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The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
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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
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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
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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
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Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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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
















Sunday, 31 July 2011
A Musical Interlude: È Arrivato L'Ambasciatore (Nuccia Natali, Trio Lescano)
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Listen here.

The lyrics for sing-along purposes are here:

È arrivato l'Ambasciatore
con la piuma sul cappello,
è arrivato l'Ambasciatore
a cavallo d'un cammello.

Ha portato una letterina
dove scritto sta così:
"Se mi piaci, Ninì,
ti darò tutto il cuor".

È arrivato l'Ambasciator!

Belle bimbe dagli occhi sognanti
che aspettate il più tenero amor,
dischiudete finestre e balconi
e intonate le liete canzoni.

È arrivata per voi la fortuna,
se ascoltate vi dico cos'è.
Una rosa mettetevi in testa,
vestitevi a festa e cantate con me.

È arrivato l'Ambasciatore
con la piuma sul cappello,
è arrivato l'Ambasciatore
a cavallo d'un cammello.

Ha portato una letterina
dove scritto sta così:
"Se mi piaci, Ninì,
ti darò tutto il cuor".

È arrivato l'Ambasciator!

Da un paese lontano lontano
l'ha mandato un ignoto Pasciá,
l'ha mandato per scegliere quella
che sarà la più buona e più bella.

La più bella la deve portare
nel castello laggiù d'oltremar,
non importa se è bionda o se è bruna,
quel re della luna la vuole sposar.

È arrivato l'Ambasciatore
con la piuma sul cappello,
è arrivato l'Ambasciatore
a cavallo d'un cammello.

Ha portato una letterina
dove scritto sta così:
"Se mi piaci, Ninì,
ti darò tutto il cuor".

È arrivato l'Ambasciator!

Ha portato una letterina
dove scritto sta così:
"Se mi piaci, Ninì,
ti darò tutto il cuor".

È arrivato l'Ambasciator!

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Posted on 07/31/2011 11:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Look Who Is Alarmed By The Gains Of Muslim Fanatics In Tunisia -- It's Giuliana Sgrena
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From Inter-Press Services

 

Islamic Force Rises in Tunisia
Analysis by Giuliana Sgrena

TUNIS, Jul 31, 2011 (IPS) - The fundamentalist Ennahda party seems poised to take advantage of a chaotic situation ahead of general elections in Tunisia. Ennahda and other Islamist parties are taking advantage of the Aug. 2 deadline for registration for elections coinciding with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, when there is better attendance at mosques.

So far only 16 percent of potential voters have registered.

The interim government has warned imams against political propaganda at Friday prayers, but there is no sign of compliance. If anything, the Islamist parties have support from new imams coming in for the Ramadan from Saudi Arabia.

Bolstered with money from rich Gulf countries, the Islamists are increasing their influence among the poor by offering financial support to women willing to leave their jobs and stay at home, and to men who grow beards to show religiosity. The Islamists also organise collective weddings, picking up the costs.


As a consequence, Wahhabism, the purist form of Islam exported by Saudi Arabia, is spreading rapidly in this country where religion has always been regarded as a matter of individual choice. The more radical Islamist groups are becoming visibly aggressive, resorting to violence during demonstrations, and threatening women.

Two weeks ago hundreds of radical Islamists raided police stations to snatch weapons, injuring some policemen. The popular belief is that these ‘Salafi’ groups may be a militant wing of the Ennahda.

President Fouad Mebaza’s decision to extend the state of emergency, declared Jan. 14 and set to be lifted on Jul. 31, may also have been prompted by fears of violence by radical groups.

Ennahda is unlikely reach absolute majority, but it is influencing the elections and altering the political course, to some extent away from the democratic ideals of the January revolution.

The Islamists did not participate in the revolution.


In a move to shore up secular goals in the face of the fundamentalist tide, a democratic front has emerged, and has organised a rally against violence in the national capital.

Women’s associations that were active during the revolution fear the apathy ahead of elections. Their efforts in filling 50 percent of the candidates’ lists will come to naught if enough Tunisians do not participate.

A programme has been launched by women’s rights groups to convince women to come out and vote on election day, Oct. 23, and to be actively involved in the electoral process.

Women’s groups are also keeping an eye on the space given by media to different political forces during the campaign. Tunisia’s media is poorly developed, and journalists are yet to wean themselves away from the suppression and censorship that marked dictatorial rule.

People appear confused about electing a constituent assembly that is to give them a new constitution and pave the way for general elections. This is not surprising, considering that no less than 100 new political parties are contesting Tunisia’s first free elections.

"I don’t know who I will vote for" is a common refrain. "There was always (ousted president Zine El Abidine) Ben Ali to choose for me," said one undecided voter, reflecting the dependency that people had come to have on the repressive regime.

The fact that there are too many new political parties in the fray is seen as a sign of interest in gaining power rather than solving problems that are the legacy of decades of dictatorship. It is hard to tell one new party from another.

Many young people who had supported the revolution seem disappointed. There is no move to pin responsibility for what went wrong under dictatorship, and there is a sense that the perpetrators of repression, corruption and abuses under the fallen regime are never going to be held to account.

Such apathy has made it difficult for the independent court for the constitutional elections to convince Tunisians that they hold the power to pick candidates who can be trusted to build a democratic future.

A campaign to build awareness on the importance of the new constitution using street posters, advertisements and pamphlets, some distributed at airports targeting Tunisians flying in, appears to have fallen flat.

The lack of professionalism in the media is somewhat offset by about 300 bloggers seeking to bridge the information gap, and trying to convince people of the importance of the elections, starting with registration as voters. (END)

_______________________

You don't remember Giuliana Sgrena?

Well, just google her name. Or start here.

Now is it all coming back?

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Posted on 07/31/2011 11:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Pillars of Fear
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Three Holocaust Poems for Our Time
by Thomas Ország-Land (August 2011)
 
 
(1)
WAR CORRESPONDENT
                              For James Fenton
 
Floating among the ice, these peaceful
soft, curly shapes reflect the sky.
The river rocks them lightly, gently,
their pace appearing slow and graceful
beneath the evening’s silver mantle.  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 3:21 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Tumbledown Architecture
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by David Hamilton (August 2011)


If you travel around England you get a sense of how nihilism is expressed in contemporary architecture; history and identity are expressed in historic architecture. The lack of transcendent belief and values, the modern nihilism, informs contemporary architecture. Almost every English town or city I have been in has been ruined or half ruined by the local authorities. American tourists repeatedly ask:”What are you doing to your culture?” “Nothing”, I reply,”it is being imposed on us by local authorities.”
more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 3:17 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Is Juliet Tragic?
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by David P. Gontar (August 2011)


Patience, good lady -- wizards know their times.
Deep night, dark night, the silent of the night,  
The time of night when Troy was set on fire, 
The time when screech-owls cry and bandogs howl, 
And spirits walk, and ghosts break up their graves -- 
That time best fits the work we have in hand.  
Madam, sit you, and fear not.

