She said "At least three seats where we lost, where we didn't gain the seat, based on electoral fraud. Now, could we have planned for that in the campaign? Absolutely not. I think it would be wrong to start identifying them . . . It is predominantly within the Asian community. I have to look back and say we didn't do well in those communities, but was there something over and above that we could have done? Well, actually not, if there is going to be voter fraud."
It's fair to say that for some years in Westminster the subject of electoral fraud and its prevalence in certain parts of the Asian community has been the great unspoken subject. Abuse of postal ballots and the electoral roll is regularly deplored, but politicians have always been wary of making such a blunt statement: that the problem too often can be traced to areas with significant British Asian populations. In private politicians of all three parties are happy to deplore the importing of what one minister described to me as "the politics of the sub-continent" but they seldom dare say it out loud for fear of being shouted down. To hear it in such unequivocal terms from a minister is striking, all the more so when the minister in question is herself of Asian extraction. You could say it needed to come from someone who is of the Asian community to give it force.
But was it wise? I've only seen the extract, but she has made a specific allegation yet refused to back it up with names or evidence. Surely, if Lady Warsi is going to drop a bombshell like that, she should tell the whole story or at least pass her evidence to the Electoral Commission and the police. This is an issue that deserves to be debated in public, but to do so requires specifics. Otherwise it's a sweeping generalisation that makes it too easy for Labour to cry 'smear'.
I can give you an example, only it was a popular and well respected independent who lost her seat. Val Rush - Gascoigne Ward - London Borough of Barking
Needless to say, I didn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North. Like many on the Left, he has a blind spot about Islam. Here he is on that contradiction in terms, the Islamic Human Rights Commission:
I like the way it works, I like the sense of values surrounding it, and I've found them extremely helpful in bringing cases to my attention of individual abuses of human rights that they're concerned about. But also general issues concerning the rights of people in the Middle East. The situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I've found them generally extremely helpful, extremely positive, and help to challenge the notion that human rights is somehow or other something based on Romano-Christian law and based on Europe rather than the rest of the world.
I like the concept that Islamic Human Rights Commission represents all that's best in Islam concerning the rights of individuals to free expression, to peaceful assembly, and the rights of individuals within a society.
I like the concept too. It's the reality I have a problem with. As for the "sense of values surrounding it", where there's no sense there's no feeling. Corbyn implies, although he does not state, that "the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan" is all the fault of us "Romano-Christians" and that stoning, flogging, killing of gays and apostates and oppression of women and non-Muslims are nothing to do with Islam.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission promotes Sharia, and there is nothing Romano-Christian about that.
A would-be terrorist was seriously injured when a homemade bomb attached to his bicycle handlebars exploded on Jakarta's outskirts. The device, packed with nails and ball bearings, exploded near a market in the satellite city of Bekasi on Thursday morning.The 38-year-old - identified by local media only as Ahmad - was rushed to hospital with face, neck and torso injuries. No one else was hurt in the blast.
The man was reportedly carrying a suicide note saying he was seeking revenge against the enemies of Islam.
"This is revenge against you, the allies of Satan, who have killed, executed and detained mujahidin (holy warriors)," read the note, shown on Indonesian television. "We are ready to die for this noble religion. This martyr's bomb is for all you infidels. We will chase you, even if you run to heaven. Your death is certain. Mujahidin still lives in Indonesia."
Police sources told local media they believe the man had been targeting a traffic police post but had botched the attack.
Britons training in Pakistan for UK terror attacks
At least 20 Britons are undergoing terrorist training in Pakistan to launch Mumbai-style shootings and suicide attacks in Britain, intelligence sources have told The Daily Telegraph. The young Muslims, who all hold British passports, are said to have travelled into the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan to join training camps run by al-Qaeda and their associated militant groups. They are being trained to use firearms as well as explosives so that they can launch random shooting sprees in the UK, Western intelligence sources said.
"We believe there are 15 to 20 Britons in the camps," said an intelligence source in Islamabad, speaking on condition of anonymity.The disclosure comes after the CIA launched drone strikes on Pakistan training camps in North and South Waziristan in an attempt to disrupt an al-Qaeda plot to launch an attack targeting Britain, France and Germany. "This is an ongoing operation with a constantly changing dynamic," one security source said. "There are local, national and international links, including Pakistan."
Intelligence agencies in Britain and the US were in the early stages of establishing the full details of the plot but MI5 had traced it from Pakistan back to Britain, sources told The Daily Telegraph. A US intelligence source said the threat was "credible, but not specific" and could have included other European countries such as Spain and Italy, or even the US.
Some of the intelligence is understood to have originated with the capture of a German national in Kabul, Afghanistan in July. Ahmed Sidiqi, 36, is said to have talked of training with explosives and weapons and of plans to launch attacks in Germany and Europe. Sidiqi attended the Masjid Taiba mosque, formerly known as the Al-Quds mosque, in Hamburg, which was also attended by the leaders of the September 11 attacks.
Because enraged Muslims are expected to riot, an entire technology must be rendered unavailable to all Indians. An update on this story. By Biswajeet Banerjee for AP:
LUCKNOW, India - India has imposed a nationwide ban on sending bulk text messages amid concerns that a potentially explosive court judgment on who should control a disputed holy site could spark unrest, a top official said Wednesday.
The Allahabad High Court is scheduled to rule Thursday in the 60-year-old case on whether the site in the town of Ayodhya should be given to the Hindu community or returned to the Muslim community to rebuild the 16th-century Babri Mosque that was razed by Hindu hard-liners in 1992.
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Wednesday that the bulk texting ban was temporary but did not say how long it would remain in effect. He said some people were found to be sending messages in an attempt to incite others.
