New Age Islam
Mon Apr 22 2024, 11:01 AM

Islamic World News ( 1 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Ahmadi Muslims declared 'Wajibul Qatl' in Pak controlled Kashmir: Now they can be 'lawfully' killed by any one

Lashkar-e-Taiba bent on striking India again Lashkar-e-Taiba bent on striking India again

26/11 accused Kasab confessed voluntarily: Magistrate

Islam as politics in Malaysia By Simon Roughneen

Israeli Expert: Americans Will "Recuperate" If An Attack On Iran Produces Terrorism Here By M.J. Rosenberg

Outside View: A nuclear-armed Taliban? By LAWRENCE SELLIN

Human rights groups want Syariah whipping reviewed or repealed by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

Ahmadinejad's renewed attacks promt UN walkout

Israel to Receive Proof Shalit is Alive by Hana Levi Julian

G-20's rise recognizes diversity - Indonesian leader by Scott Malone

President Obama’s National Security Council Meeting on Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Terror on the Prairie: Zazi's Life in Colorado by Gretchen Peters

The jihadist style-journey: Germany’s election and after by Mina Al-Lami and Ben O’Loughlin,

Bekkay Harrach's broadcast

Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Terrorist Attack on Mumbai and a Memoir

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Ahmadi Muslims declared 'Wajibul Qatl' in Pak controlled Kashmir: Now they can be 'lawfully' killed by any one


Wednesday, 30 September 2009


QUADIAN (Punjab):  Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir has markedly increased in recent weeks and months, particularly in the Bhimber District.


A number of extremist organisations banned by the Government of Pakistan have continued to preach their hate filled messages by virtue of simply altering the names of their organisations. All available evidence strongly suggests that they are being supported, financially and otherwise, by a number of local politicians.


The situation has become extremely dangerous for the local Ahmadi population as the local clerics are issuing regular Fatwas pronouncing that all Ahmadis are 'Wajibul-Qatl' which means they can and should be lawfully killed due to their beliefs. Furthermore hateful and provocative literature is being published and disseminated amongst the masses in opposition to the Jamaat.


Ahmadis in the region are living in constant fear for their safety; their businesses and places of worship are becoming regular targets. The local authorities are urged to take action to bring an immediate end to all forms of persecution against the Ahmadi minority in the region. The Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Abid Khan said that "It is a great tragedy that in Pakistan both the government and clerics continue to violate the rights of their fellow citizens. Ahmadi Muslims are now facing heightened persecution in Azad-Kashmir due to the acts of terrorists and extremists who are spreading the teaching that Islam, God forbid, allows arbitrary murder in the name of Allah. They realise not that they themselves are the root cause of the misery that currently pervades Pakistan and continues to escalate.



Lashkar-e-Taiba bent on striking India again

Lydia Polgreen and Souad Mekhennet, NYT News Service 30 September 2009


KARACHI: Ten months after the devastating attacks in Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants, the group behind the assault remains largely intact and determined to strike India again, according to current and former members of the group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and a range of intelligence officials.

 Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant groups operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, Lashkar has persisted, even flourished, since 10 recruits killed 163 people in a rampage through Mumbai, India’s financial capital, last November.

 Indian and Pakistani dossiers on the Mumbai investigations, copies of which were obtained by The New York Times, offer a detailed picture of the operations of a Lashkar network that spans Pakistan. It included four houses and two training camps here in this sprawling southern port city that were used to prepare the attacks.

 Among the organizers, the Pakistani document says, was Hammad Amin Sadiq, a homeopathic pharmacist, who arranged bank accounts and secured supplies. He and six others begin their formal trial on Saturday in Pakistan, though Indian authorities say the prosecution stops well short of top Lashkar leaders.

 Indeed, Lashkar’s broader network endures, and can be mobilized quickly for elaborate attacks with relatively few resources, according to a dozen current and former Lashkar militants and intelligence officials from the United States, Europe, India and Pakistan.

 In interviews with The Times, they presented a troubling portrait of Lashkar’s capabilities, its popularity in Pakistan and the support it has received from former officials of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment.

 Pakistan’s chief spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, helped create Lashkar two decades ago to challenge Indian control in Kashmir, the disputed territory that lies at the heart of the conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

 Pakistani officials say that after 9/11 they broke their contacts with the group. No credible evidence has emerged of Pakistani government involvement in the Mumbai attacks, according to an American law enforcement official.

 But a senior American intelligence official said the ISI was believed to maintain ties with Lashkar. Four Lashkar members, interviewed individually, said only a thin distance separated Lashkar and the ISI, bridged by former ISI and military officials.

