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Islamic World News ( 4 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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52 Muslim couples in Malaysia arrested by Islamic morality police

Dubai unveils world’s tallest building today

Pakistani fiction a hit in India

Malaysian Govt plea against court ruling on use of word 'Allah'

US detainees remanded in Pakistan

Tougher US screening for travellers from Pakistan, 13 other nations

Pak tribesman killed 7 CIA agents

Eighth man killed in Afghanistan was from Jordan's intelligence: Report

There is no smoking gun in US airline bomb plot: Obama adviser

Headley's estranged Moroccan wife gives more Mumbai links

Death warrants issued on 5 Mujib killers

‘Pak ready for war with India over water’

US probes working of Rana immigration firm

UK, US to fund Yemen police

Switzerland Spoiled Turkey’s E.U. Dream

Is Obama Really at War with a 'Network of Violence'?

Chaos has helped terror cells flourish

Christmas Day Muslim terror bomber's spiritual guide lectured in Birmingham

Iranians fight for freedom at home

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Terrorism Rehab Uses Art Therapy and Video Games

The Expansion of Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Jihadi Groups

Somalia: Islamist militia kicked out of key town by another group

Crackdown on alcohol seen as part of conservative moment in Iraq

China, ASEAN, and the Islamic world

Call for all Muslim men between 18-28 to be strip searched

Somali Islamists lose battle for key town

The irrationality of Islamophobia

New York City's Muslims Report Harassment by Police

Pak court remands American Muslim youths to judicial custody

Blast rips in mansion of Muslim clan in S Philippines

Jordanians call on Egypt to honour Muslim obligation over Gaza

German court gives father life jail for honour killing of daughter Gulsum Semin

Indian Army Chief's reported remark draws flak in Pakistan

Yemen rules out US intervention

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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52 Muslim couples in Mayalsia arrested by Islamic morality police

January 4,

Fifty-two unmarried Muslim couples face charges of sexual misconduct and possible jail sentenes after being caught alone in hotel rooms by Malaysia's Islamic morality police on New Year's Day.

In an effort to crackdown on immoral behavior, scores of officers targeted low budget hotels in central Selangor state before dawn on Januray 1, knocking on doors and arresting any unmarried Muslim couples who were sharing rooms, said Hidayat Abdul Rani, a spokesman for the Selangor Islamic Department.

Most of the detained were students and young factor workers. They are expected to be charged with "khalwat," or "close proximity," which is described as couples who are not married to each other being alone in a private place, according to Malaysia's Islamic Shariah law.

"We choose to have this large-scale operation on New Year's Day because many people are known to commit this offense while celebrating such a major holiday," Hidyat said.

The law only applies to Malaysia's Muslims, who make-up nearly two-thirds of the population. It excludes any Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu minorities.

Breaking the Shariah law can carry a maximum penalty of two years in a prison and a fine.


Dubai unveils world’s tallest building today

AGENCIES 4 January 2010,

DUBAI: Dubai is set to open the world’s tallest building amid tight security on Monday, celebrating the tower as a bold feat on the world stage

despite the city state’s shaky financial footing.

But the final height of the Burj Dubai — Arabic for Dubai Tower — remained a closely guarded secret on the eve of its opening. At more than 2,625 feet (800 meters), it long ago vanquished its nearest rival, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Architects who have worked on the building have hinted that Burj Dubai could break the 2,700-ft mark.

The Burj’s record-seeking developers didn’t stop there. The building boasts the most stories and highest occupied floor of any building in the world, and ranks as the world’s tallest structure, beating out a television mast in North Dakota. Its observation deck — on floor 124 — also sets a record.

The Burj’s developer, Emaar Properties, kept pushing the design higher even after construction began.

The 169-floor building passes through different climatic zones as the temperature at the top is up to 10°C cooler than that at the bottom.

Dubai’s ruler will open the tapering metal-and-glass spire on Monday, with a combination of fireworks, light beams, choreographed water displays, and sound effects describing the evolution of the world’s most iconic new building.

The building has, however, received flak from various sectors. Human rights groups and workers’ organisations say the tower has been built using “slave labour”, the Sunday Times said, adding that construction workers, mainly from India and Pakistan, toiled round the clock for just $5 a day.


Pakistani fiction a hit in India

Monday, 04 January 2010

Another Gulmohar TreeA new genre of fiction from Pakistan with an India connection and global outlook is finding an increasing market among young readers in the country.

They are racy, contemporary and reflect an era when the well-heeled in the towns of Pakistan were opening their door to the west.

Two new books by London-based Aamer Hussein - Insomnia and Another Gulmohar Tree, published by Penguin Books India have added to the list of contemporary Pakistani fictions that flooded the Indian market over the past two years.

While one is an anthology of Hussein's short stories collated from various magazines in which they were published across Pakistan, the other is a novella about a crossover romance between a Pakistani journalist and British expatriate artist and life in nouveau Karachi.

Insomnia, which shuttles between Pakistan, New Delhi and Europe through its stories, says Hussein, "brought him closer to intellectual life of the Muslims during Partition and thereafter when sub-continental literature travelled to Europe" and experimented with styles.

Hussein, who was born in Karachi in 1955, moved to London in 1970.

"The theme of contemporary literature from Pakistan and Afghanistan being published in India is globalisation. The stories span continents. Primarily, the limited size of the fiction market in Pakistan has forced young authors to look to India and the West," novelist Hartosh Singh Bal said.

Concurred Delhi-based writer Omair Ahmed. "India still has a huge market for sub-continental fiction which is encouraging publishing houses to bring out works of fictions by authors from the sub-continent," said the author of the widely acclaimed Storyteller's Tale.

The trend, said Pakistani writer Ali Sethi, "started at the onset of the decade when Pakistani writers settled abroad started writing about home". Sethi's The Wish-Maker, a story of an Oxford-educated young man's homecoming to Pakistan was one of the biggest titles in India in 2009.

The new books, felt Pakistani writer and critic Kamila Shamshie, were "taut, yet lush," drawing from a whole gamut of Urdu literary genres like poetry, oral story-telling traditions, fables, romances and writings triggered by the turbulent politics of the country.

About Hussein's Another Gulmohar Tree, Shamsie said: "The strength of the work lay in Hussein's remarkable skills of story-telling."

According to critics, this emerging trend of tight narratives from authors in Pakistan has helped their books find a market among the young Muslims in India.

"Writers in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan now feel confident of expressing themselves in English because of the changing pattern of their education. Most of them are educated in the West," said Urvashi Butalia, founder of the publishing house Zubaan.

For the young Muslim readers in India, this new body of books is a window into the unknown and the thousand-year-old Islamic cultural heritage.

"The Anglican-Pakistani fictions give us valuable insights into life in Pakistan in the aftermath of Partition, ancient literary traditions, the globalisation era and the impact of terrorism on Muslim youth across the world,"  said Saabir Ahmed, a student at Jamia Millia Islamia university.

One of the important fictional titles this year, HarperCollins-India's Home Boy by H.M. Naqvi, is a global novel that explores the anguish of Pakistani youth post-9/11 in New York.

Set in Manhattan just after September 11, 2001, the book follows three bright, college-going Pakistani men - AC, Jimbo and Chuck. Before 9/11, the trio see themselves as "boulevardiers, raconteurs and renaissance men". But after 9/11 everything changes. They watch CNN all day, feeling "anxious and low, and getting cabin fever".

The book, say critics in the US, rakes up fears of the social quarantine and the walls that terrorism has imposed on Muslim youth across the world.

"I think the rifts that existed in the societies have sharpened. But it is a lot more visible in the Muslim world that witnesses more violence and bloodshed," said award winning Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif, explaining the situation.


Malaysian Govt plea against court ruling on use of word 'Allah'

January 04, 2010,

Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian government today filed an appeal against a High Court ruling which allowed a Catholic publication to use the word 'Allah'.

Judge Lau Bee Lian had ruled that the Herald had the constitutional right to use the word 'Allah' in respect of instruction and education of the congregation in the Christian religion.

The Herald has been using the word ‘Allah' as a translation for the word 'God' in its Malay language section. The word Allah is widely used among indigenous Christian tribes in Sabah and Sarawak states of Malaysia.

On February 16 last year, Archbishop Murphy Pakiam filed for a judicial review on the use of the word "Allah" in the church's publications, naming the Home Ministry and the government as respondents. He said the word "Allah" was not exclusive to the religion of Islam.

The Home Minister had justified the ban on grounds of national security and to avoid misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims, national news agency Bernama said.

Meanwhile, Deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin said political leaders and the public should not make rash statements regarding the High Court decision allowing the use of the word 'Allah' in the weekly.

He said that while some Muslims were angered by the decision, it also posed a sensitive issue to Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, who used the word in their Bibles, Star newspaper online said.

"We cannot make rash statements. We understand the sensitivity involved. What’s important is that we should be confident of the steps that the Government is going to take," he told reporters.