The ban on bulk texting - sending messages to many cell phone users simultaneously - was first imposed last week, when the verdict was initially due to be given.
Hindus say the mosque, built in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, was erected at the birthplace of Rama. Hindus want to build [Erratum: "rebuild"] a temple to Rama there.
The fight over the compound has shaken the core of modern India and led to repeated outbreaks of bloody communal violence. Rioting after the razing of the mosque in 1992 killed 2,000 nationwide.
On Wednesday, thousands of security forces fanned out across a dozen north Indian cities and towns, and authorities used helicopters to keep a vigil on historic sites of violence between Hindus and Muslims in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is located, said Brij Lal, a top state police officer.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh published an appeal for calm in ads in Indian newspapers Wednesday.
"There should be no attempt whatsoever made by any section of the people to provoke any other section or to indulge in any expression of emotion that would hurt the feelings of other people," he said.
Got it? As tortured and convoluted as that statement is, we all know exactly what he is trying to not not say.
Any multiculturalism that tolerates and includes a violent supremacist ideology quickly and inexorably leads to censorship in the name of "community relations", in other words, fear that the violent supremacists will commit violence.
This is weak sauce. Muslims are going to find out the verdict. Muslims can phone, or IM, or email, or talk to each other. They can listen to Friday prayers at their local mosque, where I guarantee the topic will come up, along with Qur'anic guidance on how they should respond.
Jerusalem - Israel's Education Ministry is locked in a row with a liberal high school over its use of a history textbook that gives both the Israeli and Palestinian versions of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The ministry has summoned the principal of Shaar Hanegev high school in southern Israel for "consultations" over the decision to continue using the textbook, which has been banned from the national school curriculum.
And this makes international headlines.
Critics denounced the move as a regressive step by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-leaning government to assert the Israeli narrative over the Palestinian one.
The row drives at the heart of Israeli identity, shaped by tales of Jewish heroism in the War of Independence that gloss over the fate of the Palestinians. The Israeli narrative asserts that Palestinians left their homes in what is now Israel of their own volition. The Palestinians contend that they were driven out, and they refer to the creation of Israel as the nakba, or the catastrophe.
"We have a problem with the Palestinian nakba," says Tom Segev, a prominent Israeli historian. "Instead of just teaching it and telling kids what happened, we keep trying to ignore it, distort it. It reflects our guilt. We don't know how to deal with it."
Under current education minister Gideon Saar, Israel has also struck the word nakba from a textbook for Israeli Arab children, arguing that the government should not promote a term that questions the legitimacy of the state.
Textbook prompts students to write their own conclusions
The textbook being used at Shaar Hanegev, aimed at 11th graders, is the product of a decade-long collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian teachers. Each page is split into three columns, with the Israeli narrative down one side, and the Palestinian down the other, with an empty column in the middle for students to write their own conclusions. It is being used as part of a wider experimental history course aimed at tackling, among other things, the events surrounding what Israel calls its War of Independence, the 1948-49 conflict that prompted hundreds of thousands Palestinians to leave their homes. The ministry reportedly instructed the school in early September to stop teaching with the book because it was not approved. The principal was subsequently called in, but he is not expected to meet with officials until after the 10-day Sukkot holiday is over, a ministry spokeswoman said. She added that parts of the school's history program were "problematic," but would not elaborate further. "This was a knee-jerk response, almost Pavlovian, to any attempt by the educational system to tackle the Palestinian side," one teacher at the school said, in comments quoted by Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. "This is a response that attests primarily to narrow-mindedness and an unwillingness to explore new modes of thinking."
Here's some suggestions for additional exploration of new modes of thinking: have French history textbooks include the Nazi point of view covering the Vichy regime. And of course U.S. textbooks should include the Al Qaeda perspective on the 9/11 attack misunderstanding. To exclude these narratives would be narrow-minded.
Are students free to write whatever they want in that empty middle column? Are all narratives, including ones involving a gigantic StayPuft (tm) marshmallow man, equally valid?
History is open to interpretation from different points of view, but it's not a tabla rasa on which each person is free to write anything at all. Facts are facts. Either the nascent Israeli government made announcements reassuring the Muslim inhabitants that they would be safe, or they didn't. Either the neighboring Arab governments warned Muslims in Israel to flee the impending slaughter that they had planned for the Israelis, or they didn't.
The school could not be reached for comment due to the Sukkot holiday.
Why Israelis fear alternate versions of history
In recent years, Israel's so-called new historians [make that "brave new historians"] have helped ignite a public discourse on the events of 1948, challenging the official Israel version of events that Palestinians brought about their own misfortune.
The rest of the article merely lays out the standard "Palestinian" version of events, in which the fascist Zionists are terrified of the truth, and are trying to cover it up in order to continue their evil oppression of the valiant "Palestinian refugees".
Iran Insists Cyberattack Didn't Hurt Nuclear Program - But Who Believes That?
Iran denies cyberattack hurt nuclear program -- but expert isn't sure
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 29, 2010
(CNN) -- Iran denied Wednesday that its nuclear systems had been infected with a virus, after days of reports that a new kind of malware had struck the Bushehr nuclear plant.
But the head of its nuclear program admitted that a virus had been found on the personal laptops of some staff at the reactor, the Iranian Students News Agency reported.
"We succeeded in preventing the enemy from achieving its objectives," IRNA quoted Ali Akbar Salehi as saying on Wednesday.
But a top computer security expert who analyzed a new kind of virus called Stuxnet says Iran is the most probable target of the malware, which he says could only have been designed by "the best of the best.
"We have never seen anything like this before," said Ralph Langner. "It's the most complex piece of malware in the history of computing.
"What the thing does, is actually it's designed to blow something up, it's as simple as that," he said. "The virus is a cyberwar weapon."
