Thursday, 30 June 2011
Why should the Australian government put itself out on behalf of a bunch of Jew-hating Useful Idiots who intend to act as human shields for Jihad?
From Australia's ABC, Connie Agius reporting -
'Australians in Gaza flotilla fear limited consular help'
'Australian activists sailing in a flotilla to Gaza have been told they will have little or no consular assistance if Israel detains them.
And why should they expect to receive it when they are proposing to make themselves human shields for a bunch of jihadist gangsters? - CM
'Four Australians will be aboard one of the vessels which aims to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza (Ms Agius needs to do her homework before blithely repeating this propaganda trope- CM) and deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinians (that is, to the Arab Muslim jihadists of Jihad Fortress Gaza, from which pours day and night a stream of gross vilification of Jews and of Judaism that exceeds even the vilest efforts of 1930s and early 1940s Nazi Germany - CM).
'The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has contacted former NSW Greens Upper House member Sylvia Hale, who is one of the four Australians making the voyage.
'She says she was told the department had been briefed by the Israeli government earlier in the month about plans to intercept the flotilla and limit consular access to the activists.
"I gather the Israelis more or less said what they were proposing to do, namely to intercept the flotilla, to force it to divert to the port of Ashdod,which would be declared a closed military zone, at which there would be no possibility of consular access", she said.
"Then participants would either be deported immediately or they would be taken to one of three prisons, at which there might be the possibility of consular access".
Reading between the lines, it seems that this female and her companions (I wonder who the other three 'Australians' are? I shall have to try to find out) are hoping to create a diplomatic incident. - CM
'Last year a similar flotilla was intercepted by the Israeli Defence Force. Nine people were killed and hundreds arrested.
I observe that the writer of this report, Ms Agius, neglects to remind readers that the individual Jewish soldiers, as they rappelled down onto the deck of one of the boats, the Mavi Marmara, were were lynched by mobs of howling jihadist thugs wielding iron bars, knives and other implements, and resorted to live fire only in order to avoid being killed and torn bodily to pieces. Or that the 'nine people' who were killed were, one and all, Turkish Muslims with clearly-stated jihadist ambitions. They were not Quakers. They boarded that flotilla with the intention of killing Jews. - CM
'Ms Hale and legal experts say they are critical of DFAT's response to Israel's plans.
'ABC Radio's PM program asked the department to clarify what it would do if Australians were detained.
'A statement in response said Australia would not deny consular assistance to any Australians involved in the flotilla.
'It also said the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv had written to Israeli authorities expressing concern over the flotilla briefing.
'In emails from DFAT seen by PM the department said it had contacted Israel but could not do any more.
'Ms Hale says that is not good enough.
What more does she want the Australian government to do? Declare war on Israel? - CM
'The Australian Government says that it will do what it can but it's inhibited by Israeli local laws, but I expect my government to at least, if it cannot physically intervene to ensure our safety, to issue a public statement saying that it finds the Israeli attitude offensive and one that is worthy of condemnation".
Yep, she's after a Diplomatic Incident. Not only is she determined to taste the thrill of Jew-baiting, she wants her government to make sure that she will incur no unpleasant consequences as a result - CM
'Legal experts are also concerned about the Australian Government's position.
'Australian Lawyers' Alliance director Greg Barns (hmm - I have never heard of the 'Australian Lawyers' Alliance before - I wonder who they are? - CM) says activists may be subjected to abuse in the time it takes the Australian embassy to reach them.
Really? None of the Australians (one at least being a Muslim with an Australian passport) who took part in the previous jihad raid by sea, suffered any real or serious injury in the course of being arrested. I don't expect this lot will, either. This statement is pure agitprop, a soundbite aimed at planting the idea in people's minds that the Jews torture people in prison. - CM
"People could be held incommunicado for a number of days before seeing anybody from the Australian embassy", he said.
'A number of days'. Mr Barns clearly wishes us to see this as a dreadful thing. At which point the interviewer should have reminded Mr Barns that Hamas, which rules Gaza, has held a wounded Jewish soldier, Gilad Shalit prisoner, incommunicado, for more than four years, without ever permitting anybody from the outside world - including the Red Cross, and Amnesty International - to come near him. And then Mr Barns should have been asked what he thought of that. - CM
"It could mean that people are subjected to physical and mental abuse; it could mean that people are subjected to interrogation which wouldn't be allowed if they had access to lawyers or to consular access.
"And it could mean that those people then are forced to make false statements or seek to cut some form of deal so they can just get out of the detention they're being held in".
More vicious agitprop from Mr Barns. - CM
'Mr Barns says DFAT should take a tougher stance.
"What we have here is Israel - which is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which is the international instrument that governs the way in which diplomatic relations are to be conducted between countries, and including it looks at the issue of consular access", he said.
"Australia should not tolerate Israel simply saying, 'well, we will drag people into a closed military zone and have no consular access".
Mr Barns here hopes we will forget that these particular 'people' will only end up in that closed military zone because they have chosen to take part in an act of war against Israel. They are boarding a flotilla which is part of the great Muslim Jihad against the Jews. You go into a war zone, you take the consequences. - CM
'Israel has signed the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations but it has not been ratified.
'The flotilla is scheduled to depart from Greece in the next few days'.
Posted on 06/30/2011 11:17 PM by Christina McIntosh
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Someone in the police force in Victoria, Australia, has a black sense of humour and some knowledge of history
To see why I'm saying that, read this report on the latest phase of the gang warfare in Melbourne between two (unnamed in the article, but everyone knows who they are) Lebanese Arab Muslim crime families who have brought to suburban Australia the violent feuding that is all-too-typical of regions dominated by Islam.
From Australia's ABC.
'Road rage arrest may be linked to drug war'
'Police are investigating whether a man charged with making threats to kill during a road rage incident is linked to the ongoing violence in Melbourne's north.
'There have been a series of drive-by shootings in Glenroy, Jacarna and Coolooroo over the past nine days.
'Now police have admitted they have concerns for public safety in Melbourne's north-western suburbs.
'Police say two rival families battling for control of the local drug trade are responsible for the violence...
'Police have been door-knocking homes and stopping cars in the area.
'On Wednesday a man was pulled over in nearby Coburg after he threatened two people with a fake fun in a road rage incident.
'Assistant Commissioner Graham Ashton says they are investigating whether the man is linked to the recent violence.
"The firearm was an imitation one. It was used in an incident earlier this morning where he threatened two other civilians and he's been charged with making threats to kill, threats to inflict serious injury and assault charges", he said.
'Police say they do not expect to make any immediate arrests over the recent shootings.
'Assistant Commissioner Ashton says the two families believed to be at the centre of the violence are not cooperating.
