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Islamic World News ( 7 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

3 Malaysian churches attacked in 'Allah' dispute

Seven killed in blast in Karachi

France formulates new law to outlaw burqa in public places

Muslim community urged to continue its fight against terrorism

Around 700 jihadis waiting to strike in J&K

Pak safe haven for terrorists’

J&K remains vulnerable to militant attacks: ChidambaramRetired US Army General Predicts 300 to 500 American Casualties per Month in Afghanistan

Social media gives rise to the new Muslims

France Deports 'Radical Islamist'

Pope: Turkey Bridge to Islam

Not negotiating between India and Pakistan: Holbrooke

Gulf states warned of possible al-Qaida attacks: Report

Spain refuses ransom to al-Qaida

26/11 attacks may cost insurers Rs 500 crore

Taliban denies most Afghan civilian deaths caused by rebels

Norwegian paper reprints Islam cartoons

Terror buck stops with me: Obama

Obama’s broken promise has invited terrorism

Russian police kill two Islamic militants in counter terrorism operation

CNN Trots out Jihad Teaching Extremist, Calls Him Instructor of Islam

Despite Aiding U.S., Iraqi Is Denied a Green Card

Poverty Is Not a Cause of Terrorism, Radical Islam Is

Bringing Islamic Banking to India

Muslim guerrillas attack Philippine official: Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Muslim professionals condemn attacks on churches

Prominent Sunni Opposition Party Barred from Iraq Election

Moroccan court jails 14 militant Islamists: report

Radical Islamism: An introductory Primer

Islamic Christianophobia

Yemen and the War of the Worlds

An Israeli Stalinist Professor’s War Against Israel

Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?

Will Disappointment on the Left Hurt Obama and Dems in 2010?

The Airport Scanner Scam

Uganda's bill to imprison gays for life is an outrage that should be rejected

Counterterrorism in Shambles; Why?

The Backfiring of the Surveillance State

Sick with Terror

Challenges for Pak & Afghanistan

Cardinal blames European Christians for rise of Islam

‘Hundreds of millions’ of Muslims are terrorists

5 Canadian Muslims charged in Toronto gang-rape

Suspected Fatah al-Islam terrorist arrested in Lebanon

Compiled by: New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/3-malaysian-churches-attacked-in--allah--dispute/d/2345

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3 Malaysian churches attacked in 'Allah' dispute

8 January 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Three Malaysian Christian churches were attacked with firebombs on Friday, causing extensive damage to one and sharply escalating

religious tensions in the country over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslim minorities.

Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the attacks by unidentified assailants, who struck before dawn in different suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. He said the government "will take whatever steps it can to prevent such acts."

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the country's leaders were very concerned about the situation. "We don't want this to spread out into something else ... I am not only assuring the minorities, I am assuring all Malaysians, anybody who is in Malaysia, that they are safe," he told reporters.

Malaysia is often held up as a model for other Islamic countries because of its economic development, a progressive society and the generally peaceful coexistence of its different races. The Malay Muslim majority comprise 60% of the country's 28 million people while the rest are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians. They follow Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other faiths.

The Allah controversy, however, has the potential to shatter that carefully nurtured harmony, drive a deep racial wedge and scare away sorely needed foreign investment as the country struggles to emerge from the global financial crisis.

In the first attack, the ground-level office of the three-story Metro Tabernacle Church was destroyed in a blaze set off by a firebomb thrown by attackers on motorcycles soon after midnight, police said. The worship areas on the upper two floors were undamaged and there were no injuries.

Two other churches were attacked hours later, with one sustaining minor damage while the other was not damaged.

Many Muslims have expressed outrage since a Dec. 31 Kuala Lumpur High Court verdict struck down a ban on non-Muslims using "Allah" in their literature. The government has appealed the verdict.

The High Court was ruling on a petition by Malaysia's Roman Catholic Church, whose main publication, the Herald, uses the word Allah in its Malay-language edition that is read almost exclusively by indigenous Christian tribes in the remote state of Sabah and Sarawak.

The tribespeople speak only Malay, and have always referred to God as Allah, an Arabic word that predates Islam. It is used not only by Muslims but also by Christians in Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Syria and Indonesia.

But the Malaysian government says "Allah" is exclusive to Islam and its use by others would mislead Muslims and tempt them to convert to Christianity.

Many Muslims saw the court verdict as an attack on their religion. Hateful comments and threats against Christians were posted widely on the Internet, but this is the first time the controversy turned destructive.

Kuala Lumpur police Chief Mohamad Sabtu Osman told The Associated Press that a witness saw four people on two motorcycles breaking the glass front of the Metro Tabernacle church and throwing an incendiary object inside before fleeing.

He said police found a wrench, an empty gasoline can and two scorched motorcycle helmets at the scene.

Hishammuddin, the home minister, warned Muslim groups against going ahead with a planned protest after Friday prayers, saying they would be punished if they came out of mosques to demonstrate.

"No permit has been given (for the protest), so it is illegal," said national police Chief Musa Hassan. "Don't do things that will affect the security of the country."

The backlash against the verdict has reinforced complaints by minorities that they face institutional discrimination. They say it is almost impossible to get permission to build new churches and temples. Some Hindu temples have been demolished in the past. Court verdicts in religious disputes usually favor Muslims.

On Thursday, the Malaysian judiciary's Web site was hacked and defaced with an apparent threat to Christians, The Star newspaper reported. The site, however, appeared to be normal on Friday.

The Star said the hacker, using the alias "Brainwash," defaced the site with a banner saying: "Mess with the best, die like the rest

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/3-Malaysian-churches-attacked-in-Allah-dispute/articleshow/5423133.cms

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Seven killed in blast in Karachi

8 January 2010

Karachi: At least seven persons were killed and several others injured in the southern Pakistani city on Friday when a blast ripped through a house where explosives and weapons were stored.

The blast in Baldia Town area of the port city appeared to be accidental and bomb disposal squad personnel were trying to determine its exact nature, police officials said.

Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, 22 grenades and two suicide jackets were found in the one-room house, which collapsed due to the explosion.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad that the home had been rented by a man from the militancy-affected Swat valley.

Some persons from Swat had come to visit this man last night, he said.

Police officials said Riaz Khan, who hailed from Swat, had rented the house about two years ago. They said two grenades were found in the pocket of one of the dead.

Two suspects were arrested from the scene, they said. Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed told the media that the men living in the house could have been planning a terrorist attack.

The explosion blew out the windows of several homes in the congested neighbourhood.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Seven-killed-in-blast-in-Karachi/articleshow/5422661.cms

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France formulates new law to outlaw burqa in public places

8 January 2010

LONDON: France is formulating a strict new law under which women who wear full-length veils (burqa) in public places will have to pay a fine of over 700 pound.

The amount could be doubled for Muslim men who force their wives or other female members of their family to cover their faces, The Daily Mail has reported.

Jean-Francois Cope, president of Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP Party in the French parliament, said the new legislation was intended to protect the 'dignity' and 'security' of women.

He is set to file the draft law in the National Assembly after Sarkozy said veils are 'not welcome' as they intimidate and alienate non-Muslims, especially in a secular country like France.

"We want a ban in public areas," said Cope, making clear that the veil would not be allowed in public buildings, nor on the streets of France, as it encourages extremism.

Cope said: "The wearing of the burqas will be subject to a fine, probably of the 4th class, which is to say 750 euros."

He said the fine would apply to 'all people on the public street whose face is entirely covered'.

A parliamentary inquiry into the wearing of all-body burqas and naqabs is due to publish its recommendations next month, the report said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/France-formulates-new-law-to-outlaw-burqa-in-public-places/articleshow/5422935.cms

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Muslim community urged to continue its fight against terrorism

January 8, 2010

Muslim Americans are expected to rally today against terrorism.

Participation includes members from such groups as the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. Both organizations have offices in southeastern Michigan.

The occasion coincides with the hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old charged with attempting to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas.

Generally, according to a news release, Michigan's Muslim community leaders will "stand together to voice their strong opposition to extremists." Also, it is reported that congregational prayers will be recited by imams in mosques throughout the area.

We are pleased that local Muslims are becoming more vocal in opposing the radical terrorism sects festering throughout the world.

In the news release, CAIR states "According to Islamic teachings, 'killing one innocent person is like killing all of mankind.' The Muslim American community condemns all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity, and we support our law enforcement agencies in their efforts to protect our fellow citizens from such acts of violence while conserving civil rights. We stand together to defeat the threat of al-Qaida and are committed to the security of the people of this great nation. We call for all faiths to join Muslims across the nation to pray for peace and justice."

While in the past, Muslims have denounced terrorist attacks and expressed opposition to extremism, they appear to be more vocal in response to this latest, fortunately failed effort.

We hope their stronger public presence continues.

The overt attempt at terrorism came to the metro area Christmas Day and should have reminded us that it can strike at anytime and anywhere.

So, it's time to "take the gloves off" and become more focused, adamant and proactive in the "War on Terrorism." Yes, we accurately call it that, even though federal officials are shying away from the term.

President Barack Obama has admitted our federal agencies "failed to connect the dots" in this incident, even though there was prior evidence that Abdulmutallab might be part of a pending al-Qaida attack.

Piecemeal information obtained by some federal agencies, such as Homeland Security, the CIA and FBI, wasn't shared. That's sad.

It is a time for our governments, from the federal on down, to take the blinders off and quit trying to tiptoe around the fact the United States is at war with terrorism.

Also, President Obama must remember that terrorists are not routine criminal suspects. They are a major modern-day threat to all Americans.

And it's time to fight on all fronts.

No matter how strongly and efficiently America, as a whole, combats terrorism, the evil will never be defeated until the majority of decent, peace-loving and tolerant Muslims themselves stand up and say to their brethren that terrorism is wrong. Then, they have to support their words with actions, doing whatever they can to defeat the hate-filled extremism that is threatening the world.

We again commend the members of the Muslim community, urge them to continue efforts to join forces with all Americans and eventually wipe out the disease of terrorism that is infecting the world, spreading fear, hate, prejudice and death.

http://www.dailytribune.com/articles/2010/01/08/opinion/srv0000007266383.txt

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Around 700 jihadis waiting to strike in J&K

8 January 2010

NEW DELHI: Wednesday's fidayeen attack in Srinagar which finally ended on Thursday was not a one-off strike. It was part of a plan supported by

the Pakistani military to step up terror in Jammu and Kashmir so as to avoid an increased engagement against the al-Qaida-Taliban group.

As many as 700 fully-trained terrorists are waiting in the wings to stage attacks in J&K with their "masters" in Pakistan directing them to open "other fronts" as they did in the busy Lal Chowk area in Srinagar.

The fidayeen attacks appear to be a ploy to tap into fears of the US that an escalation in India-Pakistan tensions, perhaps leading to an armed clash, will derail the Obama administration's new offensive in Afghanistan which is critically dependent on Islamabad's support.