Langner, who was among the first to study the virus, presented his findings at a cyber security conference in Maryland last week.
The virus is designed to attack only a specific machine at a specific time, Langner told CNN Wednesday.
Langner has detected "the highest number of infections" in Iran, suggesting that Tehran's controversial nuclear program is the target.
"If you look at all the sophistication that went into Stuxnet, if you look at the fact that it's about sabotage, about destroying a specific piece of machinery, then the only target that makes sense given the target region... would be the Iranian nuclear power program," he said.
A government is almost certainly behind it, he said.
"You can take for granted that a hacker group is not able to create anything like Stuxnet, because the development requires much more resources than any such hacker group could afford," he said.
To use it as a weapon would require insider information, he said.
"You need to have very detailed and specific knowledge about the targeted application and process," he said.
"You will need to build up a lab model to test all that and if you take all that together into account, the only background that makes any sense is to assume that a nation-state is behind it."
It was probably delivered via infected USB sticks, he said, speculating that a Russian engineering firm that worked on the Iranian nuclear program had been infiltrated.
That would explain the pattern of infections around the world, he said -- anywhere the company worked would end up with the virus.
But only one specific target would be affected by it.
It's as if a virus were designed not only to target a computer running Microsoft Word, he said, but to search for a specific document created with Word.
And it's designed to hit industrial control systems, he said, activating itself only once its target reaches a certain state, like a designated temperature or pressure.
"When it finds a specific match, let's say in specific temperatures or pressures to reach certain thresholds, then the attack routine is executed," he said.
Stuxnet itself is no longer a cause for concern, he said.
"Don't worry about Stuxnet any longer," he said. "Obviously it hit its target. It is so specific it won't attack anything else."
But now that it's out there, other people will try to replicate it, he warned.
"Everybody will be able to study exactly what Stuxnet does and how it is done," he said. "So we must assume that Stuxnet will now act as a template for any kind of hackers, organized crime, terrorists in order to study how it can be done.
"Stuxnet is history," he said. "We need to work on what will come next."
Muslims In Northern Sudan Will Do Whatever It Takes To Prevent Secession By Southerners
From The Sudan Tribune:
Khartoum's minister threatens reprisal following January Referendum
Wednesday 29 September 2010
By Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
September 28, 2010 - The result of the impending January 9th self-determination Referendum of southern Sudan and subsequent separation of the South is a foregone conclusion. As I write these notes, the Government of National Unity is conducting a seminal visit to the USA. The two Sudanese Vice Presidents, Kiir and Taha have already conceded secession of the South. Their mission remains to assure the international community of their readiness to overcome some remaining difficulties and ensure peaceful and transparent implementation of the Referendum.
Leaving the carefully managed diplomacy, can the 500,000 to 1.5m southerners who reside in north Sudan deliver their votes without fear of reprisals?Unfortunately not as there is little prospect of a plebiscite being run in a fair and transparent way. As sad as it is, this is the message being sent to southern voters in northern Sudan. And the reminder comes from none other than Khartoum's Minister for Culture.
In a recent debacle, Sudan's Minister for Culture, Kamal Ibaid warned about the fate of the southerners in the north if they vote for independence, a legitimate right guaranteed by international conventions but equally by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and I quote:
"They [the southerners] will not enjoy citizenship rights, jobs or benefits, they will not be allowed to buy or sell in Khartoum market and they will not treated in hospitals, We will not even give them a needle in the hospital."
What is deplorable is not simply the threat that the statement poses to the carrying out of the referendum in an environment free of fear of reprisals. Rather, the statement is a clear call to the mob in the event of a secession vote to re-enact the ugly violence following the last Kenyan elections of 2007 or the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. What is bizarre and worryingly dangerous is that Khartoum's Minister does not seem to know that secession of the South does not strip the southerners in the north of their "northern" Sudanese citizenship, or likewise with respect to the northerners who may wish to live in the South after its independence. These people remain equal citizens in accordance with constitutions on both sides of the divide. Our Minister does not seem to have learned from the experience of other countries that have undergone separation but continued to have substantial minorities whose origin lay behind the national borders. Examples here include the Eritreans in Ethiopia, Muslims in India and the Palestinians in Israel.
As expected, the callous statement of Minister Ibaid elicited a sharp response in the Sudan but only from government opponents. The SPLM criticised the Minister's remarks and commendably assured commitment to the safety of northerners in the South in the event of a majority vote for independence. JEM Spokesperson Ahmed Husain castigated the Minister for his statement and demanded he be put on trial for incitement to hatred and inviting racism and discrimination.
In the dictum of the northern Sudanese ruling elite - as distinct from northern Sudanese people - Minister Ibaid's statement is neither an idiosyncratic revelation nor a callous slip of the tongue. In fact, Ibaid's proclamation is steeped in the mentality of the Sudanese northern ruling elite and should have come as no surprise to anyone. This is the same mentality which is now breaking up the Sudan and which the late Dr Garang worked tirelessly to change in his efforts to build a New Sudan. Garang often lamented the deeply ingrained division of Sudan between Awalad Al-balad (worthy children of Sudan) and the remaining majority who do not belong. The first favoured group refers to the Arabized groups of the northern region of the Sudan while the latter consists of the Southerners, the westerners, the Nuba and the Beja. These latter groups are often called "Africans", a derogatory term in the lexicon of the Sudanese ruling elite, used as a synonym of the term "abeed" (slaves). While some concerned Sudanese are reeling from Ibaid's statement, his fellow Minister for Foreign Affairs is enmeshed in a dispute for calling the southerners "Niggers". In response to his critiques, he comes up with what an Arabic proverb calls "an excuse worse than the offence". Thus, he justifies himself, as reported: "He [Karti] described as "absurd" and "irresponsible" bringing up the issue of using the derogatory term "nigger" to refer to Southerners saying that people all around the word curse at each other" (ST, September 27th 10).