 One highly placed Lashkar militant said that the Mumbai attackers were part of groups trained by former Pakistani military and intelligence officials at Lashkar camps. Others had direct knowledge that retired army and ISI officials trained Lashkar recruits as late as last year.

 "Some people of the ISI knew about the plan and closed their eyes," said one senior Lashkar operative in Karachi who said he had met some of the gunmen before they left for the Mumbai assault, though he did not know what their mission would be.

 The intelligence officials interviewed insisted on anonymity while discussing classified information. The current and former Lashkar militants did not want their names used for fear of antagonizing others in the group or Pakistani authorities.

 But by all accounts Lashkar’s network, though dormant, remains alive, and the possibility that it could strike India again makes Lashkar a wild card in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

 India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they were created by the bloody partition of British India in 1947. Whether they begin again the long journey toward peace or find themselves eyeball to eyeball, nuclear arms at the ready, depends in no small measure on the actions of this shadowy group.

 A new attack could reverberate widely through the region and revive nagging questions about Pakistan’s commitment to stamp out the militant groups that use its territory.

 It could also dangerously complicate the Obama administration’s efforts in Afghanistan. Success there depends in part on avoiding open conflict between India and Pakistan, so that Pakistan’s military can focus on battling the Taliban insurgents who base themselves in Pakistan.

 Even so, American diplomatic efforts to improve India-Pakistan relations have been stillborn. So sensitive is the Kashmir issue that Indian officials bridle at any hint of American mediation.

 Meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the two sides failed to restart talks last weekend, with India demanding greater steps by Pakistan to prosecute those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

 The dossiers show that at the level of the police, the two countries can cooperate, and have exchanged DNA evidence, photographs and items found with the attackers to piece together a detailed portrait of the Mumbai plot.

 But the files are laced with barbs and recriminations, reflecting the acid tenor of their relations. Despite pledges to work together to fight terrorism, the Pakistani and Indian intelligence services are not on speaking terms, according to officials in both countries and the United States. The gaps heighten the risks of a new attack substantially, American officials fear.

 "The only cooperation we have with the Pakistanis is that they send us their terrorists, who kill our people, and we kill their terrorists," said a senior Indian intelligence official in an interview.

 Asked how much his agency communicated with its Indian counterpart, a senior Pakistani intelligence official made an O with his thumb and forefinger.

 "Zero," he replied.


 The Pakistani investigation concludes "beyond any reasonable doubt" that it was Lashkar militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks, preying on their victims in a train station, two five-star hotels, a cafe and a Jewish center over three days starting last Nov. 26.

 According to testimony by the only surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, 22, Lashkar recruits were vetted and trained around the country, including at well-established camps in Muzaffarabad, in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, as well as in Mansehra, in North-West Frontier province.

 A core group, the 10 chosen for the Mumbai assault, was eventually moved to Karachi and its suburbs, where the real drilling began and where Pakistani investigators later retraced the plotters’ steps. Beginning as early as May 2008, the group trained and planned brazenly while living in various neighborhoods in and around Karachi. They made scores of calls using cell phones, some with stolen numbers, starting in August. They set up voice lines over the Internet.

 At one water sports shop, they bought inflatable boats, air pumps, life jackets and engines. One of their training camps, with five thatched rooms and a three-room house, was located near a creek, where they conducted water drills in the open.

 Police later recovered an abundance of evidence: militant literature, pocket diaries, spent and live ammunition, empty gun magazines, life vests and receipts for supplies, including distributed weapons and explosives, the Pakistani dossier says.

 At the other camp, which they named Azizabad, the group and their trainers set up a classroom.

 Using handwritten manuals, the recruits were trained how to use mobile phones to keep in contact with their handlers during the attack. They pored over detailed maps of the Indian coastline, plotting the course they would take to Mumbai. They learned how to use global positioning devices.

 Working from Millat Town, a dusty, middle-class Karachi suburb on the eastern edge of the city, Sadiq organized the cadre. Neighbors described him as quiet and pious, riding around the streets with his two young sons perched on his motorbike. The Pakistani dossier says he was a committed Lashkar militant.

 In an interview, his uncle, Lala Yasin, said the same, adding proudly that Sadiq was willing to do anything to liberate Kashmir from India’s grip.

 "Lashkar-e-Taiba does not kill people without reason," Yasin said at his home in Karachi, a few blocks from where his nephew planned the Mumbai attacks.

 "It is the champion of jihad," he explained. "Muslims are like a body and if one part of your body is aching, the entire body may be jeopardized."


 Pakistani authorities have arrested seven men linked to the Mumbai attack, including Sadiq and Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a man well known as the chief of operations for Lashkar. They are searching for at least 13 other suspects.

