by Tony Blair, from The Economist:
There is nothing more ridiculous than the attempt to portray “democracy” or “freedom” as somehow “Western” concepts which, mistakenly, we try to apply to nations or peoples to whom they are alien. There may well be governments to whom they are alien.* But not peoples. Whoever voted to get rid of democracy? Or preferred secret police to freedom of speech? These values are universal. We should attack the ideology of the extremists with confidence: their reactionary view of the state; their refusal to let people prosper in peace; their utterly regressive views on women. We should condemn not just their barbaric methods of terrorism, but in particular attack their presumed sense of grievance against the West. We need to support and help mobilise moderate and true Islam in doing so.
* Citizens of Saudi Arabia cannot change their government democratically. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. (from Freedom House)
Thursday, May 31, 2007
by Tony Blair, from The Economist:
From The Jerusalem Post
Global jihadist terrorism, accordingly, can and must be fought by governments against the terrorist groups directly, but must ultimately be understood as a weapon in the hands of states. Though confronting these states may not be sufficient to stop such terrorism, it is certainly futile to fight terrorism while allowing state sponsors to escape responsibility and punishment.
A double agent for Syrian military intelligence and al Qaeda, a Saudi national, was detained in Beirut Tuesday, May 29. A specialist in orchestrating terrorist operations, his mission was part of Damascus’ preparations to loose mayhem should the UN Security Council create the Hariri tribunal. Lebanese security forces arrested the Saudi at a five-star apartment hotel in the Ashrafiya district of Beirut ... Lebanese intelligence nailed the Saudi agent on a tip-off from a Western agency after listening in on his conversations.
From Associated Press
An al-Qaida militant who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan turned up in an online video posted Wednesday, assailing the Saudi royal family for its alliance with the United States. The 45-minute video of Abu Yahia al-Libi, who broke out of the Bagram Air Base prison north of Kabul in 2005, was monitored by the IntelCenter, a U.S. government contractor that watches for al-Qaida messaging. According to its transcript, al-Libi's diatribe accuses Saudi royals of seeking the White House's "praise" and "gratitude"
From Juan Cole at Informed Comment
Do the United States and Iran have things to talk about? Yes. They have several common interests, which could be stressed and developed fruitfully ... Shiite Iran is a deadly enemy of the Iraqi Baath Party and of the radical Salafi Jihadis who are responsible for most of the violence in Iraq and for most of the killings of US troops. There are ways in which the US and Iran could cooperate in defeating these forces, which are inimical to both Washington and Tehran.
From Mitt Romney at Foreign Affairs
If elected, one of my first acts as president would be to call for a summit of nations to ... create a worldwide strategy to support moderate Muslims in their effort to defeat radical and violent Islam. I envision that the summit would lead to the creation of a Partnership for Prosperity and Progress: a coalition of states that would assemble resources from developed nations and use them to support public schools (not Wahhabi madrasahs), microcredit and banking, the rule of law, human rights, basic health care, and free-market policies in modernizing Islamic states. These resources would be drawn from public and private institutions and from volunteers and nongovernmental organizations.
A Saudi Arabian detainee at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died Wednesday of an apparent suicide, the military said in a statement ... In June, three Guantanamo Bay detainees committed suicide by hanging themselves with clothes and bedsheets. The three, two of them Saudi Arabian and one Yemeni, left behind notes written in Arabic, the military said.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
From Reuters and IRIN (UN)
Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Abdul Aziz Khoja, in an interview with Al Hayat published on Sunday, said four Saudi militants fighting for Fatah al-Islam had been confirmed dead. Fatah al-Islam is believed to have several hundred fighters from Algeria, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen as well as disaffected youth from the Palestinian community.
From Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet of the New York Times
Militant leaders warn that the situation in Lebanon is indicative of the spread of fighters. "You have 50 fighters from Iraq in Lebanon now, but with good caution I can say there are a hundred times that many, 5,000 or higher, who are just waiting for the right moment to act," Mohammad al-Massari, a Saudi dissident in Britain who runs the jihadist Internet forum, Tajdeed.net, said in an interview Friday. "The flow of fighters is already going back and forth, and the fight will be everywhere until the United States is willing to cease and desist."
From John Lancaster of Slate
Somewhere in his 50s, the scowling imam wore the long beard and calf-length pants that marked him as a follower of Wahhabiism, the strict fundamentalist brand of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia. But I was not in Saudi Arabia. I was in the Maldives ... As elsewhere, the growth of fundamentalist influence can be traced in part to Saudi Arabia, which built a seven-story-high school in Male—the Islamic Studies Institute—whose curriculum runs heavily to Arabic and the Quran. Moreover, many young Maldivians have studied at madrassas in the Middle East and Pakistan, where some have been recruited by militants.
From Rachel Neuwirth at the American Thinker
The world will also have to see if the Saudi efforts are genuinely aimed at establishing peace in the region, or if they are just another attempt to perpetuate the Wahabbist ideology of jihad by claiming to be working for peace ... I hope that we will hear Tashbih's voice about the Islamist/Saudi Arabian fronts within our own society, such as CAIR and MPAC, who weasel their way in America to propound their brand of radical Islam. They take advantage of the American constitution and civil liberties to Islamize America.
From Steven Stalinsky and The New York Sun
A report filed by the Ministry of Justice in Switzerland, May 2007 -- Salman bin Fahd Al-Odah is a preacher of global influence and is one of the senior figures of the fundamentalist Islamic Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia as well as a close associate of Osama bin Laden. He was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for his extremist ideologies from 1994 until 1999. Even after his imprisonment, he adopts the call to armed struggle against the infidel Western countries in his writings." ... Switzerland's banning Mr. Odah follows decisions in other Western countries to close their borders to influential Muslim religious figures who often espouse anti-Western and pro-jihad sentiment.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
From Reva Bhalla at Stratfor
As the leader of the Sunni Arabs, the Saudis believe they have every right to be part of the formal negotiating process ... Meanwhile, the Iranians evidently are working to allay Sunni Arab fears by publicizing Tehran's Iraq proposal (with considerable concessions to Iraq's Sunnis) in the mainstream Arab press and stepping up diplomatic engagements with Sunni governments. The House of Saud does not want U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq while Iran uses its proxies to create an excuse to intervene militarily. The Saudis also do not want Iraq war-hardened Saudi jihadist veterans to return home and attack the kingdom. Though the Saudis might see an Iran-U.S. deal as inevitable, they will keep their ties to the full spectrum of Sunni militants to use as their main deal-breaker should an Iraq settlement fail to address their interests.
From Martin Chulov of The Australian
As the encircled Islamists in north Lebanon heralded their last stand this weekend, regional governments were coming to terms with a much broader battle - al-Qa'ida's opening salvos in the western Middle East. From the Horn of Africa to the eastern shores of the Atlantic, from Afghanistan to Lebanon, and as far away as Spain, the rise of Salafi Islamic Jihadism has taken on a dangerous new impetus that is likely to reshape the global war on terror ... "The game plan here appears to be to import elements of the Iraqi insurgency and kick it off here between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites," said one well-placed security officer." Fatah al-Islam are an advance guard."
From Amer Mohsen at IRAQSlogger.com
A bombing in Baghdad took the lives of at least two dozen people and targeted a major Sufi mosque and shrine in the city ... Al-Mada accused “takfiris” (literally: people who excommunicate others) of being behind the attack, a hint towards extremist Sunni groups. Several strands of Salafism in Sunni Islam find Sufi beliefs and religious practices to be objectionable, and in some cases, heretical, and it would not be far-fetched to assume that zealous extremists may have been behind the attack –- especially groups inspired by the Wahhabi tradition, which is especially harsh vis-à-vis Sufism.
