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



















Wednesday, 30 April 2008
A Musical Interlude: The Last Trolleybus (Bulat Okudzhava)
Posted on 04/30/2008 8:52 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Whose Palms Are Being Greased?

Arab News: Being at the top is not easy. Somehow Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude producer, has been dragged into the debate about Canadian oilsand and if it is clean enough to be used or not.

In an interesting tussle, a virtually unnoticed clause was added almost at the least moment to a US energy bill that bars the government, in particular the Department of Defense, from using Alberta crude because it is deemed unconventional and too dirty.

A provision in the US Carbon Neutral Government Act incorporated into the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 act effectively bars the US government from buying fuels that have greater life-cycle emissions than fuels produced from conventional petroleum sources.

The United States has defined Alberta oilsands as unconventional because the bitumen mined from the ground requires upgrading and refining as opposed to the traditional crude pumped from oil wells.

California Democrat Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Republican Tom Davis added the clause...

The US Department of Defense is the largest single purchaser of conventional oil in the world — almost 300,000 barrels a day (excluding overseas imports).

This set in motion the Canadian government. Canada’s Ambassador to Washington, Michael Wilson, urged the White House, State Department and Department of Defense to reconsider the clause, and to reclassify Canadian oilsands crude as conventional. In a letter to the US administration, Wilson warned of “unintended consequences” if the law is applied.

American refineries that import Canadian crude will be caught in the middle: They will have to sacrifice the importation of Alberta crude to adhere to the US legislation.

In the letter, Canada’s ambassador to Washington encouraged US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other members of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to exclude oil derived from the tar sands in its application of the new legislation.

“Canada would not want to see an expansive interpretation of (the legislation), which would then include commercially available fuel made in part from oil derived from Canadian oilsands,” wrote Wilson in a letter dated Feb. 22, 2008 that also was sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.

In the letter, obtained by Greenwire — an American online environmental policy magazine — Wilson noted that Canada had surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, at 2.3 million barrels per day. He suggested it would be difficult to identify fuel on the US market that was 100 percent extracted by conventional means...

Posted on 04/30/2008 2:52 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Bomb-test video shown in court
THE accused head of a homegrown Muslim terror cell was secretly filmed by police testing a bomb built by an undercover agent from explosives and gelignitepacked in a plastic ice-cream container.
In the surveillance video played yesterday to a Victorian courtroom in Australia's biggest terror trial, Abdul Nacer Benbrika is shown by the undercover police officer how to set off the bomb on a bush track.
The video shows Mr Benbrika, dressed in a Muslim robe, and the undercover policeman identified only as Security Intelligence Officer 39, bending over the bomb and lighting the fuse. When the bomb fails to explode at the first try on the track at Mount Disappointment, about 60km north of Melbourne, they replace the fuse and light it.
They quickly walk away and a short time later the blue plastic ice-cream container packed with the explosive nitroprill and ignited with a stick of gelignite explodes in a large cloud of smoke.
In the video, captured by a camera hidden in a tree, Mr Benbrika and SIO39, who has a bushy black beard and black curly hair, are shown returning to the site of the explosion to inspect the results and then leaving.
The Victorian Supreme Court was told that SIO39, a member of Victoria Police's security intelligence unit, posed as a Turkish Muslim called Ahmet Sonmez to infiltrate the Melbourne group and befriend Mr Benbrika.
He told Mr Benbrika he could obtain large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertiliser from Tasmania and knew how to make bombs from it.
On October 6, 2004, he drove Mr Benbrika to Mt Disappointment for the demonstration. But in their secretly recorded conversation during the demonstration, Mr Benbrika appeared more interested in how long it would take, repeatedly telling SIO39 that he had a doctor's appointment and then had to collect his children from school.
"I hope it doesn't take a long time," Mr Benbrika says. "I have to pick up the kids from the school."
During yesterday's hearing, the jury of nine women and five men heard only SIO39's voice after the judge allowed him to give evidence from a remote location via an audio link to protect his identity.
The court has previously been told that Mr Benbrika asked SIO39 if he could obtain 500kg of fertiliser to use as explosives and how much it would take to blow up a house or a larger building.
The prosecution is alleging that Mr Benbrika and his 11 followers planned to carry out a terrorist strike on the 2005 AFL grand final or on Melbourne's Crown casino during grand prix week in 2006.
SIO39 told Mr van de Wiel that Mr Benbrika never asked him for the address where he stored explosives.
He agreed that Mr Benbrika told him Muslims were not allowed to engage in jihad in Australia because of a "treaty" between the Government and members of the Islamic community.
 
Posted on 04/30/2008 2:09 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Alain Jean-Mairet Responds To Pipes

Tiberge wrties at Brussels Journal:

The Swiss journalist Alain Jean-Mairet responds to an article by Daniel Pipes entitled “Europe or Eurabia.” Pipes lists three possible outcomes to the current crisis in which millions of Muslims are slowly but surely exerting more and more influence over the European countries they have migrated to: 1) domination of Europe by Islam 2) rejection of Islam by Europeans who finally emerge from their coma and rise up against the enemy 3) peaceful and harmonious co-existence between Muslims and Europeans...

Tiberge gives this translation the Mairet article:

If the practice of the Islamic religion is not categorically rejected in Europe, the future of the continent, contrary to Daniel Pipes' prediction in Europe or Eurabia, is clearly mapped out. In a word, it will be decline.

Europe is too satiated and refined, too old, too neurotic and weary, and probably could find within itself the sense of abandonment or sacrifice necessary to yield to a culture it had been forced to believe was superior. But the soul of Eurabia is that of a medieval beast, barbaric, proud and without real culture, except for the culture of lies. The union of the two could never generate a society that looks to the future.

This is because the culture of Islam itself is non-existent. At its base it is hardly more that the thick, salted and putrid sap of the desert, the tribal customs cultivated when the need to survive as a group is the dominant preoccupation. The culture attributed to it comes from conquests, pillaging, or sudden bursts of energy that impose themselves not thanks to Islam, but in spite of this spiritual black hole that the message of the prophet Mohammed really is. And so a cultural encounter between Europe and Eurabia will produce only aborted efforts. The culture of hatred and of limiting fatalism that will be spread by the mosques will prevent any new creativity from blossoming.