 But their investigation has come up short of the founder of Lashkar, Hafiz Saeed, the man Indian and Western officials accuse of masterminding the attacks.

 In June, a Pakistani court freed Saeed from detention, declaring it did not have enough evidence to hold him. He now has an international warrant out for his arrest, issued by Interpol.

 Under continuing pressure, Pakistani authorities this month confined his movements once again. But they say they have no new evidence against him.

 Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, said that there is simply not enough evidence to charge Saeed with a crime, and that all the evidence pointed to Lakhvi as the mastermind.

 "Lakhvi was the head, and that is why he has been taken into custody," Malik said in an interview. "He has been charged and now they are all under trial."

 Indian officials say they have sent Pakistan a six-page summary of evidence of Saeed’s complicity in the Mumbai attacks, a copy of which was given to The New York Times. The document, based on India’s own intelligence and testimony from Kasab, quotes Saeed giving detailed instructions to the group that carried out the attack.

 "One Hindustani boat has to be hijacked for going to Bombay from Karachi," the document says, using Mumbai’s former name. Saeed also told the group that it should aim to begin the assault at about 7:30 p.m.

 "At this hour there is considerable crowd at the places of our target," the document quotes him as saying.

 Pakistani officials and legal experts say the evidence is not as clear-cut as India says. The case against Saeed rests almost entirely on the testimony of Kasab, the surviving attacker, and serious questions remain about the way the Indian police obtained his statements, they say.

 Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the organization Saeed now leads, bills itself as a charity and denies any links with Lashkar. Abdur Rahman Makki, Saeed’s deputy and brother-in-law, called any accusations against Saeed baseless.

 "I do not think that there is anything left to talk about after the High Court’s decision that Hafez Saeed has no link to the Mumbai incident," he said in an interview.

 Yet he was not shy about admitting that Saeed, a fiery preacher, regularly exhorted young people to fight in Kashmir. "Hafiz Saeed always speaks and discusses about the jihad that is mentioned in the Holy Koran," Makki said. "Not only Pakistanis, any Muslim has the duty to support the oppressed Kashmiris."

 All parts of India where Muslims are a majority must be freed, he said.


 For Pakistani authorities, the political problems posed by arresting Saeed, or undertaking a broader crackdown on Lashkar, may outstrip the legal ones.

 The organization and its cause – to "free" Kashmir – remain close to the hearts of the Pakistani public as well as the military and intelligence establishment.

 Since the Mumbai attacks, "our funds increased and more people wanted to join us," a senior Lashkar operative in Karachi said in an interview. A midlevel ISI officer told The Times this year that Lashkar’s membership extends to 150,000 people.

 Despite official denials, Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, maintains links to Lashkar, though the current level of support remains murky, according to the senior American intelligence official interviewed by The Times, as well as Pakistani analysts, retired military officials and former Lashkar members.

 "Hafiz Saeed is the army’s man," said Najam Sethi, an analyst and newspaper editor in Lahore, Pakistan. He and other analysts said the ISI was in no hurry to discard a group it helped create for a covert war against India.

 "They have not abandoned it altogether," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military analyst in Lahore. "It is not a total reversal; it is a realization that this is not advisable at this time."

 Senior ISI officials disputed the view. While acknowledging that the ISI had worked closely with Lashkar-e-Taiba in the past, they said things were different now.

 "Prior to 9/11, we had a very strong contact with LET, even on the leadership level," one senior Pakistani intelligence official said in an interview. "But after 9/11, we broke our contacts with not only LET but also the Taliban."

 "Today we think that it would have been better if we had not cut our ties with them the way we did," the official added, "so that we could control them more."

 A senior Lashkar militant said the group was divided, with the operational wing, led by Lakhvi, chafing for more attacks on India, and the spiritual wing, led by Saeed, advocating a more cautious approach.

 The senior Pakistani intelligence official said that some within Lashkar might aspire to a more ambitious agenda, and suggested that parts of the group might have acted on their own.

 "Lashkar went rogue," the Pakistani intelligence official said. "Perhaps LET or dissident factions wanted to emerge as a global player," like al-Qaida.


 Even as new details emerge about the Mumbai attacks, senior American military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials express grim certainty that Lashkar is plotting new attacks.

 The United States warned Indian officials earlier this year about a Mumbai-style attack by Lashkar against multiple sites in India, according to a senior Defense Department official and a senior American counterterrorism official.

 The counterterrorism official said the information, gleaned from electronic intercepts and other sources, was not specific and apparently did not result in any arrests. But it was significant enough for American officials to alert their Indian counterparts.

