusrah fighters will find a more amenable situation awaiting them.
To begin with, Jordan’s radical Salafi community has grown in strength in recent years, and will offer a ready pool of fighters and other supporters. And the Jordanian state, which rose firmly to Zarqawi’s challenge in 2005, is far more vulnerable now, with a long-running protest movement and popular discontent over the government’s perceived corruption having greatly weakened the state’s legitimacy. Indeed, evidence that such plots are already underway emerged just weeks ago, when Jordanian police foiled a “Mumbai-style” plot in which Al Qaeda operatives planned to “bring Amman to its knees” by killing as many people as possible. Simply put, to Nusrah’s eyes, the shaky Hashemite monarchy probably looks ripe for the picking.
Nor will Nusrah and its fellow travelers ignore the rest of Turkish Arabia. At Al Qaeda in Iraq’s peak in 2005-2007, the organization’s line of supply and manpower in Syria extended into northern Lebanon as well, where the jihad enjoyed a base of support among Lebanese Salafis and radicals in the Palestinian camps. Today northern Lebanon, where angry Sunnis and Alawites face each other in a tense sectarian standoff, is like a stack of dried wood awaiting the kind of match that Nusrah has shown it can strike.
Another sectarian faceoff looms in Iraq, where Nusrah’s original version, Al Qaeda in Iraq, has never ceased its campaign against the Iraqi government. For most of the last five years, Al Qaeda has been eclipsed by Iraq’s mainstream Sunni political parties, which largely eschewed violence after the Sunni population broke with Al Qaeda in 2007.
But today, the Iraqi Sunnis that rejected Al Qaeda are turning against the government in great numbers, enraged by their perception that Nuri Maliki and his allies mean to turn Sunnis into a permanent underclass in a Shia-dominated country. The tens of thousands of Sunnis marching in the streets of Iraq’s Sunni cities in recent weeks have shouted the same slogans that Syrians shouted in Deraa and Hama in early 2011 (“The people want the fall of the regime”) and waved the flags of the Free Syrian Army. Indeed, the deadly clashes between Sunni protesters and government troops in Fallujah recently have had the distinct feel of the early days of the Syrian rebellion.
The Sunnis of Iraq and Syria also share an angry perception that Iraq’s Shia parties are intervening in the Syrian conflict. Indeed, reports from Syria tell us that Iraqi Shia militants are arriving in increasing numbers to “defend” the Shia shrine of Zaynab (daughter of the Imam Ali) by fighting alongside the Assad regime against Sunni rebels. In this polarized atmosphere, Al Qaeda in Iraq and its Nusrah branch will have a wide open window of opportunity to step up attacks against the Iraqi government—and the Iraqi Shia community, for that matter—from the bases that Nusrah is establishing inside Syria. When they do, they will likely find a high level of popular support in an Iraqi Sunni community that is moving ever closer to revolt against the Maliki government.
Turkish Arabia’s Coming War
We can envision, then, a sectarian war raging across the whole of the Fertile Crescent, drawing in all the former territories of Turkish Arabia. The prospect will be a frightening one for the region’s major powers. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could one day find chaos rather than functioning states on their permeable borders. If Al Qaeda/Nusrah can establish a base in Jordan, Saudi Arabia will find itself threatened by Al Qaeda franchises on both north and south that will be well-positioned to resume the pursuit of Al Qaeda’s core goal of toppling the Saudi monarchy and “liberating” the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The Saudis showed great resiliency in defeating a serious Al Qaeda insurrection in 2004-2008, but that was a strictly internal threat that lacked a real foreign base. Simultaneous Al Qaeda bases in Jordan and Yemen would pose a more serious, if not an existential, threat to Saudi rule. If watching the fall or near-fall of half a dozen regimes in the Arab Spring has taught us anything, it should be that the Arab states that appeared serenely stable to outsiders for the past half century were more brittle than we have understood. The implosion of Turkish Arabia would test those regimes to the limit, and we cannot assume that the rulers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait would be any better equipped to defeat the potential challenge than Muammar Qaddhafi and Bashar al-Assad were.
The rulers of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran are surely not blind to this nightmare scenario. As the situation in Turkish Arabia continues to unravel, those regional powers will be compelled to become ever deeper involved in an attempt to keep the tide of war from breaking on their own lands. This conflict could very well touch us all, perhaps becoming an engine of jihad that spews forth attackers bent on bombing western embassies and cities or disrupting Persian Gulf oil markets long before the fire burns out.
And what of Turkish Arabia in the long run? One eminent scholar of the Middle East assures me that the borders drawn by the British and French were artificial, yes, but now have staying power. The people of the region are too used to the lines to erase them, even if they don’t love them. I don’t doubt him, and I am sure that whatever else happens, there will continue to be a Syria, a Lebanon, a Jordan, and an Iraq. But those countries are about to pass through a crucible, a painful test in which their peoples will be sorted by sect; driven from traditional homelands; starved, taxed, or pressed into service by warlords; terrorized by militant Islamists; forced to witness their ancient heritage destroyed by bombs; and live without the rule of law. It will be terribleto watch [When Joel Rayburn says it will be "terrible" to watch,he's got it wrong. The spectacle of the Camp of Islam, divided and warring,and inevitably weakened, may not be "terrible" but useful in many different ways -- as a warning to the Western Europeans of the permanent violence and aggression that Islam inculcates, which is why Muslim states swing from despotism to anarchy, and back, as a way of making sure non-Muslims identify Islam with such violence, and grow more and more alarmed about Muslim carriers within their own societies, and as a way of keeping Muslims occupied with each other, and weakening each other militarily too, as happened with that Iran-Iraq War that lasted eight years, and should have gone forever], and we will not be left unsullied in our watching.
Ipswich: Man denies forcing 13-year-old girl to become sex slave
All credit to the Oxford Mail for reporting daily on Operation Bullfinch the trial of nine Oxfordshire men at the Old Bailey. This is the first report I have seen of the other trial outside the north since the opening remarks when it opened in Norwich last month. I believe it to be deliberate, and to avoid the public gallery being packed with camp followers of the defendants, that this trial is being held in Norwich, not Ipswich, and the Oxford defendants are being tried in London. I also have my eye on developments in Operation Ribbon in High Wycombe.
ONE of four men accused of abducting a 13-year-old girl, taking her to Suffolk and forcing her to become a sex slave told police he had encouraged her to resist the other men’s advances. Surin Uddin, 28, from Bethnal Green, is part of a gang standing trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of conspiracy to traffick and various sex offences.
The jury has heard that the girl, from a “troubled” family, was subjected to a string of attacks over four days after being taken from her home in London to a house in Ipswich.
...he said he had visited the house that the girl had been taken to and she told him she was 17 and gave him a false name. He added: “I was shocked when my solicitor said she was 13. I told her straight that I’m not into young girls or anything. If I’d known she as 13, I’d have called the police straight away but I didn’t know that.”
Describing a conversation with the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, he added: “She told me she had sex with Mr Sheikh. I said ‘Are you serious?’ She said Ali had been forcing her to have sex, and she told him ‘No, I don’t want to have sex’. She asked ‘Would you help me?’ She basically doesn’t want to live in that house, I told her to go back to her parents..."