Anti-India groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba are al-Qaida associates and have been itching to stage a big "show" in India as the David Headley-Tahawwur Rana plot indicated. These groups have been more than willing to step up the level of violence in J&K.

Intercepts of communication between the jihadis -- killed by security forces during the siege at Lal Chowk -- with their handlers in Pakistan during the terror siege hinted that LeT has already activated its different modules to carry out more attacks.

Referring to the intercepts, a senior official here said, "It is quite clear from their communication that the terrorists are fully prepared to carry out more Lal Chowk-type operations. Reference to opening other fronts indicates the possibility of similar attacks soon."

This is authenticated by a report by global intelligence group Stratfor which says jihadi groups operating in the state are likely to carry out more attacks to instigate more trouble between India and Pakistan and, in the process, derail Islamabad's participation in the war on its western border and its actions against various terror groups.

"We anticipate that Kashmiri jihadist groups will continue to plan attacks against India in an effort to stir up communal violence in that country and stoke tensions between India and Pakistan -- and provide a breather to the jihadist groups being pressured by the government of Pakistan," said the report.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Around-700-jihadis-waiting-to-strike-in-JK/articleshow/5421728.cms

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`Pak safe haven for terrorists’

January 8th, 2010

Washington/Peshawar: Terrorist safe havens have shifted bases from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s restive tribal areas and the US focus will be now to eliminate them, a top military official said on Thursday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the focus of the Obama Administration now is on "eliminating the safe havens which are now in Pakistan, originally, they were in Afghanistan, and making sure that Afghanistan isn’t in a position where they can host those safe havens in the future."

At the same time, Admiral Mullen said of late he has had concerns about the growing threat in Yemen, the growth of another safe haven for Al Qaeda in Yemen, as well as Somalia and other areas of the world that he would call potential failed states.

"We’ve been focused on this for a significant period of time. We’ve worked, on the American side, and the military side in particular — to support a growing Yemeni armed forces capability," he said.

We have actually been focused on it for a considerable period of time. We all recognise that so we are going to continue to support the Yemeni government in the execution of their strategy to eliminate these terrorists, which is where we are right now, Admiral Mullen said.

Meanwhile, five suspected militants were killed when an explosives-laden vehicle in which they were travelling blew up in Pakistan’s restive Kurram tribal region, officials said on Thursday.

The explosion occurred in Darr village in the heart of Kurram Agency late on Wednesday night, officials said. All the occupants of the vehicle were killed instantly, they said. The blast was heard over a large area.

Also, security forces intermittently shelled militant hideouts in Kurram Agency, which has been affected by widespread sectarian conflicts between rival Shia and Sunni tribesmen over the past two years.

In a separate development, a Frontier Corps personnel who sustained critical head injuries in an attack by militants in Mohmand tribal region succumbed to his wounds in a military hospital in Peshawar on Thursday. —PTI

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/%E2%80%98pak-safe-haven-for-terrorists%E2%80%99.aspx

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J&K remains vulnerable to militant attacks: Chidambaram

8 January 2010

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday said the country, especially Jammu and Kashmir, remains vulnerable to militant attacks sponsored by forces

from across the border.

Complimenting the state police and CRPF for successfully eliminating two militants in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar on Wednesday, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the militants were in communication with their handlers outside the country.

"The incident highlights the fact that the country, especially Jammu and Kashmir, remains vulnerable to militant attacks sponsored by forces from across the border," he said in a statement.

The Home Minister said at the same time the country's capacity to neutralise a militant attack has also increased considerably.

"I would emphasise once again that the country, especially the security forces, must remain in high level of vigilance but there is no cause for panic. We must remain calm and confident that our security forces can face any challenge," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/JK-remains-vulnerable-to-militant-attacks-Chidambaram/articleshow/5423414.cms

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Social media gives rise to the new Muslims

By Mona Eltahawy

7 Jan 2010

You've seen their mugshots: A Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a plane on Christmas Day; five young American Muslims detained in Pakistan, apparently desperately seeking jihad.

You've heard they went online in search of radical imams ready to recruit every Muslim within a foot of an Internet connection.

I bet you haven't heard of these mugshots: Iranian men in chadors and headscarves.

As part of the "Men in Headscarves" campaign, Iranian men have been posting pictures of themselves wearing the head and body coverings the Iranian regime imposes on women. Their pictures have spread on Facebook and YouTube in support of Iranian student activist Majid Tavakoli.

Authorities arrested Tavakoli in December after he called for more democracy and urged students to reject "tyranny." The next day, government newspapers published pictures of Tavakoli dressed in a chador and claimed he had tried to escape arrest disguised as a woman.

Yes, violent radical groups such as al-Qaida and others have used the Internet to their advantage. That is not new.

But what is new is how young Muslims around the world have been using the Internet to challenge authority. Their exciting work is overshadowed by news of angry, young Muslims online.

Do you know of the Egyptian blogger who helped convict police officers for the sodomy of a bus driver by posting footage of the crime on YouTube? How about the female Saudi blogger who challenges her country's restrictions on women (she is married to a former officer of the morality police, who often enforce those restrictions).

Pick up Gary Bunt's iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam and learn that for every online al-Qaida recruiter there are thousands more Muslims reforming Islam online. Interpretations and commentaries on the Qur'an fill the Internet and recreate the vibrant intellectual atmosphere that many Muslims lament we'd long ago lost.

I see it every day on Facebook, where I have almost 5,000 friends. We argue over everything from polygamy and burqas, to being gay and Muslim. You rarely see such diverse opinions in news reports on Muslims.

Twitter is just as vibrant. An American Muslim I follow summed up the sentiments of many towards those five young American Muslims: "I say we welcome these kids home from Pakistan with a swift kick in the ass. Who's with me?"

The Internet deals a blow to radical groups by giving anyone online the chance to answer back. For every Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, there are dozens of Iranian men taunting the regime that runs the Islamic Republic of Iran.

http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/01/07/social-media-gives-rise-to-the-new-muslims.aspx

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Retired US Army General Predicts 300 to 500 American Casualties Per Month in Afghanistan

Mary Susan Littlepage

07 January 2010

The US could see as many as 300 to 500 soldiers killed and wounded per month in Afghanistan as 30,000 additional troops are sent to the country to launch a major offensive against insurgents, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey said in a recent report.

McCaffrey, who is currently a professor of international affairs at the US Military Academy at West Point, said the surge will cost taxpayers about $300 billion due to a larger US presence. McCaffrey has visited Afghanistan numerous times since 2003 to assess the security situation on the ground.

Although McCaffrey said that President Barack Obama's Afghanistan Strategy Speech at West Point last month was "coherent, logical and sincere" and the "result of a very deliberative and thoughtful analytical review of the situation in Afghanistan and our several unpalatable options," he wrote, "We are unlikely to achieve our political and military goals in 18 months."

In the speech, Obama announced plans to add 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by July and to start withdrawing soldiers within 18 months of deployment.

But McCaffrey predicted a dire situation in Afghanistan, saying, "This will inevitably become a three- to ten-year strategy to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw. It may well cost us an additional $300 billion and we are likely to suffer thousands more US casualties."

McCaffrey's most recent assessment was based on a wide range of sources, including information he obtained from US Central Command Gen. David Petraeus; Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commanding general of International Security Assistance Force and US Forces in Afghanistan; Afghan officials such as Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak; and diplomatic officials such as Karl Eikenberry, US ambassador to Afghanistan.

Additionally, "personal research, data provided in-country during this [Afghanistan] trip and first-hand observations gained during my many field visits to Pakistan, Kuwait and Afghanistan during the period 2003 forward to the current situation" was used to prepare the report, McCaffrey said. "The conclusions are solely my own as an adjunct professor of international affairs at West Point and should be viewed as an independent civilian academic contribution to the national security debate."

High Number of Casualties

Full report at: http://www.truthout.org/0107094

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France Deports 'Radical Islamist'

By DAVID GAUTHIER-VILLARS

PARIS -- French authorities said Thursday that they have arrested and deported an Egyptian imam described as "a radical Islamist" and suspected of having issued calls to violence.

The move comes just a few weeks after French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged France's Muslims to practice their faith with "humble discretion."

The move also is occurring as the country is considering ways to tighten security checks on travelers originating from several, mainly Muslim countries, after the alleged attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day.

France's Interior Ministry said that Ali Ibrahim El Soudany, who was arrested on Thursday and immediately put on a flight bound to Egypt, had called on followers "to fight against the West" in recent sermons at several mosques near Paris.

"People who preach hatred and have nothing in common with freedom of faith, don't belong to our territory," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said in a statement. The imam had been under watch for several months, Mr. Hortefeux said.

Mr. El Soudany, who was still on board a plane late Thursday according to an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, couldn't be reached to comment. Officials at mosques where Mr. El Soudany is believed to have delivered sermons declined to comment.

The ministry said that including Mr. El Soudany, France has expelled 129 alleged radical Islamists since 2001.

As part of a wider fight against radical forms of Islam, French authorities are considering adopting a law banning the burqa, the head-to-toe garment that is worn by some Muslim women and that conceals their faces, saying it isn't a religious symbol but "a sign of enslavement and debasement" of women. With an estimated five million Muslims, France is home to the European Union's largest Muslim community.

Write to David Gauthier-Villars at David.Gauthier-Villars@w

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126291773072620959.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_World

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Pope: Turkey bridge to Islam

January 8th, 2010

Rome - Pope Benedict XVI called Turkey a "bridge between Islam and the West", during a discussion with the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican on Thursday.

But the pontiff also said the Catholic Church should receive a recognised legal status in the country.

Such a status would help the Church to "enjoy complete freedom of religion and help to build up (Turkey's) society," Benedict told Ambassador Kenan Gursoy.

The Pope also thanked Turkey for "all steps making it easier for pilgrims to visit sites related to the life of Paul of Tarsus," also known as Saint Paul.

According to a Vatican Radio report, Benedict also said he was still open to a dialogue with Islam "in the spirit of mutual respect and friendship."

The pontiff also praised Ankara's strengthened role in the Mideast peace process, the radio said.

http://www.news24.com/Content/World/News/1073/64254ba88cba49b389a32c4d857dc5f2/07-01-2010-07-04/Pope_Turkey_bridge_to_Islam

 

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Not negotiating between India and Pakistan: Holbrooke

8 January 2010

WASHINGTON: Observing that India has legitimate concerns about what happens in the Af-Pak region, Special US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan,

"Richard Holbrooke has refuted claims that he is negotiating between India and Pakistan.

"Everyone understands that India has a legitimate concern for what happens in the region, but I am not negotiating issues between India and Pakistan," he said at Brookings Institute - a Washington-based think tank while commenting on reports that appeared in a section of Pakistani media that he was negotiating between the two countries.

