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Islamic World News ( 16 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iran issues warning on opposition internet use

Catholic-Muslim-Hindu-Protestant-Buddhist-Jewish leaders in “interfaith hug”

Afghan lawmakers reject majority of Cabinet picks

Somali militants kill 138 in two-week battle

US images show how Osama Bin Laden may look

Five killed in Kenya mosque riots

 ‘Lashkar member displayed to Headley a styrofoam mockup of the Taj Mahal hotel’

British al-Qaeda hub 'is biggest in West'

Why is the American press silent on the Israeli role in NW Flight 253?

Malaysia: Muslim leaders condemn attacks on Christians in Malaysia

Hindi-speaking Lashkar controller helped Mumbai assault

Why I hold a jihad at the White House

US releases names of prisoners at Bagram, Afghanistan

Headley attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan

US officers face investigation over Fort Hood suspect

Suicide bomb attack in Kashmir hurts soldiers

Two British soldiers die in Afghanistan explosion

Rum bottle thrown at Malaysia mosque amid tension

Kenya to deport Muslim cleric without delay

Global meet on Tipu Sultan opens in Mysore

Suspects in Egypt's church attack to face emergency security court

Major Hasan’s Smooth Ascension

Cops don't buy BSF line on teen 'suicide bomber'

Pak handlers wanted to swap 26/11 hostages for Kasab, says US chargesheet

Correct distorted picture of Islam

Lebanese Muslim accuses Christian teacher of veil snatching

419 email scam asks Muslim brotherhood for help

Qaida threat pushes US to up air security

US kills wanted terrorist in missile strike in Pak

Pak President Asif Ali Zardari's power to appoint army chief slashed: Report

2 Pakistanis charged with Headley, Rana for Mumbai attack

Two killed as militants attack Sopore PS twice

Kasab’s denial mode continues

Tape hints at Indian national in 26/11 control room

French leaders push for ban of Muslim dress in public places

Terrorism Carries No Profile

Malaysian held for threats to attack Hindu temple

Face to faith: We must all work at challenging how Muslims are seen

Jerusalem and Baku enjoy stable political dialogue

Pastor stages own protest against CAIR Says huge mosque project will be used to recruit radicals

Arab World: The Egypt-Hamas collision course

Suicide bombers are a threat to humanity

Gus Dur: A champion of pluralism

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Iran issues warning on opposition internet use

 16 January 2010

Opposition rallies in Iran have frequently turned violent

Iranian authorities have warned opposition supporters against using text and e-mail messages to organise protest rallies.

The country's police chief said these systems were monitored and people misusing them would be prosecuted.

Gen Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam also said opposition supporters should not think internet proxies would protect them.

Following post-election protests, the government blocked several pro-reform websites and stopped text messages.

Without newspapers, Iran's young opposition supporters have constantly turned to the internet and mobile phone to communicate with each other and the outside world, organising demonstrations and distributing images and news of violence against them.

Iran's head of police said disseminating the opposition's plans deserved great punishment.

"These people should know where they are sending the SMS and e-mail as these systems are under control. They should not think using proxies will prevent their identification," Mr Ahmadi Moghaddam said.

He warned that those who incited others to protest or issued appeals: "have committed a worse crime than those who come to the streets".


Catholic-Muslim-Hindu-Protestant-Buddhist-Jewish leaders in “interfaith hug”


Catholic-Muslim-Hindu-Protestant-Buddhist-Jewish leaders connected in dialogue in a conference organized by Catholics in Nevada (USA), in a remarkable interfaith gesture.

This conference, organized by Catholic Diocese of Reno, also compared, contrasted, and commented on similarities and differences between Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism as viewed through their respective sacred texts and religious worship/prayer.

Father Charles T. Durante, Pastor of Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church of Carson City, who facilitated this dialogue, talking about “raising our voices in diversity”, said:“Together, we can make a difference”.

Besides Durante and Zed, the participants included Episcopal Rector Emeritus Reverend V. James Jeffrey, Imam Abdul Rahim Barghouthi, Buddhist priest William Bartlett, and Jewish elder Jeffrey S. Blanck.About 150 Catholics were in the audience.

Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, has congratulated the Catholic Diocese efforts in reaching out to other religions for a dialogue. “Religion is a complex component of human life. Dialogue helps us to see interconnections and interdependencies between religions and even similarities in doctrines,” Zed adds.

Catholic Diocese of Reno, established in 1931, covers 70,852 square miles spread in eleven Nevada counties in addition to Carson City. Before 1840, this area was under the Diocese of Sonora in Mexico, when it came under the jurisdiction of Bishop Moreno of California. Current Bishop is Most Reverend Randolph R. Calvo.


Afghan lawmakers reject majority of Cabinet picks

KABUL – The Afghan parliament rejected the majority of President Hamid Karzai's second slate of Cabinet choices Saturday, dealing a new setback to the U.S.-backed leader's effort to assemble a team that can focus on badly needed reforms.

The U.S. and other countries contributing troops and aid have pushed Karzai to get his second-term administration in place ahead of a Jan. 28 international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London. The mixed results will further delay the process, two weeks after parliament rejected 70 percent of his first Cabinet picks.

Lawmakers have complained that some of the candidates on the president's new list lacked the credentials to serve in the 25-member Cabinet. Others claimed that some nominees are too closely aligned with warlords, or were picked to pay back political supporters who helped get the president re-elected.

The 224 lawmakers present approved just seven of 17 nominees, including Karzai's longtime national security adviser, Zalmay Rasoul, who will be foreign minister, a new justice minister and a woman who was named to the portfolio of Work and Social Affairs/Martyred and Disabled.

The 10 rejected included two other women nominated for the posts of women's affairs and public health as well as Karzai's choices for the ministries of higher education, commerce, transportation, public works, refugee and border and tribal affairs.

The slew of rejections — which leave Karzai with nearly a third of his Cabinet posts unfilled — is sure to worry the international community, which had hoped last year's elections would usher in a strong government to help keep disenchanted Afghans from siding with Taliban insurgents amid warnings violence will worsen as the U.S. and other countries step up efforts in the country.

Continued political turmoil has distracted Karzai from that fight, even as the insurgency grows more virulent. A NATO service member was killed by a roadside bomb Saturday in southern Afghanistan, according to the international force. It did not provide more details.

"The rejection of the majority of the list shows that the people of Afghanistan are not happy with the work of the government," said deputy parliamentary speaker Mirwais Yasini, a lawmaker from Nangahar province. "This will disrupt the work of the government and it's not good for the future and the fate of the country."

Kabul resident Mohammad Ershad agreed, saying Karzai's picks "will never win because the government didn't do anything the past eight years and there is no hope from it in the future."

Karzai's office issued a brief statement saying he had chosen the nominees "based on their talents, expertise and national participation" and regretted the outcome.

He must now put forward new nominees, which must be approved by parliament according to the Afghan constitution, but his office gave no indication when that might occur.

The discord stood in sharp contrast to the previous Cabinet vote in 2006 — the first by elected lawmakers to endorse a Cabinet following landmark parliamentary elections. Most of Karzai's choices were easily approved at that time in what was seen as an endorsement for the president's efforts to rebuild Afghanistan after almost three decades marred by Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban rule.

The approval of at least one woman on the roster, Amina Afzali, was a minor victory for the president's efforts to place more women in high government posts in the traditionally male-dominated society, although lawmakers expressed disappointment that the other two candidates were rejected.

The only woman on Karzai's previous team — Minister of Women's Affairs Husn Bano Ghazanfar — was rejected by parliament the first time around.

"Unfortunately we have some lawmakers who still can't vote for a woman, even when they see one who is very active, talented and well-educated," said Mohammad Ali Sitigh, a lawmaker from Day Kundi province.

U.S.-supported incumbents in the key portfolios of defense, interior, finance and agriculture were already approved in the initial Jan. 2 vote.

Karzai has not yet submitted a name to replace Ismail Khan, an infamous warlord who currently is the minister of water and energy and was rejected in the first vote.

NATO said Saturday that 11 insurgents had been killed in an overnight operation by Afghan and NATO forces that also netted a sizable amount of black tar opium and weapons and bomb-making materials in the Nad Ali district of the southern Helmand province.

Also Saturday, a district official was wounded when his vehicle was hit by a remote-controlled bomb in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, said police spokesman Wazir Pacha. Latifullah Babakherkhail, chief administrator of Bak district, was on his way to his office when the blast occurred, damaging his vehicle, Pacha said.


Somali militants kill 138 in two-week battle

Fighting in Somalia has killed at least 138 people and displaced 63,000 others in the last two weeks.

Militants from Islamic groups Hizbul Islam and al Shabaab have fought government-allied Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca over three towns in the centre of the east African country..

“At least 138 people died and 344 others were injured,” Ali Yasin Gedi, of Elman human rights group, said today. “It has also displaced 63,000 people from Galgadud and Hiiraan regions.”

Hizbul Islam and its rival al Shabaab — which the US says is linked with al Qaeda — want to impose strict sharia law in Somalia, which has had no functional government since 1991.

Ahlu Sunna, which is aligned to president Sheikh Shari Ahmed's weak UN-backed administration, advocates a more moderate version of Islam.

