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Islamic World News ( 18 Oct 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Woman academic to lead UK Muslim prayers, believes in reinterpreting Quran

Oxford, UK: Woman to lead UK Muslim prayers

London: Even in Christianity Catholics still don't accept female priests

Peshawar: Taliban ready to lay down guns

LAHORE/PESHAWAR: Another clerics’ council declares suicide attacks un-Islamic

Islamabad: Pakistan's ex-spymaster outlines Taliban demands

Cairo, Egypt: Sunni scholars sanction 'electronic Jihad'

Manama: Islamic Banks Withstand Mortgage Crisis

Baghdad: Iraqi Christians in Danger

Washington: Jihad Watch head lashes out at Islamic extremism

Washington: No One Talked About Jihad in the Last Great Debate

Washington: Anti-Obama group raises pastor in ads

MANILA, Philippines : MILF warned vs raising MOA to world body

Washingfton: Glance at Islamic terror money

Washington: Al-Qaida has funds despite economic woes

 Madrid: Spain makes train bomb-related terror arrests

Hebron, Palestine: Tension high on a tour through Hebron

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Woman academic to lead UK Muslim prayers, believes in reinterpreting Quran

  A woman is to lead a congregation of men and women in an Islamic prayer service for the first time in the UK. Muslim scholar Professor Amina Wadud, who has led prayers in America, is to give the sermon - or khutbah - at the start of a conference on Islam and feminism at Wolfson College in Oxford. The move is controversial as the tradition is that imams - always men - hold mixed services. Some believe it is against Islam for a woman to do so. But organisers heralded it as a "leap forward" for "theological destiny".

Also: interview with Amina Wadud , professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Qur'an and Woman.



By Natalie Hancock

BBC News, Oxford


Oxford, UK: A woman is to lead a congregation of men and women in an Islamic prayer service for the first time in the UK.


Muslim scholar Professor Amina Wadud, who has led prayers in America, is to give the sermon - or khutbah - at the start of a conference on Islam and feminism at Wolfson College in Oxford.


The move is controversial as the tradition is that imams - always men - hold mixed services. Some believe it is against Islam for a woman to do so.


But organisers heralded it as a "leap forward" for "theological destiny".


Chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre Oxford (MECO) Dr Taj Hargey, who is organising Friday's conference, argued that the prayer service would be a step in the right direction.


"We believe Islam is a gender-equal religion," he said.


"There is a record that the Prophet Mohammed allowed a woman to lead a mixed-gender congregation, but this precedent has been ignored.


Amina Wadud is professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Qur'an and Woman.


A comprehensive Interview with Amina Wadud conducted in March 2002 is being presented as a companion article on Please see: )




Even in Christianity Catholics still don't accept female priests


Mokhtar Badri

Muslim Association of Britain


"Women have led prayers in South Africa, Canada and the US and this is a first time here - it is a celebration."


But Mokhtar Badri, vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain, is opposed to the sermon.


"With all respect to sister Amina, prayer is something we perform in accordance to the teachings of our Lord," he said.


"It has nothing to do with position of women in society. It is not to degrade them or because we don't think they are up to it.


"This is something divine not human. We have to do it in the way it has been ordained by God to do it.


"Women can lead prayers before other women but for this very specific point, in this situation before a congregation of men and women, a man must lead."


Protest planned


He added: "I also don't think this is a subject confined to Islam. Even in Christianity Catholics still don't accept female priests."


When Ms Wadud led a service in New York City three years ago, it had to be held in an Anglican church after mosques refused to host the event.


There are also expected to be objections to Friday's sermon at the Oxford Centre in Banbury Road, with opponents understood to be planning protests.


But Dr Hargey is undeterred.


"People thought it was a bad idea to give women the vote," he said.


"When Emmeline Pankhurst chained herself to the railings in protest there was uproar, but things move on.


"This is about theological self-empowerment - women as well as men have the right to determine their own theological destiny."






Taliban: ready to lay down guns


Last Modified: 16 Oct 2008
Nick Paton Walsh


After a punishing military campaign against them, Pakistan's Taliban call for a ceasefire to allow talks with the government.

They're calling it their "war on terror", a war against the Taliban with thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees on the move, and countless casualties.

But this is not Afghanistan, it's Pakistan, in the midst of the bloodiest internal conflict for decades as the army assaults militants in the mountainous tribal regions.

After weeks of fighting, the Pakistan Taliban today said it was ready to lay down its arms and talk, but the Pakistani army is continuing its operations.



Another clerics’ council declares suicide attacks un-Islamic


From the Daily Times, Lahore.

Oct 16, 2008


LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The Muttahida Ulema Board of Punjab (MUBP), a provincial council of clerics, declared suicide attacks illegal in Islam and condemned countrywide acts of terrorism against innocent people.


Briefing reporters after the inaugural meeting of the board at Aiwan-e-Auqaf, MUBP Chairman Sahibzada Haji Fazal Karim said: “We strongly condemn those who are causing anarchy and terrorism in the name of religion.”


Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the Taliban carry out ‘Fidai’ (sacrificial) attacks against the United States and its allies and not suicide attacks. He was responding to a Tuesday fatwa (decree) issued by a council of clerics in Lahore.


Talking to BBC on Wednesday, he said suicide was forbidden in Islam, but sacrifice was not. “Attacks are justified against those who rain bombs on people on the instructions of Americans and are displacing them from their houses,” Khan said. “Those who had issued the decree should have visited the tribal region of Bajaur and the Swat valley,” the spokesman said.


Seventeen clerics from various schools of thought, including Allama Sher Ali and Mufti Sarfraz Ahmad Naeemi, participated in the Lahore meeting. Fazal Karim said clerics would “use all energies for the promotion of brotherhood, amity and peace in the country”.


He said the clerics had demanded the government protect “ideological and geographical boundaries of the country” and also endorsed during the meeting a set of recommendations on hate literature in line with the ‘guiding principles’ it agreed on in September 1997. staff report/agencies



Afghanistan: Pakistan's ex-spymaster outlines Taliban demands

Islamabad, 15 Oct. (AKI) - By Marco Liconti - The Taliban will agree to peace talks if they are recognised as a political force, if a date is set for the withdrawal of international forces, and if Taliban prisoners are released, according to Pakistan's former spy chief, Retired Lt. General Hamid Gul.

Gul a former head of Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said he believes negotations need to be taken forward with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

"Pakistan has to be brought on board too," he told Adnkronos International (AKI) and a small group of Western news organisations at a briefing in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

"I know the Taliban, I have worked with them for a long time, and can say they would never talk to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, they consider him a mere traitor and puppet," Gul said.

Taliban would be prepared to parley with the Americans but only on certain conditions, he said. First, that such talks are held publicly; that the US recognise the Taliban are not terrorists but fighters who are defending their country; that the US and NATO give a date for the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan; and that all Taliban prisoners are freed.

The US presidential election campaign is among various obstacles to any peace talks with the Taliban, according to Gul.

"Barrack Obama wants to outdo his rival, and that is not a good sign," Gul said, referring respectively to the Democratic Party's presidential candidate his Republican Party rival John McCain.

"That means they want to continue following the same line of action that they have during the last seven years. And I am afraid this is going to bring disaster," Gul continued.

Pakistan, wracked by terrorism and a deep economic crisis, an environment in which anti-Americanism is thriving, is facing collapse, Gul warned.

The implications of this situation for the fight against terrorism and the security of the country's nuclear arsenal are dire, he said.

"The risk is real; there could be a civil war, even a revolution along the lines of the Iranian one. Personally, I hope for a revolution but a soft one, like that the one born in America during the Vietnam war or like pacifist movements in Europe against the war in Iraq, " Gul stated. 

Something along these lines has occurred in Pakistan recently, with the lawyers movement and the judges who marched for a return to democracy, he said. 

Musharraf committed the inexcusable error of aligning himself with the US's 'war on terror', Gul said. But he also had criticism for the fledgling government of Musharraf's successor, Asif Ali Zardari, the widow of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Gul described Zardari as a "civilian dictator" who he claimed has adopted the same policies and autocratic leadership style as Musharraf. "It is very necessary that Parliament should call the shots, as a collective body, as a sovereign body under the democratic system," Gul stated.

"His role as President of Pakistan is as the constitutional head. Everything else should be given to the parliament and the Prime Minister and the Cabinet," Gul stressed.

Discussing anti-Taliban operations in northwest Pakistan, Gul said it was hard to say exactly how many Taliban were in area along the border with Afghanistan, but the figure could be between 15,000 and 20,000.

The more the Americans step up their cross-border operations, the more the Afghans will identify with the Taliban, Gul warned. 

Many villagers in northwest Pakistan, especially in North and South Wazaristan tribal areas have a lot of sympathy for the Taliban's cause and believe it is their duty to help them - on the Pakistani and Afghan sides of the border, Gul noted.

"The nation does not look upon this as Pakistan's war," he said.

He advised NATO forces in Afghanistan, including Italian troops, to withdraw, and urged them to start planning this immediately, ahead of a fresh Taliban campaign next Spring when fighting resumes after the winter lull.

"The reconstruction of the country is impossible without peace. Peace has to come first," Gul concluded.



Egypt: Sunni scholars sanction 'electronic Jihad'


Cairo, 16 Oct. (AKI) - Attacking American and Israeli websites by hacking and sabotage is allowed under Islamic law and is a form of 'Jihad' or holy war, top Muslim scholars have decreed.


The religious edict (fatwa) issued by a committee from the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Egypt's Al-Azhar University in Cairo, was published on the website of the Islamist Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement on Thursday.


"This is considered a type of lawful Jihad that helps Islam by paralysing the information systems used by our enemies for their evil aims," said the fatwa.


