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Islamic World News ( 12 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Kalam, Shah Rukh in most influential Muslims list

Terror tentacles spreading online

Swiss town refuses services to women in full-body veils,

says too difficult to identify them

Muslim artist sculpts Lord Ram’s statue in Kerala

Pak doing lip service in war on terror: US lawmakers

Peace is Not a Noun; Peace is Action

Israeli vandals attack West Bank mosque

Sharia law tribunal is proposed

US men held in Pakistan had contacted al-Qaida: Officials

Pak ready to deport American ‘jihadis’

US drone strike kills al-Qaida's operations planner

Internet impure, shun it: Rabbis

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

US, Pakistan bridging gap over their approach to war on terror: Hillary

US War on Terror and Indian Security Interests

Top Al Qaeda Official Believed Killed

The Missed Signal on American Muslim Radicalization

Helping Iran's student protesters

Six Killed In Bombings Near Baghdad: Iraqi Police

Military Time, Civilian Time

U.S. warns Iran to be ready to face consequences

Arrests Raise Fears of American Jihad

Senegal imams use prayers to condemn giant statue

What do a billion Muslims really think?

Turkey bans main Kurdish party over alleged terror links

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of the page:,-shah-rukh-most-influential/d/2213



Kalam, Shah Rukh in most influential Muslims list

12 December 2009,

NEW DELHI: In a first of its kind survey of the world’s most influential Muslims, Georgetown University has come out with a list of 500 among

whom are prominent Indians like former President A P J Abdul Kalam, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and music maestro A R Rahman.

What, however, has come as a surprise is the choice of an Urdu professor at Aligarh Muslim University for his propagation of moderate Sufi views in a region being blighted by jihadi terror.

Professor Sayid Ameen Mian Qaudri, ranked 44 on the list, is a “leader of a South Asian Sufi movement based in a volatile region where religion has been used as a platform for violence”, the editors said in their comment.

Another interesting selection is that of Maulana Mahmood Madani, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and MP, who has campaigned against Islamic terror. “Madani has been outspoken in his opposition to the misuse of the term ‘jihad’ as a tool of terrorism in India,” the university said justifying the highest rank — 36 — given to him among his compatriots on the list.

Noted Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, leader of the progressive Dawoodi Bohra movement, finds space for his “take on Islam and contemporary issues”.

Another choice for the ‘scholarly’ category is spiritual leader Wahiduddin Khan, hailed by the volume as “Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world”. His approach, it is pointed out, is “popular among Indians, both Muslim and non-Muslim”.

Interestingly, the list, which features Osama bin Laden, Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed among the ‘radicals’, has focused on the moderate faces of Islam from India. Zakir Abdul-Karim Naik is another such Islamic teacher included for promoting understanding about Islam.

Recalling Kalam’s role in India’s weaponisation programme as scientific adviser to the government, the editors said, “This moved India from being a state with nuclear technology to a state with nuclear weapons.”

An Indian who figures among influential media personalities is Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria. Selected from the US, Zakaria is acknowledged as one of America’s “foremost public intellectuals


Terror tentacles spreading online

12 December 2009,

ISLAMABAD: The detention in Pakistan of Americans seeking to contact militants and join holy war through the internet suggests the country may

need more than security crackdowns to contain threats from an insurgency.

The five men, students in their 20s from Virginia, were detained this week in Sargodha. Laptops, cellphones and maps of Pakistani cities were seized from them.

“It’s a very difficult job to dismantle such networks which operate through the internet. Their mode of communication was the internet and email. All five and their contacts were using the same password and just putting their messages in draft and weren’t sending them,” said a Pakistani security official.

If young men are leaning towards leaving behind the west to seek jihad, the internet offers a variety of videos, made by some of the world’s deadliest militant groups, to help them decide. Cost-free indoctrination by the Taliban and Qaida is readily available on sites such as You Tube, which one official said was used by the five Americans to try and contact militants.

Videos romanticise what could be a violent future. Militants jump through fire rings, climb obstacles and open fire with assault rifles to train for “martyrdom”. Video clips often lead to images of aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center. Militants will smile in the face of death, viewers are told.


Swiss town refuses services to women in full-body veils, says too difficult to identify them

(CP) – 11 December 2009,

GRENCHEN, Switzerland — The mayor of a Swiss town says city workers will stop serving women in full-body veils because it is too difficult to identify them.

Grenchen Mayor Boris Banga says he has decided to ban head-to-toe and face-covering veils after a 19-year-old Muslim woman appeared fully veiled at city hall to register.