One may excuse the illiterate Janjaweed for uttering racist slurs but certainly not those who are educated enough to rise to positions of Ministers. The war cry of Darfur Janjaweed when attacking their neighbours says: "whoever dies goes into martyrdom and whoever survives gets the wealth of the slaves". The term "slaves" is used in reference to their neighbours, who are also referred to as zurga (black) or Africans. Never mind that the Janjaweed are just as black as their neighbours, as well as the rest of us!
That racism is so embedded in the culture of the ruling elite of Sudan is also clear from another statement by Abdel Rahim Husain, the current Minister of Defence in 2008. When asked about rumours about possible resettlement of Egyptian farmers in northern Sudan, his response was:
"For the sake of debate, let us assume that the government is intending to resettle 5 million southern Egyptians (Saaida) in the northern Region of Sudan. So what? There are now 8 million people in Darfur, all of them are Africans and coming from abroad. Would it be better for you to have those coming into you from Egypt or those who are coming from West Africa?"
Five years after death of Dr. Garang, his fight against the Awlad Al-balad mentality remains as fierce as before. In this mentality, only those who are admitted into the so-called "Arab" club are entitled to live in Sudan while the rest are disposable souls and have to be content with just that. Hamdi, a Khartoum Ex-Minster for Finance defined this in geographical tenets. In one of his revelations, he advised the current ruling party to restrict future investment to what is now known as Dongola-Obeid-Sennar Triangle. This triangle excludes the Southerners, the Westerners and the Blue Nile people. As for those who have betrayed the triangle and sneaked into Khartoum, they will be disappointed to discover they are still to be excluded. Hassan Mekki, philosopher and bigot of the ruling party of Sudan has already paved the way for such exclusion by stating: "Khartoum is besieged by a black belt [southerners and westerners] who fill the city with flies by day and burglary at night". Minister Ibaid's statement must be read in this context. It is the most explicit call for ethnic cleansing, removing the undeserved citizens and restoring comfort to the worthy children of the land.
If anybody has the illusion that Al-Bashir may act and sack or even reprimand Minister Ibaidin in order to appease the southerners and others, he or she should think again. Ibaid's announcement is well in tune with Al-Bashir's thinking about the unworthy children of the land. Not long ago, he was quoted, commenting on rape atrocities in Darfur saying: "He [Bashir] told us, [if] this Gharbawia [Darfuri woman], when a Ja'ali [man from the Ja'al tribe] man humps her, is this an honour or rape?" (Sudan Tribune, March 30, 2010). Minister Ibaid broke no rank in Khartoum's junta. He is well in line with the thinking of Khartoum's ruling elite.
Amnesty International Sometimes Does The Job It Was Always Supposed To Do
Saudia Arabia: As University of Ulster grants law doctorate to Saudi prince, Amnesty raises human rights concerns
29 September 2010
Amnesty International response to the conferring of an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) on Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia:
Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said:
'Amnesty International does not take a position on who should or should not receive honorary degrees.
'We would take this opportunity to remind people in Northern Ireland, including students of law at the University of Ulster, that Saudi Arabia is responsible for many appalling abuses of human right.
'In the last year in Saudi Arabia, scores of people were executed and more were flogged. The torture of detainees is systematic and carried out with impunity. Unfair trials are rife and thousands of people are jailed, many without charge or access to lawyers. Prisoners of conscience - including human rights activists - languish in prison. Women continue to face severe discriminatiion and widespread violence. Religious minorities, including Shi'a Muslims and Christians, can face persecution.'
The University of Ulster is to confer an honorary doctorate on HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia for his services to diplomatic and international relations. The Prince will receive his Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) at a special ceremony in Jordanstown on 28 September.
Published in the Connecticut Jewish LedgerOctober 1, 2010
A chance discussion with a defense scientist at a presentation on the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Congressional Commission at the Intelligence Summit in March 2007 alerted me to the possible uses of Malware. This was buttressed by information on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) high tech Unit 8200. Other elements were Israel's technological prowess in manufacturing computer chip sets for Intel and Israel's truly innovative and proprietary software security systems. This was now beyond the realm of science fiction.
Why would Israel be the place where all this might came together? The question as to which country in the world had the greatest need to develop and deploy a Cyber-warfare capability is easy to answer. While the US, Russia, China, India and some say Taiwan, may be among those with both offensive and defensive cyber war capabilities, Israel has a compelling reason to consider using Malware. Malware can disrupt Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) infrastructure and control systems software to slow down and perhaps disable the nuclear enrichment process of Iran. Certainly, the news of the day coming out of the Middle East about 30,000 Iranian computers infected with newly named Stuxnet Malware should send a message to Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs that yards of concrete cannot deter this new technological weapon.
The Israelis realized that there wasn't the impetus in the US to develop this type of weapon. Most established defense bureaucracies make their decisions for reasons other than real need. Under the Obama Administration the US is doing very little to address the looming denouement of a Nuclear Iran. Iran in turn is strutting like a bully on the world stage intimidating the region, rattling its nuclear weaponry and delivery systems. Obama during a recent MSNBC Town hall forum in response to a question about Iran said that the 'sanctions' are working proving that 'hope and change' is as much a defensive posture as it is a domestic priority. The US defense posture is why Arab neighbors in the region have bet on Israel as the other strong horse in the Middle East. Notice that these Arab states do not raise the usual canards about the road to peace running through Jerusalem.