US detainees remanded in Pakistan

Monday, 04 January 2010

Police say the men had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex located near nuclear facilities [EPA]

Five US citizens detained in Pakistan have denied that they planned to carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as a court granted police two weeks to prepare terrorism charges against them.

The young Muslim men from Washington were arrested early last month during a raid on a house in the eastern Pakistani city of Sargodha.

Police officials said emails showed that the detainees had contacted the Taliban, and that the group had planned to use them for attacks in Pakistan.

A lawyer for the the men, who are aged 19 to 25, said that they denied that they had ties with al-Qaeda or other such groups.

Police have said they plan to seek life sentences for the men under the country's anti-terrorism law.

Mohammad Amir Khan, a defence lawyer for the men, said: "The five men denied having been in contact with al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad [a Pakistani group] or any other militant group.

"They told the court they wanted to go to Afghanistan to help their Muslim brothers, like those needing medical or financial assistance, and had no plans to carry out any

activity in Pakistan."

'Jihad not terrorism'

Addressing journalists as he entered the courtroom in Sargodha on Monday, Ramy Zamzam, one of the detainees, said: "We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism."

The court remanded the men, named in addition to Zamzam as Umar Farooq, Waqar Khan, Ahmed Minni, Aman Hassan Yemer, to prison for 14 days to give police time to prepare their case.

"We have told the court that police have completed their investigation and have enough evidence against the five suspects to try them under anti-terrorism law," Matiullah Shahani, a police officer, said.

Officers have not said what they believe the group's intended target was, but authorities say the men had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex located in Pakistan near nuclear power facilities that includes a water reservoir and other structures.

It lies in the province of Punjab, about 200km southwest of Islamabad, the capital,

Officials in both countries have said they expect the men to eventually be deported back to the US, though charging them in Pakistan could delay that process.

The US embassy has declined to comment on the potential charges the men face in Pakistan.


Tougher US screening for travellers from Pakistan, 13 other nations

PTI 4 January 2010

WASHINGTON: All travellers flying into the US from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and nine other countries considered high

risk will be patted down and have carry-on luggage searched under new security procedures starting Monday.

In addition, all international passengers will see enhanced random screening, which may include pat-downs, explosive detection testing (swabbing of luggage) or body scans, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)announced Sunday.

The new procedures follow the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound US airliner blamed on a Nigerian man who US officials believe was trained by al-Qaida in Yemen. Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is also considered a key battleground in the US-led battle against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen are on the list as "other countries of interest". Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are listed because they have long been identified as "state sponsors of terrorism" by the State Department.

This list was developed between Homeland Security and the State Department using the latest intelligence, NBC cited a senior federal official as saying.

"The new directive includes long-term, sustainable security measures developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and our domestic and international partners," the TSA said in a statement.

"TSA is mandating that every individual flying into the US from anywhere in the world travelling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening," it added.

"The directive also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for passengers on US bound international flights."

The TSA said the ability to enforce the new security measures is the "result of extraordinary cooperation from our global aviation partners." Effective aviation security "must begin beyond our borders," it added.


Pak tribesman killed 7 CIA agents and trust

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN 3 January 2010,

WASHINGTON: As names of the seven CIA operatives who died in the Taliban suicide bombing in Afghanistan last week trickle out into public domain

despite official silence in Washington, there is another casualty from the episode - trust, never a reliable commodity in the first place in the espionage business.

Intelligence circles are now slowly piecing together what really happened in Forward Operating Base Chapman near the Pakistan border last Wednesday when a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a suicide vest killing eight people, including an Afghan security director and an American perimeter security guard who had escorted him inside – unchecked, unscreened, and unfrisked.

According to intelligence accounts, the suicide bomber was a previously trusted Pakistani informant of the Waziri tribe who was often picked up from a border crossing by a trusted Afghan security director named Arghawan and driven to the base. Because he was a familiar figure brought in by a known person (some reports said he had visited the base multiple times), screening him was not on anyone’s radar particularly since he had been ‘won’ over by trusting him and he had previously delivered valuable information enabling US agencies to conduct accurate drone strikes, which was the principal mandate of FOB Chapman.

But unbeknownst to the Americans, the Waziri tribesman had become a turncoat – either out of personal choice or after he was caught by the Taliban and turned. He was strapped with a suicide vest and sent in to deliver some new “information” which was believed to be ‘valuable’ judging by the fact that the CIA flew in a special debriefer from Kabul and more than a dozen operatives had gathered in the basement gym of FOB Chapman to hear him.

Instead, there was a suicide blast that killed eight people, including Arghawan, the female base chief and another woman operative, and five other men. At least half dozen other operatives were injured in an incident that has shaken the US intelligence community to its boots. If the attribution of the attack is correct, then it is the second time that a Pakistani tribesman would have directly attacked CIA personnel: In 1993, Mir Aimal Kansi tshot dead two CIA workers near its Langley headquarters to avenge the death of his father who was a CIA asset subsequently abandoned. He fled to Pakistan, was later captured and brought back to be executed in the US in 2002.

Full report at:


Eighth man killed in Afghanistan was from Jordan's intelligence: Report

AFP 4 January 2010,

WASHINGTON: The eighth man killed in a suicide bomb attack on a secret CIA base in Afghanistan last week was a captain in the Jordanian spy

service known as the General Intelligence Department (GID), The Washington Post reported late Sunday.

The official Jordanian news agency Petra identified the man as Ali bin Zeid, saying that he was killed "on Wednesday evening as a martyr while performing the sacred duty of the Jordanian forces in Afghanistan."

The agency provided no further details about his death in the bombing that also claimed the lives of seven US intelligence operatives. But the US newspaper said it provided a "rare window into a partnership" between the US and Jordanian intelligence service, in which Jordan is playing an increasingly vital role in the fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Jordanians are particularly prized for their skill in both interrogating captives and cultivating informants, owing to an unrivaled "expertise with radicalized militant groups and Shia/Sunni culture," Jamie Smith, a former CIA officer who worked in the border region in the years immediately after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, is quoted by The Post as saying.

"They know the bad guy's ... culture, his associates, and more about the network to which he belongs," he said.

Current and former US intelligence officials said the special relationship with Jordan dates back at least three decades and has recently progressed to the point that the CIA liaison officer in Amman enjoys full, unescorted access to GID headquarters, according to the report.

The close ties helped disrupt several known terrorist plots, including the thwarted 2000 "millennium" conspiracy to attack tourists at hotels and other sites, the paper pointed out.

Jordanians also provided US officials with communications intercepts in summer 2001 that warned of terrorist plans to carry out a major attack on the United States, The Post said.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Jordan agreed to create a bilateral operations center with the CIA and helped in interrogations of non-Jordanian suspects captured by the US Central Intelligence Agency and transferred to Jordan in now-famous "rendition" flights, the paper noted.


There is no smoking gun in US airline bomb plot: Obama adviser

AP 4 January 2010

WASHINGTON: US intelligence agencies did not miss a ``smoking gun'' that could have prevented an alleged attempt to blow up a US airliner on

Christmas Day, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday.

White House aide John Brennan cited ``lapses'' and errors in the sharing of intelligence and clues about the Nigerian man accused in the foiled attempt.

``There is no smoking gun,'' Brennan said. ``There was no single piece of intelligence that said, 'this guy is going to get on a plane.'''

Brennan is leading a White House review of the incident. Obama has said there was a systemic failure to prevent the attack, which he said was instigated by an affiliate in Yemen of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Obama ordered a thorough look at the shortcomings that permitted the plot, which failed not because of US. actions but because the would-be attacker failed to set off a deadly detonation. The president has summoned homeland security officials to meet with him in the White House Situation Room on Tuesday.

Brennan cited ``a number of streams of information'' - the 23-year-old suspect's name was known to intelligence officials, his father had passed along his concern about his son's increasing radicalization - and ``little snippets'' from intelligence channels. ``But there was nothing that brought it all together.''

``In this one instance, the system didn't work. There were some human errors. There were some lapses. We need to strengthen it. But day in and day out, the successes are there.''

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab apparently assembled an explosive device, including 80 grams of Pentrite, or PETN, in the aircraft toilet of a Detroit-bound Northwest flight, then planned to detonate it with a syringe of chemicals. Passengers and crew subdued the suspect when he tried to set off the explosion. He succeeded only in starting a fire on himself.

``What we need to do as an intelligence community, as a government, is be able to bring those disparate bits and pieces of information together so we prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab from getting on the plane.''

Brennan didn't say whether anyone is in line to be fired because of the oversights. He stood by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, although he acknowledged she has ``taken some hits'' for saying that the airline security system had worked. It didn't, and she clarified her remarks to show she meant that the system worked only after the attack was foiled, Brennan said.

Full report at:


Headley's estranged Moroccan wife gives more Mumbai links

PTI | New Delhi

Security agencies have been able to get an insight into the personal life of American terror suspect David Headley, with his estranged Moroccan wife telling investigators about connections he had in Mumbai, including with some socialites.