Since the start of 2007, violence has killed at least 19,000 Somalis and displaced 1.5 million people. The UN said this week that 3,000 Somalis had arrived in Ethiopian refugee camps, and that 4,175 had arrived in Kenya this month.


US images show how Osama Bin Laden may look

16 January 2010

The US State Department has issued digitally-altered photos showing how Osama Bin Laden may look now, aged 52.

Its 1998 file image of the al-Qaeda leader has been adapted to take account of a decade's worth of ageing, and possible changes to facial hair.

The digitally-altered photos on the State Department's website show two options for how he may look now - one with a full beard, and one without.

Osama Bin Laden founded al-Qaeda and is top of the US most-wanted list.

He is accused of being behind a number of atrocities, including the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in East Africa and the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.

Since then, his al-Qaeda network has been linked indirectly to bombings on the island of Bali in Indonesia and its capital Jakarta, as well as with suicide attacks in Casablanca, Riyadh and Istanbul.

After 9/11, al-Qaeda leaders are believed to have regrouped in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Bin Laden is still thought to be hiding in the mountainous region near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Five killed in Kenya mosque riots

By Otto Bakano

NAIROBI — At least five people were killed Friday when Kenyan police fired live rounds and teargas to suppress a protest by Muslims demanding the release of a radical Jamaican cleric, police said.

"Five people have died, some of them have been shot and there are those with other injuries but we cannot really tell who shot them because some of the protestors were armed and were shooting at our officers," said a senior police officer who asked not to be named.

"Four of our police officers have been wounded and admitted to hospital," he added.

Anti-riot police battled scores of stone-throwing protestors, shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) and waving banners that read "Release Al Faisal, he is innocent."

Abdullah al-Faisal, who is on a global terror watchlist and served four years in a British jail for inciting racial hatred, has been in Kenyan custody since last week after the authorities tried and failed to deport him.

Police charged at the rioters, surrounded the Jamiah mosque in central Nairobi and used water cannon to repel them as an ambulance picked up injured people, including some reporters.

An AFP photographer saw one demonstrator firing back at police from inside the mosque compound in battles that began after Friday prayers and lasted several hours.

"War against Muslims is intolerable," read one placard, while a protestor waved a black flag with an Arabic inscription and another brandished Osama bin Laden's portrait.

Crowds of by-standers also joined the chaos, throwing rocks and calling the Muslims, many of them of Somali descent, foreigners and chanting "Kenya yetu," Swahili for "Kenya is ours," or "Ua," Swahili for "kill" as the police charged.

The riot highlighted longstanding grievances by Kenya's minority Muslims of being unfairly targeted by security forces and perceived neglect by previous regimes in appointment to government posts.

Since the setting up of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit in 2003, Muslim rights groups have complained of repeated police harassment, arbitrary arrests and rendition of Muslims suspected of terrorism.

Faisal's lawyers and rights groups have complained that the cleric is being held without charge.

The December 31 arrest of Faisal, who police and immigration officials said violated immigration regulations by preaching, heralded the latest in a string of protests by the Muslims.

Faisal, 45, was arrested in Britain in 2003 after spending years urging his audiences to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners.

Kenya's attempts to deport the cleric, first to Tanzania and then to Gambia have failed due to the refusal by authorities and airlines to grant him entry.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved


‘Lashkar member displayed to Headley a styrofoam mockup of the Taj Mahal hotel’

Jan 16, 2010

The indictment refers to some LeT terrorists whose names have been with-held. “Lashkar Member A” was a resident of Pakistan associated with Lashkar who supervised others associated with Lashkar and served as a “handler” for defendant HEADLEY and others who were directed to carry out actions relating to planning, preparing for, and carrying out terrorist attacks on behalf of Lashkar. “Lashkar Member B” was a resident of Pakistan associated with Lashkar who trained others in combat techniques for use in terrorist attacks. “Lashkar Member C” was a resident of Pakistan and one of Lashkar’s commanders. “Lashkar Member D” was a resident of Pakistan and one of Lashkar’s commanders. “Person A” was a resident of Pakistan who participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by Lashkar.

Preparation for the Surveillance Trips

.... in or about late 2005, Lashkar Member A, Lashkar Member B, and Lashkar Member D advised defendant DAVID COLEMAN HEADLEY that HEADLEY would be travelling to India to perform surveillance of potential targets for attack by Lashkar, and recommended that HEADLEY take steps to conceal his association with Pakistan and his Muslim religion during his travels in India... in or about February 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, defendant HEADLEY changed his given name of “Daood Gilani” to “David Coleman Headley” in order to facilitate his activities on behalf of Lashkar by enabling him to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani... in or about the spring of 2006, Lashkar Member A and Lashkar Member D discussed with defendant HEADLEY the idea that HEADLEY could open an immigration office in Mumbai, India, as a cover for his surveillance activities in India... in or about June 2006, defendant HEADLEY travelled to Chicago, Illinois, advised Tahawwur Hussain Rana of his assignment to perform surveillance for potential targets in India, and obtained Rana’s approval for opening a First World office in Mumbai, India, as cover for these activities. Rana directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents to support HEADLEY’s cover story with respect to the opening of a First World office in Mumbai, and advised HEADLEY regarding how to obtain a visa for travel to India. In applying for his visa for travel to India, HEADLEY misrepresented his birth name, father’s true name, and the purpose for his travel or about July 2006, Person A provided to defendant HEADLEY approximately $25,000 to, among other purposes, establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and pay for living expenses while defendant HEADLEY carried out his assignments for Lashkar.

The Surveillance Trips

Full report at:


British al-Qaeda hub 'is biggest in West'

By Con Coughlin

15 Jan 2010

Al-Qaeda has successfully restructured its global network and now has the capability to carry out a wide range of terror attacks against Western targets, according to a detailed U.S. intelligence assessment that has been conducted in the wake of the failed Christmas Day Detroit bomb plot.

And the growing strength of al-Qaeda’s support in Britain has emerged as a major concern for U.S. intelligence agencies as they attempt to prevent further attacks after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student who studied at London’s University College, nearly succeeded in detonating an explosive device that he had concealed in his underpants as Northwest airlines flight 253 made its final approach to Detroit airport.

American intelligence officials are still investigating claims that Abdulmutallab was radicalised while he was a student between 2005 and 2008, although British security officials insist that he was radicalised in Yemen after he left London.

But the failure of British security officials to alert their American counterparts to Abdulmuttalab’s radical activities while president of UCL’s Islamic Society has led to increased tensions between Washington and London.

Earlier this week Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, confirmed that the UK had not passed any information to the U.S. prior to the attempted December 25 bombing that would have led American officials to believe that Abdulmutallab was a potential terrorist.

But while in London Abdulmutallab regularly presided over debates that denounced Britain’s involvement in the war on terror and America’s Guantanamo detention facility.

American officials now believe Britain poses a major threat to Western security because of the large number of al-Qaeda supporters that are active in the country. Two years ago Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, estimated that there were 2,000 al-Qaeda sympathisers based in Britain – the largest concentration of al-Qaeda activists in any Western country. But American officials, who regularly refer to “Londonistan” because of the high concentration of Islamic radicals in the capital, believe the figure is growing all the time. They point out that recent al-Qaeda terror attacks planned in Britain have been the work of British-based Muslims, many of whom have been trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Full report at:


Why is the American press silent on the Israeli role in NW Flight 253?

By Patrick Martin

16 January 2010

Nearly a week ago, on January 10, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz carried a news article by correspondent Yossi Melman pointing out the role of an Israeli security firm, International Consultants on Targeted Security (ICTS), in the failed attempt to detonate a bomb on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

ICTS subsidiaries I-SEC and PI are responsible for security screening of passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where accused suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded the Detroit-bound jet. The company uses screening technology to profile passengers and identify security risks, based on the experience of the Israeli intelligence services. Former El Al Airlines and Shin Bet security personnel established ICTS in 1982 to market their expertise, and many US airlines use their services or technology.

According to Ha’aretz, Abdulmutallab was screened by ICTS, but the security agents failed to identify him as a threat, despite ample evidence.

“Even if US intelligence failed and the name of the Nigerian passenger was not pinpointed as a suspect for the airline, he should have stirred the suspicion of the security officers,” the newspaper wrote. “His age, name, illogical travel route, high-priced ticket purchased at the last minute, his boarding without luggage (only a carry on) and many other signs should have been sufficient to alert the security officers and warrant further examination of the suspect. However, the security supervisor representing I-SEC and PI allowed him to get on the flight.”

The Israeli connection has been widely reported in the Israeli and European press. In addition to Ha’aretz, the Jerusalem Post noted the role of ICTS in Amsterdam in an article December 27, and Israeli television interviewed a company director, who confirmed that Abdulmutallab had been given a security screening.

Reports subsequently appeared in newspapers and Web news sources in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. But there has been nothing in the main American media outlets—nothing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal or any other major daily newspaper, and nothing on any of the television or cable news networks.