Uddin insisted he had never had sexual contact with the girl and warned her “these boys are evil” and he would help her if she contacted the police.
During his interview, Sheikh gave “no comment” answers to a number of questions, including inquiries about whether he knew the victim and if he was aware of her age. In a later interview, he said: “I never knew the girl. A friend of mine met her in the street. That’s all.”
Uddin, of St Matthew’s Row, Bethnal Green, east London; Mohamed Sheikh, 31, of Seaton Point in Hackney, London; and Abdul Hammed, 46, of Wellington Street, Ipswich, each deny two counts of rape. Sheikh also denies causing a child to engage in sexual activity. Hamza Ali, 38, of Chingford Road, Waltham Forest, London, denies one count of rape and one of sexual assault.
The 20-year-old cried as she gave evidence this morning at the trial of nine men accused of raping and prostituting girls in Oxford. Known as Girl 3 as she cannot be named, she also told the jury she was taken to places as far away as Manchester and Coventry, and sent to London, to have sex with men.
She said Bassam Karrar gave her alcohol before taking her to the Nanford Guest House in November 2006. . . he took cocaine and became "demanding" and "aggressive". The court heard she refused to perform a sex act on him and said she needed to go home as her mum would be worried.
But she said: "He jumped on top of me and started pulling my hair. He was brutal about it. It was hurting me. My hair felt like it was about it fall off my head." The witness said she accidentally bit him and he "smacked" her in the face repeatedly with his fist. . . he scratched her face and raped her, adding: "I didn't feel like I could scream."
Afterwards he urinated on her in the shower, the court heard. Karrar then raped the 14-year-old again with his hands around her throat, the jury heard. He told the girl: "I'm going to kill you."
The witness said: "I couldn't breathe because his hands were so tight around my throat. I thought that was how I was going to die."
She said afterwards Karrar called her "white trash", "prostitute", and "crackhead".
The court heard police then arrived and the teen ran outside screaming. But Girl 3 said Bassam laughed at her from the window. And she said she ran to the reception of the hotel but a man there acted like she was "bothering" him.
Police interviewed the teenager and took photographs of the hotel room.
But the witness said she was persuaded to drop the charges by Bassam's girlfriend at the time. She said:"She said he would lose his kids and he would never see them."
When prosecutor Noel Lucas asked her how she felt when she was urinated on, she said: "I felt like I was worthless."
Bassam and his brother Mohammed later laughed about it, the court heard. The trial continues
An Egyptian Salafi preacher said raping and sexually harassing women protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square is justified, calling them “crusaders” who “have no shame, no fear and not even feminism.”
“They tell you women are a red line. They tell you that naked women -- who are going to Tahrir Square because they want to be raped -- are a red line! And they ask Mursi and the Brotherhood to leave power!,” he said.
Abu Islam added that these women activists are going to Tahrir Square not to protest but to be sexually abused because they had wanted to be raped. . . And by the way, 90 percent of them are crusaders and the remaining 10 percent are widows who have no one to control them. You see women talking like monsters,”
Abu Islam further described these female political activists as “devils.”
“You see a woman with this fuzzy hair! A devil! Devils called women. Learn from Muslim women, learn and be Muslims. There are Muslims and Muslimix.”
Abu Islam was apparently referring to liberal Muslims as “Muslimix.”
After an extensive investigation the Bulgarian authorities confirmed this week that Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah was behind the bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Burgas on July 18th 2012. The terrorist attack killed five civilians and wounded over a hundred others.
Early assumptions in the investigation were that the attack was the work of a suicide bomber. But analysis of the bomb scene evidence by the Europol expert, including shrapnel from the improvised explosive device (IED), proved otherwise. It confirmed that the device had been remotely detonated and strongly suggested, therefore, that more than one person was responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile, forensic and technical examination of identity documents linked to the investigation led Europol to establish that a US driving license recovered at the crime scene and another recovered elsewhere in Bulgaria were both counterfeits from the same source, located in Lebanon. This discovery was of major importance to the investigation.
The Bulgarian authorities used Europol’s secure communications network as a platform for the exchange of intelligence with other countries throughout this investigation. This allowed Europol to provide analytical support to the Bulgarian investigative team, checking and analysing large amounts of data, and helping to identify potential suspects.
With the assistance of Europol and a number of other international partners the Bulgarian authorities have made substantial progress in the investigation, leading them to uncover the identity of the suspects and their possible link to Hezbollah. Although a final determination of responsibility has not been made Europol’s findings in the case are consistent with this view.
In light of these findings, Europol is assessing the impact of the incident on the threat of international terrorism in the EU.
Indeed the case may lead to Hizbullah being proscribed as a terrorist entity, a process that European states and the EU itself have been long reluctant to do, despite US pressure and overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It will be harder to ignore an attack on EU territory, especially since it relates to a movement heavily tied to two nations, Iran and Syria, which the EU already has under sanction.
A new report by Matthew Levitt, former assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Treasury Department, states that Hizbullah and Iran's Qods Force have launched a campaign aimed at weakening Israel and Western allies attempting to end Iran’s nuclear programme. The rather dramatic increase in the activity of these groups in 2012 lends credence to the claim.
The London Times also carried an excellent article by José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, and David Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland, entitled "Don’t mince words. Hezbollah are terrorists" which argues compellingly that European governments ought to list Hizbullah as a terrorist group:
… some European governments are not willing to declare Hezbollah a security threat and put it on the EU terrorist list. This refusal is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the group. Hezbollah is not just a Lebanese militia group and political party. It is the long arm of Iran. From its conception by Tehran in 1982, it has been committed to the revolutionary goals of the international expansion of Shia Islam, as dreamt of by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The fact that it holds seats in the Lebanese Parliament and posts in the Cabinet does not mean that its leaders see themselves as just another Lebanese faction — albeit one that murders its political opponents (a UN tribunal found that the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the Lebanese Prime Minister was a Hezbollah plot).
On the contrary Hezbollah has a global vision and reach. It has perpetrated attacks in places as distant as Argentina, Georgia, Israel, Thailand, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as Lebanon. It has been involved in illegal but very lucrative activities in Latin America and West Africa. For instance, it has run drug-trafficking and money-laundering operations in the jungle of Colombia under the control of the FARC. According to US officials Hezbollah is heavily involved in smuggling drugs into Europe.
Some argue that there is a difference between Hezbollah’s military wing, its political wing and its charitable activities. They are wrong — it is one single body and every part plays a role in the overall strategy. The leaders in charge of its hospitals and schools, the military leader and the political representatives all sit together under the secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah. His deputy, Naim Qassem, was quoted as recently as October, saying: "We don’t have a military wing and a political wing. We don’t have the Party of Allah and the Party of Resistance. These differences do not exist and are rejected." […]
We understand the caution of nations that have citizens living in Lebanon or peacekeeping troops deployed there. But fear cannot be a substitute for moral clarity. We need to remember that Unifil II (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) was deployed in 2006 to disarm Hezbollah, not to become its hostage. From what we know, Hezbollah has been able to rearm since the conflict there six years ago. According to Israeli intelligence, Hezbollah’s arsenal of 10,000 rockets was halved by the war; but today it has been expanded to five times the original figure despite the UN mission.