Faiza Outalha, who, the security agencies suspect had carried out reconnaissance of certain installations that were targeted by the Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, told National Investigation Agency (NIA) that she was married to 48-year-old Headley but had a divorce later, official sources said.

The woman flew to Mumbai from Karachi and crossed over through Wagah border into India the second time. She had come for the first time in 2007 and stayed with the terror suspect in Taj Mahal Hotel and later in Oberoi-Trident. Both the hotels were targeted by the terrorists on 26/11.

She again came in May 2008 via Wagah and went straight to Manali where she had her holidays near a Jewish house and later toured other parts of Shimla including Kufri, a well-known tourist destination.

While she claimed that she had since been divorced as Headley was having relations with several women, the investigators also found from her about the terror suspect's relations with some upcoming Bollywood actors, prominent party-hoppers of Mumbai and socialites.

The Moroccan woman informed the NIA sleuths that Headley's activities in the hotel were suspicious and both of them had visited the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, a place which saw Lashker terrorists including the lone arrested militant Ajmal Kasab raining bullets on people.

On the basis of her statement, the NIA team has also quizzed an American national in Goa who knew Headley. The US national, who is not a suspect in the case, has been hopping in and out of India and had stayed in Manali and Goa with his Russian girlfriend.

The American, who works as a masseur, has not violated any of the visa rules of the country and he had informed the investigators about Headley's activities in Goa.

Another question bothering the probe agency was how Outalha entered India through Wagah border which is exclusively meant for Indian or Pakistani nationals. The woman is a Moroccan passport holder and could only use the route through special permission from the Pakistani foreign office.


Death warrants issued on 5 Mujib killers

Anisur Rahman


Jan. 3: Death warrants were issued by a court here on Sunday against five ex-Army officers convicted for killing Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, over a month after the Supreme Court upheld capital punishment to them.

Dhaka’s district and sessions Judge Mohammed Abdul Gafur signed the death warrants, paving way from the execution of five of the 12 convicts, a court official said. The warrants were immediately sent to the district magistrate and the jail superintendent in "red envelopes" as prescribed under the jail code, the official said. The jail code demands the death warrants to be executed in between 21st and 28th day from the day it is signed. The warrant was issued more than two weeks after the apex appellate division of the SC rejected their final appeals of the five in Bangabandhu’s assassination trial. Mr Gafur signed the warrant as court officials submitted the papers in a folder in presence of the public prosecutors. The five convicts are sacked lieutenant colonels Syed Faruq Rahman, Sultan Shariar Rashid Khan, Mohiuddin Ahmed and A.K.M. Mohiuddin and sacked major Bazlul Huda. According to the Constitution the death row convicts were entitled to an opportunity to seek a review of the verdict at the appellate division itself within 30 days, and if rejected they would have a last chance to seek presidential clemency within subsequent seven days. —PTI


‘Pak ready for war with India over water’

Shafqat Ali


Jan. 3: There can be a Pakistan, India war on the issue of water, a close aide of the government said here. "India will have to stop stealing Pakistan’s water as we will not hesitate to wage a war with New Delhi if it does not stop doing so," planning commission deputy chairman Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali said. Talking to reporters on Saturday night, Mr Ali said dictators had damaged the socio-economic fabric of the country and added that if the previous government had taken action on time, the Baghliar Dam would have never been constructed by India.

He said Pakistan has raised the issue of water with India and New Delhi has to give a positive response. "Otherwise, things will get worse," he added. He said due to the negligence of Pakistani leaders in the past, India had damaged the irrigation system of Pakistan by stealing water in violation of the treaties.

He said a huge crisis was impending in the water and agricultural sectors of Pakistan. He said Pakistan had the best energy resources as compared to other countries in the region but "we could not utilise them". He said in order to fulfil our energy needs, it was necessary to tap the Thar coal reserves, adding that work on the Thar coal resources would start the moment the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution in this regard.

About the import of gas from Iran, he said if Pakistan imported gas from Qatar, it would be cheaper than the gas from Iran. Mr Ali said the Iranians were strict about the terms and conditions of the agreement.


US probes working of Rana immigration firm

January 4th, 2010

By Our Correspondent , PTI

Chicago, Jan. 3: The US authorities are probing the operations of the Pakistani-Canadian terror suspect Tahawwur Rana’s consultancy firm for possible acts of immigration fraud as part of wider investigation into an international terror plot.

Federal authorities are working to determine the immigration status of people who entered the US with the help of the First World Immigration Services, located in the city’s predominantly Indian-Pakistani area Devon Avenue.

“As part of a widening probe into an international terror plot rooted in the city, the US authorities are sharpening their sights on the First World Immigration in search of possible acts of immigration fraud,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Prosecutors charge that the immigration centre served as a front in the Chicago-based terror plot to bomb a Danish newspaper that had published caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.

They also allege that Rana knew in advance of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

In e-mail conversations, Rana advised a member of the militant Pakistani organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba about “loopholes” to get individuals into the US.

“Whenever you find easy way to come to US, immediately think there is a catch to it,” Rana allegedly wrote in an e-mail, warning against using student visas.

The US said it was the “sophistication” and power of internet which helped it to stop David Headley, charged with plotting 26/11 attacks, from carrying out more strikes.


UK, US to fund Yemen police

January 4th, 2010

By Our Correspondent

London/Washington, Jan. 3: Britain and the United States have decided to work together to tackle the evolving threat of terrorism from Yemen and Somalia after the failed bomb attack by a Nigerian student on board a flight to Detroit.

The two nations will support setting up of a special counter-terrorist police unit and Coast Guard in Yemen.

The Prime Minister of Britain, Mr Gordon Brown, said on Sunday that UK support to Yemen is expected to exceed £100 million by 2011.

Mr Brown told the BBC that Britain has been working closely with the Americans to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation in Yemen.

A television channel reported, meanwhile, that the recent attacks on al-Qaeda positions in Yemen, including cruise missile strikes, were led by the United States. The CBS television report on Saturday quoted Mr Sebastian Gorka, a “US special operations expert who trains Yemeni officers,” as saying the United States had led the recent ground and air assaults.”

“That was very much something executed by the US but with heavy support by the Yemeni government,” Mr Gorka said. “It was cruise missile strikes in combination with military units on the ground.”

The report comes after the US President, Mr Barack Obama, blamed the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for arming and training a young Nigerian man who tried to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day.


Switzerland Spoiled Turkey’s E.U. Dream

Published: 1/3/2010


HURRIYET DAILY NEWS & ECONOMIC REVIEW- We will evaluate 2009 from different angles but one of the most meaningful developments we might say was the referendum on minarets in Switzerland. Switzerland is a country of 7.6 million people living well in the heart of Europe. Their only concern is their suspicion and fear to lose this obtained comfort and environment. They are a very calm and nice people welcoming foreigners with open arms as long as they bring currency. This society is the least bothered by the 400,000 Muslims. With a total of four mosques with minarets, we might say the Swiss almost have no contact with Islam in their everyday lives. Despite that fact, when examining the decision about prohibiting minarets a European reality surfaced. Pandora’s Box opened and demons spread all over. The referendum of this tiny country has touched on such a nerve that since then the fight over this issue has not stopped but instead spread all over.

Europe these days is discussing its identity and questioning itself. Europe that used to be a champion of tolerance and defended human rights for such a long time has all of a sudden become intolerant and even discriminatory, opposing coexistence and perceiving Islam as a threat. Twenty million Muslims living among the 500 million people in the European Union have been labeled as "a disturbing factor." The question in discussion is, “Will we be able to accept the Islam among us?" And if this question is a little too exaggerated we might rephrase it as, "Will we accept Turkey among us?" This means that the Swiss referendum has revealed why Turkey’s full membership to the EU is been prevented.

Interpretations after the Swiss referendum and especially the one started by French President Sarkozy reflects the dimensions of Europe’s identity search as well as reveals the fact that they are not ready yet to live with Moslems. Although the Swiss in their everyday life live at a distance from Islam and mosques, when forbidding the minaret they were reflecting Europe’s general opposition to Islam. For an important part of Europe terror and Islam share the same image. They put deeds of the Taliban in Afghanistan, suicide teams in Iraq, and events experienced in Iran in the same basket and call it typical of Muslims. Women, who are forced to wear a burka and are killed for traditional reasons, are perceived as a symbol of Islam.

The EU does not know Islam. And we can’t say they are eager to learn about it. It only contents itself with TV and print media. Then it puts Muslims in a stereotype that is fanatic, intolerant, despises women. I wonder if this point of view will ever change. We’ll have to pass a difficult and long period of arguing. And we need not expect a consensus anytime soon. And the most important factor that lies underneath the process of Turkey being hindered in joining the European Union is just the same. Europe views Turkey not very different from this image.

If there is no progress in the negotiations between Turkey and the EU, if an important part of topics are on hold, if other members of the EU do not oppose Sarkozy and Merkel’s constant recommendation of a “Privileged Partnership” instead of full membership, the underlying reason is not Cyprus, it is the EU’s view of Turkey from a religious point of view.