                                 --  Roger Bolingbroke,  Henry VI Part Two

The question must be faced, especially as, sooner or later, we discover that it is she, not lightweight Romeo, who is the play's prime mover. Any serious discussion of the tragic dimension must come to focus on her. more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 3:10 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Settlements Are the Issue
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by Robert Wolfe (August 2011)


You often hear defenders of the Netanyahu government say, in opposition to demands for a settlement freeze, “Settlements are not the issue. The issue is the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.” The unspoken subtext behind this argument is that if only the Palestinians would accept the existence of Israel, the issue of the settlements could easily be resolved, with Israel retaining some and abandoning others.
  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 3:06 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
His Sword Drawn In His Hand Stretched Out Over Jerusalem
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In The Land Of Israel, Bis
by Shabbtai
(August 2011)


He took us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and great fear. And what is great fear, the Hagaddah asks, if not the Divine Presence that had the presence of mind to take one nation out of another and bring it to the promised land? The Passover story redoubles Creation. Once again difference asserts itself in the human story, the irreversible story of difference that can only produce more. And so we say: in memory of the beginning, in memory of the exodus from Egypt.  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 3:01 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Honeymoon in Mecca
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by G. Murphy Donovan (August 2011)    


“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not understand either.”  - Gandhi


The junction of the Islamist religious right and the secular political left is one of the great ciphers of early 21st Century political history. Some might describe the phenomenon as ecumenicism; an enlightened model, originating in the West; one which believes that tolerance is the best tactical remedy for Islam’s strategic bias - “turning the other cheek,” if you will.  A more skeptical view sees the ecumenicist as a wishful thinker, or worse, an appeaser.  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:55 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
How the CIA Helped The Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrate the West
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by Jerry Gordon (August 2011)


Muslim Brotherhood and founder Hasan al-Banna

In April of 2007, then House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer had an encounter with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood representatives in Cairo. more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:50 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
The Casey Anthony Trial and the Rashomon Syndrome
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by Norman Berdichevsky (August 2011)


Until the second week in June, I lived in a downtown Orlando condo apartment, a few blocks away from the Orange County Court House and media circus of the Casey Anthony trial, with its hoards of media staff, satellite dishes, cameras, and an ever growing crowd of trial groupies or junkies and the fixed daily attention of tens of millions of Americans living beyond this building. My move was not to get away from the presence of these actual events but related to the mundane needs and decisions of my own requirements for more spacious housing and financial considerations. I was also very occupied with trying to publicize my two recently completed books, one of which was just published by New English Review Press. more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:45 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Athens and Jerusalem: Odysseus and Moses
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by Geoffrey Clarfield and Joseph Adler (August 2011)


In 1909, Arnold Van Gennep, a French speaking ethnologist published an anthropological classic called The Rites of Passage. It eventually revolutionized the way anthropologists understand ritual and, the way the rest of us have come to understand and analyze the symbolic structures of religious practice, music, theatre, dance, drama, literature and film, or what anthropologists now call “expressive culture.” more>>>
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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:41 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
The Iranian Missile Threat
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by Jerry Gordon (August 2011)



Iran
’s Missile Range Map 2009

In October, 1962, I was a young Army officer going through basic infantry officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia, prior to eventual intelligence training at the former US Army Intelligence Training Center located at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland. The US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) subsequently moved its INSCOM training center to Fort Huachuca in Arizona.  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:37 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Shades of the Prison House
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by David Wemyss (August 2011)


Back in 1979 when I was twenty-five years old, I would barely have known whether the government here in the UK was a Conservative one or a Labour one. Really, I suppose I was just very unworldly. I was moderately well-read and cultured, but in a very lopsided and narrow way. A lifelong susceptibility to literary elegance had been awakened at school, where I resolved to study Latin at university. I was pressurised into doing law instead, but, in itself, that was only a small mishap. I graduated in 1977.  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:32 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
That Ghost in the Machine
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by Rebecca Bynum (August 2011)

Why seek ye the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

Like many people, I often watch crime dramas on television to pass the evenings and I’ve noticed a subtle change lately as to how dead bodies are described. A few years ago, all crime dramas referred to the murder victims’ remains as “the body.” It was universally recognized that the body at the time of death was no longer a person; the locus of personhood had either fled or had disappeared. The person was no longer there. Nowadays, however, the detective often as not will grill the murderer with sentences like: “We know you killed Julie. Where is she? Her parents want to bring Julie home.”  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:29 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Who Is to Blame?
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by Theodore Dalrymple (August 2011)


Some years ago I had a patient who kept all his appointments dressed in military costume, including boots. His camouflage made him highly conspicuous in the streets of the city, but he was obviously a soldier in the way that Marie Antoinette was a shepherdess. He no more wanted to live under military discipline than Marie Antoinette wanted to herd sheep. On the arm of his shirt was sewn a little West German flag, and I could not help but wonder whether this was a metonym for something rather more sinister.  more>>>

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Posted on 07/31/2011 2:25 PM by NER
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Thomas Hegghammer On The "Trivial Role" Of Islamic Ideology
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Jihadi studies as trivia

From Raymond Ibrahim

A new article by Thomas Hegghammer in the Times Literary Supplement, entitled “Jihadi studies: the obstacles to understanding radical Islam and the opportunities to know it better,” lives up to its title—not so much by delineating what these obstacles are, but rather by being representative of them. Regrettably, the author evokes the same old mantras prevalent in modern academia’s study of jihad and jihadists.

First, even though one may suppose that the article at the very least would touch upon ideology, doctrine, or theology—after all, the words “jihad” and “radical Islam” are in the title—it all but ignores these concepts.

Instead, it focuses on “people”—the jihadists themselves. Hegghammer assures us that, with the availability of new primary sources, our knowledge of what makes a jihadist tick is destined to improve. He would like us to better appreciate “the importance of mundane and non-ideological factors in individual recruitment to jihadist activity.” He then explains the great need to learn the biographies of men like Osama bin Laden.

But what do we learn from this approach? Much ink is spent over biographical trivia about bin Laden—”Was Bin Laden really a playboy in 1970s Beirut, and a CIA stooge in 1980s Afghanistan? Did he really attend arsenal matches in London and sex orgies in Morocco in the 1990s?”—without once ever explaining the significance of such gossipy queries. After positing these questions, Hegghammer is quick to inform us that, “Just for the record, Bin Laden was never a playboy in Beirut; he was a shy and pious young man. He attended no arsenal matches or sex orgies.” Again, as if any of this trivia—pro or con—has anything to do with jihad and radical Islam. While this “people-first” approach is entertaining, it is unclear how, practically speaking, a “nuanced portrait of bin Laden” is supposed to help combat him.

The author next moves to Messages to the World, a compilation of 24 statements attributed to bin Laden. Based on this collection, Hegghammer assures the reader that “those who expect religious ranting will be surprised. There are no complex theological arguments.”

Again, Hegghammer errs by making bin Laden the spokesman for jihad. Had he only turned to the writings of Ayman Zawahiri—long known for being the ideologue of Al Qaeda—which are available in The Al Qaeda Reader, he would have encountered over two hundred pages of treatises dealing with the subjects of jihad, martyrdom (suicide-bombings), and even the legality of killing women and children, and fellow Muslims, during the jihad, the need to always bear enmity for all non-Muslims, and various doctrines of deception (e.g., taqiyya)—all as articulated through usul al-fiqh, or Islam’s “roots of jurisprudence.”

Declarations and communiqués directed by Al Qaeda at fellow jihadists are much more valuable—in that they are much more revealing—than the communiqués directed at the United States. The former are directed at fellow Muslims and thus couched in familiar Islamic terms and concepts; the latter, intentionally articulated through a Western epistemology—an epistemology that is utterly at odds with radical Islam.

Consider the disparity of the following two quotes, both by bin Laden, one directed to Americans, the other to Muslims. To Americans, he says: “Reciprocal treatment is part of justice; he who initiates the aggression is the unjust one.” However, in an obscure essay entitled “Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West,” directed at fellow Muslims—his Saudi kinsmen, to be specific—bin Laden celebrates his understanding of Islam’s aggressive nature:

[O]ur talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue, and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam: either willing submission [i.e., conversion]; or payment of the jizya [poll-tax paid by non-Muslims], thereby bodily, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; or the sword—for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die…. Such, then, is the basis of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42.)