 "There were indications of possible terrorist activity in the run-up to the Indian elections," in May, "and that information was shared promptly with Indian officials," said the counterterrorism official.

 Pakistani officials, however, say they have been kept in the dark. "We heard that the Americans have warned the Indians that something in Mumbai might happen, but no one informed us," a senior Pakistani intelligence official said.

 If there is one thing on which intelligence agencies on both sides of the border agree, it is that the consequences of a new attack by Lashkar could be devastating.

 "We do fear that if something like Mumbai happens in India again, there might be a military reaction from the Indian side and it could trigger into a war," said a senior intelligence official in Pakistan. "Right now we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again, because we do not have any control over it."



26/11 accused Kasab confessed voluntarily: Magistrate

PTI 30 September 2009

MUMBAI: A city Magistrate on Wednesday told the 26/11 trial court that prime accused Ajmal Amir Kasab had confessed about his role in the terror attacks voluntarily before her, saying he wanted others to draw inspiration from his confession. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant Vagule said Kasab was produced before her on February 17 where he said he wanted to confess.

He was given 24 hours to reconsider if he wished to confess, she said.

"On February 18, when Kasab was produced again before me, he reiterated that he wanted to confess. He showed no remorse for his crime and told me that he wanted to confess so that others may derive inspiration from his action," Vagule told the Court.

"I also conducted a physical examination on Kasab and found that he had two injuries on his wrist which he said he had sustained during firing in the attacks, the Magistrate said.

Full Article at:


Islam as politics in Malaysia

By Simon Roughneen, Oct 1, 2009

PENANG - Two years after cancelling her last scheduled concert in the country, United States pop star Beyonce announced this month that she would perform in the Malaysian capital in late October. Her 2007 gig was cancelled after the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) - a party that forms part of the opposition coalition - threatened protests. "We are against Western sexy performances. We don't think our people need that," said PAS spokesman Sabki Yusof at the time.

Beyonce's about-turn comes despite a raft of piety-tinged controversies in recent weeks, including the sharia law sentencing of a 32-year-old woman and an Indonesian national to six lashes for drinking alcohol in public. The government did an about-turn of its own, rescinding a ban on Muslims - who make up around 60% of the population - from attending a Black Eyed Peas concert in the capital Kuala Lumpur on September 26. That gig was part of a global series of events to mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of Irish beer giant Guinness.


While political Islam has recently gained traction and plenty of profile in Malaysia, there is no indication the trend could acquire the violent edge that marks counterparts in the Philippines, southern Thailand and parts of Indonesia. Some have noted that until recently, Southeast Asia's most wanted Islamist terrorist, Noordin Mohammed Top, was a Malaysian national. Noordin was killed in a shootout with Indonesia's counter-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, this month.


Issues of political Islam - somewhere between "Western sexy" on the one hand, and jihadi terror on the other - are expected to weigh on Malaysia's national discourse. The opposition PAS and ruling United National Malays Organization (UMNO) - the biggest party in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and long-time dominant force in national politics - are now competing in a sort of a sharia-promoting race-to-the bottom while trying to maintain alliances with their wary political allies, including moderate Muslim Malays, Christian Chinese, Hindu Malay-Indians and other secularists.


Malaysia's last elections, held in March 2008, made history by ending the BN's two-thirds parliamentary majority, which the coalition had maintained throughout Malaysia's post-independence history and ensured its dominance over the legislative process. The opposition, comprising the Chinese secular Democratic Action Party (DAP), PAS and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, won 82 seats in the 222-member parliament as well as control of five of Malaysia's 13 states, including Penang, which the BN coalition lost control of for the first time.


Anwar made a play to lure a group of BN parliamentarians representing the states of Sabah and Sarawak to cross over to the opposition and topple the UMNO-led government on September 16, 2008, the date marking the anniversary of when the neglected eastern states joined with peninsular Malaya to form Malaysia, in 1963. (Singapore seceded and became an independent country in 1965.)


That came and went without success, and since new Prime Minister Najib Razak took office in April this year, he has tried to claw back some of the lost electoral ground by making changes to the New Economic Policy (NEP), an affirmative action program implemented in 1970 to help Malays attain equal economic footing with more prosperous minority groups, but which many Malaysians feel has long been submerged in cronyism and graft.

Full Article at:


Israeli Expert: Americans Will "Recuperate" If An Attack On Iran Produces Terrorism Here

By M.J. Rosenberg - September 29, 2009

This is from NPR's All Things Considered yesterday. Peter Kenyon talks to Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Studies about the ramifications of a military strike against Iran. Kenyon asks Inbar about potential blow back here. Here is Inbar's response. Note: Inbar is not an extremist but a highly respected and credentialed Israel academic and expert on military strategy.