From Faiza Saleh Ambah of the Washington Post
The change is most striking in Jiddah, the kingdom's most cosmopolitan city, where many young women now wear their head scarves around their shoulders and leave their abayas open to reveal pants and T-shirts ... The redefinition of the abaya mirrors the greater, though still limited, personal freedoms allowed in the kingdom over the past five years. A major factor in the change was the involvement of young Saudis in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Many people began to question the official Wahhabi ideology that was believed to have partly inspired the hijackers and that had long dictated the country's ultraconservative lifestyle.
From Sanaa al Jack of Asharq Alawsat
Dr. Ahmad Musuly, professor of political science and Islamic studies at the American University in Beirut, told Asharq Al Awsat: "Some of these movements act violently and some accept the present situation. Salafis in Lebanon were receptive to peace and could settle for Islamic values and thought. The switch to violence was associated with the rise of al Qaeda. Militant takfiri groups emerged that embraced al Qaeda's thinking and called for the elimination of everything that contradicted their ideology and the establishment of an Islamic state by force. These groups were based in the Palestinian refugee camps where authority is absent." He pointed out that "The thing in common between the Salafi groups is the same thinking—a return to the pious ancestors' course, rejection of the schools of thought and adhering to basic texts."
From Laina Farhat-Holzman at the Santa Cruz Sentinel
The Journal of Psychohistory explored this issue several years ago in three devastating articles on the dysfunction of polygamous — and population-exploded — Muslim families. Osama Bin Laden's family demonstrates the dysfunction of polygamy combined with the poisoning of Wahhabi Islam — and we have tasted that rage. We also see the dynamic of dysfunctional families in the horrible increase in suicide bombers [25% increase since 2005]. Young women, notoriously unhappy in these dysfunctional families, are being recruited by terrorists for suicide missions. Manuals have been captured that chart how to identify and recruit an unhappy woman who will be willing — or coerced — to die.
From Shiv Malik of The Sunday Times (UK)
The ringleader of the July 7 suicide bombers converted to violent jihadism at least six years before he blew himself up on the London Underground, his brother has revealed in his first interview. Gultasab Khan, a taxi driver from Beeston, Leeds, disclosed that Mohammad Sidique Khan had visited the family’s spiritual adviser in 1999 and told him he wanted to travel to Afghanistan to train for jihad (holy war) ... He describes how in the mid 1990s Sidique Khan converted to wahhabism, the fundamentalist strain of Islam espoused by the September 11 hijackers. From there he moved into the ranks of violent jihadists – before the 2001 attacks on America or the Iraq invasion two years later.
Friday, May 25, 2007
From Christopher Kremmer of The Sydney Morning Herald
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto alleges Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, sought the help of a then little-known Saudi millionaire militant, bin Laden, to help fund her overthrow in 1989 ... On the political comeback trail in 1993 she again attracted the unwelcome attention of al-Qaeda. Ramsi Yusuf, later convicted of participating in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, was deputised by his uncle and the al-Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to assassinate her. He tried twice and failed (she says at the behest of the intelligence agency), while Bhutto won the elections and embarked on a second term in office.
From Mark Trevelyan of Reuters
Rita Katz, head of the SITE institute, told Reuters that the jihadists' enthusiasm for Fatah al-Islam on the al Qaeda-linked Web sites reflected their desire to open a new Sunni militant front in Lebanon to challenge the dominant Shi'ite Hezbollah. Katz said the faction had received both moral and logistical support from the jihadist community, which exploits the Internet intensively as a propaganda tool. Several jihadists with media skills, including a Saudi Web master, had volunteered their services to the group.
From James J.F. Forest, Ph.D. at The Family Security Foundation
Our challenge is thus to communicate and demonstrate a commitment to providing justice and human security to all mankind. An abstract “democratic freedom” – which we push for in some countries (like Russia and China) and not others (like Egypt or Saudi Arabia) – does not always mobilize people in the way that we may think it should ... Democratization should surely remain a pillar of our foreign policy, but we must also place greater emphasis on issues of responsible local governance and security, as well as common principles of justice – regardless of whether the providers of these are democratic or not. Overall, reducing the appeal and legitimacy of the Salafi-Jihad ideology of al Qaida requires a concerted effort beyond the military realm. We must shape the global environment in a manner that will constrain the resonance of al Qaida’s ideology.
From Tawfik Hamid at Opinion Journal/The Wall Street Journal
It may seem bizarre, but Islamic reformers are not immune to the charge of "Islamophobia" either. For 20 years, I have preached a reformed interpretation of Islam that teaches peace and respects human rights. I have consistently spoken out--with dozens of other Muslim and Arab reformers--against the mistreatment of women, gays and religious minorities in the Islamic world. We have pointed out the violent teachings of Salafism and the imperative of Westerners to protect themselves against it. Yet according to CAIR's Michigan spokeswoman, Zeinab Chami, I am "the latest weapon in the Islamophobe arsenal." If standing against the violent edicts of Shariah law is "Islamophobic," then I will treat her accusation as a badge of honor.
From Lucy Fielder of Al-Ahram Weekly
Fatah Al-Islam's ideology is Al-Qaeda-style Salafism -- anti-Shia and anti-US. Experts say most militia members are northern Lebanese, joined by Palestinians, Syrians, Saudis and other Arab nationalities. A political split between the Sunni-dominated government of Prime Minister Fouad Al-Siniora and the Shia resistance group Hizbullah forms the backdrop to Fatah Al-Islam's growth, according to Ahmed Moussalli, an expert on Islamist movements at the American University of Beirut. " In Lebanon in the last few months it seems the Hariri group has been channelling funds and allowing weaponry to enter in order to create a Sunni militia... to bargain with Hizbullah."
From Kenneth R. Timmerman at NewsMax
In a meeting on Wednesday at the State Department, Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said that Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried insisted the Christian Bosnian Serb government agree to dissolve its independent police force and parliament, and merge them into Muslim-majority federal institutions ... Asked why he was coming to Washington if to be read the riot act, Dodik said it was "hard to refuse when you've been summoned." Nearly 1.4 million Serbian Christians live in the Republic of Srpska, the autonomous Serbian entity that Serbs say was "forced down [their] throats" under the 1995 Dayton agreement.
From From Times Online (UK)
Jamaican-born Abdullah el-Faisal, an Islamic cleric who had a strong influence over one of the July 7 bombers, was extradited back to his home country today, four years after being convicted for inciting racial hatred in the UK ... On leaving Jamaica in 1983, he travelled first to Guyana, where he took a course in Arabic, before studying at the Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud Mohammed University in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he first heard the teachings of Osama bin Laden and other practitioners of militant, Wahhabi Islam.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
From Abdul Jalil Mustafa at Arab News
Jordan’s King Abdallah has commuted the death sentence of an Al-Qaeda-linked Saudi national convicted of plotting to carry out acts of terrorism in Jordan, judicial sources said yesterday. “The monarch has issued a decree reducing the death penalty passed on the Saudi citizen Fahd Noman Al-Fuhaiqi to life imprisonment with hard labor,” the sources said. Jordan’s State Security Court decided in December 2005 that Fuhaiqi and two other defendants be hanged after finding them guilty of masterminding bombings at the check posts on the two sides of the Iraqi-Jordanian border in October 2004.