Hegghammer goes on to tackle the notion that theology or ideology could ever inspire a would-be Muslim suicide bomber. He concludes they could not. Instead, he is somewhat sympathetic to one particular study that finds “that the root cause of suicide terrorism is not religion, but foreign occupation.” But Hegghammer is more inclined to believe that “It is probably not occupation, but nationalism, that generates suicide terrorism.”

The problem with the territory theory is the fact that Arab Christians—whether in Palestine or Iraq—have yet to blow themselves up during a suicide attack against Israel or U.S. forces in Iraq. As for Hegghammer’s own notion that nationalism generates suicide terrorism, Arab Christians have traditionally been at the fore of the Arab nationalist movement. According to his theory, then, one would logically expect them at the van of martyrdom operations, which they are not. Indeed, Christian and Muslim Arabs are identical: they look the same, live in the same place, speak the same language, and consider themselves “Arabs.” The only thing that differentiates them is religion. So, if all things—minus religion—are equal, is it not only logical to conclude that it is religion, or “ideology,” that is responsible for the suicide-bomber, as that is the only variable that Christian and Muslim Arabs do not share?

Early in his essay, Hegghammer indicates that one of the failures of Middle East scholars has been their “tendency to rely on simple grievance-based explanations of terrorism.” Yet his entire essay is a testimony to this model. He constantly tries to humanize bin Laden. He insists that doctrine or ideology has nothing to do with terrorism. And finally, in his conclusion, he, like many a Middle Eastern scholar before him, stresses only the need for us to comprehend our own shortcomings, before we condemn the terrorists—all in the platitudinous language we have come to expect (emphases added):

But the most important reason [for our lack of understanding "jihadism"] is no doubt that the emotional outrage at al-Qaeda’s violence has prevented us from seeing clearly. Societies touched by terrorism are always the least well placed to understand their enemies. It is only when we see the jihadists not as agents of evil or religious fanatics, but as humans, that we stand a chance of understanding them.

If this isn’t ultimately a “simple grievance-based explanation of terrorism,” what is?

Comments are limited to MESH members and invitees,
and include a response by Thomas Hegghammer.

2 Responses to “Jihadi studies as trivia”

  1. on 12 Apr 2008 at 12:01 pm Thomas Hegghammer

    Raymond Ibrahim is disappointed with my review essay because it “evokes the same old mantras prevalent in modern academia’s study of jihad and jihadists.” It is unclear to me what exactly these mantras are, but from what I can tell, Ibrahim raises five main points.

    First is that the review allegedly ignores ideology and doctrine. Well, the essay may not be entirely devoted to Al Qaeda’s declarations, but to say that I ignore ideology is simply not true. One of the five main books reviewed is Messages to the World; I highlight a main theme in bin Laden’s statements (Palestine); I speak of the ideological differences between socio-revolutionary Islamists, classical jihadists and global jihadists, and I offer an interpretation of Al Qaeda’s ideology as extreme pan-Islamic nationalism. All this is analysis of ideology; it is just emphasizing its political as opposed to its theological dimension. Ideology is not the same as theology, and it is perfectly possible to analyze Islamist ideology without using Arabic theological terms in every sentence.

    Ibrahim’s second point is that the utility of studying individuals is overrated and that I focus too much on bin Laden trivia. Of course the gossipy queries are insignificant; I think most readers apart from Ibrahim understand that the rhetorical questions were tongue and cheek. Instead of attacking me, Ibrahim should address those (like Adam Robertson, Yonah Alexander or Kola Boof) who have probably made more money than I ever will by spreading false bin Laden trivia in their books. If Ibrahim thinks bin Laden is not worth studying, that is fair enough, but I would strongly disagree. Bin Laden is the single most influential individual in the global jihadist movement, and the thorough historiography of writers like Peter Bergen and Lawrence Wright has helped the war on terror.

    Third is my alleged failure to mention the Qaeda texts that do contain religious ranting. My point is simply that bin Laden’s discourse is more political and less irrational than the average Western reader thinks. Of course there is religious discourse in Al Qaeda’s statements, but there is also a lot of politics, including those directed at Muslim audiences.

    Ibrahim’s fourth complaint concerns my partial support for Robert Pape’s theory, which I admit is a minority view. Ibrahim holds the majority view in the terrorism research community, which is that Pape has it completely wrong and that religion is driving suicide terrorism. Of course there are nationalist movements in many parts of the world that do not use suicide bombings—just like there are secular groups that do. I am interested in the observable patterns of behavior among Islamist groups, which is that Islamists involved in struggles against non-Muslims have executed many more suicide attacks than have Islamists fighting their local regimes. There is a clear and observable tendency in the empirical data which the advocates of the religion or cult hypothesis cannot explain. I am not suggesting that nationalism alone accounts for all instances of suicide bombings, but it certainly seems to increase the probability that an Islamist group will resort to such tactics.

    The fifth and final criticism is that my emphasis on seeing jihadists as humans and not as fanatics constitutes a “simple grievance-based explanation of terrorism.” This is a very curious interpretation. By highlighting the role of individuals and the power of their agency, I am going against those who see jihadism as the linear expression of poverty, state repression or Western imperialism. However, this also—and I suspect this is what bothers Ibrahim—challenges the view that the behavior of jihadists is determined by religion and ideology.

    Here we are at the crux of the matter. Ibrahim’s critique is motivated by a profound and honest disagreement about the role of religion and ideology in Islamist militancy. I happen to hold the view that ideology is only one of the factors that determine the timing, level and form of Islamist violence. I am also of the view that there are limits to the study of the theological dimension of Islamist ideology, and that we can better predict the behavior of militant Islamist groups by looking at the political preferences expressed in their texts.

    Ibrahim seems to suggest that the study of jihadist ideology is a forgotten or underestimated line of inquiry in academia. This may have been the case five years ago, but not any longer. There now exist several edited compilations of Al Qaeda texts (Ibrahim published one in 2007; I published three others in 2003 and 2005). There is at least one academic journal devoted solely to studies of jihadist ideology, while other journals regularly feature articles on the same subject. This is not to mention the numerous blogs and websites that monitor jihadi propaganda. There is no shortage of exegeses of jihadi ideology. What we need is new ways of analyzing it.

    Ibrahim’s alternative to my “mantras” seems to be that jihadists are driven by religious ideology. Fine; I don’t disagree. But what exactly does this help us explain? It does not explain chronological or geographical variations of violence; nor relative differences in popularity between radical ideologies; nor differential recruitment; nor the timing of key ideological permutations. The “yes-or-no” debate over whether or not religious ideology causes Islamist violence is in my view futile and intensely boring. I am interested in understanding why Islamists use violence when, where and in the way they do. In this quest, Raymond Ibrahim’s mantra does not get me very far.

    Thomas Hegghammer is a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.

  2. on 13 Apr 2008 at 12:39 pm Assaf Moghadam

    I would like to weigh in on two aspects of the important and interesting exchange between Raymond Ibrahim and Thomas Hegghammer: Robert Pape’s occupation thesis and the importance of ideology for the study of terrorism.