The Saudis have their hands full dealing with the Shia insurgency in Northern Yemen and in the oil-rich Eastern Gulf province. Jordan has the daunting prospect of rising Salafism threatening the Hashemite Kingdom. Egypt is tottering on the brink of collapse with the end of Mubarak's dictatorial reign and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. So the use of the cyber war equivalent of an ICBM gives Israel an important third leg in a possible military strategy. That strategy involves destruction of the near enemies and proxies of Iran, Hezbollah with its cache of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza with its stockpile of weaponry and rockets. The possibility of a Malware attack will cause Syria to think twice about another round of covert nuclear bomb assembly projects.
The other point of impact on Iran, that could be affected by any outside Cyber effort, is the possible disruption of the command and control net of the Revolutionary Guard, and the isolation of communications by the ruling Supreme Council of Mullahs. That could aid in the re-emergence of home grown opposition in Iran.
If Israel is developing Malware, it is being circumspect. A pattern of Israel acting and the US disclosing was the one used in September, 2007 regarding Israel's destruction of Syria's newly developed nuclear bomb capability.
All of this is speculation. Aside from the infection of Iranian computers there is no hard evidence as yet that a malware attack has breached the Iranian offensive systems and there is even less in the way of signs that Israel is a player in this drama.
There is no question that the development of this new weaponry by any one country is a threat to all countries. Weapon systems and technology don't remain the province of one user for long. Perhaps this Malware episode in the Middle East may be a game changer in cyber warfare.
Jerry Gordon a regular contributor to the Jewish Ledger is formerly from Fairfield and now lives in Pensacola, Fla.
Petraeus says Taliban making 'overtures' for peace
Breathtaking naivité after nearly a decade of opportunities to study the history of Islamic negotiations. By Lynne O'Donnell for AFP:
KABUL (AFP) - The commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan said Tuesday that the Taliban are approaching the Afghan government and foreign forces about laying down arms after almost nine years of insurgency.
US General David Petraeus, who commands more than 150,000 NATO and US troops in Afghanistan, said many small insurgent groups had already made "overtures" to NATO forces about quitting the fight.
"There have already been 20 or so overtures from small groups around the country," he told AFP, referring to a programme aimed at reintegrating mid-level Taliban commanders and grassroots fighters back into Afghan society.
He said NATO supported efforts by President Hamid Karzai to open peace talks with the Taliban leadership and in some cases had helped the process along.
"Reconciliation with senior elements of the Taliban is the province of the Afghan government," Petraeus said in an interview with AFP.
"President Karzai has established very clear red lines for it, and in this case we support what it is the Afghan government is doing, and in some occasions facilitated as well.
"This is very, very early stages, I don't think you would yet call it negotiations, it is early discussions," he said.
"People are coming to the government, there are people coming to us," he said, adding: "This is an Afghan government endeavour."
Petraeus was referring to the twin-track programme of reconciliation and reintegration, sponsored by the Western allies with a 200-million-dollar trust fund to help pay local Afghan communities to bring fighters in from the cold.
Reconciliation focuses on opening a dialogue with the Taliban leadership, and reintegration on encouraging fighters to rejoin their communities.
A Taliban spokesman dismissed Petraeus's comments as "completely baseless", saying the insurgents would not "negotiate with foreign invaders or their puppet government".
"We want full and unconditional withdrawal of all invading forces from our country," Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP by telephone from an unknown location.
Karzai on Tuesday renewed his call on the Taliban to give up their violent campaign against his administration.
"I call on the Taliban again," he said. "Compatriots! Don't destroy your land for the benefit of others. Don't kill your people for the benefit of others. Embrace peace," he said.
At this point, one cannot be too choosy. If this self-delusionary kabuki play gets our troops out of Afghanistan sooner, it will be worth it. The Taliban will be Karzai's problem to deal with. Either he will be a thuggish-enough strong-man to keep the Taliban at bay in parts of the country for some time, or the Taliban-by-any-other-name will once again directly take the mantle of power. It hardly makes a difference to the kuffar. If anything, having a weak "pro-Western" leadership who collude with the jihadis while simultaneously accepting U.S. aid, is a net negative.
From my point of view, the Afghans lost this war. (Unwisely) given every opportunity to forsake jihad, sharia, and Islam, they have of course embraced it all the tighter. The resumption of the Taliban regime is not a failure for the Coalition, it is a failure for the Afghans. It would only be a failure for the U.S. if we continue to waste our resources in Afghanistan, propping up a corrupt government that does not have the support of any significant fraction of the population, destroying our own economy and military readiness in the process.
Intrepid blogger and video producer Vlad Tepes send us this fascinating translation of a French TV undercover documentary on a so-called "No Go" area in London. These are areas in which non-Muslims are not admitted by virtue of threats of intimidation and physical violence. Watch this graphic illustration of what happens when a country abdicates its legal system and values in favor of accomodating Shariah law.
The undercover French TV team visits a London area known as Tower Hamlets. You will see evidence of Shariah compliance including at a muncipal owned pool. Note the interview with a non- Muslim who left the area in fear of his life. The video report depicts an exchange between a Sharia judge and a Pakistani British woman seeking a divorce from an abusive husband.
The French team also follows Jihadi Cleric Anjem Choudary as he proudly states that he is a devotee of Osma bin Laden, fervently promotes Jihad against non-Muslims, hopes for ultimate takeover of Buckingham Palace, the Vatican in Rome and the White House in Washington, DC. The French team follows him while he his gives classes in Shariah law and speaks with islamists at a Rally in New York.
There is a sequence about the English Defense League EDL that has risen to oppose Islamization in the U.K., including punch ups with police at a rally earlier this year.
This is graphic evidence of what Bishop Michael Nazir Ali has ralied about foryears and that Melanie Phillips has written about in both her book Londonistan and her daily Spectator blog commentary.
The irony is that a French TV team is documenting islamization in the U.K., while at the same time it is rampant in France.