That is, I assume this means they are not cooperating with the police. Entirely unsurprising, given that these 'families' are Lebanese Muslim and have already displayed boundless contempt for the kafir society which, after the Lebanon War in the 1980s, so foolishly allowed them to settle in its midst. - CM
"We are not tolerant in any way to this sort of behaviour, and the sort of people that are out there conducting themselves in this way need to get the continued strong message from Victoria Police that it is not being tolerated", he said.
How about rounding the lot of them up and shipping them back to Lebanon, post haste? - CM
'The head of one of the families who was the target of an attack accused police of not doing enough to protect his family.
Of course. When Muslims are not threatening, or stonewalling, they are whining. But if this creature wants the kafir police to 'protect' the members of his (murderous and criminal) family from the equally murderous and criminal Muslim family across the way, then he has to cooperate with the police. But we've already been told that neither 'family' - whilst, of course, loudly complaining whenever the cops fail to protect each of them from the other - is cooperating with police.
But now for the good bit, the bit that strongly suggests that somewhere in Victorian Police is somebody who knows history and has a cheeky sense of humour. - CM
'Assistant Commissioner Ashton says Santiago Taskforce, which investigates crime gangs of Middle Eastern origin, is now involved.
Somehow I suspect that the members of those 'crime gangs of Middle Eastern origin' are unlikely to be Jews, or Copts, or Maronite Catholics, or Assyrian Christians, or Mandaeans... - CM
"Santiago, at the moment, is focussing on the families, is focusing on the investigation", he said.
"It's painstaking work, because you need evidence to act in relatiion to these things.
"We've got to make sure the evidence Santiago gets holds up in court, and so solid arrests can be made, and so that work's ongoing"...
May Santiago Matamoros bless and guide this Victorian police task-force that so appositely bears his name...
Posted on 06/30/2011 10:38 PM by Christina McIntosh
Thursday, 30 June 2011
The "Realism" Of Pipsqueak Machiavels Who Want To "Talk To The Muslim Brotherhood"
U.S. to expand contacts with Muslim Brotherhood
The U.S. government has decided to expand contacts with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, officials said Thursday, a shift that reflects the Islamist group’s growing role since the pro-democracy uprising in the key Arab country. [why "key"? wherefore "key"?]
“We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Budapest. “And we welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.” [why should they "want to talk to us" if not to get something from us, that is aid and comfort of one kind or another -- why not leave Egypt alone, and certainly not intervening in a way that will be interpreted, and not only by the Muslim Brotherhood but by those who hate and fear it, as a victory for the Ikhwan].
The U.S. government has maintained informal contacts for years with the Brotherhood, which renounced violence in the 1970s. It was technically banned but grudgingly tolerated in Egypt under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, who was forced from power in February.
Meetings between the Brotherhood and U.S. officials increased in the 1990s after the movement won scores of seats in parliament. However, U.S. officials usually said they were talking to the members in their roles as independent parliamentarians, not as Brotherhood representatives.
Egypt’s interim government recognized the Brotherhood’s political party in June. With a network of social-service providers and sympathetic mosques, the Brotherhood is expected to do well in parliamentary elections scheduled for September.
The shift in U.S. policy is likely to upset some U.S. lawmakers. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, declared in June that the Islamist group was “committed to violence and extremism” and said that “the administration must not engage the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Many analysts, however, had considered it inevitable that Washington would open communication with an increasingly important political force. “They’re going to be part of the government,” said Ned Walker, who served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt in the mid-1990s. [ Edward Walker, since retiring as an diplomat has been comfortably paid by e the Middle East Institute, where he can be counted on to deliver opinions that mark him as an apologist for the Arabs, and by extension Islam [for it is up to him to make sure that few grasp that the war on Israel is a classic, unassuagable Jihad] though not quite on the lavish scale that James Akins, "business consultant," enjoyed in his retirement.]
He said Mubarak had opposed U.S. meetings with the Brotherhood in the past. “We had to make a choice — did we want to talk to the Brotherhood, or did we want to talk to President Mubarak?” Walker said.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 and attracted adherents around the Muslim world — including some who went on to work with Osama bin Laden. However, al-Qaeda has been fiercely critical of the Brotherhood for its opposition to violence. [the Muslim Brotherhood is not "opposed to violence" out of principle, but out of calculation of current conditions]
The Brotherhood has never been considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. [so what? Al-Zawahiri was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it was the MB that assassinated Sadat. And various attacks on Western tourists -- as at Luxor -- have been tracked back to the MB. So how can the writer complacently insist that the MB has not been linked to terrorism? Of course it has, and very often] .There have been concerns, however, about its verbal support for the Palestinian organization Hamas, which has used suicide bombings against Israel and is classified as a terrorist group by the State Department.
“I really do think this is a question of routine contacts, the kind diplomats have with politicians across the political spectrum,” said Michele Dunne, an Egypt expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.[the failure to grasp how such contacts will be interpreted in Egypt, who they will hearten, and who they will dismay, does not figure in the calculus of this "Egypt expert." What makes her, by the way, who decides, and on what authority, to confer the title on her of, "Egypt expert"?].
Clinton said that contacts with the Brotherhood would be “limited” and that U.S. officials would emphasize “democratic principles, and especially a commitment to nonviolence, respect for minority rights and the full inclusion of women in any democracy.”
A spokesman for the Brotherhood in Cairo said the movement had not had formal meetings with the U.S. government.
“We welcome such relationships with everyone because those relations will lead to clarifying our vision,” spokesman Mohamed Saad el-Katatni told Reuters. “But it won’t include or be based on any intervention in the internal affairs of the country.”
Daniel Kurtzer, who was U.S. ambassador to Egypt in the late 1990s, said that resuming conversations with the Brotherhood would be useful at a time when the movement is engaged in internal debate over such issues as the roles of women and people of other faiths in the Egyptian government.
“If that debate is serious . . . why not be part of it?” asked Kurtzer.
Posted on 06/30/2011 9:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Case Against Strauss-Kahn "Close To Collapse"
From The New York Times:
Strauss-Kahn Case Seen as in Jeopardy
By JIM DWYER, WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and JOHN ELIGON
The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.
Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.
Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said.
Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and provided details about their findings, and the parties are discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges. Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers will return to State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday morning, when Justice Michael J. Obus is expected to consider easing the extraordinary bail conditions that he imposed on Mr. Strauss-Kahn in the days after he was charged.
Indeed, Mr. Strauss-Kahn could be released on his own recognizance, and freed from house arrest, reflecting the likelihood that the serious charges against him will not be sustained. The district attorney’s office may try to require Mr. Strauss-Kahn to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, but his lawyers are likely to contest such a move.
The revelations are a stunning change of fortune for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was considered a strong contender for the French presidency before being accused of sexually assaulting the woman who went to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel New York.