    I have stated my disagreement with Robert Pape’s central thesis in a long review article published in late 2006 (here). Although I do not argue in this article that Pape has it completely wrong, I think his thesis that suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation is less valid for suicide attacks by Salafi-Jihadist groups—the predominant pattern of suicide attacks today—than it is for the suicide attacks of the 1980s and 1990s. It may be true that Islamists fighting ‘non-Muslims’ have executed many more suicide attacks, but I would take issue with Hegghammer’s belief that there is a clear and observable tendency in that regard. I believe that the tendency is actually pointing in the other direction. Increasingly, suicide attacks occur in countries—and against regimes—that are Muslim, such as Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, or Afghanistan. Yes, many of the attacks in these countries are targeted at foreigners, but a growing number target Muslims who are regarded as ‘apostates’—with the attack against Benazir Bhutto being the most prominent example.

    As to the relationship between ideology and terrorism, I share Raymond Ibrahim’s sense that the discussion of the role of ideology in the emergence of terrorism is extremely important. But Thomas Hegghammer asks a legitimate question nevertheless: does it matter? My personal take is that ideology does matter, but we should not be under the impression that it explains everything.

    I have examined the interplay between ideology and suicide attacks in my dissertation (forthcoming as a book in September 2008) by looking at the ideological orientation of over forty groups that conducted nearly 1,270 suicide attacks between 1981 and April 2007. In my study, I found that unequivocally, Salafi-Jihadist groups have assumed the leadership among groups that employ this modus operandi in a number of respects, including in terms of numbers of organizations, numbers of attacks, and even in the average and overall lethality of suicide missions. In 1997, for example, not a single Salafi-Jihadist group perpetrated a suicide attack. In 1998, 17 percent of groups that conducted these attacks adhered to Salafi-Jihadist ideology, followed by 25 percent in 1999 and 67 percent in 2000. In 2006 and 2007, that percentage peaked at 70 percent and 67 percent, respectively. Moreover, suicide attacks by Salafi-Jihadist groups carried a much higher lethality than attacks by non-Salafi-Jihadist groups. Although Salafi-Jihadist groups are responsible for only 15 percent of attacks in the time frame of 1981 to April 2007, I found that they were responsible for at least a third (34 percent) of all fatalities caused by suicide attacks in that period.

    So what about the ‘so what’ question Hegghammer asks? Although I tend to disagree with Hegghammer that further inquiry into the role of ideology is futile, I share his judgment that there are limits as to what ideology helps us explain. Most importantly, I found no evidence that ideology is ‘the cause’ of suicide attacks per se. The causes of suicide attacks are complex, and must be found in the interplay of personal motivations, strategic and tactical objectives of the sponsoring groups, as well as the larger societal and structural factors affecting the bomber and the group. In addition, ideology is acquired by individuals for reasons having to do with emotions and beliefs—a topic that is highly complex, but well deserving of more scholarly attention.

    If ideology is not ‘the cause’ of suicide attacks per se, then what is its role? I believe that ideology plays an important role in that it helps reduce the suicide attacker’s reservations to perpetrate the act of killing and dying. Specifically, ideology fills three roles:

    • First, it helps the suicide bomber justify the act by articulating why this act is called for, and why every ‘true’ Muslim must participate in it. The ideology describes—and statements by suicide bombers reflect—the need to defend Islam from attack as an individual duty for each and every Muslim; the participation in jihad as the ultimate proof of one’s worthiness as a Muslim; and the failure to participate in jihad as an act of heresy.

    • Second, Salafi-Jihadist ideology shapes the mental framework of the suicide attacker by constantly repeating the West’s real or perceived infractions against Islam. These infractions appear particularly grave to some Muslims because Salafi-Jihadists tend to employ conspiracy theories to further incite fear and hatred of the West.

    • Third, it helps the suicide attacker to morally disengage himself from his act and from the victim. Ideology helps create a dichotomy of good-versus-evil (‘true’ Muslims on one hand vs. kuffar on the other), and it dehumanizes the enemy by describing him as defiled, degenerate, bereft of any sense of decency, unjust, and cruel.

    Assaf Moghadam is a member of MESH.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 1:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Richard Landes: On What Breivik May Be Taken To Signify
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From Augean Stables:

Andrew Sullivan on Breivik’s Epistemic Closure: Left, Right, Not

Now I understand where my persistent, somewhat repetitive, commenter, Chris, comes from. Another illustration of the problem. He comes from Andrew Sullivan who quoted the passage to which Chris objects, disapprovingly. Here’s his post with my comments.

Breivik’s Epistemic Closure

Chris Bertram analyzes it:

We may be, now, in the world that Cass Sunstein worried about, a world where people select themselves into groups which ramp up their more-or-less internally coherent belief systems into increasingly extreme forms by confirming to one another their perceived “truths” (about Islam, or Obama’s birth certificate, or whatever) and shutting out falsifying information. Put an unstable person or a person with a serious personality disorder into an environment like that and you have a formula for something very nasty happening somewhere, sooner or later. Horribly, that somewhere was Norway last Friday.

This is an interesting quote for what it vaguely alludes to in its “whatever.” The whole paragraph is an analysis, quite shrewd indeed, of the epistemological slippery slope to what Damian Thompson calls self-brainwashing. But that depiction applies equally well to those on the other side of the political divide, including (probably – I’m guessing here) to the author of the blog and the person he’s quoting.

In this case, as acute as they are to what’s in the eyes of the “right,” the “left” has a major beam in their eyes that they seem to have difficulty acknowledging. On the contrary, their tone, their style, their rhetoric all express a kind of supreme confidence that treats all dissonant voices as not merely wrong but bad, not merely dismissively, but contemptuously. And yet that “whatever,” can be expanded far wider than the current list of “right wing” examples Bertram offers, starting with 9-11 truthers who swarm within the epistemic clotures of the left far more than birthers do on the right, and not just among the weirdo fringes.

Anders Sandberg urges us to check our cognitive biases when calling Breivik insane and bin Laden an ideologue. Richard Landes (cited in Breivik’s manifesto) tries, but doubles down, in some almost Malkin-worthy rhetoric, on blaming the other side:

Then Sullivan cites me without comment.

All those people who, in the mid-aughts, like Cherie Blair and Jenny Tonge among so many, thought that Palestinian terror was an understandable response to their hopeless condition, for which Israeli was responsible, owe it to themselves to think: what did I to contribute to Breivik’s despair, with my insistence that anyone who sounded the alarm was an Islamophobe?

Now I’ve been told by a close and trusted source that this passage made at least one sympathetic reader wince.  So let me explain.

The comparison has several possible interpretations. On the one hand, we have what I think Sullivan objects to, an accusation that people like Tonge are as responsible for Breivik, as he and his colleagues think the people Breivik cites in his manifesto (Theodore Dalrymple, Bruce Bawer, Daniel Pipes, Roger Scruton, Melanie Phillips, Mark Steyn, Robert Spencer, etc. etc.) are responsible. And I’d be very interested to see how, were we to lay out the data, an impartial audience might decide about which side, those who warn about Islamist ambitions and those who shut down the conversation, contributed to Breivik’s frustration and rampage. However facetious the premise, I even think it would be a valuable conversation.

But that’s not what I meant. My point runs as follows: Tonge and Blair are quick to blaming Israel for Palestinian hatred because they frustrate the Palestinians. They have nothing to say about the way the Palestinians (and their supporters in the West) incite genocidal violence against Israel. If they were consistent, then in this case they would not blame those they see as inciting hatred against Muslims for inspiring Breivik, but those who frustrate his desires (to be heard). It may be a bit convoluted and, as my friend says, when almost a hundred people have been horribly murdered, then it’s important to be limpidly clear. For any lack of clarity, I apologize.

