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Deprogramming Jihadists: A fascinating Saudi endeavour


Stop Saudi Tyranny in Yemenite Najran! Call for a UN-organized Referendum

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Al-Qaeda's 'mild' message to Obama by Frank Gardner

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Deprogramming Jihadists in Saudi Arabia: A fascinating report

By KATHERINE ZOEPF, November 9, 2008

The sunset prayer had just ended, and Sheik Ahmad al-Jilani was already calling his class to order. When the latecomers slipped into the front row, Jilani nodded at them briskly. “Young men,” he began, “who can tell me why we do jihad?”

The members of the class were still new and a bit shy. Jilani clasped his hands and smiled encouragingly. Before him, sitting in school desks, were a dozen young Saudi men who had served time in prison for belonging to militant Islamic groups. Now they were inmates in a new rehabilitation center, part of a Saudi government initiative that seeks to deprogram Islamic extremists.

Jilani has been teaching his class, which is called Understandings of Jihad, since the center was established early last year. A stout man who makes constant, self-deprecating references to his weight, the sheik is an avuncular figure, popular with his students. On this chilly evening he had on a woolly, brocade-trimmed bisht, the cloak that Saudi men wear on formal occasions or in cool weather, which gave him a slightly imposing air. But behind his thick glasses, his eyes shone warmly as he surveyed the classroom.

Finally, someone answered: “We do jihad to fight our enemies.”

“To defeat God’s enemies?” another suggested.

“To help weak Muslims,” a third offered.

“Good, good,” Jilani said. “All good answers. Is there someone else? What about you, Ali?” Ali, in the second row, looked away, and then faltered: “To . . . answer . . . calls for jihad?”

Jilani frowned slightly and wrote Ali’s answer up on the white board behind him. He read it out to the class before turning back to Ali. “All right, Ali,” the sheik said. “Why do we answer calls for jihad? Is it because all Muslim leaders want to make God’s word highest? Do we kill if these leaders tell us to kill?”

Ali looked confused, but whispered, “Yes.”

“No — wrong!” Jilani cried as Ali blushed. “Of course we want to make God’s word highest, but not every Muslim leader has this as his goal. There are right jihads and wrong jihads, and we must examine the situation for ourselves. For example, if a person wants to go to hajj now, is it right?”

The class chuckled obligingly at Jilani’s little joke. The month for performing hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that observant Muslims hope to complete at least once in their lives, had ended five weeks earlier, and the suggestion was as preposterous as throwing a Fourth of July barbecue in November.

“Well, just as there is a proper time for hajj, there is also a proper time for jihad,” Jilani explained.

Jilani’s students, who range in age from 18 to 36, are part of a generation brought up on heroic tales of Saudi fighters who left home to fight alongside the mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the 1980s and who helped to force the Soviets to withdraw from the country. The Saudi state was essentially built on the concept of jihad, which King Abdul Aziz al-Saud used to knit disparate tribal groups into a single nation. The word means “struggle” and in Islamic law usually refers to armed conflict with non-Muslims in defence of the global Islamic community. Saudi schools teach a version of world history that emphasizes repeated battles between Muslims and non-believing enemies. Whether to Afghanistan in the 1980s or present-day Iraq, Saudi Arabia has exported more jihadist volunteers than any other country; 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis.

But jihad can go too far. The Saudi government has condemned the Sept. 11 attacks and arrests jihadists who attempt to enter Iraq. Some Saudi veterans of overseas jihads have adopted one form of the doctrine of takfir, in which a Muslim is judged by another Muslim to be an unbeliever. Because traditional Islamic law calls for the execution of apostates, some have used takfir to justify attacks on the Saudi state. In recent years, these attacks have raised fears that the chaos in some of the world’s conflict zones is being brought home to Saudi Arabia by radicalized jihadists. The Saudi government thus finds itself in the awkward position of needing to defend the principle of jihad to its citizens while discouraging them from actually taking up arms. One step it has taken is simply to talk to those who have proved to be most vulnerable to the temptations of jihad, the captured militants themselves. As Jilani put it to me, “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the confidence to fight thoughts with thoughts.”

Jilani and his colleagues are not just fighting a war of ideas. Though the Saudi government tends to explain its rehabilitation program in purely Islamic terms, as an effort to correct theological misunderstandings, the new program also addresses the psychological needs and emotional weaknesses that have led many young men to jihad in the first place. It tries to give frustrated and disaffected young men the trappings of stability — a job, a car, possibly a wife. Though international human rights groups continue to sound the alarm about Saudi Arabia’s habit of detaining suspects without charging them and of punishing certain crimes with floggings and amputations, these young men seem to have become the subjects of a continuing experiment in counterterrorism as a kind of social work.

If the Saudi rehabilitation program succeeds, it could reduce the ranks of dangerous extremists and have a far-reaching impact: domestic and regional stability and, though it’s not a stated goal, increased safety for potential targets in the West. Program administrators claim that the Saudi initiative could also provide a model for other Muslim countries struggling with Islamic militancy. They say that Saudi Arabia — home to Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina — has an unmatched moral authority among the world’s Muslims and is uniquely placed to find the intellectual and spiritual vulnerabilities of organizations like Al Qaeda and to fight Islamic extremism on its own terms.

Though the exact nature of the role that religious belief plays in the recruitment of jihadists is the subject of much debate among scholars of terrorism, a growing number contend that ideology is far less important than family and group dynamics, psychological and emotional needs. “We’re finding that they don’t generally join for religious reasons,” John Horgan told me. A political psychologist who directs the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State, Horgan has interviewed dozens of former terrorists. “Terrorist movements seem to provide a sense of adventure, excitement, vision, purpose, camaraderie,” he went on, “and involvement with them has an allure that can be difficult to resist. But the ideology is usually something you acquire once you’re involved.”

Other scholars emphatically disagree, stressing the significance of political belief and grievance. But if the Saudi program is succeeding, it may be because it treats jihadists not as religious fanatics or enemies of the state but as alienated young men in need of rehabilitation.

In 2004, the Saudi Interior Ministry started the Munasaha, or Advisory Committee, program, to reform prison inmates convicted of involvement in Islamic extremism. Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, the program administrator, says that a committee of senior Saudi clerics interviews inmates about their beliefs before placing them in appropriate classes. Enrollment in the Munasaha program is not voluntary, and Human Rights Watch reports that some participants have been in detention for months or even years without trial or access to lawyers. But graduates of the program say the treatment is far from harsh.

In January 2007, the Interior Ministry began renting small vacation compounds in the Riyadh suburb of al-Thumama. Half-a-dozen adjoining compounds now house the Care Center, a post-prison continuation of the Munasaha program offering more intensive rehabilitation activities. Each compound holds up to about 20 men, who study, eat and sleep together for the duration of the program.

On arrival, each prisoner is given a suitcase filled with gifts: clothes, a digital watch, school supplies and toiletries. Inmates are encouraged to ask for their favourite foods (Twix and Snickers candy bars are frequent requests). Volleyball nets, PlayStation games and Ping-Pong and foosball tables are all provided. The atmosphere at the center — which I visited several times earlier this year — is almost eerily cosy and congenial, with mattresses and rugs spread on stubbly patches of lawn for inmates to lounge upon. With few exceptions, the men wear their beards untrimmed and their thobes, the long garments that most Saudi men wear, cut above their ankles in the style favored by those who wish to demonstrate strict devotion to Islam. The men are pleasant but many seem a bit puffy and lethargic; one 19-year-old inmate, Faisal al-Subaii, explained that they are encouraged to spend most of their daytime hours in either rest or prayer.

In Saudi Arabia, psychological disorders are often understood as the results of a person finding himself somehow outside the traditional circle of family and community. Most of the counselling that the inmates receive is focused on helping them to develop more healthful family relationships. “We use Western psychiatric techniques together with Islamic techniques,” T. M. Otayan, the centre’s staff psychologist, says, referring to the intensive religion classes. A number of the inmates have received diagnoses of antisocial personality disorder, he adds, but he claims serious mental illness among the former jihadists is rare.

Though it might seem out of place in a society whose religion proscribes the representation of animal or human forms, art therapy is practiced. Awad al-Yami, who studied the subject at Penn State, leads the classes, and chalk drawings by former jihadists decorate the walls of his classroom. Although the sketches — mostly ornate Arabic calligraphy and depictions of flowers — do not especially suggest that demons are being wrestled with, art therapy helps inmates to examine the consequences of their actions, Yami says. “I ask them, ‘If you blow up a car, what will happen?’ The paper gives them a safe place to express some destructive emotions.”

Most prisoners complete the program within two months. Upon release, each former jihadist is required to sign a pledge that he has forsaken extremist sympathies; the head of his family must sign as well. Some also receive a car (often a Toyota) and aid from the Interior Ministry in renting a home. Social workers assist former jihadists and their families in making post-release plans for education, employment and, usually, marriage. “Getting married stabilizes a man’s personality,” Hadlaq says. “He thinks more about a long term future and less about himself and his anger.”

Other countries have experimented with efforts to rehabilitate Islamic extremists. In Egypt and Yemen, moderate clerics counsel prisoners accused of militant activity. The Religious Rehabilitation Group in Singapore has been widely praised for reducing the influence of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization. But the Saudi approach is unusual and, according to Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University “is consistent with Saudi history in that you try through nonviolent means to cajole, to bribe, to buy off the opposition.”

Sheik Jilani likes to encourage class discussions by asking the men to share their experiences, and on one of the occasions I visited, he asked a student named Azzam to explain why he spent five months in Iraq. Referring to the infamous Mahmudiyah killings of 2006, Azzam replied that he had seen an article on the Internet about “the little girl named Abeer who was raped and killed by the Americans.”

“I felt so much sympathy for the Muslims,” Azzam continued. “The infidel rape women and kill children. I decided then that I should join the Muslims in Iraq in order to drive the Americans out.”

The desert evening was growing chilly. Jilani removed his bisht and handed it to a shivering student. He turned back to Azzam. “Tell us, Azzam. What did you find in Iraq? Did you feel good when you went there?”

Azzam frowned. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t find what I was expecting,” he said. “In Iraq, even the Muslims fight each other. I was expecting them to be well organized, but they weren’t.”

Jilani nodded. “So did you fight?”