Furthermore, the Muslims who are settling en masse in Europe are not a united or fraternal community. It is extremely improbable that Muslims from Turkey will be willing to share harmoniously an Islamic European power with Muslims ruled by Saudi Arabia or with those arriving from India. For the moment, they all still have a lot of space, but the first disputes are already apparent, notably in Germany between Turks and Kurds. There is no reason to suppose that the various opposing Muslim communities will get along better in the context of Europe...

What is left is a degraded unlivable situation where hatreds harden, violence becomes a daily occurrence, and the brightest people emigrate. [...] For the moment all indications are that things are getting worse, and if Europe does not succeed, in the near future, in eliminating the near totality of the practice of the Islamic religion on its territory, that is, the driving force and crucial element behind the hatred and political ascension of Islamists, it will lose the means to govern itself.

One way or another, Islam will be the future of Europe. [...] If Europeans seriously ponder this problem and its foundations, and then act with courage and determination, there is a chance they can resolve it. If they prefer to believe in their lucky star, they will soon be lying under it.

Posted on 04/30/2008 11:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Maman dearest

I was astonished to learn, from today's Times, that it is possible to be both a French intellectual and a "little git". Just fancy:

Michel Houellebecq is a literary icon whose novels have been acclaimed by critics as the cruel illumination of a troubled era.

But France's most celebrated and controversial contemporary author could be pushed off his pinnacle following an astonishingly vitriolic attack from a critic with a unique insight into his oeuvre.

She is his mother - and she is threatening to knock his teeth out with her walking stick if he mentions her again in one of his works.

In a book of her own to be published next week, Lucie Ceccaldi depicts the cult writer as an untalented social climber whose ego is only matched by his dishonesty.

"What are these novels where nothing ever happens?” she says.

“This individual, who alas! came out of my tummy, is a liar, an impostor, a parasite and especially, especially, a little upstart ready to do anything for fortune and fame,” Mrs Ceccaldi, 83, writes in L'Innocente, an autobiography. The onslaught on the petit con (little git) is the revenge of a woman who has been scorned and disparaged by her son in public comments and writings.

In Atomised, the 1998 novel that propelled Houellebecq to stardom, for example, one of the most detestable characters is an ageing, dissolute hippy who abandoned her children in favour of sex in a strange community on the French Riviera.

The character is called Ceccaldi and bears a striking resemblance to Houellebecq's mother - who left him to be brought up by his grandparents while she drove around Africa with her husband in a 2CV and then went to work as a doctor. In subsequent interviews, the author described her as a slut and said that she was dead.

Mrs Ceccaldi is determined to prove that she is neither.

In an interview with Lire, the French literary magazine, to be published today, she said: “This is a libel because everything he says about me is false.”

Mrs Ceccaldi, a Communist Party activist in her youth who now lives in a beach hut on La Réunion island, goes on: “My son, he can f*** off wherever he wants, with whom he wants, because I don't give a stuff about him. But if he has the misfortune to stick my name in one of his things one more time, he's going to get hit in the gob with a walking stick and that'll knock all his teeth out, that's for sure.”

In other news, Jacques Derrida's maman called her son a "f*ckwit", and said that if she clapped eyes on his ugly mug again she would deconstruct it.

Posted on 04/30/2008 8:13 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
There's something about Austria

Unless they have been ... er ... locked in a cellar for the past week, readers will have heard the gruesome tale of Josef Fritzl. Fritzl, 73, of Amstetten, Austria, held his daughter prisoner in a cramped cellar for twenty-four years, repeatedly beating and raping her. He fathered seven children by her, three of whom were also kept in the cellar. The Times reports on the physical damage to the children, the psychological damage being as yet unimaginable:

While three of the six children to survive from Mr Fritzl's incestuous relationship with his daughter Elisabeth were brought up as part of normal Austrian society, the others lived their lives without daylight in rooms 1.7 metres (5ft 6in) high.

The Austrian authorities revealed that all the imprisoned children have emerged with defective immune systems and suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

None of them had ever seen a doctor or a dentist before their release and the oldest, at the age of 19, has already lost most of her teeth.

The height of their prison ceilings has left them each with a cramped physical posture and all three are anaemic.

One of the children is being tested to see if his sight and hearing have been impaired by 18 years of confinement

Experts said that the psychological problems resulting from being the child of an incestuous relationship – and of living in a claustrophobic bolthole – are unique.

Of course, evil on this scale is not uniquely Austrian. Think, in Britain alone, of Fred West, Harold Shipman, Brady and Hindley, and Victoria Climbié. At least Fritzl's children/grandchildren are still alive. But, like Richard Morrison of The Times, I picked up on two "seemingly incidental" aspects of the case that, if not distinctly Austrian, are distinctly Teutonic:

The first is that [Fritzl] built the underground cells for his benighted (grand)children with such chilling Teutonic ingenuity and efficiency. Plumbing, wiring, soundproofing, camouflage - all apparently installed without the neighbours suspecting a thing. Now, what does that remind you of?

Obvious? Not to Österreich, one of Austria's leading newspapers, which gave me a second jolt by calling Fritzl's deeds "the worst crime of all time". Further evidence, surely, that the land of snow flakes and strudel and schnitzel with noodles is still gripped by a very creepy historical amnesia.

Talking of snow flakes, my old history teacher insisted on referring to Germany's "annexation" of Austria as the "An-slush".  Unwittingly she hinted at a fluidity in the relationship that the original obscures: it was less an annexation than a melding together.

I have been to Austria. It's too pretty by half. At least Fred West's cellar was squalid.

Posted on 04/30/2008 7:23 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Rev. Wright's Middle East Views

Ed Lasky has done some digging on Rev. Jeremiah Wright's references with regard to where he gets his information on the Middle East at The American Thinker:

...Monday, during his press conference  at the National Press Club, Rev. Wright's response to a question from a reporter yielded a buried nugget:

"You have likened Israeli policies to apartheid and its treatment of Palestinians with Native Americans. Can you explain your views on Israel?"

Wright replied:

"Where did I liken them to that? Whoever wrote the question, tell me where I likened them.

"Jimmy Carter called it apartheid. Jeremiah Wright didn't liken anything to anything. My position on Israel is that Israel has a right to exist, that Israelis have a right to exist, as I said, reconciled one to another.

"Have you read The Link? Do you read The Link, Americans for Middle Eastern Understanding, where Palestinians and Israelis need to sit down and talk to each other and work out a solution where their children can grow in a world together, and not be talking about killing each other, that that is not God's will?
Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU) is an innocuous-sounding group that is actually a harshly anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian organization that has existed for over 30 years  . Edward Peck, the former Ambassador to Iraq to whom Wright attributes his "chickens have come home to roost" comment about 9/11 is a member of its Board of Directors.