First Inbar addresses the west's resistance to going to war.

"In Western Europe, they have a strategic culture which views military action as something anachronistic, a thing of the past. Maybe Obama administration has changed somewhat its tone, but I must say that in the Middle East, Obama is still viewed as very weak. And I don't think that another Obama speech will impress very much the Iranian elite."

Then he explains why the fear of terrorist attacks here is no reason not to attack Iran. We can learn to live with terrorism.

"Even 9/11 is something that America recuperated [from], you know, within a few months. The attacks on London, on Madrid, were things which those two countries were able to absorb relatively easily despite the tragedy in the loss of lives. Israel obviously has been subject to terrorism for so many years, and we have learned to live with it. So, terrorism is something that should not deter, you know, the West from attacking Iranian nuclear sites."

Full Article at:


Outside View: A nuclear-armed Taliban?

Sept. 29, 2009

By LAWRENCE SELLIN, UPI Outside View Commentator

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A nuclear-armed Taliban? It may not be as far-fetched as it might first appear.

The Taliban already control or have a significant presence in northwest Pakistan along a critical stretch of the Afghan border. Taliban units operate with relative impunity in the region surrounding Peshawar, Pakistan's major population, commercial and transportation centre less than 100 miles from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

Dominance of Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the pivotal northwest region of Pakistan provides not only a sanctuary and training centres for attacks on Afghanistan, but it has become a base of operations to weaken any pro-Western sentiments among the Pakistani people and the government in Islamabad.


Not the least of which are the attacks the Taliban and al-Qaida have mounted against Pakistani nuclear sites in the neighbouring province of Punjab. According to an article published in the Long War Journal by Bill Roggio, attacks on the Kamra and Sargodha air bases may have been designed to intimidate officers either on the fence or who do not support the Islamists and erode the military's capacity to defend nuclear installations. The Taliban's control of northwest Pakistan and its strong presence, along with al-Qaida, in Quetta and Baluchistan province in general is a threat to the status quo in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


If unchecked, an unambiguous Taliban victory in Afghanistan will not only produce mass executions on a scale not seen since the killing fields of Pol Pot's Cambodia and a refugee crisis like Darfur, but it will produce massive political aftershocks and enormously strengthen the hand of radical elements throughout the region. We are only fooling ourselves if we believe that a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan will not become a center for the export of radical Islamic ideology and terrorism.

According to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recent assessment: "Afghanistan's insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups and are reported aided by some elements of Pakistan's (intelligence service)."

With a base of operations already existing in western Pakistan, a Taliban victory in Afghanistan will only increase the likelihood of radical elements challenging for control of the Pakistani government. If turmoil breaks out in Pakistan, the United States and its allies may be placed in the unenviable position of securing Pakistani nuclear sites -- at least those of which we are aware. Even without a change in government, a more radical Pakistan may increase the possibility of nuclear proliferation. Case in point is that of radical Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who allegedly provided critical nuclear secrets to rogue states such as Iran and North Korea or, more ominously, to terrorist groups.

Full Article at:


Human rights groups want Syariah whipping reviewed or repealed

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

PETALING JAYA, Sept 30 — Human rights groups urged the government today to review or repeal existing provisions on whipping under the Syariah Criminal Offences Act, arguing that it had no basis in Islamic legal theory.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and National Human Rights Society (Hakam) told a press conference today that whipping was also against human rights.

They described whipping under Syariah laws as “unconstitutional, conflicting with the Federal Constitution as well as overlapping with the Penal Code and several other laws.”

The call for a review of Islamic enactments was sparked by the controversy over the case of 32-year-old part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno who has been sentenced to six strokes of the rotan as well as a fine of RM5,000 for drinking beer at a Pahang nightclub.

“The whipping of Kartika is in conflict with the Federal Constitution as women should not be subjected to corporal punishment,” said Dr Hamidah Marican of Sisters In Islam (SIS).

She noted that SIS has filed a separate application for a revision and stay of execution of Kartika’s whipping but the application has yet to be heard by the Pahang High Court.

“We are also puzzled at the speed with which the Syariah Court is intent on carrying out the sentence when so many civil society organisations and prominent individuals and scholars have expressed doubt as to the propriety of the maximum sentence of a fine of RM5,000 and six strokes of whipping imposed on Kartika, a first offender, who had pleaded guilty and expressed remorse on many occasions."

The NGOs said they were concerned that the Syariah Court is “taking to heart” the statement made by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs, Maj-Gen Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, that the lack of implementation of the whipping sentence had contributed to the increase in Syariah-related crimes each year as people think that the laws are “too trivial.”