As Iran gets more nervous about the impact of sanctions, the possibility that Tehran may counter-attack through its terrorist proxies has to be considered more serious by the day. Daniel Benjamin, the US State Department counter-terrorism co-ordinator, stated in August: "We are increasingly concerned about Hezbollah’s activities on a number of fronts, including its stepped-up terrorist campaign around the world ... and we assess that Hezbollah could attack in Europe or elsewhere at any time with little or no warning." …
The authors point to fear being a prime concern for the reluctance to proscribe Hizbullah a terror entity but the increasing strength of the group, UNIFIL’s failure to curb its dramatic re-armament, and its growing activities in Europe, makes acting to curb its freedom an absolute imperative.
Israel on the Brink of Change: an Interview with Israeli Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates (February 2013)
Chazak v Ematz (Be strong and of good courage in Hebrew) “for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their fathers to give them, and it is you who shall apportion it to them." (Deuteronomy 31.6)
These were the instructions of Moses to Joshua and Caleb before they crossed the Jordan to reconnoiter the Promised Land.
Millennia later those ancient instructions are prophetic given more secular developments for Israel, the Middle East and the US as 2013 begins. more>>>
Besma Khlifi, the wife of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, reacts to his assassination. Photograph: Amine Landoulsi/AP
Amid the shock and grief at a terrible murder, there is an angry accusation. When forthright opposition leader Chokri Belaid was gunned down in broad daylight outside his home in Tunis, furious protesters marched on the offices around the country of the ruling Ennahda party. Belaid's brother, Abdel Majid, accused the Islamist party – which dominates the three-way coalition government – of the murder. Ennahda has denounced the assassination. Chillingly, Belaid, a secularist and vocal critic of Ennahda, warned of the rise of political violence when he appeared on Tunisian TV the night before he was killed.
Jalila Hedhli-Peugnet, president of the NGO Think Ahead for Tunisia, reflected the prevailing sentiment on Wednesday when she told France 24 that Belaid "was not assassinated under the dictatorship of Ben Ali, now he is assassinated under the democracy of Ennahda". If the government didn't kill him, she said, it also didn't protect him from such a tragedy.
Tension has been building, then, within a revolution that is too often billed a success story. Tunisia has not suffered the level of turmoil and violence of Egypt, or the agonising death and displacement of Syria, and so it appears to be handling the transition from dictatorship to democracy well. Other post-uprising countries look to Tunisia as both inspiration and weathervane. But Tunisians themselves bemoan their role as revolutionary poster-child as it can lead to the outside world ignoring or dismissing the very real problems there.
One such problem is the escalating political violence in Tunisia in the past year. A report just released by Human Rights Watch cites attacks on activists, journalists, intellectual and political figures – all the incidents apparently "motivated by a religious agenda".
Others have worried that the perpetrators of attacks on secular figures are not pursued rigorously by the coalition, thereby encouraging more of them. There's concern that Ennahda has failed to act on verbal and physical attacks (for instance against a TV station, intellectuals and an art gallery last year) by the ultra-religious Salafi movement. And opposition groups, the General Labour Union and campaigners, including the Centre for Press Freedom, have voiced mounting concern at the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution – neighbourhood protection groups claiming to fight corruption and old regime remnants. The opposition views them as Ennahda enforcers (though the party has dismissed claims of any affiliation with the leagues), and some Tunisians suspect them of being behind the murder of Belaid. Belaid is reported to have described the leagues as "Ennahda-backed goon squads that attacked opposition rallies".
When Lofti Naqdh, a co-ordinator with Nida Tounes, a new opposition party, died after violent political clashes with one of these leagues in Tataouine last October, the ministry of interior said he had suffered a heart attack. But Al-Jazeera reports that a new autopsy, requested by Naqdh's family, last week confirmed that he was the victim of fatal beatings, with the head of one of these league local branches implicated in the killing.
Last month Amnesty warned that Tunisia's latest draft constitution, albeit an improvement on previous versions, is still ambiguous on issues such as gender equality, freedom of expression and judicial independence.
It's possible that any post-revolutionary party, once in power, would face the same accusations over missed deadlines for political progress, lack of justice, and a surge in youth unemployment. But in Tunisia this is compounded by the fact that, while most accept the democratic process that created an Islamist-heavy government, there's a worry that Islamists don't really do the sort of power-sharing required in post-revolutionary periods.
Amid calls for a general strike tomorrow and French schools in Tunisia closing because of continuing unrest, Ennahda's prime minister, Hamdi Jebali, pledged to form an interim cabinet of technocrats to prevent an impending political crisis. The idea was to finally agree a constitution and hold elections in June. Then Ennahda's leadership announced that Jebali had spoken out of turn and rejected his plan.
But this is not a time for power politics; it is a time for consensus. If Ennahda doesn't get it right now, it won't just risk losing the forthcoming election – it could lose Tunisia's revolution too.
Relatives of the hero doctor who helped the U.S. pinpoint Osama bin Laden are so fearful of retribution and devoid of hope that they have asked his lawyer and older brother to stop trying to get him freed from prison.
Shakeel Afridi, the CIA informant whose vaccination ruse helped establish Bin Laden’s presence in an Abbottabad compound so Navy SEALs could kill him in a daring 2011 raid, is serving 33 years in prison for alleged links to a banned militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam. But his supporters say he is jailed for helping America kill the Al Qaeda kingpin, and they believe fighting for his freedom could land them behind bars or prompt extremist attacks.
"Everyone in the Afridi family is pushing us to abandon the pursuit of trying to release the doctor,” Qamar Nadeem Afridi, the doctor’s cousin and attorney, told FoxNews.com. “They are all afraid of repercussions and concerned about their own safety."
But other family members, including Afridi's brother Jamil, are urging the lawyer to keep fighting to liberate Afridi from the Peshawar prison, and they say the U.S. government is not doing enough to press the case.
"Why is it taking [America] so long to help us?" asked Qamar Nadeem Afridi. "We all think that they (America) won't help. We don't have any hope left."
"Will the new Secretary of State [John Kerry] help get the doctor out?" he continued. "We are very desperate. We have no money, no access to Afridi, and we aren't even being told what the doctor's condition is. Is he alive or dead?"
The panel of lawyers hired to defend Afridi have not been paid for their efforts. Some have demanded payment, which Qamar says the family can't afford.
At Kerry’s confirmation hearing last month, Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), who has called for cutting off aid to Pakistan until Afridi is released, pressed the then-nominee on the matter.[even if Afridi is freed, that aid should be cut off permanently, and all non-Hindu and non-Christian immigration from Pakistan stopped cold].
“That bothers every American,” said Kerry, who added that he nonetheless opposes cutting off aid. “We need to build our relationship with the Pakistanis, not diminish it.” [that "building of a relationship with Pakistan has gone on for more than a half-century, ever since Pakistan started getting American military aid when it joined that worthless organization, CENTO -- worthless to the U.S. and Great Britain, that is, but a bonanza for the Muslim members --Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan --who got all kinds of military goodies from the two Western members, I wonder if Kerry has ever heard of the Pressler Amendment, and of how many decades of mounting Congressoinal fury with Pakistan, and with the Executive branch for continually allowing itself to be snookered by the Pakistani generals, that led to that amendment?]]