The contrast between the press treatment in Europe and in America is an indication that the role of ICTS is not merely an unimportant detail. Clearly, the word is being passed to keep quiet on the subject, either in the form of a direct order from the US security services, or indirectly through the system of media self-censorship that operates no less effectively for being “voluntary.”

Full report at:


Malaysia: Muslim leaders condemn attacks on Christians in Malaysia

January 16, 2010

The attacks against churches are against the teachings of Islam, says the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). On January 8, 9 houses of worship targeted by Muslims after the decision of the High Court of Malaysia to allow Christians to use the word Allah in books.

Manila - "The attacks against churches and buildings of worship of any religion are against the teachings of Islam." Ustadhz Abdulhadi Daguit, Muslim and head of the Philippine Center for Halal Awareness (Pcha), condemns the recent attacks on Christian places of worship in Malaysia and invites Christians and Muslims to dialogue. Meanwhile, yesterday in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) unknown assailants broke into the office of the lawyers who defend the Catholics in the ongoing controversy on the use of the word Allah. According to the lawyers it is intimidation carried out by Muslims. There was nothing of value in the office.

8 January Malaysian Islamic fundamentalists stormed nine Christian buildings. The violence was provoked by the decision of the High Court on 31 December last to authorize the weekly Catholic Herald to use the word "Allah" as a reference to God in its Malay language edition.

These days in addition to Muslim Filipinos the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Council of American-Islamic Relations (Cair) have condemned the assaults. In a statement the OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu stressed the importance of peaceful coexistence between ethnic groups in Malaysia, consisting of different faiths and cultures. The head of Cair has instead called on Muslims to protect places of worship of other religions. "American Muslims - he says - are a symbol of peaceful dialogue and coexistence between different faiths. We can not remain silent before the onslaught on churches or other places of worship." Muslims in America, Malaysia and the rest the world - he adds - must protect all places of worship, so they will show the true spirit of Islam. "" In the Arab world – he concludes - Christians have always used the word Allah to refer to God. "Meanwhile, the Malaysian police have arrested Mohamad Tasyrif Tajudin, a Muslim of 25 years. He declared on Facebook that he had helped to manufacture the material used for the assaults. He risks a year in prison.


Hindi-speaking Lashkar controller helped Mumbai assault

Praveen Swami

Speaking Mumbai argot, terror commander briefed Nariman House terrorists on media interaction

NEW DELHI: “If you see anyone acting funny,” the Lahore-accented voice barked in Punjabi, “shoot them.”

Minutes after 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba commandos attacked targets across south Mumbai in November 2008, Indian intelligence personnel began listening in to conversations between the assault teams and their control station in Pakistan — conversations conducted using voice-over-Internet protocol connections, satellite phones and mobiles, often seized from hostages.

For the most part, the instructions were operational: controllers, able to watch the response of India’s police and élite National Security Guard on television, warned the terrorists of potential threats and directed their responses.

But for thirteen and a half minutes, incredulous Indian intelligence personnel listened in as Lashkar controllers coached Imran Babar — the terrorist, who, along with a still-unidentified terrorist using the alias ‘Abu Umar’, attacked a Jewish prayer house — on dealing with the media.

Much of the coaching, tapes obtained by The Hindu show, was conducted by a native Hindi speaker, his usage of the language inflected with Mumbai argot — a startling revelation that could lead to a reappraisal of just how the Lashkar went about preparing for its murderous assault on Mumbai.

Poetry lesson

Improbably enough, Babar’s media education began with a poetry lesson. The principal voice in the intercepted tapes — identified by the surviving terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab as a Lashkar military instructor code-named ‘Abu Kahafa’— congratulated Babar on his first interaction with a Hindi-language television station.

“The elders,” Kahafa said, “are giving you congratulations again. They say you have done a fabulous job. Allah opened your heart. You have really spoken well.”

“It is true that the darkness is enveloping all,” Kahafa dictated in Urdu, “but we will not let the lamps be extinguished by the winds of oppression. It is true that the storms of subjugation are very strong, but we are those lamps that light the way in the midst of storms.”

Now, the Hindi-speaking controller took charge, dictating a manifesto to Babar. The controller asked Babar to complain about the “government’s two-faced policy.” “The government,” he said, “pats us on the back, but the administration hits us on the head.” Notably, the controller used the Hindi word for administration — prashasan —rather than the Urdu intezamiya.

Full report at:


Why I hold a jihad at the White House

By Mohammad Ali Salih

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The five Muslim Americans who were arrested in Pakistan last month for terrorism recently told a Pakistani court that they were not members of al-Qaeda, didn't want to harm Pakistan and were on their way to Afghanistan to wage jihad against Western forces there. One of them declared: "We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism." Their lawyer added that they only wanted to "help the helpless Muslims."

This sparked me to resume my own jihad -- in front of the White House.

During the last days of the Bush administration, I started standing in front of the White House on weekends, silently holding a banner that asks on one side "What is Terrorism?" and, on the other side, "What is Islam?"

I have lived and worked in Washington since 1980 as a correspondent for Arabic newspapers and magazines in the Middle East. Since Sept. 11, 2001, I have felt sadness, anger and frustration because of what I had come to believe were President George W. Bush's subtle wars on Muslims. Because I had no outlet for this opinion in U.S. newspapers, I launched my one-man campaign.

I wasn't a stereotypical demonstrator. No shouting, arguing and marching. I wasn't wearing jeans and raising handwritten slogans; nor did I camp in front of the White House or chain myself to the fence. Believing that my conduct was part of my message, I dressed in dark suits, refused to engage in discussions, and only briefly and quietly answered questions.

In small print at the bottom of my sign, I wrote: "I will be here until I die." My plan was to get enough media attention and to collect enough donations online that I could quit my job and start a daily vigil. That would have disrupted my wife's plan for us to retire in Florida, but I figured I could take off winters and, being self-employed, could set my own schedule. When I became older and perhaps couldn't stand, I thought, I would use a wheelchair. I actually envisioned myself dying in front of the White House holding my banner.

But I stopped planning and ended my vigil when Barack Obama became president.

I believed in his campaign promises to end Bush's militaristic and antagonistic foreign policies, to change the tense political atmosphere in Washington, and to soothe the American people and give them some hope. When Obama went to Cairo last summer, he extended a peaceful hand to the Muslim world and called on Israel to stop its expansionist policies. He was even reported to have ordered government officials not to use the term "war on terrorism."

But after watching Obama in the White House for a year, I have come to believe that he is a typical politician who makes promises in order to be elected and, once elected, starts planning to be reelected. This may explain why he doesn't seem to have the courage to peacefully engage the Muslim world or to end the injustice the United States inflicts on Muslims in the name of its "war on terrorism."

Full report at:


US releases names of prisoners at Bagram, Afghanistan

16 January 2010

US authorities have released the names of 645 prisoners held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in response to a freedom of information lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sought documents related to the detention and treatment of prisoners at the base.

The ACLU said vital details about the prisoners had been withheld.

US officials had previously refused to publish the list. One lawyer said the move was "completely unprecedented".

Melissa Goodman, a lawyer at ACLU, said the publication of the names was "an important step toward transparency and accountability at the secretive Bagram prison".

But she said it was only a first step.

"Full transparency and accountability about Bagram requires disclosing how long these people have been imprisoned, where they are from and whether they were captured far from any battlefield or in other countries far from Afghanistan," she said.

A separate letter released by the US Defense Department on Friday said a "very small number" of prisoners were under 16 years of age, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The list of names is for the 645 people held at Bagram in September 2009, when the lawsuit was filed.

"This is completely unprecedented, we've never had access to the list," Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at City University of New York, told AP.

Mr Kassem represents a Yemeni man, Amin al-Bakri, who was captured in Thailand then sent to Bagram.

In his case, a federal judge in Washington ruled that only those Bagram prisoners captured outside Afghanistan could file suit in the US.

US President Barack Obama's administration is appealing against the decision.

Bagram, north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, has been used by the US-led coalition in Afghanistan since the toppling of the Taliban regime in December 2001.

Last year a number of former detainees told the BBC they had been abused at the base.

US officials denied the charges and insisted that all inmates in the facility were treated humanely.


Headley attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan

Special Correspondent

Conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years

Headley made five extended trips to Mumbai

Before each trip he was instructed on specific locations

NEW DELHI: The federal grand jury indictment in Chicago says that in 2002 and 2003, Headley attended terrorism training camps in Pakistan maintained by the Lashkar, and conspired with its members and others, including Rana, Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman, in planning and executing the attacks in Denmark and India. He allegedly conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years preceding the November 2008 attacks that killed 164 people and left hundreds injured.

According to the charges, unnamed Lashkar member ‘A’, who served as a “handler” for Headley and another person associated with the Lashkar, advised Headley in late 2005 that he would be travelling to India to perform surveillance of potential targets for the Lashkar. Headley changed his given name of Daood Gilani on February 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, enabling him to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani. In the spring of 2006, Lashkar member ‘A’ and a Lashkar associate discussed with Headley the idea that he could open an immigration office in Mumbai.