Prosecutors from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who initially were emphatic about the strength of the case and the account of the victim, plan to tell the judge on Friday that they “have problems with the case” based on what their investigators have discovered, and will disclose more of their findings to the defense. The woman still maintains that she was attacked, the officials said.
“It is a mess, a mess on both sides,” one official said.
According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.
That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.
The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends.
In addition, one of the officials said, she told investigators that her application for asylum included mention of a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.
A lawyer for the woman, Kenneth Thompson, could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday evening.
In recent weeks, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and William W. Taylor III, have made it clear that they would make the credibility of the woman a focus of their case. In a May 25 letter, they said they had uncovered information that would “gravely undermine the credibility” of the accuser.
Still, it was the prosecutor’s investigators who found the information about the woman.
The case involving Mr. Strauss-Kahn has made international headlines and renewed attention on accusations that he had inappropriate behavior toward women in the past, while, more broadly, prompting soul-searching among the French about the treatment of women.
The revelations about the investigators’ findings are likely to buttress the view of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s supporters, who complained that the American authorities had rushed to judgment in the case.
Some of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s allies even contended that he had been set up by his political rivals, an assertion that law enforcement authorities said there was no evidence to support.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn resigned from his post as managing director of the International Monetary Fund in the wake of the housekeeper’s accusations and was required to post $1 million bail and a $5 million bond.
He also agreed to remain under 24-hour home confinement while wearing an ankle monitor and providing a security team and an armed guard at the entrance and exit of the building where he was living. The conditions are costing Mr. Strauss-Kahn $250,000 a month.
Prosecutors had sought the restrictive conditions in part by arguing that the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was a strong one, citing a number of factors, including the credibility of his accuser, with one prosecutor saying her story was “compelling and unwavering.”
In the weeks after making her accusations, the woman, who arrived in the United States from Guinea in 2002, was described by relatives and friends as an unassuming and hard-working immigrant with a teenage daughter. She had no criminal record, and had been a housekeeper at the Sofitel for a few years, they said.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn was such a pariah in the initial days after the arrest that neighbors of an Upper East Side apartment building objected when he and his wife tried to rent a unit there. He eventually rented a three-story town house on Franklin Street in TriBeCa.
Under the relaxed conditions of bail to be requested on Friday, the district attorney’s office would retain Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s passport but he would be permitted to travel within the United States.
The woman told the authorities that she had gone to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s suite to clean it and that he emerged naked from the bathroom and attacked her. The formal charges accused him of ripping her pantyhose, trying to rape her and forcing her to perform oral sex; his lawyers say there is no evidence of force and have suggested that any sex was consensual.
After the indictment was filed, Mr. Vance spoke briefly on the courthouse steps addressing hundreds of local and foreign reporters who had been camped out in front of the imposing stone edifice. He characterized the charges as “extremely serious” and said the “evidence supports the commission of nonconsensual forced sexual acts.”
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Mr. Brafman and Mr. Taylor, declined to comment on Thursday evening.
The case was not scheduled to return to court until July 18.
Posted on 06/30/2011 9:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
"Their Gullibility Is Shocking"
Media don´t trust Gaza Flotilla
June 30, 2011
Translated by NGO Monitor from the Dutch online newsmagazine Trouw.nl
Press doesn’t trust Gaza-boat
By Wilfred van de Poll
The Dutch-Italian boatStefano Chiarini, which is part of the international flotilla to Gaza, carries some eight activists from the Netherlands. Dutch journalists (including one from Trouw) were due to participate, but they have all backed out of the Flotilla. What’s going on?
“What we talked about confidentially last night appeared this morning in the Telegraaf! A journalist has leaked our information!” Anne de Jong (30) looked around furiously. In the Iliada-hotel in Gouvia, Corfu, 14 people were sitting: eight activists, two documentary-makers and four journalists. They were supposed to go along on the Dutch-Italian boat to Gaza.
Last year Anne de Jong took part in the first ‘freedom flotilla’; she is a spider in the web of the Stichting Nederland-Gaza (Netherlands-Gaza foundation), the organization that together with Freedom Flotilla Italia, purchased the vessel.
Her accusation (which came out of nowhere) caused bad blood among the journalists. What was this childish “pointing the finger” behavior?
In the past week, the journalists and activists on Corfu sought a way to define their mutual relationships. They would be in the same boat (literally), but the journalists were adamant about staying independent. This seemed possible, but it was clear that it wouldn’t be easy. Mutual trust was crucial.
But that trust was constantly shattered in Corfu, because of the environment of mistrust that the organization (consciously or not) created. “We are a completely open and transparent organization!” De Jong lashed out at the assembled journalists.
Eric Beauchemin (47), a journalist for the ‘Wereldomroep’ (Dutch World Broadcast station): “I’ve been doing this work for 25 years, but never have I seen a more closed organization. When we would ask critical questions they would accuse us of being unprofessional. Restrictions were imposed on us that hadn’t been agreed upon beforehand. We were prohibited from revealing which island we were on, even though they had promised we could. As if Israel didn’t know about everything already for ages…”
"Questions were simply not answered. They would always just ‘get back to us’ on them. Soon I lost my faith and trust, which are essential to an undertaking with that many risks; last year 9nine people died. I am very, very disappointed."
Bud Wichers (33) went along as a freelance ‘security-correspondent’ for the news agencies Reuters, AFP and ANP and he regularly visits dangerous regions like Afghanistan and Iraq. Never has he felt as uncomfortable as during this Gaza trip. “Expectations were created which were to be dismissed afterwards in the most random and lighthearted manner. The actual facts were time and again contradictory to what they made us believe before.”
For example, before going to Corfu, we had been promised that we were to meet all passengers on the boat. For me and some others this was of vital importance; we wanted to assess if it would be safe to go along with them. But on Corfu we heard that we would pick up the other passenger only ‘somewhere’ along the way.”
Yesterday all passengers had assembled in Corfu, but Wichers had taken his decision already. “The breach of confidence had become irreparable at a certain point. Furthermore false information had come out about me in the media. Because of this my work had been made impossible.
Hasna el Maroudi (26) went along as an activist but in the meantime, she also planned to report for ‘Uitgesproken Vara” (Outspokenly Vara) and www.joop.nl. “In principle I find this trip a great thing; I care for the Palestinian people and aim for a free Gaza. But I don’t think this is the right way.”
“I didn’t get answers about their finances. Also the answer to my question to what extent they had connections to Hamas were unsatisfactory.”
And all of a sudden Amin Abou Rashed showed up in Corfu. He is suspected of having ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. El Maroudi: “officially he wasn’t involved in the foundation. Now, all of sudden he appeared to be active behind the scenes. That is peculiar for an organization claiming to be transparent. The moment I expressed my doubts about this issue, there was no reaction; they preferred to keep silent. For me this was the reason not to go along any further.”