Banga said Friday the woman had to come to an extra appointment and lift her veil in front of female staff members in order to be identified, creating extra work.

Grenchen is a town of about 16,000 residents in western Switzerland.

Burqas and other body veils aren't common in Switzerland.

Swiss citizens recently voted to ban the construction of minarets, drawing much criticism from Muslim and European countries.


Muslim artist sculpts Lord Ram’s statue in Kerala

December 11th, 2009

A Muslim mason in Thrissur district of Kerala has designed and sculpted an idol of Lord Rama for the local Hindu temple.

Through his artistic and creative traits, Abdul Rasheed of Triprayar village has projected communal amity in a novel way.

Rasheed and his wife have spent all their savings to sculpt and install this idol.

“Being an Indian every one of us should protect India as our own country. Let an individual be from any religion - Muslim, Hindu or Christian or belong to any caste, it is our duty to save our country. So I sculptured the idol of Lord Ram to spread awareness about communal amity to those people who kill one another in the name of religion,” said Abdul Rasheed.

Hindus have applauded and welcomed his move and said that the idol will be duly placed on a pedestal at the Triprayar Rama Temple after obtaining permission from the state’s governing body of temples.

“Abdul Rasheed informed the head priest about it and took his blessings before sculpting the idol of Lord Ram, which can be viewed near the compound wall of the temple. After making all the prior arrangements and availing permission by the Cochin Devasom Board, the idol will be installed in the temple premises soon,” said M S Kashi Vishwanathan, a priest of Rama Temple at Triprayar.

The six feet high idol is entirely made-up of concrete.

Apart from heralding communal concord among the Hindus and Muslims, Rasheed has another feather in his cap.

He has formed a small group of like-minded people in the village.

Members of this forum in their free time interact with the villagers as a part of their crusade against the evils of alcohol and tobacco.

The have plans to extend this campaign to other nearby villages and even visit the schools.


Pak doing lip service in war on terror:US lawmakers

Lalit K Jha

Dec 11 2009 (PTI)

Several US lawmakers today questioned the sincerity of Pakistan in taking action against terrorist groups existing on its soil, with one of them alleging that the country is simply doing lip service.

"Pakistan gives lip service to doing something about it (taking action against terrorists). I am not convinced that Pakistan is engaged in helping defeat the Taliban," Republican Congressman Ted Poe said at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan convened by the House Committee on International Affairs.

America's top diplomat and commander of its forces in Afghanistan testified before the committee.

"Having been on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and talking to just regular troops, just my opinion is that the Pakistan government isn't doing enough to ratchet up protecting their side of the border," Poe said.


Peace is Not a Noun; Peace is Action

by ramzi kysia

A Pacifist Critique of Obama's Nobel Lecture

In any circumstances President Obama’s speech would have been disturbing, but given in acceptance for the Nobel Peace prize it was deplorable. Full of internal inconsistencies, the speech was little more than a jingoistic defense of the institution of warfare.

We do face a War on Terror, but terrorism is not a country or an ideology, nor are human beings anywhere in this world born subject to it. Terrorism is the delusion that no one in the world is innocent, and it is trained by the injustice of a world that recognizes innocence only in its rhetoric.

President Obama is not an unintelligent man. Much of his rhetoric was thoughtful and reasoned, and demonstrates the failure of reason alone to address the crises our nation faces. Intellectualization is not enough to overcome the deep prejudices, lain down as ice across our hearts, by the tragedy of American triumphalism.

Obama correctly identified the obstacles to peace that are caused by violence when he said that “security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.”

But Obama did not take the next step, could not draw the connection, would not allow himself to feel the same distress as when American violence creates this very same destitution.

The President went on to state that “force can be justified on humanitarian grounds,” and that “[t]here will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

There are many decent women and men within the U.S. government and military. But that does not change the fact that American violence in Afghanistan and Iraq has both directly and indirectly denied human beings access to food, clean water, medicine, shelter, education, and jobs - as well as causing or contributing to deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of people in those countries. Does that make the Afghan or Iraqi insurgencies “morally justified?”

Through its military blockade, Israel is affirmatively denying Palestinians in Gaza access to food, clean water, medicine, shelter, and jobs. It’s been a year since the Cast Lead massacres - where 13 Israelis and over 1,400 Palestinians were killed - and thousands in Gaza are still forced to live in rubble. Does this make Palestinian armed resistance “morally justified?”

Full report at:


Israeli vandals attack West Bank mosque

Fri, 11 Dec 2009

Israeli extremists have attacked a mosque in the occupied West Bank, vandalizing the property and desecrating the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an.