Kerry said he has discussed Afridi’s plight with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and, like most Americans, found it “incomprehensible if not repugnant, that somebody who helped us find Osama bin Laden is in jail in Pakistan.”
Since being jailed, Afridi has been tortured repeatedly, according to his brother, Jamil Afridi.
Prison authorities have barred visitors from seeing Afridi since September, when Fox News spoke exclusively with him through a mobile phone that had been smuggled into his cell. He said the interview led to an overhaul of the security apparatus around Afridi, who was reportedly given the phone by Pakistani police commandos guarding his cell.
V. S. Naipaul's Wriston Lecture On Arab Supremacism Re-posted
It has a lot on the theme that I maintain must be discussed far and wide, by non-Muslims, so that Muslims far and wide are forced to hear what we have to say, and will be unable to unhear what they have heard. That theme is Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism, and the "philosophical hysteria" of Muslims in their encounter with the West and the modern world.
Here is the second half, devoted especially to Islam as a vehicle for Arab imperialism.:
"And I thought, when I began to travel in the Muslim world, that I would be traveling among people who would be like the people of my own community. A large portion of Indians were Muslims; we had both had a similar nineteenth-century imperial or colonial history. I thought that religion was an accidental difference. I thought, as people said, that faith was faith; that people living at a certain time in history would have felt the same urges.
But it wasn't like that. The Muslims said that their religion was fundamental to them. And it was: it made for an immense difference. I have to stress that I was traveling in the non-Arab Muslim world. Islam began as an Arab religion; it spread as an Arab empire. In Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia—the countries of my itinerary—I was traveling, therefore among people who had been converted to what was an alien faith. I was traveling among people who had had to make a double adjustment—an adjustment to the European empires of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and an earlier adjustment to the Arab faith. You might almost say that I was among people who had been doubly colonized, doubly removed from themselves.
Because I was soon to discover that no colonization had been so thorough as the colonization that had come with the Arab faith. Colonized or defeated peoples can begin to distrust themselves. In the Muslim countries I am talking about, this distrust had all the force of religion. It was an article of the Arab faith that everything before the faith was wrong, misguided, heretical; there was no room in the heart or mind of these believers for their pre-Mohammedan past. So ideas of history here were quite different from ideas of history elsewhere; there was no wish here to go back as far as possible into the past, and to learn as much as possible about the past.
Persia had a great past; it had been the rival in classical times of Greece and Rome. But you wouldn't have believed it in Iran in 1979; for the Iranians, the glory and the truth had begun with the coming of Islam. Pakistan was a very new Muslim state. But the land was very old. In Pakistan were the ruins of the very old cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Fabulous ruins, the discovery of which earlier this century had given a new idea of the history of the subcontinent. Not only pre-Islamic ruins; but possibly also pre-Hindu. There was an archaeological department, inherited from British days, which looked after the sites. But there was, especially with the growth of fundamentalism, a contrary current. This was expressed in a letter to a newspaper while I was there. The ruins of the cities, the writer said, should be hung with quotations from the Koran, saying that this was what befell unbelievers.
The faith abolished the past. And when the past was abolished like this, more than an idea of history suffered. Human behavior, and ideals of good behavior, could suffer. When I was in Pakistan, the newspapers were running articles to mark the anniversary of the Arab conquest of Sind. This was the first part of the Indian subcontinent to be conquered by the Arabs. It occurred at the beginning of the eighth century. The kingdom of Sind (an enormous area: the southern half of Afghanistan, the southern half of Pakistan) at that time was a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom. The Brahmins didn't really understand the outside world; the Buddhists didn't believe in taking life. It was a kingdom waiting to be conquered, you might say. But it took a long time for Sind to be conquered; it was very far away from the Arab heartland, across immense deserts. Six or seven Arab expeditions foundered.
At one time the third caliph himself, the third successor to the Prophet, called one of his lieutenants and said, "O Hakim, have you seen Hindustan and learned all about it?" Hakim said, "Yes, O commander of the faithful." The caliph said, "Give us a description of it." And all Hakim's frustration and bitterness came out in his reply: "Its water is dark and dirty," Hakim said. "Its fruit is bitter and poisonous. Its land is stony and its earth is salt. A small army will soon be annihilated, and a large one will soon die of hunger.”
This should have been enough for the caliph. But, looking still for some little encouragement, he asked Hakim, "What about the people? Are they faithful, or do they break their word?" Clearly, faithful people would have been easier to subdue, easier to lighten of their money. But Hakim almost spat out his reply: "The people are treacherous and deceitful," Hakim said. And at that, the caliph did take fright—the people of Sind sounded like quite an enemy—and he ordered that the conquest of Sind was to be attempted no more.
But Sind was too tempting. The Arabs tried again and again. The organization and the drive and the attitudes of the Arabs, fortified by their new faith, in a world still tribal and disorganized, easy to conquer—the drive of the Arabs was remarkably like that of the Spaniards in the New World 800 years later. And this was not surprising, since the Spaniards themselves had been conquered and ruled by the Arabs for some centuries. Spain, in fact, fell to the Arabs at about the same time as Sind did.
The final conquest of Sind was set on foot from Iraq, and was superintended from the town of Kufa by Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq. The topicality is fortuitous, I assure you. The aim of the Arab conquest of Sind—and this conquest had been thought about almost as soon as the faith had been established—had always been the acquiring of slaves and plunder, rather than the spreading of the faith. And when finally Hajjaj received the head of the king of Sind, together with 60,000 slaves from Sind, and the royal one-fifth of the loot of Sind, that one-fifth decreed by the religious law, he "placed his forehead on the ground and offered prayers of thanksgiving, by two genuflections to God, and praised him, saying: 'Now have I got all the treasures, whether open or buried, as well as other wealth, and the kingdom of the world.’ " There was a famous mosque in Kufa. Hajjaj called the people there, and from the pulpit he told them: "Good news and good luck to the people of Syria and Arabia, whom I congratulate on the conquest of Sind and on the possession of immense wealth…which the great and omnipotent God has kindly bestowed on them."
I am quoting from a translation of a thirteenth-century Persian text, the Chachnama. It is the main source for the story of the conquest of Sind. It is a surprisingly modern piece of writing, a good fast narrative, with catching detail and dialogue. It tells a terrible story of plunder and killing—the Arab army was allowed to kill for days after the fall of every town in Sind; and then the plunder was assessed and distributed to the soldiers, after the fifth had been set aside for the caliph. But to the Persian writer, the story—written 500 years after the conquest, is only "a pleasant tale of conquest." It is Arab or Muslim imperial genre writing. After 500 years—and though the Mongols are about to break through—the faith still holds; there is no new moral angle on the destruction of the kingdom of Sind.
This was the event that was being commemorated by articles in the newspapers when I was in Pakistan in 1979. There was an article by a military man about the successful Arab general. The article tried to be fair, in a military way, to the armies of both sides. It drew a rebuke from the chairman of the National Commission of Historical and Cultural Research.