“I didn’t have the chance,” Azzam said, sounding defensive. “For months, we went from safe house to safe house. There wasn’t anything to do — no action, no training. Finally, they asked me to be a suicide bomber. But I know that suicide is forbidden in Islam, so I came back home.”

Many of the former jihadists seemed to feel unappreciated, their sense of injury plain. Jilani and his colleagues encourage the former militants to examine those feelings, even to think of themselves as victims. Yes, they were tricked and manipulated by deviant ideology (a favourite Saudi catchphrase for Islamic extremism), but now they have a chance to turn back.

Of all the concepts addressed in classes at the rehabilitation center, takfir is the one that tends to evoke the most anger among mainstream Saudi Muslims. The idea that there’s a slippery slope from jihad to takfir comes up regularly in discussions with Saudi clerics.

“Some of our young people don’t listen to the right scholars,” Jilani told me. “First they start to think that they have the right to go to jihad at any time. After that, they start to think that we have the right to kill any non-Muslim.

“Then they start to say that our leaders are kuffar, infidels,” the sheik continued. “After that they start to say that our scholars, too, are kuffar. Before long, they’ve declared war against the whole world.”

The Saudi government has recently intensified efforts to fight extremism and to turn public sympathy away from terrorist groups. Several prominent clerics have taken public stands against Al Qaeda, and late last year Saudi Mufti Sheik Abd al-Aziz bin Abdallah Al al-Sheik issued a fatwa prohibiting Saudi youth from traveling overseas to wage jihad. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has initiated a new program called Serenity to fight terrorism online by drawing terrorist recruiters into one-on-one ideological chat-room combat with moderate-minded clerics.

The government maintains that no graduates of the Munasaha program have returned to violence. But the program is still relatively new, and there are unanswered questions. Is the government dealing with captured militants while really failing to address the root causes of extremism? Will released extremists, now counted as successes, eventually return to jihad?

A consulting psychiatrist at the King Faisal hospital in Riyadh says that to truly fight jihadism would mean fundamentally changing how Islam is taught in Saudi schools and mosques in a way that the Saudi government has until now been unwilling to attempt. “The government is never going to say, full stop, that jihad is wrong,” he explains. The doctrine is an integral part of Islamic law, and arguing against it would raise the ire of religious scholars and possibly call the Islamic credentials of the Saudi government into question.

And global jihad is still a socially acceptable path for a young Saudi man with few options, the psychiatrist says. “You have a young man whose depressed, frustrated with life, maybe he fails an exam. He can go from being a loser, a failure, to being a jihadi, someone with status.”

How and why violent extremists come to leave their organizations are a fairly new focus in academic studies of terrorism. Horgan’s findings — that simple fear and disillusionment can play a major role in an individual’s decision to disengage from his group — seem to be echoed by a recent RAND Corporation report on the demise of terrorist groups, which found that efforts by police and intelligence agents to create intense internal pressure within terrorist groups are more successful at fighting extremism than military actions.

Consider Abu Sulayman, a stocky 32-year-old who spent more than three years in prison at Guantánamo and says he fought alongside Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora. Abu Sulayman spoke on the condition that I would use only his old nom de guerre. He completed the Munasaha program but was released shortly before the Care Center was established; he joked that he envies the current batch of former jihadists their “resort vacation.”

“Getting captured and Guantánamo — it was all a good lesson,” Abu Sulayman told me. “I mean, the main idea of jihad is good — no one disagrees with that.”

His first jihad was in 1996, when he traveled to the Philippines to fight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “They had guys from everywhere, all these different countries, working together,” Abu Sulayman said. “The majority are always Saudis.” In 1997, Abu Sulayman went on to Afghanistan. Four years later, after his second trip to the country, he grew disillusioned with bin Laden and planned to leave for the Philippines because “Chechnya said they didn’t need anyone at the moment.” Instead, he was captured.

Today he notes that the Qaeda camps where he worked as a training instructor offered him clear professional advancement. His new life — in a middle-class Jeddah suburb, doing shift work at an electrical company — doesn’t provide the same sense of purpose. Even so, he has little regard for those who have followed in his footsteps.

“Most people just want to carry weapons,” Abu Sulayman said. They do not, as he put it, have especially sophisticated religious arguments. “For me, it was always more about the feeling that I wanted to help the Muslims. But jihad is complicated. If you’re heading to Afghanistan or Iraq, do you really have the facts you need to get involved on the right side?

“With Al Qaeda, the training was really excellent,” Abu Sulayman went on. “These people they’ve got going to Iraq nowadays, they have no training, so they’re just sent to explode themselves.

“Now our government is saying: ‘Don’t go to Iraq. It’s not in our interests,’ ” Abu Sulayman continued. “Now I think, At least I did something with my life. I went out and fought for my beliefs, and I found that things were not as I had planned. But at least I fought for my beliefs. God knows my heart.”

The sheiks that were charged with rehabilitating him were startled by his easygoing attitude, Abu Sulayman recalled. Even though Saudi public opinion has largely turned against Al Qaeda, many Saudis remain concerned that American-led efforts to fight terrorism are anti-Muslim and are infuriated by Guantánamo. “They thought that after all this time in Guantánamo I’d have some hate in me,” Abu Sulayman told me. “But I never look back. I said, ‘O.K., now I’ll start a new life.’ ”

Katherine Zoepf, who writes regularly for The Times, is working on a book about young women in the contemporary Arab world.



Stop Saudi Tyranny in Yemenite Najran! Call for a UN-organized Referendum in Najran

Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, November 08, 2008

In an earlier article entitled ´Freedom for Tyrannized Najran, Yemenite Territory under Illegal Saudi Control´ (, I stressed the troubles of the tyrannized Yemenites of Najran, who have been forced by the colonial plans of England to be incorporated within the homonymous province of Saudi Arabia.

The Shia Yemenite Najranis have been terribly tyrannized and their persecution and oppression has been carried out by the English colonialism’s best children, the ominous Sunni Wahhabies who are the focus of all sorts of terrorism and evildoing necessary for the eschatological and pseudo-messianic plans of the Apostate Freemasonic Lodge that controls the English and the French political, military and financial establishments.

Recently, the leading NGO Human Rights Watch focused on the issue and published a devastating report that provides with a detailed record of Human Rights violations practiced by the Sunni Wahhabies authorities of Saudi Arabia – the undeservedly and shamelessly venerated ´allies´ in the War against Terrorism –, which definitely underscores the political need for immediate secession of Najran from Saudi Arabia and reunification with Yemen.

In the aforementioned article, I published the Summary and Recommendations of the decisive Report, which is entitled "The Ismailis of Najran - Second-class Saudi Citizens". In this article, I republish the Report’s second chapter, the ´Background´. In forthcoming articles, I will complete the republication of the entire report that should be taken into consideration in any case of decision-making with respect to the wider area of the Middle East.

Longer Najran remains annexed in Saudi Arabia, greater the danger of a Shia revolt against Saudi Arabia is. Najran must be given the possibility to select the country they want to belong to by means of a UN-organized and monitored referendum.

The Ismailis of Najran - Second-class Saudi Citizens

II. Background

Najran is the seat of the religious leader of the Sulaimani Ismailis, al-Da´i al-Mutlaq (Absolute Guide). Its status as such, with some interruption, dates back to 1640.3 Ismailis had been living in Najran for over a millennium; they were one of many strands of belief that existed in early Islam. Ismailis called themselves Followers of the Truth (Ashab al-Haqq) and gathered adherents in many parts of the realm of Islam in the ninth and tenth centuries Common Era (CE). A split occurred around the turn of the tenth century, and most Ismailis eventually recognized ´Ubaid Allah al-Mahdi, a man living in Syria, as their leader (imam). The Mahdi established the Fatimid dynasty (909–1171) in Egypt, founding the city of Cairo and it’s Azhar University. In the early 12th century another split occurred, and Ismailis in Yemen, where they lived and frequently fought with adherents of Zaidi Islam (another branch of Shia Islam that became prevalent in Yemen), carried forward the beliefs and rule of the Fatimid dynasty.4

Since their emergence, propagandists have depicted Ismailis as heretics, based on invented stories that discredit their beliefs and their claimed ancestry from the Prophet´s family.5

Ismailis have their own system of law; scholars report few modifications or modern adaptations since a series of legal treatises produced by the Fatimid high judge Nu´man in the 11th century.6

Najran, a fertile valley in what is now southwestern Saudi Arabia at the foot of mountains bordering the vast stretch of desert known as the Empty Quarter, was traditionally home to Christian and Jewish communities, in addition to Ismailis and Zaidis. Christians have been absent from Najran for some centuries, and the remaining Jewish community is believed to have left in 1949, following the establishment of the state of Israel. Najran´s Zaidi community today numbers around 2,000.7

The 2004 Saudi census puts the number of inhabitants in Najran at around 408,000.8 Ismailis, widely believed to constitute a large majority of the Najrani population, share a homogeneous identity based on historical, cultural, and religious roots. In Najran city, the Khushaiwa compound, with its Mansura mosque complex, is the spiritual capital of the Sulaimani branch of the Ismaili faith, one of two major strands of contemporary Ismailism. Ismailis in Najran belong mainly to one of two tribes—the Yam and the Hamadan. These tribes extend into territory that today lies in Yemen. There are also some Sunnis of the Yam tribe, both recent converts and adherents to Sunni Islam for generations.

The Saudis conquered first the independent princedom of the Idrisis, in ´Asir region bordering Najran, in 1926, and then the Ismailis of the Yam tribe in Najran in 1933.9 A brief war with Yemen over ´Asir concluded with a treaty in 1934 in which Yemen ceded any claims to Najran, then a largely independent sheikhdom, to King Abd al-´Aziz Al Sa´ud.10 Najran was the last territorial conquest of the reemergent Saudi state.11

The Ismaili sense of pervasive discrimination against them appears stronger today than at any point in the first six decades of Saudi rule. In the 1960s, Saudi authorities had held al-Da´i al-Mutlaq under house arrest variously in Ta´if and Mekka for some five years because he had demanded the independence of Ismaili mosques and religious teaching, which the Wahhabi religious establishment opposed.12 Despite this, many Ismailis have relatively fond memories of Khalid al-Sudairy, who governed Najran from 1962 to 1980, and his son Fahd who succeeded him until 1996. Then, Prince Mish´al bin Sa´ud bin Abd al-´Aziz Al Sa´ud became the first member of the ruling family to govern the region.