We might say the Swiss referendum has spoiled Turkey’s dream of the EU and revealed a different reality. I wonder if this situation might change. Of course it will but it will take some time and mainly depends on the change of the international conjuncture.


Is Obama Really at War with a 'Network of Violence'?

By William Tate

Unlike most folks, I believe that Barack Obama really was sincere when he said we are "at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."

Unfortunately, I think Obama secretly was referring to the Fox News Channel.

Obama spent much of his first year in office firing salvos at his own perceived (as compared to the nation's very real) enemies: the few in the media who failed to genuflect to the MSM's new prophet. If his administration had confronted al-Qaeda with the same vigor with which they attacked FNC or Rush Limbaugh, Americans might not have to worry about what's in travelers' underwear.

As to the real "network of violence and hatred" -- he can't seem to bring himself to say Islamic terrorists -- Obama's actions have spoken louder than even his words...although his words were plenty clear.

Obama's first TV interview after taking office was dispensed to Arab-language Al Arabiya, and about as quickly as such a trip could be planned, he was off to Cairo, where he vowed "to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." He went on to repudiate American exceptionalism: "[A]ny world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail," he preached to the Arab world.

almost from the moment he was handed the keys to the Oval Office, Obama started dismantling the machinery that had kept America safe since 9/11. Faster than you can say "enemy combatant," he issued an executive order to close Guantánamo Bay, signaling to terrorists that they would soon be protected by America's judicial system if we manage to grab them. And al-Qaeda no longer has to worry about their captured operatives spilling the fava beans and disrupting planned operations à la KSM. Within hours of taking office, Obama banned the use of harsh interrogation techniques that prevented a "second wave" of attacks after 9/11.

Obama's indifference to the Islamist terrorist threat that manifested itself once again on Christmas Day is also reflected in his appointments. His pick to safeguard our homeland security promptly warned of the danger of violence from...the American right. Rather than focusing on Islamic terrorists, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano cautioned Americans against the threat posed by what she called "rightwing extremist activity." Among the threats that Napolitano warned against were "groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Presumably, Napolitano was too busy in her new job to include on her list those of us opposed to Obamacare or cap-and-trade.

Unless Jivin' Janet can produce evidence that the Tea Party folks have harmed anything other than MS-NBC's ratings, her agenda-driven focus on potential domestic terrorists has drained resources that could have been put to good use on the nation's (rather than Obama's) enemy list.

Damaging as Obama's change in policies at Homeland Security have been, they pale in comparison to the full-blown assault on the agency most responsible for gathering intelligence about our real enemies.

Obama's choice to head the CIA, Leon Panetta, had no intelligence experience, and he met resistance from even loyal Democrats. "My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time," California Senator Dianne Feinstein told the New York Times.

To Panetta's credit, though, even he couldn't fully stomach the assault Obama launched on the intelligence community. ABC News reported of a "profanity-laced screaming match" between Panetta and another unnamed senior Obama official over the decision to open criminal investigations of CIA officers who used harsh interrogation methods to keep the country safe. The Washington Post left no doubt that the decision was green-lighted by Obama: "official accounts did not mention Holder's conversations with the White House, nor Obama's deep, if cautious, engagement with the issues."

At about the same time last August that Obama and Holder were playing whack-a-CIA-agent, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen to learn how to sew explosives into his underwear.

And speaking of Captain Underpants, the accused Christmas Day bomber has reportedly warned that there are more terrorists like him in Yemen.

We know there are at least six.

Just days before Abdulmutallab tried to blast Northwest Flight 253 out of the the sky over Detroit, Obama released an additional half-dozen Gitmo detainees to Yemen. In all, Obama has sent 42 suspected Guantánamo terrorists home, where they are free to join their jihadist comrades in future attacks. The rest, presumably, will soon be in federal courts, where they will do everything they can to reveal U.S. intelligence capabilities to other terrorists.

The underwear-bomber launched the second high-profile terrorist attack on this country in as many months. Team Obama tried to discount the Fort Hood shooting as the work of a lone gunman, even trying to absolve Major Nidal Malik Hasan by rationalizing that the accused shooter was suffering something they called "pre-traumatic stress syndrome" before he was deployed. Now that it's been reported that Hasan and Abdulmutallab may have been in contact with the same radical imam while they were preparing their attacks, it's going to take even more convoluted logic and language to try to ignore the obvious -- that the war we're fighting is with a vicious band of radical Islamists committed to jihad against the United States and the West.

This blows to hell the Obama storyline, which went something like this: They hate us because of George Bush. Elect me and the whole world will suddenly love us.

Since it was delivered by a candidate who reads from a teleprompter as smoothly as Tiger Woods picks up women, some folks actually bought that pablum...enough to elect him, at least.

As for Obama -- like many good orators, he started to believe his own shtick.

Unfortunately, his campaign platitudes of Hope and Change have been America's enemies.

William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author.


Chaos has helped terror cells flourish

Steven Erlanger, NYT News Service 4 January 2010,

SAN’A (YEMEN): Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has rapidly evolved into an expanding and ambitious regional terrorist network thanks in part to

a weakened, impoverished and distracted Yemeni government.

The priorities of the Yemeni government have been fighting a war in the north and combating secessionists across the south. In the interim, al-Qaida has flourished in the large, lawless and rugged tribal territories of Yemen, creating training camps, attacking western targets and receiving increasing popular sympathy, Yemeni and American officials say.

Al-Qaida’s growing profile in Yemen became clear after a Nigerian man, Umar Abdulmutallab, 23, was able to overstay his visa by several months, connect with Qaida militants and leave this country with a bomb sewn into his underwear.

Though Yemen played an early role in al-Qaida’s history — it is Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland, and it was the staging ground for the 2000 attack on the American destroyer Cole — the key chapters in the story of al-Qaida’s rise here have been written recently by leaders who were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, escaped from Yemeni prisons or were drawn to shelter here by common cause and ideology.

Many of the nearly 2,000 Yemenis who were believed to have fought in Iraqi insurgencies had returned to join the cause here. And many Yemenis who went to Saudi Arabia to seek work — like bin Laden’s father — have had children who have been influenced by the more radical Islam of Saudi Arabia, bringing ideas of jihad home to Yemen.


Christmas Day Muslim terror bomber's spiritual guide lectured in Birmingham

Jan 3 2010 by Ben Goldby, Sunday Mercury

THE ‘spiritual guide’ to the Al Qaida Christmas jet bomber may have previously influenced young Muslims in Birmingham.

US investigators fear Anwar Al Awlaki, who mentored three of the 9/11 hijackers, helped train British-educated suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

And the Sunday Mercury can reveal that Awlaki, who has been targeted by American air raids in Yemen where he lives in exile, lectured youngsters in Birmingham in an online speech in May.

Abdulmutallab, 23, was arrested on Christmas Day after attempting to set off a bomb made in Yemen by Al Qaida as a jet carrying 250 passengers arrived at Detroit airport from Amsterdam.

The Nigerian fanatic, who suffered serious injuries after the device ignited but failed to explode, studied an engineering degree at University College London between 2005 and 2008 – and was Islamic Society president from 2006 to 2007.

He is believed to have turned to radical Islam while still in Britain, before travelling to Yemen where the FBI fear he was indoctrinated by Awlaki and introduced to Al Qaida.

Awlaki, 38, rose to notoriety after the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers with Charles Allen, undersecretary of US Homeland Security, describing the cleric as “spiritual leader to three of the hijackers”.

He hit the headlines again in November when it was revealed that he had been in regular contact with Major Nidal Hasan, the Muslim soldier awaiting trial in the US for allegedly killing 13 troops at Fort Hood in Texas.

Awlaki is banned from entering the UK, but spoke to young Muslims in Birmingham last year through an online lecture entitled Virtues of the Sahabah. MP Roger Godsiff, who represents Sparkbrook and Small Heath, said: “I am very concerned about this particular individual. It’s sad to say, but there are certainly young men who have been influenced by these extremists.

“One of the biggest dangers is in the absence of people challenging these men who twist the meaning of the Quran. Youths will start to believe what they are being told.”



Iranians fight for freedom at home

Monday, 04 January 2010

Arrogant leaders — politicians and clerics — do not understand the demographic forces and homegrown passions that power Iran's quest for freedom.

IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expendable. He might not see the big picture, but his political future is tied to the enlightened self-interests of ruling religious authorities.

Iranians chased away the British, overturned the Shah and Ahmadinejad is just as politically fungible. If his departure is required to settle a dispute with no end in sight, then he will be gone.

Current upheaval can be traced to blatant corruption that tainted Iran's recent election. Stir in elements of religious tension and competition — a test of religious wills and profiles. Another ingredient is the country's demographics, and the restive power of a young, educated and globally connected population.

Rick Steves, the highly regarded travel author and public-television host, captured a telling moment in an op-ed piece he wrote for these pages in June. He described the surge of relief among passengers as the plane lifted out of Islamic Republic of Iran into free airspace.