"This Jihad is not different from the armed one. In fact, it might be more important if you consider the global dimensions of the Internet.


"Whoever wins this war will become the strongest in the realm of information," the fatwa continued.


The Muslim Brotherhood praised the fatwa, which comes in response to dozens of questions from radicals asking to be allowed to destroy Israeli and United States websites.


Last week, the news website of Dubai-based Arabic TV network al-Arabiya was attacked by suspected Shia hackers, who posted a burning Israeli flag to the site.


Beneath the flag, a message in Arabic and English read: 'Serious Warning - if attacks on Shia websites continue, none of your websites will be safe.'






Islamic Banks Withstand Mortgage Crisis


"The Islamic bank has a fantastic year, the underlying trend of Islamic banking businesses within ABC is very good," said Smith. (Reuters)


MANAMA ― Islamic banks have succeeded where all others have failed, withstanding the US subprime mortgage crisis which left global markets rattling.

"The Islamic bank has a fantastic year, the underlying trend of Islamic banking businesses within ABC is very good," a senior official of the Arab Banking Corporation told the Reuters Islamic Finance summit on Monday, February 4.


Duncan Smith, the head of the Corporation's Islamic operations, said a focus on regional business and efforts to ensure products complied with Shari`ah helped shield his unit from credit-market losses.


The bank's 2007 earnings from conventional non-Islamic departments fell to $125 million from $202 million in 2006.


The ongoing American subprime mortgage crisis, which is making international headlines, was sparked off last year when a steep rise in the rate of foreclosures caused more than 100 lenders to fail or file for bankruptcy.


The crisis had a domino effect on the US economy and stock market, which in turn affected almost all stock markets worldwide as early as last month.


Global banks have written down more than $80 billion in credit market losses since October alone as defaults on subprime mortgages triggered a credit crisis that threatens to tip the US economy into recession.


None of Malaysia's Islamic banks have been hit by write-downs resulting from the crisis and the resulting global credit crunch, second finance minister Mohamed Nor Yakcop told the three-day summit in the Bahraini capital Manama.


He said holders of sukuk or Islamic bonds have been shielded from the worst effects of the subprime mortgage meltdown.


Instead of interest, Islamic banks operate on the principle of sharing risk and reward among all parties in a business venture.




"Sukuk has now become a very popular product," said Nor Mohammad. (Reuters)


Economists say the global credit crunch triggered by the subprime crisis has spurred greater interest in Shari`ah-compliant financing.


"There is a feeling that the way Islamic finance is structured ― the lack of freedom in leveraging, the need for real assets ― that there will be some who will find Islamic financing interesting," said the Malaysian official.


He said interest in financial instruments that comply with Islamic prohibitions against investing in sectors such as alcohol, pornography and gambling was starting to emerge in China and South Korea.


"Sukuk has now become a very popular product," Mohamed Nor stressed, adding that officials from Hong Kong had consulted with Malaysia on Islamic finance.


Rasheed al-Maraj, the governor of Bahrain's Central Bank, believes the mortgage crisis could encourage weary investors to throw their weight behind Islamic assets and stocks given the collapse of Western asset prices.


"Maybe Islamic banking will be a safe bet for them," he said.


"I think opportunities exist in the United States and Europe as a result of this financial distress."


Giant banks like America's Citigroup, Britain's HSBC and Germany's Deutsche Bank recently launched Shari`ah-compliant branches.


A Deutsche Bank executive told Reuters that it was helping US and Canadian firms to sell Islamic bonds in Malaysia this year worth between $300-500 million in ringgit.


Having about 76 percent of the world's Islamic bonds, Malaysia has been promoting itself as a hub for Islamic finance but faces rivalry from neighboring Singapore and Brunei.


The Islamic banking industry, which began almost three decades ago, has made substantial growth and attracted the attention of investors and bankers across the world.


There are an estimated 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions worldwide whose assets are predicted to grow to $1 trillion by 2010.




Iraqi Christians in Danger


Author: Wameeth (Iraq)

October 13, 2008


Dear Friends,


Again the terror hit Iraq, today it is targeting the defenceless Iraqi Christians, it was not enough that our Parliament made a deal to remove paragraph 50 of elections law, that preserve the rights of Iraqi minorities in having fair representation in government, but a new campaign to force the few of Iraqi Christians living in Mosul to leave their houses,by killing them and forcing them to change their religion, wearing veils, and paying gezia (Islamic taxes on non Muslims.)


This is done by a group of people who are working to give Islam false image, destroying our work as Iraqi Muslims to live for peace and to reconstructs our country.


Some say they are paid by Al-Qaida, others accuse the Kurds, and radical Sunni parties in Mosul provinces government, some say the attacks are carries by people wearing official Iraqi army clothes.


But in the end we reached the days when there is a fatwa from some radical people to prevent Christians from going to hospitals, this is a crime against Islam before anything else, as no law of God or human prevent the sick or injuries from receiving treatment.