Discrimination against Ismailis in Saudi Arabia is part of a broader trend of discrimination against religious minorities in the country, but has its own dynamic. King Abd al-´Aziz, also known as Ibn Sa´ud, set out at the beginning of the 20th century to recapture Riyadh and reconquer other parts of the earlier Sa´ud kingdom. He relied on an alliance between his family and the family (the Al al-Shaikh) and followers of Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th-century missionary and religious scholar. The Al al-Shaikh gave religious legitimacy to the Al Sa´ud as the political rulers, who in turn pledged to uphold Islam.

To that end, Ibn Sa´ud enlisted in Najd the services of experts on religious ritual, the mutawwa´in, or volunteers, putting them in charge of indoctrinating the new tribal fighting force of the ikhwan (brethren), which helped conquer the remaining lands that now comprise Saudi Arabia, including Najran: 13 The ikhwan forcibly converted conquered populations to their strict interpretation of Islam, sometimes engaging in mass killings, such as in Ta´if in 1924.14

Intolerance toward other interpretations of Islam remained a feature of Saudi state policies, reflected in discriminatory employment, school curricula, and public expenditures. Following the occupation of the Grand Mosque in Mekka by Sunni millenarian extremists in 1979, and the Islamic revolution in Iran at the same time, the Saudi state reacted with a renewed focus on promoting Wahhabi thought.15

Iran´s example led to increased political demands by the Shia population of Saudi Arabia, who live mostly in the Eastern Province. The Saudi government responded with harsh repression, and many Shia fled. By 1993 Saudi Shia leaders in exile had concluded an understanding with the government allowing them to return as long as they ceased their opposition to the government and worked for change as "loyal subjects" within the kingdom. The authorities, in turn, released Shia political prisoners, lifted travel bans, and took minor steps to ease discrimination against Shia in the public sector and in their religious worship.16 Especially in Ahsa´, the southern part of the Eastern Province, however, suppression of Shia freedom to practice their religion remains widespread.17

While Ismailis face discrimination similar to the Shia of the Eastern Province in employment, religious freedom, and in the justice system, they do not have the same political voice as their Shia brethren to the east. They did not have an organized opposition outside Saudia Arabia or influential coreligionists in a regionally powerful state like Iran, they are far fewer in numbers, and Najran has been more isolated from the outside world than the Eastern Province. One Eastern Province Shia told Human Rights Watch in 2006, "The Ismailis of Najran are where we were 10 years ago."18

Largely ignored as a supposed backwater in the domestic context of Saudi Arabia for many decades, 19 Najran in the late 1990s attracted increased attention. Its proximity to Yemen and the unification of the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and the People´s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) in 1990, followed by Saudi-Yemeni border negotiations in 1997, gave new impetus to address the fate of tens of thousands of South Yemenis who had taken refuge in Najran. Ismailis vehemently object to the preferred official solution of naturalizing and settling these Yemenis (who are Sunni) in Najran, thereby altering the demographic make-up of the majority-Ismaili region.

Notes (integrated numeration throughout the Report)

3 Heinz Halm, Die Schia (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1988), pp. 234-243.

4 Ibid., pp. 193-219. Zaidis are a Shia Muslim sect whose leaders ruled large parts of Yemen for a millennium until 1962.

5 Most of these allegations against Ismailis have been disproved. See Farhad Daftary, "Introduction," in Farhad Daftary, ed., Mediaeval Isma´ili History and Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 1-18.

6 Ismail K Poonawala, "Al-Qadi al-Nu´man and Isma´ili jurisprudence," in Daftary, ed., Mediaeval Isma´ili History and Thought, pp. 117-114.

7 Joseph Tobi, The Jews of Yemen: Studies in Their History and Culture (Brill: Leiden, Boston, Köln: 1999), p. 22. In October 1949 Najrani Jews left for Yemen, where Yemeni Jews were preparing to leave to Israel through Aden after Yemen´s Imam Ahmed had issued in May 1949 an official permit for them to leave. Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Israeli academic of Tel Aviv university (name withheld), June 13, 2008.

8 "Makkah Region is Most Populated in Saudi Arabia," Saudi Info, January 5, 2005, (accessed February 22, 2008).

9 Isam Ghanem, "The Legal History of 'A Sir (Al-Mikhlaf Al-Sulaymani)," Arab Law Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 3, August 1990, pp. 211-214. Enmity between Wahhabis, who originated in Saudi Arabia´s central Najd region, and the Ismailis of Najran dates from an Ismaili raid close to Dir´iya, the home town of the ruling Sa´ud family, in 1764. See George Rentz, "Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia," in Derek Hopwood, ed.,The Arabian Peninsula: Society and Politics (Oxford: Allen and Unwin, 1972), p. 57.

10 Askar Halwan Al-Enazy, "´The International Boundary Treaty´ (Treaty of Jeddah) Concluded between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni Republic on June 12, 2000," The American Journal of International Law, vol. 96, no. 161, January 2002. King Abd al-´Aziz Al Sa´ud and Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din, Treaty of Ta´if, May 20, 1934: "His Majesty the Imam Yahya similarly abandons by this treaty any right he claimed in the name of Yemeni unity or otherwise, in the country (formerly) in the possession of the Idrisis or the Al-Aidh, or in Najran, or in the Yam country, which according to this treaty belongs to the Saudi Arabian Kingdom."

11 In 1934 King Abd al-´Aziz bin Sa´ud concluded a covenant with the Yam tribe, the dominant tribe in Najran, in which he pledged not to interfere in Ismaili religious affairs and to respect their demographic dominance in Najran by not promoting either their emigration or the immigration of others. Human Rights Watch email correspondence with an Ismaili in Najran, August 22, 2007, and Human Rights Watch interviews with more than six prominent Ismails July 2006 – March 2008. On a visit to the region in November 2006, King Abdullah commented, "[W]hat a pleasure it is for me on this occasion to call to memory the historical covenant between his majesty the unifier King Abd al-´Aziz, may God have mercy on him, and between the protagonists among your grandfathers and fathers, indeed, as the kingdom was unified through his covenant, you have been loyal." Ali ´Awn al-Yami and Hamad Al Mansur, "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques: Your State Does Not Differentiate between One Region and Another or between One Citizen and Another." al-Riyadh, November 1, 2006, (accessed February 29, 2008).

12 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ismaili, IN1, Najran, June 24, 2008.

13 Nadav Safran, Saudi Arabia. The Ceaseless Quest for Security (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 54. Safran´s date of 1932 for the conquest of Najran differs from others´ who put the battle at Aba Sa´ud at 1933 or 1934. It is possible that there was more than one battle, or that conversion from hijri into CE dates produced this difference.

14 Rachel Bronson, Thicker Than Oil. America´s Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 30; and Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) p. 61.

15 Thomas Hegghammer and Stephane Lacoix, "Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-`Utaybi Revisited," International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 39 (2007).

16 International Crisis Group, "The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia," Middle East Report No. 45, September 19, 2005, p. 4; and Human Rights Watch interviews with Shia leaders in Qatif and al-Ahsa´, IQ1 and IA1, February 2006.

17 Human Rights Watch interviews with Shia from Qatif, Tarut, Dammam, and al-Ahsa´, IQ1, IT1, ID1, IA1, February and December 2006, and December 2007.

18 Human Rights Watch interview with a Shia in Qatif, IQ2, February 2006.

19 "I had never really heard of the Ismailis before [Shura Council member] Muhammad Al Zulfa talked to me about their situation." Human Rights Watch interview with former member of the Shura Council, IR1 Riyadh, December 19, 2006.



President-elect Barack Hussain Obama : For the Muslim world, it is not time to celebrate yet

By ABU AYMAN, November 8 2008 at 22:06

While US President-elect Barack Obama continues to receive acclamation from around the world following his historic election, many are eager to see a change in the policies which led to the unpopularity of outgoing President George W. Bush.

At stake is the US economy which is under the threat of recession, the nuclear threat posed by North Korea , the challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the Palestinian Question among other daunting issues — hardly the most auspicious beginning for a new President.

Muslims around the world, though they did not expressly support the election of Obama, at the same time had reservations about endorsing his rival John McCain, who they saw as a continuation of the Bush policies.  Muslims have come to loathe the United States especially because of its invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The so-called war on terror launched by George Bush after the September 11 attacks has been seen as a war on Islam and has had a big impact on Muslims not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world.

In this campaign, constitutional rights and legal safeguards have been violated as the US stepped up its campaign to hound those perceived to be terrorists and their allies.

The Guantanamo Bay detention centre still stands out as a bitter legacy for the unfair treatment of Muslims by the Bush administration.

In addition, the American invasion of Iraq, which contravened international law, has has led to the unpopularity of President Bush and greatly dented the American image around the world.

The invasions, together with the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have left widespread destruction and loss of thousands of lives, further generating anger among Muslims.

Unwavering support

America’s unwavering support for Israel even in the face of its campaign against Palestinians has been a bitter pill to swallow for Muslims around the world.

They see this support as the main reason for the continued Israeli occupation of the third holiest Islamic shrine — the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

While Obama has spoken out against the occupation of Iraq and pledged to pull out American troops within 18 months, he has affirmed more American military presence in Afghanistan.

The President –elect has also indicated that he could launch a punitive attack on Pakistan if it fails to cooperate fully in the war on terror.

So far, Obama’s line-up of top officials comprises pro-Israeli lobbyists.  The vice-president, Mr Joe Biden, is on record as saying that Israel is “the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East.’’

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel, a pro-Israel hardliner as Chief of Staff is likely to be viewed with disappointment by those who hoped that the president-elect would break with the Bush administration’s pro-Israel policies.

The White House Chief of Staff is often considered the most powerful office in the executive branch, next to the President.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticising Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel.

Far from going against Israel, the new team could turn out to be as pro-Israeli as the one it is replacing.

There is no doubt that Obama’s election is a momentous event in history, being a big leap forward especially in the struggle to address historical injustices in America.

But while clarion calls for change have convinced an eager world that Obama will change the US and change its foreign policy, for Muslims, however, there are no early indications that the change they can believe in will come any time sooner.