The group publishes an "educational tool" (euphemism alert) called The Link -- a periodical that is distributed to 2500 churches, 2000 academicians, and 1900 public and school libraries. Teacher packets are provided for free; tours of the Middle East are also sponsored by AMEU.

On its list of books for sale at the group's online store one will find a Who's Who of fierce critics of Israel and apologists for and promoters of militant Islam. These include books by Richard Falk, who most recently speculated about his desire to prosecute neocons for being behind the 9/11 attacks, and who recently accepted a position on the UN Human Right Council where he has the Israel file; Noam Chomsky, a critic of America and Israel; James Bamford, who has alluded to the alleged dual loyalty of American Jews and blames Israel for problems in the Middle East; Paul Findley, who has written a book (They Dare Speak Out: People and Institutions confront Israel's Lobby) that presaged the publication of the Israel lobby book by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, and who attacks Americans who support the American-Israel relationship (Findley now heads up a group called the Council of National Interest that lobbies against Israel and publishes full-page ads in newspapers replete with anti-Semitic imagery; Norman Finkelstein, a failed academic and Holocaust denier; Edward Said, who, as a  professor at Columbia University and author of books on the Arab world, corrupted the field of Middle Eastern Studies with an anti-Israel and anti-Western perspective; and a roster of Arab authors who promote anti-Israel views. Controversial Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, who blames Israel for "The Ethnic Cleansing of Israel" (the name of his book for sale) also is represented.

Another author has two books for sale through the AMEU who might strike a bell in people who have been covering Senator Obama's campaign: Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi is a historian and professor of the Middle East who came to know Barack Obama well when Khalidi taught at the University of Chicago. Obama and Khalidi were friends and dinner companions. (Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama). Khalidi is also a well-known and very visible Palestinian activist who once worked for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. He now teaches at Columbia University. His pro-Palestinian advocacy continues since he left Chicago.

At times, Khalidi's activities have been the subject of controversy. For example, he had been a participant in the New York City teacher training program, but in 1995 his participation was ended by the city's School Chancellor who issued this statement:

"Considering his past statements, Rashid Khalidi should not have been included in a program that provided professional development for [Department of Education] teachers and he won't be participating in the future."
When Barack Obama served on the nonprofit Woods Foundation board, the foundation gave a large grant to a social services group whose board was headed by Mona Khaldi, Rashid Khalidi's wife...

Posted on 04/30/2008 7:38 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Schlussel: Who is Ali Jawad?

Debbie Schlussel continues her efforts to expose Hezbollah infiltration of the government and GOP establishment in Michigan. Her latest victory comes from the McCain campaign. They dropped Ali Jawad from its fundraisers list even though he seems very cozy with the Michigan GOP.

...Last week, several high-dollar Michigan Republican donors received an invitation to a May 6th $2,300 per head campaign fundraiser. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney are scheduled to attend. The donors noticed the name, "Ali Jawad," prominently listed on the Finance Committee and contacted me, knowing I had mentioned and written about him in the past.

Here are the specifics on Ali Jawad:

Ali Jawad and his company, Armada Oil, were convicted of insurance and mail fraud in federal court and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and fines. Michael Mustapha Makki, Jawad's co-defendant--also convicted--in the case, USA v. Makki et al, is a member of the Makki family, many members of which were convicted of cigarette smuggling for Hezbollah.

Several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirm that Jawad sold cigarettes obtained from out of state and avoided paying the exorbitant Michigan cigarette tax he collected, pursuant to the scam. Although key members of law enforcement were aware of this, they were ordered by late, then-Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido not to pursue the matter and to call off their investigation. Mr. Jawad was a major donor to Guido, as was indicted Hezbollah financier and fugitive, Talal Chahine. In 2003, Jawad--originally from the Hezbollah stronghold of Nabatiya--and Chahine, together, accompanied Mayor Guido on a trip to Lebanon, for which they raised thousands of dollars. They visited the Hezbollah-controlled cities of Bint Jbeil and Qana.

Jawad is known as one of the most important agents of Hezbollah in the U.S. He is related (through his brother's marriage into the Safieddine family) to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and the man Iran has designated as Nasrallah's heir apparent, Hachem Safieddine (currently a member of the 7-member Hezbollah ruling council, the Shurah Al-Karar). The Jawad and Safieddine families have many business dealings together. Both Ali Jawad and the Safieddines own many gas stations throughout the Detroit area. Armada Oil--of which Jawad is CEO--also distributes gas to gas stations throughout the Detroit area.

Jawad isn't shy about his support for Hezbollah. He defended Ali and Mohamed "Mike" Boumelhem, when they were caught by U.S. Customs agents trying to smuggle weapons to Canada and ultimately to Hezbollah. And he told The Detroit News that the terrorist group, which murdered more Americans than any other besides Al-Qaeda, isn't a terrorist group:

Killing innocent people -- we reject that. Hezbollah does not fit this category. It has protected its people.

Translation: The hundreds of Americans and Jews Hezbollah murdered are not "innocent people." Hezbollah protects Shi'ite Muslims, and they're the only ones worth protecting.

In May 2003, Jawad again traveled to Lebanon--this time, with his close friend, FBI award revokee and "former" Islamic terrorist Imad Hamad, a man who engaged in marriage fraud. Also with them was Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Ba'ath Party member recently indicted for being a Saddam Hussein spy. Hanooti was a key official of LIFE for Relief and Development, an Al-Qaeda and HAMAS charity raided by the FBI and the U.S. Army.

During that trip, they met with Nabih Berri, head of the Hezbollah-backed Shi'ite Amal militia, who also heads the Lebanese Parliament. Berry was Hezbollah's negotiator for the Hezbollah hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985, during which Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem was trampled to death. Federal agents have long told me that they believe Hamad's annual trips to Lebanon with these malefactors--often including visits to Bashar Assad of Syria--are terror-related trips with money-laundering as a likely purpose.

The alleged purpose of the May 2003 trip was to introduce Berri and other Hezbollah members of the Lebanese parliament to Bachar Sbeiti Kachkouche, then a 3-year-old Lebanese Canadian "child prodigy," who lived in Windsor, Canada, just over the border from Detroit. Hamad and company were purportedly raising money for Kachkouche, allegedly so he could attend Roeper, an expensive Detroit-area private school, college, and ultimately medical school. When you think about it, this is a brilliant scheme. No-one is looking at donations allegedly for the schooling of a gifted and talented toddler, nor at the ultimate destination of the money. And the toddler then gets to traverse the international borders daily. Do you think they'd search this cute, smiling boy or the vehicle in which he was riding on a daily basis? Detroit FBI agents told me they notified Canadian authorities about this scheme.