11 Christian were killed during this week, one was a doctor (his body was cut to pieces), a pharmacist, engineer, and a 15 year old boy.


We as activists need to work together to stop such crimes that destroy religion good faith in living together, and attack the weak, the peaceful and defenceless.








Jihad Watch head lashes out at Islamic extremism

By: Kelsey Gunderson

The Daily Cardinal, October 16, 2008


Robert Spencer spoke to students about his thoughts on Islamic extremism as students argued back at the Union Wednesday.


Author Robert Spencer spoke to students at the Union Wednesday about his political views toward Islamic extremism. Many students spoke out against Spencer and engaged in heated arguments.


The College Republicans of UW-Madison hosted Robert Spencer, head of Jihad Watch, to voice his views against Islamic extremism Wednesday at Memorial Union.


Spencer’s presentation, “Jihad: What Muslims Say it Means and Why it Matters,” instigated students to speak out in a question and answer session.


Spencer said he believes the Islamic religion is not peaceful one and many Islamic groups in the United States have the potential to impose Islamic law on non believers in a violent way.


“Whether or not these people are interpreting Islam incorrectly or represent only a tiny minority of extremists, it is still happening,” Spencer said.


Several students argued against Spencer’s view, saying extremists in other religions such as Judaism and Christianity could potentially cause the same problems.


During the question and answer session, a UW-Madison student asked why Spencer seemed unconcerned with the politicization of religion in the United States with regard to the rise of evangelical Christianity. She said government officials have the potential to appoint ideologically extreme Supreme Court Justices, as well as judges and cabinet members.


“I do not think it is the same thing,” Spencer responded. “They are working with the political process, not undermining the constitutional government … I have never found any Christian preacher saying they are going to overthrow the government and make Christianity supreme.”


Spencer criticized various members of Islamic groups in the United States in an effort to support his opinion. He quoted Omar Ahmad, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who allegedly stated his belief in Islamic supremacy.


Spencer also assessed Islamic values by arguing they deny fundamental American values, such as freedom of speech and equal rights for all.


“If one group is allowed to shut down something that they think is offensive, then that group obviously has hegemony over the others and we no longer have a society in which everybody enjoys equality before the law,” Spencer said.


Multiple students questioned Spencer’s intentions by claiming he cannot legitimately support the American freedom of equality if he does not support Islamic rights.


One student questioned Spencer’s motives, claiming he did not have tolerance or understanding of minority rights.


Spencer said he is concerned about peace, justice and human rights for all and believes these rights can be protected if the Islamic movement is put to an end.






No One Talked About Jihad in the Last Great Debate


October 15th, 2008

Support Pajamas Media


Granted: Our leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, have allowed the American economy to fail. The pain this has caused and will continue to cause is incalculable. Maybe we, the People should fire everyone in the House and the Senate, hang Wall Street out to dry, and start from scratch--only we can't, that game is rigged against us.


Maybe this dreadful economic failure was the "October surprise" that Obama's people kept promising. A handful of policy pundits have opined that the Arab Oil Cartel and possibly George Soros had a hand in this economic meltdown. I wouldn't be surprised but I'd need to see the smoking gun on this one.


But then there was the matter of the camel in the room. Neither candidate seemed to notice the "rough beast whose hour has come round." Three debates--and neither Obama nor McCain seriously wrestled with the imminent danger of Islamic jihad, Obama because he does not see it that way, McCain because he has chosen not to make an issue of what is possibly the Mother of all issues.


As McCain would say: My friends, America has not only endured 9/11 and its complicated aftermath, we are now faced with a silent jihad, a soft, stealthy, slow and patient imposition of Shari'a law in America.


All over our country, Muslim students and leftist professors are being funded to showcase the Big Lies of Palestinian Victim hood and Israeli Evil. And above all, to hate America.  Tommorrow, at Georgetown University, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, is hosting a conference titled: "Is There a Role for Shari'ah in Modern States?" The infamous John Esposito will be speaking and none other than Harvard's Noah Feldman will be delivering the keynote address.


In addition, Muslim students are demanding and receiving separatist Halal kitchens in college; heretofore, they shared the kosher facilities with Jewish students but no longer, at least not at Columbia University. Footbaths are being demanded in public spaces, more and more women are walking around fully sheeted or in Hijab, one encounters an increasing number of prayer services in the street which have the feel of an aggressive political protest and not a humble, private surrender to God.


All this is accompanied by charges of "Islamophobic racism."


As I sat down to share my thoughts about this final debate, I received an email from blogger known as "YidwithLid." He did a quick piece of research about one of the men whom Obama, in this last debate, said would be advising him when Obama is in the White House: Senator Richard Lugar. Although Obama has said he is pro-Israel, according to my Blogger informant, Lugar is one of the most anti-Israel Senators.


"When, on May 22, 1998, the Senate, by a vote of 90 to 4, passed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, imposing sanctions on foreigners who help Iran's missile program, Mr. Lugar fetched up among the four senators who voted against the measure.