In June 2006, Headley allegedly travelled to Chicago, advised Rana of his assignment to scout potential targets in India, and obtained approval from Rana, who owned First World Immigration Services in Chicago and elsewhere, to open a First World office in Mumbai as cover for his activities. Rana allegedly directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents supporting Headley’s cover story of opening a First World office in Mumbai, and advised Headley how to obtain a visa for travel to India. Headley misrepresented his birth name, his father’s true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application, the indictment said.

In July 2006, an unnamed person ‘A’ in Pakistan gave Headley approximately $25,000 to establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and to pay for living expenses, while Headley carried out his assignment for the Lashkar.

Headley later made five extended trips to Mumbai — in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008 — each time taking photographs and making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked in November 2008, and using his association with First World as a cover for his travels.

Full report at:


US officers face investigation over Fort Hood suspect

16 January 2010

Several US army officers should face an investigation into their failure to supervise the Fort Hood massacre suspect, an official report says.

Thirteen people died when psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at the army base in Texas last November.

Unnamed officials earlier said up to eight officers would face action as his behaviour should have caused concern.

Defence secretary Robert Gates said army superiors must be "attuned to personnel who may pose a danger".

"Failure to do so, or kicking the problem to the next unit, may lead to damaging or even devastating consequences," he warned, after reading the Pentagon report on the incident.

'Evolving security threat'

Mr Gates did not comment directly on the reports of officers facing discipline over the case, but he did admit that the incident raised "serious questions" about the defence department's ability to address internal, as well as external, threats.

"We have not done enough to adapt to the evolving security threat that has emerged over the past decade.

"The department is burdened by 20th Century attitudes rooted in the Cold War," he said.

He added that there had been no well-integrated means of gathering and disseminating the wide range of behavioural indicators that could help identify a threat.

In a statement on the report, the White House said that information sharing between the departments of defence and justice on investigative matters should be improved.

'Act quickly'

It said one of the report's key recommendations was that a "more thorough and layered analysis" of information available to intelligence and law enforcement officials be carried out.

The details concerning Maj Hasan have not been released, but leaks suggest that his supervisors knew he was unstable and held extremist views, but did nothing.

The Pentagon fears that this process - self radicalisation - was what led Maj Hasan to commit mass murder, rather than, for example, mental illness.

Two former officers who led the investigation told reporters there were differences between Maj Hasan's performance and his personnel records and that his top-level security had not been properly investigated.

Mr Gates announced that the investigation's immediate findings would be implemented by March.

Full report at:


Suicide bomb attack in Kashmir hurts soldiers

January 16, 2010

At least two soldiers have been injured in a suicide bomb attack on a military vehicle in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, officials say.

Security officials corrected earlier reports that said the two had been killed by the blast, near Rawalakot.

The Pakistani part of the disputed Kashmir region has been largely free of militant violence until several attacks in recent months.

Earlier this month three soldiers died in a suicide bombing near Rawalakot.

The violence has fuelled concern that Taliban militants are trying to expand their campaign from their north-west heartland on the Afghan border.

In Saturday's attack, a suicide bomber jumped on to a military vehicle as it was turning into a road, said an official quoted by Reuters.

Pakistan's Geo TV reported that the area had been sealed off by security forces and the injured had been taken to a military hospital.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it.

Rawalakot is not far from the de facto border with India.


Two British soldiers die in Afghanistan explosion

January 16, 2010

Two British soldiers have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldiers, from 3rd Battalion The Rifles, who were on foot patrol, died following the incident near Sangin in Helmand province on Friday evening.

Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield praised their "boldness in the face of danger".

The soldiers' families have been told and they requested 24 hours grace before more details are released.

The soldiers are the 248th and 249th British military personnel to die in Afghanistan since 2001.

They were killed by an improvised explosive device, the MoD said.

Col Wakefield, a spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is with deep sadness I must inform you that two British soldiers were killed by an explosion yesterday evening.

"They were on a foot patrol protecting the local population from insurgents when the attack happened."

He added: "Their boldness in the face of danger, and the sacrifice they have made, will be remembered."

The deaths come as Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul to discuss the country's future.

The trip comes ahead of a conference to be held in London on 28 January which will see the international community discuss strategy for Afghanistan.

He told MPs as he left: "The politics is every bit as important as the military in this conflict, because success will not be measured by the number of insurgents killed or captured, but by the number of Afghans living peacefully within the constitution."


Rum bottle thrown at Malaysia mosque amid tension

January 16, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Vandals threw a rum bottle at a mosque in the first attack on a Muslim house of worship after almost a dozen similar assaults on churches in Malaysia the past week, police said Saturday.

Police have dismissed the attacks as vandalism, but they have caused disquiet in multiracial Malaysia and raised fears of more widespread religious tensions.

One Sikh temple and 11 churches have been hit - most of them with molotov cocktails - since Jan. 8. One church was partially gutted, though the others sustained only minor damages. No arrests have been made.

The unrest follows a Dec. 31 court ruling that allowed non-Muslims to use the word "Allah" to refer to God. The verdict upset Muslims who make up 60 percent of Malaysia's 28 million people. The government has argued allowing Christians to use the word will confuse Muslims and entice them to convert.

The bottle was thrown at a mosque in eastern Sarawak state late Friday and found smashed near an outer wall inside the compound, said local police chief Abu Bakar Mokhtar. He said they didn't know if it contained any alcohol when vandals threw it. Most Muslims consider alcohol illegal.

Abu Bakar blamed "naughty boys" for the incident.

In the latest church attack late Friday, vandals smashed a window of a church in southern Negeri Sembilan state, said Saiful Azly Kamaruddin, a district police chief.

He said the attack also appeared to be vandalism, and added police have stepped up patrols and deployed more plainclothes officials in the area.

The unrest centers on the court ruling, in which the Herald, the main newspaper of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia, argues it has the right to use the word "Allah" in its Malay-language edition because it predates Islam and is commonly used by Christians in other predominantly Muslims countries, such as Egypt, Indonesia and Syria. It is also used in Malay-language Bibles.

Full report at:


Kenya to deport Muslim cleric without delay

Humphrey Malalo and Thomas Mukoya

Jan 16, 2010

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya will deport jailed Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal "without delay" after a protest against his detention triggered battles with police in the capital Nairobi, a minister said on Saturday.

Kenyan security forces used live rounds, tear gas and dogs to quell the demonstration on Friday near a downtown mosque used by many Somalis who have fled years of violence at home.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti appealed for calm. He blamed "violent foreign elements from a neighboring country" for the mayhem and assured Muslims in Kenya they would not be targeted and their civil liberties respected.

The violence in Nairobi has stoked fears of a crackdown on the large Somali community in Kenya, or strikes by insurgent sympathizers in east Africa's biggest economy -- the target of successful al Qaeda-linked attacks in 2002 and 1998.

Some protesters carried the black flag of hardline Somali rebels al Shabaab, a group Washington accuses of links to al Qaeda that is trying to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed government and impose its own harsh version of sharia law.

"This is an indication that some of our youth have been exposed to these ideas by foreign elements bent on ensuring that peace and security obtaining in our country is compromised," Saitoti told a news conference.

Some residents in Somalia's capital Mogadishu welcomed the appearance of al Shabaab's flag on Nairobi's streets, hoping it might inspire Kenya to help crackdown on the rebels.

"It will redouble the war on terror and al Qaeda," local elder Hassan Hussein told Reuters.


Faisal was deported from Britain in 2007 for preaching racial hatred and urging his audiences to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. He was visiting Kenya for a preaching tour when he was taken into custody on December 31.

"Kenya will not be used as a playground by foreign criminals. We will chase them away," Saitoti said. "It is a matter of great insult that a the source of terrible misunderstandings among Kenyans."

"It has therefore been agreed and recommended that al-Faisal be deported without delay," the minister said.

Attempts by Kenya to deport Faisal failed last week because Nigeria refused to give him a transit visa to Gambia. He is being held at Nairobi's international airport until the authorities can send him back to Jamaica.

Full report at: © Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters


Global meet on Tipu Sultan opens in Mysore

Stephen David

Bangalore, January 16, 2010

A three-day conference on the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, opened in the royal city, 120 km from the Karnataka capital, on Saturday.

Karnataka department of Kannada and culture secretary Jayaramaraje Urs, who opened the meet, highlighted the various facets in the life of Sultan, who was killed in 1799 by British soldiers after being betrayed by one of his own aides.

Most participants would head to Srirangapatna near Mysore where the warrior was killed by forces led by General Harris is a memorial now and a protected monument under the Archaeological Society of India. Various Indo-Islamic monuments dot the town, such as Tipu Sultan's palaces, the Darya Daulat and the Jumma Maseed.

Religious scholars are particularly delighted that the Muslim soldier who later became a ruler had even built Hindu temples in Sringeri, Srirangapatna, Melkote and Kalale.

The British plundered Srirangapattana after the attack. Innumerable valuables and objects d'art were shipped to England -- most of this are found in the British Royal Collection and in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bangalore industrialist Viijay Mallya bought a sword of Sultan at a Sotheby's auction in April 2004. It was auctioned by the family of Scottish General David Baird, given it for his bravery in toppling the sultan whose valiant fight against the British protected them from taking over Mysore earlier than they wanted to.