"Iranians want to be free without leaving home. But I believe Iranians want to protect their culture even more than they want to gain their freedom. Today we are witnessing a country evolving on its terms without Western influence as it strives to have both."

Free without leaving home. And free to define and nurture their own futures.

These deep passions about home fuel resistance to outsiders around the globe. They also empower crowds to face down armed security forces and risk their lives to live freely at home.

Election fraud and sectarian bullies inspired a response that will not be put down.


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

January 03, 2010 10:22 AM


It has been more than a year since it was first reported that the CIA had sent top field operatives with counter-terrorism experience, as well as U.S. special operations commandos, into Yemen to begin training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics.

At that time the Americans had begun fighting what was described and reported in major newspapers and by the Associated Press as “A third, largely covert front against the al Qaeda terror network in Yemen.” The plan was to “combat a new generation of militants keen on transforming the country into a launching pad for jihad against the U.S., its Arab allies and Israel.”

The Pentagon will be spending more than $70 million dollars over the next year and a half to train and equip the Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military levels, The New York Times recently reported.

Yemen has a long history of providing a safe haven for Islamic jihadists, welcoming Islamic fighters from Afghanistan starting in the 1980s. And that country became the focus of news stories over the Christmas weekend, when it was learned that a Nigerian man, accused of trying to blow up a Detroit bound plane on Christmas Day, confessed to authorities that he trained in Yemen with al Qaeda bomb makers.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, claimed responsibility for the botched terrorist attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, now known as the “underpants bomber.” He had reportedly been in Yemen from August through early December of this year. The airliner plot was supposedly retaliation for a U.S. led operation against the group in Yemen, CBS News reported. Although the bomb plot against Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was put into action by al Qaeda in Yemen well before the latest U.S. attacks that took place earlier in December, according to the conservative CNS News.

Brian Ross of ABC News reported last week that two of the four men behind the plot to blow up the American airliner had actually been prisoners of the United States and that, “under the leadership of President George W. Bush, were released into a Saudi art rehabilitation program.” According to Defense Department records, Muhamad Attik al Harbi (now known as Muhamad al-Awfi) and Said Ali al-Shihri were released from Gitmo in 2007 despite allegations that they had provided support for al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan. Neither of the men was brought to trial by the Bush Administration.

Al Shihri is now the second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. After his release by the Bush Administration, he was a suspect in the deadly bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Sana, Yemen, in Sept. of 2008. According to Associated Press reports, at least a dozen former Guantanamo Bay inmates are known to be among AQAPs ranks, including a deputy commander. First in command is Nassir al Wahishi, former personal secretary to Osama bin Laden, who was extradited in 2003 from Iran to Yemen.

Yemen, which is now harboring that branch of al Qaeda, has become the new Afghanistan in so far as it being a training ground for terrorists and jihadists. Fighters, commanders and bomb makers have been brought in to plot against the U.S. and its allies.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a merged group of Saudi and Yemeni cells who released a statement that claimed the explosive device carried by the “underpants bomber” was manufactured by its members. The group claimed that a “technical fault prevented it from successfully detonating.” The device carried by the would-be bomber contained the chemical explosive PETN as well as a syringe containing a fluid initiator, which he was caught trying to inject into the package of PETN, the Associated Press reported. The al Qaeda spokesman also bragged that, “The Mujahedeen brothers in the manufacturing section had succeeded in developing a very sophisticated explosive device. The spokesman went on to warn that the device would be perfected.”

It is bad enough that Republicans in Congress have blocked funding necessary to purchase needed TSA explosive-detection machines, which could prevent an attack like the one attempted on Christmas Day, but Republican Senator Jim DeMint has also blocked the appointment of the new TSA chief because he fears the nominee may be pro-union, CNN reported.

Hopefully the Obama Administration will be more successful than the Bush Administration when it comes to not releasing terrorist suspects, particularly to Yemen. President Obama wants to try them, convict them, and put them in maximum security prisons, rather than returning them to their home countries for so-called “art rehabilitation.”


Carol Jensen is a long-time Barstow resident, graduating from Kennedy High School and Barstow College, where she was an English instructor for many years. Much of her time now is spent writing political and social commentary. She may be contacted at


Saudi Terrorism Rehab Uses Art Therapy and Video Games

By Mark Whittington

The Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Care and Counseling is one of the rehab centers in Saudi Arabia where captured terrorists are encouraged to express their feelings in non violent ways and to turn away from terrorism.

According to the New York Post, the system seems like a parody of how some people think that violent criminals should be "rehabilitated" before being allowed back into society.

"Bomb-makers and gunmen participate in art therapy to help them explore their feelings non-violently.

"In between tasty picnic-style meals of rice and lamb and snacks of Snickers along with dips in the pool, participants practice Arabic calligraphy, produce dizzying Jackson Pollack rip-offs and imagine the aftermath of car bombings in crayon.

"Some 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists have 'graduated' from the program, including 108 former Guantanamo Bay detainees, the Washington Post reported. "

The "patients" also play video games, ping pong, and soccer in hopes that the peaceful, non violent atmosphere will turn them away from violent jihad. Imans are available for counseling, to point out that jihad is not considered a personal choice under Islam and should only be undertaken if sanctioned by the state.

The Saudis claim an 80 to 90 percent success rate in turning fanatical jihadists into model citizens. Outside experts, including John Horgan, a Department of Homeland Security consultant, told the New York Post. Horgan suggests that while the terrorists going through Saudi rehab do turn away from terrorism, their fundamental rage against the United States and Western Civilization remain unaltered.

Recidivism has occurred among graduates of the Saudi terrorism rehab system. Said Ali al Shihri, who also did time at Guantanamo, emerged from terrorism rehab to join the Al Qaeda branch now ensconced in Yemen. Shihri claims to have been the mastermind behind the attempted Christmas bombing of an American airliner by a Nigeria Islamofascist now known as "the panty bomber."

Clearly the idea that terrorists can be rehabilitated through art therapy and playing video games is a rather dubious one at best. For one thing, the Saudi rehab system, by not addressing the fundamental cause of jihadism--rage against the West--leave their graduates open to recidivism. Once outside, the graduates of terrorism rehab will be subjected to the same influences that caused them to want to kill people and blow up things in the name of Allah.

Also the idea that evil is simply a kind of psychological disease that can be cured with art therapy and video games is not only off putting, but it is—dare we say it—un-Islamic. The Prophet Mohammed did not say that people who murder and destroy should be given therapy. He said that they should be killed. This is a sentiment that a lot of non Muslims can agree with.

And yet President Obama still wants to close Guantanamo. The idea of Gitmo inmates becoming patients in Saudi terrorism rehab is yet another reason he should think again about that decision.

Source: Wacky jihad therapy failed to 'cure' plane-bomb plotter, Chuck Bennet, New York Post, January 2nd, 2009


The Expansion of Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Jihadi Groups

in Gaza: Diplomatic Implications

   * In the West there is a growing trend to view Hamas as separate from al-Qaeda in order to open a political dialogue with Hamas, but is this view correct?

   * In its annual survey of terrorist threats to Israel during 2009, the Israel Security Agency noted the spread and buildup of "global jihadi" organizations in Gaza. In recent years a number of these jihadi groups have emerged that openly identify with al-Qaeda, such as Jaish al-Islam (the Army of Islam), Jaish al-Umma (the Army of the Nation), and Fatah al-Islam.

   * Hamas was founded in 1987 as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden was educated in Saudi Arabia by Muhammad Qutb of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Abdullah Azzam of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, came out of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood still defines its goal as "a world Islamic state."

   * In February 2004, the U.S. designated Sheikh Abd al-Majid Zindani, president of Iman University in Yemen, as a "loyalist to Osama bin Laden." On March 20, 2006, Zindani, who recruited volunteers for al-Qaeda, sponsored a major fundraising event for Hamas in Yemen. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, went to hear lectures on radical Islam at Iman University.

   * The al-Qaeda affiliate Jaysh al-Islam joined Hamas in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. This proves that Hamas and al-Qaeda affiliates have been involved in joint operations. In 2007, the Egyptian press reported that one of the heads of al-Qaeda in Egypt had escaped and sought sanctuary in Gaza. In May 2009, Egypt charged that another al-Qaeda-linked group was using Gaza for training terrorists for attacks in Egypt.

In its annual survey of terrorist threats to Israel during 2009, the Israel Security Agency (also known by its Hebrew acronym Shabak or Shin Bet) noted a number of positive trends - with one glaring exception: the spread and buildup of "global jihadi" organizations in Gaza.1 A number of these groups, like Jaish al-Islam (the Army of Islam), Jaish al-Umma (the Army of the Nation), and Fatah al-Islam, openly identify with al-Qaeda.2

Indeed, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told al-Hayat on February 26, 2008, that al-Qaeda was present in Gaza and he charged that "the Hamas movement brought al-Qaeda." He described the two groups as "allies." However, in the West there is a growing trend to view Hamas as separate from al-Qaeda in order to open a political dialogue with Hamas.