This was what the chairman said: "Employment of appropriate phraseology is necessary when one is projecting the image of a hero. Expressions such as 'invader' and 'defenders' and 'the Indian army' fighting bravely but not being quick enough to 'fall upon the withdrawing enemy' loom large in the article. It is further marred by some imbalanced statements such as follows: 'Had Raja Dahar defended the Indus heroically, and stopped Qasim from crossing it, the history of this subcontinent would have been quite different.' One fails to understand"—this is the chairman of the Commission of Historical and Cultural Research—"whether the writer is applauding the defeat of the hero or lamenting the defeat of his rival." After 1,200 years, the holy war is still being fought. The hero is the Arab invader, bringer of the faith. The rival whose defeat is to be applauded—and I was reading this in Sind—is the man of Sind.
To possess the faith was to possess the only truth; and possession of this truth set many things on its head. To believe that the time before the coming of the faith was a time of error distorted more than an idea of history. What lay within the faith was to be judged in one way; what lay outside it was to be judged in another. The faith altered values, ideas of good behavior, human judgments.
So I not only began to understand what people in Pakistan meant when they told me that Islam was a complete way of life, affecting everything; I began to understand that—though it might be said that we had shared a common subcontinental origin—I had traveled a different way. I began to formulate the idea of the universal civilization—which, growing up in Trinidad, I had lived in or been part of without quite knowing that I did so.
Starting with that Hindu background of the instinctive, ritualized life and growing up in the unpromising conditions of colonial Trinidad, I had—through the process I have tried to describe earlier—gone through many stages of knowledge and self-knowledge. I had a better idea of Indian history and Indian art than my grandparents had. They possessed rituals, epics, myth; their identity lay within that light; beyond that light was darkness, which they wouldn't have been able to penetrate. I didn't possess the rituals and the myths; I saw them at a distance. But I had in exchange been granted the ideas of inquiry and the tools of scholarship. Identity for me was a more complicated matter. Many things had gone to make me. But there was no problem for me there. Whole accumulations of scholarship were mine, in the sense that I had access to them. I could carry four or five or six different cultural ideas in my head. I knew about my ancestry and of my ancestral culture; I knew about the history of India and its political status; I knew where I was born, and I knew the history of the place; I had a sense of the New World. I knew about the literary forms I was interested in; and I knew about the journey I would have to make to the center in order to exercise the vocation I had given myself.
Now, traveling among non-Arab Muslims, I found myself among a colonized people who had been stripped by their faith of all that expanding intellectual life, all the varied life of the mind and senses, the expanding cultural and historical knowledge of the world, that I had been growing into on the other side of the world. I was among people whose identity was more or less contained in the faith. I was among people who wished to be pure.
In Malaysia, they were desperate to rid themselves of their past, desperate to cleanse their people of tribal or animist practices, all the subconscious life, freighted with the past, that links people to the earth on which they walk, all the rich folk life that awakened people elsewhere cultivate and dredge for its poetry. They wish, the more earnest of these Malay Muslims, to be nothing but their imported Arab faith; I got the impression that they would have liked, ideally, to make their minds and souls a blank, an emptiness, so that they could be nothing but their faith. Such effort; such self-imposed tyranny. No colonization could have been greater than this colonization by the faith.
While the faith held, while it appeared to be unchallenged, the world perhaps held together. But when there appeared this powerful, encompassing civilization from outside, men didn't know what to do. They could do only what they were capable of doing; they could only become more assiduous in the faith, more self-wounding, more ready to turn away from what they didn't feel they could master.
Muslim fundamentalism in places like Malaysia and Indonesia seems new. But Europe has been in the East for a long time, and there has been Muslim anxiety there for almost all of this time. This anxiety, this meeting of the two opposed worlds, the outgoing world of Europe and the closed world of the faith, was spotted a hundred years ago by the writer Joseph Conrad, who, with his remote Polish background, his wish as a traveler to render exactly what he saw, was able at a time of high imperialism to go far beyond the imperialistic, surface ways of writing about the East and native peoples.
To Conrad, the world he traveled in was new; he looked hard at it. There is a quotation I would like to read from Conrad's second book, published in 1896, nearly 100 years ago, in which he catches something of the Muslim hysteria of that time—the hysteria that, a hundred years later, with greater education and wealth of the native peoples, and the withdrawing of empires, was to turn into the fundamentalism we hear about:
"A half-naked, betel-chewing pessimist stood upon the bank of the tropical river, on the edge of the still and immense forests; a man angry, powerless, empty-handed, with a cry of bitter discontent ready on his lips; a cry that, had it come out, would have run through the virgin solitudes of the woods as true, as great, as profound, as any philosophical shriek that ever came from the depths of an easy chair to disturb the impure wilderness of chimneys and roofs."
Philosophical hysteria—those were the words I wanted to give to you, and I think they still apply. They bring me back to the list of questions and issues that the senior fellow of the Institute, Myron Magnet, sent to me when he was in England last summer. Why, he asked, are certain societies or groups content to enjoy the fruits of progress, while affecting to despise the conditions that promote that progress? What belief system do they oppose to it? And then, more specifically: why is Islam held up in opposition to Western values? The answer, I believe, is that philosophical hysteria. It is not an easy thing to define or understand, and the Muslim spokesmen do not really help. They speak clichés, but that might only be because they perhaps have no way of expressing what they feel. Some have overriding political causes; others are really religious missionaries rather than scholars.
But years ago, while the Shah still ruled, there appeared in the United States a small novel by a young Iranian woman that in its subdued, unpoliticalway foreshadowed the hysteria that was to come. The novel was called Foreigner; the author was Nahid Rachlin. Perhaps it was just as well that the novel appeared while the Shah ruled, and thus had to avoid politics; it is just possible that the delicate feeling of this novel might have been made trivial or ordinary if it had run into political protest.
The central figure of the book is a young Iranian woman who does research work in Boston as a biologist. She is married to an American, and she might seem to be all right, well adapted. But when she goes back on a holiday to Tehran, she loses her balance. She has some trouble with the bureaucracy. She can't get an exit visa; she begins to feel lost. She is disturbed by memories of her crowded, oppressive Iranian childhood, with its prurient sexual intimations; disturbed by what remains of her old family life; disturbed by the overgrown, thuggish city, full of “Western" buildings. And that is interesting, that use of "Western" rather than big: it is as though the strangeness of the outside world has come to Tehran itself.
Disturbed in this way, the young woman reflects on her time in the United States. It is not the time of clarity, as it might have once appeared. She sees it now to be a time of emptiness. She can't say why she has lived the American life. Sexually and socially—in spite of her apparent success—she has never been in control; and she cannot say, either, why she has been doing the research work she has been doing. All this is very subtly and effectively done; we can see that the young woman was not prepared for the movement between civilizations, the movement out of the shut-in Iranian world, where the faith was the complete way, filled everything, left no spare corner of the mind or will or soul, to the other world, where it was necessary to be an individual and responsible; where people developed vocations, and were stirred by ambition and achievement, and believed in perfectibility. Once we understand or have an intimation of that, we see, with the central figure of the novel, what a torment and emptiness that automatic, imitative life in Boston has been for her.