Sultan was born in Devanahalli, the site of the new international airport 35 km from Bangalore, in 1750. A devout Muslim, he was also a good poet and fluent in Urdu, Kannada, Persian and Arabic. His father Hyder Ali, the defacto ruler of Mysore, was also the man who worked on Bangalore's biggest botanical gardens, the 250-acre Lal Bagh, in 1760.

The garden has over a thousand species of flora. It also houses the Glass House, modelled on London's Crystal Palace. Sultan embellished the gardens by importing trees and plants from several countries.

Says educationist Vasanth T.P.: "Tipu Sultan was a man of many remarkable qualities. He excelled in various fields, from military tactics to horticulture to even showing administrative acumen as a ruler. There is a lot to learn from him."


Suspects in Egypt's church attack to face emergency security court

Jan 16, 2010

Cairo - Three suspects accused of killing nine people in a shooting attack on Christians outside a church in southern Egypt will be put on trial before an emergency security court, Egypt's prosecutor said Saturday.

Abdel Meguid Mahmoud said that the three men, all Muslims, were charged with premeditated murder, harming public security, the use of force and violence and endangering the lives of citizens.

The prosecutor did not announce the date of the trial.

Gunmen opened fire on Christians leaving a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in the town of Nagaa Hamadi, 650 kilometres south of Cairo. Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7.

The attack left eight Christians and one Muslim policeman guarding the church dead.

The attack led to clashes between police and crowds of Christian residents, causing major damage in the city centre. Rioting by angry Muslims also erupted.

Sectarian relations in the town have been tense since Muslim residents rioted after the rape of a 12-year-old girl, allegedly by a Christian man, last November.

According to government figures, Christians account for roughly 10 per cent of Egypt's population, but many Egyptian Christians believe the real figure is higher.

While tensions exist between Egypt's Christian and Muslim populations, actual outbreaks of violence are rare.


Major Hasan’s Smooth Ascension

By tombarnes

January 16, 2010

Today’s New York Times has an editorial entitled Major Hasan’s Smooth Ascension which for the most part I can stand in agreeance. However there is one telling sentence which gives me pause.  Something very wrong has happened at the New York Times.  Here is the sentence excerpted from the piece:

“The Hasan report raises other intriguing questions, including why he kept his security clearance after openly criticizing the military’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan as anti-Muslim.”

So let me get this straight.  The NYTimes believes that an American soldier expressing his opinion openly, no matter how much the Times or the Army disagrees with that opinion, means he should lose his security clearance?  Do I have this right?

If I do have this right the Times needs to seek a new editor.  The one that wrote this article has no understanding of basic American rights under the Constitution.

If I understand correctly that the Times editorial board is saying that an American soldier with an upopular opinion, and one that goes counter to official U.S. policy, openly expresses to his superiors his misgivings about U.S. policy, he must have his clearance pulled then the Times has clearly misunderstood the rights of free speech, even in the Service.

Just because you have an American uniform on your back does not mean you have marbles in your head.

Regadless of what Major Hassan did or did not do, regardless of how his opinion runs counter to official U.S. policy, he certainly has a right as an Arab/Muslim American to point out inconsistencies in U.S. foreign policy to anyone who will listen.  That is his basic right of free speech as an American.

What has happened to the New York Times?  For what reason has it taken this extreme right-turn in the last two or three months?

This fine old American institution, this foundational U.S. newspaper, has signed a pact with the Devil.  Somebody call Pat Robertson, he’s got a job to do.  The Times needs ministerial help.


Cops don't buy BSF line on teen 'suicide bomber'

Yudhvir Rana

16 January 2010

AMRITSAR: A day after BSF claimed they had nabbed a Pakistani boy who was carrying out a recce on behalf of the LeT and the Tehreek-e-Taliban,

Punjab police on Friday booked the 18-year-old for illegally crossing the border and violating the Foreigners Act, something that gets punished with a rap on the knuckles and being pushed back across the border.

A magistrate also sent Nauman Arhsad of Lahore to police custody until Jan 20 for further interrogation.

Despite the tall claims of the BSF, which paraded the teenager before journalists, police obviously feel there’s little evidence that would stick in a court of law if they slapped terror charges.

Subsequently he has been charged with travelling without proper documents and booked only under section 3-34-20 Indian Passport Act and the Foreigners Act at the Gharinda police station.

‘‘We have slapped charges against him on the basis of details given to us by BSF,’’ said Sukhwinder Singh, SHO, Gharinda police station. He said BSF had not given police anything in writing about Arshad’s so-called terror links.

Arshad is not the only one who entered India illegally . In the past, many Pakistani boys cross the line, driven by a desire to meet Bollywood stars or after a tiff with their family or just inadvertently.


Pak handlers wanted to swap 26/11 hostages for Kasab, says US chargesheet

Chidanand Rajghatta

16 January 2010

WASHINGTON: Pakistani handlers of the Lashkar terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November 2008 wanted to secure release of the lone captured gunman Ajmal Kasab in exchange for the hostages held by the terrorists. ( Watch Video )

This is part of the chargesheet -- the first-ever in a US court in connection with a terror attack on India -- filed against US-based terrorist duo Tahawwur Hussain Rana and David Coleman Headley.

The FBI has said that Lashkar handlers of Mumbai attackers sought "to arrange the release of hostages in exchange for the release of a captured attacker (Kasab)".

The finding of the FBI is not in accord with the assessment of Indian agencies who doubt that the 26/11 attackers wanted to force authorities to swap Kasab for hostages.

Significantly, the chargesheet acknowledges what India has always maintained, that sustained international pressure is an effective guarantee against attacks by Pakistan-based groups on India and elsewhere. The FBI has said that the pressure on Lashkar in the wake of Mumbai attacks forced them to put off their plan to target the Danish nespaper, Jyllands-Posten, for publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.

According to charges filed in a Chicago court, an LeT leader advised Headley to put the plan against the newspaper on hold because of "pressure in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks".

The plan was not activated despite the insistence of Ilyas Kashmiri, the leader of Harkat-ul-Jehadi in Pakistan, that he could carry it out using "a truck bomb" and without Lashkar's direct participation.

The chargesheet details the elaborate planning that went into the attack. The 10 Mumbai attackers were given extensive training by LeT in July-August, 2008.

A Federal Grand Jury indictment unsealed in Chicago revealed that the LeT bankrolled Headley to the tune of $28,000, including $3,000 in Indian currency, for his repeated trips to India for surveillance jobs. Headley's LeT handlers also showed him a styrofoam mockup of the Taj Mahal hotel and provided him with a global positioning system device and taught him how to use it to record the locations of possible landing sites and potential targets in Mumbai, which Headley then used during his surveillance trips in April and July 2008, the charges stated.

Full report at:


Correct distorted picture of Islam

Turki Al-Dakheel | Al-Watan

Does the world know the real meanings of Islam, or does it only know the irresponsible behavior of some reckless Muslims? I think the second question is the most relevant. People living in remote villages in Europe, America, Brazil or Argentina will not look at Islam academically but rather through the extreme conduct of some Muslims: murder, threats, blowing up trains and hijacking aircraft. They will not know about Islam from great Muslim scholars, but rather from people like Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Muhammad Omar, Ayman Al-Zawahri and others whose hands have been soaked in the blood of the innocent.

In his interview with Al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he would make efforts with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to promote the Muslim world in order to improve the image of Islam in the West and correct misconceptions about it.

He said he was thinking seriously establishing a front to spread the correct understanding of Islam.

I think the first thing we should begin with is to purify the major sources from which the communities come to know about Islam being mosques or schools.

The curricula might project a distorted picture of Islam either because they contain extreme and rigid opinions canceling the other or because they are unable to cope with new developments in the world.

We cannot correct Islam through advertisement and publicity but rather through being a role model in conduct, discipline and good manners. It is ironic to talk about the tolerance of Islam while some preachers hit girls with sticks and follow young men in our streets.

By doing so we are contradicting ourselves and affirming the already bad picture of Islam. We cannot correct the real understanding of Islam while we are doing provocative things. This is a truth that many people do not understand.



Lebanese Muslim accuses Christian teacher of veil snatching


Lebanon — A Lebanese Muslim man said Friday he has filed a complaint against a Christian teacher for trying to snatch a veil from his daughter's head, a sensitive issue in this multi-confessional nation.

"After the year-end holidays, a Christian teacher tried to tear off the veil of my 12-year-old daughter, Ghiwa, and banned her from entering the classroom veiled," Ahmad al-Baarin told AFP.

"The teacher made offensive remarks ... and tried to snatch the veil. He even made her fall over by pushing her when she tried to defend herself," he told AFP.

Baarin said he has also filed a complaint against the school's director for complicity after the principal "expressed solidarity with the teacher."

Contacted by AFP, director Yussef Beshara insisted "the student was not mistreated or forced to remove her veil" at the public school in the mixed region of Kura whose teachers are all Christian and half its pupils Muslim.

But the father won support from the Muslim community.

"This case is contrary to the law and the spirit of coexistence in the country. It undermines Muslims," said Ihab Nafeh, president of the Muslim students association in northern Lebanon.