 Western Calls to Open a Dialogue with Hamas

For this reason, it should not be surprising that in the months ahead, it is likely that British, European, and even American groups will step up their efforts to demand that Hamas be brought into the political process. To advance this goal there will be increasing calls for direct political engagement with Hamas by various governments and current and former officials. Already in July 2009, the head of the British Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael Gapes, made such a statement.3

A few months earlier an American group, including former Congressman Lee Hamilton (who co-chaired the influential Iraq Study Group during the Bush years) and former U.S. ambassador to the UN Thomas Pickering, called on the Obama administration to begin talking to Hamas without preconditions. Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led a small congressional delegation to Gaza in February 2009 without meeting Hamas officials. Nevertheless, Ahmad Youssef, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, praised the visit as a very good first step.

Full report at:


Somalia: Islamist militia kicked out of key town by another group

Monday 4 January 2010 / by Konye Obaji Ori

Fighting between African Union-backed government forces of Somalia and Islamist group, al-Shabab, on Saturday and Sunday, have resulted in over 60 deaths and 100 injuries, a human rights group has reported. The pro-government forces, Ahlu Sunna engaged the islamic insurgents in combat over the strategic town of Dhuusa Marreeb, north of Somali capital, Mogdishu.

Somali human rights group Elman, said al-Shabab had taken control of Dhuusa Marreeb, but the Ahlu Sunna which began as a non-violent group to promote moderate Islam fought the rebels to regain control of the town for the government.

Ahlu Sunna, who last year decided to take up arms against al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab, is reported to have recaptured the town from al-Shabab rebels.

According to Mr. Ali Yasin Gedi, vice chairman of Elman peace and human rights group, "Our monitoring office has confirmed that most of the casualties were from the warring factions, but some civilians were also killed. Many people who fled from the town have not returned yet and they are in the outskirts of the town without shelter and the sun is extremely hot."

“We have counted 47 dead bodies and one hundred injured. The death toll might be double that as residents are still collecting bodies from alleys and under the trees. The whole region is tense and residents are fleeing from other towns,” Gedi added.

Last year, Ahlu Sunnah engaged and defeated al-Shabab in combat. But after yesterday’s battle, al-Shabab according to unconfirmed sources have began to regroup outside the contested town. Locals fear that a counter-attack is eminent.

An un-named local told reporters the fighting had been the most violent ever seen in Dhuusa Marreeb: “We have collected 77 dead bodies from inside and around Dusamareb town. We have reports that there are more dead bodies in the suburbs of the town."

According to the area’s traditional chief, Abdulahi Gedi, the town is quiet at the moment and the al-Shabab fighters have been defeated in violent fighting during the night.

Al-Shabab has been carrying out hit-and-run attacks throughout central and southern Somalia. The Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning national government since 1991. Its UN- and AU-backed government controls only a few parts of the country.


Crackdown on alcohol seen as part of conservative moment in Iraq

By Ernesto Londoño

Washington Post Foreign Service

Monday, January 4, 2010; A01

BAGHDAD -- The banner appeared mysteriously this fall on a railing along Abu Nawas Street, the hub of nightlife on the banks of the Tigris River in downtown Baghdad, where the atmosphere in recent months has grown markedly more subdued.

"Damned is he who sits at a table with alcohol," the handwritten sign said.

Posted near a strip of nightclubs recently raided by police, the unsigned missive spoke to a new fight being fought across Iraq as government officials attempt to assert greater control over the country's moral and social norms.

The March 2003 U.S. invasion and subsequent violence have made Iraq's moral compass swing wildly for the past six years. It has been a time of lax government authority; power struggles among armed groups including the Mahdi Army and al-Qaeda in Iraq, which imposed strict norms; and mass migration, which has changed the makeup and character of entire towns and cities.

In recent months, the pendulum has veered toward conservative mores. Government officials, including many competing in the upcoming parliamentary election, have sought to impose stricter limits on alcohol consumption and coeducational schools.

In some ways, whether the Iraq that emerges from the U.S. occupation becomes more conservative or more permissive than its neighbors will depend greatly on which politicians are chosen in that election, scheduled to take place March 7. But it is far from clear whether the upcoming contest will affirm or buck the current trend.

"Unfortunately, the democratic system in Iraq has led to the rise of undemocratic parties and movements that don't believe in the concept of human rights or personal freedoms," said Mithal Alousi, a secular Sunni lawmaker. "These parties are trying to leave an impression among the uneducated and the simple-minded people that they are the guardians of religion and proper behavior, and conversely, that secular parties are the ones promoting alcohol consumption and the opening of nightclubs, and thus are un-Islamic."

Alcohol is relatively hard to come by in Iraq's southern provinces, which are predominantly Shiite and tend to be more conservative than the rest of the country. Baghdad has several liquor stores, most owned and operated by Christians. Owners say they are afraid the government will drive their business underground by refusing to renew licenses.

Hazim al-Araaiy, a Shiite lawmaker who heads the conservative Sadrist bloc in parliament, said banning alcohol is long overdue to protect families and live within the tenets of Islam.

"Our policy on alcohol is firm -- we have always opposed it," he said. "We do not need such practices to win votes or leave the impression that we are faithful Muslims."

Few have as much riding on the outcome of the debate as Kamal Suleiman, owner of a prominent liquor store on Abu Nawas Street.

The strip, he recalled recently, was abuzz with nightlife during most of Saddam Hussein's regime. Parties sometimes lasted until dawn. Liquor-store owners had no trouble renewing yearly licenses.

During the 1990s, in an effort to appease conservative tribes whose support he desperately needed after uprisings by Shiites and Kurds, Hussein tightened social norms.

The party life suffered, Suleiman said, but liquor stores and some bars remained in business.

Full report at:


China, ASEAN, and the Islamic world

Monday, 04 January 2010

By Joshua Treviño

Kevin Holtsberry’s piece in The Huffington Post on the China-ASEAN FTA is an important read, not least for its assessment of the geo-strategic importance of the huge new trade bloc that was established at the stroke of the new year. (Full disclosure: Holtsberry and I both work on the Malaysia-watching site Malaysia Matters, which is the proximate cause of our interest in this development.) There’s more to that theme than just what Holtsberry covered. To recapitulate his key passage:

[The China-ASEAN FTA] doesn’t just link China to the nations that are adjacent to it anyway. It also further solidifies the deepening link between China and the Islamic world. Malaysia is surely at the center of this link, not simply geographically, but also as an east-Asian state at the center of the emerging Islamic-finance sector. Expect its own diplomatic stature to dramatically increase as an intermediary in the Chinese-Islamic connection.

What was in centuries past expressed by the Silk Road is now reemerging as a mostly maritime trade-and-energy link with a worrying overtone of historical resentments and vague anti-Western antagonism. It’s not an inevitably bad development for America, nor even for Europe — but it directly involves neither, and it’s perhaps the biggest geo-strategic development of our young century. If the central strategic fact of the 19th and 20th centuries was the centrality of the West, the strategic surprise of the 21st may be its dispensability.

I don’t believe Holtsberry is advancing yet another argument that the West will somehow become marginal or inevitably decline in the coming century. The United States alone is economically larger than any trade bloc on the planet that does not include it, and that by itself makes America an unavoidable fact. Furthermore, rival blocs are intrinsically self-limiting so long as the United States has an edge over them in the fonts of enduring prosperity: that is, political and economic liberties. In that light, the China-ASEAN FTA is a collection of imperfect democracies at best, and autocracies at worst, neither of which allow their varied peoples the full fruits of their potential. So China-ASEAN isn’t the harbinger of America’s demise any more than the European Union was.

What China-ASEAN does portend is exactly what Holtsberry points out: the deepening of the ties between the Islamic and Chinese spheres, both of which find it increasingly easy to deal with the other without reference to external powers. This isn’t a new development — especially on the macro-historical scale — and its transposition to the modern world is not an observation original to Kevin or me. For one, see Ben Simpfendorfer’s “The New Silk Road” on the orientation of the Chinese and Islamic worlds toward one another.

The foundation of this convergence is only partly economic: there are also political and cultural reasons for the Sino-Islamic exchange. The latter are longstanding, and not limited to China’s colonization of Xinjiang and environs. The Malay-dominated lands (encompassing now Indonesia, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines) were not effectively Islamized until the 15th century, and that trade-and-conquest-driven process — concurrent with the European age of exploration — amalgamated Muslim belief with local Hindu and Chinese influences. The actual Chinese in the region rarely became Muslim themselves, being in the cultural orbit of a peer power in the mainland empire; but they readily adapted to a trade that became increasingly maritime as the centuries passed. Overland caravans with taxes paid to each potentate along the way — the model of China’s westbound trade since antiquity — could not compete with wares-laden ships responsible for duties only at the port of call. That’s still true.

Full report at:


Calls for all Muslim men between 18-28 to be strip searched

January 3, Miami Liberal ExaminerJoseph Marhee

A recent FOX News Saturday guest, retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney offered a solution to terrorism on American airliners, religious profiling: "If you are an 18-28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched. And if we don't do that there's a very high probability we're going to lose an airline." McInerney's solution is many things (swift and decisive, for instance), but is primarily ignorant of two portions of the US Constitution, The first and fourth amendments.