Effort to bring Muslims, Dalits on same platform

8 Nov 2008,

Jaipur: To establish their footing among the masses, All India Milli Council (AIMC), a prime Muslim body working for political awareness, sent a group of representatives on Friday to Muslim and Dalit dominated areas to garner their support in the upcoming Assembly elections. The group, including 10 men and 10 women, left for Tijara in Mewat and Khandela, Sikar, Fatehpur and Sujangarh in the Shekhawati region.

"The main objective of the campaign is to bring Muslims and Dalits on a single platform by making them politically active. The volunteers will visit the remote villages to make a consensus in favour of the AIMC," said general secretary Abdul Quyyum Akhtar.

The council members have made it clear that they are not endorsing any political party but are against communal forces. "The volunteers will ask the people to support candidates with secular credentials other than the ruling party in the elections," said Mujahid Nakvi, senior member of the council. He further added that in the absence of any consolidated third front, the council will consider a fair and secular image of a candidate, irrespective of his party other than the BJP.

The volunteers will cover 50 state Assembly seats. And on the basis of the feedback from locals, the council will favour the party which promises to fulfil the needs of the people. As the election process gains momentum, the Muslim organizations have become active in order to form their base to bargain with the political parties. Several political parties have contacted Muslim organizations asking for their support.

Interestingly, for the first time that any Muslim organization has given equal representation to women for any such activity. Source:


The rich history of Muslims

Canadian Muslims have faced racism, discrimination since Sept. 11 terrorist attacks


Today, I would like to tell you about the lives of Canadian Muslims.

There are more than 600,000 Canadian Muslims, 2% of the total population. This is a dramatic increase of population in the last 30 years; the Census of 1981 lists 98,165. Muslims live mostly in the larger urban areas

Not too many people know that Muslims have been in Canada since 1854 -13 years before Canada became a nation in 1867 -and that the first Muslim child, James, was born to a Scottish woman, Agnes Love.

Muslims are diverse because we come from all parts of the world; we are of different cultures, ethnicities and races. We continue to arrive in waves and our experiences vary a great deal.

One of the major challenges of being a Muslim is the increased racism and discrimination since Sept 11, 2001, and the ensuing war on terror. It is a pity that Canada has, at times, followed the lead of the United States and made life for its own citizens difficult by treating Muslims with suspicion.

These world events are part of our Canadian reality. It is uphill work to continuously struggle against the stereotyping and media attention on all the negative events involving Muslims globally. We are often made to feel accountable for these events as if we are responsible for them. This has resulted in a siege mentality and paranoia amongst some Muslims.

Without minimizing the discrimination and racism, the picture would not be complete if we do not mention the actions and reactions of some Western Muslims in Canada and parts of Europe. If we feel offended, we do ourselves no favours when we react with violence. For example, the offensive Danish cartoons three years ago should never have resulted in violence.

Though there are efforts made by some Muslim organizations and individuals to counteract this discrimination, sadly, there are others who are creating more difficulties when offering solutions.

For example, to counteract widespread discrimination against Muslims, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) -an umbrella organization of more than 50 Muslim majority states -is advocating at the United Nations for a mechanism against the defamation of religions and, specifically, against Islamophobia.

I understand that the OIC and others see this as similar to laws against any denial/discussion of the Holocaust. So, the argument is: Should not other religions and peoples also be protected against defamation?

They see the Danish cartoons and the new Dutch film, FITNA, as causing Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims. The film is produced by Greet Wilders of the right-wing Freedom Party. He uses verses of the Qur'an and media clips to state that there is an Islamic threat in Holland and the rest of Europe.

Some Muslims may be cheering them on, but, for individuals like me, this seems a bit extreme. I do want my religion as well as other religions treated with respect, but I know that name calling or criticism of my faith cannot diminish it.

Even if I am offended, I will still support freedom of expression and oppose criminalizing criticism against any religion. I am pleased that countries such as Britain have eliminated their blasphemy law, because this, too, limits freedom of expression. There are other ways to overcome Islamophobia by states and individual Muslims and non- Muslims.

As a woman, I like being Muslim. The simplicity, the mysticism and the compassion appeal to me, but there are some difficult aspects of being a Muslim woman.

Many of the issues are connected with the patriarchal structures of society and the family -which are not conducive to the rights of women. I know that this is not limited to Muslims, but I speak here as a Muslim woman.

The Qur'an states that men and women are equal. Each person is responsible to God for their own actions. Rights given to women in 7th century Arabia were quite radical, for example. They had the right to own property, to inherit, to keep one's earnings, to maintain one's own family name and to have a choice in marriage.

However, there are some verses in the Qur’an that are controversial and can be interpreted in more ways than one. Unfortunately, Muslim scholars or ulema, have been men, and though learned and well-meaning, they have interpreted these verses from a male perspective in the 9th and 10th centuries.

For women, the problematic verses are [i] a husband's right of multiple marriages; [ii] a husband's right of unilateral divorce; [iii] the husband's prerogative to lightly discipline the wife if she is recalcitrant; [iv] the husband as the dominant partner in the household; [v] the share in inheritance; and [vi] women witnesses in commercial matters.

Some of these are easily understood if one remembers the historical context of the 7th-century Arabia, and the role of men in that society. It is also understandable that different cultures influenced the teachings of the Qur'an, and many practices are justified as part of Islam, even though they have no basis in the religion.

But when some of these are considered eternal and applicable for all times, then women, like me, have issues.

Fortunately, there are some excellent scholars who are courageously exploring alternative interpretations based on the equality principles of the Qur'an. I have to be optimistic that the majority of Muslims will accept that we are "good" Muslims because we believe in the welfare of both men and women, without dominance by either. This would help eliminate many of the injustices against women.

However, some of the treatment of women in Muslim majority countries makes me angry as a Muslim, and as a woman. On the other hand, I am just as infuriated by the duplicity of Western countries when they attack countries, such as Afghanistan for selfish reasons, but hypocritically use the rationale that they are "freeing Muslim women from Islam." What bunk!

If the United States and others really want to help Muslim women, they should insist on changes in their allied countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which is the bedrock of conservatives and literalism for Muslims. But this will not happen because of the complicity of the West in trying to control the oil production. T

Alia Hogben is a social worker and executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. Source:


Egypt police detain Muslim Brotherhood members

By Yusri Mohamed, 8 Nov 2008,

Cairo (Reuters) - Egyptian police stormed a Muslim Brotherhood conference and detained 30 members of the country's largest opposition group in a raid in the northeast, sources in the group said on Saturday.

Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarian Farid Ismail said police beat people with batons and destroyed his offices where the conference was being held in Sharqiya province.

The raid and detentions took place on Friday night as the men were attending an annual meeting hosted by Ismail for his constituents, he said.

Police initially detained around 40 men, but only 30 were brought before local prosecutors, and Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moniem Abdel Maqsoud said it was possible some had been released.

Ismail said there had been about 1,500 Muslim Brotherhood members in attendance and that, due to lack of space, the crowd had spilled into the street.

Ismail said he had tried to obtain security clearance to hold the conference at a local club but had his request ignored.

The Brotherhood's website said prosecutors ordered the 30 men released, but that they were still in custody.

Egyptian police frequently disregard court rulings ordering detained members of the country's political opposition set free.

The government calls the Muslim Brotherhood a banned organisation although the group operates openly and fields independent candidates in parliamentary elections. It won a fifth of seats in 2005 parliamentary polls.

Political analysts say the government wants to stop the Brotherhood from mounting a serious political challenge to President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, and police often detain members for long periods without formal charges.



Michigan Legislature set to get its first female Muslim

November 07, 2008

Detroit: Michigan is getting its first female Muslim legislator, thanks in large part to her Jewish boss, the incumbent.

Rashida Tlaib, a lawyer, community activist and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, easily won a House seat in Tuesday's general election after emerging from an eight-way Democratic primary with 44 per cent of the vote in August.

Tlaib, 32, said she wouldn't have run but for the repeated urging of Democratic state Representative Steve Tobocman, who is stepping down because of term limits.

Once she decided to run, she threw herself into it, knocking on 8,000 doors and hitting each household twice.

South-eastern Michigan has about 300,000 people with roots in the Arab world, but few of them live in Tlaib's largely black and Hispanic district in southwest Detroit.

"We view her victory as a sign that Michigan Muslims are welcomed as a part of our state's multi-faith and multi-ethnic society," said Dawud Walid, Michigan director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

According to the American Muslim Alliance, only nine Muslims were serving in state legislatures nationwide before Tuesday's elections, and only one of them is a woman.

There are two Muslim members of Congress - Democrats Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana.

The Michigan Legislature's first known Muslim member, James Karoub, served three terms in the state House in the 1960s.

Tobocman said he first met Tlaib about five years ago when she was working for the Arab Community Centre for Economic and Social Services, where she did advocacy work for immigrants.

"I was just really, really impressed," he said. When he later became majority floor leader and got another staff slot, he recruited Tlaib for the job.

He said she brings a passion for social justice and the ability to work with people across the political aisle with very different outlooks.

"She's someone who just intuitively understood the process right off the bat," Tobocman said. The election was only one of many firsts for Tlaib.

The eldest of 14 children of a retired Ford Motor Co worker and his wife, she was the first in her family to earn a high school diploma. She went on to finish college and law school while helping raise 13 siblings.



Inter-religious Dialogue is Appropriate Time to Improve Islam’s Image

Nov 08, 2008

Azerbaijan, Baku, 8 November /Trend News corr. T.Jafarov, B.Hasanov/ Dialogue between Christians and Muslims is an appropriate time to improve the image of Muslims in the Christian world.

“The dialogue is an appropriate time to inform Christians of Islam and to change their mistaken views on this religion,” Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, Chairman of the Iranian Science Ministry’s Law and Shariat Research Council, said to Trend News from Qom city on 7 November.

On 4-6 November, Vatican hosted a meeting of about 50 Muslim and Christian religious leaders, Time Turk news agency said.

The goal of the meetings on inter-religious dialogue is to eliminate false reports and prejudice about other religions. The main criteria of the dialogue are to admit every religion in the form envisaged in it own sources and to abstain from theological disputes. The inter-religious dialogue was intensified after the meeting of the 2nd Vatican Council held by Pope XXIII. That gathering created a ministry on inter-religious dialogue. Inter-religious dialogue, which gained importance in the second half of the 20th century, is now organized by ecclesiastics and theologians.