From by Larry C. Johnson at Atlantic Free Press
So what do we do in Iraq? That depends on what our ultimate objective is. If we want a stable government in Iraq we must accept the fact that it will be dominated by Shias who will have close ties to Iran. If we go that route we must be prepared to work out an accomodation with the Iranians and quell the anger of Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Turkey, who in turn will be more likely to support and encourage groups who share the goals of Al Qaeda. If we want to contain Iran, however, the goal of a stable government in Iraq will have to be put on a back burner and we should look for ways to work covertly with secular Sunnis and Shias. We will be promoting civil war in Iraq, but one targeted against religious extremists with Iraqi tribes taking the lead. This is not the kind of policy we can easily tout in public.
From Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren at National Review Online
What exactly gives the Congress the right to impose its economic regulations on state-owned companies that, for the most part, aren’t doing business in the United States? Do all national governments have this right, or only the United States? If the former, what’s to prevent Saudi Arabia from declaring it illegal for U.S. banks to charge interest on loans — an activity ostensibly banned in many Islamic countries? If the latter, then it’s a naked statement that U.S. policy is premised upon the idea that the biggest guy on the playground makes the rules for everyone else whether they like it or not. That is, might makes right. But if so, wouldn’t those forced against their will to live under U.S. law rightly argue that subjects of governmental power ought to have a right to vote about the laws they are compelled to live under? Or is that a right that only applies for some and not others?
From Reuel Marc Gerecht at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
Europeans and many Americans are enraptured by the idea that commerce and capitalism make friends out of enemies, a view that conveniently allows one to spend less on defense and practice a more friendly foreign policy. Advocates of engagement don't want to see that for Iran's ruling clergy there is no fundamental contradiction between seeking trade deals with Boeing and Exxon and also bombing American troops in Saudi Arabia, abetting the movement of Al Qaeda's holy warriors (see the 9/11 commission report) and exporting explosive devises to Iraq to kill American and British soldiers.
From Marianna Belenkaya of RIA Novosti
Syria has long been facing allegations that terrorists were moving to Iraq through its territory; now it is similarly being accused of fuelling terrorism in Lebanon. Coupled with Fath Al-Islam's alleged contacts with al-Qaeda and its "representative" in Iraq, Jaish Al-Islam, the accusations against Damascus sound quite serious. But, is there any evidence that the Syrian regime is indeed linked to al-Qaeda? True, terrorists might be using Syria's territory for transit purposes. But does that prove the country's government has anything to do with it? Terrorists are also penetrating Iraq from the territory of Saudi Arabia, but for some reason it has never occurred to the West, primarily to the U.S., to accuse the Saudi government of supporting terrorism. At least now. As regards Damascus, the situation is different.
From Fjordman at the Global Politician
In the 18th century, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab's alliance with regional ruler Muhammad bin Saud and his family later led to the creation of Saudi Arabia. Another modern "reform" movement within the Islamic world was the so-called Salafism of 19th century thinkers such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh. Whereas the former was an internal reform movement triggered by calls for removing "corruption" from society, the latter was clearly a response to external, Western pressures ... Muhammad Abduh's pupil Rashid Rida inspired Hassan al-Banna when he formed the Muslim Brotherhood. Rida urged Muslims not to imitate infidels, but return to the Golden Age of early Islam, as did Abduh. Rida also recommended reestablishing the Caliphate, and applauded when the Wahhabists conquered Mecca and Medina and established modern Saudi Arabia. The two reform movements thus partly merged in the 20th century, into organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
From Andrei Smirnov of the Jamestown Foundation
Colonel Anatoly Kyarov, head of the Organized Crime Department of the Kabardinian Interior Ministry, warned, “The insurgents could unite their forces in Kabardino-Balkaria and in the whole North Caucasus.” According to Kyarov, the rising popularity of Islam in the late 1980s and the practice of training local youth in Muslim schools in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey gave rise to the armed rebellion in the region. The colonel blamed foreign Islamic organizations that, he claimed, “have set additional conditions for spreading extremism in the republic and financed religious and extremist activities.”
From Tawfik Hamid at the Opinion Journal/Wall Street Journal
"Progressives" frequently cite the need to examine "root causes." In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological "rootlets" of Islamism, the main tap root has a name--Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
From Radley Balko at Reason Online
The "blowback" theory isn't some fringe idea common only to crazy Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists. It doesn't suggest that we "deserved" the Sept. 11 attacks, nor does it suggest we shouldn't have retaliated against the people who waged them. It's a well-established theory accepted among most foreign policy scholars that states, simply, that actions have consequences ... This isn't to say we should never bomb or invade an Arab or Muslim country. Certainly, to the extent that the Taliban in Afghanistan gave Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda refuge after the attacks, we had no choice but to invade the country and topple its government. But we also shouldn't just attack any Arab or Muslim country, which is what we seem to have done with Iraq. Saddam Hussein's government was brutal, ruthless and tyrannical. No doubt. But so are a number of countries with which we're allies, most notably Saudi Arabia.
From B Raman at Rediff News
Jihadi terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is undergoing a disquieting metamorphosis ... The citizen jihadis, who see no television, Internet and video players which they regard as evil, have no way of seeing with their own eyes what is happening in other lands and far-away places. They are being influenced more by what they hear on the hundreds of FM radio stations operating in the tribal areas. Every mullah, who is some mullah in the tribal areas, has his own FM station. These stations have been propagating highly exaggerated accounts of the humiliation allegedly being inflicted on Muslims all over the world and of the evil impact of cultural globalisation on their religion, their men, women and children ... The relentless spread of these jihadi communes across Pakistan and the helplessness of the Musharraf regime make one shudder to think what could happen to the military grade enriched uranium produced at Kahuta and the nuclear-capable missiles stored in Sargodha if Lal Masjids spring up in their midst and take religion, law and nuclear control in their own hands tomorrow.
From The Washington Post and The Associated Press
Bernard Rougier, author of Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon and a professor at the University of Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France, said Shaker al-Absi has adopted a goal and message that reflect the decline of the Palestinian cause as the chief motivator of aspiring jihadists and their financial supporters in the Muslim world. "Many consider Palestine a useless fight," he said. "By changing their own identities, to one of a Sunni warrior, they also get money from Saudi Arabia and other private sources throughout the [Palestinian] diaspora. You are inventing a new figure of the fighter, and it is very exciting to young people." That fighter's goal is to end perceived Western domination and promote Islamic rule.
AFRICOM will begin operations from a U.S. base in Stuttgart, Germany, but will relocate to Africa once a basing model is determined. The Pentagon has yet to decide whether AFRICOM will follow a single headquarters model or a multiple location, distributive model. In the Horn of Africa region, the United States carries out counterterrorism operations from Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command, which conducted airstrikes in early January against al Qaeda and Islamists in southern Somalia, falls under the Central Command's responsibility ... The Camp Lemonier base in Djibouti likely will be kept, as it is an excellent location from which to conduct counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa. Liberia, the closest U.S. ally to the Sahel region, could also be considered for a base from which to launch into the Sahel.
From JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
Palestinians are Sunni, and Fatah al Islam, an offshoot of al Qaeda said to be associated with Syrian intelligence, has been operating in the camps. Syrian Alawites are a Shiite sect allied with Iran, but it is manifestly true that unlike Muslims work together if it serves their larger purpose. Saudi Arabia is the primary sponsor of Sunni radicalism and al Qaeda (and Fatah al Islam?). But the Palestinians in Syria are in opposition to the pro-Western Lebanese government of Fuad Siniora. After the withdrawal of uniformed Syrian forces in 2005 Palestinian refugee camps took in Syrian weapons and agents ... And here is how the threads began to unravel in Tripoli: Syria denied involvement with Fatah al-Islam. Fatah al-Islam denied involvement in a shopping mall bombing in Christian Beirut neighborhood Saturday night and a bus bombing that killed three Christians, claiming it was only interested in “training young Palestinians... to fight the Jews in Palestine.” Lebanese residents of Tripoli stood outside the camp and cheered for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as it entered.