On the other hand, my invocation of Tonge and Blair’s blaming Israel for Palestinians suicide bombing is an effort to say, “this kind of thinking – blaming someone for someone else’s staggeringly inappropriate behavior – is morally unacceptable.” This is something that people on the left have done repeatedly over the last decade in particular, and especially about Israel. For Tonge and Blair to say, “I understand why the Palestinian’s blow themselves up – it’s what Israel’s done to them,” shows an astoundingly, indeed racist attitude towards the Palestinians whom these “liberals” treat as if they have no moral agency. “If Israelis frustrate them, then that explains their ferocious hatreds; who am I to question their despair. On the contrary, everything bad they do is because they’ve been mistreated. The moral opprobrium falls on those they hate.

The broader version of the liberal cognitive egocentrism gone wild is “terrorism comes from poverty,” regardless of how many desperately poor people there are who don’t become terrorists, and numerous rather well off people, who driven by other and far less “legitimate” desperations who get involved quite energetically.

How is this related to Breivik? With these easy accusations that Israel is responsible for the frustrated hatred of the Palestinians, we have an argument that could be turned against the Left: “you have frustrated Breivik by silencing him.” Now, unlike the Left’s easy blaming of Israel for Palestinian “rage,” I wouldn’t go anywhere near laying responsibility for Breivik on the left. What I would say is, this rush to nail the “Islamophobes” for Breivik reveals the appalling double standards of those who do it. They are the very ones who would reject the argument that PA sponsored incitement is responsible for the terrorists; indeed, they would sooner accuse those of pointing out the incitement for making a bad situation worse.

If there were any moral consistency here, then the Left would indeed examine its own camp for their flaws. But the only consistency I see is, dump on the “right,” dump on Israel, dump on anyone who dares to suggest that Islamism is a serious threat. Don’t dump on ourselves. It may be “natural” and predictable behavior, but it violates major aspects of the moral code  by which the “left” considers itself outstanding. Indeed, it seems quite close to the quote Sullivan started out his post with:

groups which ramp up their more-or-less internally coherent belief systems into increasingly extreme forms by confirming to one another their perceived “truths” (about Islamophobia, or Bush’s involvement in 9-11, or whatever) and shutting out falsifying information.

For a decade, people like me have been trying to warn people who love civil society, and freedom, and human dignity, and generosity, and empathy for the “other,” and the rich and vibrant fabric of human life that comes from peaceful diversity, that they’ve a) gotten the Arab Israeli conflict profoundly wrong, and b) in granting the Palestinians permission (encouragement) to hate the Israelis, they have mistakenly empowered people who hate them just as much, for reasons they (we, the demotic West) can’t even consider lest we be called Islamophobes.

One of the themes I have repeatedly addressed in this problematic situation of epistemic closure, is the radical imbalance between the left’s demands that anyone defending Israel self-criticize on the one hand, and the astonishing lack of any kind of self-criticism among the attackers of Israel, whether they be Palestinian/Muslim or progressive Left.

It’s time to get serious. Let’s try and work through some of the following:

1) how do we distinguish between Islamophobia and legitimate criticism of Islam?

2) how do we distinguish between Anti-Zionism and legitimate criticism of Israel?

3) how do we reframe the debate so as to avoid the kind of puerile epistemic closures that characterize both right and left?

I’m ready for any and every one of these conversations.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 1:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Thomas Hegghammer Does The New York Times Proud
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In its confused and confusing presentation of Breivik, in the many misleading remarks, and in the preposterousness of some of its assertions, Thomas Hegghammer's piece does exactly what the editors of the Times wanted. It does not encourage thought, but piety. Hegghammer, for example, give a bizarre name -- "macro-nationalism" -- to what once might simply have been described as understanding of, appreciation of the life estate enjoyed in, and desire to hand on unimpaired to others, , what until the day before yesterday could unapologetically be described as "European" or, taking into account North America, Australia, and a few other places that, in their language, literature, legal system, , "Western" civilizationto those who, like Breivik, believe there is something called "Europe" or "Western civilization," whose distinguishing features are based on principles that are flatly contradicted by the Shari'a -- such things as freedom of speech, for example, or legal equality for all, or the encouragement of free and skeptical inquiry -- and which Muslims in Europe cannot be expected to support, but can reasonably be expected to attempt to undo. 
 
Here's the piece:
 
From The New York Times:
July 30, 2011

The Rise of the Macro-Nationalists

Thomas Hegghammer is a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Oslo and the co-author of “Al-Qaida in Its Own Words.”

AT first glance, the 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the man accused of the terrorist attacks in Oslo, appears to be a fairly standard ideological treatise of the far right. The document, which Mr. Breivik posted online on July 22 just hours before the attacks and which he titled “2083 — A European Declaration of Independence,” evokes several of the movement’s central themes and cites numerous right-wing ideologues.

On closer inspection, however, Mr. Breivik’s worldview does not fit squarely into any of the established categories of right-wing ideology, like white supremacism, ultranationalism or Christian fundamentalism. Rather, it reveals a new doctrine of civilizational war that represents the closest thing yet to a Christian version of Al Qaeda.

For example, although Mr. Breivik says he fears “the extinction of the Nordic genotypes,” racial hygiene is not high on his agenda. He wants to expel, not kill, Muslims in Europe, and he does not mind Jews and non-Muslim Asians. Similarly, while Mr. Breivik says he is “extremely proud” of his “Odinistic/Norse heritage,” he is not a Norwegian nationalist — his “declaration of independence” applies to all of Europe. And while he is Christian, he admits that “I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person.”

Instead, Mr. Breivik’s goal is to reverse what he views as the Islamization of Western Europe; indeed, he sees himself as a soldier in a defensive war against “Islamic imperialism.” In his view, Muslims are colonizing Europe, helped by high birth rates and a doctrine of multiculturalism advocated by the European elite. Islam, for him, represents an existential threat to European civilization, a threat that must be countered at all costs. The best way to do so, he argues, is to wage war against “cultural Marxists” — his label for the European political and intellectual elite — because they are the traitors who allow the colonization to take place.

While Mr. Breivik’s violent acts are exceptional, his anti-Islamic views are not. Much, though not all, of Mr. Breivik’s manifesto is inspired by a relatively new right-wing intellectual current often referred to as counterjihad. The movement’s roots go back to the 1980s, but it gained substantial momentum only after 9/11. Its main home is the Internet, where blogs like Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs and Gates of Vienna publish essays by writers like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Bat Ye’or and Fjordman, the pseudonym for a Norwegian blogger. Mr. Breivik’s manifesto is replete with citations of counterjihad writers, strongly suggesting that he was inspired by them.

Of course, by advocating the mass murder of European politicians, Mr. Breivik goes much further than any counterjihad ideologue has ever done, and his manifesto contains ideas and information that have no precedent in the counterjihad literature. For example, he provides extensive advice on how to build bombs and plan terrorist attacks. The leading counterjihad writers have virtually never advocated violence, and several of them have condemned Mr. Breivik’s actions.

He also claims to be a member of a knightly order called the European Military Order and Criminal Tribunal, which he describes as a reincarnation of the Knights Templar and which he says he founded in London in 2002 with activists from eight countries across Europe.

Indeed, the more belligerent part of Mr. Breivik’s ideology has less in common with counterjihad than with its archenemy, Al Qaeda. Both Mr. Breivik and Al Qaeda see themselves as engaged in a civilizational war between Islam and the West that extends back to the Crusades. Both fight on behalf of transnational entities: the “ummah” — or “community” of all Muslims — in the case of Al Qaeda, and Europe in the case of Mr. Breivik. Both frame their struggle as defensive wars of survival. Both hate their respective governments for collaborating with the outside enemy. Both use the language of martyrdom (Mr. Breivik calls his attack a “martyrdom operation”). Both call themselves knights, and espouse medieval ideals of chivalry. Both lament the erosion of patriarchy and the emancipation of women.