Experts estimate the inter-religious dialogue as a step to positive results. The first of the results will be revelation of common aspects between Islam and Christianity.

“The dialogue may provide good conditions to reveal common aspects between the two monotheistic religions – Islam and Christianity,” said Hadavi.

Hadavi believes creation of a friendly and fraternal atmosphere between Christians and Muslims may be a short-term result of the dialogue, and creation of conditions for exchange of ideas and cooperation between them in the cultural field may be a long-term result.

Dutch Islamologist Asma Abdulhamid believes that inter-religious dialogue is one of the main basics of religion. However, there are some obstacles to make the dialogue uninterrupted.

“As political aspect is attached to a range of events taking place in the West and East, it is a little difficult to hold the dialogue,” Abdulhamid said to Trend News in a telephone conversation from Copenhagen on 7 November.

Saudi researcher Ismail Yasha believes the inter-religious dialogue is intended not to bring together the religions but to provide normal coexistence of the followers of different religions. Now, a dialogue among mazhabs [Islamic schools] must be intensified as well.

“Inter-religious dialogue may provide peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians. Moreover, attention must be also drawn to a dialogue among mazhabs,” Yasha said to Trend News in a telephone conversation from Jeddah on 7 November.

The goal of the meeting held on 4-6 November was to design a joint action plan to reduce tensions between the Islamic and Christian religions. The dialogue is of great importance to settle the problems between the world’s two major religions. On 6 November, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the participants of the meeting. The attending Muslim clerics were led by Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia (top religious leader).

“The dialogue between Islam and Christianity is a way to reduce the disputes between the followers of both religions,” said Hadavi Tehrani.

The correspondent can be contacted at Source:


Fight for Islam, urges Abu Bakar Bashir as Bali bomber executions loom

By Renato Castello, Hannah Silverman, Cindy Wockner and Ian PcPhedran

November 09, 2008

RADICAL Muslim cleric and terrorist leader Abu Bakar Bashir urged his flock to follow the lead of the Bali bombers and fight for Islam.

His comments came as families of Bali bombing victims told of their relief as final preparations were taking place last night for the terrorists' executions.

They spoke out as speculation mounted the three killers - Mukhlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra - could be executed early today.

In other developments in a dramatic day:

THE bombers' brothers travelled to Cilacap, Central Java, to oversee the washing and shrouding of the bodies.

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Stephen Smith issued a special terror warning to school-leavers considering travelling to Indonesia.

Angela Golotta, 19, and Bob Marshall, 68, were among four South Australians and 88 Australians killed in the October 2002 terrorist attack.

Mr Marshall's daughter, Lesley Reynolds, said her father's killers were getting what they deserved.

"They won't be missed in this world when they are gone and they won't be remembered as a martyr - an eye for an eye," she said. "I just think too bad, so sad, rot in hell."

Ms Golotta's mother, Tracey, said she just wanted the executions over.

"I just want them out of our lives," she said.

"While they're still alive they're still talking, they're still speaking to their families.

"We just don't want to give them any thoughts."

Hours earlier, Bashir praised the mass murderers as Islamic heroes who had brought honour to themselves and their families.

"Their fighting spirit in defending Islam should be followed," the ageing, bearded preacher told the small but noisy crowd of mostly unemployed young men and curious locals.

"We will win the fight in this world or die as martyrs. Even if they are murdered they will die as Islamic martyrs."

Yesterday, as the execution drew near, authorities made the unusual decision of allowing the bombers' brothers on to the jail island where they will be executed to ensure the burials go smoothly and without trouble.

Three police helicopters at the airport in Cilacap were believed to be the ones which will be used to ferry the bodies of the bombers back to their home villages.

And more covered police trucks and black vans with dark windows sped into the Wijaya Pura Port yesterday to be ferried across to the island.

The vans' windows were papered over. And police stopped cars parking close to the port area. The jail's ferry travels from the port to Nusa Kambangan Island regularly.

The jail housing the bombers is on the island and they will also be executed on the island.

Ali Fauzi, the brother of Amrozi and Mukhlas, was due to arrive in Cilacap around midday, as was Lulu Jamaludin, the brother of Imam Samudra from West Java. It was unclear as to whether the family members and lawyers would attend and witness the executions.

Under legislation, a lawyer may, at their own request or the request of the prisoner, attend and witness the execution. However there is no legislated right for the family to attend.

The men's wives - Amrozi has two as does Mukhlas, and Imam Samudra has one - also requested final visits, but remained at home in the village preparing for the funerals.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons the authorities have resisted giving the families last visitation rights is that they don't want the bombers declaring as their final wish that their followers commit terror acts.

Meanwhile, Australian travellers were warned of possible violent consequences after the executions.

At a news conference yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith drew attention to the risks involved with the "imminent executions".



Al-Qaeda's 'mild' message to Obama

By Frank Gardner

BBC Security Correspondent

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has reacted to the US presidential election by issuing a statement on Friday directed at President-elect Barack Obama and his incoming administration.

The 22-minute audiotape was posted on several jihadist internet websites and includes an audio message from Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, the pseudonym adopted by the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq.

The US military said on Friday that al-Baghdadi was "an actor who provided a voice for al-Qaeda's propaganda".

The statement issued in his name calls on the incoming US administration and allied Western leaders to embrace Islam, withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and release Muslim prisoners from there and from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Compared to previous statements issued by the group this one is relatively mild, imploring America to return to what it calls "impartiality" and even offering not to disrupt Western oil supplies if its conditions are met.

"We promise that we will not stop the trading of oil or other commodities with you, provided that justice is achieved," the audio message said.

'Public relations'

Al-Qaeda's affiliates in Iraq have suffered major setbacks in recent months, having been largely driven out of their former strongholds in central and western Iraq by a combination of US firepower and, more significantly, a tribal uprising by predominately Sunni Iraqis who rejected al-Qaeda's extreme brutality.

Those who wrote the latest statement will have probably been under no illusions that their appeal to withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to be ignored.

But analysts believe it is aimed at public relations, specifically at boosting al-Qaeda's standing in advance of an expected future withdrawal of US troops from Iraq so the group can later claim to have "expelled them".

Unlike in the US presidential election in 2004 when the al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden appeared to be trying to influence the result by calling on US voters to reject the policies of President Bush, al-Qaeda was noticeably silent in the run-up to 4 November.

This prompted many of its supporters to hope the silence would be explained by a devastating repeat of the 9/11 attacks.

When none materialised, participants in jihadist internet forums went on to call for new attacks on America, saying that Barack Obama will be "captain of a sinking ship".

'Obama's dogs'

Very few online al-Qaeda sympathisers have expressed any optimism that US policies will change under the future President Obama.

"We are not interested in who's won because they all follow the same strategy which is a war against Islam and Muslims," says one.

"Muslims in Waziristan, Pakistan and Afghanistan must brace themselves," says another. "Obama's dogs will be preparing to fight you even harder soon."

Some have remarked on Mr Obama's appointment of Rahman Emanuel as his chief of staff as "evidence of a pro-Israeli bias," saying he will "suck up to the Zionist lobby".

Other hardliners have greeted Barack Obama's election victory with a stream of racist and other insults.



Obama First Gift to Jewish Lobby! A New Defender of America’s World Wide Occupation is created

JAFAR SYED, 08 November, 2008

THERE are more than 44 million strong Afro-Americans in the United States. There are more than 44 million strong Hispanic in the Untied States.  There are about 20 million strong Asians in the United States. In other words, every third American belongs to a community of colour.

In the presence of 100 million Americans who happen to be the members of one community of colour or another, why did president elect Obama select a white Jew to run the White House? Why could not he find an Afro-American, a Hispanic or an Asian for this important post?

The same question was asked when he selected a white American as vice president. It was the best time and perhaps the only time to select an Afro-American, a Hispanic or an Asian as a vice-president. Selection of a Hispanic as a voice president specifically had cemented the political alliance between the Afro-American community and Hispanic community for generations.

No body would have blamed him for racism if he had selected a vice president or chief of staff from the community of colours. Every White president of the United States has selected a white vice president and a white chief of staff.

There are reasons why president elect Obama select a white Jew to run the White House. He knows that it is Senator Clinton who is the favourite daughter of the Jews and they want her to be in the White House.

President elect Obama is right in his assessment about Senator Clinton. This is a fact that almost entire Jewish leadership loves Clintons for her pro-Israel stance. One segment that had some reservations about Mrs. Clinton also started loving her because she proved that she is committed to the cause of Israel.

“The Jewish Press endorses Hillary Rodham Clinton for United States senator from New York. In her six years as senator, the former first lady has distinguished herself as a knowledgeable and effective advocate for New York State in Washington. She has mastered the intricacies of the Senate and has excelled, even in the opinion of her detractors, as a coalition builder. She has emerged as a hard-nosed and respected voice on foreign affairs with views her colleagues on both sides of the aisle take seriously.

“Sen. Clinton has emerged as an important supporter of Israel, both publicly and, perhaps more important, behind the scenes. She is held in the highest regard in this connection by those who regularly plead Israel’s cause in the halls of government.

“We were vocal critics of some of Sen. Clinton’s actions during her husband’s administration and had real reservations when she ran for office six years ago. Indeed, we endorsed her opponent at the time. But, providentially, we were proven wrong”      (Jewish Press, November 1, 2006)

Chicago Jewish News also proves that Obama was the least choice of Jews. They are either for Senator Clinton or for Senator McCain.

“Seven years of hard work cultivating the Jewish leadership in New York and nationally had paid off for Clinton. Her approval rating among Jewish Democrats, according to the American Jewish Committee poll, was 70 percent. Among all Jews it was 53 percent.

Once elected to the Senate, Clinton reached out to Jewish organizational leaders and soon became a staple of the Jewish circuit. Hardly a Washington event run by a national Jewish group does not include an address by Clinton-often on Tuesday morning, just before delegates go to the Capitol to lobby.  (Ron Kampeas, HILLARY AND THE JEWS: Clinton's journey to Jewish favourite,

In this context, to select a white Jew to run the White House makes sense. It assures Jews that Senator Clinton loss is not the loss of the Jews.