That's not my job, and nor is it something that would be productive if I were to undertake it," he said.

Holbrooke said he keeps India fully informed of his activities on a regular basis through the Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar. "She and I see each other frequently."

He said his job does not include India. "I am the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I never sought to be the representative or envoy for India."

Terming India "a great country", he said "we have an excellent ambassador there, Tim Roemer, and he represents us. And we have a wide range of bilateral relationships which would not, under any circumstances, involve me."

Holbrooke stressed that relationship with India was important to the US, so do with Pakistan.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Not-negotiating-between-India-and-Pakistan-Holbrooke/articleshow/5422523.cms

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Gulf states warned of possible al-Qaida attacks: Report

7 January 2010

KUWAIT CITY: Western intelligence has warned energy-rich Gulf states that al-Qaida is on the verge of launching attacks mainly on ships after

regrouping in the past few months, the Al-Qabas daily reported on Thursday.

Citing unnamed Kuwaiti security sources, the daily said that al-Qaida has trained operatives in the region to carry out attacks on war, commercial and passenger vessels in the Gulf and Arabian Sea.

Western intelligence has urged Gulf states to boost security measures to provide protection for ships, especially oil and gas tankers, the Kuwaiti security sources said.

The al-Qaida network has been able to regroup over the past few months, taking advantage of deteriorating security in Somalia and Yemen, and has successfully established command and control bases in the two countries, the sources said.

They added that al-Qaida operatives in Somalia have in recent weeks captured advanced weapons from government forces and transferred them to their counterparts in Yemen.

Western intelligence also provided Gulf states with names and locations of new al-Qaida command posts in Somalia and names of field commanders and members in Gulf states most of whom unknown previously, the added.

Yemeni security forces on Wednesday captured Mohammad al-Hanq, a key al-Qaida leader, and two other militants believed behind threats against Western interests.

The arrest came as Yemen's authorities said al-Qaida jihadists were being choked countrywide and forced into "holes."

Yemeni forces have fought bloody battles with al-Qaida militants in the past few weeks.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Gulf-states-warned-of-possible-al-Qaida-attacks-Report/articleshow/5419786.cms

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Spain refuses ransom to al-Qaida

8 January 2010

MADRID: Spain has said it won't pay any ransom for three of its aid workers kidnapped in Mauritania by the al-Qaida group in Islamic

Maghreb.

"The Spanish government does not pay ransom," said Prime Minister Jose Luis Rdriguez Zapatero Thursday.

"That position is clear and firm," Moratinos said at a summit here, stressing that Madrid was determined to resolve the situation in a manner consistent with its international commitments towards the fight against terrorism.

Albert Vilalta, 35, Alicia Gamez, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50, who work for Barcelona-Accio Solidaria, were abducted November 29 last while transporting humanitarian aid on the highway that links Mauritania's capital Nouakchott to Nouadhibou in the country's northern region.

During the summit, Zapatero assured his full support to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in his efforts to fight against Islamic terrorism.

Spain thanked Algeria for the diplomatic aid it has been providing to find a solution to the aid workers' abduction, for which AQIM claimed responsibility.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Spain-refuses-ransom-to-al-Qaida/articleshow/5423665.cms

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26/11 attacks may cost insurers Rs 500 crore

Jan 07, 2010

New Delhi : Insurance claims arising out of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 are estimated to wipe out about Rs 500 crore from the corpus set up by general insurers to fund such losses.

"The loss to the Terror Pool from this incident (Mumbai attack) is estimated at Rs 500 crore," Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) said in its annual report 2008-09.

This is the biggest estimated loss to the Terror Pool since its inception in 2002 and Rs 50 crore has already been released, the report said.

As an after effect, the insurance regulator said, the terrorism premium rates have been increased from April 1, 2009.

During 2008-09, the total premium collected in the pool was Rs 222.55 crore and claims paid was Rs 50 crore, the report said.

In the previous year, the Pool's premium was Rs 153.81 crore with claims paid being Rs 1.05 crore, IRDA said.

Luxury hotels Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi Trident were targeted by terrorists on November 26, 2008, in a co-ordinated attack across Mumbai that killed over 200 people and left the hotels damaged and burnt.

The Terror Pool was set up in 2002 and members contribute 100 per cent of terror risk insurance premium to the corpus, which is shared among Pool members to settle claims.

The Taj Mahal hotel suffered losses of more than Rs 114 crore because of destruction of property in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, hotel's general manager (human relations) Vidyadhar Vaidya had said last month.

"This figure was not conclusive as the assessment was still in progress and it can go higher...but the survey made till now had put the losses at Rs 114 crore," he had said.

The damage to the Oberoi Group is to the tune of Rs 40 to 50 crore, while that to the Trident around Rs 40 to 50 lakh. GIC and New India insurance have maximum share of 19.61 per cent each in the corpus, followed by United India at 12.86 per cent.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/26-11-attacks-may-cost-insurers-rs-500-crore/564630/

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Taliban denies most Afghan civilian deaths caused by rebels

Jan 08, 2010

United Nations : The Taliban has rejected UN chief Ban Ki-moon's charge that most civilian casualties in Afghanistan have been caused by anti-government rebels, a US monitoring group said.

"Last year, about three times as many civilian deaths were attributed to anti-government elements as to pro-government forces," Ban told the UNSC on Wednesday.

"Most resulted from suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices used by anti-government elements," the secretary general added.

Ban's accusation "tramples" on UN principles of neutrality, the Taliban said Thursday, according to the SITE Intelligence group.

The Afghan militia, ousted in a US-led attack in 2001, countered that NATO forces and their allies were responsible for civilian casualties and that assertions to the contrary were meant to create animosity between the population and the insurgents.

The group said that the US Defense Department may have pushed Ban to make the statement.

"You should know that partial judgment and blind support of one side and condemnation of the other only irreparably harms your credibility which will surely result into playing havoc with your standing in the world, particularly, in Afghanistan," The Taliban told the UN boss, according to SITE.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/taliban-denies-most-afghan-civilian-deaths-caused-by-rebels/564965/

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Norwegian paper reprints Islam cartoons

January 8th, 2010

The Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten on Friday reprinted cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that generated controversy 2005 when they were first published in a Danish newspaper.

"We have always defended media's right to print these cartoons, and we printed a facsimile when the dispute began 2005," Aftenposten editor-in-chief Hilde Haugsgjerd wrote.

The reprinting of the cartoons comes a week after a Somali-born man with an axe and knife was arrested breaking into the home of a Danish cartoonist who made one of the original drawings - of the prophet with a bomb in his turban.

Kurt Westergaard's drawing was one of 12 images published in September 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The cartoons sparked outrage among Muslims and violent protests worldwide in early 2006.

Westergaard, 74, has been the target of several plots over his drawing and Danish security police have increased security measures for him.

Haugsgjerd told broadcaster NRK that she did not believe there would be strong reactions over the publication and said it was necessary to show readers what the dispute was about.

She noted that other newspapers have reprinted the cartoons for similar reasons.

Westergaard's cartoon was reprinted early 2008 by leading Danish newspapers after Danish security police said they had foiled a plot to murder him.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/norwegian-paper-reprints-islam-cartoons-456

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Terror buck stops with me: Obama

January 8th, 2010

As a White House review found chinks galore in US intelligence armour leading up to the botched December 25 terror bombing of a US-bound jetliner, President Barack Obama issued a stern warning to government agencies to shape up fast.

"I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels," Obama said at the White House Thursday outlining a series of major reforms. But "ultimately, the buck stops with me."

America's first line of defence against terrorism is "timely, accurate" intelligence that is properly integrated, Obama said. "That's not what happened" before the attack, he noted.

According to authorities, 23-year-old Nigerian national Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear as a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam made its final approach to Detroit on Dec 25. The device failed to fully detonate, instead setting off a fire at AbdulMutallab's seat.

Obama cited three problems that contributed to the government's failure to prevent the attack.

First, the intelligence community knew that an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen intended to strike the United States and was recruiting operatives for the task, the president said. But intelligence operatives "did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland," he noted.

Second, there was a "larger failure of analysis, a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community."

Third, the intelligence failure contributed to flaws in the country's watch-listing system that resulted in the alleged bomber not being added to the no-fly list.

"Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had," Obama said. The president said he had ordered four key reforms.

First, he ordered the intelligence community to assign specific responsibility to individuals to pursue all leads on specific high-priority threats.

"We must follow the leads that we get, and we must pursue them until plots are disrupted. And that means assigning clear lines of responsibility," he said.

Second, intelligence reports will be distributed more widely and quickly, he added.

Third, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair will overhaul current intelligence analysis efforts.

Fourth, the government will strengthen the criteria used to add people to its terrorist watch lists, particularly the no-fly list.

"Taken together, these reforms will improve the intelligence community's ability to collect, share, integrate, analyze and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively," Obama said.

Obama noted, however, that most airports in the world and in the United States do not have the technology necessary to detect the explosives used in the botched attack.

"There's no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into America each day, domestic and international," he warned.

Obama said he was directing the Homeland Security Department to improve international partnerships to improve aviation security and boost screening at airports around the world. Obama also said he was establishing accountability reviews for national security and intelligence agencies. His national security adviser, John Brennan, will report to him every 30 days on the reviews, he said.

 http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/terror-buck-stops-me-obama-423

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Obama’s broken promise has invited terrorism

By Alexander Cockburn

Look on the bright side. They finally found a WMD. Not in the desert wastes of Iraq, nor in the cellar of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Not in an Iranian nuclear facility. But in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's underpants.

The would-be Detroit bomber has been charged by a US grand jury with "attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction". Who'd have thought a weapon of mass destruction could be so small? Or that "mass" could mean something less than a four-digit casualty list? "Suitcase bomb" used to be about as low as they'd go in dimensions.

Connoisseurs of the ritual known as "Accepting full responsibility" will surely grade Obama a mere B for his performance yesterday at his White House press conference. "Ultimately, the buck stops with me," Obama said, apropos of al-Qaeda's near miss on Northwest Flight 253. "As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility."

First strike against Obama's speech writer is the weasly use of "ultimately", not to mention the mawkish use of "solemn". Second strike is his habitual dive into "systemic failure", as the president termed it earlier in the week. Everyone knows that systemic failure – which Obama has been hawking all week – spells out as "No one is to blame. This is bigger than all of us." That's the phrase's singular beauty.

I'd give John Brennan low marks too. "I told the president today I let him down," said Obama's top counter-terrorism aide, who followed his boss at the press briefing. Okay so far. Exciting, even. In medieval Japan he would have stuck a sword in his stomach at this point. Not Brennan. "I am the president's assistant for homeland security and counter-terrorism and I told him I will do better and we will do better as a team."