Of course, these similarities should not be taken to mean that Mr. Breivik is inspired by or emulates Al Qaeda. Rather, they suggest that Mr. Breivik and Al Qaeda are manifestations of the same generic ideological phenomenon: “macro-nationalism,” a variant of nationalism applied to clusters of nation-states held together by a notion of shared identity, like “the West” or the “ummah.”

Extreme macro-nationalists view their people as under attack and fight in their defense. In the Muslim world, so-called pan-Islamism has a long history and has inspired militancy since at least the 1980s, when Arabs traveled to Afghanistan to fight with fellow Muslims against Soviet occupation. The West has long lacked similar movements, but the rise of counterjihad in the 2000s and the appearance of the Breivik manifesto suggest that this may be changing.

If a violent anti-Muslim movement does emerge in the West, we can expect it to be divided on the question of who its targets should be, just as jihadis have been. Some will prefer to punish the European elite for their “treason,” as Mr. Breivik did. Others will attack Muslims directly, as did the sniper who killed and injured several immigrants in Malmo, Sweden, last year.

Countering extreme macro-nationalists like Al Qaeda and Anders Breivik is difficult because the causes they espouse often enjoy a certain popular support, even if their prescription — mass murder — is almost universally rejected. Just as Al Qaeda exploited widespread Muslim opposition to American policies in the Middle East, so does Mr. Breivik tap into a relatively large reservoir of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe.

We can only hope that Mr. Breivik’s actions will be seen as so horrific that they undermine his cause.

Comment: What does this last portentous sentence mean. What could it mean?  Does it mean, as grimly predicted the other day:  "Don't let Anders Breivik win/Let five million Muslims in." One Qaeda is more than enough. [so the lone madman Breivik is metastasized into an imaginary "Christian" Al Qaeda, with hundreds of thousands of adherents, millions of supporters, and texts -- venerable, immutable texts -- akin to the Qur'an and Haidth, which are inculcated into the "Christians" of Europe from a young age, and reinforced at every step, by every aspect of that society.

How much absurdity can one be expected to accept?

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Posted on 07/31/2011 1:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Muslim teenagers convicted of criminal damage after spraying burkas onto scantily-clad models in Lynx poster
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From The Daily Mail

Two Muslim teenagers have admitted defacing advertising hoardings featuring scantily-clad models and painting a 'burka' over them because they offended their religious views.

Mohammed Hasnath and Muhammed Tahir, both 18, used black paint to cover up the picture of a female model on a hoarding advertising Lynx deodorant.  The duo proceeded to paint over the faces on several other advertisements around London's East End, claiming it was a 'sin' for them to be uncovered.

The youths, who represented themselves, had both denied initial charges of religious aggravated criminal damage. However, they both pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal damage when they appeared at Thames Magistrates Court in east London.

Taiwo Akinrowo, prosecuting, told the court: 'On the morning of February 26th this year a member of the public called the police because they had seen three males damaging the bus shelters. One of the males was seen to paint on the female angel in the advert for Lynx. On the other side was an advert for the film 'Drive Angry' and this male was seen to paint on the female image next to Nicholas Cage.

'Police were called and began to monitor the males and they saw them walking along Whitechapel Road towards Osborne Street where they then used the paint on the window of the Money Shop on the faces of the females.  I doubt that the faces used to advertise financial services could be reasonably described as ‘scantily’ clad. That the faces were painted over suggests the imposition of sharia law at its strictest. Be warned.

'The police officers arrived and the defendants ran away. They were then stopped by police, arrested and interviewed and they gave full and frank admissions as to what they had done.  

They told them that the way the women had been photographed was against their religion and they said it was a sin in Islam for a male to look twice at a woman who is not covered. If a man looks at a woman the first time it could be accidental, but if they look again it is a sin and they did not want children and other people seeing the image of these woman who were not covered.

'Consequently they began to paint over burkas around the faces of the women. When arrested, Mr Hasnath's clothes were covered in black paint and they also had the brushes on them.

'Both have admitted painting over them. At first, they did not think it was a bad thing to do but they accept that it was not legal because it was not their property.  The defendants had the option on the first appearance to plead guilty to the simple matter and they did not.'

Referring to the fact that the charges were originally religious aggravated criminal damage, Hasnath told the court: 'We don't have anything against anyone.  We have black friends, white friends and Chinese friends. We are not racist. The pictures - that is someone's daughter. If someone was to look at our wife or mother or daughter with a bad intention we would not like it so we were just trying to do good.'

Hasnath, of Poplar, and Tahir, of Tower Hamlets, both east London, were both ordered to pay costs of £283 each and were each released on a 12 month conditional discharge. A third defendant, Abdul Hakim Langaigne, 24, of Thamesmead, south east London, who was also charged with six counts of criminal damage, failed to appear in court. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Hasnath was also fined in June for flyposting gay Free Zone stickers around East London. I detect a theme here.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 11:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
Frank Cilluffo And Clifton Watts: Common Sense About Al Qaeda
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From a longer rebuttal to Gregory Johnson, who thinks hearts-and-minds stuff should expensively continue wherever there are Muslims behaving badly, so as to somehow change the environment out of which, we are to fondly believe, Al Qaeda recruits -- when all it takes for Al Qaeda, and dozens of other nearly-identical-in-ideology groups to recruit, is to make sure that Islam is inculcated, and taken seriously, and nothing done to shake that faith, to weaken its hold, to expose all the ways that islam itself is responsible for, explains, the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures of Muslim states and societies. [Since there's incessant  grandiloquent self-promoting going on at certain websites, I shall offer my own muted version and allow myself to believe that some will not forget to identify me with this strategy, and to remember, even if only dimly, what I have set out in greater detail, and over many years, about how it should be executed]  an article in which they  [Cilluffo, Watts]note that all that expensive (trillions of dollars now have been spent in Iraq and Afghanistan on the theory, entirely unproven, that making life better for local Muslims will "dry up" support  for Al Qaeda) has been a waste, and that the way to weaken Al Qaeda is by attacking and killing its members, and to keep that up indefinitely.

"Ten years of American counterterrorism efforts demonstrate that the best way to defeat al Qaeda is to go directly after al Qaeda.  Bin Laden’s personal notes articulate that building schools in Afghanistan didn’t slow down al Qaeda but drone strikes halted many of their operations. Johnsen’s title “The Seduction of Simple Solutions” suggests the only way to deter AQAP in the near term is via a complex solution instituted through a failed Saleh regime or its successor.  Pursuing such a solution will fail to stop AQAP’s immediate threat to the United States and is not feasible in light of the current situation in Yemen.
  
As we noted in our original article, we believe our recommendation is neither comprehensive nor simple, but instead the best option for achieving immediate U.S. national security interests with regards to AQAP.  If we’ve learned anything from the past ten years, it is ‘yes’ sometimes simple (as distinguished from simplistic) strategies with clear goals and objectives work far better in achieving our near term interests than costly, complex strategies spread across convoluted bureaucracies.  Increased use of drone and SOF forces, when executed as designed, can help eliminate the immediate threat of AQAP and improve U.S. options for pursuing a long-run Yemen strategy less encumbered by counterterrorism concerns."