On July 24, 2001, the Senate voted 96 to 2 to renew the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to help deny Iran and Libya money that they would spend on supporting terrorism or acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The only two senators who opposed the measure were Obama's buddies Lugar and Hagel.


On April 6, 2001, 87 members of the Senate sent President Bush a letter saying Yasser Arafat should not be invited to meet with high-level officials in Washington until he renounced terrorism against Israel. Lugar declined to sign the letter.


On April 18, 2002, when the Senate, by 88 to 10, voted to ban the import to America of Iraqi oil until Iraq stopped compensating the families of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers, Messrs. Lugar and Hagel were among the handful who voted to bring in the oil.


In a July 10, 2003, editorial headlined "Ayatollah Lugar," has already reported on how Mr. Lugar watered down the Iran Democracy Act that was introduced by Senators Brownback, Schumer, Kyl, Inouye, and others."


Obama was relaxed, urbane, and eloquent; he seemed to be enjoying himself. But Obama kept smiling, even smirking, each time McCain caught him in a lie. I am not sure whether such smiling is sheer arrogance on Obama's part or whether it suggests that this is how he has learned to deal with attacks, pretending that they don't matter, that he's not hurt.


McCain displayed true principle, especially when he talked about his non-ideological ("no litmus test") requirements for Supreme Court nominees, and the fact that he voted for both Breyer and Ginsberg for the highest court in the land. And yet, his heart was not that of a fighter, willing to go that extra distance to draw blood.


Let me close by quoting a member of one of the many Focus groups shown on television tonight. "We are not electing the best debator. We are electing the President of the United States."


Let's try to remember that when we cast our votes.






AdWatch: Anti-Obama group raises pastor in ads




TITLE: "Obama's Wrong Values"; "Obama's Awful High Tax Policies"; "Hillary Clinton Rips Barack Obama" and "Obama's Patriotism Problem."


LENGTH: Clinton and patriotism ads are 60 seconds, others are 30 seconds.


PAID FOR BY: Our Country Deserves Better PAC, a Sacramento, Calif.-based group formed to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.


AIRING: PAC claims ads are airing in Nevada, Colorado and Michigan, with a total ad buy of more than $100,000.


ANALYSIS: The ads are the work of an independent group and are not produced by Republican candidate John McCain's campaign. The exact size of the ad buy is uncertain because it has not yet been reported to federal election officials.


The group's goal is to use provocative images to "question the leadership, character and judgment of Barack Obama," according to PAC spokesman Joe Wierzbicki.


Wierzbicki said the group does not believe McCain's campaign has been strong enough in its attacks against Obama.


The images and allegations are provocative and, in some cases, unfounded. Many have been circulating in e-mails and on Blogs, but have not yet been raised by McCain.


Clips from a controversial sermon delivered by Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright are used in two ads to charge that Obama doesn't share average Americans' values.


Another ad questions Obama's patriotism with a video clip in which he does not hold his hand to his heart during the national anthem. A third accuses Obama of sympathizing with Islamic militants. The ad does not support the statement.


The PAC was formed in August by California political consultant Sal Russo and former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian.


SCRIPT EXCERPTS: "Obama's Wrong Values": Announcer: "Barack Obama seems to have different values than most Americans. ... Obama's campaign received $33,000 in illegal donations from Palestinians living in the Middle East. A top official of the terrorist group Hamas endorsed Obama's campaign. And how can we forget these hateful sermons from Obama's pastor for over 20 years."


"Obama Awful Tax Policies": Announcer: "In 2007, Barack Obama was ranked by National Journal magazine as the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. ... He says he'll raise Social Security taxes. And Obama even opposed a temporary repeal of the taxes you pay on gasoline."


"Hillary Clinton Rips Barack Obama": Deborah Johns, conservative activist: "We must oppose Obama. He's says he'll play nicey-nice with Islamic militants who want to kill Americans both here at home and abroad."


"Obama's Patriotism Problem": Kaloogian: "If America isn't good enough for Barack Obama then surely Barack Obama isn't good enough for America."


KEY IMAGES: Clips of Wright declaring "God damn America!" in a sermon; Obama standing with his hands folded in front of him during what appears to the singing of the national anthem; Clinton declaring "Shame on you, Barack Obama!" at a news conference.






MILF warned vs raising MOA to world body


By Maila Ager

Oct 17/2008


MANILA, Philippines -- Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has warned the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) against bringing the issue of the memorandum on agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) before the international community, saying it will be like "treading a road that will lead to nowhere."


Instead, Pimentel urged both the MILF and the government to exert "mutual efforts" to restart the peace talks.


“Since both sides remain committed to the peace process, they should seize the initiative to go back to the negotiating table as soon as possible instead of adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” he said in a statement.


To start the process, Pimentel said the government might propose the establishment of a Bangsamoro federal state within a federalized Philippines on condition that the Moro rebels would not resurrect the flawed agreement on ancestral domain.