Moon Wui, campaign coordinator for SUARAM, called whipping a form of torture. “Malaysia wishes to contest again for the United Nations Human Rights Council, this would not look good on the country’s human rights record,” said Wui.

Full Article at:


Ahmadinejad's renewed attacks promt UN walkout


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to the opening statement at the 64th U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23. (Reuters/Ray Stubblebine)

UNITED NATIONS — Under increasing attack over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23 that Tehran was ready to meet conciliation with conciliation.

Ahmadinejad spoke to a half-empty chamber as he sought to cast himself as a beleaguered champion of the developing world, which he portrayed as under attack from rapacious capitalism. The U.S., Israeli and Canadian delegations were among those that boycotted the speech to protest his persistent denial of the Holocaust.

Moments before he spoke, foreign ministers of six global powers told reporters on the sidelines of the General Assembly that they expect Iran to come clean about its nuclear programme. Tougher sanctions against Iran are being considered if talks between the powers and Iran on the issue on Oct. 1 do not yield results.

The Iranian leader also peppered his speech with religious references, but most of it focused on his usual themes and featured scathing verbal attacks on archenemy Israel and the West.

The German delegation leaves the floor during remarks by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Full Article at:


Israel to Receive Proof Shalit is Alive

by Hana Levi Julian

( Israel is set to receive proof that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive, more than three years after he was abducted by Hamas terrorists in a cross-border raid near the Kerem Shalom Crossing. An announcement was made by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Jerusalem.

In a joint statement issued simultaneously in Jerusalem, Cairo and Gaza, negotiators revealed that Israel will release 20 Palestinian Authority female terrorist prisoners, in exchange for a videotape proving that Gilad Shalit is alive.

"The Security Cabinet has decided to release 20 Palestinian female security prisoners and detainees, in accordance with the proposal by the team responsible for negotiating the release of Gilad Shalit," read the PMO statement. "According to the mediators' proposal, Israel will receive updated and unequivocal proof regarding the well-being and status of Gilad Shalit.  Proof that he is alive will be delivered to Israel by the mediators in the form of a recently recorded video tape."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commended chief negotiator Haggai Hadas and the negotiating team for their professional work far from the public eye, and said, "It is important that the entire world know that Gilad Shalit is alive and well and that Hamas is responsible for his well-being and fate."

 According to the PMO, the Security Cabinet decided to respond to the Egyptian initiative as a confidence-building measure in the framework of the indirect negotiations. "All of this is ahead of the decisive stages in the negotiations for Gilad Shalit's release and on the basis of the Government of Israel's determination to bring him back home quickly while upholding the State of Israel's vital interests," the statement said.

Full Article at:


G-20's rise recognizes diversity - Indonesian leader

Wed Sep 30, 2009

By Scott Malone

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - Indonesia's president called the naming of the group of 20 nations as the new forum for steering the world economy a good step towards recognizing the diversity of modern society and called on world powers next to rethink the makeup of the United Nations Security Council.

"The G-20 is representative of a multi-civilisational global community," said Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who leads the world's most populous Muslim country. "Perhaps this is why the G-20 has been successful in arresting a global meltdown."

At last week's summit in Pittsburgh, the G-20 nations -- a grouping that includes emerging nations such as China, India and Indonesia -- said the larger forum would replace the rich nations' G7 club as the world's main economic parley.

In a speech he described as a response to U.S. President Barack Obama's June address in Cairo that sought to change Muslim perceptions of the United States, Yudhoyono said the next step to addressing the changing balance of global power would be to reform the Security Council.

"The U.N. Security Council of today still reflects the power balance of 1945, rather than 2009, with exclusive veto powers reserved for four Western nations and China," Yudhoyono said in the speech at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his son is a student.

"The situation is unsustainable. The U.N. Security Council will need to be restructured to keep up with the 21st Century political realities."

Full Article at:


President Obama’s National Security Council Meeting on Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

September 29, 2009

Tomorrow at 3 pm in the White House Situation Room, President Obama will discuss future strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Attendees include:

• Vice President Joe Biden

• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

• Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke

• US Ambassador to Afghanistan Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry (by remote)

• US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson (by remote)

• Secretary of Defence Roberts Gates

• Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

• General David Petraeus, commander US Central Command

• General Stanley McChrystal, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (by remote)

• White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

• Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair

• Director of the CIA Leon Panetta

• US Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Susan Rice

• National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones

• Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon

• White House Assistant to the President on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan

• Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough

• Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan Lt. Gen. Douglas Edward Lute

Among the issues they will debate:

How best to focus on dismantling al Qaeda?