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Posted on 07/31/2011 10:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
American Government "Desperate To Win Hearts And Minds" In Pakistan, Would Like Source Of All That Aid Made Known
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July 20, 2011

U.S. pushes visibility of aid effort in Pakistan

In this image taken on July 8, 2011, Pakistani technicians and students use the latest technology provided by the USAID to process and cut gems at a local gem and jewelry research center in Peshawar, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

(AP) 

ISLAMABAD - Desperate to win hearts and minds in Pakistan, the U.S. has begun pushing aid organizations working in the country's most dangerous region along the Afghan border to advertise that they receive American assistance.

The new requirement has disturbed aid groups, which fear their workers providing food, water, shelter and other basic needs to Pakistanis will come under militant attack if they proclaim their U.S. connection. This fear exists throughout Pakistan but is especially acute in the tribal region, which is the main sanctuary for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in the country.

But U.S. officials in Pakistan are under increasing pressure from Washington to increase the visibility of the country's aid effort to counter rampant anti-American sentiment that can feed support for militants targeting the West.

The focus on branding has become even more intense in the wake of the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town on May 2. The covert operation infuriated Pakistanis and strained the relationship so much that the U.S. decided to suspend $800 million in military aid to Pakistan.

The decision does not affect civilian aid and makes the effort to win hearts and minds through that assistance even more important. The U.S. has earmarked $7.5 billion in civilian aid for Pakistan over five years, but it will do little to sway public opinion if Pakistanis don't know where the money is coming from. And there are growing questions in Congress about what U.S. aid in Pakistan is achieving.

"Our mandate is to make sure people here know that they are receiving American assistance," said one U.S. official in Pakistan. "It's always a struggle, especially in a country like this with security considerations."

Previously, because of the militant threat, groups working in the semiautonomous tribal region were exempted from having to brand their projects, a requirement for groups distributing American aid elsewhere in the country.

The U.S. quietly changed its policy toward the tribal region in the fall, and now evaluates each project on a case by case basis, said U.S. officials in Pakistan. The U.S. has also become less willing to grant waivers to the requirement that it often gave in other parts of the country that have experienced militant violence, such as northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and central Punjab province, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Militants have targeted aid groups in the past. The Pakistani Taliban killed five U.N. staffers in a suicide attack in 2009 at the office of the World Food Program in Islamabad. In 2010, militants attacked World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian aid group helping survivors from the 2005 earthquake in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killing six Pakistani employees.

Eleven prominent charities signed a letter last fall asking the U.S. Agency for International Development not to require aid in Pakistan to be branded with the group's red, white and blue logo. The letter was sent by InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based NGOs. [if the aid is not identified as coming from America, why should the Americans, if trying to win hearts and minds etc.,  give it? To permit the Pakistanis to procreate at a still more dizzying rate, without any of the constraints on population that reliance on their own means would impose? To make their lives such that they will no longer have to struggle for existence, and will have time left over to spend on plotting against Infidels? Or so that their terrifying demographic surge can continue? What's the reason? What's the justification? We owe it to them? Why? Aren't there plenty of non-Muslims who are in far worse condition, and have a claim on our charitable impulses?]

Joel Charny, vice president for humanitarian policy and practice at InterAction, said it has been frustrating to have U.S. officials sitting in a fortified embassy in Islamabad argue that NGO concerns about safety in Pakistan are overblown.

"There was just a complete contradiction between the U.S.'s own security protocols for their employees and their staff and then the risks they were expecting the NGOs to take on in the name of branding and hearts and minds," said Charny.

The international humanitarian aid group CARE turned down American funding to help people in south Punjab cope with last year's devastating floods because of the U.S. government's branding requirements, the organization said.

Other non-government organizations working in Pakistan that receive American funding declined to comment on the new branding policy, saying the issue was too sensitive and talking about it could put their employees at risk.

Not only does the U.S. require many NGOs to brand their projects with a logo that says "USAID: From the American People," but U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter decided a few months ago to add the American flag as well to make sure illiterate Pakistanis would know the aid came from the U.S., said U.S. officials.

Examples of projects in dangerous areas that were branded in this manner include a dam in the South Waziristan tribal area, a teacher's college in the Khyber tribal area and 150 schools in the Malakand area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said U.S. officials. All three areas experience frequent Taliban attacks.

Another initiative handed out livestock to conflict-affected families in the Swat Valley, which was controlled by the Taliban until an army offensive in 2009 and still experiences periodic violence. The livestock all had USAID tags around their necks, including one that read "This goat is from the people of America."

The U.S. still exempts some projects in very dangerous areas from branding, or asks them to use press releases or TV documentaries instead of logos, but the number of exemptions has declined, said U.S. officials.

USAID first implemented its branding policy in 2004 when delivering assistance to Indonesia after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami and saw favorable perceptions of the U.S. nearly double in the country, according to the agency.

Research on the connection between U.S. aid and hearts and minds in Pakistan has been mixed. A study published last year by Tahir Andrabi, an economics professor at Pomona College in California, found the influx of foreign aid after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake significantly increased survivors' trust in the West.

But a separate study done by Andrew Wilder, director of the Afghanistan and Pakistan programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, noted that the positive effect on public opinion nationwide was very short-lived. [as it would be in any Muslam land, for Islam inculcates an attitude of permanent hostility and mistrust of Infidels that nothing can overcome, as long as Islam is taken to heart]

"I don't think it's inappropriate for donors to want to take credit for some of the money they are giving to a country like Pakistan, but I think they should be aware that the impact of that branding could be very limited, and it could end up being self-defeating if it is actually going to put the aid agencies or government agencies at risk," Wilder said.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 9:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
A Musical Interlude: Rose, Rose, I Love You (Yao Li)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 9:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
And In Xinjiang, In The City Of Kashgar, Muslim Uighurs Attack Han Chinese.
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From Xinhua:

July 31, 2011

Police kill 4 suspects in Xinjiang city

 
   

KASHI, Xinjiang,  -- Four suspects were shot dead by police in the city of Kashi (or Kashgar) in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Sunday afternoon.

Four others were caught, while police are hunting for the rest four following an eruption of violence at 4:30 p.m., in which more than 10 pedestrians and police officers had been found injured.

Local sources have earlier said three people died from a blast at the scene, but witnesses said the victims were hacked to death by the rioters.

The incident happened after at least seven people were killed by rioters on Saturday night in the same city.

Two suspects hijacked a truck at 11:45 p.m. Saturday, stabbing the driver to death and ramming into pedestrians. The pair later jumped out of the truck and hacked bystanders.

Xinjiang, home to China's Uygur minority and other ethnic groups, has been under terrorist threat.

Police shot 14 rioters who attacked a police station and killed four people in Xinjiang's Hotan city on July 18.

The attack left four people dead, including an armed police officer, a security guard, a woman and a teenage girl. At least four others were injured.

Police concluded later that the riot was "a severely violent terrorism case" that was organized by terrorism groups.

A big riot happened on July 5, 2009, when rock-flinging and knife-wielding rioters looted shops, torched vehicles and killed nearly 200 people.

In March 2008, five months before the Beijing Olympics, police arrested a 19-year-old Uygur for her foiled terrorist attempt on a passenger flight.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 9:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
David Yerushalmi Profiled in the NYTimes
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Andrea Elliott writes in the NYTImes:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s latest woes include high unemployment, continuing foreclosures and a battle over collective-bargaining rights for teachers. But when a Republican representative took the Statehouse floor during a recent hearing, he warned of a new threat to his constituents’ way of life: Islamic law.