Roeper School would not confirm whether Bachar Sbeiti is currently or has ever been a student, or whether he is or was ever a scholarship recipient from the school, which would negate the need for private fundraising. Alleged "scholarship" money for Sbeiti was being raised by LIFE for Relief and Development, which was raided by FBI agents in the Detroit-area and the U.S. Army in Iraq. LIFE is believed to fund Al-Qaeda and was openly funding HAMAS' Jordanian operation for several years. Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a top LIFE official was recently indicted as a Saddam spy, and the charity's founder was identified as an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. Alleged "scholarship" money for Sbeiti was also being raised by Hamad's ADC (American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee). "Donors" were instructed to make checks payable directly to LIFE and ADC. An examination of the federal tax filings for both organizations indicates no outlays for Sbeiti's education or any indication of the ultimate use of monies raised in Sbeiti's name.

But, despite all this, Ali Jawad remains "untouchable," say concerned citizens.

That might have something to do with the tight relationship both Jawad and his friend, the "former" Islamic terrorist Hamad, have with key feds. The photo above shows Ali Jawad at a recent banquet held by Hamad and a Nabih Ayad, a lawyer for Islamic terrorists. Jawad is shown sitting at the head table next to Michael Rosen, a lawyer and policy advisor with the U.S. Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes of the U.S. Treasury Department. To Rosen's right, the man who is laughing is Michigan FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena. Previous to his Michigan assignment, Arena was in charge of Counterterrorism for the New York FBI and told the Christian Science Monitor that, in that capacity, his job was to set the public--and agents--straight, after a poll showed 50% of Americans had a negative view of Islam.

Also sitting at the table and shown in the next picture with Jawad and Hamad, are Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Julie L. Myers and Michigan/Ohio ICE Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz.

Oh, the company they keep.

Fortunately, John McCain is not also keeping company with Ali Jawad. Unlike these feds, he did the right thing. But several Michigan Republicans haven't....

Posted on 04/30/2008 7:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Still Willfully Blind After All These Years
I hate to seem ungracious, especially when a reviewer has had at least a few nice things to say about me and my new book, Willful Blindness — A Memoir of the Jihad. But I must confess to disappointment that the New York Sun, one of the best newspapers around, decided Laurie Mylroie would be a good choice to do the review.


BASIT’S NOT BASIT

Sometime in 1993 or 1994, a briefing at the Manhattan district attorney’s office was arranged for me and a few other federal prosecutors involved in the World Trade Center bombing cases. The briefer was Mylroie, then (if memory serves) a professor at Harvard, where she’d earned her doctorate in government. She was spouting a theory that the attack had been the work of Saddam Hussein and that we ignoramuses were completely missing the boat by charging Islamic terrorists, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that they had carried out the atrocity.

Mylroie’s theory was loopy. Indeed, for commentators (like Steve Hayes, Tom Joscelyn, and I) who have argued that there were, in fact, important ties between Iraq and radical Islam, Mylroie has been a thorn in the side for years — the analyst whose zany assertions are routinely used to discredit credible evidence of cooperation. Most notoriously, Mylroie has contended that Abdul Basit, the WTC bombing mastermind better known by his alias, Ramzi Yousef, is not really Abdul Basit. Instead, according to Mylroie, he is a shady Iraqi spy who was given the identity of Basit when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait and stole the identities of the “real” Basit family. In my book, I briefly discuss and dismiss Mylroie’s theory (at pp. 183-84 & 341-42, ch.14, n.3). Leaving aside various other implausibilities in her surmise, the government had several sources who knew Basit as Basit both before and after the time he spent in Kuwait.

Notwithstanding that at least 14 years have elapsed, I also well remember the Mylroie briefing because it was so shoddy. She contended our case against the jihadists was weak and ill-conceived, but her presentation actually had little to do with our proof that indicted defendants carried out terrorist acts. Rather, it focused on inferences she had drawn — some interesting, some daft, and none prosecution-worthy — that the conspirators were being guided by Iraqi intelligence. It was the work of a myopic academic who did not comprehend the difference between intrigue and evidence, between history and prosecution. On my questioning, she confessed that she had never read, and was otherwise unfamiliar with, the seditious conspiracy statute the defendants were charged with violating. I asked her how a student in one of her classes would fare if it turned out he hadn’t read the law used to indict a case he was attacking as unfounded. She mumbled something about planning to get to the statute soon.

Of course, even assuming for argument’s sake that Saddam had choreographed the whole 1993 bombing operation, the government’s charging of some people with a crime does not discount the possibility that others — including even state sponsors of terror — are also complicit. Mylroie seemed unable to grasp this simple concept. In a jury trial, you naturally train your sights on the defendants you have charged, placed under arrest, and brought into the courtroom. You get into uncharged conspirators only to the extent it is necessary for the jury to understand the case against those standing trial. That co-conspirators have not been charged — whether because they have diplomatic immunity, or are fugitives, or are outside the country and beyond government’s ability to apprehend, or are actors as to whom the government has not yet developed proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or any of a thousand other reasons — does not mean that they are innocent, much less that the people who actually have been charged are not guilty.

In any event, although it was not particularly complex, Mylroie didn’t understand the law or the evidence back then. Her review demonstrates that things haven’t improved.

THE “WEAK” CASE AGAINST THE EMIR OF JIHAD

Mylroie has long been on a mission to trash the case against Omar Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheikh known to his acolytes as the “emir of jihad.” Perhaps this is because she remains studiously uninformed about the jihadist threat. Perhaps it owes to the incorrigible delusion under which she labors, namely, that if the Blind Sheikh is guilty that somehow must mean the state sponsors she prefers to blame are off the hook. In either event, she asserts in the Sun that “Sheik Omar is a loathsome figure, but the case against him was weak.” He was convicted, she elaborates, only because I devised a “clever strategy” to link several terrorist plots together in what she refers to as “a conspiracy ostensibly carried out by the Jihad Organization of which Sheik Omar was said to be the leader.”

Plainly, even all these years later, Mylroie still hasn’t gotten around to reading the relevant statutes. And while I’d love to take credit for being extraordinarily clever, the truth is that the case against Abdel Rahman was overwhelming...

keep reading here.