Suspected hard-line Israeli settlers stormed the holy site in the northern West Bank village of Yasuf at night, set fire to the mosque's library and sprayed hate messages on the building.

Israeli security authorities said they had failed to arrest the attackers, adding that a probe had been launched into the incident.

Following the overnight attack, Palestinians in the locality rallied in protest at the attack and clashed with Israeli forces, who fired tear gas to disperse the angry protesters.

The incident is the latest in a series of anti-Muslim violence, which has also seen the eviction of Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

In October, Israeli vandals attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque — the Muslim world's third-holiest site — in Jerusalem Al-Quds, which caused public outrage in the Muslim world and prompted condemnations from the international community.

The recent temporary freeze in construction of illegal settlements by Tel Aviv is believed to have stepped up the acts of violence by Israeli settlers.

The Israeli army had earlier voiced concerns that settlers may attempt to display their opposition to the 10-month settlement freeze by targeting the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

Palestinian officials in the region have expressed dismay over repeated settler attacks, saying Israeli security forces have done little to protect Palestinian civilians from the assailants.


Sharia law tribunal is proposed

The Muslim community has mixed views about the proposals

Wales could get its first court based on Islamic law under proposals from a Muslim body, BBC Wales has learned.

A Sharia law tribunal in Cardiff will help community relations and give some Muslims services they want, supporters have told the Dragon's Eye programme.

But the Ministry of Justice said that Sharia law "has no jurisdiction in England and Wales".

A spokesperson said: "Regardless of religious belief we are all equal before the law".

What we are trying to do is help the third or fourth generation British Muslims who are growing up to give them the services necessary to make Britain their homeland, rather than saying we actually want to ghettoise ourselves

Shaykh Siddiqi, Muslim Arbitration Tribunal

Some commentators, such as the think-tank Civitas, say a Muslim arbitration tribunal undermines the concept of one law for UK citizens.

A women's group said it was not needed and women may not be treated fairly.

A tribunal has been proposed for the middle of next year, and its backers say it will bring the law and Muslim faith together.

There are already seven such tribunals in England when two parties facing marital, financial and other disputes come before experts in Islamic and UK law.

Both parties must agree to allow the tribunal to sit in judgement.

Shaykh Siddiqi, of the tribunal, said: "What we are trying to do is help the third or fourth generation British Muslims who are growing up to give them the services necessary to make Britain their homeland, rather than saying we actually want to ghettoise ourselves."

Nothing in the law of England and Wales prevents people abiding by Sharia principles if they wish, provided their actions do not conflict with English and Welsh law

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice said: "Communities have the option to use religious councils and to agree to abide by their decisions. These decisions are subject to national law and cannot be enforced through the national courts, save in limited circumstances."

Full report at:


US men held in Pakistan had contacted al-Qaida: Officials

LAHORE: Five US men arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of plotting terror attacks had contacted someone linked to al-Qaida and were arrested just

before a scheduled meeting, police said Saturday.

The men have been questioned by the FBI and Pakistani officials, accused of seeking to engage in militant activities and trying travel to the northwest Taliban heartland, officials said Friday.

The men arrested on Wednesday in Sargodha, about 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of Islamabad, are US citizens with origins in other countries, including two Pakistani-Americans, officials said.

"They had contacted one Saifullah, who has links with al-Qaida, and they were set to go to Mianwali town on the day they were arrested to see him," an official close to the investigations told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"Saifullah had asked them to come to Mianwali where one of his men would contact them and arrange a meeting at some unknown place," the official said.

"According to our investigations the group wanted to go to Waziristan via Mianwali to get terrorist training," he added.

Another investigation official confirmed the account.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Friday that the men would not be deported back to the United States unless they are cleared of any crimes by Pakistani police first.

Meanwhile, police shifted the detained men to the eastern city of Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, and formed a joint investigation team to probe them, Sargodha district police chief Usman Anwar said.

"On the instructions of federal government, Punjab government formed a joint investigation team and handed over the suspects to it in Lahore," Anwar said.

"The detained men had contacted different militant outfits and they were planning to carry out big attacks," he added.

Full report at:


Pak ready to deport American ‘jihadis’

12 December 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will accept US requests to deport six Muslim Americans arrested this week on suspicion of seeking training as jihadist

guerrillas, after an inquiry into the case, a provincial minister said.

“It’s quite clear that the next step for these men is to be deported to their home country, America, but we will do so only after a full investigation is complete,” Punjab province home minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday in a telephone interview from Lahore, the provincial capital.

Five of the men, age 19 to 25, are friends from the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, Pakistani officials say. The sixth, Khalid Farooq, is the father of one of them, Umer Farooq, 25, according to police in Sargodha, the city in Punjab where they were arrested on Wednesday.

The five young men disappeared last month from their homes in northern Virginia, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in Washington. One of them left behind an 11-minute “farewell” video that “misused” verses from the Koran in a way that showed a “profound misunderstanding,” he said.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has sent a team to Sargodha and is taking part in the investigation, Sanaullah said. The officials have visited the men in custody.

Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said the deportations won’t take place until the country’s law enforcement agencies have checked to see whether they have committed crimes in Pakistan.


US drone strike kills al-Qaida's operations planner

12 December 2009

WASHINGTON: Al Somali, al-Qaida's operations planner, was killed in a US missile strike this week in northwestern Pakistan, American

Somali, a top al-Qaida operative, was responsible for terror group's operations outside the Af-Pak region, reaching into terror strikes in Africa, ABC news reported quoting US counterterrorism and intelligence officers.

"There are strong indications that Saleh al-Somali, a senior al-Qaida operations planner, has died," officials said. "He took strategic guidance from top commanders and translated it into operational blueprints for prospective terror attacks."

ABC said that the al-Qaida commander was also involved in plotting attacks against US and Europe.

"Al Somali also had connections to other Pakistan-based terror groups," they said.

Al Somali had also worked in Pakistan's tribal areas with Westerners recruited by al Qaeda.

The strike, ABC said, was part of stepped up US campaign using Unmanned Predator drones against al-Qaida and Taliban targets in Pakistan under the new Obama administration. The Predators are fitted with infrared cameras and armed with precision-guided bombs and hellfire missiles.

ABC said earlier reports from Pakistan had suggested that the senior figure killed in the attack was al-Qaida no three Abu Yahya al-Libi. The hellfire missiles felled Somali in Janikhel village just outside the north Waziristan tribal district.


Internet impure, shun it: Rabbis

AFP 12 December 2009

JERUSALEM: Leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis on Friday told their flock to shun the internet, claiming that even sites meant for the

arch-conservative community contained “lies and terrible impurity”.

Those who enter the world of the internet “will never return”, they warned in a letter published in newspapers. “Many Jewish souls have already fallen into its trap.”

The 21 rabbis noted that private use of general sites is already prohibited for members of the Haredi community, as the ultra-Orthodox call themselves. “Recently, the so-called Haredi sites have gone overboard,” the rabbis said, adding that “they disseminate slander, gossip, lies, terrible impurity and abominations.”

The letter told the Haredi community not to look at or advertise on such sites. Ironically, it was a Haredi website that first reported the letter had been sent to newspapers.

Recently, scores of Haredis took to the streets to protest against a firm that operates on Saturday, which they consider a grave desecration of the Jewish holy day of rest.


Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

By James Risen And Mark Mazzetti

10 December 2009

Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater’s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater.

“It became a very brotherly relationship,” said one former top C.I.A. officer. “There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually became an extension of the agency.”

George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, would not comment on Blackwater’s ties to the agency. But he said the C.I.A. employs contractors to “enhance the skills of our own work force, just as American law permits.”

“Contractors give you flexibility in shaping and managing your talent mix — especially in the short term — but the accountability’s still yours,” he said.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Blackwater, said Thursday that it was never under contract to participate in clandestine raids with the C.I.A. or with Special Operations personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Blackwater’s role in the secret operations raises concerns about the extent to which private security companies, hired for defensive guard duty, have joined in offensive military and intelligence operations.

Full report at:


US, Pakistan bridging gap over their approach to war on terror: Hillary

December 11, 2009

WASHINGTON - The United and Pakistan are trying to bridge the gap between their positions on their pursuit of the war on terror, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday.

"We are building up more understanding on each side," she told

Al-Jazeera TV channel's Riz Khan, when asked about the lack of trust, with U.S. pushing Pakistan to do more, while objecting to attacks from CIA-operated drones.

"We see Afghanistan and Pakistan as interconnected. How could you not? That porous, open, very tough terrain that is the boundary between the two countries is very much on everyone’s minds. But we’ve admired the way Pakistan has pulled together to go after those elements of the Taliban that are directly threatening them, the top US diplomat said.

"And I think that the people of Pakistan are so unified now in support of this military action".

At the same time, Mrs. Clinton praised the Pakistanis' strong backing for anti-militancy campaign, their government has been purusing in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan..

Her remarks came as U.s. military readied to start deployment of additional 30,000 troops President Barack Obama announced this month as part of his administration's revamped strategy for Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO forces, currently number around 100,000 are struggling to contain a spreading Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, eight years after the militia were ousted from Kabul in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks.

NATO countries have pledged to contribute 7000 more troops to help the Afghan mission.

Mrs. Clinton, who is due to launch an initiative on pooling Pakistani-Americans' efforts to support Pakistan's development later Friday, said she has been "so impressed by my many Pakistani American friends who are so successful."

"They’re professionals of all kinds, they’re very successful in business. They’re academics. It’s an extraordinarily impressive community. And I know that many of them, from my personal acquaintance, still have deep ties in Pakistan. They often go

back to see their relatives, to visit their family home. They send money to support people back in Pakistan.


US War on Terror and Indian Security Interests

December 11, 2009

The war on terror launched by the United States in the wake of 9/11 has been largely congruent with India’s security interests, though some components of this exercise have actually gone against India.

It is well known that Pakistan became a frontline ally of the United States. The U-turn made by Pakistan under General Parvez Mussarraf not only saved Pakistan from retaliatory actions but also brought huge amounts of Western, and especially American assistance.

However, the Pakistan military under Musharraf and its dreaded external intelligence agency the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were soon back to their old games. After making initial gains in the fight against the Taliban, Western forces soon realized that this war was not going anywhere and that the reason for this lay in the fact that Pakistan did not want to see the Taliban destroyed. It was also realized that the major assistance Pakistan had received to fight the Taliban was diverted to strengthen the Pakistan military, which acquired weapons that were more suitable for fighting India rather than the Taliban. The Pakistan army never wanted to fight the Taliban, which it saw as a strategic asset to be safeguarded. No wonder, the results of the war on terror have been mixed.

To fight the war on terror and to strengthen the Karzai government and the Afghan National Army, NATO forces brought in large amount of weapons. According to the US Government Accountability Office report, more than one-third of all weapons the United States has procured for Afghanistan’s government went missing. The US military has failed to maintain a complete inventory of records for an estimated 87,000 weapons –about 36 percent – of the 242,000 weapons that the United States procured and shipped to Afghanistan from December 2004 through June 2008. Nearly $120 million was spent by the US Defence Department during that period to acquire a range of small arms and light weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces, including rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The military could also not properly account for an additional 135,000 weapons it had obtained for the Afghan forces from 21 other countries.

It is feared that most of these weapons have been diverted to the Taliban. NATO weapons and even laptops are freely available in the tribal areas of Pakistan. This kind of proliferation of weapons is bound to strengthen non-state actors like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and al-Qaeda, thereby creating security threats for countries like India.

Full report at:


Top Al Qaeda Official Believed Killed

Report: U.S. Officials Tell CBS News Missile Fired from Predator Drone Likely Killed High-Ranking Operative in Pakistan

(CBS)  CBS News has confirmed a Hellfire missile was fired from an unmanned Predator drone and likely killed a top al Qaeda official in Pakistan. Unnamed officials tell CBS News the al Qaeda figure killed was not Osama bin Laden nor his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports the drone attack was in the mountainous Pakistani border area.

Details of the attack are still emerging, but a source with a variety of intelligence information told CBS News correspondent Peter Maer that the drone killed one of the top five terrorists on the U.S. wanted list. The source called it a "major hit" whose name will be "recognizable to many" when it becomes public.

However, officials told Dozier they have to study the strike zone, and the behavior of the al Qaeda operatives left behind to see either if they hold a funeral for the suspected target or somehow move to replace him to be able to confirm the target's identity.

"We have to study the pattern of life for a couple days, and see if anyone steps forward to take the target's place," a counterterrorism official told Dozier. "Then we have an idea that we did get him. Normally we wait for the NSA to study the area for 24 to 36 hours after a strike like this. We don't have that information back yet."

One official pointed out they're taking a target out nearly every day, and the hard part is proving who they got, Dozier reports.


The Missed Signal on American Muslim Radicalization

Friday, 11 December 2009

Leaders of several national Islamist organizations held a news conference Wednesday to broadcast their role in encouraging the families of five D.C.-area students now detained in Pakistan to report their children's disappearance to law enforcement.

That the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) thought it was news that they and others cooperated with law enforcement is an interesting statement in itself. But it was more interesting to see CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad acknowledge "that there is a problem" of American Muslims turning to jihad at home and abroad. In an effort to combat the trend, Awad announced his organization would "launch a major campaign of education to refute the misuse of where are verses in the Quran or the misuse of certain grievances in the Muslim world."

This acknowledgement by CAIR and fellow Islamist groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) comes after at least nine cases of homegrown Muslim extremism in 2009 and the disappearance in 2008 of about 20 Somali men from Minneapolis who returned to Africa to fight with the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. It also follows their collective insistence that religious motivation be kept out of the discussion of Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting spree at Fort Hood last month.

These past actions followed a pattern, in which CAIR spearheaded efforts to dismiss any concern about radicalization in America. That denial was on full display in 2007, after a Pew survey found a quarter of Muslim American men under age 30 found suicide bombings justifiable. In a television appearance, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper bobbed and weaved to avoid confronting the question.

"I think it's wrong to focus on a couple of questions to put forward an agenda that goes against the bulk of the findings," he said. When host Tucker Carlson cited a finding that 61 percent of the respondents expressed concern for rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S., a number Carlson thought was too low, Hooper made it clear he was not among them: "I don't foresee a rise in religious extremism in the Muslim community."

Similarly, MPAC spokeswoman Edina Lekovic cast the support among so many young American Muslim men for suicide bombings as a distraction:

Full report at:


Helping Iran's student protesters

The West should look for ways to aid anti-government demonstrators in Iran, but it can't forget that it's up to the Iranian people to decide.

No one understands the revolutionary potential of students better than old revolutionaries. That's one reason Iranian security forces fought hard with tear gas, batons and arrests this week to put down university protests across the country. Another is that six months after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection, and despite persistent government efforts to quash the unrest, the protests continue. To these students, the leadership that took power three decades ago in a popular uprising against the repressive government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is now the repressive establishment. With youthful courage and conviction, they are now daring to shout "Down with the dictator!" while holding aloft photographs of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to witnesses and amateur videos.

Students played a key role in toppling the shah in 1979 with street protests in Iran and abroad, challenging the regime and galvanizing international opinion against it. Then, as now, many of the students were secular democrats, while others were devout Shiite Muslims. They were part of a broad movement that included radical leftists, liberal democrats and religious leaders, not the least of whom was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Paris-based exile who returned to become the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. The religious students made their biggest headlines after the shah's fall, when they held Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy for 444 days, paving the way for clerics to consolidate power in Iran. Ahmadinejad was part of the religious student leadership.

Today's students belong to a broad movement led by reformist politicians Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both of whom ran for president against Ahmadinejad. The government and the increasingly powerful Revolutionary Guard know from experience that students are a vanguard of the discontented; they view the young protesters as a threat to their divine responsibility to maintain the Islamic state.

The students, for their part, seem to be girding for a long fight, and the West should follow their lead. Western governments should offer the reform movement moral support, as President Obama did in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, promising to be a voice for the aspirations of reformers such as the "hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran." But the West also must be careful not to undermine the reformists with too close an embrace. This is a national movement, and the Iranians who are questioning the legitimacy of their own government are diligent students of their revolutionary forefathers.,0,442555.story?track=rss


Six Killed In Bombings Near Baghdad: Iraqi Police

December 11, 2009

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Six people were killed and 21 wounded when two bombs exploded south of Baghdad on Friday, Iraqi police said.

Police said one bomb was planted in a shop in the town of Yusufiya, 20 km (12 miles) south of Baghdad. When police rushed to the scene, a second bomb planted in a car detonated. Two of the dead were police officers.

Located in what used to be one of the most violent areas of Iraq -- the so-called "Triangle of Death" -- Yusufiya regularly is rocked by bombings.

Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to levels not seen since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion sparked widespread sectarian bloodshed, but attacks by suspected Sunni Islamists like al Qaeda remain common and could pick up ahead of a March election.

Friday's bombings occurred as Iraq's Oil Ministry in Baghdad staged its second auction of oilfield contracts since the invasion. Devastating bombings in the capital on Tuesday killed around 112 people.


Military Time, Civilian Time

By Nathaniel Fick

December 10, 2009

THE problem with public military timelines is that if they are too short, your enemy will wait you out, and if they are too long, your enemy will drive you out. President Obama has come under fire for saying that United States forces would begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011. Was this a good idea?

From a purely military perspective, announcing a timeline makes no sense. It gives our adversaries insight into our plans, dulling the edge of strategic ambiguity. But changing the trajectory of this war requires much more than killing and capturing Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Progress depends on two political developments: inducing the administration of President Hamid Karzai to govern effectively, and persuading Pakistan that militant groups within its borders pose as great a threat to Islamabad as they do to Kabul. A limit to America’s commitment may actually help us meet these goals. (The Democratic victories in the 2006 midterm elections, for example, convinced Iraqi Sunni leaders that the United States was on its way out, inspiring them to join the Awakening movement that led to better security across the country.) The strategic benefits of setting a timeline, in this case, may outweigh its tactical costs.

Whether these political objectives are met will be the best measure of the effectiveness of the administration’s plan. President Karzai must be held to the commitments he made in his November inaugural speech to build security forces that can secure the entire country within five years, reduce civilian casualties and enact laws to fight corruption.

And the Pakistani Army must crack down on militants in its country who operate in Afghanistan, namely the Quetta Shura Taliban and the Haqqani network, with the same commitment it brings to the fight against more direct threats like the Pakistani Taliban. This is increasingly important as NATO forces in Afghanistan focus more on securing cities, and less on the border with Pakistan.

Announcing the timeline was risky, and it could turn out to be our undoing. The president delivered two intertwined messages in his speech at West Point outlining his Afghan policy: one to his American audience (“I see the way out of this war”), and one to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Taliban (“I’m in to win”). The danger of dual messages, of course, is that each may find the other audience, with Americans hearing over-commitment and Afghans hearing abandonment.

The only way to reassure both is to show demonstrable progress on the ground. A credible declaration of American limits may, paradoxically, be the needed catalyst.

Nathaniel Fick, the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, was a Marine Corps infantry officer in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001 and 2002 and trained Afghan Army and police officers in Afghanistan in 2007.


U.S. warns Iran to be ready to face consequences

U.S. President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Friday. U.S. had warned Iran of consequences if it fails to meet its international obligations related to nuclear weapons. Photo: AP

AP U.S. President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Friday. U.S. had warned Iran of consequences if it fails to meet its international obligations related to nuclear weapons. Photo: AP

The United States has warned Iran to be ready to face consequences if it fails to meet its international obligations related to nuclear weapons.

“If Iran continues to fail to bring its nuclear program into full compliance with the requirements of the United Nations Security Council and the IAEA, there will be consequences and we will be consulting closely with our partners to ensure those consequences are credible,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.

Tehran had also failed in upholding its Geneva commitment on having a meeting with the P5+1 group to discuss its nuclear programme, it said, adding the offer of constructive engagement remains on the table, and urged Iran to take concrete steps toward this course.

The Obama Administration also issued a statement in support of the European Council, which had expressed grave concerns on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The US is united with its international partners in calling on Iran to comply fully with its international obligations, it said.

“We, alongside our partners, remain committed to working with Iran to find a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program,” the White House said.

The statement also alleged Iran of not taking advantage of the many opportunities to build trust and confidence, including the IAEA’s Tehran Research Reactor proposal.

“Instead, the Iranian leadership’s actions over the past several months have increased the international community’s concerns about Iran’s claims that its nuclear intentions are exclusively peaceful,” the White House said.

Full report at:


Arrests Raise Fears of American Jihad

By Evan Perez

U.S. counterterrorism officials say 2009 has turned into the year of homegrown jihad, with the unmasking of the most serious suspected terror plots involving Americans in about five years.

U.S. investigators are still trying to determine what drew five young Americans to travel last month to Pakistan, where local authorities allege they had sought to join extremist groups that have attacked U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. U.S. investigators have interviewed some of the men, but haven't verified the information Pakistani officials have released on the case.

The surge in alleged terror cases has raised concerns among counterterrorism officials. Some officials say young men have been swayed by the escalating war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as intensifying Internet recruiting of Westerners by extremist groups.

At a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing last month, experts on terrorism cited the recent cases as evidence that the threat of radicalization, long an issue in Europe, has become a major concern in the U.S.

In September, terrorism investigators trailed Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan-born U.S. resident, as he made his way from Denver to New York City in what they later alleged was an aborted plot to carry out attacks using explosives made from beauty supplies.

A month later, investigators arrested David Headley, a U.S.-born son of a Pakistani father and American mother, and charged him with plotting with al Qaeda-linked Pakistani militants to attack a newspaper in Denmark that printed satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. In recent weeks, investigators alleged that Mr. Headley told them he helped a Pakistani group, Lashkar-i-Taiba, scout locations for the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

Last month, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was arrested and charged with killing 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood Army base in Texas. Prior to the attack, Maj. Hasan was in touch with an extremist Muslim cleric in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, investigators say.

Also last month, the U.S. unveiled charges against several men who allegedly recruited about 20 young men of Somali descent to join an Islamist insurgent group, al Shabaab, which is fighting Somalia's U.S.-backed government.

Full report at:


Senegal imams use prayers to condemn giant statue

By Caspar Leighton

African Renaissance statue

President Wade believes visitors should be charged to see the statue

Imams in Senegal have begun a concerted campaign against a giant statue being built in Dakar.

They are using Friday prayers to denounce it as idolatrous and a waste of money.

The Monument to the African Renaissance is a pet project of Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade and will be bigger than the Statue of Liberty when complete.

The main controversy has been the cost - at $27m (£16.6m) it is a big outlay for a poor country.

It is also on questionable aesthetic ground.

The imams are tapping into a strong vein of discontent with the giant statue.

'War of words'

Depicting a muscular man holding aloft a child and sweeping a woman along behind him, it is pure socialist realism - and not very African.

It is being built by North Korea.

Imams agreed a text for Friday sermons quoting the Koran and the Hadith (Islamic sayings), which forms a denunciation of the idolatrous nature of the giant structure.

The protests do come a bit late though, for the statue is almost finished.

The new campaign is an escalation in a long war of words between imams and President Wade.

One imam put it pithily, saying it was not on that the first thing air travellers see of Senegal when their plane descends is a near-naked man and woman.

What sticks in the throats of many Senegalese though is President Wade's plan to charge visitors and pocket a share of the takings himself.

The president says he helped design the statue, so he should share some of the revenue.


What do a billion Muslims really think?

December 11, 2009.

The Gallup Poll of the Muslim World is the most comprehensive study ever done of this group. Many key results counter conventional wisdom.

Since the momentous events of Sept. 11, 2001, countless news stories, TV commentaries, and books have speculated on the causes of terrorism, the attitudes of Muslims, and a purported clash of civilizations between Islamic societies and the West.

What has not been available is any reliable measure of the viewpoints of ordinary Muslims, who constitute 20 percent of the global population.

That is no longer the case. Through an ambitious six-year project that involved hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents in nearly 40 nations, Gallup has plumbed the perspectives of Muslim men and women – urban and rural, educated and illiterate, young and old.

The Gallup Poll of the Muslim World surveyed a representative sample of 90 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, the most comprehensive study ever done. The findings are explored in the new book "Who Speaks for Islam?" by John Esposito, Islamic studies professor at Georgetown University; and Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies in Washington.


Turkey bans main Kurdish party over alleged terror links

December 11, 2009.

Disturbances rock south-eastern cities after court closure ruling

Turkey was propelled into fresh political uncertainty yesterday after the country's highest court closed the main Kurdish party over alleged terrorist links.

Disturbances broke out in the mainly Kurdish south-east, jeopardising moves by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to resolve the bloody 25-year conflict with the Kurds through political means.

After four days of deliberations, the constitutional court in Ankara ruled the Democratic Society party (DTP) "a focal point for terrorism against the indivisible integrity of the state". The party, which has 21 MPs in Turkey's 544-member parliament, is accused of cooperation with the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK), which Turkey, the US and the European Union designate a terrorist organisation. The DTP chairman, Ahmet Turk, and 36 members were banned from politics for five years.

The decision deals a further blow to Turkey's hopes of joining the EU, which has condemned the closures as undemocratic and warned beforehand that shutting the DTP would violate Kurdish rights.

But the court's chairman, Hasim Kilic, said the DTP had rejected politics by "peaceful means". "The DTP's closure was decided due to its connections with the terror organisation and because it became a focal point of the activities against the country's integrity," he said. "A political party has to make a distinction between pro-terror and peaceful messages."

Seven soldiers were shot in the central Turkish town of Tokrat on Monday in an ambush the government blamed on the PKK. Turk condemned the verdict: "Turkey cannot solve its problems by closing down parties. As long as our goal is a solution to the Kurdish problem it doesn't matter who is banned or not from politics, because our determination to find a solution continues."More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched a campaign to establish a Kurdish homeland in 1984.The biggest potential casualty of yesterday's ruling is Erdogan's "democratic initiative" aimed at solving the Kurdish conflict by granting long-withheld cultural and linguistic rights, including a Kurdish-language television station and allowing Kurdish prison inmates to talk to visitors in their mother tongue.

About 20 parties have been wound up under the party closure law introduced as part of the 1982 constitution established under Turkey's then military government.Others closed include Islamist parties accused of trying to replace Turkey's secular constitution with an Islamic state.

Last year, the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which has roots in political Islam, narrowly avoided an attempt to close it for alleged anti-secularism.

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