Abou Rashed told Trouw he had secured the boat. Were there any ties with Hamas? “Of course. You can’t do without them in Gaza”
However, the passengers had been told that under no circumstance would there be cooperation with Hamas. UNRWA was supposed to distribute the goods in Gaza, not Hamas. UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness says however that no promises for assistance were made whatsoever. He conformed to Ban-Ki-Moon’s stance in opposition to the Flotilla.
Hasna el Maroudi: “Not only were the journalists treated unprofessionally, also the activists. They are very motivated and I respect that. But they ask too few questions and in that way they are being used.” Eric Beauchemin: "Their gullibility is shocking. They are blinded by idealism.”
[the first part is true for some, but not for all. Many know exactly what they do, and the "idealism" of both groups consists of participation in a propaganda stunt against Israel, the most besieged state, the political expression of the most persecuted tribe, in human history]
Martijn Dekker, spokesman for the Netherlands-Gaza foundation regrets the journalists’ departure. “We do not recognize ourselves in the picture that is being painted of us. It is perfectly understandable that confidence gets hurt when information constantly turns out to be wrong. But we didn’t try to deceive people on purpose. It was also powerlessness: The organization had to deal with too many unexpected changes and international pressure.
Sabotage by “enemy divers”
According to Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, the activists going to Gaza are seeking “confrontation and blood.”
On Israeli radio the minister talked about “a tough core of terror activists.”
Still, Israel retracted its earlier threats to deny access to Israel to participating journalists, as was communicated by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office.
According to the organizers, Israel is pressuring Greece to prevent the fleet from leaving and according to them, one of the 10 boats, the Swedish Juliano, has been sabotaged.
The screw has been damaged by “enemy divers.”
Posted on 06/30/2011 9:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Omri Ceren On Tom Friedman's Vaporings
This morning at the Aspen Ideas Festival, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reportedly explained that – and this is a quote- “Netanyahu is [the] Mubarak of Israel.” At first this seems like a counterintuitive statement. The defining feature of Mubarak’s regime was its 30 years of autocratic rule, whereas Netanyahu has been elected by the Israeli electorate twice and enjoys the support of the Israeli public. Insofar as there’s any analogy to be asserted, it’s almost certain to confuse and confound – to conflate likes with unlikes – rather than to clarify.
But let’s keep in mind that Friedman is, as Barry Rubin pointed out while bemoaning the lack of adult supervision over Middle East policymaking, recognized as an expert on the region. He certainly packed the room at Aspen before dispensing this morning’s wisdom. He’s considered an expert despite how he (wrongly) declared in 2010 that Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad was consolidating and solidifying power, an impression Friedman picked up (predictably) from a few anecdotes he heard in the West Bank. He’s considered an expert despite how he simultaneously admits the Palestinians aren’t interested in peace but still insists we should tilt the diplomatic playing field away from Israel, our last stable Middle East ally. So maybe there’s a really striking and provocative insight buried inside this “elected Israeli officials are just like unelected Egyptian generals” comparison.
Fellow Contentions contributor Noah Pollak sarcastically suggested on Twitter that Friedman might have meant both Bibi and Mubarak are American allies who got mistreated by the current president. While there’s undoubtedly much to be said about this White House’s stubborn refusal to demonstrate any kind of foresight or competence in the Middle East, that probably isn’t what Friedman meant.
Immediately before his analogy, Friedman apparently declared ”the Israelis and the Palestinians” are the people in the Middle East “most” in need of an Arab Spring, an implication of equivalence that would be strained even if Israel wasn’t already one of the world’s most robust democracies, which it is. And immediately after his analogy, Friedman reportedly suggested the U.S. “get out of the way” in September when the Palestinians abrogate two decades of U.S.-backed understandings and seek unilateral statehood in the United Nations. In addition to demonstrating to the world the U.S. can’t be trusted even on ironclad assurances, the recommended move would detonate what’s left of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
No worries though. The analogy will undoubtedly get unpacked in a future Friedman article. It will take its rightful place as a folksy microcosm for the broad sweep of Middle East history and politics, and everything will make sense. It’ll be just like the time Friedman’s casual conversation with “a Jordanian friend the other day,” which led into a convoluted joke about how some people don’t understand that cowboy and Indian movies always end the same way, unlocked for Friedman the futility of Israeli-Arab peacemaking. Seriously. That’s what passes for top journalistic analysis about the Middle East.
Posted on 06/30/2011 8:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
A Short Musical Interlude: We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 06/30/2011 7:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Haqqani Network, Protected By Pakistan, Responsible For Kabul Hotel Attack
From The Miami Herald:
US-led coalition: Pakistan group behind Kabul hotel attack
The U.S.-led military coalition Thursday blamed a notorious Pakistan-based terrorist group for this week's spectacular assault on a hilltop Kabul hotel and said it had killed one of the group's senior commanders, who was suspected of involvement in the attack.
The International Security Assistance Force didn't say how it had determined that the Haqqani network was responsible for the siege Tuesday night at the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel, which left 10 civilians, two policemen and all nine assailants dead.
But it said a senior Haqqani commander, Ismail Khan, was suspected of providing material support for the assault, and that he and several other Haqqani fighters had been killed Wednesday in a "precision airstrike," only hours after Afghan police had retaken control of the hotel.
"The Haqqani network, in conjunction with Taliban operatives, was responsible for the Tuesday night attack on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel which killed 12 people, including a provincial judge," the ISAF statement said..
Meanwhile, Afghan officials announced Thursday that they'd assume security responsibilities in seven provinces and cities, including Kabul, beginning July 14.
The quick schedule for the transition - previous announcements had suggested it wouldn't begin till later in July - seemed designed to put to rest any suggestion that Tuesday's assault would delay the handover.
Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the chairman of the commission that's overseeing the security handover, said the July 14 transition would be largely ceremonial because Afghan forces had been gradually taking control in the seven areas since President Hamid Karzai announced the transition plan in March.
Karzai and President Barack Obama have much at stake in the change in security responsibility. Karzai has argued for months that Afghan forces are strong enough to combat Taliban insurgents, and Obama announced earlier this month an aggressive withdrawal plan that will see 33,000 American troops leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.
Both leaders have said they plan for the international military presence in Afghanistan to end in 2014, a deadline that would be in doubt if the Taliban were to mount a serious challenge to government control in areas where NATO forces are no longer present.
The seven areas are all considered relatively peaceful, though some have seen an uptick in violence since Karzai announced the transition. Three of the areas are cities, Mazar-i-Sharif in the country's north, Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province in the east, and Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in the south.
The other four areas are provinces with reputations for relatively little Taliban activity. They include Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, Panjshir, the birthplace of the legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, in the north, and Herat province.