Posted on 04/30/2008 6:32 AM by Andy McCarthy
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Strange? Bit weird?

But is it sinister?  The article by Andrew Gilligan in the London Evening Standard which Mary posted about on Monday here is no longer there. According to the Standard website when you follow the link "The article you have requested is unavailable".
Mary's post covered the salient points but the full text of the article was repeated at the Free Republic website, here.
It might just be a website breakdown. Then again it might not.

Posted on 04/30/2008 4:04 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Then and now - early colour photographs

Alan thought I would like these - and he was right. These are some of the earliest colour photographs taken in Britain.
I recreated the view of Parliament Square scene of Victory celebrations in 1919 yesterday. Probably more traffic today but not moving any more quickly.

Posted on 04/29/2008 3:22 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
The Council Of Economic Advisers Couldn't Do Better
Posted on 04/29/2008 3:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
The Paris Plot

This is short notice, (Hat Tip Alan) about to start on BBC2.

'The Age of Terror: Episode 3  The Paris Plot'

Posted on 04/29/2008 2:59 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
A Musical Interlude: What Did'ja Wanna Make Me Love You For?
Posted on 04/29/2008 2:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Pseudsday Tuesday

As I have said many times, it is difficult to be objective about language change. Whether we accept or reject a new usage is very often conditioned by our attitude to the speaker or writer, or to his type. Thus I recognise reluctantly that “debate”, used as a transitive verb to refer to one's opponent  rather than the subject, will become acceptable. It is used by good writers such as Robert Spencer - and, to my surprise and delight, Hugh Fitzgerald - and I dislike this Americanism only because I am not used to it. In time I will get used to it, and will use it unthinkingly.

Even a word used in the way you like may become unpleasant if unpleasant or silly people use it. I used to like the word “innovation”. I still quite like it, and use "innovation" and “innovative” fairly regularly. But I am coming to dislike it. “Innovation” is used more and more by jargon-spouting management consultants, and it now has connotations of useless gadgetry – until recently a company called Innovations produced a catalogue advertising gismos you could not possibly want, such as waterproof alarm clocks or ionising kettles – and self-conscious “wackiness”.

Theodore Dalrymple uses the word “discourse” rather more than I like. But when he uses it, it means something, whereas when post-modern meta-twaddlers use it, it doesn’t. Long-term readers will remember “reference-gate”, the protracted kerfuffle over my perfectly legitimate use of the verb “reference” to mean “quote from”. When I used it, it meant something specific. My “discourse” always means something specific, even if not all readers like what it specifies. But I too wince at “reference” used in an artistic context. Writing on the Whitney Museum's Biennial exhibition of contemporary art, blogger Richard Lacayo puts “reference” in the same category as “interrogate”, a pet hate of mine. Eric Gibson:

Richard Lacayo, on a Time magazine blog, likened reading the show's introductory wall text ("Many of the projects . . . explore fluid communication structures and systems of exchange") to "being smacked in the face with a spitball." To combat such verbiage, he recommended banning five words long popular with critics that nonetheless say nothing: "interrogates," "problematizes," "references" (as a verb), "transgressive" and "inverts."

Last year’s bête noire was "resonate". I used to quite like the expression, "this resonates with me," but I now think it has outstayed its welcome. When I read this execrable sentence in the Tate Modern leaflet handed out to crack visitors, I fell out of love with it:

First, and most obviously, the contemplative nature of such a venue allows the gesture to resonate in its widest sense.

Can a gesture resonate? Is a crack a gesture? Whose widest sense? The crack's? Widest sense of what? And how can a venue have a contemplative nature? And why is it most obvious?

This week, “resonate” has a rival: “redolent (of)”. I shouldn’t dislike this word. It has a good pedigree. Thomas Gray used it:

My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.

But I think the use is becoming “weary”. You read it everywhere, often when a simple “reminding me of” would do. The word is no longer – er – redolent of anything.

 

Worse still, the twaddle-merchants have got their hands on it. It is embedded in their discourse. Here is an article by chris cheek [sic] on “Domestic Ambient Noise/Moise”. Notice that "poetry" has a plural, "poetries". Poetries in motions:

 

Domestic Ambient Noise/Moise, proliferates possible extensions to the polysemous transhistories of material poetries. d a n / m interrogates and explodes, what is familiarly understood as the 'pattern poem', somatic mark-making.1 It achieves this, through exploring the surface terrains of the page, and beginning to turn the para and peri-textual ecological imperatives of the book as a marketing tool of the Enlightenment, into an agency not of the preservations and retrievals of factual knowledge but of thickening doubts appropriate to certainties unravelling. In doing so d a n / m disinters avatars of scriptural knowledge, to articulate fissures within artifices of pages. Artifice is based upon recognition of pattern and play with that recognition of pattern; resulting, for Baudrillard, in simulation, giving way to the illusions of meaning.

 

Come off it, mr. cheek. Turn the other one.

Whilst references, representations and meanings will continue to proliferate as d a n / m is processed, for some readers the terms of engagement are already barren, too immersed in acts of negation. Too often for them, d a n / m offers only invocations of the denial of consensual meaning, mockery of the need for meaning as a symptom of socio-deficiency, or active erasure of existing common sense. These are, for such readers, 'writings' ready-redolent of neo-dadaism; yet more conceptually packaged artists' shit. d a n / m can be misunderstood then, as no more than a re-presentation of Mrs. Sparsit's 'impossible void'. Its depictions of textuality so dissipated as to be unreadable, within terms of readability measured against dominant linguistic practices. Letter forms have exploded their delineations to become blotches and globules. Inkish stains muck out the page, turning conventional interdependencies between text and background upside down and inside out. Ink, medium of positive articulation, literally blots conventionally negative spaces between letters and words, rendering the page opaque with necro-lingo-goo. Too many boundaries are being blurred at one time.

“Ready-redolent of neo-dadaism”? Why not “resonates” with neo-dadaism? Or “references” or “interrogates” for that matter? One word, for chris cheek, is as good as another.

Posted on 04/29/2008 2:20 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Idling Through The Concise Oxford Dictionary Of Politics

Idling through the Concise Oxford Dictonary of Politics, I discovered this entry under "Poll Tax" (pp. 391-392):

Poll Tax.

Two meanings, based on different meanings of 'poll,' but with considerable convergence.