Second reason to select a white Jew to run the White House is the Jewish numerical strength in the 111Congress. There will be 13 Jewish senators sitting in the Senate. It means that every 8 senator in the Senate will be Jewish. There will be 31 Jews sitting in the House of Representatives. It means that every 44 member of the House of Representatives will be Jewish.


1, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) 2. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) 3. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) 4. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) 5. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) 6. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) 7. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) 8. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) 9. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) 10. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) 11. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) 12. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) 13. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)


1. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) 2. John Adler (D-N.J.) 3. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) 4. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) 5. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) 6. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.) 7. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) 8. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) 9. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) 10. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) 11. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)12. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) 13. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) 14. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) 15. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) 16. Steve Kagen (D-Wisc.)17. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) 18. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) 19. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) 20. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) 21. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) 22. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) 23. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) 24. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) 25. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) 26. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) 27. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) 28. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) 29. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) 30. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) 31. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) (Senators who were re-elected (Coleman defeated Democratic challenger Al Franken in Minnesota by 571 votes, but a recount is expected. Franken also is Jewish, leaving 13 Jewish senators regardless of who emerges as the winner.) (Source of the list of Jewish senators and members of Congress 111 is Ami Eden, The Chosen: Jewish members in the 111th U.S. Congress, JTR, and November 5, 2008.)

A Jewish Chief of Staff is a first gift to win the hearts and minds of the Jewish senators and Members of the House of Representatives. Obama knows very well that Jewish leadership determines the fate of every president. It makes and it unmakes.

And note Obama’s first selection. Chosen one is U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-111) who will run the White House. He represents Illinois’s 5th Congressional district. His father is Jerusalem-born Benjamin M. Emanuel who was the member of terrorist organization Irgun.

Few notes: 1. America was, is, and will be a race-based society. 2. Phrase, community of colour, is acceptable phrase for the members of community of colour. 3. A member of the community of colour is the most lethal weapon in the hands of the white ruling elite. It does not matter to which community of colour he belongs. Note how the white elite used secretary of state Powell, Condoleezza Rice and U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales. Two of them, Secretary of State Powel and U.S. attorney general Gonzales, were used and then humiliated. Both of them did not “resign”; both of them were fired. As Condoleezza rice is concerned, she is the most despicable figure in the eyes of the communities of colours. 

How the white elite uses Obama, watch. Remember it was January 20, 1832.

“While standing before the Virginia House of Delegates on January 20, 1832, Mr. Henry Berry, Esq., made it clear what was needed to produce and maintain the condition of slavery. He said: ‘Pass as severe laws as you will to keep these unfortunate creatures in ignorance, it is in vain, unless you can extinguish that spark of intellect which God has given them. Sir, we have, as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light might enter their minds. We have only to go one step further – to extinguish the capacity to see the light – and our work will be complete. They would then be reduced to the level of the beasts of the field, and we should be safe …’” (Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan, A new beginning, the final Call, November 4, 2008.)

In 1832, tool to destroy the Afro-American was destruction. 2008, the lethal tool in the hands of American ruling elite is incorporation. President elect Obama is incorporated.

In this context, note the victory speech of President elect Obama. “To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you.” A new defender of American world-wide occupation is created. His name is Barack Hussein Obama. Color does not matter when you are in the service of White racist leadership.

(Jafar Syed is a researcher in International Affairs based in New York)



Obama must deal with Muslim crisis

Nov 09, 2008, by Haroon Siddiqui

Preoccupied with the American presidential election, the world has paid little or no attention to the following developments, the consequences of which will have to be dealt with by Barack Obama.

Seemingly disparate, the events are part of the greater crisis confronting the United States and the world of Muslims.

Winding down any one of the conflicts along that crescent – say, Iraq, as he hopes to – will only minimize, not eliminate, the dangerous fissure that defines this era.

• American missiles continue to land in Pakistan, killing dozens, mostly civilians. The latest of 19 such air strikes since August killed 27 in two villages.

The National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution calling for Pakistan to break off with the American war on terrorism. That prompted the government to tell Washington that air strikes "must be stopped immediately."

The resolution also called for an end to Pakistan's own military campaign in the border region "as soon as possible," for it has left nearly 300,000 civilians homeless.

The irony of Pakistan protesting the U.S. bombing while conducting its own is but one of the many absurdities of the war on terror.

• In Afghanistan, scores of civilians continue to die under American air attacks. The latest killed up to 90 people at a wedding and wounded 28, including the bride.

President Hamid Karzai is pleading with Obama to end the madness of NATO killing innocents. But, like the leaders of Pakistan, he has little or no power to make much of a difference.

• In Israel, Condoleezza Rice conceded Thursday that an Arab-Israeli peace deal, which George W. Bush had promised by year-end, is unlikely. The pledge goes the way of Bush's earlier commitment to establish a Palestinian state by 2005.

In the Gaza Strip, a five-month truce was shattered with an Israeli incursion, Palestinian rockets in response and an Israeli air attack.

The truce had done little to improve the humanitarian crisis for the Gazans, strangled under the Israeli as well as an international, including Canadian, blockade.

Their plight was highlighted by a boatload of peace activists, including Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who landed in Gaza from Cyprus. It was the second such voyage in three months to urge the world "to open a lifeline to the people of Gaza."

• Syria is still seething over an Oct. 26 cross-border American commando raid from Iraq, in which nine people were killed.

President Bashar Assad is as impotent as Karzai or Pakistani President Asif Zardari against unilateral American actions that show no regard for the sovereignty of nations and the rule of international law – or even for the domestic political needs of allies.

One can argue over the rationale for each of these attacks – Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan, bad intelligence about Taliban hideouts in Afghanistan, or alleged trafficking of terrorists from Syria to Iraq – but there's no escaping the conclusion that there's no overarching strategy. Or if there is, it is not working.

We are told that the U.S. and its allies are not engaged in a clash of civilizations. But, given the above list, they are widely seen to be.

Pope Benedict – who foolishly fuelled just such a perception with his ill-informed comments about Islam two years ago – has grasped the seriousness of the Muslim-Christian divide. He has just hosted a high-ranking Muslim delegation at the Vatican to open a dialogue.

There are some other positive signs, albeit too few.

The Syrian-Israeli peace talks, conducted through Turkey, are still said to be on track. Tony Blair, the international envoy for the Middle East, is still at it.

Pakistani and Afghan leaders are searching, with Saudi help, for ways to open a dialogue with non-hardcore Taliban elements.

Obama has no option but to see the big picture of U.S.-Muslim relations. Otherwise, he may end up as ineffective as his predecessors.

Haroon Siddiqui, the Star's editorial page editor emeritus, writes Thursday and Sunday. Source:


Record turnout by Muslims for election

Erika Niedowski, November 8. 2008

Washington// US Muslims turned out in record numbers and voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama for president last week, according to new polling data, even though Muslim community leaders said some had felt marginalized during the campaign.

Eighty-nine per cent of US Muslims surveyed cast their ballot for Mr. Obama, a poll commissioned by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections found. Just two per cent voted for John McCain, his Republican rival, with the independent and third-party candidates receiving negligible support.

Nearly two thirds of the 637 people surveyed by Genesis Research Associates identified the economy as their most pressing issue, distantly followed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ninety-five per cent said they had voted in the presidential election, the highest turnout ever reported for Muslim-Americans.

At a news conference in Washington on Friday to announce the poll results, Muslim-American leaders congratulated Mr. Obama on his historic election as the first African-American US president. But they called on him to make good on his campaign promise for unity and inclusion and asked him to reach out to Muslims early on and take steps to repair “damaged relations” from the eight years of George W Bush’s presidency. Many Muslims say his administration has rolled back civil liberties and wrongly targeted them in the so-called “war on terror”.

“We’re looking for inclusiveness in this new administration,” said Agha Saeed, founder of the American Muslim Alliance and chairman of the American Muslim Taskforce.

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Mr. Saeed himself, a native of Pakistan, was surrounded by FBI agents at an airport outside of Washington and asked what he had been doing there. It turned out he was in the capital for a meeting of US Muslim leaders with Mr. Bush on the very day of the attacks, which was cancelled.

Mr Saeed said the Muslim community does not want “lip service” but a real commitment to due process and equal justice.

“We have major work to do in this country,” he said.

Mahdi Bray, the executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, referred to a “slight” many in the Muslim community felt during the presidential race. The word “Muslim” came to be used as a smear, with persistent rumours that Mr Obama – whose middle name is Hussein – was an adherent of that faith. His campaign forcefully denied it and affirmed he is a Christian.

It was Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and a Republican, who finally said in the final days of the contest what many Muslims had hoped Mr Obama himself, would: so what if he were Muslim? “Well, the correct answer is he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian,” Mr Powell said in response to a question about Mr Obama’s religion. “But the really right answer is what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?”

In Detroit in June, two female supporters of Mr Obama, both wearing headscarves, were prevented from standing behind him at a rally, prompting him to call them to apologise.

Some supporters of Mr McCain regularly shouted “Vote McCain, Not Hussein” at Republican rallies. One woman said Mr Obama was an Arab, to which Mr McCain replied: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man.”

“We’re determined to rise above these aspects,” said Mr Bray of what he called the “bashing” of Muslims during the campaign. “We will not sit on the sidelines. Tell the bashers they can continue to bash, but we will continue to vote. For us, our votes are in play. For us, second-class citizenship is not an option.”

Mr Bray said grassroots Muslim groups had employed a “battleground strategy” – registering voters and making sure they showed up at the polls – that made the Muslim vote critical in some key states, including Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia. In Virginia, which had not been won by a Democratic presidential contender since 1964, Muslim voter registration was up at least 11 per cent from two years ago, he said.

Muslim-Americans have shifted their political affiliation over the past eight years – they voted for Mr Bush in 2000, then John Kerry in 2004 – and increasingly identify with the Democratic Party. But they do not vote just based on party.

“It’s clear that Muslims vote based on issues not on party or political concerns,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Although political participation by Muslim-Americans is increasing, Mr Saeed said, it is still far from representative; Muslims hold just a fraction of the more than half-million elected offices in the United States. This year marked the election of the first female Muslim to the state legislature in Michigan.