From Michael Scheuer at The Jamestown Foundation
During bin Laden's hiatus in Sudan from 1991-1996, al-Qaeda's media operations tended to focus primarily on agitating for reform of the governmental system in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden set up the Advice and Reform Committee (ARC) in London and it transmitted regular electronic newsletters in Saudi Arabia supporting the Islamic clerics, scholars and jurists there who were urging the al-Saud family to rule in a manner more consistent with Sharia law and thereby prevent civil disorder and violence ... Even using selective portions of scripture, al-Qaeda's scholars have fashioned a cogent religious foundation for waging a defensive jihad that has won support among tens of millions of Muslims, and especially among the young. Militants are now armed with religious arguments with which to match, and in their own minds trump, the anti-jihad arguments of those the West regards as "moderate" Muslims.
From Dr. Walid Phares at FrontPageMagazine.com
If the Lebanese Army fails to contain the terrorists, could be very serious to the Seniora Government and the UN. Worse, if the first piece of a Sunni Triangle is put in place in Lebanon, this could affect the geopolitics of the War on Terror globally: The rise of Salafi Jihadism along the coasts of Lebanon, from Tripoli to Sidon, passing by Beirut. This Emirate-to-be could become the closer strategic enclave of Bin Laden to the US Sixth Fleet, Europe’s cities and Israel. The United States and the West are now faced with a new development which they cannot allow to grow unchecked: an al-Qaeda base on the Eastern Mediterranean.
From By Stephen Schwartz at TCSDaily.com
Arabs and Pakistanis are, by a far length, the Muslim communities in the West most saturated with fundamentalism. Thus, it took some time for American pundits, or aspirants to that title, to catch up with the dangerous probability that rather than the Fort Dix conspiracy exposing radical Islam among Muslims in the Balkans, it emerged from the underworld created by Wahhabi domination of Sunnism in America. I have repeatedly argued that radical Islamic ideologues have been more successful in imposing conformity on Sunnis in the U.S. and England than in most Muslim countries. Even Saudi Arabia, the source of Wahhabism, is now undergoing mass discontent with the Wahhabi order.
From Julia Gorin at FrontPageMagazine.com
Meanwhile, the Wahhabi Muslims who started flooding Kosovo upon our intervention have been making sure that young Albanians sour on us anyway. In an article titled Behind Kosovo’s Façade, Balkans observer Russell Gordon writes: "In many areas young Kosovo Albanians are being converted to the Wahabist faction, and are highly visible in their telltale short haircuts, beards, and ankle-length pants. As well, many Arabs are present from the Middle East and France ... Moreover, anti-Western jihadist sermons are now a regular feature at many of the new mosques. Western military intelligence officials have stated that the findings of their investigations into the jihadist terror networks is routinely ignored or blocked by NATO, UN and US officials."
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
From David Edwards and Muriel Kane at RawStory
In an interview on CNN International's Your World Today, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh said that since the Israelis lost to them last summer, "the fear of Hezbollah in Washington, particularly in the White House, is acute." As a result, Hersh implies, the Bush administration is no longer acting rationally in its policy. "We're in the business of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia. ... "We're in the business of creating ... sectarian violence." And he describes the scheme of funding Fatah al-Islam as "a covert program we joined in with the Saudis as part of a bigger, broader program of doing everything we could to stop the spread of the Shia world, and it just simply -- it bit us in the rear."
From AME Info
Saudi-based Jadwa Investment has partnered with Russell Investment Group to offer shariah-compliant investment products. The companies will initially develop two equity funds for both developed and emerging international markets. Russell has over $200bn in assets under management.
From Trevor Brown at the Evansville Courier & Press
James Zoph, who drives a truck for a company that works directly with GE Plastics, said the United States should have stepped in to block the sale to by Saudi Basic Industries Corp. "I think our government is making a terrible mistake by allowing this deal," he said. "Something bad is going to happen. This is a national security issue. I probably would get fired for saying this, but I don't care." Not all residents, however, were opposed to the sale. Some said the change of ownership could result in more money and jobs.
From Joseph Goldstein of the New York Sun
A Columbia University-educated doctor who was taped swearing loyalty to Al Qaeda was found guilty by a jury yesterday of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Rafiq Sabir, 52, faces up to 30 years in prison. In 2005 an FBI undercover agent told Sabir that he would be a valuable asset for Al Qaeda if he could move around Saudi Arabia (where he had a contract with a local hospital) giving medical aid to mujahedeen who are hurt.
From Gary C. Gambill and The Global Politician
Most Shiites see Saad Hariri as a proxy of the Saudi royal family, handpicked to carry on his father's mission of transforming Lebanon into a corrupt, elitist republic with an "open for business" pro-Western foreign policy ... Shiite distrust of the Harirists has been further inflated by the worldwide upsurge in sectarian violence against Shiites (particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), mostly by adherents of Saudi Arabia's militant Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism. Sunni jihadists have expressed deep contempt for Hezbollah, and Hariri has cultivated close ties with radical Sunni Islamists in Lebanon.
From Simon Tisdall at The Guardian (UK)
Iran has maintained close links to Iraq's Shia political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents. But US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq ... "Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Iran is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Syria which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border," the US official said.
From David Yerushalmi at The Conservative Voice
At this stage, we ask of you only to support our work to the degree you understand the importance of determining the extent to which the American network of mosques and Islamic day schools, mostly funded by the Wahhabi-sect out of Saudi Arabia, are the focal points for Jihad as they have proven to be in England, Western Europe, and the Scandinavian countries. Once we understand the existential threat in real terms, we can then turn to other programs such as the SANE Immigration proposal.
From Michael Gove of The Times (UK)
One other author who has, deservedly, leapt to the top of the bestseller rankings this week is Simon Sebag Montefiore, with Young Stalin, the prequel to Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar ... In the book he discusses a plot by suicide bombers to fly planes into the Tsar’s Winter Palace. It’s a premonition of horrors to come. But the echoes between the totalitarianism that seduced Stalin’s generation and the Wahhabi extremism that bewitched the 9/11 bombers goes beyond that chilling parallel. A pity so few realise that people who appear to be just a bunch of gangsters, in the grip of a crazy ideology, can live out blood-soaked fantasies unless we tackle their ideology at its source.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Since Wahhabism is gaining ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska cannot survive without police, President Milorad Dodik of the Republika Srpska (RS) said today. “We in RS, in the atmosphere of Wahhabism rapidly growing stronger and constant fear that there are people walking in the world who are ready for terrorist attacks which are being trained in Bosnia and Herzegovina, cannot remain without our own police,” said Dodik, adding that he was spreading word to everyone that “there is no such potential nor registered groups in RS, unless they get sent from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for terrorist campaigns.”
From Zeina Karam at Associated Press
The shadowy militant group Fatah Islam, whose leader has been linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, has quickly emerged as the latest security threat to Lebanon ... Lebanese security officials said Fatah Islam has up to 100 members who come from Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as local sympathizers who belong to the conservative Salafi branch of Islam. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. TV station reported that among the militants killed Sunday were men from Bangladesh, Yemen and other Arab countries.