(1) A tax levied at a flat rate per head on each inhabitant of a given district ('poll' meaning 'the human head,' hence 'person on a list'). Two celebrated poll taxes have been levied in England: one in 1381 (actually the third of a series that started in 1377), and one in 1990. The tax of 1381 was described at the time as 'hitherto unheard-of.' It was difficult and intrusive to collect, and was widely evaded in places the collectors found difficult to reach, such as Cornwall. It led to serious rioting, and the Savoy Palace (near present-day Trafalgar Square) was burnt down. It was abandoned because of popular resistance. The tax of 1990 (1989 in Scotland) was difficult and intrusive to collect, and was widely evaded in places the collectors found difficult to reach, such as inner London. It led to serious rioting, and buildings at Trafalgar Square were set alight. It was abandoned because of popular resistance. ....

Posted on 04/29/2008 1:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Unclean Things

"One of its British advocates has said that it aims to rescue Muslims from the culture and civilisation of Jews and Christians by creating “such hatred for their ways as human beings have for urine and excreta."
--from the news article linked below

This is not surprising. At the official website of Al-Sistani, the Western world's favorite Iraqi cleric, whom the journalist Tom Friedman suggested should get a Nobel Prize for his presumed moderation and wonderfulness, the list of "unclean" things, things deemed najis, includes blood, feces, urine, dogs, pigs, and oh yes, Infidels.

Take a look yourself.

Posted on 04/29/2008 10:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Trouble at t’mosque
Main crossbeam's warped. Pardon?
From The BBC
A murder trial jury have heard how a long running dispute at a mosque in Milton Keynes led to an 18-year-old man being "clubbed senseless".
Atiq Rehman was attacked with a snooker cue, causing severe head injuries, and died two days later on 17 May 2007.
Luton Crown Court heard Bilal Zaman, 21, and Usman Ali, 20, of Cambridge Street, Wolverton, pleaded guilty to murder and are awaiting sentence. Ghur Rehman, 26 and Haroon Awan, 22 also of Cambridge Street, deny murder.
The prosecutor said Atiq Rehman, who is not related to the defendant with the same name, was attacked on 15 May last year at The Square at Wolverton.
Explaining the background he said: "In late 2006 the community who attended the mosque at Wolverton had become divided following a disagreement as to how the mosque should be run.  We are not concerned with the basis of that dispute but it led to a number of incidents where violence was used."
He said after Friday prayers on 12 January 2007 there was an incident involving a large number of people and weapons including knuckle dusters and knives and some people were seriously injured.
On 15 May, Atiq Rehman was playing snooker when he realised some of the opposing group were outside and were armed. He sought refuge in a nearby Costcutter shop but was dragged outside.
"He was attacked and kicked but managed to get up and run off towards the Christian Foundation which is where he was attacked again,"
Thankfully the fracas outside the Burton Central Mosque didn’t result in any fatalities but it was a close thing according to one witness yesterday. The Burton Mail reports on the continuing trial
THE prosecutor in the Burton Central Mosque brawl trial has accused a policeman of "being in the thick of the fighting and picking out people to assault".
In a 90-minute cross-examination that gripped the 11-strong Birmingham Crown Court jury, barrister Stephen Thomas said Tariq Hussain had behaved aggressively and was so wound-up he could not bring himself to talk to other officers.
The prosecutor suggested Tariq Hussain would surely have known of the mosque politics underpinning the clash and the likelihood of potential disorder.
However, the defendant rejected Mr Thomas's version of events, blamed the disorder on a failure of pro-active policing and insisted he had helped to try to restore order.
When re-examined by his barrister, Andrew Baker, Hussain revealed he had sacked his original solicitor and admitted the way he had dealt with police questions may not have been ideal.
He also confirmed evidence showing he had pinpointed his aggressors six months earlier and had hired a private detective because he believed prosecution witnesses were colluding against him.
Muslim elder Mohammed Manzoor, 82, backed Tariq Hussain's version of events, telling the court that unless the officer had intervened to save him from a punch thrown by Mohammed Arif, he would have been "killed".
Little things in mosques can spark outrage. From The Teesside Gazette
BORO born and bred Rasub Afzal’s passion is promoting understanding between Teessiders and his fellow Muslims.
So the taxi driver was shocked to be caught up in a furious religious row - over paper napkins printed with a brewery’s name. They were on the tables at a Middlesbrough mosque lunch for local Muslims who are strictly forbidden to drink alcohol.
One guest was so offended by the Flying Firkin name, he started a stand-up row.
Now 41-year-old Rasub who tried to calm the row says it has made him fear for the future of good community relations. “What hope have we over really important things when there is such anger at something like this,” he said.
The storm brewed at a no-alcohol lunch in Middlesbrough’s Waterloo Road Mosque. Dozens of Muslims were there to hear a speech on unity by the Bradford-based Commissioner for Pakistan.
Suddenly one guest from Stockton became infuriated at the sight of the name on the napkins and began to criticise organisers.
Rasub, who was on his table, said: “He made a remark about the napkins and I tried to calm the situation by saying, ‘it’s not such a big issue’. “I apologised even though he was rude and abusive to me. I even poured him a glass of orange.
“But I was quite intimidated by his attitude, in fact I thought he might hit me. He said it was against Islam because the napkins had the name of a drinks company.
Rasub says the napkin incident has made him worry about attitudes which will not help foster good relations in the area.
Haji Jaber, secretary of the Islamic Society of Cleveland and the Middlesbrough Council of Faiths, said the man who complained about the napkins had created a “storm in a teacup.” He said: “He went completely overboard. The event was open to all faiths and some of those do have alcohol. “There are other Muslims who use the mosque who have shops that sell alcohol. Many were upset by his comments about it. If he didn’t like it he didn’t have to be there.”
More tea Vicar?
Posted on 04/29/2008 9:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Prisons Filled With Muslims

These statistics are the obvious result of the fact that Islam inculcates an entirely different ethical system in its adherents than that found in countries where ethics are based in Judeo-Christian values.  From the Washington Post:

...About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country's [France's] prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country's population.

On a continent where immigrants and the children of immigrants are disproportionately represented in almost every prison system, the French figures are the most marked, according to researchers, criminologists and Muslim leaders.

"The high percentage of Muslims in prisons is a direct consequence of the failure of the integration of minorities in France," said Moussa Khedimellah, a sociologist who has spent several years conducting research on Muslims in the French penal system.