For Americans and Canadians, this French TV undercover delivers a frightening prospect of what Islamization could look like if Sharia is accomodated in North Amercia.
David Isaac On Shmuel Katz And The Folly Of The Freeze
An Aversion To Logic
By David Isaac
Vladimir Jabotinsky: Master of the Greek Art of Logic
InLone Wolf, the two-volume biography of his mentor, the great Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky, Shmuel Katz refers to a conversation between Max Nordau and Jabotinsky during World War I.
In reply to Jabotinsky's contention that the Turk was 'our worst enemy' and that 'now that the hour of his downfall has struck, we cannot possibly stand by and do nothing,' Nordau contented himself with 'a profound saying': "This my young friend, is logic, but logic is a Greek art and Jews can't tolerate it. The Jew learns not by way of reason but from catastrophes. He won't buy an umbrella merely because he sees clouds in the sky. He waits until he is drenched and catches pneumonia." (Lone Wolf, Barricade Books, p. 149)
This peculiar aversion to logic, a malady which Nordau was convinced Jews suffered from, did not afflict Jabotinsky. Indeed, Jabotinsky was aware that he thought in a non-Jewish manner, that his mentality was, in the words of Colonel John Henry Patterson, the commander of the Jewish Legion, "void of the peculiar inhibitions of a Jewish mind influenced and twisted by the abnormalities of centuries of life in dispersion."
As Jabotinsky himself said of his idea for a Jewish regiment to take part in the conquest of Palestine. "As matter of fact, this idea is a very normal idea which would have occurred, under such circumstances, to any normal person; and I claim the title of a fully normal person. In Jewish colloquial parlance, that title is sometimes translated by the expression goyishe kop; if it is true - so much the worse for us."
A close friend of Shmuel's once said that Shmuel wished to imitate his hero, Jabotinsky, in all things. In respect to his use of logic, he more than succeeded. Shmuel Katz was eminently logical. He used his own "goyishe kop" to good effect and had he been alive today he would have likely pointed out the illogic of the Netanyahu government's actions, particularly in regard to its 10-month "settlement freeze".
The freeze is now over, though we don't know for how long, as Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for a formula to satisfy the international consensus that ending settlement construction is a desirable goal. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that although the freeze has ended, "as a compromise" Israel has already "proposed to scale back some building."
So while towns like Revavah cheer, sing and release balloons to celebrate the end of the 10-month moratorium on new construction, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks the residents of such communities to show "restraint" and "responsibility" in their public celebrations. He is right to do so, though for the wrong reasons.
Netanyahu has his own motives for calling for restraint. He wants negotiations to continue and is eager not to antagonize the Arabs. Those of Netanyahu's supporters who believe that he has confected some clever formula that will satisfy both American pressure and ensure that the Arabs will never agree to a deal, are deluding themselves. Netanyahu is invested in the "two-state solution". Even as he called an end to the freeze, he appealed to PA head Mahmoud Abbas to continue in the talks. Former British PM Tony Blair, now representative of the Quartet, who has had plenty of opportunity to interact with Netanyahu is probably correct when he recently said he is "absolutely sure [Netanyahu] would sign a deal."
The real reason the pioneers of Judea and Samaria should not be celebrating is that he, Netanyahu, has done incalculable damage to their cause. U.S. pressure to implement a "settlement freeze" is nothing new. American administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have regurgitated the idea, one supplied to them by an inveterately anti-Zionist State Department. Shmuel, therefore, had ample opportunity to point out with his impeccable logic that "a suspension of settlement ... even if intended as only 'temporary' is burdened with implications very much deeper and more far-reaching."
After all the concession is designed to satisfy the desire of the Arabs - who oppose any Israeli presence. Their opposition is a function of their claim that the country belongs to them. Our settlement is an expression of our ownership of the land. A suspension of our settlement as a result of their opposition inevitably conveys recognition of the legitimacy of their claim, and a weakening, to the same degree, of our claim that the country belongs to the Jewish people. This is an understatement. Any concession, and especially if publicly-declared, on the establishment of settlements, adds strength to the forces working for our eviction from Judea and Samaria.
Four years later, when the topic of a freeze was again broached, Katz wrote in "Purse String Tangles" (The Jerusalem Post, November 12, 1982):
Does [Moshe] Arens not understand the implications of such a "freeze?" That by agreeing to it, Israel would be embracing the principle that the settling of Jews in Eretz Yisrael is a bad thing; is, in fact, an "obstacle to peace?" That it will be interpreted as acquiescence in the monstrous Arab charge that the absence of peace is due to the presence of Jews in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and not to successive Arab aggressions?
Does he not know that the sly suggestion of a "temporary" freeze is only a move in the campaign not only to delegitimize Jewish rule in that part of Eretz Yisrael but to delegitimize any Jewish presence there? That if Jews settling is bad and holds back peace for six months, how would it become positive and "peace-making" afterwards?
This is precisely what Netanyahu has done with his freeze. He had created an admission of guilt and given credence to the Arab charge that Jewish towns are an "obstacle to peace." "Why else would he freeze them?" they will now argue. And if these communities were an obstacle that required freezing for the past 10 months, why should they become "peace-making" in the next 10?
The Arabs would further argue, with the full force of logic on their side courtesy of Netanyahu, that if the Israeli prime minister wants a two-state solution, where exactly does he think that second state would be if not in the territories where he is now permitting Jews to build? If his goal is to hand over those territories for a Palestinian Arab state, it makes no sense to expand the Jewish presence there any further. Logically speaking, they would be right.
Can this abysmal situation be rectified? It will start with a "goyishe kop" - Israeli leaders who can think with the logic of a Jabotinsky, Nordau or Katz, and will have the courage to state the Jewish claim to the Land. Menachem Begin, for a fleeting moment, before his collapse, offered an example of how this combination of courage and logic might look.