At the news conference, Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, called on Mr Obama to move to restore the United States’s “moral authority” throughout the world; protect its “core values”; and signal a willingness to appoint qualified US Muslims to positions in his administration.

The poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.87 per cent.



Majority of People like Taliban

By ASIF HAROON RAJA, 08 November, 2008

AFTER the terrorists’ attacks in the two cities of USA on 9/11, Al-Qaeda based in Afghanistan was blamed for the terrorist attacks and Mulla Omar was asked to hand over Osama bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda for interrogation. When Omar refused to hand them over without furnishing proof of their involvement, Afghanistan was invaded by USA and its allied forces in October 2001 under the pretext of ending human rights violations and restoring democracy. Pakistan ditched its neighbour and became a frontline state to fight the US war on terror and helped US troops in capturing Afghanistan. Finding themselves cornered from all directions, the Taliban as well as the Al-Qaeda considered it prudent to make a tactical retreat and go underground. Majority took refuge in FATA, NWFP, western Baluchistan and AJK, while some went to Iran and other Muslim countries. Thereafter they were hounded by the whole world to liquidate them.

The Muslim countries ruled by authoritarian rulers are extending whole hearted support to USA in its global war against terrorism by way of nabbing Al-Qaeda fugitives and giving them no quarter. Despite the scorched earth policy the Taliban and al-Qaeda managed to regroup and started to strike back at the occupying forces in southern Afghanistan from 2002 onwards. They added suicide attacks as one of the means to bleed the hordes of opponents that went about tightening the noose around them. Within two years they gained an upper hand in southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan where the Pashtun are in majority. They are now striking their targets in other parts of the country as well. Karzai regime studded with elements of non-Pashtun Northern Alliance elements has lost its standing and has begun to totter. USA has now changed its tunes from use of force alone to that of dialogue with the Taliban.

War on terror in Pakistan has been intensified since last July and several fronts have been opened. Bajaur and Swat in particular have seen intense fighting between the security forces and the militants. Although hundreds of militants have been killed during the last three months and their houses and strongholds destroyed, the militants are not giving up. Despite use of jetfighters, gunship helicopters, artillery, tanks and lashkars, the battle continues unabated. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan under Baitullah still retains complete sway over the entire tribal belt and settled areas of NWFP and to hope that any meaningful results would accrue by ignoring him would be naïve. Since Fazlullah takes command from Baitullah, hence the key to peace in FATA and in Swat is in the hands of Baitullah.

When he offered a hand of friendship to the new government thinking that the era of US puppet Musharraf and his dummy King’s Party was over, it was a God given opportunity which should have been cashed in. However, the opportunity has been squandered since the remote control has again been handed over by new leaders to Washington. In search for short-term economic gains and to earn the pleasure of sole super power, they are again bent upon putting the very survival of the country at stake. Following in the footsteps of Musharraf with whom the PPP has maintained cordial relations from the very beginning, they have also declared the enemies of USA as Pakistan’s enemies. They are considered as outcast and unworthy of negotiations. Tutored by Washington, the PPP leaders are making great efforts to convince the people and their elected members that war on terror is not American war but Pakistan’s war.

While adopting a tough stand against so-called militants, our weak-kneed leaders have shown no courage to defend our borders against repeated incursions by US drones. Whatever threatening language Obama had used during his election campaign has been put into practice. So far USA has carried out 80 border and air violations of our territorial integrity. All these intrusions against our sovereignty have been over looked thereby encouraging the offender to indulge in such offensive acts at will. US drones have begun to violate our air space frequently and each attack has taken lives.

Our rulers look the other way to repeated border and air violations and missile attacks. Deaths of so many innocent civilians have been callously ignored and not even a strong protest launched. Each time that our custodians opted to remain mum; we compromised our sovereignty and our deterrence value. Their vacillation has emboldened our adversaries. It is widely suspected that Hellfire missiles were fired by US Predators under a secret understanding arrived at with Musharraf led army. If it is true, giving a licence to others to kill our people on our soil is utterly disgusting and inexcusable. Had there not been such an understanding then muteness on our part was equally ignoble. Failure of our current rulers to respond in kind to aggressive acts which are taking lives of innocent people gives an impression that they too are continuing with the policy of Musharraf which is even more shameful. Recent report of Washington Post alleges that Zardari on his last trip to Washington had agreed to ignore drone attacks but would resort to protests as a gimmick to mellow down the sentiments of the people.

In their bid to eliminate vice and promote virtue, the local Taliban are burning girls’ schools and video/music shops, closing barber shops and threatening barbers not to shave beards, forcing women to wear veils and not to mix up with men, closing down all brothels and drug dens, beheading murderers and inflicting lashes to thieves. They urge people to adhere to five-time prayers and to grow beards and not to indulge in criminal activities. These acts have given a handle to the western world led by USA and the liberals in Pakistan to demonise them and paint them as monsters having no regard for human and women rights.

It may be noted that the Taliban (excluding the fake ones) do not indulge in immoral acts. They have taken upon themselves to purify their areas of influence of all vices since law enforcement agencies have either expressed their inability to deal with criminals or have become their accomplices. Torching of schools, beheading of security personnel and kidnapping of Chinese have mostly been done by foreign agents to defame the Taliban and to destabilise Pakistan. The law courts rived in complex procedures take donkey years to award verdicts. In most cases the victims either die waiting for justice or give up as a bad job. Lower courts have become notorious for accepting graft to declare an offender innocent and the victim a criminal. The elite class is above law; they bend laws with impunity. Under the circumstances the poor class suffering from injustices and none to listen to their woes, speedy and cheap justice offered by the Taliban is welcomed by them.

Except for the elite and the liberal class the majority which is conservative and religious is not scared of Baitullah Mahsud and his types. They were first wary of Musharraf and now they are fed up of Zardari and their types who have dual standards and are insensitive to the needs of the poor. Whatever they utter in respect of the poor is rhetoric and lip service. In the last 61 years each leader has been talking of improving the lot of poor, removal of literacy and poverty, improvement of healthcare and provision of clean drinking water and speedy and cheap justice. On ground nothing has been achieved in these vital areas. Rather things have gone from bad to worse. Deterioration of state of affairs has been at the cost of the poor only since the rich class has prospered leaps and bounds.

Those who advocate decimation of Islamic militants who in their jaundiced view are using Islam for vile purposes forget that seculars and liberals have caused irreparable harm to the cause of Islam and unity of Ummah. In their urge to emulate western lifestyle and to project western world as the role model for others, they constantly undermine Islam by indulging in poisonous propaganda against Islamists. To win favours from their mentors in the west, they have distorted Islamic culture by inculcating Hindu and western customs and traditions. Islamic culture prescribed in Holy Quran and practiced by Holy Prophet (PBUH) is ridiculed as medieval and outmoded. They fail to realise that immorality and decadence of values and not militancy will destroy the nation.

The rotten system of democracy, judiciary and governance that is being run by inept leaders for the last 61 years has given rise to Talibanisation. The putrid Anglo-Saxon judicial system that has lost confidence of the people had a glimmer of hope of revival under chief justice Iftikhar. That hope has been given a death blow by NRO washed leaders since they are allergic to independent judiciary and want to retain corrupt and subservient judiciary and to retain their regal style of living. Such mini mind and Washington controlled rulers are incapable of beating back the threat of Talibanisation that has begun to assume dangerous proportions.

The writer is a defence and political analyst based in Rawalpindi. Source:


Islamic clerics condemn Bali bombers

Nov 9, 2008

Islamic leaders have condemned the Bali bombers in a bid to quell religious tensions after the three militants died together at the hands of elite Indonesian police snipers in Central Java.

Indonesia was on high alert for terrorist attacks and mob violence, as hundreds of hard-line followers gathered in the bombers' home villages in east and west Java to bury the men responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.

 Authorities fear reprisals as news of the executions reverberate around the archipelago and world, and Australia has warned travellers to reconsider their plans to visit the world's largest Muslim nation. 

The head of Indonesia's top Islamic body, the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), denounced Amrozi, his brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, saying they have not died as martyrs, as the three wished.

  "To die as a martyr is impossible - people who kill cannot be said to be martyrs unless it is war," MUI head Umar Shihab told

  "I think it's not right. We are not at war.

"We are in peace and what they did, they killed Muslims."

  The three bombers died immediately and opted not to be blindfolded in the lead-up to their execution by firing squad, officials said.

  Police were on high alert across Indonesia, particularly at shopping centres and embassies, which have recently been subject to bomb threats.

  The burials late today follow a day of high emotion, where scores of hardliners flocked to the men's villages in Serang, West Java, and Lamongan, East Java, shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is greater. 

They were the same words the three men shouted early today as they were taken from their isolation cells, where they have been held under special conditions for a week and have lived for the past three years, to their meeting with the firing squad.

  Heavy storms cleared, as the men were handcuffed, and placed in separate trucks for the six-kilometre journey to their execution point, an orange plantation in a disused prison on Nusakambanan Island, known as Indonesia's Alcatraz, off Central Java.

It is not yet known what their last words were as they were chained to separate two-metre high poles, several metres from each other, and a doctor placed a marker over the exact position of their hearts.

  Then, the 12 specially-trained police snipers lined up facing each of them, who after receiving the final order from their commander, simultaneously peppered their bodies with 5.6mm bullets.

  Only one sniper in each group of 12 had a live bullet, a spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General's office Jasmine Pandjaitan said.

  The three condemned men did not put up a fight before their executions, he said.

  "They were very co-operative," Jasmine said of the convicted terrorists.

  "They died immediately, a few moments after they were shot," he added.

  The men had asked not to be blindfolded but did not give a reason for the request, he said.

Prosecutors informed the men about their impending date with the death squad on Wednesday, and they were moved into complete isolation on Friday. 

"The three of them were asked if they had anything to convey, they didn't convey any message," Jasmine said.

  After the three were pronounced dead, their bodies were taken to a health clinic for autopsy, and their bodies prepared for burial, in line with Islamic custom.

A brother of Amrozi and Mukhlas, Ali Fauzi, brought two 20-metre pieces of fabric from his home village in which to wrap the bodies of his siblings.

  The execution was reportedly the biggest ever held in Indonesia, with up to 1,000 mobile brigade police on the island alone for security. 