The FOX anchor implied that such violations would, and rightfully so, cause unrest: "That's just not going to go over, not in this country," she told McInerney, who simply declared that religious freedom and protection from such profiling through illegal searches were "part of the problem".

The reasons why such comments from a person with so little influence over the federal government, the TSA, or the Department of Homeland Security, is so objectionable is that they come from a person with a military background; a background that should suggest protecting American citizens, not violating their personal freedoms for, ostensibly, their own good.

A much more reasonable approach than racial or religious profiling, both of which already occur in unacceptable quantities as it is, would be behavioral profiling. Such measures exist, though they do not go far enough.

Currently, passengers are flagged for many reasons, but most commonly if they are traveling alone and/or without luggage, purchased a one-way ticket, or anything that might suggest they are not flying to Washington D.C. to tour the National Archives. The TSA, through it's Secure Flight program, currently has a thugh passenger and baggage screening process, however, it seems more extensive measures like full body screening, may become necessary in light of the circumstances, pending some advancements in the technology. McInerney's plan for strip searches goes entirely too far, strip searches only become necessary is the most extreme of cases where a passenger is a real, verifiable security risk.

The full body scan, essentially a virtual strip search, is beginning to see widespread usage internationally for flights bound for the US, primarily in Nigeria and the Netherlands.

McInerney's comments that "we're going to lose an airline" unless these rights are violated are not only ignorant of those rights, but that these comments are part of a different problem; the arrested development of real measures that could accurately identify terrorists.

The Lt. General's comments further contribute to a culture of fear that does nothing but endanger Americans by stimulating bigotry and perturbing the equilibrium of social order that the tenuous stability of race relations in America has settled upon.

Furthermore, by limiting his own plan to 18-28 year olds, he only weakens his own misguided plan by forgetting that most men, Muslim or not, usually live to their seventies, on average. McInerney, apparently, does not believe zealotry exists at every age. Just another reason McInerney's assessment of the situation is completely off base.

In addition to the criteria mentioned earlier currently in use, the Federal Government could increase prevention of airliner-based terrorism by putting an emphasis on intelligence sharing; the recent attack on a Detroit-bound plane could've been much more than it was, and would have completely been prevented if myriad intelligence on this man, and his operation, had been shared between agencies. This is something even President Obama has acknowledged. If not for the bravery of that airline's passengers, this situation would be a lot more precarious.

Full report at:


Somali Islamists lose battle for key town


Shabaab troops display weapons

A pro-government militia fought off Islamist insurgents who tried to capture a central Somali town, with around 30 people killed in hours of intense fighting, residents and the group said yesterday.

Bodies lay in the streets of the central town of Dhusamareb after fighters from the hardline Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab group launched a surprise attack at dawn on Saturday, they said.

“The town is quiet at the moment and the Shebab fighters have been defeated in violent fighting during the night,” the area’s traditional chief, Abdulahi Gedi, said.

The Ahlu Sunna Wal Jammaa group, which is allied to the Somali government, had fought off the attack and was in control, he said.

“We have sent two teams to fetch bodies on the streets inside and outside of the town. They have told us that the number of dead has reached 31 while 70 people were wounded in the fighting,” he said.

Residents had said on Saturday that at least 11 people had been killed.

Doctor Abdikarim Nurs said that 30 wounded civilians were admitted to his health centre since Saturday.

“The fighting was the most violent ever seen in Dhusamareb,” resident Hussein Moalim Mahad said. “The two sides fought each other for control of the town but eventually the Ahlu Sunna took the upper hand.”

A spokesman for the Ahlu Sunna militia, a moderate Islamic outfit that has taken up arms against more radical groups, also claimed victory.

“With the help of Allah, we have defeated the enemies of our religion who have been trained by foreigners. There are many of their bodies in the streets and we are getting ready to bury them,” Yussuf Al-Qadi said.

The Shebab could not be reached for comment.

The two groups also fought each other for control of Dhusamareb, near the border with Ethiopia, at the beginning of 2009.

The Shebab control large swathes of southern and central Somalia and has wrested control of much of the capital Mogadishu, where it has relentlessly attacked government and African Union forces.

The Ahlu Sunna was founded in 1991 to promote moderate Sufi Islam in Somalia. It renounced a posture of non-violence in early 2009 to take on the radical Shebab and their allies from the Hizb al-Islam movement.

The Ahlu Sunna does not fully recognise Somali President Sherif Sheikh Ahmed’s transitional government but it too wants to rid Somalia of the Shebab and its Al-Qaeda inspired ideology.

Full report at:


The irrationality of Islamophobia

January 3, 2010

By Janet Keeping

CALGARY, AB, Jan. 3, 2010/ — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Muslim from Nigeria and a passenger on a commercial airliner destined for Detroit, is charged with attempting to blow the plane up. The Christmas-day near-catastrophe was the perfect scenario to feed further fear of Muslims. It should not.

Certain strains of Islam, like some varieties of Christianity and other belief systems, preach seriously dangerous ideas. With careful thought we can sort the real threats to our peaceful, democratic way of life from what is harmless, that, is, “different”. Without such careful thought, we will get more irrational mistrust of everything Muslim – more Islamophobia, pure prejudice. Lazy thinking leads to the bad; careful reflection is necessary for the good.

Consider the Swiss ban on minarets, the towers adorning some mosques. There are four mosques in Switzerland with minarets. Nevertheless, organizers of the anti-minaret initiative are said to believe that “minarets represent the growth of an alien ideology and legal system that have no place in the Swiss democracy.” “Forced marriages [for example] – we don’t have that in Switzerland, and we don’t want to introduce it . . . Therefore, there’s no room for minarets in Switzerland.”

Faulty logic, bad thinking

The “logic” appears to be this: because minarets are an architectural detail associated with a religion, some forms of which are incompatible with modern European democracy, it is OK to prohibit the construction of minarets. This would be silly if it weren’t so frightening.

Don’t get me wrong. I am as much against forced marriage and other forms of oppression – so much of it directed towards women – as anyone (in fact, as an unabashed feminist, probably much more so). But the reasoning behind the anti-minaret vote is rubbish.

Consider some of the sorrier episodes in Christianity. Probably most infamous are the Crusades, a series of bloody military campaigns waged largely against Muslims to restore control over Middle Eastern lands viewed as holy by Christians. Things did not improve much over time – remember the Inquisition?

It is widely accepted that the Catholic Church was sympathetic to the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews and other minorities by the Nazis. Then there was the Dutch Reformed Church fervent support of Apartheid in South Africa. Strict division of races and the supposed superiority of whites lay at the heart of that religion’s teachings.

There is simply no doubt that enormous evil has been done in the name of Christianity or with the tacit support of some of its most prominent leaders. So should the Christian cross be banned? Of course not.

Full report at:


New York City's Muslims Report Harassment by Police

By Farah Akbar

Jan 2010

Photo (cc) threecee

Coming from a family with members who work in law enforcement, Yasmin Nasser used to look at police officers as honest, upstanding and there to protect all members of society. Today, though, Nasser said, she feels uneasy when she walks by cops and. for a brief period, tried staying away from them altogether.

The 20-year-old American citizen who resides in Saudi Arabia had come to New York City to visit family. Her trust in New York City's finest eroded the day she claims a police officer pulled her by the arm, told her to leave Rockefeller Center, where she had gone to see the Christmas tree, and called her a "terrorist." She was asked to provide identification to the officer, was subsequently accused of having phony identification and allegedly told, "Leave you terrorist, you shouldn't be here."

"It's so hard for me to believe that a cop could do this," said the Muslim woman who covers her head with the traditional headscarf (hijab) worn by some women who follow the Islamic faith. "I couldn’t get over it. I was in shock," she said.

Nasser has reported the matter to the Council of American Islamic Relations and plans on filing a report with the city Civilian Complaint Review Board once she returns to Saudi Arabia. She fears that making a complaint prior to her departure could disrupt her travel plans.

Advocates say that Nasser's story is not an isolated incident. Monami Maulik, executive director of Desis Rising Up And Moving (DRUM), an immigrants' rights organization in Jackson Heights, said that she has heard many such stories. Several other organizations say police harassment of Muslims is a genuine problem.

Encounters with Police

The Council of American Islamic Relations analyzed civil rights cases in 2008 by circumstances of occurrence. The group found encounters with police ranked sixth, following schools and prison. "Underreporting of hate crimes and police misconduct cases remains a real issue with American Muslims,” said the council's New York civil rights director Aliya Latif.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, law enforcement officials have worked on building a cooperative relationship with the American Muslim community in an effort to obtain valuable information related to terrorism and safety issues. Muslim groups worry that allegations of misconduct by law enforcement damage the fragile ties between the two groups. "We are concerned that incidents like these further alienate community members and contribute to an atmosphere of mistrust with law enforcement authorities," Latif said.

Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, agrees. "The evidence of any problem with law enforcement undermines any cooperation they may seek from Muslims," she said. "Even if there is a perception of harassment, it very naturally leads individuals to be cautious and reluctant to seek help from law enforcement, let alone report any suspicious activity."

A police officer, though, may see the situation differently. "Police officers may not always realize how they have come across to a civilian," said Graham Daw, a spokesperson for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the all-civilian board that investigates civil complaints about alleged misconduct on the part of the New York City Police Department. "Civilians are not always aware of the pressures under which police officers work or the powers with which they are vested in order to do their job."

The New York City Police Department was contacted numerous times to comment on this issue but did not respond.

According to DRUM, many Muslims have complained about being randomly approached by members of law enforcement in their own neighborhoods and apartment buildings and being asked about their whereabouts and about what they did for a living.

Maulik said that her organization has received hundreds of accounts of cases regarding police misconduct since Sept. 11, many from blue-collar workers such as street vendors and taxi drivers. She also hears stories from youth.

Slurs and Questions

Full report at:


Pak court remands American Muslim youths to judicial custody


Monday, January 4, 2010

LAHORE: A Pakistani court today remanded five American Muslim youths arrested for alleged terror links to judicial custody till January 18 and police said they were expected to be formally indicted at the next hearing.

The five youths, Waqar Hussain Khan, 22, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, Ramy Zamzam, 22, Iman Hassan Yemer, 17 and Omar Farooq, 24, were presented in the court in the eastern city of Sargodha amidst tight security.

The court directed authorities to free Omar Farooq's father Khalid Farooq, who was arrested with the youths, as police had filed no charges against him, Sargodha police chief Usman Anwar said.

The youths are expected to be formally charged at the next hearing on January 18, Anwar said.

Police have booked the youths under the Anti-Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code for hatching a criminal conspiracy against the state and plotting terrorist attacks in the country and abroad.

They could face life imprisonment if they are convicted. The youths were arrested in Sargodha last month after they contacted the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawah as part of efforts to join Al Qaida-linked groups that are fighting US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The youths were also questioned by the FBI.

The Lahore High Court ruled last month that the five suspects cannot be deported tor handed over to any foreign agency without its permission.


Blast rips in mansion of Muslim clan in S Philippines

Monday, 04 January 2010

 COTABATO, Philippines, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- A blast ripped through a mansion of a Muslim clan blamed in the massacre of 57 people last November, including journalists in the restive southern Philippines, police said on Monday.

Armed men detonated an improvised bomb fashioned from M-79 grenade at the back of the mansion of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr around 10 p.m. in the town proper of Shariff Aguak, said provincial police commander Senior Superintendent Alex Meneses.

Meneses said no one was hurt in the attack, and authorities blamed to members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an allegation denied by the rebel group.

Minutes later, another explosion occurred near a gasoline station owned by the Ampatuans in same village but there were no casualties.


Jordanians call on Egypt to honor Muslim obligation over Gaza

Monday, 04 January 2010

World Bulletin / News Desk

Dozens of Jordanians on Sunday gathered near the Egyptian embassy in Amman to protest Egypt's plan to construct an iron wall on Gaza border that has been already under years of Israel siege.

Protesters urged Egypt to stop building the wall, calling for popular pressure on Cairo to end its siege on the coastal enclave, Jordanian newspaper reported.

"Stop building the wall of shame," read one poster.

They said "Egypt must act within its moral obligation to the Arab and Muslim worlds by helping Gazans cope with their situation".

"Egypt should provide help to Gazans, not rub salt in their wounds," said protester Abdullah, holding a banner that read: "Together in resistance until victory".

The security forces cordoned off the area of the embassy building.

No clashes took place between demonstrators and police forces, but eyewitnesses told the Jordan Times that police arrested at least three activists ahead of the sit-in.

Cairo has also come under increasing criticism for refusal to let Viva Palestina aid convoy enter through the Nuweiba port on the Red Sea en route to Gaza.

The convoy was forced to make a debut to El Arish port on the Mediterranean Sea, an extra 20-hour trip.

The Viva Palestina convoy which started its journey on December 16, onboard a ship, sponsored by a Gulf businessman, arrived in Egyptian port on Monday one-week later after the date that they initially hoped to reach Gaza Strip on the first anniversary of Israel's 22-day offensive.

Israel killed nearly 1500 Palestinians and more than 5000 Gazans in the offensive.

1.5 million Gazans live under heavy Israel siege and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives since 2007.

A group of international lawyers and human rights activists accuse Israel of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Strip.

German court gives father life jail for honour killing of daughter Gulsum Semin

January 4, 2010

Full report at:


German court gives father life jail for honour killing of daughter Gulsum Semin

January 4, 2010

Germany; January 4, 2010; DPA reports: “A German court imprisoned a Kurdish man, 50, for life on Tuesday for ordering the “honour killing” of his own daughter after being told she had lost her virginity. A son and an Azeri friend lured the 20-year-old woman, Gulsum, to a lonely country road near the Dutch border, throttled her with a rope and clubbed her to death, inflicting horrific injuries to her face.”

“The state court at Kleve sentenced Gulsum’s brother, 20, to nine and a half years in youth prison, just short of the maximum youth sentence of 10 years. He and the victim were two out of three triplets. He had confessed to the killing after he was arrested.”

“His helper, 37, was jailed for seven and a half years.”

“Judges said they were convinced the only motive to murder Gulsum had been that she was no longer a virgin and had secretly undergone an abortion.”

“They said they were also convinced the father of 10, who denied the murder, had ordered his son to kill the sister.”

“The trio were accused of jointly murdering her in March.”

“Gulsum had rebelled against the family’s Muslim-oriented rules and after suffering several beatings at home, requested help from German social workers. They arranged for her to live in an apartment, but she later moved home to her family again.”


Indian Army Chief's reported remark draws flak in Pakistan

January 04, 2010,

Islamabad/New Delhi

: Pakistan's foreign minister and the country's main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Monday criticised the Indian Army chief's reported remarks that it was capable of fighting a two-front war with Pakistan and China

, saying it detracted from the war on terror.

"I am surprised at the statement of the Indian army chief. On the one hand, India talks of dialogue and than it backtracks on its own words," Online news agency quoted Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as telling reporters in Karachi.

"Gen (Deepak) Kapoor has done no service to his country or this region by giving such a statement," he added.

Qureshi said that the foreign office had given a "proper response" to the statement.

Addressing a press conference here later Monday, PML-N secretary general Mushahid Hussain sought a clarification on whether Kapoor's remarks, reportedly made at a seminar in New Delhi last week, constituted his own views or represented the official position of the India government.

Noting that Kapoor "out of the blue, talked of launching a war of aggression against two peaceful neighbours, Pakistan and China", Hussain urged the Pakistani government to take up the issue with the UN Security Co"ncil "so that the whole world should know who stands for peace and who is the enemy of peace in the region""

"Such a statement is tantamount to distracting attention from the common enemy of terrorism," the PML-N official added.

On Dec 31, the foreign office had termed Kapoor's statement "jingoistic", saying it "betrayed a hostile intent as well as a hegemonic and jingoistic mindset that was out of step with the realities of the"times".

"No one should ever underestimate our capability and determination to foil any nefarious designs against the security of Pakistan," foreign office spokesperson Abdul Basit said.

Speaking at a closed-door seminar in New Delhi last week, Kapoor is reported to have said that the Indian Army was ready to battle Pakistan and China at the same time.

Kapoor, the reports said, maintained that the Indian army, navy and the air force were effectively ready to simultaneously face Pakistan and China.

Neither the Indian Army nor the country's defence ministry commented on the statements emanating from Islamabad. The ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the army chief's comments reported in the media.


Yemen rules out US intervention

January 04, 2010

Yemen's foreign minister has ruled out direct US military intervention to tackle the al-Qaeda group operating in his country.

Abu Baker al-Qirbi made his remarks to Al Jazeera on Monday as the US and British embassies in the capital, Sanaa, remained closed to public following threats by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"Yemen is going to deal with terrorism in its own way, out of its own interests and therefore I don't think it will counterfire," al-Qirbi said.

"The negative impact on Yemen is if there is direct intervention of the US and this is not the case."

Yemen is battling to control an al-Qaeda movement estimated to have hundreds of fighters in the country, as well as so-called Houthi rebel fighters in the north of the country and a secessionist movement in the south.

Raid on al-Qaeda

At least two suspected al-Qaeda members were killed during a raid near Sanaa on Monday.

Officials said up to three other suspects had been wounded during the operation in the Arhab district, around 30km northeast of the capital.

The US and British embassies in the capital, Sanaa remained closed on Monday citing threats against foreign interests from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Security officials told The Associated Press news agency the raid was not connected to the threats that prompted the US and UK embassy closures.

The French embassy was also shut to the public on  Monday, while the Japanese mission suspended consular activities as Yemeni authorities increased security in the city.

John Brennan, the US president's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, warned on Sunday that "there are indications that al-Qaeda is planning an attack against a target in Sanaa".

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