The all-time champ at accepting, while not accepting, "full responsibility" was Ronald Reagan, shouldering blame for the criminal saga known as 'Iran-Contra' for which he was indeed entirely responsible and for which he should have been impeached and thrown into prison. The 76-year old president addressed the nation on March 4, 1987, after the Tower Commission had issued a savage rebuke to the White House for its guiding role.

Stage one: artful deflection of blame: "First, let me say I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration," said Reagan. "As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I'm still the one who must answer to the American people for this behaviour. And as personally distasteful as I find secret bank accounts and diverted funds - well, as the Navy would say, this happened on my watch."

A small masterpiece, as I'm sure you'll agree.

Stage two: manly openness about some trifling blunders: "One thing still upsetting me, however, is that no one kept proper records of meetings or decisions. This led to my failure to recollect whether I approved an arms shipment before or after the fact. I did approve it; I just can't say specifically when." (A lot better than Nixon's lawyer-speak: "To the best of my recollection I cannot recall at this point in time.") Then Reagan pledged to do better. "Well, rest assured, there's plenty of record-keeping now going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Stage three: onward and upward! "You know," Reagan concluded affably, "by the time you reach my age, you've made plenty of mistakes. And if you've lived your life properly - so, you learn. You put things in perspective. You pull your energies together. You change. You go forward." And all this from a man with incipient Alzheimer's.

The problem with all the gabble about systemic failure - and with not making Brennan or at least the head of the US Embassy in Lagos resign - is that it reminds people that Obama hasn't got much of a spine, also that systemic failures are impossible

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/58129,news-comment,news-politics,alexander-cockburn-obamas-broken-promise-has-invited-terrorism?DCMP=NLC-daily

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Russian police kill two Islamic militants in counter terrorism operation

January 7th, 2010

CanWest News Service

Police in Russia's southern province of Dagestan today killed two Islamic militants in a counter terrorism operation responding to a suicide car bomb attack on a police station on Wednesday that killed seven officers.

Soon after Wednesday's attack police cordoned off an area on the outskirts of the Dagestan capital, Makhachkala.

They launched a house-to-house search for militants suspected of masterminding the car bombing and this morning say they found two insurgents barricaded in a house.

The shoot-out with the insurgents lasted several hours, during which the militants threw grenades at the police, before the building was stormed.

Two policeman were wounded in the exchange of fire.

One of the dead insurgents is said to be Ismail Ichakayev, who police claim has planned several bombings and other attacks on the authorities.

In Wednesday's attack an insurgent tried to drive an explosives-laden SUV into a police compound when 150 officers were lined up for roll call.

Quick thinking by some of the policemen prevented a much greater death toll. They blocked the path of the SUV with a truck and only five officers died in the explosion, though two have subsequently died of their wounds.

The bombing came five days after officials said they had killed a local militant Islamic leader.

These incidents in Dagestan are part of a pattern of rising violence against the authorities in the predominantly Muslim republics in Russia's Caucasus region, which also include Ingushetia and Chechnya.

Chechnya was the site of a bloody separatist war in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and a lower-level insurgency persists.

Moscow claims that Caucasus insurgents have links to al-Qaida and are being financed with many millions of dollars by supporters in Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates.

http://www.kelowna.com/2010/01/07/the-world-today-jan-7-russian-police-kill-two-islamic-militants-in-counter-terrorism-operation/

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CNN Trots out Jihad Teaching Extremist, Calls Him Instructor of Islam

By Rusty Weiss

January 8, 2010

As has been noted here in the recent past, it isn't just government entities that are a little slow on the uptake when it comes to identifying radical Muslim preachers as accessories to terrorism - it's also the media.  Consider the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who has consistently shown ties to terrorist attacks, yet who had gone predominantly under the media radar as nothing more than a simple cleric.

Also consider the curious case of one Yasir Qadhi, a man recently interviewed by CNN for a sympathetic look at the failed underwear bomber, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.  A man who has apparently escaped background investigations by both CNN and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).  (H/t the Jawa Report)

How else to explain CNN's representation of Qadhi as a simple, orthodox teacher of Islam, who had no idea of the extremist views of AbdulMutallab?  And how else to explain the baffling decision by the NCTC to utilize Qadhi in its deradicalization efforts?

What, you might ask, is wrong with presenting this man as a moderate teacher of ‘the nuts and bolts of Islam?'

Well, for starters, he is - by his own admission - a proud member of the U.S. terror watch list, and an instructor at an institution so extreme in their teachings, that an anti-terror consultant once dubbed the school ‘Jihad U.'

Find out more about the man CNN presents as an innocent professor of Islam after the break...

The CNN interview links the underwear bomber, AbdulMutallab, to Yasir Qadhi via a 16 day conference held in 2008 to teach young Muslims "the nuts and bolts of Islam."  The conference, known as an Islamic Knowledge Fest, was simply harmless we are led to believe, teaching young Muslims of "orthodox Islam for the 21st Century," and nothing more than "mainstream Islamic stuff."  In fact, Qadhi is portrayed as the antithesis of the underwear bomber, expressing a bit of astonishment as to how the individual he knew could have ever developed into the extremist he has become.

This conference however was organized by the Al Maghrib Institute where Qadhi is the Dean of Academic Affairs, an establishment not exactly known for its mainstream teachings.  In fact it had earned the nickname ‘Jihad U' by anti-terrorism consultant, Patrick Poole, who in 2007 voiced his concern that their Islamic studies program was preaching "messages of religious extremism, racial bigotry and advocacy of jihad and militancy."

The following list confirms those thoughts, and apparently is what passes as ‘mainstream Full report at: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/rusty-weiss/2010/01/08/cnn-trots-out-jihad-teaching-extremist-calls-him-instructor-islam#ixzz0c1m8yQKQ

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Despite Aiding U.S., Iraqi Is Denied a Green Card

By KATIE FRETLAND

January 7, 2010

CHICAGO — Nada Alkhaddar spends her days at the Muslim Women Resource Center helping refugees and immigrants deal with government and commercial bureaucracies that can make life in the United States seem about as easy as computing the Alternative Minimum Tax.

 “We help anyone, Muslims or Christians, from here or anywhere in the city,” Ms. Alkhaddar said as she guided an Eastern European man through a long questionnaire from a local bank. She adjusted her hijab and smiled as she worked in an office overlooking Devon and Western Avenues, an Indo-Pakistani neighborhood just north and west of downtown.

Despite her skills at navigating the obstacles immigrants face, Ms. Alkhaddar cannot seem to help the person closest to her and her three children — her husband, Ahmed Alrais — who is trying to get a green card.

Mr. Alrais came to the United States in the spring of 2008 after his life had been threatened for working as an interpreter for the United States Army in Iraq. Unable to find a job during the recession and without a green card, he returned in February to the country he had fled to work again for the Army through a private contractor.

Federal officials at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, will not give Mr. Alrais credit for the time he has spent on a United States military base overseas so he can fulfill an American residency requirement to get the green card. His application was denied in November.

Mr. Alrais, 51, struggles to understand a system that would have given him a green card if he had stayed in the United States for the full year without a job, instead of working with American forces in Iraq.

“That’s confusing; that’s very confusing,” Mr. Alrais said Wednesday via Skype from northern Iraq. “We get hit by mortars, like, I don’t know, once or twice a month, and when we go out, we don’t know when we are going to be attacked, and sacrificing being here away from our families.”

Despite the turmoil and political controversy over how easily some immigrants enter the United States illegally, Mr. Alrais’s experience shows how formidable the challenges can be for many refugees and immigrants — even those with families in the United States and seemingly solid credentials.

“He serves the country with his life in such a dangerous place,” said Ms. Alkhaddar, 50, who keeps a purple folder full of government papers relating to her husband’s case at her apartment on Chicago’s North Side.

The folder contains documents like their marriage license, as well as letters of recommendation from Mr. Alrais’s military supervisors in Iraq.

“He has been very supportive of our presence, helped our soldiers and has been a loyal friend to us,” said Maj. James B. Phillips of the Army in one letter, which also described Mr. Alrais as “trustworthy and dependable.” Major Phillips worked with Mr. Alrais in 2003.

In an e-mail message this week from Iraq, Major Philips said Mr. Alrais was an outstanding interpreter whom he highly respected.

“The troops and I also liked him because when we first met he had a Mustang that he would drive to work every now and then,” the major said. “It was always nice to see a classic American car while deployed.”

Fred Tsao, policy director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said Mr. Alrais’s ordeal to secure a green card was “crazy.”

“To go back and face the dangers while serving this country and then be denied a green card seems really unfair,” Mr. Tsao said. “It’s an awful deterrence to making a contribution to the country that took you in. Something is terribly wrong here.”

Ms. Alkhaddar and Mr. Alrais fled their home in Baghdad in 2006 after his work for the United States Army in 2003 and 2004 made him a target for Iraqis angered by the invasion.

“A lot of people were assassinated just because they had a contract working with the U.S. forces,” Mr. Alrais said.

A grocer refused to sell food to his youngest son, Mohamed. “He said, ‘We will never sell anything for you because of your father,’ ” Ms. Alkhaddar said. “He came home crying. They start kidnapping people. For our safety we moved.”

The family went to Egypt for two years, where they lived in a compound called Beverly Hills outside Cairo. They came to the United States as refugees in May 2008, as the recession was hitting the American job market.

Even though Mr. Alrais had the proper documentation for a refugee and was a chef trained in France, he could not find a good job in Chicago to support his family. He left the United States in February to work in Iraq as an interpreter with Global Linguist Solutions, a contractor based in Virginia that provides translators to the American military.

Mr. Alrais’s wife and children stayed behind, planning to apply for citizenship for the family after they had met the residency requirement of one year. May was their one-year anniversary, and Ms. Alkhaddar and the children were given green cards. But Mr. Alrais’s application was denied.

In a letter to Mr. Alrais in November, Donald P. Ferguson, the Chicago field office director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Mr. Alrais had not met the residency requirement because he had not been in the United States for a full year after he arrived. Because of his work with the military in Iraq, he was away from Feb. 19 until Sept. 11, 2009.

Mr. Ferguson wrote that being on an American territory on a military base in Iraq did not count toward residency. “The service is unable to consider your time working in Iraq to fulfill the physical presence requirement for adjustment of status purposes,” he wrote.

Mr. Ferguson cited another problem with the application: Mr. Alrais had given his power of attorney to his wife so she could apply for the green card for him while he was overseas. Ms. Alkhaddar submitted an Internal Revenue Service form showing she held his power of attorney, but the Department of Homeland Security does not accept that form as sufficient proof of power of attorney, Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. Ferguson did not return phone calls requesting comment. Marilu Cabrera, an agency spokeswoman, said the agency would not comment on any specific cases.

Thomas Ragland, an immigration lawyer in Washington who previously worked for the Department of Justice and the Board of Immigration Appeals, said the immigration system could be impossible for the average person to handle.