From Mark MacKinnon of the Globe and Mail (Cabada)
Though experts disagree on how strong the ties are between the groups behind the attacks in Morocco and a recent spate of bombings in neighbouring Algeria, there is little question that the al-Qaeda network has established itself more firmly than ever before in North Africa ... “I don't consider the new organization as a simple change of name. We're facing a new group that wants to unite all the Salafis and jihadis of the Maghreb,” said Mohammed Darif, an expert on Islamic movements at King Hassan II University in the city of Mohammedia. Salafis are followers of a fundamentalist strain of Islam that began in Saudi Arabia and whose followers often use violence in their pursuit of a pure Islamic world.
From Irfan Yusuf of alt.muslim
It's one thing to regard Wahhabi Islam as heterodox. It's quite another to use one's sectarian prejudice as the basis for publicly throwing mud at others. And it's absolutely nuts to take advantage of the understandable fears of the broader community by pointing the finger at one's former allies and scream "extremist" and "terrorist". It may well be that the Canberra imam, Mr. Mohammed Swaiti, is preaching extremism. I'd be concerned if he relied on the Hilali/Khan translation of the Qur'an. But apart from the imam being potentially on the Saudi payroll, what evidence is there that he is in fact an extremist?
From Associated Press
The suit, filed by the International Muslim Brotherhood Inc., the Trenton mosque's owner, as well as three founding members, claims that Imam Sabur Abdul Hakim has recently adopted stricter views of Islam and is planning to beam in lectures by satellite from a conservative sect in Saudi Arabia ... In 2004, Hakim decided that he alone would decide who gave the Friday sermon, the suit alleges, and it's usually a person who follows a strict doctrine associated with the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia.
From Amir Taheri and The Dallas Morning News
To the extent that Muslim societies have become radicalized in recent years and if still further radicalization is to be expected, then public diplomacy will not be able to accomplish much and a civilizational clash looms. Just a dozen years ago, virtually no one debated this question. Despite the radicalizing influence of the Iranian Revolution and the Wahhabi proselytizing of an inexhaustibly wealthy Saudi Arabia, knowledgeable observers would have dismissed the possibility that radicals would ever make up a majority within the Muslim world. Now there is a plausible argument otherwise.
From Turki Al-Saheil of Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia)
Islamic preacher and the General Supervisor of Islam Today, was banned recently from entering Switzerland by the Swiss authorities. Al-Oudah spoke to Asharq Al Awsat about the case. ... Al Oudah accused what many know as "extremist Zionist forces" of involvement in preparing the false report. He called the report “a lie that should not be believed.” The Swiss Ministry of Justice identified al Oudah as a "Wahhabi, a fundamentalist and a close associate of Osama bin Laden." Al Oudah responded to such accusations saying, “Since when has Wahhabism become a charge that is punishable by law?
Friday, May 18, 2007
From David Litterick of The Telegraph (UK)
The division is being bought by Basic Industries of Saudi Arabia, one of the world's largest chemicals companies, which is 70% owned by the Saudi government ... GE Plastics posted a profit of $674m on sales of $6.65bn last year. It specialises in polycarbonates - easily-worked plastics used in applications ranging from riot shields to compact-disc cases. GE's proprietary Lexan plastic is used in roofs, lighting, walkways, windows and domes. It operates in 21 countries around the world, including the fast-growing markets of China, India and Brazil ... The late King Khalid bin Abdulaziz established Sabic in 1976 with the aim making Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil. It has grown to employ 17,000 people.
From Y. Admon and M. Feki of MEMRI
In an interview, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abd Al-'Aziz told the London daily Al-Hayat that the ideology behind the country's handling of the problem of terrorism was still "weak," and "not comparable to the efforts on the security level." Similar criticism was voiced by columnist Mamdouh Al-Muhaini: "The Saudi Interior Ministry's recent announcement of the exposure of seven cells that planned to carry out extensive violent operations exposed another aspect of the lax handling of extremism and terrorism on the ideological level. From the outset, it was clear that the perception underlying the program for fighting terrorism and extremism was flawed, that [the program's] steps were confused, and that it was operating without goals."
From Gregory Scoblete at TCS Daily
In a now famous November 6, 2003 address, President Bush explicitly linked U.S. policy with the rise of Islamic terrorism: "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export." This "accommodation" takes many forms, from the generous subsidies to the Mubarak regime in Egypt to the protection of the Saudi "royal" family and other Gulf potentates, first from Saddam Hussein and now from Iran.
From Olivier Guitta at The Weekly Standard
Since 2003, Saudi authorities have drastically increased security around public buildings and vital infrastructure making it much more difficult for al Qaeda to attack government targets ... Still, al Qaeda remains popular among Saudis. Even Prince Nayef, the minister responsible for fighting terrorism, recently acknowledged: "We are facing 10,000 people potentially ready to commit a terrorist act and behind them one million sympathizers ready to help them." The Saudi military, too, seems to be at the very least sympathetic to al Qaeda's hatred of foreigners. According to Le Figaro, the military will exempt from training with U.S. instructors those officers who are unable to bear the presence of "infidels."
From Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting Inc.)
While Hindu extremists in the area could easily be blamed for the attack on the Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad, the bombing could well be the work of Kashmiri Islamist groups expanding their presence in southern India ... Indians have largely become inured to militant [Islamist] attacks and have failed to provide the wide-scale, violent response the Islamist groups hope for. The lack of a Hindu response could have led to a shift in thinking among the Kashmiri Islamist groups operating in India, who might have decided to risk alienating local support by staging attacks against Muslims in hopes of reigniting Hindu-Muslim tensions in locations that have a history of deadly communal violence. (It is important to note that these groups are rooted in Wahhabi doctrine, which justifies attacking mainstream Barelvi and secular Muslims.)
From M. Zuhdi Jasser at The Family Security Foundation
Most should understand that strategically, identifying ‘Islam as the problem,’ immediately alienates upwards of one quarter of the world’s population and dismisses our most powerful weapon against the militant Islamists—the mantle of religion and the pulpit of moderate Muslims who can retake our faith from the Islamists. ... Political Islam has a viral recurrence in the form of an infection which needs a Muslim counter-jihad in order to purge it. Thus, we cannot win this ideological war without the leadership of Muslim anti-Islamists. The radical and political ideologies of Islamism, Wahhabism, Salafism, Al Qaedism, Jihadism, and Caliphism, to name a few, cannot be defeated without anti-Islamist, anti-Wahhabi, anti-Salafist, anti-Al Qaedist, anti-Jihadist, and anti-Caliphist devout Muslims.
From Walid Phares at The Family Security Foundation
As of the end of the 1970s, oil producing powers with a Wahhabi and authoritarian background--and later on the Khomeinists will follow suit--have invested tremendously in western academic institutions. They targeted the Middle East studies and related programs so that the classroom would be taught narrowly or even selectively about the region ... Indeed, the initial strategic planning of the mainstream jihadis (backed by oil dividends and influence) aimed at decades of infiltration, penetration of the systems and eventually a slow crumbling from the inside. The initial strategies devised by the Salafists, such as the Ikhwan, the Muslim Brotherhood, wanted an insertion of layers of jihadis inside the various levels of society and government.
From Ilana Mercer of World Net Daily
Defending and preserving the homeland, the conservative base believes, begins with beefing up the borders and reforming immigration policy. This excludes the amnesty program touted by the presidential front-runners. Paul would do well to remind Americans that Bush's recipe for minute-made Americans will legalize the status of an estimated 300,000 individuals from Wahhabi-worshiping lands, whose customs do not preclude killing their hosts.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
From Tom Regan at NPR
Gareth Stansfield, author of the report, Accepting Realities in Iraq, also writes that there is not one civil war in Iraq, but many. And he writes that each of Iraq's three main neighboring states -- Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- have reasons of their own to see the current instability in Iraq continue ... Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse interviews an Iraqi tribal leader who says "the key to saving Iraq from the scourge of Al-Qaeda is to subject captured fighters to the swift and deadly rule of tribal justice."