Does providing security for the provinces against the Taliban make sense if most al Qaeda are now in Pakistan?

Can the success of the surge in Iraq be replicated in a country of harsher terrain that is 80,000 square miles larger, not nearly as advanced in terms of government or economy?

Does the Taliban pose an existential threat to the U.S.? If not, need they be defeated?

Does “nation-building” in Afghanistan make sense if it’s not clear that nation can be built?

Will allowing the Taliban to reconstitute itself even further allow al Qaeda more safe havens?

Is Hamid Karzai more albatross than ally? Stay tuned.



Terror on the Prairie: Zazi's Life in Colorado

By Gretchen Peters / Denver Tuesday, Sep. 29, 2009

On the third island outside the bustling arrivals terminal at the Denver International Airport, shuttle-bus and van drivers hustle for passengers heading into town. "You need a ride, lady?" calls a Somali driver as a woman glides her black suitcase across the taxi lane. "Only $23 to downtown," shouts his competition.

Until last week, when he was arrested for allegedly lying to the feds in a terrorism investigation, Najibullah Zazi, 24, was a regular fixture touting for customers on the shuttle lane. Other drivers remember him, describing his tightly trimmed mustache and scraggly beard, standing in front of the white van bearing the company's name, First ABC Transportation Inc., painted in neat navy blue block letters. Unlike most drivers at ABC, who drove eight- or nine-hour shifts, Zazi routinely worked 16-to-18-hour days, often putting in as many as 80 hours a week ferrying passengers to and from DIA. "He was a regular kind of guy, but he worked hard and he wanted money," says Hicham Semmaml, a Moroccan-born ABC driver. "I would have never suspected any of this." (Read the three key questions about the Zazi case.)

Zazi has been indicted for conspiring to detonate weapons of mass destruction. Richard Gross, a spokesman for ABC Transportation, told Denver's 9 News that Zazi didn't appear to be particularly political or religiously fanatic to his co-workers, many of whom are also Muslim. "He kept to himself pretty much, and he never gave any outward signs of being connected with anybody," Gross said. (Read how the Zazi terrorism probe could help U.S. intelligence.)

But appearances can be deceiving. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed details of the case against Zazi, accusing him of receiving bomb-making education from al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, of purchasing components in beauty-supply shops around the Denver suburb of Aurora for mixing explosives, and of traveling to New York City to advance an as yet undisclosed terrorism plot. Arrested along with his father Mohammed Wali Zazi and a New York City cleric, he could face up to life imprisonment if convicted.

Zazi was born in Afghanistan's war-torn border region, moving to Pakistan at age 7 and then to New York in 1999. He spent just nine months living in Aurora, initially moving in with an aunt and uncle who own a brick townhouse in a manicured development at the edge of the parched Colorado prairie. More recently, he moved into a nearby two-bedroom apartment, which he shared with his father and two brothers until they were evicted shortly before the arrests. With more than $50,000 in credit-card debt, Zazi declared bankruptcy last March.

Full Article at:,8599,1926685,00.html


The jihadist style-journey: Germany’s election and after

Mina Al-Lami and Ben O’Loughlin, 29 - 09 - 2009

A video-letter from a purported al-Qaida soldier calling on Germany to end its military involvement in Afghanistan has heightened security concerns in the country before and after the election. But it is Bekkay Harrach's "western" appearance as much as his message that deserves scrutiny, say Mina Al-Lami & Ben O'Loughlin.  

The general election in Germany on 27 September 2009 has seen the Christian Democratic Party again emerge as the largest party, giving Angela Merkel the opportunity to extend her term as chancellor and head a new governing coalition with the Free Democratic Party led by Guido Westerwelle. The election campaign was unusual in that foreign affairs, and especially Germany's military role in Afghanistan, played a prominent role - and in a way that has serious domestic-security consequences.

The debate over Afghanistan began to feature strongly in the campaign after an incident on 4 September when Bundeswehr commanders requested an air-strike in Kunduz province against two fuel-trucks that had been hijacked by the Taliban, which led to the death of dozens of Afghan civilians. It intensified on 18 September with the broadcast of a new "video-letter" by Bekkay Harrach, a 32-year-old German citizen of Moroccan origin and purported al-Qaida "soldier". The message of "Abu Talha al-Almani [the German]" (as Harrach is also known) echoes that in his earlier such videos, released in October 2008 and January 2009: he urges the German people to take responsibility for electing a government that will withdraw from Afghanistan, and says that their failure to do so would legitimise violent (and economically destructive) al-Qaida attacks against them.