“Even some average lawyers out there are not very good at navigating it,” Mr. Ragland said, “even though they charge for it.”

Mr. Ragland said Mr. Alrais, who plans to come to Chicago later this month to plead his case, deserved an advocate to help him get a green card, considering how members of Congress and the military had spoken about the importance of taking care of Iraqis who aid the armed forces.

Ms. Alkhaddar keeps in touch with her husband over her computer at home, telling him how the children are doing.

Their oldest son, Amro, 27, is a mechanic on Chicago’s South Side. Their daughter, Shahad, 21, is an interior design student at Harrington College downtown. Their youngest son, Mohamed, is a sophomore at Mather High School, where he plays football.

Mohamed, 17, dreams of being a Chicago policeman. “For America,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/us/08cncfamily.html?pagewanted=all

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Poverty Is Not a Cause of Terrorism, Radical Islam Is

By A.W.R. Hawkins

01/07/2010

During the Progressive Era in America (1900-1920), it became common to excuse crime by blaming the crime on the environment in which the perpetrator was raised rather the evil within the perpetrator’s heart. Even the most heinous of acts could be overlooked if it could be demonstrated that the one who committed the act was raised in a home with an abusive father, a low appreciation of education, or even worse -- poverty.

And while the Progressive Era disappeared via America’s involvement in World War One, progressives never did. They are still among us, educating our children in universities and passing laws in the halls of Congress that ultimately put the victim on trial by giving the criminal a myriad of “justifiable” excuses for why he did what he did.

Since ascending to the White House, President Obama, a progressive if ever there was one, has exemplified this leftist habit of excusing dangerous behavior by the way he has responded to terrorists and terrorism. This was made crystal clear over the past weekend, when Obama used his weekly radio address to blame, at least in part, the flight 253 terrorist attack on “poverty.”

On Saturday, January 2, 1010, Obama admitted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s ties to a broad terroristic cause, and even that U.S. intelligence knew Abdulmutallab had traveled to Yemen to “[join] an affiliate of al-Qaeda.” But the President also offered an excuse for Abdulmutallab’s terrorist bent by reminding his listeners: “We know…Yemen [is] a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies.”

While no would argue against the assertion that Yemen has many poor people within its porous borders, the question we need to answer is causal not empirical. In other words, does poverty cause terrorism in other countries where people are financially stricken?

If so, why aren’t the poor within our own inner cities blowing up buildings, attacking airliners, or detonating themselves in crowded areas?

The bottom line is this -- Poverty is not a cause of terrorism, but radical Islam is. In other words, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t driven to Jihad by poverty but by ideas, and those ideas flourish in countries where radical Islam flourishes, regardless of socio-economic factors.

This means Obama’s response to the terrorism flowing from Yemen ought not be financial in nature: It ought not be the Democrat’s normal, shoot-from-the-hip response of throwing money at a problem with the assumption that such funds will make everyone happy. During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, warlords in Somalia taught us that any aid we send in this situation will most likely be confiscated by radical Islamists who will let the Yemenis starve while they use the monies to fund international Jihad, and their own comfort.

Instead, our response must include taking it the terrorists militarily wherever (and however) we can reach them. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s use of Special Forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere is a perfect model for this, as are the unmanned drones the Air Force can currently float above enemy camps, and from miles away send in precision strikes that remove threats before they reach our shores.

We should also lean on Saudi Arabia a bit, as Yemen is their neighbor not ours. Why can’t the same Saudi Arabia that couldn’t wait for President George H.W. Bush to save their oil during Desert Storm step up now and save American lives by helping put an end to the influx of “deadly insurgencies” in Yemen?

Making excuses for terrorism may be the progressive thing to do, but it won’t be successful, for the problem is ideological, rather than financial in nature. We must admit that the threat ultimately flows from hearts and minds which are under the sway of radical Islam, and while we battle on that front, we must press “allies” like the Saudis to do their part to make this world a safer place.

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=35101

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Bringing Islamic Banking to India

M D Nalapat

There are more Muslims in India than there are in Pakistan, which is why it is surprising that successive governments have so far done nothing to bring Islamic banking into India. The consequence of such neglect is that millions of observant Muslims are forced to park their savings in dubious entities,because they have been deprived of financial institutions in India that are Sharia-compliant and avoid the payment of interest,because of its ban in the Quran (3:130).

Indeed, the Quran sets forth some very healthy financial principles,such as the avoiding of the giving of finance to unsavoury businesses (5:2), and the showing of compassion to the financially disadvantaged (2;280). As has been pointed out by several scholars,the prohibition of interest is not unique to Islam,but is also found in Judaism and Christianity ( Psalms 15:5, Nehemiah 5:7). However,throughout the world,the giving and taking of interest has become widespread Financial experts estimate that more than $50 billion of funds from the Gulf can flow to India,should Islamic banking institutions be set up in the country. This will generate 2.7 million jobs in the country,both directly and indirectly. At present,almost all the surplus cash of the Gulf countries is parked in London (which, ironically, is the world’s top “Islamic Banking” centre), New York,Zurich and Frankfurt. Naturally,the financial instititions headquartered in these locations would not like to see India emerge as a competitor in the parking of funds from the Gulf.

They are aware of the strong historical and civilisational ties between India and the Arab world,and are nervous that this may result in funds moving away from them. Indeed,many Arabs are justifiably upset that they have suffered a collective loss of $1.3 trillion because of the numerous malpractices of financial institutions in the US and the EU,and would prefer to place their money in India. However,thus far,because of the immense influence that financial entities in the US and the EU have over the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance,thus far, the policy changes needed to attract such funds have not come about So pervasive is the influence of US and EU funds over India’s financial policymakers that the Reserve Bank of India significantly slowed down economic expansion in India during 2007-2008 by raising interest rates to levels not seen in more than a decade.

Although the RBI justified this as an anti-inflation measure,they themselves know that such painful steps have no impact on price rise,caused as this is by speculation and by policies that favour the middleman over the producer and the consumer. All that the policy of high interest rates has done was to make several segments in Indian industry less competitive than they were when interest rates were low. The policies followed by the monetary authorities in India have forced several corporates to borrow money from London and other centres in the developed world,at a profit for these centres of 3%.

Full report at :http://pakobserver.net/201001/08/Articles01.asp

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Muslim guerrillas attack Philippine official: Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Jan 8 2010 (AFP)

MANILA - Five Muslim guerrillas were killed in a failed attack on a government official in a southern Philippine province where a political massacre occurred last year, the rebels' spokesman said Friday.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, led by two local commanders, sought to kill town councillor Tamano Mamalapat on Thursday, but the official's own gunmen successfully fought back, MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu told AFP.

Five MILF rebels were killed and another five were wounded, Kabalu said, adding he believed there were no casualties among Mamalapat's party.

The motive for the attack, in Saudi Ampatuan town of Maguindanao province, is a longstanding land conflict between the families of the councillor and the two commanders, said Kabalu.

Local military spokesman Major Randolph Cabangbang confirmed the battle between the two sides and said there were casualties, but gave no figures.

The attack breaks a ceasefire between the government and the 12,000-strong MILF, which has been fighting to set up a separate Islamic state in the southern Philippines since 1978.

The conflict has left more than 150,000 people dead, according to the military.

Peace efforts between the two sides were only revived last month after talks collapsed in the wake of bloody attacks by two other MILF commanders in August, 2008, which claimed about 400 lives.

Kabalu conceded the attacks might be considered a violation of the ceasefire and that the leadership of the MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel group, had ordered the two commanders "to stop fighting".

"Concrete measures will be taken up in addressing the problem," Kabalu said, without elaborating.

Maguindanao province was the scene of a massacre of 57 people in November, carried out allegedly by the powerful Ampatuan clan to keep a rival from running against them in this year's national elections.

Kabalu said the latest clash did not involve the Ampatuans.

However the Ampatuans, which had ruled the province since 2001, had been allowed by President Gloria Arroyo's national government to run their own private armies as a proxy force to control the MILF.

The government disbanded the Ampatuans' private forces in the wake of the massacre and arrested the clan's leaders, potentially giving the MILF more freedoms in Maguindanao.

http://www.mysinchew.com/node/33681

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Muslim professionals condemn attacks on churches

Jan 8 2010

The cowardly and utterly senseless act of a group of misguided, chauvinistic bigots in torching at least three churches in the Klang Valley this morning must be condemned in no uncertain terms by all peace loving Malaysians.

This act of arson, committed presumably in the name of Islam desecrates the very religion it purports to protect. The Holy Quran unequivocally prohibits destroying the houses of worship of all religions, as warned in Surah Al-Hajj, Verse 40.

“… Had not Allah checked the excesses and aggression of one set of people by means of another, surely would be destroyed monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated …”

During the reign of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second righteous caliph, the religious freedom of the citizens of Ilya (Jerusalem) and the sanctity of their synagogues and places of worship were confirmed: “This is the protection which the slave-servant of Allah, Umar, the Commander of the Believers, extends to the people of Ilya: The safeguarding of their lives, properties, churches, crosses, and of their entire community. Their churches cannot be occupied, demolished, or damaged, nor are their crosses or anything belonging to them to be touched. They will never be forced to abandon their religion, nor will they be oppressed …” (At-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol III, p. 609, ed. Dar Al-Ma`arif, Egypt.)

In the light of these tragic turn of events, the Muslim Professionals Forum:

1. Demand the authorities to immediately conduct an impartial and thorough investigation to identify , apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this despicable violence lest the country spirals into a vicious cycle of retaliatory acts which would fracture the very fabric of Malaysian civil society.

2. Urge the authorities to either refuse or revoke the permit for the planned demonstration in order to contain the heightened emotions and sensitivities from among the Muslim quarters, angered by the recent high court decision on the usage of the word Allah.

3. Urge individuals, organisations and political parties to refrain from further issuing provocative and inflammatory statements related to the high court verdict.

4. Urge all Malaysians to emphatise and stand in solidarity with our Christian community in their hour of grief and need.

5. Urge all peace loving Malaysians to maintain composure and let cool heads prevail.

May Allah guide us all in this most troubling time.

http://www.mysinchew.com/node/33674

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Prominent Sunni Opposition Party Barred from Iraq Election

08 January 2010

The director of the Accountability and Justice Committee, says the party leader, Salah al-Mutlak, was disqualified for speaking out in support of members of Saddam Hussein's former ruling Baath Party.

Iraqi officials said Thursday a prominent secular Sunni lawmaker and his party have been barred from participating in the upcoming parliamentary election because of ties to the previous regime.

Ali Faysal al-Lami, director of the Iraqi parliament's Accountability and Justice Committee, said the party leader, Salah al-Mutlak was disqualified for speaking out in support of members of Saddam Hussein's former ruling Baath Party.