From The Christian Science Monitor
Pushing for democracy in Islamic countries was a key political weapon in President Bush's war on terror. Iraq is fumbling toward democracy while the US has little hope now that Iraq's key neighbors – Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria – will become democracies with an Islamic base, as Turkey or Indonesia are, anytime soon.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech at Investors.com
"The forces that we are fighting in Iraq — al-Qaida on the one hand, Iranian-backed elements on the other — are the same forces we're fighting everywhere. Over these past few weeks you can see in different parts of the world — Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia recently — where this extremism is rearing its head, is trying to dislodge the prospects of stability and progress in so many different countries. There is no alternative for us but to fight it wherever it exists. And that is true whether it's in our own countries, which have both suffered from terrorism, or in Iraq or Afghanistan."
From Pepe Escobar of Asia Times (HK)
The House of Saud - for which the only thing that matters is its own survival - desperately wants a solution as soon as possible for the Palestinian tragedy, before they may be buried six feet under by the terrible sandstorms blowing from Mesopotamia (think of hordes of battle-hardened Salafi-jihadis coming home after fighting the US in Iraq) ... Saudis and Iranians want to prevent US-provoked sectarianism in Iraq from spreading regionally. And King Abdullah wants a better deal for Sunni Arab Iraqis (hence his identification of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as an Iranian puppet). While Cheney wants to pit Saudi Arabia against Iran, a discreet, behind-the-scenes Saudi-Iranian pact of no aggression may be all but inevitable, diplomats tell Asia Times Online.
From Lawrence Uniglicht at the Israel Hasbara Committee
The most effective way to implode the two competing major heads of the Islamic Medusa, Iran as well as Wahhabi madrassa financing Saudi Arabia, consequently cutting off funding to cells of metastasizing terrorists, is for Western and Eastern industrial nations to cease buying OPEC oil! ... What other rational choice is there? It is imperative that strong leaders, comprehending the plight radical Islam presents to the human species, ‘seize the day’. Feckless leaders, obsessed with other concerns, must not be obstructionists. Where are you Winston Churchill, when you are ever needed to coordinate this daunting plan of attack?
From Hassan Al-Haifi of the Yemen Times
Did you know that Sa'ada is reaching the magnitude of the situation in Iraq, in terms of the number of casualties and the heavy loss of resources being wasted? The antagonists are Yemenis against Yemenis ... It is amazing that our country should be concerned about the situation of African Moslems to the point of urging our schoolchildren to collect donations on their behalf. But what would happen if any of them raise the slightest cry for the sad plight of the civilians of Sa'ada, who are being strangled by an official siege and a blockade of all things coming and going out of the unfortunate forgotten province in all the official development programs, except those associated with the spread of the Salafi or Wahhabi sect?
From Faruk Akkan at Today's Zaman (Turkey)
In an assessment from the ongoing trial in Russia, Tatar historian Damir Ishakov argues that there is no trace of extremism in the works of Said Nursi. “While presenting my ideas to the court, I defended the contemporary interpretation of Islam against the primitive Wahhabi understanding ... The Turks make up a nation that has an interpretation of Islam that is at peace with the Western world. Turkish society has renovated itself socially through modern values, and it really succeeded in that. The concepts articulated by Said Nursi were all taken from the Holy Koran."
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
From Joseph S. Mayton at AHN
An American diplomatic source has told the Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm that Saudi Arabia is threatening to intervene in Iraq to support Sunni allies. The unnamed source was reported as saying that once American troops leave Iraq Saudi Arabia will support the Sunni population militarily ... According to the source, American Vice-President Dick Cheney's recent Middle East tour was related to this matter, although the source did not specify the VP by name. The story in the Egyptian daily commented on the possibility of a greater Middle Eastern war caused by the Iraq crisis. It said that a military escalation could result between Iran and Iraqi Shias vis a vis Saudi Arabia and other regional Sunni powers.
From Jerrod M. Post and Gabriel Sheffer at the Brown Journal of World Affairs
It is estimated that some 80% of new recruits to the global Salafi jihad are children and grandchildren of Muslim émigrés who have felt alienated from their host cultures. This alienation is the driving force behind not only Islamist radicalization but also the radicalization that results in more quotidian political and social violence. While the U.S. tradition of diversity may have slowed or deterred the radicalization of Muslim émigrés in the United States, this review suggests reasons to believe that the phenomenon now so threatening in Europe could become more threatening in the United States as well.
[In Mauritania] Eleven accused Salafi Islamists will go on trial in the Nouakchott criminal court begin next Monday, judicial sources affirmed here Monday ... They are mainly accused of undergoing training abroad (in the camps of the Salafi Group for Predication and Combat, now the Maghreb branch of Al Qaeda). For over ten years, alleged Islamist groups have been regularly arrested and later released provisionally or for various other reasons. But this is the first time judicial authorities are going to organise a trial for the members of the "militant" Islamist group, observers said.
From Pepe Escobar at Asia Times (HK)
[In Iraq] The Adhamiyah wall - the symbol of the Baghdad gulag, rejected by more than 70% of Iraqis - is not yet finished, but the neighborhood is already isolated by a cluster of checkpoints, with all major streets blocked by blast walls and barbed wire ... Residents confirm that Adhamiyah is also internally divided. The old area of al-Safina, near a cemetery, is now populated only by hardcore Sunni Arab families and Salafi-jihadis. The area known as Camp, between the Nida Mosque and Officers Street, is now infested with ferocious gangs bent on killing and kidnapping.
From David Barouski at ZNet.com
The Baluchistan Province is the largest province in Pakistan. It borders the Helmand Province of Afganistan, an opium crop district and Taliban (meaning “students” in Arabic) stronghold. The Baluchistan Province has been used as a rear base for training and staging their armed forces. The Taliban are a Nationalist Sunni faction comprised of Pashtuns, who form a very sizable population in Baluchistan Province. The area is awash in locally ruled fiefdoms by tribal chiefs and mullahs (Islamic clergymen). In Pakistan, they are usually from the Wahhabi or Salafi sect.
From Elizabeth Kendal of ASSIST News Service
In early March 2007 Islamist Hamas entered into a government of national unity with Fatah and agreed to 'respect' international agreements. Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri responded by slamming Hamas, accusing it of falling 'into the swamp of surrender' by abandoning its ideology and 'selling out' to Israel and the US for the sake of securing seats in government. Since then, al Qaeda-linked Wahhabist jihadis have dramatically escalated their effort in purging and Islamising Gaza. They have assassinated three Hamas leaders and are targeting everything they deem 'un-Islamic'.
From Stephen Schwartz of The Family Security Foundation
Radical Muslims claim all Muslims owe their primary loyalty to a single global umma or community. This view is supported by an aggressive minority, since Muslims are as divided by history, culture, and language as Christians and even Jews. But it seems undeniable that within Islam worldwide, especially where the Wahhabis scheme to take control of all Sunnis, money is disbursed and actions are planned in a coordinated manner. Indeed, I have argued for some time that Sunni radicals are engaged in a new campaign, reaching across borders, continents, and oceans, with the aim of exporting the tensions, if not the terror, seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. In those countries, Muslim-on-Muslim bloodshed often appears to overshadow the atrocities perpetrated against the U.S.-led coalition. That said, for all Americans, including American Muslims, the safety of our troops must come first, whether in Fallujah or at Fort Dix.