“If there is a logical course of action that the government should take, it is to make the establishment of a Bangsamoro federal state as part of a federalized Philippines the prime agenda for future negotiations,” he said.


"The federalism proposal will address the long-time aspiration of our Muslim brothers and sisters for a homeland where they will enjoy full autonomy and lead a way of life according to their Islamic faith and preserve their distinct cultural identity,” he pointed out.


Pimentel is the main proponent at the Senate of the proposed shift to a federal system from the current presidential form of government.


Pimentel said the government should "forcefully" pursue this federalism proposal instead of tinkering with the so-called “disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation” or DDR scheme, which has been rejected by the MILF.


While the DDR approach might have worked in Europe, Pimentel said it might not be practical to use it in resolving the country’s Muslim insurgency problem because the MILF would not agree to disarm themselves and demobilize its troops before resuming the peace talks.


In the meantime, the senator advised the government to maintain its existing ceasefire agreement with the rebels.






Glance at Islamic terror money


By The Associated Press


A look at the ways analysts say al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorist groups get money and how it has changed over time:


_ Soviet war in Afghanistan:


Many Islamic terror groups have their origins in the Soviet war in Afghanistan that started in 1979. During the war, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other countries funded Islamic militants who eventually drove the Soviets to withdraw in 1989.


_ Al-Qaida's early years:


Saudi Arabia denied Osama bin Laden access to much of his inherited wealth in the early 1990s after he became critical of the Saudi royal family. He then relied more heavily on wealthy donors and Islamic charities in the Gulf.


A U.S. investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks said it cost al-Qaida an estimated $30 million per year to sustain its activities before the attacks — with almost all the money raised through donations.


A 2004 U.S. investigation found banks in the United Arab Emirates had unwittingly handled most of the $400,000 spent on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.


_ Post-Sept. 11 attacks:


Crackdowns on banks and other financial institutions by the U.S. and its allies disrupted terrorist financing networks in the wake of Sept. 11.


The groups continue to rely heavily on wealthy donors and Islamic charities in the oil-rich Gulf, especially in Saudi Arabia.


The groups have also benefited from the drug trade in Afghanistan that boomed after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Former U.S. drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey estimates al-Qaida and the Taliban are principally funded by some $800 million from the drug trade.


_ Related groups and sympathizers:


Spanish officials have said illegal drug sales funded the Madrid train bombings in 2004. The U.N. estimated those attacks cost only about $10,000.


British officials say the terrorists who carried out the 2005 London subway bombings financed themselves by defaulting on a personal loan and overdrawing bank accounts. The British estimated those attacks cost about $15,000.


Analysts say individual terrorist attacks are cheap but it costs much more to support large-scale terrorist networks like the ones al-Qaida and the Taliban have on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

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Copyright © 2008 the Associated Press





Analysts: al-Qaida has funds despite economic woes




CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Al-Qaida, which gets its money from the drug trade in Afghanistan and sympathizers in the oil-rich Gulf States, is likely to escape the effects of the global financial crisis.


One reason is that al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorists have been forced to avoid using banks, relying instead on less-efficient ways to move their cash around the world, analysts said.


Those methods include hand-carrying money and using informal transfer networks called hawalas.


While escaping official scrutiny, those networks also are slower and less efficient — and thus could hamper efforts to finance attacks.


"It would be inconceivable that large amounts of (terror-linked) money would transit through the formal financial system, because of all the controls," said Ibrahim Warde, an expert on terrorist financing at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.


The question of where al-Qaida and its sympathizers get their money has long been crucial to efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. A 2004 U.S. investigation found that banks in the United Arab Emirates had unwittingly handled most of the $400,000 spent on the Sept. 11 attacks.


After the attacks, the U.S. made an aggressive push to use law enforcement techniques to disrupt terrorist financing networks and worked with allies to improve their own financial and regulatory institutions.


Al-Qaida and the Taliban have benefited from the drug trade's growth in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, and the booming business likely will not be affected by the global slowdown.


Opium cultivation has fallen slightly this year but is still about 20 times higher than in 2001, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.


Former U.S. drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who recently consulted with U.S. and NATO officials in Afghanistan, issued a report in July saying al-Qaida and the Taliban "are principally funded by what some estimate as $800 million a year derived from the huge $4 billion annual illegal production and export of opium/heroin and cannabis."


In addition, wealthy donors and Islamic charities in the oil-rich Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, continue to be "one of the most significant sources of illicit financing for terrorism," said Matthew Levitt, a former Treasury Department terrorism expert now with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


The Saudis have long insisted they are doing all they can to rein in terror financing, and U.S. officials have praised their efforts.


But, under a system known as "zakat," wealthy Muslims are required to give a portion of their money to the poor. Much of that is given to Islamic charities, and U.S. officials say at least some of that money continues to be channelled to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.


Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have benefited in the last two years from a surge in oil prices from about $60 per barrel at the beginning of 2007 to more than $145 per barrel in the middle of this year. Prices have fallen almost 50 percent in the last few months in response to the global financial crisis, but not before generating hundreds of billions of dollars to oil producers.


Levitt said the covert nature of terrorist financing makes it difficult to determine a direct correlation between rising oil revenues and the amount of cash al-Qaida has on hand.


But "it stands to reason that if there is more oil revenue, there will be more revenue for all kinds of things licit and illicit," he said.


Al-Qaida and other extremist groups have gloated in recent weeks about the West's financial woes, painting the crisis as either divine punishment for supposed wrongs or the last gasps of a dying empire.


An American al-Qaida member, Adam Gadahn, said in a video released this month that "the enemies of Islam are facing a crushing defeat, which is beginning to manifest itself in the expanding crisis their economy is experiencing."


Members of the militant Palestinian group Hamas and hard-liners in Iran also have cheered the economic turmoil.


Iran is thought to be the last major government supporter of terrorist groups. The majority Shiite country is not believed to finance al-Qaida, a Sunni group, but does support the militant Hezbollah faction in Lebanon, which engaged in war with Israel in 2006.


Iran denies the financial crisis is hurting its economy, but falling oil prices will cut into its crude sales, which make up 80 percent of the government budget. It is unclear how that will affect support to Hezbollah.


Despite the apparent glut in potential money for terrorist groups, Levitt believes anti-terrorism efforts have hampered their ability to transfer money where they want.


Levitt points to several messages from senior al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan intercepted by the U.S. or released by the terrorist group itself, asking Gulf supporters for more help because of funding shortfalls. The al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, appeared in a May 2007 video saying "the mujahedeen of the Taliban number in the thousands, but they lack funds."


But Warde and other analysts are not convinced al-Qaida is really hurting.


"Anybody who is involved in fundraising of any sort is never going to say we have enough money, so I think it is a silly argument to say that because there is this intercept ... it is proof that everything we've done has succeeded brilliantly," said Warde.







 Spain makes train bomb-related terror arrests


From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman


MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spanish police arrested 12 people Thursday on suspicion of Islamic terrorist activities, authorities said.


Eight of them, all Moroccans, were arrested early Thursday. They are suspected of providing cover for five fugitives from the Madrid train bombings four years ago and also of involvement in financing and recruiting of Islamic terrorists, according to the ministry statement and a judicial source.


Later Thursday, police arrested four more people -- three Moroccans and an Algerian -- in their prison cells for similar charges. Additional details about those four were not immediately released.


The operation was conducted on orders of Judge Baltasar Garzon, an investigating magistrate at Spain's National Court, which handles cases of terrorism.


The suspects range in age from 23 to 56. Four are from Tangiers, just across the Mediterranean from mainland Spain, and the others from elsewhere in Morocco, the ministry said.


The Madrid train bombing took place on March 11, 2004, killed 191 people and wounded 1,800.


In the days and months that followed, police arrested a number of suspects in and around Madrid, but determined that a small number of suspects had escaped.


Authorities have long suspected that they had help getting out of the area with the assistance of a secretive group of accomplices.


The main Madrid train bombing trail ended in 2007 with the convictions of 23 men. Five of them were later acquitted by the Supreme Court. A small number of other suspects have yet to stand trial.


Since the bombings, Spanish police have arrested dozens of Islamic terror suspects, who are accused of activities ranging from plotting attacks to providing financing to recruitment.






Tension high on a tour through Hebron

By Kim Linekin


It's my last of 12 days in the West Bank, and I'm terrified. More terrified than the day I set off to a Palestinian village to observe a protest against the wall Israel is building through it as part of the security barrier around the West Bank. When I returned to my British friend Art's apartment, I was soaked in tear gas and shaking so hard I needed to bake cookies to feel normal again.


Today I'm going by myself to Hebron, where Art has arranged for me to be shown around by a friend of someone he interviewed for his latest book. Hebron is a holy city, and a sometimes hellish one. It's where Palestinians massacred 67 Jews in 1929, prompting Britain to evacuate Jews from the area. In 1968, a year after Israel won the Six Day War and began occupying Palestine, Jewish settlers set out to reclaim Hebron by renting out a hotel and refusing to leave. In 1994 in Hebron, a settler opened fire in the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, killing 29 Muslims at prayer and wounding 125.


Why were I, a Jew and a film critic with no political experience save for a couple of Take Back the Night marches at UVic, in this deeply troubled place? It was simple, really. I'd been to Israel, but Art's invitation to see what was happening on the other side of the Wall—from the comfort of his spacious Ramallah apartment—seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Everything I'd seen so far had been fascinating, and some of it fun: the ramshackle zoo in Qalqilya, the kids' arts camp in Jenin, the thriving microbrewery in the Christian village of Taybeh. But I also wanted to learn about the occupation, and Art said Hebron was at the crux of it.