So long as discussion of Islam is off the table, it must be the fault of France. Perhaps if, as Daniel Pipes advocates, a synthesis between Islam the West can be found, then France could stop making what is allowed in Islam (like lying to, stealing from, or raping the kafir) illegal. That would put an end this problem of the unfair and disproportionate incarceration of Muslims. We just need to expand our tolerance of other cultures.

In Britain, 11 percent of prisoners are Muslim in contrast to about 3 percent of all inhabitants, according to the Justice Ministry. Research by the Open Society Institute, an advocacy organization, shows that in the Netherlands 20 percent of adult prisoners and 26 percent of all juvenile offenders are Muslim; the country is about 5.5 percent Muslim. In Belgium, Muslims from Morocco and Turkey make up at least 16 percent of the prison population, compared with 2 percent of the general populace, the research found...

French prison officials blame the high numbers on the poverty of people who have moved here from North African and other Islamic countries in recent decades. "Many immigrants arrive in France in difficult financial situations, which make delinquency more frequent," said Jeanne Sautière, director of integration and religious groups for the French prison system. "The most important thing is to say there is no correlation between Islam and delinquency." ...

I see. Just like there's no correlation between Islam and terrorism, or Islam and dysfunctional societies, or Islam and the paucity of art and science, or Islam and Arab supremacism, or Islam and the prevalence of conspiracy theories, or Islam and the oppression of women, or Islam and...

Posted on 04/29/2008 6:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
BBC ‘censored Christian party broadcast’
The Times reports progress on this story, and unlike the BBC they have no problem with describing Tablighi Jamaat like it is.
The BBC is facing a High Court challenge over its decision to censor a party political broadcast in the run-up to Thursday’s local elections.
A Christian party has begun legal action after the corporation insisted on changes to a short film in which the party voiced opposition to the building of Europe’s biggest mosque next to the site of the 2012 Olympics.
Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic missionary group behind the £75 million Abbey Mills mosque, opposes inter-faith dialogue and preaches that non-Muslims are an evil and corrupting influence. One of its British advocates has said that it aims to rescue Muslims from the culture and civilisation of Jews and Christians by creating “such hatred for their ways as human beings have for urine and excreta”.
The Christian Choice election broadcast would have described Tablighi Jamaat as “a separatist Islamic group” before welcoming that some “moderate Muslims” were opposed to the mosque complex.
Alan Craig, the party’s candidate in the London mayoral election, also on Thursday, said that he was forced to change the wording at the insistence of lawyers at the BBC and ITV, which will also feature in the court action.
Posted on 04/29/2008 1:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 April 2008
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Non Dimenticar (Silvana Mangano)
Posted on 04/28/2008 6:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 April 2008
Jeremiah Wright Just Can't Help It

Reverend Wright doesn't seem to have any conception of the deep damage his continuing comments are doing to the presidential prospects of Barack Obama. Obama, for his part, seems to fear cutting ties to this fruitcake would damage his support in the black community, which does seem to be firmly behind Wright, crazy as that sounds. The rest of America is waking up to the fact that much of the black community lives in an alternate universe. From Politico:

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright said Monday that he will try to change national policy by “coming after” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) if he is elected president.

The pastor also insisted Obama “didn’t denounce” him and “didn’t distance himself” from Wright’s controversial remarks, but “did what politicians do.”

Wright implied Obama still agrees with him by saying: “He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was [portrayed as] anti-American.”

Wright, who was Obama’s pastor for 20 years and performed his wedding, made the explosive comment during a chaotic question-and-answer session at the National Press Club in Washington, following the pastor’s remarks about the black church in America.

“I said to Barack Obama last year, ‘If you get elected, November the 5th I'm coming after you, because you'll be representing a government whose policies grind under people,’ Wright said...

Grind under people?

Wright talks of their relationship in the present tense. “I'm a pastor; he's a member,” he said. “I'm not a ‘spiritual mentor.’ “

In the Democratic debate on April 16, Obama referred to Wright as “somebody who is associated with me that I have disowned,” then clarified that to say he had disowned the comments.

But Wright objected to a question saying Obama had denounced him.

“Whoever wrote that question doesn't read or watch the news,” Wright said. “He did not denounce me. He distanced himself from some of my remarks, like most of you, never having heard the sermon, all right? …

“He didn't distance himself. He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was [portrayed as] anti-American. … He did, as I said, what politicians do.”

Posted on 04/28/2008 4:51 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 28 April 2008
Beyond our Ken?

Much is beyond our Ken, but nothing, it seems, is beneath him.

I'm not one to preach to my fellow Londoners - by 'eck,  I'm not even a native Londoner - but do we really want a mayor who looks like this?


Campaigning: Ken Livingstone on the trail at Northolt mosque in Ealing over the weekend

Ken is already a past master of taqiyya. From the London Evening Standard:

Ken Livingstone supporters are claiming that Boris Johnson would ban the Koran in adverts in the capital's Bengali-language press.

The claim is one of a number of last-minute tactics - condemned by Mr Johnson today as "poison" and "desperate" - being used by Mr Livingstone's backers to sway crucial votes. The "dirty tricks" were uncovered in a Standard investigation which also found that:

• Bengali-language leaflets are being handed out at mosques saying that Mr Johnson "hates Muslims" and it is a "moral duty" for Muslims to support Mr Livingstone.

• One of Mr Livingstone's key advisers has promised to give members of one ethnic community "well-paid jobs", with salaries of up to £80,000, if he is re-elected.

• TfL has embarked on a massive pre-election advertising blitz in parts of the ethnic press, which have then offered full support for Mr Livingstone's re-election.

The Bengali-language leaflet, a copy of which has been obtained by the Standard, was handed out at Friday prayers last week at mosques in Brick Lane and other Bengali parts of the East End. According to an independent translation, it says: "Boris has expressed his hatred against Islam, the Koran and the Muslims... It is Muslims' moral duty to support Ken." The other side of the leaflet is in English. It carries a less incendiary message and makes no attacks on Mr Johnson.

The leaflet was produced by the British Muslim Initiative, whose offshoot, Muslims 4 Ken, was recently exposed by the Standard as involving a declared supporter of suicide bombing. It carries no imprint for a printer as required by electoral law.

The leaflet contains lies. Boris doesn't hate Muslims, although he has expressed strong and justified misgivings about Islam. And he has never argued in favour of banning the Koran, although he has criticised it, and opposed any legislation that would restrict such criticism.

Vote for Boris. Even if you hate him, make him your second choice and rid us of  Red Ken.