Now, in her distress, she falls ill. She goes to a hospital. The doctor there understands her unhappiness. He, too, has spent some time in the United States; when he came back, he said, he soothed himself by visiting mosques and shrines for a month. He tells the young woman that her pain comes from an old ulcer. "What you have," he says, in his melancholy, seductive way, “is a Western disease." And the research biologist eventually arrives at a decision: she will give up that Boston-imposed life of the intellect and meaningless work; she will turn back on the American emptiness; she will stay in Iran and put on the veil. She will do as the doctor did; she will visit shrines and mosques. Having decided that, she becomes happier than she has ever been.
Immensely satisfying, that renunciation. But it is intellectually flawed: it assumes that there will continue to be people striving out there, in the stressed world, making drugs and medical equipment, to keep the Iranian doctor's hospital going.
Again and again, on my Islamic journey in 1979, 1 found a similar unconscious contradiction in people's attitudes. I remember especially a newspaper editor in Tehran. His paper had been at the heart of the revolution. In the middle of 1979 it was busy, in a state of glory. Seven months later, when I went back to Tehran, it had lost its heart; the once busy main room was empty; all but two of the staff had disappeared. The American embassy had been seized; a financial crisis had followed; many foreign firms had closed down; advertising had dried up; the newspaper editor could hardly see his way ahead; every issue of the paper lost money; waiting for the crisis to end, the editor, it might be said, had become as much a hostage as the diplomats. He also, as I now learned, had two sons of university age. One was studying in the United States; the other had applied for a visa, but then the hostage crisis had occurred. This was news to me, that the United States should have been so important to the sons of one of the spokesmen of the Islamic revolution. I told the editor that I was surprised. He said, speaking especially of the son waiting for the visa, "It's his future."
Emotional satisfaction on one hand; thought for the future on the other. The editor was as divided as nearly everyone else. One of Joseph Conrad's earliest stories of the East Indies, from the 1890s, was about a local raja or chieftain, a murderous man, a Muslim (though it is never explicitly said), who, in a crisis, having lost his magical counselor, swims out one night to one of the English merchant ships in the harbor to ask the sailors, representatives of the immense power that had come from the other end of the world, for an amulet, a magical charm. The sailors are at a loss; but then someone among them gives the raja a British coin, a sixpence commemorating Queen Victoria's jubilee; and the raja is well pleased. Conrad didn't treat the story as a joke; he loaded it with philosophical implications for both sides, and I feel now that he saw truly.
In the 100 years since that story, the wealth of the world has grown, power has grown, education has spread; the disturbance, the philosophical shriek, has been amplified. The division in the revolutionary editor's spirit and the renunciation of the fictional biologist—both contain a tribute unacknowledged, but all the more profound to the universal civilization. Simple charms alone cannot be acquired from it; other, difficult things come with it as well: ambition, endeavor, individuality.
The universal civilization has been a long time in the making. It wasn't always universal; it wasn't always as attractive as it is today. The expansion of Europe gave it for at least three centuries a racial taint, which still causes pain. In Trinidad, I grew up in the last days of that kind of racialism. And that, perhaps, has given me a greater appreciation of the immense changes that have taken place since the end of the war, the extraordinary attempt of this civilization to accommodate the rest of the world, and all the currents of that world's thought.
I come back now to the first questions that Myron Magnet put to me earlier this year. Are we only as strong as our beliefs? Is it sufficient merely to hold a worldview, an ethical view, intensely? You will understand the anxieties behind the questions. The questions, of course, for all their apparent pessimism, are loaded; they contain their own answers. But they are also genuinely double-edged. For that reason, they can also be seen as a reaching out to a far-off and sometimes hostile system of fixed belief; they can be seen as an aspect of the universality of our civilization at this period. Philosophical diffidence meets philosophical hysteria; and the diffident man is, at the end, the more in control.
Because my movement within this civilization has been from the periphery to the center, I may have seen or felt certain things more freshly than people to whom those things were everyday. One such thing was my discovery, as a child—a child worried about pain and cruelty—of the Christian precept “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” There was no such human consolation in the Hinduism I grew up with, and though I have never had any religious faith, the simple idea was, and is, dazzling to me, perfect as a guide to human behavior.
A later realization—I suppose I have sensed it most of my life, but I have understood it philosophically only during the preparation of this talk—has been the beauty of the idea of the pursuit of happiness. Familiar words, easy to take for granted; easy to misconstrue. This idea of the pursuit of happiness is at the heart of the attractiveness of the civilization to so many outside it or on its periphery. I find it marvelous to contemplate to what an extent, after two centuries, and after the terrible history of the earlier part of this century, the idea has come to a kind of fruition. It is an elastic idea; it fits all men. It implies a certain kind of society, a certain kind of awakened spirit. I don't imagine my father's parents would have been able to understand the idea. So much is contained in it: the idea of the individual, responsibility, choice, the life of the intellect, the idea of vocation and perfectibility and achievement. It is an immense human idea. It cannot be reduced to a fixed system. It cannot generate fanaticism. But it is known to exist; and because of that, other more rigid systems in the end blow away.
A Syrian rebel fighter and a comrade tote a B-10 recoilless rifle down a dust-filled stairway Thursday in Damascus.
WASHINGTON—A proposal to arm Syrian rebels was backed by the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, but the White House decided not to act on the plan, reflecting the extent of divisions over the U.S. role in the bloody conflict.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Marine Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mr. Obama's top military adviser, revealed publicly for the first time at a Senate hearing on Thursday that they supported a proposal last year by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA director Gen. David Petraeus.
President Barack Obama's top national-security leaders came to favor the plan last year, with the meltdown of an international diplomatic initiative to end the Syrian civil war.
The White House stalled the proposal because of lingering questions about which rebels could be trusted with the arms, whether the transfers would make a difference in the campaign to remove Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and whether the weapons would add to the suffering, U.S. officials said.
The disclosures thrust a spotlight on the extent to which Mr. Obama charts his own course in the face of calls to action by members of his own team, and on the extent of his caution about entering a new conflict.
In the months after the start of the conflict in Syria in March 2011, the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA began presenting the White House with multiple options for intervening with force, covert action or arms supplies. Options have included establishing a no-fly zone, bombing Syrian aircraft in their hangars, and funneling light arms and actionable intelligence to a select group of American-vetted rebels.
Gen. Dempsey and other Pentagon leaders had long voiced caution about any military intervention, including a no-fly zone, because of Syria's advanced air defenses and concerns about upsetting Russia. Pentagon officials feared Moscow could interfere with some U.S. supply lines to Afghanistan.
Pentagon officials, like others in the administration, were also wary of supporting rebels whose intentions and allegiances remained unclear, though CIA officers in the field had advocated providing arms to select rebels deemed friendly to the West, to build good will for the day when Mr. Assad is gone, according to U.S. officials.
A key turning point for many at the State Department came after a diplomatic initiative led by international envoy Kofi Annan broke down in June, 2012, current and former officials said. The U.S. had seen the plan, which was supported by Russia and other major powers, as a breakthrough that would lead to a transitional governing body for Syria.
The deal's demise spurred support within the State Department for arming the rebels, according to U.S. officials. Mrs. Clinton joined forces with Gen. Petraeus to push for the administration to embrace a proposal for delivering arms.
Advocates said doing so would provide the U.S. with opportunities to shape events on the ground and build alliances.
As the proposal gained momentum in the late summer and early fall, Mr. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey threw in their support, a position the two men kept private until Thursday's Senate hearing.