Al-Mutlak dismissed the allegation against him and says he will appeal.

Analysts say the announcement is a blow to U.S. officials who hope the election will bring opposition factions into the political process and stabilize the Iraqi government.

At least 13 other parties were also banned for ties to the Baath regime.

Opposition leaders said the decision could lead to a strong reaction from Sunni voters.

Sunnis largely boycotted the last elections in 2005.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/Prominent-Sunni-Opposition-Party-Barred-from-Iraq-Election-80991177.html

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Moroccan court jails 14 militant Islamists: report

Fri Jan 8, 2010

 RABAT (Reuters) - Fourteen members of an Islamist radical group which seeks to spread jihad, or holy war, to Spain's Andalusia region were jailed on Thursday for plotting attacks against Moroccan targets, state news agency MAP said.

A criminal court in Sale, the twin city of Rabat, sentenced Rachid Zerbani, the leader of the Fath al Andalus (Andalusia Conquest) group to 15 years in prison, the agency added, quoting a court statement.

The 13 other members received sentences of four to 10 years for charges that included stockpiling explosives for attacks on state targets, collecting money to buy weapons and undermining state security and public order.

Court officials were not immediately available to confirm the report.

MAP said the cell had links with other radical Islamists in neighbouring Algeria and Mauritania as well as in France, Spain and countries in the Middle East.

The cell had planned to blow up unspecified tourism landmarks in the southern Atlantic city of Agadir and a Moroccan military barracks in Laayoune, the main city in Western Sahara, MAP added.

Morocco has been on alert against radical Islamists since 2003 when suicide bombings killed 45 people in Casablanca.

Police in the north African country say they have broken more than 60 cells of Islamist extremists since then, with over 2,000 jailed following trials.

Some of the other busted cells have names linked to Andalusia like Jound al Andalus (Soldiers of Andalusia) or Taliaa al Andalus (Advanced Guards of Andalusia).

Andalusia is a rallying cause for Islamist extremists in Morocco and elsewhere who want to return the territory to Muslim rule.

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE60702920100108

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Radical Islamism: An introductory Primer

By Barry Rubin

The following is intended as a work in progress to provide a very brief discussion of issues involving radical Islamism. Naturally, it is too short to make all points, deal with all aspects, and cover all details. I plan to expand it in future to include possible solutions.

A young American named Ramy Zamzam, arrested in Pakistan for trying to fight alongside the Taliban, responded in an interview with the Associated Press: "We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism."

What he says is well worth bearing in mind in order to understand the great conflict of our era. First and foremost, Jihadism or radical Islamism is far more than mere terrorism. It is a revolutionary movement in every sense of the word. It seeks to overthrow existing regimes and replace them with governments that will transform society into a nightmarishly repressive system.

And so one might put it this way: Revolutionary Islamism is the main strategic problem in the world today. Terrorism is the main tactical problem.

What is Islamism?

Radical Islamism is the doctrine that each Muslim majority country—politics, economy, society—should be ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship guided by the given movement’s definition of proper Islam. What Marxism was to Communism, and fascism to Nazism, Jihadism is to Islamism.

In some cases, Islamists have a wider ambition to transform the entire world, starting with Europe. While this may seem ridiculous to most Westerners, it does not seem so to the Islamists who hold that view.

Only a minority of Muslims is Islamist but that sector has grown sharply over the last twenty years and seems to be on the increase still. Muslims are also among the greatest opponents of political Islamism, and often its victims. Among those rejecting it are conservative traditionalist Muslims and Arab (or other types of) nationalists, along with a very small group which can be called liberal reformist.

Three places have been under radical Islamist rule so far: Iran and the Gaza Strip, as well as, temporarily, Afghanistan. An Islamist group using democratic tactics has gained control of the government in Turkey, where it is pursuing a step-by-step attempt to transform that country which may or may not succeed. Radical Islamist movements have been active in well over 60 countries ranging from Australia and Indonesia in the east to Morocco in the west, and even in Europe and North America.

The fact that radical Islamism relates to a religion, Islam, is very important (see below) but should not blind observers to the fact that this is basically a political movement and not—at least in the modern Western sense—a theological one.

Of course, Islamism is rooted in Islam but a strong opposition to Islamism—a standpoint shared by many Muslims who may motivated by a traditional view of Islam, ethnic or nation-state nationalism, or a different radical ideology (Arab nationalism most likely)—is in no way an expression of bigotry against a religion.

Full report at: http://europenews.dk/en/node/28898

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Islamic Christianophobia

January 7, 2010

The world ignores the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world.

In Egypt, seven Coptic Christians were murdered yesterday by a Muslim gunman as they filed out of a midnight mass in the southern town of Nag Hamadi. In Pakistan, more than 100 Christian homes were ransacked by a Muslim mob last July in the village of Bahmaniwala. In Iraq that same month, seven Christian churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul in the space of three days.

Such atrocities—and there are scores of other examples—are grim reminders that when it comes to persecution, few groups have suffered as grievously as Christians in Muslim lands. Fewer still have suffered with such little attention paid. Now a new report from the non-profit ministry, Open Doors USA, shines a light on the scale of oppression.

In its annual World Watch List, Open Doors ranks eight Muslim countries among the 10 worst persecutors of Christians. The other two, North Korea (which tops the list) and Laos, are communist states. Of the 50 countries on the list, 35 are majority Muslim.

Take Iran, which this year ranks as the world's second-worst persecutor of Christians. Open Doors reports that in 2009 the Islamic Republic arrested 85 Christians, many of whom were also mistreated in prison. In 2008, some 50 Christians were arrested and one Christian couple was beaten to death by security officials. At least part of the reason for the mistreatment appears to be the result of Muslim conversions to Christianity: Apostasy carries a mandatory death sentence in Iran.

In Saudi Arabia (No. 3), all non-Muslim public worship is forbidden. The state forbids the building of any type of non-Muslim house of worship, and Christian expatriates in the kingdom must practice their faith in private. The same goes in the Maldives, where the report notes that all citizens must be Muslim; "the handful of indigenous Christians are forced to believe in complete secrecy." Similarly in Mauritania, conversion to Christianity or any other religions is formally punishable by death.

Little wonder, then, that once-thriving Christian communities in the Muslim world have now largely voted with their feet by fleeing to safer havens, often in Europe or the United States. That's true even in religiously important communities such as Bethlehem, where the Christian majority has largely fled since the arrival in the 1990s of Yasser Arafat's repressive government and the ascendancy of Islamist groups such as Hamas. By contrast, Christians practice their religion freely and openly in Israel, just a few miles distant.

It might seem natural that at least some attention would be paid in the West to the plight of these Christians. Instead, attention seems endlessly focused on "Islamophobia," not least at the U.N.'s misnamed Human Rights Council. In November, much of Europe went berserk over the Swiss referendum to ban the construction of minarets (though not of mosques). But the West's tolerance for its large Muslim populations stands in sharp contrast to the Muslim world's bigotry and persecution of its own religious minorities. That's a fact that ought to be borne in mind the next time Westerners berate themselves about their own supposed "intolerance."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704130904574643821742562800.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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Yemen and the War of the Worlds

Philip Giraldi

January 7, 2010

Imagine if you will a country dominated by heavily armed tribesmen who are fiercely independent, frequently engaged in activities that most observers would regard as criminal, deeply conservative in religion and culture but further divided along sectarian lines, and ruled over by a highly corrupt government that is fighting both a civil war and an insurgency. Throw into the hopper extremely rugged trackless terrain, porous borders, and security forces incapable of exercising jurisdiction outside of the capital city and it is a virtual witches’ brew. Many would immediately think of Afghanistan, where all of the above applies but the description equally fits Yemen, which also enjoys crushing poverty and high unemployment coupled with declining oil revenues and water supplies that can no longer sustain the population. Intelligence officers who are familiar with Yemen agree that coming to grips with the country’s tribesmen in an attempt to root out al-Qaeda will make Afghanistan look like a walk in the park.

Yemen might well become the next American quagmire if the plans of the Obama Administration in its global war on terrorism that is now referred to as “overseas contingency operations” are implemented. As is frequently the case in the imperial capital city Washington, the Obamas see another Yemen. It is an opportunity for nation building, to strengthen institutions and the economy and support an ostensibly friendly government to suppress terrorism. But it doesn’t take much to see what’s wrong with that approach. The Yemenis themselves are fearful of the consequences of too tight an embrace by Washington and are already trying to distance themselves. They see gangsterism and tribalism as their greatest internal security threats, not terrorism, and the best estimates for the number of al-Qaeda adherents in the country number in the low hundreds. And many of those are believed to be the grapes of wrath fruit of Guantanamo Bay, where the United States successfully confined Yemenis who were completely innocent, radicalizing them and turning them into terrorism proselytizers upon their return home.

Let’s face it, there is no such thing as complete security. Whatever security arrangements are made for air travel it will still be possible for someone to circumvent the system either through guile or luck. The Obama Administration’s response to a single thwarted terrorist incident involving an airline in which a small number of Yemenis were involved has proven that American presidents appear to need war, and an identifiable enemy to rally against, more than they need a foreign and security policy that is both proportionate and answerable to the national interest. Yemen is no more a threat to the United States than was Iraq even if its wild deserts do harbor a small number of terrorists. If one accepts at face value the claim of al-Qaeda in Yemen that the attempted airline bombing was in response to several American drone strikes, most particularly a devastating attack on December 17 that killed twenty-three, largely civilians, then it is clear that Congressman Ron Paul’s analysis that “they’re over here because we’re over there” is accurate.

Full report at: http://www.prisonplanet.com/yemen-and-the-war-of-the-worlds.html

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An Israeli Stalinist Professor’s War Against Israel

by Steven Plaut

Islamist fascism has a problem.  It is that traditional Islam, and the Koran in particular, explicitly acknowledge that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.  The war of Islamofascism against Israel and its population thus directly contradicts the teachings about Jews and Israel found in the Koran itself.  The Islamofascists, however, have found a solution to this dilemma.  And they are being provided with this “solution” by a notorious Jewish anti-Semite.

Let me explain.

The Koran itself is extraordinarily clear about the status of the Land of Israel in Islam.   While in general criticizing Jews for their supposed sinfulness, something the Jewish Bible does quite a lot of also, the Koran relates in Sura 5:21, that Moses (a revered teacher in Islam) tells the Jews to “enter into the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you.”   Moses adds to his people, according the Koran:

“O my people!  Remember the bounty of  God upon you  when  He bestowed  prophets upon you , and  made  you  kings and gave you that which  had not been given to  anyone before you amongst  the nations. O my people!  Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers.”

Elsewhere (Sura 17, 104) the Koran proclaims: “And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.’”   The founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl, could not have said it better.

The legitimacy of Jewish claims to the Land of Israel is repeated in Sura 10:93-94:

“We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling-place (Israel)…If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee.”