From Interfax (Russia)
Wahhabi ideas are rapidly spreading in Russia to threaten with an armed conflict, Islamic researcher Roman Silantyev believes ... Answering the question of what the state's strategy should be to avoid any further consolidation of Wahhabi positions, Roman Silantyev said it is very difficult to avoid this situation already now. 'The Wahhabis have already won the information war as they control up to 80% of the Islamic mass media in Russia. In any case, if the state does not interfere in this situation and fails to support its real allies in the Islamic society, any interreligious peace can be forgotten', the Islamic researcher said.
From Daniel Pipes and the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA)
A just-published study from the RAND Corporation, Building Moderate Muslim Networks, methodically takes up and thinks through this concept. They start with the argument that "structural reasons play a large part" in the rise of radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam in recent years --one of those reasons being the Saudi government's generous funding over the last three decades for the export of the Wahhabi version of Islam. Saudi efforts have promoted "the growth of religious extremism throughout the Muslim world," permitting the Islamists to develop powerful intellectual, political, and other networks. "This asymmetry in organization and resources explains why radicals, a small minority in almost all Muslim countries, have influence disproportionate to their numbers."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
From Judeoscope (Canada)
Yasir Qadhi, a Houston-based antisemitic preacher affiliated with the Salafi Al-Maghrib Institute (7,000 students in Canada and the US) is scheduled to speak at the Institute’s Ilm Fest on May 21 at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre. Qadhi, who spoke one year ago at Montreal’s Assunah Al Nabawiah Mosque, teaches that Jews incurred God’s wrath and lost any claim to the Land of Israel, that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews”, that Jews study Islam because “they want to destroy us [Muslims]”.
From Souad Ziane of Echorouk online (Algeria)
Sheikh Sari continued speaking about the very “tolerant Islam preached in zawias,” “It is far from the Salafi Djihadi way”. The salafi way to teach Islam has been very popular during a period of time, when the salafi preachers accused us of being the state’s religious representatives in the area. “We have been through hard times and we could not speak”. Now the mureeds (followers) are so numerous that Sheikh Sari said the Sufi paths would be a tool in the “fight against the Salafi Djihadist” ... The Zaouias (Sufi spiritual schools) have become powerful in political decisions since President Bouteflika has been touring the country and visiting every Zaouia in any area he visited.
From Bernard Gwertzman at the Council on Foreign Relations
Q: What do you think Iran would like to see out of these talks, if anything?
Anthony H. Cordesman, CISC: From Iran’s viewpoint, in theory, it should feel that conciliation, rather than a Shiite-nominated government, offers more hope of long-term stability. Cooperation would give it a true partner, or at least, neighbor, in Iraq, and perhaps ease its strategic problems with the United States as well as the problems that seem to be growing between Sunni and Shiite states as a result of both the fighting inside Iraq and the fact that many of the neo-Salafi extremist movements like al-Qaeda are as much opposed to the Shiite sect as they are to people from the West. This is a rational argument, but the fact is the supreme leader and the president of Iran, and many of the military commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are people motivated by ideology.
From Daniel Flynn at Reuters
"If we took money from the Saudis to build our mosques, we'd have to pray the way they wanted," he said. While a rash of Saudi-built mosques in West Africa has stirred concerns of a rise in Wahhabi fundamentalism in the arid Sahel, the Mourides preach tolerance. Founded under the yoke of French colonialism in the 1880s, Mouridism values independence and personal religious fulfilment.
From Pepe Escobar of Asia Times (HK)
A simple monument at the entrance of Al-Mustansariya University (older than the Sorbonne) commemorates the victims - mostly girls - of the horrific January bombing that killed 107 and wounded more than 280. Now female students attend classes twice a week at the most. The university still receives threats via the Internet from Salafi-jihadists to "stop education". Snipers routinely shoot university guards. This is considered by Salafi-jihadists a "Shi'ite university" - thus a prime target. Whatever happens politically in Iraq, most of Sunni Baghdad - and even secular, educated Shi'ites - still fear Sadr City. It is undeniably a class-struggle issue.
From K. N. Pandita of the Kashmir Herald (India)
This reminds one of the demographic changes affected by General Musharraf in Gilgit and Baltistan during 1980s when he was the Corps Commander of Northern Areas. The Shia population of Gilgit and Baltistan was reduced to minority level by settling Sunni Wahhabi tribesman from other parts of NWFP in the area.
Monday, May 14, 2007
From Matein Khalid at the Khaleej Times (UAE)
The House of Saud has its own strategic rationale for its diplomatic equations with Moscow. Saudi Arabia fears an American defeat in Iraq and a precipitate withdrawal from its regional military commitments under a Democratic President in 2008, leaving Gulf geopolitics to the mercy of a resurgent Shia Iran ... Just as Soviet patronage enabled Nasser, Saddam, Sadat and Assad to extract concessions from Washington and petrodollars from the Gulf, so a Russian role in broking a peace settlement in Palestine or Iraq is in the best interest of a House of Saud sceptical about over-reliance on Washington ... As in Ukraine and Georgia, Putin hopes to use oil and gas as the new weapon of Russian foreign policy and regional influence. Hence his offer to help Saudi Arabia with nuclear plants, arms sales to most Arab and GCC states, Lukoil and Rosneft’s role in King Abdullah’s Saudi gas initiative.
From Alon Ben-Meir at the American Chronicle
Saudi Arabia, terrified of Iran’s growing regional influence and the potential of Sunni-Shiite regional conflict, wants to stem the Shiite tide at all cost. The Saudis do not want to be engulfed should the civil war escalate beyond Iraqi borders. Fearing for their very existence, the Saudis seek to empower the Sunni Iraqis in order to decrease the threat of a Shiite-perpetrated genocide, which, from their perspective, is far more plausible once the Americans leave.
U.S. government sources said the intelligence community has briefed the Bush administration and key members of Congress on what they termed disturbing developments in the Saudi kingdom, the world's leading oil supplier. The sources said King Abdullah has been grooming for succession an anti-American prince [Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz] who could align Saudi Arabia with either Iran or Al Qaida.
From The Economist
In almost every other part of the Muslim world, controversy over female headgear is growing. Turkey and Tunisia are at one end of the Muslim spectrum; both ban female civil servants, as well as students in state schools, from covering their hair. One Turkish judge was nearly assassinated after decreeing that teachers could not wear scarves even on their way to work. But in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the rules go the other way. No woman may appear in public with more than face and hands exposed. Not even that was allowed in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, which mandated the burqa, the most extreme form of female covering. In today's Iraq, meanwhile, a big fissure in the Sunni resistance movement pits al-Qaeda-minded thugs who want women to wear gloves and the niqab (which differs from the burqa only in having slits for the eyes) and milder sorts who allow the simpler hijab, which covers hair and neck.
From William Dalrymple at the LA Times
The tracts of the Christian missionaries in India during the 1840s and 1850s reinforced Muslim fears -- at the same time, the existence of such "Wahhabi conspiracies" to resist the Christians strengthened the conviction of the evangelicals. The reaction to this steady crescendo of insensitivity came in 1857 with the Great Mutiny ... there is a direct link between the jihadis of 1857 and those we face today. The reaction of some of the Islamic scholars after 1857 was to reject the West in favor of a return to pure Islamic roots. A Wahhabi-like madrasa was founded at Deoband in India that went back to Koranic basics. One hundred and forty years later, the movement has spread, and it was out of Deobandi madrasas in Pakistan that the Taliban emerged to create the most retrograde Islamic regime in modern history, a regime that in turn provided the crucible out of which emerged Al Qaeda.
From Andrew Hammond of Reuters Life!