Posted on 04/28/2008 4:34 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 28 April 2008
Held Hostage At Masjid Al-Taqwa

Bos Smith writes at Canadian Free Press:

A tree grew in Brooklyn.

No longer.

It has been uprooted by the Masjid At-Taqwa and other radical mosques that have sprouted up like huge mechanical mushrooms throughout the borough.

If you tarry in front of the Masjid At-Taqwa in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district and dare to take a photo, you might get hauled away by a group of angry Muslims in Islamic attire to the basement of the facility where a group of twenty “security guards” in karate suits will interrogate you.

This sounds preposterous.

But it happened on a weekend in late April at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Ali Kareem, the head of security for Siraj Wahaj’s mosque, conducted the grilling. A small, muscular man with a wispy black beard that has been dyed red with henna, Kareem demanded to know the reason why a trio of kafirs had dared to photograph the building on a public street without securing his permission.

He further insisted on securing our identities and obtaining our motives for such a violation of Islamic space.

Being surrounded by a group of militant guards in a mosque basement from which there is no means of escape is not a comforting place to be for a Wall Street financier.

We tried to explain that we found the neighborhood with its halal meat vendors and food stores; Islamic dress shops, featuring the latest styles in burqas and hijabs; Muslim souvenir outlets, replete with bumper stickers stating “Don’t Be Caught Dead Without Islam”; and Middle Eastern restaurants offering a variety of goat dishes to be rather quaint and interesting.

This explanation was not sufficient.

Kareem was impatient and did not want a detailed explanation of the reason for our excursion (simple sight-seeing) or a graphic account of the sights we had seen and photographed.

“I ask the questions here,” he said, “and you provide the answers.”

Realizing that we were in a bit of a pickle, my companion explained that we were interested in various religions and knew Siraj Wahaj, the imam of the mosque, was a prominent Muslim figure whom we would like to interview for a news outlet.

I have it on good authority that Siraj Wahaj recently visited Muslims in Nashville Tennessee.

This didn’t work too well since we could not produce a business card from a wacko blog, let alone credentials from a national publication.

At last, we blurted out that we were admirers of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) and wanted to obtain information about conversion. We were even knowledgeable enough to blurt out “Salaam” and “Allahu akbar.”

The last utterance seemed to be the “Open Sesame” that got us out of the basement and back to Bedford Street, where we managed to take a picture of the mosque before hailing a cab and making a getaway.

The experience was disconcerting. Surely, anyone who takes a picture of St. Patrick’s Cathedral or the Riverside Church is not hauled off to a basement for questioning by a threatening figure in a karate uniform and a band of Ninjas.

What is taking place within Masjid At-Taqwa?

And what about Siraj Wahaj, the celebrated imam of this mosque who claims to be a moderate?

Masjid At-Taqwa at 1226 Bedford Street was an abandoned clothing store, which Wahaj purchased at an auction in 1979 for $30,000 with cash from oil-rich Saudis. The interior is divided into spacious, windowless rooms that have been painted green and beige.

At Friday afternoon prayers the meeting room is crammed with hundreds of congregants. Some show up in do-rag stocking caps and Sean John sweatshirts; others wear finely embroidered, authentic-looking Muslim caps and flowing robes of crimson and gold. About half of the attendees are African-Americans. The others are immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Worshipers range from Brooklyn street bums to the local celebrities, such as former heavy-weight champion Mike Tyson.

The place has played host to a number of notorious exponents of radical Islam, including Clement Rodney Hampton-El (Dr. Rashid), a key player in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Mr. Hampton-El is presently cooling his heels in a federal slammer since he was found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Mr. Hampton-El, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, fought as a mujahadeen under Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the holy war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Upon his return, Hampton-El was hailed as a hero by members of the mosque. Imam Wahaj has said that he was sought out by young and old alike for spiritual advice as an “elder” in the community. Wahaj, in fact, appeared as a character witness for Hampton El when the former mujahadeen stood trial before Judge Michael Mukasey in New York’s Federal District Court on charges of seditious conspiracy and attempted bombing.

Hampton-El is currently serving thirty-five years in a supermax prison for America’s most dangerous inmates. 

Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman visited Masjid At-Taqwa on many occasions while serving as the imam of the nearby Masjid al-Fooqra at 554 Atlantic Avenue, several blocks from Masjid At-Taqwi. On the second floor of Rahman’s mosque, al Qaeda had opened an office under the name of the al-Kifah Refugee Center. It became a favorite haunt for members of Wahaj’s congregation.

Rahman also spoke on occasion at Masjid At-Taqwa. In one speech, the fiery sheikh suggested that Muslims should rob banks to benefit Islam.

In 1995, Sheikh Rahman was hauled into court as the alleged architect of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and for planning to blow up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge, and buildings throughout Manhattan. At his side was his good friend Siraj Wahaj who provided testimony of the sheik’s sterling character...

But what of Wahaj? Is he an exponent of radical Islam - - a man who poses a threat to millions of Americans?

He is a well-known and welcome figure in Washington, DC. He was the first Muslim cleric to offer the invocation at the opening session of Congress. He has dined with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and serves on the boards of no less than five major Muslim organizations. He has received commendations from the Brooklyn police for eradicating crime from the Bedford-Stuyvesant area. In 2003, Siraj Wahaj Day was celebrated in Brooklyn in recognition of what one borough official called a “lifetime of outstanding and meaningful achievement.”

But the proof of the real Wahaj is in the proverbial pudding.

In one of his sermons, Wahaj announced that the “real terrorists” are the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. In another, he said, “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.” He proclaimed that a society governed by strict Islamic law, in which adulterers are stoned to death and apostates beheaded, would be vastly superior to American democracy.

To a Muslim audience in New Jersey, Wahaj advocated the idea of Muslims forming a coup to take control of the federal government. “If we are united and strong,” he said, “we’d elect our own emir [leader] and give allegiance to him. Take my word for it, if six to eight million Muslims are united in America, the country will come to us.”

His so-called “moderate” interpretation of the Qu’ran became clear by this remark: “If Allah says 100 strikes, 100 strikes it is. If Allah says cut off their hand, you cut off their hand. If Allah says stone them to death, through the Prophet Muhammad, then you stone them to death, because it’s the obedience of Allah and his messenger—nothing personal.” ...

Posted on 04/28/2008 4:27 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 28 April 2008
Justice Scalia on 60 Minutes

A very interesting and entertaining interview by Lesley Stahl.

Posted on 04/28/2008 4:22 PM by Andy McCarthy
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