Full report at: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/01/08/an-israeli-stalinist-professor%E2%80%99s-war-against-israel-by-steven-plaut/

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Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?

By Jeremy Scahill

January 6, 2010

A leading member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has told The Nation that she will launch an investigation into why two Blackwater contractors were among the dead in the December 30 suicide bombing at the CIA station at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. "The Intelligence Committees and the public were led to believe that the CIA was phasing out its contracts with Blackwater and now we find out that there is this ongoing presence," said Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in an interview. "Is the CIA once again deceiving us about the relationship with Blackwater?"

 Jeremy Scahill: Escalation in Afghanistan means a surge in contractors, which means that thousands more Afghans will be hired to work at US bases, guard US installations and participate in US training programs.

In December, the CIA announced that the agency had canceled its contract with Blackwater to work on the agency's drone bombing campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said Director Leon Panetta ordered a review of all existing CIA contracts with Blackwater. "At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any CIA operations other than in a security or support role," CIA spokesman George Little said December 11.

But Schakowsky said the fact that two Blackwater personnel were in such close proximity to the December 30 suicide bomber--an alleged double agent, who was reportedly meeting with CIA agents including the agency's second-ranking officer in Afghanistan when he blew himself up--shows how "deeply enmeshed" Blackwater remains in sensitive CIA operations, including those CIA officials claim it no longer participates in, such as intelligence gathering and briefings with valuable agency assets. The two Blackwater men were reportedly in the room for the expected briefing by the double agent, Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al-Balawi, who claimed to have recently met with Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.

"It's just astonishing that given the track record of Blackwater, which is a repeat offender endangering our mission repeatedly, endangering the lives of our military and costing the lives of innocent civilians, that there would be any relationship," Schakowsky said. "That we would continue to contract with them or any of Blackwater's subsidiaries is completely unacceptable."

Full report at :http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/122-human-rights/688-jeremy-scahill-blackwater-and-the-khost-bombing

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Will Disappointment on the Left Hurt Obama and Dems in 2010?

 By David Corn

Over the past few weeks -- as I traveled abroad, attended holiday parties, and went through my appointed rounds -- I kept encountering people who posed the same question: "What's happened with Obama?" These were liberal Democrats, and they feel, depending on the person, somewhat, partially, or fully betrayed by the president whom they helped elect with their small donations and/or volunteer sweat. These people were truly troubled, some by the expansion of the Afghanistan war, some by the emasculation of the health care reform legislation, some by President Obama's embrace of corporate-world advisers. (This means you, Larry Summers.) I know that my sampling is rather unscientific. But none of the worriers are bloggers or professional progressives who make their living fretting about a presidential drift to the center. They merely are foot-soldiers (or ex-foot soldiers) in Obama's base, and now they find themselves quite perplexed and in desperate need of explanation. (I'm getting a steady stream of e-mails from readers expressing the same concerns.)

Obama's approval ratings have been falling steadily in the past few months. He appears to be having a tough time retaining the support of independents, who tell pollsters they are nervous about his health care reform initiative. Democrats as a group tend to be supportive of Obama and his efforts. Consequently, a White House following conventional rules would put its effort into winning back indies in time for next year's mid-term congressional elections. After all, if the Dems take a beating, it will be Obama's agenda that will suffer.

Yet Obama and his aides should not ignore the spreading anxiety among his liberal fans. The folks who I've talked with -- in conversations that often feel like counseling sessions -- have said they are unlikely to hit the pavement for Obama and the D's in 2010. They felt empowered by Obama's campaign in 2008; they feel alienated from politics today. Disenchantment is not what you want in your base when you're heading toward a tough mid-term election. Given that the congressional races are likely to be low-turnout affairs, any lack of passion on the Democratic side will enhance the advantage the Republicans will probably enjoy due to extended joblessness. (You want to scare yourself? Read this AP article on the economy, which notes that it could take at least five years to bring the unemployment rate to a "normal 5 or 6 percent." By the way, another must-read is a Washington Post front-pager that notes there was zero net job creation in the just-ended decade, compared to 20 to 38 percent net job growth in each of the previous six decades.)

And despite all the campaign hype, there isn't much of an Obama Nation that the White House can mobilize for the coming elections. As Micah Sifry recently noted (picking up on a theme I poked at in the first months of the Obama presidency):

This is the big story of 2009, if you ask me, the meta-story of what did, and didn't happen, in the first year of Obama's administration. The people who voted for him weren't organized in any kind of new or powerful way, and the special interests -- banks, energy companies, health interests, car-makers, the military-industrial complex -- sat first at the table and wrote the menu. Myth met reality, and came up wanting.

So what's Obama to do? A former Clinton White House aide who has helped the Obama crew points out that the president's big problem has been message development. He has let the health care muddle and his Afghanistan musing eclipse the progressive accomplishments of his first year in office: ending torture, withdrawing from Iraq, devoting $80 billion in stimulus money to clean-energy development, placing Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, moving toward a Gitmo shutdown, increasing government transparency, declaring global warming gases to be pollution that must be regulated, even while cutting an unsatisfying deal at the Copenhagen climate summit. (Slate's Jacob Weisberg argues that Obama has revived liberalism.)

There may be something to this. But the issue is more than mismanaged PR. In recent weeks, Obama has not looked as if he's fighting for anything. Sure, he's working damn hard to get a health care measure through the obstacle-ridden Senate. Yet in this narrative, he's bogged down with the negotiating ins and outs. To those people who don't follow every twist and turn, it doesn't look as if Obama is blasting away at powerful interests and recalcitrant Republicans. He seems to be playing chess in a mud pit. That may win him what he believes is the best bill possible. But such a victory could prove temporary if his natural supporters are not jazzed by it and the GOPers come roaring back to undo or block the reforms enacted.

Obama needs to triumph in the legislative combat; he also needs to keep his troops together and energized. His hawkish decision on Afghanistan makes that all the more challenging. Yet he might still have a chance, if he picks the right targets and throws a punch or two. That may not be his style -- and you should never advise a politician to adopt a course that is not in sync with his or her temperament. But as Obama handles a variety of complex matters -- some with no easy answers -- he will not whip up enthusiasm for his party by playing it cool, as he navigates the nuances of this or that policy dispute. And disappointment is not very empowering.

http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-politics/686-david-corn-will-lefts-disappointment-hurt-obama-dems-in-2010

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The Airport Scanner Scam

By James Ridgeway

Scan, baby, scan. That’s the mantra among politicians at all levels in the wake of the thwarted terrorist attack aboard a Detroit-bound passenger jet. According to conventional wisdom, the would-be “underwear bomber” could have been stopped by airport security if he’d been put through a full-body scanner, which would have revealed the cache of explosives attached to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s groin.

Within days or even hours of the bombing attempt, everyone was talking about so-called whole-body imaging as the magic bullet that could stop this type of attack. In announcing hearings by the Senate Homeland Security Commitee, Joe Lieberman approached the use of scanners as a foregone conclusion, saying one of the "big, urgent questions that we are holding this hearing to answer" was "Why isn’t whole-body-scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?" Former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told the Washington Post, "You’ve got to find some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren’t easy to get at. It’s either pat downs or imaging, or otherwise hoping that bad guys haven’t figured it out, and I guess bad guys have figured it out."

Since the alternative is being groped by airport screeners, the scanners might sound pretty good. The Transportation Security Administration has claimed that the images "are friendly enough to post in a preschool," though the pictures themselves tell another story, and numerous organizations have opposed them as a gross invasion of privacy. Beyond privacy issues, however, are questions about whether these machines really work—and about who stands to benefit most from their use.

As I documented in my book The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, airport security has always been compromised by corporate interests.When it comes to high-tech screening methods, the TSA has a dismal record of enriching private corporations with failed technologies, and there are signs that the latest miracle device may just bring more of the same.

http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/43-war/687-the-airport-scanner-scam

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Uganda's bill to imprison gays for life is an outrage that should be rejected

Thursday, January 7, 2010

THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY Bill of 2009 is an ugly and ignorant piece of legislation being considered in Uganda. If it is approved, the gay people of that nation would be subject to life in prison. This retreat from the death sentence originally proposed should neither be celebrated nor considered a concession by the government in response to pressure from the United States and other nations. The proposal is barbaric. That it is even being considered puts Uganda beyond the pale of civilized nations.

The nine-page bill, which says that "homosexual behavior and related practices" are a "threat to the traditional family," is an offense from beginning to end. The framers say it is needed to "protect" the country from those "seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda." They say the bill is also needed because children and youth "are made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation. . . ." Among the corrupting influences are "uncensored technologies" and "increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children. . . ."

The law would apply to citizens or permanent residents of Uganda, and would cover behavior both in and outside that country. The measure would turn neighbor against neighbor by requiring those with knowledge of a gay person to report them to police within 24 hours or risk three years in prison. A seven-year jail term awaits the Ugandan who "aids, abets, [or] counsels" homosexuals. And anyone convicted of "aggravated homosexuality," which could mean someone who is HIV-positive and is intimate with another person of the same sex, could "suffer death."

The legislation talks about the "cherished culture" of Uganda and its "legal, religious, and traditional family values." We respect a nation's right to defend its culture and values. But sentencing men and women to life imprisonment because of their sexual orientation is an atrocity. Gays and lesbians would be punished by their own government for who they are. Contrary to the backward thinking of the Ugandan government, being gay is not a choice. But pushing homophobic laws that foment hate is.

The United States and other nations have urged officials to shelve the bill. So far, their entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit opening Friday in Trinidad and Tobago, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who will chair the gathering, can be persuaded to listen to the growing international outrage. If Uganda approves the anti-homosexuality bill, it risks making itself a pariah among nations.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/06/AR2010010604016.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions

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Counterterrorism in Shambles; Why?

By Ray McGovern & Coleen Rowley

January 6, 2010

Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS' NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general.

Two other old intelligence hands were asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones.  So there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are, and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.

After drafting his answers, McGovern asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses and add her own comments at the end.  The Q & A is below:

Question #1 - What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the Christmas Day bombing plot possible?  Is it inevitable that certain plots will succeed?

The short answer to the second sentence is: Yes, it is inevitable that "certain plots will succeed."  A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might best minimize their prospects for success.  And to do this, sorry to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, "why they hate us."

If we don't go beyond self-exculpatory sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any "counter terrorism apparatus" is doomed to failure.  Honest appraisals can tread on delicate territory, but any intelligence agency worth its salt must be willing/able to address it.