In The Hollow Peace, Katz describes Begin's first meeting with President Jimmy Carter, who expressed "his reservations about the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza." Begin replied:
"Mr. President, there are a number of towns whose names derive from the Bible. There are so many places named Hebron and places called Shiloh and other places known as Bethlehem. Would it occur to you to prevent anybody from settling in one of those places? Have you the authority to do so? In the same way the Government of Israel cannot forbid a Jew to settle in the original Hebron or the original Bethlehem."
Begin made his case admirably, though he would later falter and fail. But Israel is capable of producing leaders who will not falter and of producing leaders capable of logic. It has done so before. It is only logical it will do so again.
Bernard Lewis wrote in his essay, "Communism and Islam" [International Affairs,Vol. 30, No. 1(Jan., 1954), pp. 1-12] (with thanks to Andrew Bostom):
I turn now from the accidental to the essential factors, to those deriving from the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought. The first of these is the authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition.... Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical-attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the up- rooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, re-state, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West.... In point of fact, except for the early caliphate, when the anarchic individualism of tribal Arabia was still effective, the political history of Islam is one of almost unrelieved autocracy...[I]t was authoritarian, often arbitrary, sometimes tyrannical. There are no parliaments or representative assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam; nothing but the sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law. In the great days of classical Islam this duty was only owed to the lawfully appointed caliph, as God's vicegerent on earth and head of the theocratic community, and then only for as long as he upheld the law; but with the decline of the caliphate and the growth of military dictatorship, Muslim jurists and theologians accommodated their teachings to the changed situation and extended the religious duty of obedience to any effective authority, however impious, however barbarous. For the last thousand years, the political thinking of Islam has been dominated by such maxims as "tyranny is better than anarchy" and "whose power is established, obedience to him is incumbent."
...Quite obviously, the Ulama of Islam are very different from the Communist Party. Nevertheless, on closer examination, we find certain uncomfortable resemblances. Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. Both offer an exhilarating feeling of mission, of purpose, of being engaged in a collective adventure to accelerate the historically inevitable victory of the true faith over the infidel evil-doers. The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which- the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as "There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet!" was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith-a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy-might well strike a responsive note.
Breaking news in the last half hour on Sky News H/T Alan
Intelligence agencies have intercepted a terror plot to launch Mumbai-style attacks on Britain and other European countries, according to Sky News sources.
Sky's foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said militants based in Pakistan had been planning simultaneous strikes on London and major cities in France and Germany. He said the plan was in the "advanced but not imminent stage" and the plotters had been tracked by spy agencies "for some time".
Intelligence sources told Sky the planned attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai.
(Sept. 28) -- Evacuations in the city of lights are suddenly becoming commonplace.
On Tuesday, police cleared tourists from the Eiffel Tower and surrounding Champs de Mars for the second time in two weeks, the AFP reported. Citing a new threat to the renowned structure, the Tower was evacuated Tuesday afternoon.
The latest terrorist threat comes after police closed the Eiffel Tower on Sept. 14. Police received an anonymous call Tuesday from a nearby telephone booth. The caller claimed that a bomb had been planted at the tower, MSNBC.com reported.
Over the last two weeks, three separate bomb threats have disrupted service in the Paris Metro. Each one resulted in evacuations, but turned out to be a false alarm.
Authorities in France raised the national terror alert level to red, the second highest level possible, following the French legislature's decision to officially ban the Muslim burqa in public across the country.
After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speeches, press conferences, and interviews in New York City last week, it's obvious the Iranian president lives in a parallel universe. This has been difficult for many in the West to grasp. The Western reflex to believe that there are "universal truths" is irrepressible.
The desire to see common sense and shared interests in the worst ideologue strikes Republicans and Democrats with almost equal intensity. Ahmadinejad and his boss, supreme leader Ali Khamenei, also believe in universal truths and the "rational" conduct of affairs-they just use, to borrow from mathematics, a different base system that allows for little overlap with the way Westerners think. The result: When we see individual liberty squashed, they see divinely guided human freedom being fully expressed; when we see women oppressed, they see women being protected from male rapacity; when we see religious hubris, intolerance, and bad taste, they see man struggling hard, against terrible odds, to be a "sincere slave of God." When President Barack Obama talks about his continuing desire for engagement with Tehran, the Iranian president talks about America's sins against Islam and the world's oppressed peoples.
Look at how Ahmadinejad opened his speeches to the United Nations General Assembly. It goes without saying that no Western leader would ever invoke the second coming of Jesus Christ at a big international conference not about religion. When we see Ahmadinejad solicit the arrival and "victory" of the Mahdi, who will usher in the end of time and paradise, our instinct is to pass over such words as a personal eccentricity or a pro forma invocation that must be a matter of politesse for pious Iranians. (Not all VIPs in the Islamic Republic, however, behave in this matter with the same zeal.)
But Ahmadinejad comes to the United Nations every fall to tell the truth, to share with us what he cherishes most. The General Assembly for him is the most important bully pulpit-a dais built by infidels who must give him, a devout Iranian peasant, the chance to speak for Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali and his descendents, and the glorious Iranian nation, the great bulwark against unbelief and Western oppression. After Ahmadinejad gave his first speech to the U.N. in 2005, he claimed that he felt bathed in a divine light that transfixed him and, more important, the entire General Assembly. He remarked:
I am not exaggerating when I say they did not blink; it's not an exaggeration, because I was looking.??.??.??.They were astonished as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian president's U.N. speeches, supplemented by his take-no-prisoners press conferences, give us an unparalleled opportunity to look into Ahmadinejad's soul and, by extension, into Ali Khamenei's. The supreme leader has advanced and protected this former member of the Revolutionary Guard Corps against a firestorm of protest inside the country, before and since the tumultuous elections in 2009. When Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations, he is speaking for the supreme leader.