The proposal was also backed at the time by the nation's top spy, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, officials said.
Around the same time, in a reflection of the ongoing debate, a team of CIA intelligence analysts found that the introduction of U.S. arms wouldn't have "materially impacted" the situation on the ground or helped the rebels overthrow Mr. Assad, officials said. The rebels were already getting substantial quantities of weapons from other countries, including U.S. allies in the Gulf, one of the officials said. Such findings carry far less weight than a formal intelligence assessment produced by the director of National Intelligence.
But as the proposal was gaining steam, its leading advocates were preparing to leave the administration. Gen. Petraeus resigned in November, over revelations that he had an extramarital affair.
Mr. Obama, in December, recognized a revamped Syrian opposition movement, but has since made no moves to introduce more arms into the conflict.
The disclosures about the senior defense officials' support for the proposal came in response to sharp questions from Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) at a hearing on Thursday which was called to examine the military's response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, but which also delved into other foreign-policy challenges, including the conflict in Syria.
"How many more have to die before you recommend military action?" Sen. McCain asked Gen. Dempsey and Mr. Panetta, citing United Nations estimates that up to 60,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war. "And did you support the recommendation by…then-Secretary of State Clinton and then head of CIA, Gen. Petraeus, that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria?"
Both Gen. Dempsey and Mr. Panetta said they did.
Mr. Panetta said he agreed with Mrs. Clinton and Gen. Petraeus but also supported Mr. Obama's decision not to act on the proposal. "Obviously there were a number of factors that were involved here that ultimately led to the president's decision to make it nonlethal," Mr. Panetta said.
Mr. Panetta, who is preparing to step down from his post, "isn't committed to lethal aid now," and believes more study is required before proceeding, an official close to the defense secretary said.
Aides to Gen. Dempsey, Mrs. Clinton and Gen. Petraeus had no immediate comment on the officials' positions after the testimony.
In Syria, rebel groups had hoped that Mr. Obama's re-election would give him the political leeway to throw support behind the Syrian opposition. But current and former officials said the rebels misjudged the White House, which remains reluctant to enter a new conflict.
Current and former officials said the path forward for the administration remains unclear.
Mr. Kerry, the new secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel, Mr. Obama's nominee to succeed Mr. Panetta at the Pentagon, are seen as more closely aligned with Mr. Obama's cautious approach to intervention in Syria than their predecessors.
But officials said John Brennan, Mr. Obama's longtime counterterrorism chief and nominee to succeed Mr. Petraeus as CIA director, could embrace greater covert action in Syria. Mr. Brennan is close to Mr. Obama and has made clear his concern about al Qaeda's growing strength in Syria.
While Mr. Obama has avoided military involvement, he has authorized nonlethal support to the rebels as well as humanitarian assistance. In one possible exception, he has warned Mr. Assad that using chemical weapons would be a "red line" that could prompt an American response.
1) the longer the conflict goes on, the better. It weakens both sides, and it uses up men, money, materiel, volunteers from the outside Muslim world. It helps to use up more Iranian billions,and Iranian attention.
2) in the end, it is preferable that the Alawites control as much territory as possible. They from now on will be concerned only with their own survival, and having seen that being plus-royaliste-que-le-roi on the subject of Israel didn't buy them the immunity they hoped, they may continue to bleat about the Zionist enemy but will unlikely ever again to waste their own lives and weapons to further a Sunni Muslim cause. Syria is, for a long while, no longer a military threat to Israel. The Alawites will have to withdraw intro themselves, to protect themselves, to stay alive.
3) The chemical Iand biological) weapons must be kept under control of the Alawites, or be destroyed by Western powers. Nothing should be done to cause the precipitous downfall of the Alawites. If it must happen, let it happen slowly, so that they have time to take those weapons with them, into an Alawite heartland, redoubt, Vendee.
4) in the end, it is preferable that the Sunni Muslim rebels possess as little advanced weaponry as possible
5) any such military intervention in Syria -- after Iraq and Afghanistan -- even if it consists only in supplying weapons, not troops to use them, will make less, not more likely, the only American military intervention that matters -- an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear project.
It is in the nature of things that if the Americans supply weapons, some or most or all of those weapons will be used by the wrong people, fall into unintended hands, have unintended consequences, possibly even be acquired by the worst of the Muslim fanatics. And if that something inevitably goes wrong, what are now presidential velleities vis-a-vis Iran will never harden into will.
That's why,when I run across something like this:
Syria: Everyone But Obama Wanted Action
by Elliott Abrams
February 7, 2013
It has emerged in the last few days that Secretary of State Clinton and CIA Director David Petraeus wanted last year to arm and train the Syrian rebels.
I think to myself: Good God. How hard is it to make sense of things, and among those things is the matter of how to divide, demoralize, weaken the Camp of Islam. And just how hard is it to learn to think for oneself, to hold back from that crowd-psychology and that lemming-leap?
Since the war that toppled Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi began in 2011, arms-tracking analysts have warned that weapons looted from the colonel’s stockpiles could find their way to militants in sub-Saharan Africa.
Although public evidence for transfers has been scarce or not fully verifiable, persistent accounts of smuggled arms reaching Mali have circulated for more than a year, just as reports have repeatedly suggested that weapons formerly in Libya were turning up in Egypt, Gaza, Chad, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere.
In the case of Mali, the reports appeared alongside signs of the growing strength of jihadists in the country’s north. The timing, researchers said, suggested that weapons from Libya had changed the course of Mali’s war — so much so that the French military eventually intervened.
Recent photographs from Mali provide perhaps the clearest publicly available indication yet that these transfers have in fact occurred.
The first photograph, filed on Jan. 26 by Reuters, shows a slightly damaged finned projectile resting on the dirt in Konna, the city in central Mali from which a French-led military attack expelled militants last month. A New York Times photographer later documented more examples of the same weapons.
The projectiles in question were NR-160s, antitank munitions manufactured by a now-defunct company in Belgium that in the 1970s and 1980s extensively sold arms to Colonel Qaddafi’s military. Fired through American-designed recoilless rifles that have a history in Libya since early in the cold war, the projectiles were identical to ordnance documented in Libya in 2011.
They had been left behind in Konna by Islamists who had been pounded by an aerial attack, and suffered many losses.
Many other types of weapons that could have come from Libya have been present in the fighting in Mali, including Soviet-era assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Unlike these items, the NR-160 was not a widely distributed or globally produced export product that could have come from myriad sources. It was a peculiar item with a limited circulation and a well-established tie to Libya.
When combined with images of other weapons strongly associated with Libya that have also turned up in Mali, the presence of NR-160s suggests that evidence is hardening that weapons cast loose in Libya are contributing to instability elsewhere, perhaps most vividly in Mali.
It also offers insight into arms deals that have gone awry, and foreign policy choices that had costly, unintended effects.
“What was incredible in Libya was how much was there, and the things that turned up that haven’t been seen anywhere else,” said Neil Corney of the Omega Research Foundation, which examines the manufacture and circulation of military and police equipment.
Of the likely effects of Libyan weapons on Mali, he said, “There was a sudden push by better armed, better equipped and better organized forces in Mali that pushed Mali’s army out.”
“The timing,” he said, “was right.”