Kabul, the fourth province, has seen three spectacular terrorist operations since April, including Tuesday's hotel assault, that involved breaching heavily secured facilities. One attack was on the Defense Ministry, and another in the country's main military hospital.
It wasn't clear from Ghani's announcement what the transition to be undertaken this month would involve. While he said it was largely ceremonial, he also said it would take about a week. The handovers in all seven locations will begin simultaneously, he added.
Ghani's announcement came at the end of a two-day meeting of Afghan security officials that had been set to take place at the Intercontinental. A Taliban spokesman who claimed credit for the assault said that a reception for conference attendees had been the intended target.
The government moved the meeting to a government media center and conducted the gathering as scheduled.
While Ghani said Afghan police were fully prepared to assume responsibility, noting that they had the necessary "equipment, training and numbers," the country's intelligence chief warned that provincial officials should expect violence.
In his remarks, Rahmatullah Nabeel seemed to be pointing a finger at Pakistan as a likely backer of efforts to disrupt the transition.
"Some neighboring countries do not want that Afghans themselves provide their own security and will always try to derail and disrupt this process," he said.
That comment dovetailed with the ISAF announcement of Haqqani network involvement in Tuesday's hotel attack.
The Haqqani network is based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region. U.S. officials say that it's allied with the Taliban and al-Qaida. Afghan government officials frequently criticize Pakistan as not doing enough to stop Haqqani-allied fighters from crossing into Afghanistan.
The Haqqani network has been blamed for a wide range of attacks in Kabul, including the bombing of the Indian Embassy in 2008 and a 2009 attack on a well-known shopping mall.
Afghan-led security forces have captured or killed more than 80 Haqqani leaders and facilitators since January, primarily in the Paktika, Paktia and Khost areas.
Initial reports indicate that no civilians were harmed in the airstrike Wednesday, the ISAF statement said.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/30/v-print/2293669/us-led-coalition-pakistan-group.html#ixzz1QoFmMSgz
Posted on 06/30/2011 7:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Treacherous Pakistan Should Repay Fifty Billion Dollars To The United States
Selig Harrison, for many decades a specialist on Pakistan, a few years calculated American aid, including that hidden in the Pentagon budget, given to Pakistan since 9/11/2001. He included both military and economic aid, including debt relief, According to his calculations, by 2008 Pakistan had received $30 billion dollars. Let's assume he overstated. Let's keep the figure at $30 billion for the ten years from 2001 to 2011.
But to that $30 billion we should also add the amounts transferred to Pakistan from the American government from the forty-five year period, from 1956 to 2001. For it was in 1956 that American aid, in a small way at first, began going to Pakistan, initially through American contributions of money and arms to the Muslim member states of that ill-fated and worthless mlitary alliance, CENTO, which had Great Britain and the United States as the financial backers and arms suppliers, and a plausible group of Muslim states to the south of the Soviet Union -- Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan -- receiving aid on the theory that Muslims were "a bulwark against Communism." CENTO broke apart after Colonel Qassem's coup, overturning the Prince Regent and strongman Nuri al-Said in Baghdad, led to Iraqi withdrawal, and a rethinking, by the Americans, of the real value -- none -- of Cento), Pakistan has been on the receiving end of American aid, and especially American planes.
And all during this half-century, erry-thomas-moustachioed., fly-whisking, sandhurst-rectitudinous Pakistani generals performed their little act for visiting Americans, assured them, all through the Cold War, that whereas Krishna Menon and Jawarlal Nehru were Fabians and had subscriptions to Victor Gollancz's New Left Book Club, they, those Pakistanis, and their people, could be counted on to be true-blue friends of America because, you see, Islam was "a bulwark against Communism." And for that they received, over those 50 years, with time out when Congress got fed up with examples of Paksitani aggression and misuse of American weaponry (against the rebels in East Pakistan, fighting for an independent Bangladesh, and against the forces of Hindu India, in Kashmir), and would temporarily halt the aid.
I don't know the exact amount that has been lavished by the American government upon Pakistan, but let's call it fifty billion dollars, and ask for that back, since Pakistan has repaid us not with what we were promised expressly or impliedly, but rather with a half-century of aggression and violence, a half-century of greed, deception, and treachery, including the acquisition of nuclear weapons through the use of funds freed up because of American aid, and then the dissemination of nuclear knowhow -- in what amounts are still not known, since the thief of nuclear secrets, the metallurgist A. Q. Khan, is apparently to be protected forever from Amrerican questioning --to Iran, to North Korea, and possibly elsewhere.
Yes, under these circumstances the repayment by the government of Pakistan of fifty billion dollars to the United States would start to make up for more than a half-century of greed, deception, and treachery.
Pay up, please.
Posted on 06/30/2011 7:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Pakistanis Demand Americans Leave Drone Base, Americans Ignore Them
U.S. rejects demands to vacate Pakistan drone base
By Mark Hosenball and Kamran Haider
WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United States is rejecting demands from Pakistani officials that American personnel abandon a military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against suspected militants, U.S. officials told Reuters.
U.S. personnel have not left the remote Pakistani military installation known as Shamsi Air Base and there is no plan for them to do so, said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material.
"That base is neither vacated nor being vacated," the official said. The information was confirmed by a second U.S. official.
The U.S. declaration that drone operations in Pakistan will continue unabated is the latest twist in a fraught relationship between security authorities in Washington and Islamabad, which has been under increasing strain for months.
Regarding the Shamsi base in particular, Pakistani officials have frequently suggested it is being shuttered, comments that may be aimed at quieting domestic opposition to U.S. military operations using Pakistani soil.
Earlier this week, Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Financial Times that Pakistan had already stopped U.S. drone operations there.
On Thursday, Mukhtar told Reuters: "When they (U.S. forces) will not operate from there, no drone attacks will be carried out."
He said Islamabad had been pressuring the U.S. to vacate the base even before the May 2 commando raid in which U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden. After the raid, Mukhtar said, "We told them again."
A senior Pakistani military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that when U.S. forces first launched counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan "provided Americans two bases in Jacobabad and Shamsi. Jacobabad base has been vacated for long time ago, but Shamsi is still with them."
"They are vacating it," the official insisted. "Shamsi base was for logistic purpose. They also used it for drones for some time but no drones have been flown from there."
The official said no base in Pakistan was presently used by the Americans for drone operations. But he did not give a precise date for when drones supposedly stopped operating from Shamsi.
The U.S. officials disputed that account. If anything, the Obama administration is moving to a counter-terrorism strategy based more on drone strikes and other covert operations than on deploying large numbers of troops.