Delicate?  Take, for example, what Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the "mastermind" of 9/11, said was his main motive.  Here's what the 9/11 Commission Report wrote on page 147.  You will not find it reported in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM):

"By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed...from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

Full report at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/06-1

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The Backfiring of the Surveillance State

By Glenn Greenwald

January 6, 2010

Every debate over expanded government surveillance power is invariably framed as one of "security v. privacy and civil liberties" -- as though it's a given that increasing the Government's surveillance authorities will "make us safer."  But it has long been clear that the opposite is true.  As numerous experts (such as Rep. Rush Holt) have attempted, with futility, to explain, expanding the scope of raw intelligence data collected by our national security agencies invariably impedes rather than bolsters efforts to detect terrorist plots.  This is true for two reasons:  (1) eliminating strict content limits on what can be surveilled (along with enforcement safeguards, such as judicial warrants) means that government agents spend substantial time scrutinizing and sorting through communications and other information that have nothing to do with terrorism; and (2) increasing the quantity of what is collected makes it more difficult to find information relevant to actual terrorism plots.  As Rep. Holt put it when arguing against the obliteration of FISA safeguards and massive expansion of warrantless eavesdropping power which a bipartisan Congress effectuated last year:

 It has been demonstrated that when officials must establish before a court that they have reason to intercept communications -- that is, that they know what they are doing -- we get better intelligence than through indiscriminate collection and fishing expeditions.

The failure of the U.S. Government to detect the fairly glaring Northwest Airlines Christmas plot -- despite years and years of constant expansions of Surveillance State powers -- illustrates this dynamic perfectly.  As President Obama said yesterday, the Government -- just as was true for 9/11 -- had gathered more than enough information to have detected this plot, or at least to have kept Abdulmutallab off airplanes and out of the country.  Yet our intelligence agencies -- just as was true for 9/11 -- failed to understand what they had in their possession.  Why is that?  Because they had too much to process, including too much data wholly unrelated to Terrorism.  In other words, our panic-driven need to vest the Government with more and more surveillance power every time we get scared again by Terrorists -- in the name of keeping us safe -- has exactly the opposite effect.  Numerous pieces of evidence prove that.

Full report at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/06-5

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Sick with Terror

By Amy Goodman

January 6, 2010

The media have been swamped with reports about the attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day. When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, now dubbed the "underwear bomber," failed in his alleged attack, close to 300 people were spared what would have been, most likely, a horrible, violent end. Since that airborne incident, the debates about terrorism and how best to protect the American people have been reignited.

Meanwhile, a killer that has stalked the U.S. public, claiming, by recent estimates, 45,000 lives annually-one dead American about every 10 minutes-goes unchecked. That's 3,750 people dead-more than the 9/11 attacks-every month who could be saved with the stroke of a pen.

This killer is the lack of adequate health care in the United States. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found in late 2009 that 45,000 people die unnecessarily every year due to lack of health insurance. Researchers also uncovered another stunning fact: In 2008, four times as many U.S. Army veterans died because they lacked health insurance than the total number of U.S. soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same period. That's right: 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died because they were uninsured.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama was fiery when he made his public statement after meeting with his national security team about the airline breach: In seeking to thwart plans to kill Americans "we face a challenge of the utmost urgency," he said. He talked about reviewing systemic failures and declared we must "save innocent lives, not just most of the time, but all of the time."

Full report at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/06

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Challenges for Pak & Afghanistan

By Afshain Afzal

Jan 8 2010

The situation in Afghanistan is turning from bad to worse. The last two months witnessed the deadliest attacks that killed record number of alien troops. The US role in Afghan elections, especially Washington’s drama in favour of Abdullah Abdullah to further pressurize puppet Afghan President Hamid Karzai was resented by a common man in the streets of Afghanistan. After a very long period, anti-US rallies were witnessed in which thousands of Afghans participated. The participants were seen pelting stones and shouting slogans against US, ‘’Down with America’’ and “Down with Israel” echoed the streets of Kabul. These protests were the result of hatred against US cum NATO forces for missile attacks on innocent Afghan women, children and civilian men as well as destruction of Massajid and Maddarrass. Last month’s burning of a copy of Holy Qur’an during a raid by US cum NATO forces added fuel to fire and situation seems out of control. For the first time people are openly expressing sympathy with those who have been ruthlessly killed for holding specific views against western values.

The latest address of US President Barack Hussain Obama to US Corps of Cadets, personnel of Armed Services and general American public basically spelled out US policy towards Muslim nations. Incident of September 11th 2001 has been described as turning point for changing US policy towards Muslim world. While claiming that the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated after Al Qaeda’s leadership escaped across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002 and established a safe haven there, President Obama claimed that although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it’s been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces. He added that over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with Al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government but there is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown.

Author can be reached at: afshainafzal@ymail.com

Full report at:ttp://www.kashmirwatch.com/showarticles.php?subaction=showfull&id=1262975203&archive=&start_from=&ucat=3&var0news=value0news

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Cardinal blames European Christians for rise of Islam

January 9, 2010

LONDON: Europeans are allowing Islam to ''conquer'' the continent, a Roman Catholic cardinal says.

Miloslav Vlk, the Archbishop of Prague, said Muslims were well placed to fill the spiritual void ''created as Europeans systematically empty the Christian content of their lives''.

''Europe will pay dearly for having left its spiritual foundations,'' he said.

This was the last chance to do something about it, and the opportunity would not last for decades, he added.

''The Muslims definitely have many reasons to be heading here. They also have a religious one - to bring the spiritual values of faith in God to the pagan environment of Europe, to its atheistic style of life.

''Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamised and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society.''

The cardinal, 77, made his remarks in an interview to mark his retirement after 19 years as leader of the Czech church.

He did not blame Muslims for the crisis, he said, because Europeans had brought it on themselves by exchanging their Christian culture for an aggressive secularism that embraced atheism.

''Europe has denied its Christian roots from which it has risen and which could give it the strength to fend off the danger that it will be conquered by Muslims, which is actually happening gradually.

''At the end of the Middle Ages and in the early modern age Islam failed to conquer Europe with arms. The Christians beat them then. Today, when the fighting is done with spiritual weapons which Europe lacks while Muslims are perfectly armed, the fall of Europe is looming.''

He called on Christians to respond by living their own religious faith more observantly. Last year the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Jose Policarpo, warned Catholic women against marrying Muslims.

The Italian Cardinal Giacomo Biffi also urged the Government in Rome to give priority to Catholic migrants over Muslims to protect his country's religious identity.

The Vatican has opposed Muslim Turkey's application to join the European Union partly because it does not share its Christian heritage.

? Women who wear the burqa in public will be fined €750 ($1170) under laws being considered in France. MPs will vote on the proposal this month.

http://www.smh.com.au/world/cardinal-blames-european-christians-for-rise-of-islam-20100108-lywb.html

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‘Hundreds of millions’ of Muslims are terrorists

By Daniel Tencer

January 7th, 2010

Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, told Fox News' Neil Cavuto on Thursday that "hundreds of millions" of Muslims are terrorists.

Taking up the now-standard conservative political talking point, in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt, that political correctness prevents the US from identifying Muslim terrorists as such, Koch said:

We're afraid of calling them Muslim, Islamist terrorists. We'll call them anything but. Because we don't want to alienate Muslim countries. That's ridiculous. Of course the vast majority of Muslims -- there are a billion, four hundred million -- are not terrorists, but there are hundreds of millions who are. They want to kill every Christian, every Jew, every Hindu who won't convert. And we ought to put it on the table.

Host Neil Cavuto did not attempt to correct or even question Koch's claim.

Joshua Holland at AlertNet gives Koch "the benefit of the doubt" and assumes Koch meant to say "hundreds of thousands" of Muslim terrorists. Even so, Holland argues, that suggests Muslim terrorists aren't doing their job very well.

"Given that there were a total of around 9,000 fatalities worldwide resulting from Islamic terrorism in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available), those hundreds of thousands must have been pretty damn incompetent," he quips.

Koch was a Democratic member of Congress in the 1960s and 1970s, and was the Democratic mayor of New York for much of the 1980s. But in recent years he has taken to endorsing Republican candidates, including endorsing George W. Bush for president in 2004, although he endorsed Barack Obama in the general election in 2008. In his interview with Cavuto, Koch said he would fire National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter over the Christmas Day bomb attempt.

The following video was broadcast on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, January 7, 2010, and uploaded to YouTube by user therightscoop.

http://rawstory.com/2010/01/koch-hundreds-millions-muslims-terrorists/

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5 Canadian Muslims charged in Toronto gang-rape

08 Jan 2010

Toronto: With sexual assaults on women becoming common in Canada's biggest city, five Muslim Canadians have been arrested for allegedly gang-raping two women here on New Year's Day.

The five - Rozbah Bahri, 27, Parvez Bahri, 25, Said Serwary, 23, Ahmad Ghafari, 23 and Omed Sarwary, 23 - turned themselves in Thursday after police flashed their photos on TV networks and in newspapers.

In the first case of sexual assault in the New Year, the five men allegedly gang-raped the women in their early 20s in their hotel in downtown Toronto on New Year's Day.

They had met the two women at a New Year's party in the city.

At the end of the party at 3 a.m., the five men accompanied the women uninvited to their hotel in the heart of the city where they overpowered them and allegedly gang-raped them.

They fled after the sexual assault.

But they were identified by the women from the photos taken at the event.

When their pictures appeared on TV channels and in newspapers, the five men surrendered to police Wednesday.

They were released on bail of $5,000 each under strict instructions before their next court appearance. They will be under strict curfew from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The suspects have also been banned from touching alcohol and contacting their alleged victims.

"It's going to be very aggressively defended. It's been devastating for their family and for them," their lawyer Lenny Hochberg said.

"They come from good families and have no criminal records. They have a long haul ahead of them," he said.

In a similar case just two weeks earlier, a city woman was gang-raped in the Etobicoke area of Toronto.

The woman had left a bar alone when she was set upon and gang-raped by three men in a nearby parking lot. Nobody has been arrested yet in that case.

There have also been other cases of sexual assaults on women in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Copyright Indo Asian News

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Suspected Fatah al-Islam terrorist arrested in Lebanont

Jan. 8 2010 (Xinhua)

BEIRUT -- The Lebanese army intelligence arrested a suspected Fatah al-Islam member and seized devices and equipment during a raid in Beirut, local An Nahar newspaper reported on Friday.

The report said the army intelligence raided a house in the Beirut area of Aisha Bakkar and arrested a man, who was suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in Lebanon, after monitoring his activities for eight months.

According to the newspaper, the suspect, a Palestinian residing in Lebanon, was "plotting new terrorist operations."

The sources said the suspect lives in one of the Palestinian refugee camps in North Lebanon.

Fatah al-Islam group fought a three-month fierce battle against the Lebanese army in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahral-Bared in 2007 which is home to about 22,000 refugees.

The Lebanese authorities said the organization is inspired by al-Qaida terrorist group.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/08/content_12778390.htm

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/3-malaysian-churches-attacked-in--allah--dispute/d/2345


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