However, after reading that two international observers were killed in Hebron in 2002 and hearing that settlers threw stones at Art's friend Jessica when she toured there last year, I suddenly feel like a stupid tourist setting herself up for a Darwin Award. Art suggests that I call my escort for reassurance. Mohammed, an English instructor at Palestine Polytechnic University, laughs and says I'll be fine. Art needs space to get some writing done, though he's too kind to ask for it. So I walk to the Ramallah bus station—a parkade filled with shared taxis—and find the yellow van heading to Hebron.


We drive for an hour before hitting the first checkpoint. There are checkpoints all over the West Bank. This one's manned by a single Israeli soldier who looks about 12. He's inordinately curious about me, asking why I'm going to Hebron and if I have family there. He smiles like he's star struck.


An hour later, we hit a long lineup for another checkpoint. Our driver turns and takes another road. Soon he's pulling over and turning the van around again. And again. I'm convinced we're lost. Some of the passengers get off in a tiny village that is definitely not Hebron. At this point I'm panicking, not least because I'm desperate to pee and don't know how to ask. Plus, I'm having no luck reaching Mohammed using Art's cell phone.


A Muslim woman sitting in the back comes to my rescue. She understands "toilet" and takes me to one, even hands me tissues from her purse. I crouch over a hole to hell. Afterward, she explains in the most broken of English that we're not lost; the roads were unexpectedly closed by the Israeli military, but we're almost there now. I love her like a sister.


We reach Hebron half an hour late. I'm dropped off at the wrong Palestine Polytechnic University campus, where I'm greeted by a nice man named Jamal. I assume he's escorting me to my escort, but he doesn't know what I'm talking about. He simply saw a westerner looking confused and came to help. Fortunately, despite seemingly half the men in Palestine being named Mohammed, the Mohammed I'm looking for turns out to be Jamal's cousin. Jamal puts me in a cab.


Mohammed is also panicking when I meet him—his cell phone was stolen by one of his students. He's too preoccupied to show me around, so he introduces me to his mother-in-law, Nawraz, and sister-in-law Nisreen, Muslim women swathed in elegant head scarves and sunglasses. They're businesslike, asking me what I want to see. They say they'll take me to the Old City, but not to the settlers' area. Whew.


We walk through the bustling downtown core. I find out that Nawraz runs a women's charitable society and that Nisreen works for an NGO but wants to get into PR, because she thinks Palestinians need to tell their side of the story better.


We enter the Old City. Its quiet walkways reach dead ends of barbed wire, concrete, and electric fences. This is how Palestinians are blocked from areas settlers have taken over. As we wander the mostly shuttered Arab market, Nisreen points up at the mesh barrier erected to protect them from the "dirty things" the settlers upstairs throw down to harass their neighbours. Things like panties, bottles of urine, garbage. I ask who clears off the barrier. She says no one does. But there's an Israeli military watchtower up there, and others all over, keeping the settlers safe from the Palestinians, lest they retaliate. Nawraz tells me that the roughly 500 settlers living in the Old City are guarded by 2,000 soldiers. About 130,000 Palestinians live around them. The math astounds me.


Nawraz pulls me into an alley. She wants to show off some restored heritage apartments that are available rent-free to Palestinians, part of an initiative by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee to keep them in the Old City. But no one has chosen to live there. She tells me soldiers come into Palestinian homes, whether they're welcome or not, and they can do whatever they want. When I ask if she's angry, she shrugs, says "Of course," and keeps walking.


We round a corner and come upon the Tomb of the Patriarchs. I'm not keen to go inside, but my guides insist. First, another checkpoint. I want to stare daggers at the soldiers, but something inside me feels sympathetic toward them too.


We go into the Muslim side. I'm not Jewish enough to want to see the Jewish side. My Orthodox friends in Jerusalem who hosted me for Shabbat the previous week told me that being in the tomb feels as cozy as sitting on your grandfather's lap. To me, it feels haunted. Nawraz settles in to pray. Nisreen says that when she heard about the massacre, she ran to donate blood. Settlers attacked Palestinian victims on their way to the hospital.


It's mid-afternoon. I haven't eaten lunch and am starting to feel sick.


Nawraz and Nisreen show me a road that Palestinians are allowed to walk up but not down. I spy settlers in the distance and get chills. Nawraz picks up a newspaper with a photo of a soldier turning an Arab toddler away from a checkpoint or a closed road. "The Jews are more scared of us than we are of them," she says. "They're even scared of our children. They know they shouldn't be here—it's not a nice feeling living in someone else's home." I'm finally hearing how she really feels. "We will fight back once in a while," she says. "And if it takes 100 years, they will be dismissed." -


Access: Shared taxis leave the Ramallah bus station as soon as they fill up, and go everywhere in the West Bank. The trip to Hebron costs 30 shekels ($9) and takes 2.5 hours, depending on checkpoints and road closures. Tours can be arranged through (Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron). For up-to-the-minute travel information, join the Visit Palestine! Group on Face book.