On Wednesday, John Brennan, president Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor, promised that in the tribal regions along the Afghan/Pakistan border, the U.S. would continue to "deliver precise and overwhelming force against al Qaeda."[Brennan, alas, apparently believes that a single organization, Al Qaeda, is the worry, when it is the ideology of Islam itself, and its carriers and disseminators, who constitute the permanent problem not for Americans alone, but for all non-Muslims].
"And when necessary, as the President has said repeatedly, if we have information about the whereabouts of al Qaeda, we will do what is required to protect the United States -- as we did with bin Laden," Brennan said in a speech.
Pakistani officials have faced fierce criticism for tacitly allowing the CIA to conduct drone operations on Pakistani soil. Allegations that civilian bystanders have been killed in drone attacks have only compounded the political problems facing Pakistani authorities.
Brennan rejected suggestions that U.S. drone attacks had caused numerous civilian casualties, claiming that the U.S. had been "exceptionally precise and surgical" in its operations. "Not a single collateral death" had been caused by U.S. counter-terrorism operations over the last year, he said.
U.S. officials have said that since the United States in July 2008 greatly increased the rate of drone-borne missile strikes against suspected militants along the Afghan/Pakistan border, the number of civilian deaths caused by such attacks has totaled under 40. Some Pakistani officials and human rights activists have claimed the death toll is much higher.
Posted on 06/30/2011 7:17 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Unmasking A False Friend of the West: Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
by Brenda West (July 2011)
Can we admit that we have been scammed? Many of us in the Western world believed the Bangladeshi journalist and publisher, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, when he called himself a "Muslim Zionist." Choudhury presented himself as devoted to Jewish people and Western principles of democracy. He won international acclaim and generous financial support as one of the few Muslims who affirmed our values by playing on the hopes and fears of the West in the post 9/11 world. However, this in-depth investigation reveals that he has been exploiting his supporters and is creating national security risks for both Israel and the West. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 5:05 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
The Spectator Debate - Is Secularism is a greater threat to Christianity than Islam?
by Esmerelda Weatherwax (July 2011)
Last year on Armistice Day, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the Muslims against Crusades burnt the poppies at Kensington Gore outside the Royal Geographical Society building. They were watched by Ernest Shackleton who stood impassively on his niche above.
Last night, Wednesday 29thJune 2011, I went to a more civilised event inside the building behind the statue of the Arctic explorer, and his companion round the corner, Dr Livingstone. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 3:32 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: Sing, You Sinners (Belle Baker)
"Whenever there's music, that devil kicks/He don't allow music/By that river Styx"
Posted on 06/30/2011 3:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Islamaphobia Watch is, unwittingly, a good source of news about Islamic absurdities. This post quotes from The Independent - a borderline anti-Semitic rag, home to Johann "Cut-n-Paste" Hari (my emphasis):
The Israeli Prime Minister's 19-year-old son posted disparaging comments about Arabs and Muslims on his Facebook page, an Israeli paper reported yesterday.
An Israeli paper reported this? Would an Arab paper report on disparaging comments about Jews? No, first because no Arab country has a free press and secondly because it would be a "dog bites man" story. Self-criticism is alien to Islam, the religion of shame and "honour".
Earlier this year, Yair Netanyahu posted that Muslims "celebrate hate and death," the Haaretz daily said. After Palestinian assailants entered a West Bank settlement and stabbed five members of an Israeli family to death, he wrote that "terror has a religion and it is Islam".
The horror. Stabbing five unarmed civilians to death is as nothing compared with calling Islam a religion of terror. Better not say it again or it will be twenty-five next time round and all the fault of the Jews.
Yair Netanyahu, the eldest of Benjamin Netanyahu's two sons, is currently a soldier in the Israeli military's media liaison unit. A lawyer for the Netanyahu family, David Shimron, said the comments were those of a "teenager" and were "taken out of context in an attempt to defame the Prime Minister and his family".
Come now. Muslims, of all people, should understand the "out of context" defence.
Posted on 06/30/2011 3:08 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 30 June 2011
American Aid Fuels The Corruption That Weakens The Afghan Resistance To The Taliban
From the latimes.com
Afghan government at risk if U.S. withdraws
By Ken Dilianian
June 30, 2011
Capitalizing on government corruption, the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan has found safe haven in areas far beyond its traditional stronghold in the country’s southeast, raising questions about whether the government of Hamid Karzai will be able to survive as U.S. troops withdraw, says a report out Thursday by the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit think tank that studies conflict zones.
The report, titled “The Insurgency in Afghanistan’s Heartland,” argues that during the U.S. military surge to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan’s south, stability in the center of the country has steadily eroded.
The Taliban has been installing shadow governments and corrupting government officials outside the Pashtun areas that are its base of support, “tapping into the vulnerabilities of a central government crippled by corruption and deeply dependent on a corrosive war economy,” the report says. “Collusion between insurgents and corrupt government officials in Kabul and the nearby provinces has increased, leading to a profusion of criminal networks in the Afghan heartland.”
The area including Kabul and the surrounding provinces, with nearly a fifth of the population, “is pivotal to the planned transition from international troops to Afghan forces at the end of 2014,” the report says. “Given the insurgency’s entrenchment so close to the capital, however, it appears doubtful that President Hamid Karzai’s government will be able to contain the threat and stabilize the country by then.”
To reverse the situation, the report says, the U.S.-led international military and development effort and the Afghan government must pursue more robust anti-corruption efforts, stricter oversight of aid and greater support for capacity building in the judicial and financial sectors.
Yet all of that has been tried over the last decade, without much success. A U.S.-backed effort to prosecute corruption, for example, has fizzled in the face of staunch opposition from Karzai.
The report comes two days after Taliban militants stormed the Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul, triggering a five-hour gun battle with Afghan troops and police that left at least 19 attackers and victims dead and ended only after intervention by a helicopter gunship.
And it comes a day after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the U.N. Security Council that insurgent attacks countrywide in the past three months were up by 51% compared with the same period in 2010.
The crisis group report says that the number of major attacks on Kabul has recently declined. However, it says insurgent networks have been able to reinforce their gains in provinces and districts close to the city, launching smaller attacks on soft targets.
Meanwhile, a campaign of assassinations of government officials and infiltration of Afghan security forces in the provinces around Kabul has gutted the government’s ability to expand its reach to the periphery, the crisis group says.
“In the rural areas of Ghazni, Wardak, Logar and other nearby provinces, where unemployment runs high and government presence is low, the insurgency has found safe havens far from the borders of Pakistan. A little more than a year after the transfer of additional U.S. troops was completed, violence increased across the country, hitting new peaks in May as the Taliban launched its spring offensive…”
“Nearly a decade after the U.S.-led military intervention began, little has been done to challenge the perverse incentives of continued conflict in Afghanistan,” the report says. “Insecurity and the inflow of billions of dollars in international assistance has failed to significantly strengthen the state’s capacity to provide security or basic services and has instead . . . provided new opportunities for criminals and insurgents to expand their influence inside the government. The economy as a result is increasingly dominated by a criminal oligarchy of politically connected businessmen
Posted on 06/30/2011 3:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
STEPS by Eszter Forrai
translated from the Hungarian and edited by Thomas Ország-Land (July 2011)
Eszter Forrai (b. 1938) is a Jewish-Hungarian poet and painter who lives in Paris.