The constitution bans any abuse of religious symbols in Lebanon, a country of 18 different religious communities and where a 1975-1990 civil war was fought at least partly across a Muslim-Christian divide.

Baarin meanwhile told AFP he had moved his daughter and son Khaled, 8, to a new school saying: "My children have a right to education and at the same time to preserve their religious beliefs."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.


419 email scam asks Muslim brotherhood for help

By Vineetha Menon

January 16, 2010

A new 419-style scam is appealing to the Muslim brotherhood for help in trying to retrieve funds belonging to Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab who attempted to blow up a Northwest Airline flight on Christmas Day.

The message is purportedly sent from his brother Hassan Ali Abdul Mutallab and starts with "Take my Salaam and respect" and goes on to explain that the he needs help from a ‘Muslim brother/sister' to transfer funds deposited in his account by Umar Farouk Abdulmutalla.

Security specialists Symantec believe that it operates like most other 419 scams where the sender keeps requesting that various fees and charges need to be paid before the money is released. The fees keep increasing until the victim of the scam realises that there's no chance of getting and money and eventually gives up.

MessageLabs, part of Symantec, is also warning of another scam that uses the recent devastating Haiti earthquake as bait. In this instance, the message pretends to come from the British Red Cross Society requesting people to donate via Western Union using details of a liaison officer.

More scams are expected to hit cyberspace related to the Haiti earthquake so if you're unsure about the authenticity of messages, go directly to the relief organisation website for accurate donation details.


Qaida threat pushes US to up air security

16 January 2010

WASHINGTON: The United States stepped up airport security as intelligence warned al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen was planning more attacks to follow a failed Christmas Day bombing.

Officials warned of "chatter" hinting at further strikes, as homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano announced US-bound passengers would see increased airport security screening and armed marshals on flights.

"We must remain vigilant about the continued threat we face from al-Qaida," Napolitano said. "We are taking an additional set of aviation security precautions to protect the American people.

"Some of these measures include enhanced random screening, additional federal air marshals on certain routes and adding individuals of concern to our terrorist watch list system," she said without giving details.

The measures follow a wide-ranging security review, ordered by President Barack Obama in the wake of Christmas Day attempt to bomb a trans-Atlantic jet.

Yemen-trained Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab 23, has been charged with attempted murder and trying to use a weapon of mass destruction on board the Northwest flight carrying 290 people from Amsterdam.

Administration officials said Thursday's measures responded to continued threats from Yemen-based operatives, despite a series US-backed strikes against senior militants based in the Gulf state.

"We do know AQAP (al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) sent UFA our way and it would not be prudent to suddenly think that threats like this have passed with his failure," an administration official said.

"I am sure there will be more security measure announcements in the future as we constantly review all the information available to us."

Earlier this week Canada put its airlines and airports on high alert after receiving "specific information" about new threats.

Meanwhile, Napolitano warned those visiting the United States of more airport delays. "Travelers should allot extra time when flying particularly into the United States from overseas," she said in a statement.


US kills wanted terrorist in missile strike in Pak

16 January 2010

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A US missile strike in Pakistan killed one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists, a man suspected in a deadly 1986 plane

hijacking with a $5 million bounty on his head, three Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The death would be the latest victory for the CIA-led missile campaign against militant targets in Pakistan's insurgent-riddled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, a campaign that has recently escalated. One Thursday is believed to have missed Pakistan's Taliban chief.

The intelligence officials said Friday that a January 9 missile strike in the North Waziristan tribal region killed Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim. The FBI's website lists him as a Palestinian with possible Lebanese citizenship. The Pakistani officials called him an al-Qaida member, but the FBI site says he was a member of the Abu Nidal Palestinian terrorist group.

Rahim is wanted for his alleged role in the Sept. 5, 1986, hijacking of Pan American World Airways Flight 73 during a stop in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, according to the FBI site.

The hijackers demanded that 1,500 prisoners in Cyprus and Israel be released and that they be flown out of Pakistan. At one point, the hijackers shot and threw hand grenades at passengers and crew in one part of the plane. Some 20 people, including two Americans, died during the hijacking.

Rahim had been tried and convicted by Pakistan, but he and three suspected accomplices were apparently released in January 2008. All four were added to the FBI list late last year.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. The three Pakistani intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they lacked authority to speak to media on the record. They cited field informants and sources in militant ranks.

But the information is nearly impossible to verify independently because access to Pakistan's tribal regions is restricted.

North Waziristan is considered a key sanctuary for a range of militant groups, including al-Qaida and factions focused on battling the US in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been resisting mounting US pressure to wage an army offensive in the region.

Full report at:


Pak President Asif Ali Zardari's power to appoint army chief slashed: Report

15 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: After losing control over Pakistan's nuclear button, President Asif Ali Zardari's key power to appoint the three service chiefs are to

be taken away from him and vested with the prime minister, a media report has said.

The Constitutional Reform Committee has transfered the authority to appoint service chiefs from the president to the prime minister in a move to clip the power's of the president, the Dawn news said.

The news channel quoting sources said on Thursday the decision was unanimously agreed upon by all the major political parties, including the Pakistan People's Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami Muslim league.

In a key amendment to Article 243 of the constitution, the president will now have to consult the prime minister of Pakistan, before appointing service chiefs, the report said.

Last November Zardari had stepped down as the chairman of National Command Authority, handing over the nuclear button to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani under a new power sharing equation.

Writing an Oped piece in The Washington Post on Friday, Zardari said he was working with the parliament to run the country.

"I am working with parliament to run a country, not a political campaign. The goal of our democratic government is to implement policies that will dramatically improve the lives of Pakistanis. In time, good policies will become good politics," he wrote in the US daily.


2 Pakistanis charged with Headley, Rana for Mumbai attack


US federal authorities have expanded the scope of the Mumbai terror attack investigation by including a suspected Pakistani terrorist and a retired Pakistani army major for the first time in their indictment.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against one of the main planners of the Mumbai attack, David Coleman Headley, and included three other defendants.

They include Canadian-Pakistani doctor Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who is a permanent resident of the US, Ilyas Kashmiri, described as an allegedly influential terrorist organisation leader in Pakistan who is alleged to be in regular contact with leaders of Al Qaeda, and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman), a retired major in the Pakistani military.

They have been indicted for participating in "conspiracies involving a planned terrorist attack against the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten and the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed approximately 164 people, including six Americans".

The new indictment contains charges on 12 counts, which were earlier filed against Headley Dec 7, 2009. In adding Rana, Kashmiri and Syed, the federal prosecutors appeared to establish contours of a larger, more organised conspiracy.

"Both Rana and Abdur Rehman were charged separately in previous court filings, but today's indictment charges Kashmiri for the first time, although he was identified by name in the charges filed previously against Rana, Abdur Rehman and Headley," the US Attorney's office said.

Rana, 49, who has remained in federal custody in Chicago since he was arrested Oct 18, 2009, in connection with the planned attack in Denmark, has now also been indicted on three counts of "providing material support to terrorism or a terrorist organisation - one count of providing material support in preparation for and in carrying out the Mumbai attacks; one count of providing material support to the Denmark terrorism plot; and one count of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba (Lashkar)."

"Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman, also known as 'Major Abdur Rehman' and 'Pasha', were each charged with one count of conspiracy to murder and maim persons in Denmark, and one count of providing material support to the Danish terrorism plot. Neither man is in US custody," the authorities said.

Full report at:


Two killed as militants attack Sopore PS twice


The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir is turning grim with the forces warning of fidayeen attacks and militants carrying out repeated strikes across the Valley. On Friday, a policeman and a civilian were killed when militants attacked a highly fortified police station first with a hand-grenade and then with small arms firing in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Ten persons, including four policemen, have got injured in the incident. Sopore is one of the main areas in the Valley where renewed militant attacks have occurred in the recent past.

The attack came on a day when General Officer in Command of the strategically important Northern Command Lt-Gen BS Jaswal warned that militants might carry out ‘fidayeen attacks’ in the near future on the lines of recent Lal Chowk strike.

“We are apprehending fidayeen attacks in the near future as Pakistan is unhappy with the prevailing peace in the State”, he said while talking to reporters at the end of the investiture ceremony in Udhampur.

In the first two weeks of January 2010, more than six encounters with militants have taken place across the State in which more than one dozen militants were killed.

Claming that Pakistan was conspiring to scuttle peace in the State and sabotage the ongoing peace process, Jaswal said, “No action has been taken by Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist training camps running on their soil and there has been no let-up by Pakistan in pushing trained militants inside the Indian territory as all the camps are still intact”.

Cautioning that 2010 is very crucial for the State as regards security situation, he said, “Security forces have been put on high alert to thwart the nefarious designs of the militant outfits to disturb the peace process.”

Proving him right, the militants tossed a grenade towards the high security police station in Sopore at around 10:25 am. The grenade hit the ceiling of the building and exploded in the front yard. A Congress worker who was inside the police premises got injured by the splinters.

Full report at:


Kasab’s denial mode continues

TN Raghunatha | Mumbai

Showing no signs of coming out of denial mode, Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Kasab on Friday told a special court that he neither had any knowledge of the terror attacks at Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi, Nariman House and Leopold, nor did he know who were behind these attacks.