The re-emergence of a jihadi threat increased security concerns in Germany in the last stages of the campaign. These are likely to continue long after the election. On the eve of the vote, an audio-announcement from Osama bin Laden himself was posted on jihadist websites; this "message to the European people" called on European states to pull their forces from Afghanistan or bear the consequences, but of immediate significance is that German as well as English subtitles are provided. In the wake of the election, on 28 September, German security agencies detained two men in Munich said to have links with Harrach amid warnings of a possible threat to the famous Oktoberfest in the city.


It has been a regular part of the jihadist armoury during the 2000s to "intervene" around the time of elections in western states. The Madrid railway bombings of 11 March 2004 came three days before the election in Spain, which resulted in the arrival in power of a new centre-left government committed to withdrawing its troops from Iraq; Osama bin Laden's video-message to the American people on 29 October 2004 was released four days before the presidential poll  that led to George W Bush's re-election; the London bombings of 7 July 2005 took place a month after Britain's general election, and were followed by the broadcast of a video by the leader of the jihadi cell that perpetrated them, Mohammed Siddique Kahn.


In the context of this pattern of events - and especially of the "style" of the jihadist videos that have been posted over these years - there is something new and significant about Bekkay Harrach's "product" of 18 September 2009. Jihadist leaders and sympathisers have always devoted careful attention to the appearance of the messenger as well as the content of their message - and have adopted varying poses, from the gun-wielding desert-commander look to the headscarved, finger-pointing militant. The sensation of Harrach's latest broadcast is that he was dressed in a suit and tie, and was clean-shaven - the very model of a "clerical terrorist", even down to his long wavy hair.


Bekkay Harrach's broadcast

The image and the message

Bekkay Harrach's unconventional new look bears no resemblance to the tough-looking, weapon-brandishing, Afghan-styled jihadist of earlier videos. In October 2008, he sat in a mountainous area holding a bazooka with ammunition strapped to his chest, his head and face covered in black cloth with only his eyes visible. "Abu Talha" took aim at imaginary targets and fired some rounds. He was then shown sitting beside a rifle against a black background, issuing his warnings while raising an index finger in the approved fashion for emphasis. The aesthetics and tone of his January 2009 video-message were similar.


These precedents made the look and feel of the pre-election video all the more remarkable. Here, Harrach looks like any other modern-looking young man on the street and sounds like a soft-spoken and even shy adolescent, talking in a flat monotone without hand movements. The bright-red silk-curtain background is also a far cry from the rocky outcrops and weaponry of previous settings. In addition, the video announces itself as being presented by al-Qaida itself and not the as-Sahab media wing previously credited for Harrach's work.


The switch to a more "gentle" appearance and tone, and to a relatively more "conciliatory" title ("Security is a Mutual Interest"), is to some extent mirrored in the content. Harrach repeatedly thanks the German government for extricating him from difficult situations in the middle east, acknowledges the German security forces for not harming his family despite knowing of his activities, and commends some of Germany's international policies; at one point he says: "we must bear in mind that Germany doesn't have blood on its hands like colonial states, the majority of its people want their troops out of Afghanistan, and most of all Germany's strong refusal to take part in the Iraq war."

Full Article at:


Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Terrorist Attack on Mumbai and a Memoir

September 30, 2009

If you're looking for some compelling reading online, The Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown is here to help. Two of her favourite reads revolve around Islamic fundamentalism; a third is a revealing look at writer Harold Pinter.

.As Brown tells NPR's Steve Inskeep, one of her favourite bits of new magazine writing is "Anatomy of a Siege," by Marie Brenner, on the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India

The Vanity Fair article chronicles a very long and fateful day at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel. "She writes in this wonderfully cinematic style," Brown says.

The article inundates readers in the lives and details of the people caught up in the attack. "When a catastrophe hits, we often wonder, 'How would we have fared in a siege?'" she says.

"[Brenner] introduces you to these characters, and describes what happened to them as their fate gradually closed in on them," she says.

"I think the test of a good magazine story," Inskeep said, "is that by the time I get to the end, I feel like I didn't know the story at all." "Well, I agree," Brown said. "I think she's done an amazing job about that." Brown has been writing columns at The Daily Beast about Afghanistan, and particularly Afghan women. She says she's bothered that Afghan women haven't been part of the discussion about what the U.S. and its allies should do in Afghanistan.

"I'm not suggesting that we should all necessarily stay in Afghanistan simply for the plight of women there," she says, "but I do think we should stop regarding them as simply the collateral damage of war, and remind ourselves that if we do pull out of Afghanistan, we cast them back into the darkness from which they've only recently been released."

And when it's done well, she says, "There is really nothing more enjoyable."

Full Article at: