Dr. Esam Alkhawaga feels more secure and free practicing Islam in
Syrian wedding lingerie: veils of the unexpected
My wife wears the Hijab, I wish she didn't, says Robin Yassin-Kassab
Marginalisation of Muslims in
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg: Islam in German schools
Musharraf and Zardari: Two Sides of the Same Coin by ASIF HAROON RAJA
Compiled by Syed Asadullah
Nov 01 2008
Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death on October 27 in a stadium packed with 1 000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses.
The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.
Initial local media reports said Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty International she was 13.
Some of the Somali journalists who first reported the killing later told Amnesty International that they had reported she was 23 based upon her physical appearance.
Calls to Somali government officials and the local administration in Kismayo rang unanswered on Saturday.
"This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo," David Copeman, Amnesty International's
A quarter of Somali children die before age 5; nearly every public institution has collapsed. Fighting is a daily occurrence, with violent deaths reported nearly every day.
Islamic militants with ties to al-Qaeda have been battling the government and its Ethiopian allies since their combined forces pushed the Islamists from the capital in December 2006.
Within weeks of being driven out, the Islamists launched an insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians.
In recent months, the militants appear to be gaining strength.
The group has taken over the
They also effectively closed the
Dr. Esam Alkhawaga feels more secure and free practicing Islam in Dayton, Ohio, USA, than in his native
Nov 02, 2008
By Diana Nelson Jones,
Dr. Esam Alkhawaga says he feels more secure and free practicing Islam in
Yet Muslims have taken an emotional beating in this country since Sept. 11, 2001, most recently in the bombardment of aspersions meant by an otherwise innocuous statement: "He's a Muslim."
At the first women's conference of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh yesterday, Dr. Alkhawaga, a psychiatrist, said the rhetoric is "very troubling." In fact, he proposed that the integration of pure Islam with American culture at its best would make "a perfect marriage."
When Muslims in every other national culture define differently how Islam looks and feels -- from Egypt to Jordan to India -- "What's wrong with American-Islam?" he asked.
At the daylong conference in Oakland, educators, health professionals, Islamic scholars and Westerners who have converted to Islam held forth in discussions and speeches on topics that ranged from the emotional and educational needs of new Muslims, to child-raising, to the impact of nutrition and exercise on the body's ability to perform worship.
The audience of mostly women sat on one side of the aisle from the men and the boys, all in stockinged feet, most of the women in headscarves.
Several speakers urged the education of Muslim women.
Education can develop an appreciation of what Dr. Alkhawaga called "the gray area" of life. Life is not black and white, he said, and either-or ideology causes problems, just as education "can fight extremism and terrorism."
Karen Traugh, a converted Muslim who married a Jordanian, is active in interfaith groups at the Islamic Center, on
"When you come to
"It doesn't vary much," she said, and it's an example of how cultural customs can become as important as or override pure worship.
Dr. Alkhawaga said his choice was a culture he described as "disciplined, responsible, and polite, with equal opportunity."
Arabic cultures are not as emotionally expressive as cultures in
"The real orphan is the one who has a distant mother and a busy father," he told his audience. "It is not information but what touches us emotionally that we learn from."
Many Muslims who immigrate find a much more tolerant place than the one they left, said several of the speakers, but the challenges are heady, especially in raising children to be modest and non-materialistic.
On the importance of raising children to be good Muslims, Karim Abuzaid, Imam at the Prince George's Muslim Association in Lanham, Md., told the crowd of about 75, "Mothers, it's all about you. No one will feed the child what you want it to have but you. The baby sitter is a parking lot."
Throughout the big room, some women's expressions darted in alarmed unison; others nodded solemnly.
"I'm not living on the moon," he added quickly. "I understand most families need two paychecks.
"It's challenging to bring up children here, but also in
Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1626.
Syrian wedding lingerie: veils of the unexpected
Nov 02 2008
Souk al-Hamidiyeh in
These are all examples of “wedding lingerie”, a Syrian phenomenon and a fast-growing industry there. It developed out of the economic boom after the Yom Kippur war in 1973, and has since become a crucial part of the wedding-night ritual for Muslims in
The lingerie, which costs from $10 per set, symbolises a rite-of-passage for the women from virginity to respectable married womanhood. It is a working-class tradition – rich and executive Syrian women see it as being “Sha’abi”, or rather vulgar – and it’s mostly designed and sold by men, though it’s normal to see Syrian Muslim women in the hijab buying it. Not that they’d try it on in the shop. They look at displays or photos in catalogues, all modelled by eastern European women; their poses are meant to be sweet and demure rather than raunchy – as if a maiden aunt went a bit too far at a tarts-and-vicars party. While some items might seem tacky or comical to our eyes, others are beautiful, arty, and collectable.
Edible underwear in fruit and coffee flavours are a big hit. Depending on demand from
It is extraordinary that this deeply religious and conservative society is producing such saucy and explicit underwear. But, according to Rana Salam, co-author with Malu Halasa of a new book on the lingerie, Islamic society in
While researching the book, Salam, who was raised in
It’s doing what it says on the packet – aiming to seduce – while conveying a deeper social message. “It’s saying that these people have fun and joy in their lives,” she says, “and the Middle East isn’t all just about war and repression.”
The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie, by Malu Halasa and Rana Salam (Chronicle Books, £14.99), is available at the BooksFirst price of £13.49, including postage and packing. Telephone: 0870 165 8585
My wife wears the hijab. I wish she didn't, says Robin Yassin-Kassab
Robin Yassin-Kassab thought his wife Rana shared his liberal outlook when it came to the politics of the hijab. When she announced she wanted to cover her head, they found themselves on opposite sides of a national debate
When I first saw my wife, she was seated in the middle of a crowded room, she had her eyes fixed on me, and she had a luxuriously unruly cascade of hair. We started talking, and from then on her hair's startling blackness seemed emblematic of the force of her character.
In a city where half the women covered their hair in public, and just because she had such beautiful hair, Rana's hair became for me her sign, the feature by which I'd pick her out at a distance, my symbol for understanding her and what she meant to me. So when, five years into our marriage, Rana decided to cover her hair, I was somewhat bothered. We'd moved from
The hijab bothered me not just for the personal reasons above: I didn't agree that it was Islamically required. While most Muslims have interpreted Koranic guidance on women's dress to require head covering, the text itself is open to interpretation. 'And tell the believing women,' it says, 'to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms (in public) beyond what may (decently) be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms.' In my favourite translation, Muhammad Asad notes that the directive is to cover bosoms, not heads, because in Muhammad's
I thought the principle of the hijab more important than the piece of cloth, and the principle - of modesty and respect - wasn't always practised in Arab Muslim society. It often seems that the Muslim woman plays the role of clotheshorse of honour. So long as she wears a hijab, all is good, even if Muslim men, who are also required to 'lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity', dress sexily and leer at women in the street. Why would Rana want to go along with that?
What really bothered me were people thinking Rana wore it because I forced her to. Like the nice, liberal Englishwoman who nodded empathetically at Rana's suffering before asking me how I would react if she ever dared to take it off.
The hijab or its absence is symbolic of many different things in the bigger world out there. The cloth has become a flag waved by Islamists and Islamophobes to define each other. A Western-dressed Muslim woman may be stereotyped as a heroically uncaged virgin, or as the key sign of Muslim cultural loss. A veiled woman may be seen as authentic, or, more usually in the West, as ignorant, backward, repressed and oppressed. To some, Muslim women in headscarves look like unity, power, and cultural pride. To others, they look like abused cattle. The hijab is compulsory in public in
But Rana thought she would feel comfortable wearing the hijab. She felt proud to be identified as a Muslim woman. So, rather than worrying about other people, I started to listen to her. Now I feel comfortable, too. And her hair is still there underneath, and free-flowing in the privacy of our home, as luxurious as it ever was.
Sometimes I feel sorry for my husband. He would prefer it if I didn't wear the hijab. But what can I do? It is my wish. I started thinking about wearing a headscarf after we were married and had my son, our first child. When Robin and I met I was not religious. I did not fast for Ramadan - in fact, whenever my father asked me if I had, I would lie just to please him. I drank alcohol. If I saw someone reading the Koran, I presumed they were superstitious, narrow-minded.
But when my son was born I felt a need to protect him, to believe in something stronger than me. I felt the need for a connection with God. I started reading the Koran and I began to pray regularly.
What amazed me was that I didn't suddenly change my personality. We have all sorts of friends - gay; atheist, Christian, Muslim - and I discovered that I could still be friends with all of them. I didn't become weak or anxious or afraid. In fact, it was a wonderful liberation. I felt I could live without fear in my life.
I don't believe my head is a sexual object, that a man who sees it will be sexually aroused. But I do think that when you believe in God you have to believe in a superior power that knows better than you do.
First I started to dress differently. I stopped wearing short sleeves; I wore more modest clothes. Then one day when Robin was in the
For a while my Arab friends changed towards me. They wouldn't tell a dirty joke in my presence - even though they knew I loved dirty jokes. I had to sit them down and say, 'I haven't changed just because I look different.'
Most of all Robin worried that I would suddenly become narrow-minded. To be honest, I feared that, too, deep inside. But when he said: 'I'm not going to allow our daughter to wear a headscarf until she is 18,' I replied: 'Neither will I! She won't be wearing one when she's 50 either, if she doesn't want to!' For me this wasn't about being made to do something I didn't want to do. Over time he's realised that this is what I want and he's given me the freedom to do it.
I usually wear the kind of hijab that women in the Gulf wear - one that covers my head and ties around the front. I have all colours and patterns to match what I'm wearing. Everyone makes a big deal about the head being covered but for me it's not about being covered up, it's about modesty, being humble.
It's been six years since I began wearing the headscarf and it has been liberating. I had not realised how much I had used the way I looked to get me places, be it in a job interview or at a party. The headscarf means I've had to develop my personality instead - my sense of humour, my ability to listen - in order to socialise. It's made me more confident.
We live in
• Robin Yassin-Kassab's novel, The Road from
Marginalisation of Muslims in
Kazi Anwarul Masud
LEPERS, untouchable, politically radioactive, is how Muslims in the
It is sad that in a multi-religious, multi-cultural nation of immigrants, about 6 million Muslims have to prove their loyalty to a country where many of whom were born and bred.
According to the American Muslim Council (AMC) there are three categories of Muslims: immigrants, American converts/reverts to Islam, and those born to the first two groups as Muslims.
Sensible Americans are furious because of the causal relationship that is being painted between the Muslims and the terrorists. Colin Powell, President George W. Bush's first term secretary of state expressed his fury on NBC's Meet the Press by asking: "Is there something wrong being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that's not
Powell said that he felt very strongly on this issue when he saw the picture of a mother of a Muslim soldier embracing her son's grave in the
One Muslim said: "Muslims feel jaded by 2008 election precisely because they see the smearing of their identity. Muslim or Arab is seen as a scarlet letter, political leprosy, Kryptonite. There is that taint there. We are the lowest of the low."
The desolation resounding the words spoken reminds one of the riots that took place in
It is generally accepted that freedom of expression is circumscribed by its adverse fallout on the dignity of the individual (libel) or the majesty of the divinity (blasphemy). Society by definition being a conglomeration of diverse individuals, societal responsibility demands that rights of the members of the society not be intruded upon.
The first amendment to the
Sociologists and political scientists would have to delve into the intricacies to find out the reasons of this "conflict" between two great religions of the world -- Islam and Christianity.
Dethronement of atheism has, perhaps, resulted in people's greater devotion to established religions. Though it is believed that an inverse relationship exists between wealth and religiosity yet the description of the
Supernatural belief, according to anthropologist Edward Taylor, is the "minimum definition of religion." Just about any American, blessed with the material advantages of technological age, believe in God in the biblical sense along with miracles, angels, devils and the afterlife.
This belief in the supernatural is not confined to Christian conservatives, once described by the Washington Post as "largely poor, the uneducated," but, for example, embraces about half of the scientific community of the
It is often forgotten that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were carried out by a handful of renegades in the name of Islam and condemned by the whole Islamic world (along with the rest of the international community.) But nonetheless the prejudice of the majority community has reduced the Muslims, particularly the Muslim diaspora living in the West, to negotiating the parameters of minority citizenship.
The death by accidental electrocution of two Arab Muslim youths fleeing from the French police led to riots. But the core reason for the riots was basically caused by decade’s long socio-economic exclusion of Muslim immigrants brought into
One must, however, acknowledge the "failure" of the immigrants to fully integrate themselves with the mainstream life that resulted in gaining political territory by anti-immigration political parties who play on the unfounded fear of the host country voters about the immigrants.
This fear of the "unknown" was furthered by academics of impeccable credentials like Bernard Lewis, among others, of Islam being an intolerant religion. "Islam was never prepared," writes Lewis "either in theory or in practice, to accord full equality to those who held other beliefs and practiced other forms of worship."
Besides, adds Bernard Lewis, there exists millennial rivalry between Islam and Christianity "a competing world religion, a distinctive civilization inspired by that religion … the struggle between these rival systems has now lasted for some fourteen centuries ... and has continued virtually to the present day."
The other school of thought less severe on Islam observes: "The West won the world not by supremacy of ideas or values or religion but rather by superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
The arrogant display of an "inerrant" interpretation of divinity was not accepted by all, particularly the Muslim immigrants. In defense, wrote Irish anthropologist Vincent Tucker: "For a society to claim universal desirability while turning its back on others from whom it is convinced it has nothing to learn is not only cultural elitism, but cultural racism."
Some political analysts are not unduly worried that
During the last presidential election, many analysts found the loyalty of American voters almost perfectly divided between the Democrats and the Republicans -- Red America and Blue America -- Red America is godly, moralistic, patriotic, predominantly white, masculine, less educated, heavily rural and suburban; Blue America is secular, relativistic, internationalist, multi-cultural, feminine, college educated, heavily urban and cosmopolitan."
People like Professor James Hunter and political scientist John White see culture divide among Americans -- one culture being "orthodox" and the other being "progressive." But according to sociologist Alan Wolfe, Americans are moderate, reluctant to pass judgment, and "tolerant to a fault."
Equally, others find both conservative and progressive Americans sharing shocking level of agreement on many issues. Both red and blue state residents agree that religion is an important part of their life. Many agree that the problem lies not with the voters but with the political parties and politicians.
Yesterday's political parties, which used to be loose coalition of interests and regions, have now become ideological clubs. On top of this if Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" becomes an essential part of the American narrative and religious intolerance finds its way into the domestic and international interaction of the only superpower of the world, then the victor will be neither Barack Obama or John McCain but Osama bin Laden and his band of terrorists.
Kazi Anwarul Masud is a former Secretary and Ambassador.
Governor says rebellious damaging cause of Islam by weakening
The NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani has said that the
“These elements must know that
Addressing as chief guest at the passing out ceremony of a smart contingent of Frontier Constabulary in
“We are fighting the war for the sake of our own people and the country and jawans and officers of the forces, who had sacrificed their precious lives in this struggle, had, in fact embraced martyrdom and those who, received injuries, are ghazi. “We offer salute to the sacrifices, they had offered”, he added.
Indeed, he remarked, we had achieved capabilities to a certain level in almost every field of modern technologies and our struggle is un-ended.
Similarly, he pointed out, our nation is fully imbibed with the spirit to offer every sacrifice for the cause of the country; it has practically demonstrated this reality in the past; still following the same spirit and it has the courage to prove this quality in future too.
“Our cause is supreme; our direction is correct and our destination is determined and there must never be any doubt in this respect”, he added.
In fact, the Governor said, we have been successfully facing challenges since our independence; we are still passing through a challenging situation and we will Insuallah embrace success this time too.
Appreciating the quality of the march past and the standard of skills, demonstrated by the cops on this occasion, the Governor said, this Force has a very rich history in its credit, which is full of sacrifices.
“Whenever, this force has been confronted with any challenge, it has returned with tremendous achievements and had always practically got recognition of its abilities and the services”, he said.
Keeping in view the quality of training and the spirit of its jawans and officers, he added, there is no doubt that it would not only maintain its status but also achieved more successes in future too.
Meanwhile, the Governor, accompanied by the Commandant of the Force also took salute of the march past and witnessed the drill and P.T.Show, which was skillfully demonstrated by the jawans. He also exchanged views with them and appreciated the quality of training. Later the Governor inspected various sections of the historic Shabqadar Fort and took keen interest in its maintenance.
The Speaker, NWFP Assembly Karamatullah Khan and the senior serving and retired officers of Frontier Constabulary and Police were also present on this occasion while, the Commandant of the Force Zafarullah Khan welcomed the Governor and the guests.
Islam in German schools
By Claudia Mende, Nov 01, 2008
Saphir, a textbook for Islamic religion classes, presents the fundamental issues of Islam in 15 chapters for fifth and sixth grade pupils. Themes include the concept of God, the Prophet Mohammed, and the structure of the Koran, as well as issues such as the rights of children and social responsibility.
Editions for grades seven to 10 are currently being prepared. The graphic layout of Saphir is excellent. The textbook is part of an initiative to better educate Muslim students at
Saphir stands at the forefront of contemporary religious education. For Islam in
The book "does not aim to educate pupils to believe, but rather to make responsible decisions concerning faith," stressed Harry Harun Behr from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.
Behr, a German convert to Islam, teaches aspiring religion teachers at the
He is one of the authors of the teaching plan for classes in Islam at the Bavarian model schools in
He regards the Koran as a literary text with a historical point of origin and development. Islam as a regular subject at German public schools has, until now, only taken place on a trial basis. According to Article 7, Paragraph 3 of the German constitution, Muslims have a right to religious education for their children under the supervision of the state, just as Christians do.
Yet for many decades, this right has not been implemented due to the lack of suitable partners on the Muslim side.
Since 1999, North Rhine-Westphalia has offered Islamic instruction in approximately 140 schools to some 10,000 Muslim pupils. However, the Islamic instruction does not correspond to religion courses as prescribed by the German constitution. Such a course curriculum is only now being prepared in collaboration with Islamic associations.
The model pursued in
The Islamic Federation reputedly maintains contacts with Milli Görüs, an organization under surveillance by the German security services. Critics claim that the religious instruction offered by the Islamic Federation does not comply with the educational goals of promoting responsibility and independent thinking among pupils. In all of the other German states, the course curriculum is being developed by teams of experts and Muslim associations under the coordination of the education and cultural affairs authorities.
In March 2008, the German Conference on Islam under the chairmanship of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called for a comprehensive introduction of the teaching of the Islamic religion in public schools in the German language. Educational experts have stressed that the teaching of Islam in German by teachers trained at German universities would serve to promote integration.
By contrast, no one really knows for certain what is being taught at the religious schools set up in various mosques. Typically, students there merely recite passages from the Koran without any critical commentary. Teachers of Islam at public schools, on the other hand, should teach an enlightened form of Islam, tailored to conditions in
The response of Muslim parents to Islam classes at school has been generally positive. They see the new school subject as recognition of their cultural background by the majority culture.
Yet, what are lacking most of all are the religion teachers. Some estimates predict that it could take up to 10 years before a sufficient number of qualified teachers are available. At present, there are only approximately 150 teachers (80 of which are in North Rhine-Westphalia) in the whole of
Only universities in Münster, Osnabrück, and
Claudia Mende is a freelance writer. This article, translated from German, is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from Qantara.de.
National Council of Churches warns about distorted video on Islam
From Philip Jenks, email@example.com
New York, October 30, 2008 --The Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches expressed alarm and protest over the recent mass distribution of 28 million copies of what it termed a "distorted and misleading" DVD entitled: "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West."
The Commission charged that the DVD, distributed primarily in closely contested states in the last weeks of the presidential election campaign, has the effect of "fanning the sparks of mistrust, bigotry and hatred that undermine the very foundations of a multi-religious democracy."
Pointing out that the National Council of Churches "condemns extremism, terrorism, and religiously motivated violence, as do our Muslim dialogue partners here in the
"Such a false choice serves only to incite the fear of Islam and aggression against Muslims," the Commission said.
The statement noted that the National Council of Churches and its member communions are participating in an "unprecedented worldwide exchange" between Christian and Muslim scholars, and is actively seeking other ways of combating “the de-humanizing effects of stereotyping and bigotry."
The National Council of the Churches of Christ is the nation's leading ecumenical association, encompassing 35 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, African -American, and historic Peace churches, with 45 million members in 100,000 local congregations throughout the U.S.A.
The full statement follows:
NCC Interfaith Relations Commission Statement on the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West"
In recent weeks many Americans have found in their mailboxes and morning papers a DVD called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West." As the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of the Churches o f Christ in the USA, we are alarmed by the massive distribution of some 28 million copies of this DVD through paid advertisement by the Clarion Fund i n more than seventy newspapers. While this film purports to educate and off ers, at the outset, a disclaimer that it is not about the majority of peace ful Muslims, we see its content as serving only the aims of distorting trut h and misleading viewers, fanning the sparks of mistrust, bigotry, and hatr ed that undermine the very foundations of a multi-religious democracy.
The National Council of Churches, bringing together thirty-five national Protestant and Orthodox churches, is concerned not only with relations among Christian churches, but also with our relations with neighbours of other Faiths. Toward that end, we participate in a national dialogue between Christians and Muslims. We believe that deep relationship as neighbours calls us t o common moral engagement and leadership in a world plagued by violence, poverty, atrocities, and environmental degradation. We are deeply troubled by the apparent intent of a film that presents a bar rage of violent images, pieced together with the voices of commentators who move from speaking of "radical Islam" to impugning Islam and Muslims more generally and presenting fear-mongering parallels between today's extremist terrorists and the Nazis. The National Council of Churches and its member churches consistently and adamantly denounce anti-Semitism in all its form s and condemn all forms of ethnic, racial, and religious hatred, including the Islamophobia typified in this film.
The stated aim of this film is to alert and educate the public about the dangers of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam. We recognize that in all our traditions, extremists and radicals have forged the weaponry of violence. The National Council of Churches condemns extremism, terrorism, and religiously motivated violence, as do our Muslim dialogue partners here in the
As an alternative to the message of this DVD, we lift up the current and unprecedented worldwide exchange between Christians and Muslims. The Muslim initiative, "A Common Word between Us and You," has gained wide response fro m the churches, including the National Council of Churches, and has generated an ongoing process of dialogue. Building constructively on the foundations that unite us in fractured world provides a far more hopeful way ahead for Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike.
In the National Council of Churches, we stand with our Muslim colleagues and fellow citizens who have experienced the de-humanizing effects of stereotyping and bigotry. As Christians, we are mandated to uphold the values of the Gospel. As Americans, we stand with all who are determined to create just and fair democracy.
Contact: Dr. Diana Eck,
Dr. Peter Makari, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)/United
Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, Senior Program Director for Faith and Order and Interfaith Relations, National Council of Churches, (212) 870-3422
Dr. Gwynne Guibord, Episcopal Church, Co-Convener of the National Muslim- Christian Initiative, (323) 309-4061.
Philip E. Jenks, Media Relations Specialist
National Council of Churches
Nov 01 2008
The Moroccan government alleges that the October 30 - November 5 issue had breached Article 29 of the country’s press code, the information ministry said in a statement, without giving precise details on the offending article.
Article 29 of
Reporters without Borders, a group which campaigns against press restrictions worldwide, said in its 2008 report on
Ron Chepesiuk, TNC Contributing Writer
To confirm that the War on Terrorism is global struggle, one has only to look at the South America's Tri-Border Area (TBA), a part of the world that the
After the governments of
After the end of World War II, colonies of Middle Eastern Muslims from
The immigrants who came to the TBA, however, could not escape the raging civil war back home. In the 1980s, Hezbollah clerics and members of radical Islamic groups such as Hamas began sending agents to the TBA and recruiting sympathizers from the local population. By mid-2000, US intelligence officials estimated that at least 460 Hezbollah operatives were living and working there.
Brazilian intelligence officials also believed that Al Qaeda has been active in the TBA since the mid-1990s. Citing an anonymous high-ranking official of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, Veja, a leading Brazilian newsweekly, reported that Osama Bin Laden had visited Foz do Iguaca in 1995. The source told the publication that his agency had obtained a 28-minute video of Bin Laden participating in meetings at a mosque during his visit. Al Qaeda's Khalid Sheik Mohammed is also believed to have visited the TBA in December 1995 and in 1998. In late December 2001, after the US-led coalition ousted the Taliban from power, a CNN reporter found a large tourist poster from the TBA at an Al Qaeda safe house in
Still, even before 9-11 the violence and hatred from the volatile Middle East spread to
Al-Kassar is suspected of participating in several terrorist acts, including the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, and he remained a fugitive. He has resided in
Since the late 1990s, the terrorists in the TBA have largely confined their activities to criminal fund raising and to plotting strategy for future terrorist attacks in the
Even before 9/11 the
In late 2006 the U.S. Treasury Department published a report that included a list of individuals living in the TBA it charged had funded Islamic extremism.
Experts monitoring the Tri-Border Area since 9-11 wonder when the
There is evidence that a terrorism-organized crime-drug trafficking connection is taking shape in the TBA, a development that could make narco-terrorism a formidable global threat, according to intelligence analysts who monitor the area. Chechen gangs have been using
Meanwhile, the Argentine intelligence service has reached a serious and disturbing conclusion. The service believes that because the US and its allies have had had some success in the War on Terrorism, terrorists from Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East are now looking towards the Western hemisphere as a base of operation. Getting into the TBA is easy and from there terrorists will have no problem moving about the region and conducting terrorism. According to Argentine intelligence service, terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are joining forces with local drug lords to develop a smuggling trail all the way to
If this analysis is accurate, then it's likely that weapons of mass destruction -- a dirty bomb or perhaps a suitcase bomb, for instance -- could make their way along this drug smuggling trail. This is no hyperbole. US law enforcement officials have readily acknowledged that they stop only about ten percent of the illegal drugs entering the
As these developments are showing, the potential of a strong terrorism-drug trafficking connection in TBA could complicate the efforts of the US-led anti-terrorist coalition in the War on Terrorism. Not only would the
Contributing writer Ron Chepesiuk is and award winning freelance journalist, a Fulbright Scholar to
Senior Commander Dismisses US Attack on
"The American forces dare not to attack
He pointed to the presence of the
In a Sep. 11 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy says that in the two decades since the Iran-Iraq War, the Islamic Republic has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.
According to the report, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world's oil lifeline, the
The study says that if
Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against
Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised
The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of
Following the said reports by the
Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities "is unlikely" to delay the country's program.
Musharraf and Zardari: Two Sides of the Same Coin
ASIF HAROON RAJA, Nov 01, 2008
SOON after Partition, apart from irascible hostility of
From 1947 till as late as 2004,
When the army was inducted into FATA in 2003 at the behest of
The people of FATA are caught up in a nut cracker situation wherein they are suffering at the hands of the army, the militants and US drones. At one time 700,000 people had been rendered homeless and even now over 300,000 residents are living in pathetic conditions in makeshift relief camps. They are pleading for peace but peace is nowhere in sight. Ongoing anarchic conditions have ruptured the already fragile economy of FATA. The administrative structure that worked under political agent together with the Jirga system that used to preserve law and order and deliver verdicts on all sorts of disputes has since been trampled after the army stepped in and assumed control. Over 600 pro-government Maliks who would help in maintaining semblance of order have mostly been wiped out. The elected FATA MNAs and MPAs do not pick up courage to visit their home towns.
The militants fighting the army are not prepared to ceasefire and surrender arms as demanded by the government. They are killing pro-government tribals and
Heavy displacement of the people causing countless hardships together with the loss of lives of the innocent at the hands of security forces and US drones has resulted in the intensification of hatred against the army and
Major reasons for the common people gravitating towards the Taliban and growth of terrorism are: One. The rulers are seen as the lackeys of
These perceptions injected into the minds of the have-nots have helped the Taliban in earning their goodwill and in swelling their strength. Their motivational nodes based on ideological indoctrination and spirit of Jihad turn each member into a diehard Islamist ready to sacrifice his life for the cause of Islam. Devoid of worldly comforts and living under adverse conditions they become hardy, well trained and enthused. It is quite apparent that outside forces are replenishing the militants with arms and ammunition as well as cryptic means of communication enabling them to keep the 150,000 strong military force at bay for the last five years.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombers are the main weapons in the armoury of militants to cause maximum damage to military targets. Security troops operating in FATA and Swat have suffered maximum casualties because of IEDs. Greater the loss incurred greater will be the impact made. They have succeeded in motivating and training sizeable number of suicide bombers to attack the chosen targets within high security zones. Reportedly, women have also been trained as in the case of
While the foreign hands are definitely involved in destabilising
Now that militancy is almost getting out of control, it is becoming that much easier for foreign agents to get submerged in the melee and add fuel to fire. Instead of taking corrective measures to cleanse the muck left behind by Musharraf led regime, our myopic leaders are following old policies in letter and spirit. They are reinforcing failures by stating that it is our war and more force will be applied. Rehman Malik instead of resigning after the Marriott intelligence failure has gone bonkers and is roaring like a wounded tiger that he will not rest till each and every militant is put to sword. Daily killings of militants in Bajaur, Swat and Darra are being triumphantly announced with a measure of exultation and achievement, hoping against hope that killing of few thousands would curb militancy. In
The writer is a defence and political analyst based in