In yet another day of retractions, Kasab also told the court that he was not aware as to how many people were killed at the four targeted sites, and foreign nationals, including those from USA, Japan, Italy, France and Israel were among the people dead in the attacks.

Distancing himself from the attacks, Kasab said he knew nothing about the fishing trawler MV Kuber, a vessel that he and nine other Pakistani terrorists had hijacked off Porbandar, along the Gujarat coast en route to Mumbai, in the run up to the 26/11 attacks. He also denied knowledge of the fact that head of MV Kuber Amarsing Solanki and three other crew members travelled from Porbandar to the Mumbai coast prior to the 26/11 attacks, and that he and other Pakistani terrorists killed them.

Kasab — who has been consistently denying his role in the 26/11 attacks ever since the trial court began recording his statement under 313 of Cr PC on December 18, 2009 – is expected to complete his statement in the trial court on Tuesday. The court has so far asked Kasab 1,141 questions, all based on the oral and written evidence produced by the Prosecution.

Like in the recent past, Kasab’s constant reply to most of the questions posed to him during the day was “Mujhe pata nahin (I do not know).”

After elaborately confessing to his role in the terror attacks on three occasions – first before the police immediately three days after his arrest (on November 29, 2008) secondly before a city magistrate on February 19 and 20, 2009 and lately before the trial court on July 20, 2009, Kasab has gone into denial mode since December 18, 2009.

Full report at:


Tape hints at Indian national in 26/11 control room

Praveen Swami and Vinay Kumar

Federal grand jury indicts Headley, Rana

NEW DELHI: Evidence is emerging that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba controllers who guided the course of the November 2008 assault on Mumbai may have included at least one Indian national.

In a five-and-a-half-minute conversation with Imran Babar — the Lashkar terrorist, who, using the code-name Abu Akasha, took control of a Jewish prayer house in the Colaba area — a still-unidentified controller who appears to have been a native Hindi speaker provided detailed instructions to the terrorist on the contents of a statement he hoped to make to the media.

The conversation was among more than 200 phone calls made by the Lashkar controllers to the assault team on voice-over-Internet and satellite phones.

During the conversation, the controller used words like karenga — characteristic Mumbai usage for the phrase “will do” — as well as gathbandan, in place of the Urdu word, ittehad, for alliance, and prashasan, instead of intezamiya or hukumat, for government. All other conversations recorded in the tape are in Punjabi, Urdu and heavily-accented English.

Babar was ordered to identify himself as a resident of Hyderabad’s Toli Chowki area — a neighbourhood that produced several Lashkar-linked Indian jihadists, including ranking Karachi-based commander Abdul Khwaja, who operates using the code-name ‘Amjad’.

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving Lashkar assault team member, had told a Mumbai court that his unit had been taught rudimentary Hindi by an Indian national who was known by the alias ‘Abu Jundal’.

Maharashtra Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam at that time dismissed the claim, noting that Kasab had never earlier “disclosed the involvement of any Indian.”

“I strongly suspect that he is not telling the truth,” Mr. Nikam said.

Full report at:


French leaders push for ban of Muslim dress in public places

By Edward Cody

LYON, FRANCE -- France, which regards itself as the cradle of human rights, is moving to impose legal restrictions on Muslim women who wear Afghan-style burqas or other full-face veils.

The restrictions, likely to apply to many public places, come in response to resentment in France and other European countries over the growing visibility of Muslims -- immigrants or locally born -- on a continent with ancient Christian roots. The tensions have long run through European societies but increasingly are coming to the surface as the number of Muslims grows and symbols of their faith, including mosques, are seen as a challenge to European traditions.

Andre Gerin, a member of Parliament who recently completed six months of hearings on the burqa controversy, said that he has nothing against the more than 5 million Muslims in France but that full-face veils are the visible tip of an Islamist underground that threatens the French way of life.

Although veiled women are estimated to number no more than several thousand in this country of 64 million, Gerin said, behind them are what he called "gurus" who are trying to impose Islamic law on French society.

For instance, Gerin said, doctors at the Mother and Child Hospital in Lyon told him during a visit Thursday that they are threatened several times a week by angry Muslim men who refuse to allow their pregnant wives or daughters to be treated by male doctors, even for emergency births when nobody else is available. "The scope of the problem is a lot broader than I thought," he said at a news conference here summing up his findings. "It is insidious."


Gerin said representatives of several other European countries, as well as Canada, have expressed interest in his hearings, which included testimony from women's advocacy figures, Muslim leaders and sociologists.

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Terrorism Carries No Profile

While right-wing and Islamophobic commentators have been quick to call for increased airport security for a quick (and enormously costly) fix, enhanced security requires attention not only to airport security but also, and most importantly, to psychological, identity and political problems that feed radicalisation. It requires working more closely with Muslim communities in the US and around the world, notes John L. Esposito.

 Airport profiling is back with a vengeance in US airports and on international flights to the US despite the fact that most experts agree profiling doesn't work; human rights advocates decry the erosion of civil liberties.

A series of foiled terrorist plots, most recently the Christmas Day attempt by Nigerian Omar Farouq Abdul Muttalib to blow up an airliner landing in Detroit and the arrest of five American Muslims from Northern Virginia in Pakistan on terrorism charges, escalated calls for greater airport security and profiling of Muslims, greater monitoring of Muslims and radical websites, and increased military intervention in Yemen.

While right-wing and Islamophobic commentators have been quick to call for increased airport security for a quick (and enormously costly) fix, enhanced security requires attention not only to airport security but also, and most importantly, to psychological, identity and political problems that feed radicalisation. It requires working more closely with Muslim communities in the US and around the world.

If some terrorists come from occupied lands or have lived lives of desperate hopelessness, many global terrorists or would-be terrorists are often well-educated and have integrated in mainstream society prior to their radicalisation.

If some are recruited and radicalised by preachers of hate, others become alienated and radicalised due to their own perceptions and experiences. Many are profoundly affected and changed by what they see as endless oppression, corruption and injustice in Muslim regimes and failed states and Western foreign policies which support them.

Double game

Western powers, particularly the US, are seen as supporting and aiding autocrats or as using power and military force to threaten, invade and ‘occupy' Muslim lands. Thus, the perception of occupation and injustice in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Palestine has been a potent catalyst, heavily exploited in the rhetoric and ideologies of terrorist organisations.

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Malaysian held for threats to attack Hindu temple

Jaishree Balasubramanian

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 15 (PTI) Police have arrested a 25-year-old student who reportedly posted on a popular social networking site that he was ready to attack a Hindu temple at Batu Caves near here if paid.

Police arrested student, who claimed to have prepared crude bombs that were hurled at some churches here, after receiving a complaint from the Malaysian Indian Congress.

The posting on Facebook was a threat against the Murugan temple, a Hindu shrine visited by the ethnic Indian settled in Malaysia.

The student reportedly said he was willing to do it (vandalising the shrine) for a fee, local media said today.

The incident comes close on the heels of attacks at churches across Malaysia following a court ruling on the use of the word "Allah" in a magazine published by the Catholic Church.


Face to faith: We must all work at challenging how Muslims are seen

Saturday 16 January 2010

Amid a slew of negative coverage, we must all work at challenging how Muslims are seen

Events over the past few weeks have combined to cause much anxiety and reflection. We have had the promise of new body scanners at airports, Islam4UK and Wootton Bassett, Lord Carey's pronouncements on immigration and early findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey, which is reported to show that only a quarter of Britons feel positively towards Muslims and over half believe that Britain is divided along religious lines.

I work in Leicester, which has a comparatively good reputation as a cohesive place. But this cohesion is threatened by the possibility of miscommunication and complacency. The various migrants that arrived in the city in the 1960s and 1970s – Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh – had shared journeys and experiences, many of them tracing the same route to the UK from India via Africa. Today, however, the extent to which their grandchildren share experiences with one another is limited. And in common with many other parts of the country, marginal and extreme viewpoints are gaining new currency.

A bombardment of negative coverage has reinforced the siege mentality of Muslim communities but has also brought home the importance of ­interfaith dialogue, and this doesn't have to be just at the level of imams and bishops.

It is the responsibility of all of us, Muslims and those of other beliefs, to lead by example in working to challenge negative perceptions. I recall the tea I made for a pensioner couple in Coalville in Inter Faith Week 2009, during which my colleagues and I had taken part in an indoor bowling exchange with local ­people. Coalville is a former mining town in north-west Leicestershire which last year elected a BNP councillor. Another example: while working for the NHS in rural East Staffordshire it was clear that my colleagues would never have learned about the life of a Muslim and all that it entails, were it not for their interest in my love of Liverpool Football Club. The catalyst for building relationships and breaking down religious stereotypes was dialogue over a non-religious subject.

As a trainer working to promote interfaith dialogue, I know that the conversations needed to counter prejudice and hostility take place in the canteen as much as in the classroom. Schools and colleges are often seen as the starting point for embedding shared values. In my opinion, informal spaces are more important than formal ones, because they are arenas in which intolerance can run riot and scrutiny is self-administered.