And what he talks about most is values (akhlaq). In both his U.N. remarks last week, the Iranian president let loose broadsides against capitalism and its supposed primary benefactor, the United States. Harking back to the "red mullah" themes that defined the early years of Iran's Marxist-Islamist revolution, Ahmadinejad again sounded the alarm against a system that violates "the true nature of mankind," which is to become "a slave of God" and be one with "the pure and the righteous." For Ahmadinejad, like other Islamic militants, history is alive in one continuous chain.
The great Muslim prophets-Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Jesus, and Muhammad-pointed the way to salvation, but the West (and Ahmadinejad is slightly original here in putting partial blame on Christendom's failure to see the true path because of its religious "oppression" during the Middle Ages) followed the messengers of greed, self-absorption, and rampant individualism.
Man with his potential for understanding the secrets of this world, his instinct for seeking truth, his disposition for justice and perfection, his quest for purity and beauty, and his capacity to represent God on earth was reduced to a creature limited to the materialistic world, constantly seeking pleasure,
Ahmadinejad told us in New York. "Human instinct, thus, replaced true human nature,??...??the lust for capital and domination replaced monotheism, which is the gateway to love and man's unity." Ahmadinejad didn't give us an exact breakdown of who did what to whom, but he conveyed some idea of those most culpable:
The widespread clash of egotists [Ahmadinejad uses the word khudkhahan, which means in context "those who love themselves more than God"] with divine values gave way to slavery and colonialism.??...??Tens of millions of people were taken to slavery.??...??Lands were occupied and the indigenous people were humiliated and mass-murdered.
Much like the intellectual founding father of the Islamic revolution, Ali Shariati, Ahmadinejad can blend discordant ideas and history into a seamless whole (seamless, that is, in his eyes). Western press coverage of Ahmadinejad's suggestion last week that the American government orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attack generally underscored the president's nuttiness. But this misses the Iranian president's intellectual achievement, which he shares with many inside Khamenei's inner circle: He effortlessly weaves together the past and the present, Islam's glorious history of prophets, and the West's continuing perfidy-most dangerously fueled by the oldest, cleverest, and most economically talented traitors to God's cause, the Jews. He can zero in on the nuclear standoff, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or 9/11 and effortlessly glue them into the enormous civilization struggle between those who believe in Allah and those who don't.
What seems hopelessly contradictory and just downright wacko to us is for him proof of the ingenuity and integrity of his thought. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have many things in common (they are a case of psychological opposites attracting), but perhaps the most important is how they see the struggle between the West and Islam. It is ultimately all about God-about man's, not just Western man's, tendency to fall from the righteous path. Islamic jurisprudence is full of the philosophical conviction that men are potentially ardent sinners, and the state must ensure through coercive means that "the good is commanded, and evil forbidden." Ahmadinejad fairly often mentions the insan-e kamil, "the perfect person," an age-old Islamic philosophical ideal, built upon neo-Platonic roots and popularized in the Shiite faith, which is in love with the charismatic power of special men. This is the lodestar for Ahmadinejad, as it is for Khamenei.
Although it sounds surreal for many Westerners and millions of Iranians who have essentially become Westerners in their habits, sentiments, and political preferences, the Islamic Republic's deeply corrupt culture has not vitiated the ruling elite's conception of Iran as a virtuous state, more intimately connected to God's mission for man than any other nation. Indeed, the more corrupt the country becomes, and the richer the ruling elite of the Revolutionary Guards, the more determined Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are to maintain the nation's virtue. The social rebellion of the reformist Green Movement has also increased their moral ardor.
For them, the insan-e kamil isn't possible if Iran makes peace with the United States, the locomotive of evil in the modern world. Hostility towards Israel is a divine commandment, not subject to the negotiations of godless Palestinians (and Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have made it crystal clear that Hamas are the only rightly guided believers among the Palestinians). And it's a very good guess that the creation of the insan-e kamil now isn't possible without nuclear weapons. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are modern men of faith: You must have the ultimate means of power to ensure God's children can execute his mission and checkmate his enemies.
Barack Obama, who is quintessentially American in his temperament and laissez-faire attitude about religion, really had no idea about Iran before he became president. He must have had some notion of the intersection of politics and faith (it's hard to imagine anyone attending the church of Jeremiah Wright for the pastor's biblical insights). But this is a completely secularized faith, where man refashions God as he pleases every Sunday. Obama, like many who served in the Clinton administration and should have known better, saw George W. Bush and America's troubled history with Iran (the CIA-aided 1953 coup) needlessly standing in the way of reconciliation. The president undoubtedly has learned since his inauguration. It's hard to imagine three men with less in common culturally than Obama, Ahmadinejad, and Khamenei. And the president is sensitive about being spurned. Like no other leaders, the supreme leader and the Iranian president have told Obama to stick it.
It's inevitable that the administration will keep trying to augment the sanctions regime against Tehran-they have no other choice since Khamenei will not compromise with the devil. It's possible, given Ahmadinejad's performances on the world stage, that more nations will join the 32 that have begun to implement increasingly serious sanctions against the regime. The closer we get to the supreme leader's actually having a nuclear weapon, the more tangibly frightening the possibility becomes.
But a betting man would still go the other way. Those who can no longer see God's hand in history will assume that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are "rational" men who won't do a truly stupid thing that would bring disaster on their country. Sanctions will increase, but not as they would if we all truly feared a nuclear-armed Tehran. Perhaps before Obama leaves office, we will get to see whether "perfect men" handle nuclear weapons better than capitalists and Communists.
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.