Reaction was swift across Indonesia, and the world, following the state-sanctioned deaths of the men who killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, when they organised twin bomb attacks at nightclubs in Bali on October 12, 2002. 

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said his thoughts and prayers were with the families of victims shattered by the blasts, as his government announced it would press for an international moratorium on capital punishment at the United Nations General Assembly. 

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he had nothing but contempt for the bombers, but Australia did not support the death penalty.

  "Australia, of course, for a long period of time has generally opposed capital punishment," he told ABC Television just hours after the executions.

  "We urge countries who continue to apply capital punishment not to do so."

  In Bali and Australia, the news brought relief to some survivors and families of those killed in the Bali bombings, but others feared reprisal attacks.

  "I have (a sense of) trepidation as to what might happen as a result of this," said former Adelaide magistrate Brian Deegan, who lost his son Josh in the bombings. 

"I'm very concerned about that. There's no shortage around the world of persons that are prepared to commit suicide to achieve a result."

  Amnesty International, meanwhile, said the government's failure to oppose the executions of the bombers had put the lives of Australians on death row at risk, such as three members of the Bali Nine. 

The three death row Bali Nine heroin traffickers have sombrely followed the executions of the Bali bombers, which have provided a stark reminder of the fate awaiting them. 

"Their general mood is a bit more sombre," said a regular visitor, Pastor Ed Trottor.

  "It's obviously very much on their minds. It's been weighing more heavily upon them - particularly the three facing the death sentence - than it has before.

  "It's really brought it home to them, what they're facing and how serious the government is." Source:


London forum to probe Islamic banking issues

Nov 09, 2008

Manama: Global Banking Corporation (GBCORP) will offer insight into the current financial crisis and the way forward for Islamic banking.

Through a strategic partnership at the GCC-Euro Expo on Wednesday and Thursday in London, GBCORP is taking the lead in bringing into focus issues related to the current economic crisis.

The discussion will also focus on the challenges faced by the Islamic banking and finance industry, the positive and diverse aspects of Sharia compliance and the way forward in the face of the global financial crisis.

The expo is a premier event facilitating trade and investment opportunities between the GCC countries and Europe.

The event is sponsored by the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

Highlighting GBCORP's partnership of the event as a platinum sponsor, chief executive Mark Hanson said that this event is happening at a time when the world economy is in grave crisis and we are staring in the face of a global recession.

"These are indeed very challenging times and like the old saying - 'When the going gets tough, the tough get going' - the challenge now is to look deep into the heart of the crisis and find ways and means of addressing the issues and also look at the opportunities that such challenges throw up.

"The tremors of the financial crisis in the US have also had an impact on the GCC in terms of reduced oil prices, financial liquidity and the drop in share values of companies listed on the GCC stock markets.

"These effects are manageable when compared to the retrenchment and recession experienced elsewhere in the world and when seen in the context of the fundamental strength of the GCC economies.

"Surplus revenues generated over the past few years through robust oil prices and investment income generated so far this year and last have produced massive current account surpluses and these are still available to fund major state infrastructure projects," he said.

Mr Hanson will also be leading the panel discussion on banking and Islamic finance.

The forum will seek to address key issues related to the current crisis and how Islamic banking is suddenly the centre of attraction of the global banking community in terms of the opportunities it offers as a true complement to conventional banking system.

The expo is expected to build firm investment bridges between the GCC regions and Europe and also provide great business opportunities for the resilient long-term investor.

The economic development of the GCC region and the advantages it carries for European enterprises will be showcased by way of an exhibition and seminar programmes.

The seminars and panel discussions are expected to be attended by a number of highly placed government officials, key figures from the investment banking, regulatory and trading arena from across the GCC and Europe as well as industry specialists from Europe and across the GCC region.



Islam's other half

What does Islamic feminism have to offer? Where does it come from? Where is it going?

There is a growing movement among Muslims, especially women, away from the inherited patriarchal Islam toward an egalitarian Islam. The move is occurring in both older Muslim societies and in the newer Muslim communities in the west. Female scholars have been talking for two decades now about the gender equality they find in Qur'an. Activists use these egalitarian readings to push for new practices within families and societies, and to support reform of Muslim family laws. This combination of intellectual and activist work undertaken in diverse parts of the globe has been called Islamic feminism.

Islamic feminism rejects the dichotomy between east and west, and between secular and religious. These dichotomies were nurtured by colonialism and later politicised by Islamists as rigid and implacably adversarial identities. Islamic feminism insists upon the separation of religion and state, resolutely upholding the notion of a secular state. Secular here is not tantamount to un-religious or anti-religious. The secular state typically guarantees freedom of religion. When persons identify themselves as secular or secularist this does not per se mean that they are not religious or anti-religious.

Muslims, like others, more and more experience life in diverse locations, moving permanently or temporarily between countries and continents. In the process they are shaped by and identify with diverse cultures. Islamic feminism assists people in negotiating the multiple identities that we all possess, even within the context of a single culture. For example, a person may need to understand gender equality within an Islamic framework and/or a secular framework or shared ideals not particular to a single religion. A Muslim wishing equal access to Islamic ritual space and functions will access religious arguments. A Muslim desiring equal educational opportunities within public institutions in secular states would use secular arguments.

As egalitarian Islam gains ground it is increasingly being assailed by Muslim conservatives whether they are religious leaders, self-appointed community spokesmen, or followers of political Islam (Islamism). This is happening in both old Muslim societies in Africa and Asia and in the new communities in the west by those who perpetuate a patriarchal version of Islam which they claim to be the true Islam. Meanwhile, most non-Muslims, including progressives, buy into this interpretation, regarding Islam as intrinsically patriarchal. Thereby they contribute to problems for women through their ignorance.

International conferences on Islamic feminism like those recently held in Barcelona and Oxford provide important forums for the exchange of experience and ideas and for debate and strategising. The two conferences drew speakers and participants from around the world: scholars and activists, Muslims along with non-Muslims, and women as well as men. This kind of networking, sharing of new interpretations of Islam, face-to-face debates, and collaboration is vital for advancing the cause of an egalitarian Islam in front of both secular and religious patriarchal forces in Muslim societies and communities, especially as those forces are typically in collusion. Multicultural policies in western countries, based on patriarchal constructions of Islam, often leave women vulnerable by re-enforcing the domination of men over women and even sometimes condoning violent practices on the grounds that they are part of religion.

Islamic feminists understand the necessity of working both within the Muslim community and with people of other religions. Recently in these pages, Tariq Ramadan, in a cross religious context (specifically, Muslims and Catholics) spoke of the importance of a "constructive dialogue on our shared values." Islamic feminism has much to contribute to furthering the promotion of shared values and especially to assure that these shared values are egalitarian values and not patriarchal ideas. Source:


Know your Islamic extremist enemy

Benjamin Bahney and Renny McPherson

November 9, 2008

Afghan people gather at the site where a French aid worker was kidnapped in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Nov. 3, 2008

As debate continues about how to fight a resurgent al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and along the Pakistan border, leaders in Washington, Kabul and Islamabad seem lost about what to do next.

They are losing time. More U.S. service members have been killed or injured over the last two months in Afghanistan than in Iraq. And most experts agree that an al Qaeda-orchestrated attack on the U.S. homeland would likely be plotted from their sanctuary in these border areas. The threat is real, and it's getting worse.

Which is why, in our conflict against these terrorist and insurgent movements, we should step back and consider what we have learned from our recent successes in Iraq.

The U.S. military has nearly decimated al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and forced the group underground. How we have broken AQI can shed light on the nature of the al Qaeda threat and offer critical insight that can be used in operations against our enemies in Afghanistan and the Pakistani border areas.

Lesson One: Military personnel in Iraq understood that money is a weapon, for both al Qaeda and allied forces. As confiscated AQI internal documents show, AQI was extremely well-organized and bureaucratic. West Point's Combating Terrorism Center has published AQI documents dating back to 2005 showing how AQI directed money, supplies and resources to its fighters and supporters, primarily those Sunni Iraqis who lost jobs and prestige following the disbandment of the Iraqi army and de-Ba'athification.

This knowledge helped prompt the U.S. approach in mid-2006 to support, with money and weapons, local leaders outside of the formal Iraqi Security Forces - first in Anbar and then in other provinces. In 2007, elements from these movements formed the Sons of Iraq group that provided intelligence against AQI and added to local security efforts.

This approach can be applied in Afghanistan, where we need a sharper focus on the Taliban's strategy of protecting poppy farming and narco-trafficking. In doing so, the Taliban gains the active (and passive) support of people in key rural areas while simultaneously bolstering the group's largesse and perceived legitimacy. Understanding the Taliban's financial strategy will help us employ economic incentives like we did in Iraq, and help commanders in Afghanistan understand how and where engagement with local Lashkar tribal militias will be successful.

Lesson Two: Allied forces in Iraq targeted AQI by uncovering, layer by layer, how the group functioned. Engaged with AQI day after day for years, the military began to see how AQI saw itself: not as self-organizing, loosely connected small groups, but as a formal organization, with a chain of command, that develops and seeks to implement strategic goals.

For the first three years of the insurgency the allied forces could not discern that AQI was decentralized, yet organized. We now know the group was highly organized, and the military has exploited this knowledge.

In Afghanistan now, military commanders and intelligence officials need to devote more effort to understanding the AQ, Taliban and other local insurgent organizations. This is the kind of knowledge that will help reveal the most effective strategies: tribal engagement, an increase in U.S. troop presence, small targeted counter terror missions, or some combination of the three.

Lesson Three: While recent terrorism research has cantered on personal ties and informal networks of terrorist individuals, future study should increasingly consider organizational theory and the role played by types of organizational structures in insurgency and terrorism. The thousands of researchers who make a living by analyzing terrorist and insurgent groups need to study organizational principles of successful terrorist and insurgent groups as closely as they study individual radicalization. Furthermore, research on illicit economies, crime and corruption can enable the U.S. military to better negotiate the hostile environments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While the U.S. military continues to dismantle al Qaeda in Iraq, one of the gravest threats to American national security comes from al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas. As Gen. David Petraeus assumes command of U.S. forces across the Middle East, we hope that crucial lessons from Iraq are applied to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Benjamin Bahney and Renny McPherson, who have spent months, conducting research in Iraq, are research analysts at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.