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Jerusalem and Baku enjoy stable political dialogue

Joseph Shagal

15 January 2010

News.Az interviews Joseph Shagal, president of the Israel-Azerbaijan international association and former Knesset deputy.

How serious is the latest diplomatic scandal between Israel and Turkey?

If you are referring to the misunderstanding that occurred at the meeting with the Turkish ambassador in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, after the official apologies by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, and their acceptance by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, the incident can be considered over. For anyone who doubts this, let me quote the letter sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to Turkey via diplomatic channels: “All conflicts between the countries should be settled by way of mutual respect.”

Naturally, the incident would hardly raise the level of Israeli-Turkish relations but it has not worsened them for the simple reason that they are already strained.

Is it possible to say that the Israeli leadership is reviewing relations and is toughening its approach to the Muslim countries, even to those who have until now been considered its strategic partners?

On the contrary, I see the unhidden intention of Israel to build close, mutually profitable and long-term relations with the larger Muslim world. It is clear that this implies only those states which voice the desire or at least the intention of becoming friends with Israel on the basis of equality  and mutual respect.

You probably know that since day one of its existence, Israel has been surrounded by a bellicose and irreconcilable wall of Arab resistance which has led to five major wars and killed many. Though present-day Israel has existed for at least 62 years, the majority of Muslim (mostly Arab) states still do not recognize its right to exist. You would agree that it would be at least illogical to speak of Israel toughening its approach to the Muslim world - it is admissible to offer friendship but inadmissible to impose it.

As for Turkey, with which Israel has maintained decades of reliable, strategic relations and interaction in major spheres, I would not hurry to bury this regional alliance that has been tested by time. Both Turkey and Israel have enough reasonable and pragmatic politicians who understand the real importance of Israeli-Turkish relations in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Middle East. I do hope that this understanding will take our countries back to their traditionally friendly relations.

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Pastor stages own protest against CAIR Says huge mosque project will be used to recruit radicals

By Bob Unruh

January 16, 2010

A Pompano Beach, Fla., Christian leader who has alleged a huge Islamic mosque being built in the neighborhood of his 600-member church will be used to recruit people who hate America has scheduled a public protest of the project.

Rev. O'Neal Dozier, a former NFL player who now is minister at the Worldwide Christian Center, has announced plans for a protest rally in front of the partly constructed mosque at 10 a.m. on Feb. 6.

"It will be directly in front of the mosque that is being built. We're expecting hundreds of people to be there," he told WND.

"We hope to raise the people's consciousness even more towards what we're fighting here," he said.

Dozier has told WND the building is being constructed by the Islamic Center of South Florida with support from the national Council on Islamic-American Relations, which is becoming the subject of increasing protests around the country.

Citing CAIR's ties to terrorism, a Republican congressional candidate in Oklahoma recently announced a protest of a CAIR town hall meeting in his district.

Kevin Calvey, a candidate for Oklahoma's fifth district seat, pointed out the Washington, D.C.-based CAIR has been identified by several law enforcement sources as a front for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

"Oklahomans should be outraged that a group like CAIR is operating in our midst," said Calvey, a former state representative who prosecuted terrorists while deployed with the Army National Guard in Iraq.

Calvey, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, noted the FBI broke official ties with CAIR one year ago because of the group's support of terrorism. And the organization previously was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Lands Foundation case brought by the federal government.

WND has reported in recent months on a book – "Muslim Mafia," by WND Books– based on a six-month undercover investigation that obtained internal documents confirming CAIR is acting as a front for a conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the U.S. and help pave the way for Saudi-style Islamic law to rule the nation. The Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood is the parent of many global terrorist groups, including Hamas and al-Qaida.

CAIR has sued the father and son who carried out the investigation, P. David Gaubatz and Chris Gaubatz, in an attempt reclaim the documents and stop further distribution of the book.

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Arab World: The Egypt-Hamas collision course


Hamas representatives who visited Cairo in November and December for talks on a possible prisoner exchange agreement with Israel and reconciliation with the rival Fatah faction asked government officials about the nature of the construction work that had been taking place for several weeks along the border between the Gaza Strip and Sinai.

The Egyptians, according to one of the Hamas representatives, sought to allay the group's concerns by assuring them that this was only routine "engineering" work.

Hamas's suspicions regarding Egypt's true intentions grew when Palestinians living on the Egyptian side of the border were told by some of the laborers employed in the project that it was actually aimed at building an underground steel wall.

"The workers said that Egyptian security officers had warned them against talking to anyone about the project," said a Hamas legislator in the Gaza Strip. "TheEgyptian authorities were evidently concerned about how the wall would be perceived in the Arab and Islamic world and that's why they wanted to build it without drawing attention."

Seeking to embarrass the Egyptians and exert pressure on them to halt the construction of the barrier, Hamas has in the past three weeks managed to mobilize major media outlets in the Arab and Islamic world against the project.

Hamas began organizing tours for local and foreign journalists and photographers to the Palestinian side of the border so that they could see with their own eyes the "engineering" work. Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular TV network, which has long been extraordinarily sympathetic toward Hamas, took upon itself the mission of depicting the Egyptians as being part of a US-Israeli conspiracy to "strangle" the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Jazeera has since dedicated many of its popular programs to live debates about the controversial wall, providing a free platform to almost anyone willing to condemn theEgyptian regime and President Hosni Mubarak. The controversy over the wall has even divided the most prominent scholars of the Islamic world, triggering a "war of fatwas" in favor of and against the project.

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Suicide bombers are a threat to humanity

Tanveer Jafri

American security agencies have once again become alert after the unsuccessful attempt by a Nigerian Al Qaeda operative Abdulmtallab to bomb an American airliner on the way from Amsterdam to Detroit. President Barack Obama, who usually talks about establishing world peace, has also become serious and strict as far as the American security is concerned. Reports are that the American administration has given free hand to its security agencies to strictly deal with such conspiracies. Even before this bombing attempt, people of the world including many reputed personalities were uncomfortable with the way of enquiry and checking by the American security agencies at airports. People like the former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan had to face the strict security measures of the American agencies. The general feeling in the Muslim world is that it is due to mistrust against them. After the fresh incident of Abdulmutallab, it would not be a strange thing if American security agencies start seeing every person as a potential 'human bomb'.

Here again the question is arising why the human bombs are linked with Islam or Muslims. What is the ground reality of these human bombs? Let's have a reality check regarding suicide attackers. The use of human bomb is a kind of betrayal which is done by astraying the enemies and security agencies. It is strictly prohibited in Islam to betray anyone, speak a lie or astraying someone.

Prophet Mohammad always taught never to attack innocents. Even at the time of war, Islam instructs, to properly treat women, children and aged persons. Not only humans, Islam also directs to protect animals-birds and agricultural fields during the time of war. So the question here is why mostly the Muslims are involved in suicide teams.

It is necessary to make it clear here that even though the human bombing was started by the Palestinian fighters against the Israeli targets, but the Sri Lanka based LTTE used the large numbers of suicide bombers. It is said that 30-40 percent of the LTTE fighters were suicide bombers. It included many women and children.

India's former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was a victim of LTTE fighters one such human bomb. But since 9/11, many Muslim youths are being attracted to become human bombs and the entire world is concerned about the inspiration, source and education of Muslim youth suicide bombers.

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Gus Dur: A champion of pluralism

By John McBeth

JAKARTA, Jan 16 — Icon of religious tolerance, enemy of radical Islam and champion of women and ethnic minorities, history will always be kind to the late Abdurrahman Wahid — whether Indonesia declares him a national hero or not.

But he was also an enigma, whose disastrous presidency ended with him trying to get the military to head off his impeachment by the House of Representatives, sorely tarnishing his reputation as a democrat in the process. Indeed, as analyst Marcus Meitzner points out, his greatest legacy as a politician may be the Indonesian elite’s subsequent reformation of the political system to ensure a similar scenario was never repeated.

I got my first taste of Abdurrahman’s erratic behaviour back in the mid-1990s during interviews over cups of sugary tea at the run-down headquarters of Nahdlatul Ulama, the mass Muslim organisation he headed with an iron grip from 1984 to 1999. Mostly, it was perfectly rational political discourse, but there would always be a moment when he dropped a piece of outrageously salacious gossip into the conversation that seemed totally out of place.

Of course, the man known as Gus Dur had a wicked sense of humour and he may have had a good laugh as I left, still wondering whether he actually believed what he had told me.

But after a stroke in early 1998, those seemingly irrational moments became more pronounced. Aides complained that instead of taking sensible advice, he would often listen only to people who had a juicy story to tell.

Abdurrahman did not play a key role in then-President Suharto’s downfall five months later. His alliance with opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri worried Suharto, but Abdurrahman did nothing to actively oppose him. In the end, with Suharto gone, the manner in which he subsequently became Indonesia’s first democratically-elected president makes for far more interesting analysis than many of the disappointments that attended his 21 months in power.

In mid-1999, when I interviewed him at his house in the southern Jakarta suburb of Ciganjur, he was not feeling well and spent the hour lying on his bed, a Dutch widow clenched between his bare knees and his face half buried in a pillow.

As I strained to hear what he was saying, he took me aback by confidently predicting he would win the October presidential run-off in the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR).

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