Mistletoe glowing white like marbles,
bunched with tiny leaves.
Streets festooned with mistletoe.
The sight of graceful pinetrees.
I leave a grieving daughter’s bouquet
upon an unknown grave.
Posted on 06/30/2011 2:05 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Let Us Not To The Understanding of Sonnet 116 Admit Impediments
by David P. Gontar (July 2011)
If we want to know what a sonnet was for Shakespeare, how it was used and what it meant, one logical place to look is the plays. There we learn that in Elizabethan England, the sonnet emerged as a private written communication, usually a token of love. Not originally an idle amusement or vainglorious display of skill, it was rather a mode of envoi, an epistolary exercise which expressed devotion directly to a chosen other. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 2:00 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
The Essential Tragic Conservatism Of Ernest Hemingway
by Sam Bluefarb (July 2011)
The further you go in writing the more alone you are. Most of your best and oldest friends die. Others move away. --Ernest Hemingway, from The Paris Review interviews, Writers at Work
Apart from his flirtation with the left during the Spanish civil war (1936-1939), few think of Ernest Hemingway as a conservative, or simply conservative--there is a subtle difference. Yet Hemingway’s tragic conservatism was not political, though briefly he was drawn to the non-partisan politics of the revolutionary left. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:56 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
An Anti-Pilgrimâ€™s Progress
by Derek Turner (July 2011)
The Columbine Pilgrim
by Andy Nowicki,
Counter Currents Publishing
San Francisco, 2011, pb, 107pps
Andy Nowicki is a self- described “dissident reactionary malcontent” Catholic – and his second novel is an eloquent and original examination of the enduring effects of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:52 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
by David Wemyss (July 2011)
Here in Britain a few years ago a minister in the “New Labour” government observed with some relish that Latin and Greek were all very well as ornament but had nothing to do with the central themes of education. Yet reading Pliny in fourth year was the single most important thing that happened to me at school. But the pedagogic assumptions which I cherish from those days were dwindling fast even then, and now they are either unintelligible or actively reviled. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:48 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Apartheid Under the Mandate of Islam: The Case of Bahrain
by Samir Yousif (July 2011)
The Article: How Radical are Bahrain’s Shia? published by FOREIGN AFFAIRS came across my desk. The author, Justin Gengler, clearly managed to reveal the true inner picture of the crisis in Bahrain. I was impressed by his conclusions, and consequently decided to go ahead in writing this paper. The case of Bahrain is unquestionably, an example of the existence of a well-developed Apartheid Regime. This kind of regime was never alien to this area, and it has been practiced for decades, if not for the whole history of Islam, against specific groups of Muslims and non-Muslims. Since the very first days of the Muslim State, discrimination in different forms was practiced on religious and non-religious grounds (Muslims, non-Muslims, gender, and social status). The originators of the present-day Apartheid Regime are the Saudi Wahhabi, and to a smaller or a larger extent, it has been applied in several Middle East countries. The victims are usually one or more of the various indigenous ethnic communities. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:44 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Secret Codes Hidden War: An Interview with Dry Bones Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen
by Jerry Gordon (July 2011)
We have interviewed Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Both are defiant free thinkers and opponents of Islamic hatred for the Western values of liberty and free expression. We turn to another free thinker and cartoonist, American–Israeli Yaakov Kirschen, creator of The Dry Bones cartoon with its querulous character, Mr. Shuldig – Yiddish for "guilty." Brooklyn-born Kirschen began sketching and drawing early in life and took a dual major at Queens College, part of the City University of New York, in Fine Arts and Economics - the latter an attempt at doing something practical. Along the way, he picked up some important computer skills. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:39 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Performing Violent Jihad Outside, Preaching Violent Jihad Inside, Prison
Militants teach jihad in Indonesian prisons
PORONG PRISON, Indonesia — A sweeping crackdown on terrorism in the past decade has spawned a new problem in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation: Militants in jail are recruiting new followers to their cause.
By Achmad Ibrahim, AP
Prisoners pray at a mosque inside Porong prison, East Java, Indonesia.
Prisons threaten to undermine the progress made against terrorism here since 2002, when nightclub bombings killed 202 people on the tourist island of Bali, many of them Australians and Americans.
The campaign has assumed global importance because of feared links between Southeast Asian terrorist groups and al-Qaeda. That possibility was underlined by the January arrest of Bali bombing suspect Umar Patek in Abbottabad, the same Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was killed in May.
The Associated Press was granted two days of unfettered access to Porong prison in early June by the chief warden, who wanted to show that changes were being made to limit the influence of jihadist inmates. While there were improvements, interviews with terrorists and other convicts show how openly the former still court some of the latter.
Porong is a huddle of low concrete buildings set on 40 acres near Surabaya, the country's second-biggest city. It is home to 27 terrorists — some of the 150 currently held in prisons across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.
Block F is technically reserved for terrorists but also accommodates about 50 others because of overcrowding. The prison, designed to hold 1,000 inmates, has 1,327.
An elaborate green garden flourishes in the thick heat. Bearded terrorists tend ducks, and fish splash in small ponds. Some militants play sports with other inmates, while others read the Quran or teach Islam to ordinary prisoners.
"We only explain what they should know about jihad," said Syamsuddin, who is serving a life sentence for his role in a gun attack on a karaoke club in Ambon that killed two Christians in 2005. "It's up to them whether to accept it or not."
Syamsuddin was trained in bomb-making by alleged al-Qaeda terrorist Omar al-Farouq during Muslim-Christian conflict in Ambon between 1999 and 2002.
Muhammad Syarif Tarabubun, a former police officer, was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the same attack. He laughed easily and smiled broadly as he explained his extremist views. He said he plans to join a jihad in Afghanistan, Iraq or Lebanon after his likely early release in 2013 for good behavior.
"The death of Osama bin Laden will not ruin our spirit for jihad," he said. "We do it not for a figure. We do it for God's blessing."
Radicalization is common in Pakistan's and Afghanistan's overcrowded prisons, where thousands of terrorists and insurgents mix freely with others, according to a 15-country study by the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.
In the U.S., Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, managed to send inflammatory messages from his prison cell to followers in Egypt. There is debate over whether and how far Islamic radicals are infiltrating U.S. prisons.