According to the conventional wisdom of governments and arms manufacturers, well-coordinated arms exports can help strengthen vulnerable states, professionalize military forces and promote stability.
In Libya, the opposite occurred, and the related dangers radiated outward.
This presumed influx of weapons to Mali from Libya has in turn underscored the unwanted effects of a war supported by the West, and raised questions anew about why NATO and the allied militaries that helped defeat the Qaddafi military did little to contain weapons that foreign military intervention helped set loose.
In the case of the NR-160s, several strands of evidence point to Libya as the source.
A projectile with an armor-penetrating shaped charge, the NR-160 was one of several rounds in the 106-millimeter class produced by Poudreries Réunies de Belgique, a Belgian company that sold ordnance to Libya in the early Qaddafi era.
These rounds were manufactured for M40 recoilless rifles, which were designed in the United States in the 1950s.
As part of efforts to prop up King Idris of Libya and retain access to an air base near Tripoli, the State Department and the Pentagon helped create and equip Libya’s army in the 1950s and 1960s. The engagement included providing the nascent army with recoilless rifles.
By 1969, Washington’s ambition had backfired. Rather than protect the monarchy, the army nurtured by the United States had produced Colonel Qaddafi, who overthrew the throne and forced the United States to abandon the base.
After the coup, as Colonel Qaddafi sought new sources for weapons, the Belgian company helped satisfy Libya’s procurement desires. It sold Libya many classes of ordnance, including land mines and antitank projectiles.
Research in Belgium’s state archives by Damien Spleeters, an independent arms researcher, found that from 1973 to 1980, the company received multiple licenses to ship 106-millimeter recoilless rifle rounds to the “Directorate Military — Tripoli, Libya.”
Mr. Spleeters’s searches of public records found no evidence of other transfers of 106-millimeter rounds to any other country in the region, with the exception of a 1971 license approving a tiny shipment — 200 rounds — to Morocco. One license alone for shipments of 106-millimeter rounds to Libya, by contrast, authorized the transfer of 30,000 rounds.
For decades these arms were locked up within Colonel Qaddafi’s secretive state, their quantities unknown. The Belgian company’s 106-millimeter rounds resurfaced spectacularly in 2011, used by both Qaddafi loyalists and rebels who seized them from captured government stockpiles.
As the war ran its course, Belgian 106-millimeter rounds and their associated wooden crates were photographed several times by The Times, by rebel logisticians and later by bomb disposal technicians.
The projectiles found in Mali, whose army, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, does not possess M40 recoilless rifles, match these records. One arms-trafficking researcher who has examined the stocks of many African states said the photographs of the projectiles in Konna documented a weapon that had no likely regional source other than Libya.
“From what I have seen in the sort of fossil record in situ in armories of Western African states, you don’t find this particular weapon,” said James Bevan, director of Conflict Armament Research, a private arms-tracking company in Britain. “We would have seen them. And we haven’t.”
People at the store in a state of giddy excitement, systematically clearing the shelves of bottled water and batteries and bagged sand, of milk and ice-melt, of whatever passes for pemmican nowadays among latter-day squaws loading the backs of station wagons -- granola bars, 85% cacao dark chocolate bars, dried apricots, dried figs, dried mangoes, bags of almonds, bags of chopped walnuts.
Everyone wants, everyone waits for, everyone is prepared to dance attendance on the storm when it finally arrives, everyone secretly loves the Weather. Sick of man-made news of mad mullahs here and abroad, the welcome mat is always out for the Weather. Because it's mostly out of our control. Because it works its will. Because no one on the talk shows, no one in the newspapers, can give you his views on what to do about the Weather. There's nothing else like it.
O God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.
But what if all those confident predictions gang agley? What if, instead of that historic storm that has been promised, instead of that snow falling softly, softly falling, on all the living and the dead, and leaving piles of silent snow, secret snow, in the end only a disappointing dusting arrives because the storm decides in its infinite wisdom to leave these parts, and to light out for the watery territories, and to relieve itself eastwards, over the ocean, over the sea?
There will be tiime, then, for a plaintive chant:
O bring back, bring back, bring back that blizzard to me.
Leaks from Iranian Diplomats and Western Intelligence Appear to confirm Fordow Blast
More leaks by Iranian diplomatic and Western intelligence sources are building a credible case for the Fordo uranium enrichment blast on January 21st. Credit that to the indefatigable sleuthing and publication on World Net Daily (WND) by Reza Kahlili ex-CIA spy who infiltrated Iran's Revolutiuonary Guards, author of A Time to Betray, and Hamidreza Zakeri, Iran Intelligence Officer defector and star witness in the Iran and 9/11 Havlish Federal trial in Manhattan.
This most recent WND report by Reza Kahlili compiles corroborating information from Iranian diplomatic sources, Western Intelligence agencies with satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe revealing activity at Fordow on the day of the alleged underground explosion. Khalili notes:
A European intelligence agency, an Iranian diplomat and a Latin American intelligence source have joined the growing list of those who have confirmed to WND the deadly explosions at Iran’s Fordow nuclear site.
Media and unofficial speculation points to Israel as the culprit in its efforts to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons. Several Iranian leaders have said repeatedly in the past it is their duty to wipe out the Jewish state.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in interviews Wednesday with media, said the Islamic regime has already achieved nuclear capability but is not interested in attacking the “Zionist entity.” If Israel attacks first, he said, Iran is ready destroy it.
In a letter to the IAEA two days after the explosions, Iran said it plans to install thousands of its upgraded centrifuges at its Natanz facility. The source said this was a direct result of the explosions at Fordow. The White House called it a “provocation,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the addition of upgraded centrifuges at Natanz would be “unacceptable.”
The blasts at first trapped 219 workers, including 16 North Koreans: 14 technicians and two military attaches. A Fordow security source told WND that as of three days ago, at least 40 people have been killed, including two North Koreans, and more than 60 injured, some in critical condition.
The foreign services division of a European intelligence agency, in confirming the explosions, said its information was verified by assets in Iran’s government. The Islamic regime is now cleaning up the site and assessing the damage. The agency above cannot be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, which could derail talks scheduled for Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan between Iran and the 5-plus-1 countries: the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
A high-ranking Iranian diplomat serving in an Iranian consulate in Asia, whose name cannot be revealed due to security, told WND that an order from Iran’s Foreign Ministry was issued days after the explosion to all of its embassies, ambassadors, deputy chiefs and spokesmen that no interviews on Fordow can be given to news agencies and that any response to queries by reporters should refer only to a statement by the White House and a report by news agencies on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Islamic regime, while preparing for talks with the 5-plus-1 powers and bilateral talks with representatives of the Obama administration, is also preparing to retaliate against the U.S., some European countries and Israel, according to an officer in a Latin America intelligence agency who confirmed the explosions to WND.
Note these DigitalGlobe satellite images taken on January 21, 2013, the date of the alleged underground explosion.
Fordow nuclear site - DigitalGlobe Image on the day of reported explosion Jan 21, 2013.
Fordow nuclear site - DigitalGlobe Jan 21, 2013 - Unusual activity with several cars in and out of the security post on the day of the reported explosion
Fordow nuclear site - DigitalGlobe Image Jan 21-2013 - Security checking one entrance to the site