The representative, a former fighter pilot named Rick Womick, said he had been studying the Koran. He declared that Shariah, the Islamic code that guides Muslim beliefs and actions, is not just an expression of faith but a political and legal system that seeks world domination. “Folks,” Mr. Womick, 53, said with a sudden pause, “this is not what I call ‘Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you.’ ”

Similar warnings are being issued across the country as Republican presidential candidates, elected officials and activists mobilize against what they describe as the menace of Islamic law in the United States.

Since last year, more than two dozen states have considered measures to restrict judges from consulting Shariah, or foreign and religious laws more generally. The statutes have been enacted in three states so far.

Voters in Oklahoma overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment last November that bans the use of Islamic law in court. And in June, Tennessee passed an antiterrorism law that, in its original iteration, would have empowered the attorney general to designate Islamic groups suspected of terror activity as “Shariah organizations.”

A confluence of factors has fueled the anti-Shariah movement, most notably the controversy over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York, concerns about homegrown terrorism and the rise of the Tea Party. But the campaign’s air of grass-roots spontaneity, which has been carefully promoted by advocates, shrouds its more deliberate origins.

In fact, it is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam. Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.

Working with a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yerushalmi has written privately financed reports, filed lawsuits against the government and drafted the model legislation that recently swept through the country — all with the effect of casting Shariah as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the cold war.

The message has caught on. Among those now echoing Mr. Yerushalmi’s views are prominent Washington figures like R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., and the Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, who this month signed a pledge to reject Islamic law, likening it to “totalitarian control.”

Yet, for all its fervor, the movement is arguably directed at a problem more imagined than real. Even its leaders concede that American Muslims are not coalescing en masse to advance Islamic law. Instead, they say, Muslims could eventually gain the kind of foothold seen in Europe, where multicultural policies have allowed for what critics contend is an overaccommodation of Islamic law.

“Before the train gets too far down the tracks, it’s time to put up the block,” said Guy Rodgers, the executive director of ACT for America, one of the leading organizations promoting the legislation drafted by Mr. Yerushalmi.

The more tangible effect of the movement, opponents say, is the spread of an alarmist message about Islam — the same kind of rhetoric that appears to have influenced Anders Behring Breivik, the suspect in the deadly dual attacks in Norway on July 22. The anti-Shariah campaign, they say, appears to be an end in itself, aimed at keeping Muslims on the margins of American life.

“The fact is there is no Shariah takeover in America,” said Salam Al-Marayati, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, one of several Muslim organizations that have begun a counteroffensive. “It’s purely a political wedge to create fear and hysteria.”

Anti-Shariah organizers are pressing ahead with plans to introduce versions of Mr. Yerushalmi’s legislation in half a dozen new states, while reviving measures that were tabled in others.

The legal impact of the movement is unclear. A federal judge blocked the Oklahoma amendment after a representative of the Council on American- Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, sued the state, claiming the law was an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom.

The establishment clause of the Constitution forbids the government from favoring one religion over another or improperly entangling itself in religious matters. But many of the statutes are worded neutrally enough that they might withstand constitutional scrutiny while still limiting the way courts handle cases involving Muslims, other religious communities or foreign and international laws.

For Mr. Yerushalmi, the statutes themselves are a secondary concern. “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” he said in one of several extensive interviews. “The purpose was heuristic — to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’ ”

Continue reading here.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 7:11 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 31 July 2011
AWOL Pvt. Abdo’s anti-Semitic Da’wa Rants Evident During Training
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PFC  Nasar Jason Abdo

AWOL 21 year old Pvt. Nasar Jason Abdo was arrested for his purchase of weapons and bomb making materials for an attempted Jihad attack at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. More has been revealed about Abdo’s aggressive proselytizing of his training unit mates and Islamic anti-Semitism directed at af Jewish soldier during training. Abdo should have been discharged by the US Army instead of being granted Conscientious Objector status for not willing to be deployed to fight fellow Muslims in Afghanistan. Clearly, someone screwed up at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the 101St Airborne-the screaming eagles. This is the latest disaster of the Army’s diversity first program. One wonders how many of the 12,000 serving Muslims harbor similar Jihadi views as Abdo. There have been several other Muslim soldier perpetrating murderous attacks on fellow soldiers in Kuwait and, most spectacularly Maj. Nidal Hasan, about to be tried for his Jihadi massacre at Fort Hood in November, 2009. Was Pvt. Abdo engaging in a sympathetic me too attack for his fellow Muslim in the ummah at his former home town of Killeen, Texas?

More is coming out about this product of an American Christian mother and a Jordanian father. His father Jamal was deported to Jordan after serving a term in a Texas prison for soliciting sex with an undercover agent in a sex-scam posing as a minor. Note this from a MyPet Jawa post:

Jamal Abdo was arrested in 2004, accused of soliciting sex from a Garland detective posing online as Molly, a 15-year-old girl, according to records[...]

Jamal Abdo unsuccessfully appealed his conviction. He was released from a Texas prison in December 2009 and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. He was deported to Jordan in February 2010. Jamal, a Muslim, lived in Killeen for 25 years, he was divorced from Abdo’s Christian mother.

Speaking from Jordan Jamal said the charges against his son were all lies from A to Z He also said the charges were trumped up because Abdo refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.“My son loved people no matter who they are, whether Jews or Christians, ” Jamal Abdo said. “Naser is not the kind of a person who harbors evil for the other people, he cannot kill anyone and he could not have done any bad thing.”POS just like his son.

This morning, Fox n Friends interviewed a Sgt Michael Payton who served in Abdo’s training company at Fort Benning, Georgia-the Army Infantry School. He said that Abdo was aggressively trying to proselytize his fellow soldiers. Moreover, according to Payton Abdo was engaged in bigoted anti-Semitic rhetoric and harassed a fellow Jewish member of his training unit. Sgt. Payton used the careworn term taqiyya or deception to describe what Pvt. Abdo was engaged in. Sgt. Payton couldn’t understand why Abdo joined the military during as he swore an oath to protect and defend this country and it’s Constitution. Abdo identified himself as a Palestinian Muslim first rather than a US citizen.

Having also been through the Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia as an officer back in the early 1960’s, I’m familiar with the training regimen and the objective of achieving unit combat readiness and esprit de corps in  this combat arm – what the military refers to as the Queen of Battle. Sgt. Payton in the Fox n’ Friends interview also referred to the Infantry as the tip of the spear in battle.

Watch this Fox n Friends interview with Sgt. Payton, here.

 

 

At issue is why didn’t Pvt. Abdo’s training company commander at Fort Benning, upon investigation of complaints, recommend him for an Administrative Discharge under Article 108 of the Universal Military Code of Justice?  Perhaps this is the latest manifestation of the Islamic Stockholm Syndrome. A syndrome that has intimidated our military leadership up to and including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The same Joint staff who eschewed the warnings of Army Reserve Maj. and Pentagon consultant Stephen Coughlin about the threat doctrine of Islamic jihad law. The Joint Staff sent Coughlin packing for violating their benign feckless view of Islam after Heshem Islam a former Muslim outreach aide to Bush Deputy Undersecretary of defense Gordon England called him “a Christian fanatic with a pen.” As proof we had the precedent of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey bemoaning the loss of diversity, but not the 13 deaths and over 32 seriously injured in the Fort Hood rampage on November 5, 2009 of Maj. Hasan, Pvt. Abdo’s Jihad mentor. Abdo endeavored to follow Hasan’s playbook, and nearly succeeded at Fort Hood, but for a suspicious Texas gun dealer.

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Posted on 07/31/2011 12:08 AM by Jerry Gordon
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