One exception may be Saudi Arabia, which is fending off radicalization in prisons through an unusually well-funded and comprehensive program. Its "golden handcuffs" approach of finding wives for captured terrorists and enmeshing them in a web of personal, financial, religious and professional obligations once released is regarded as pioneering.
In Indonesia, experts say, some radicals finish their sentences with an even greater commitment to deadly jihad. Of 120 arrested and 25 killed in raids since February 2010, some 26 had previously been in prison for terrorist acts, according to the International Crisis Group, which researches deadly conflict.
Sidney Jones, one of the group's Southeast Asia terrorism experts, calls Indonesia's prisons the weakest link in the counterterrorism effort. "It's going to undermine everything that the police are doing to break up these networks," she said.
Porong prison, though immaculately clean and far from grim, has ceilings that leak copiously during the rainy season and swarms of mosquitoes at night. Inmates are allowed out of their gray windowless cells from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Within Block F, a small shop is a favorite gathering place.
Nearby, nine men wearing traditional Muslim shirts sit on a floor listening intently to a religious lesson by Maulana Yusuf Wibisono, who stockpiled explosives for a 2004 suicide bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta that killed 10 people.
These men, part of the ordinary prison population, diligently copy what Wibisono writes on a small white board.
"It's still too early to invite them for jihad," said the 42-year-old terrorist. He is the former leader of the East Java military wing of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group behind the 2002 Bali bombing. "To change their way of life is more important."
Many are in awe of the terrorists' piety and dangerous reputations. Militants also get extra food and other goods, both from supporters and through police attempts at rehabilitation, adding to their sway in prison. Often bearded and clad in robes, sarongs or ankle pants, they stand out from the other inmates.
"Don't judge them as bad guys," said Frans Sandi, who is serving 13 years for murdering his wife. He is a regular at Wisibono's religious instruction. "They are even able to turn bad guys into good."
He is now well versed in the Quran, fasts and never misses the call to pray five times day — things he had never done in the past.
His budding faith is seen by terrorists as a necessary step toward accepting their extremist version of Islam. While his good behavior and piety may earn him an early release, his debt to the radicals could one day see him used as a terrorist enabler.
"These men understand that wider support for their activities is crucial to the longevity of their movement," says "Jihadists in Jail," a report released in May by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. "That's why they continue their dakwah (religious outreach) in prison to ensure they can recruit new members and that their own zeal for militant jihad isn't diminished."
Radical preachers, too, have played a role in recruiting behind bars.
In Sukamiskin prison, cleric Aman Abdurrahman won over three students arrested for a hazing death. They were re-arrested last year during a raid on a terror training camp in Aceh province.
Another firebrand cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, was sentenced recently to 15 years for supporting the Aceh camp. Experts say the imprisonment of Bashir, who co-founded Jemaah Islamiyah, is unlikely to stop him from providing crucial spiritual sanction for terrorism.
Though there have been several more attacks since the Bali bombings, none has been anywhere near as deadly. Analysts credit a crackdown that has netted nearly 700 militants since 2000, including police killings of several key leaders.
But Indonesia, where more than 100 million still live in poverty, lacks the resources to mount a comprehensive program to persuade convicted terrorists to renounce violence. And dozens of Jemaah Islamiyah members are due for release in the coming three years. [and what's more, the texts --Qur'an, Hadith, Sira -- are all on the side of the "militants"]
"In the absence of a really concerted program, you are going to see most of them going back to their networks for the simple reason that those networks are based on family ties," said Carl Ungerer, author of the Jihadists in Jail report.
Nur Achmad, the chief warden at Porong, said he was shocked when he took over late last year to see regular inmates moving freely in and out of Block F. Some had changed their appearance, lengthening their hair and beards in imitation of the militants.
"I have to stop this," Achmad said. "I don't want them spreading radicalism to other inmates."
Prisoners from other blocks are now restricted from entering Block F. Those in the block are allowed to study Islam with the militants but under tighter supervision, including what kind of instruction can be given. Closed-circuit television cameras have been installed.
The extremists have protested Achmad's changes in letters to the police and the justice and human rights ministries. He also received threatening text messages, warning him that his daily routine and family's whereabouts were known, and that a network outside the prison could harm him.
Government officials acknowledge that reforming radicals isn't easy. "This program has so far not yielded optimum results," said Ansyaad Mbai, the head of Indonesia's anti-terrorism agency.
Sometimes the best that can be achieved is a shaky commitment not to wage jihad at home — potentially exporting the problem abroad. [and that is exactly what the Saudis do when they "re-educate" their homegrown Al Qaeda members]
For Slamet Widodo, sentenced to five years for his role in a 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12, violent jihad remains an obligation as long as Muslims suffer injustice.
"But now we know Indonesia is not a proper place for the field of jihad," said Widodo, a veteran of al-Qaeda military training in the early 1990s in Afghanistan.[why? Because there are not enough non-Muslims to attack]
He is looking further afield while occasionally attending government-run deradicalization sessions.
"If there is a chance to jihad abroad, I would go," he said. "Why not?"
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 June 2011
The Redemption of the Kingâ€™s Talmud
by Geoffrey Clarfield (July 2011)
Last month the sun came out in New York City. As its rays bounced off the two marble lions that flank the neo classical entrance to the New York Public library at Bryant Park (a perfect example of the 19th century Beaux Art architectural style) I bounced up the sculpted staircases of the Astor Vault and entered a temporary exhibit called Three Faiths, displaying original Jewish, Christian and Islamic manuscripts and books, many of them more than a thousand years old. As a former curator at a national museum I came to be dazzled and I wasn’t disappointed. Had they displayed the Ark of the Covenant itself, I would have been just as happy. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:35 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Alienation and Hidden Shame: Social-Emotional Causes of Conflict
by Thomas J. Scheff (July 2011)
Abstract: It is possible that war and peace in modern societies are driven by social relationships and emotions, but in a way that is mostly hidden from sight. Modernity leads to alienation between individuals and nations and to disguising basic emotions, especially shame. As a result conflict can be caused by sequences in which the hiding of humiliation leads to vengeance. This essay outlines a theory of the social-emotional world implied in the work of C. H. Cooley and others. Cooley’s treatment of overt shame is clear, but it only implies hidden shame and the link to alienation. Drawing also on Ervin Goffman, Norbert Elias, my own work and that of others, this essay proposes that interaction between alienation and secret shame can lead to feedback loops with no natural limit: shame about shame is only the first step. Emotion backlogs can also feedback when emotional experiences are avoided: avoiding emotion to avoid stored pain leads to more stored pain. To the extent that these propositions are true, our civilization is in grave danger unless fundamental changes occur. The last section outlines some preliminary steps toward change. more>>>
Posted on 06/30/2011 1:30 PM by NER