Regarding themselves as more rational, Sunnis view Shi'ite ideas as diluting the power of the Koran as the word of God through virtual deification of rulers and jurists. But Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi -- a long-time foe of the Saudi rulers -- implied that descendants of the Prophet have more right to lead than the Saudi royal family, which rules in alliance with clerics from the puritanical Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam ... Reflecting the Saudi government's anger over the fate of Sunnis in Shi'ite-dominated Iraq, Wahhabi clerics have issued a number of visceral fatwas in recent months condemning Shi'ism ... says anthropologist Saad al-Sowayan. "The dispute between Libya and Saudi Arabia isn't new ... But it's unfortunate that political disputes are treated in a religious context."
From Khalid Hasan of the Daily Times (Pakistan)
Khaled Ahmed, contributing editor at Daily Times writes, “Pakistanis invariably blame Saudi Arabia and Iran for the violence since they funded and trained the partisans of this war. They are aware that Pakistan was subjected to someone else’s ‘relocated’ war. Much of the internal dynamic of this war remains hidden from public view ... The Afghan mujahideen government was set up in Peshawar in 1989, but, under Saudi pressure, the Shia militias were not given representation in it. The rise of the Taliban in 1996, quickly recognised by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, was in a way a reversal of Iran at Saudi hands in the final count. The Taliban were recruited from the Deobandi and Wahhabi outfits, which were historically anti-Shia.
From the Washington Times
But unfortunately the Ottoman Islamic modernization ended with the demise of the empire in the First World War. From its ruins, what we now call the Middle East arose -- with a doomed legacy: All post-Ottoman states, except Turkey and Saudi Arabia, were colonized by European powers, a phenomenon that would soon breed anti-colonialism and anti-Westernism throughout the entire region. And the two exceptions went in totally opposite directions: The fanatic Wahhabi sect -- which had been the bete noire of the Ottomans and their reforms -- dominated Saudi Arabia, and Turkey became a secular republic.
Friday, May 11, 2007
From Peter Hearty at the National Secular Society (UK)
The road from potential Jihadist to gentle Sufi has been a long one for Ed Husain. It has taken him to Syria, with its ancient cultural traditions, to Saudi Arabia where he experienced the hypocrisy, xenophobia and archaeological vandalism of the Wahhabi regime. Some may be disappointed that Ed Husain still seeks enlightenment through mysticism, revelation and authority, but I do not. His voice will carry far more weight as a pious Muslim than any number of Ibn Warraqs (for all that I admire him) ever will.
From Douglas Farah of the Counterterroism Blog
The almost-daily kidnappings of foreign oil workers (though most are let go in a matter of days) and destruction of the oil pipelines and the ensuing ecological damage, are among the most visible challenges to the new government. There is also the growing militancy of the Taliban in Nigeria, in the north, the Saudi-funded mosque-building and wahhabi outreach efforts, and the spread southward of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (former GSPC).
From Alexander Moens at Reformatorisch Dagblad
Now consider two problems with the current patterns of immigration. First, for the last twenty years radical Wahhabi Islam has greatly increased its influence in Saudi Arabia and other Sunni areas in the Middle East. As the author Dore Gold in his masterful book Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism illustrates beyond doubt, the combination of Wahhabi teaching and global Saudi ’charitable’ foundations has spread a politically violent ideology from Morocco via the Middle East and Pakistan all Middle East and Pakistan all the way to the Philippines. This militant politico-religious vanguard is now abusing immigration and Muslim immigrant communities to try and undermine Western civilization. The evidence coming from the bombers in Madrid and London, and the imminent attackers in Toronto make this plain.
From Jamie Glazov at FrontPage Magazine
John R. Bradley: According to news reports and additional research by Western human rights groups, on Feb. 2 Saudi secret police commandos stormed the Jeddah villa of reformist lawyer Esam Basrawi, where he was meeting with a group of five associates widely known for their advocacy on issues of social and political reform in Saudi Arabia. The police arrested all six men in addition to Basrawi's personal assistant. Another associate was arrested in his car in Jeddah, and two others in Medina. The secret police handcuffed those in the villa and transported them to a new mabahith prison about 30 kilometers northeast of Jeddah near Esfan. The Saudi regime promptly accused all those arrested of having links to terrorism, and specifically of channeling funds to Iraqi insurgents. However, nobody but Saudi government apologists takes this explanation seriously -- and even they haven't been very vocal in their condemnation.
From Richard N. Perle at the Washington Post
But the greatest intelligence failure of the past two decades was the CIA's failure to understand and sound an alarm at the rise of jihadist fundamentalism. It is Wahhabi extremism and the call to holy war against infidels that gave us the perpetrators of Sept. 11 and much of the terrorism that has followed. In his attempts to blame others for CIA shortcomings, Tenet cannot say, "I told the president that our Saudi allies were financing thousands of mosques and schools around the world where a hateful doctrine of holy war and violence was being inculcated in young potential terrorists." Fatefully, the CIA failed to make our leaders aware of the rise of Islamist extremism and the immense danger it posed to the United States.
From Victor Davis Hanson at the National Review
A nut in New Jersey can feel as close to a Wahhabi megaphone in Jeddah as a Bedouin just a desert away. Fiery sermons of hate-filled imams on the West Bank (now they employ Mickey Mouse as a prop), or videos of Americans losing limbs in Iraq, or sit-coms from Iran depicting Satanic Americans and Jews, are as cheaply disseminated as they are cheaply produced. To the degree that capital for such Goebbels-like hatred is required — opening radical mosques, printing propaganda, funding madrassas — we should remember that, with recent oil-price spikes, there are annually another $500 billion floating around the Middle East from Shiite Iran to the Sunni Gulf monarchies.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
From Khaled Amayreh of Al-Ahram
The group had earlier publicly warned the school, run by the UN, against holding the event, on the grounds that the celebration involved the "mixing of adolescent boys and girls which is forbidden in Islam". School and other local officials apparently didn't take the warnings seriously, and didn't implement the necessary security precautions to prevent any possible attack, thinking that the Salafis (ultra- orthodox Sunni Muslims) wouldn't actually carry out the attack. The attack was condemned throughout the occupied Palestinian territories as a totally unjustified crime ... The attack in Rafah, along with other recent sporadic incidents, including the yet-to-be-resolved kidnapping of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston, are being seen as ominous signs for the future.
From Laila El-Haddad at The Guardian
On Wednesday, a shadowy group calling themselves the Army of Islam took official responsibility for the first time in a yet-to-be-aired video for the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. The group is the second in a month to claim responsibility for Johnston's kidnapping, but this is the first time demands have been made, including the release of Abu Qatada and other Muslim prisoners in Britain. That has prompted discussion of whether al-Qaida has made inroads into Gaza. Hamas leaders themselves, as well as others, have warned that its continued isolation and marginalisation from the decision-making process will inevitably result in the growth of Salafi and al-Qaida-type organisations in Gaza "who will make Hamas look like cupcakes".
From Andrew McGregor at The Jamestown Foundation
Apart from the military, Yemen’s security is handled by three civilian agencies, at least two of which are believed to include Salafi and Baathist sympathizers at the highest levels. Most important of these is the PSO. A number of PSO officials have been dismissed in the last few years in an attempt to eliminate corruption and Islamist sympathizers from the organization as it is reshaped to take the lead in Yemen’s counter-terrorism effort.... U.S. diplomats in Yemen have frequently been targeted by Salafi extremists, although Yemen’s security services have preempted several such operations. Typical of the “revolving door” approach to terrorism prosecutions that irks the United States is the case of two Yemenis convicted of trying to assassinate U.S. Ambassador Edmund James Hull (an important official in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts) in 2004. Only days after Saleh’s return from Washington, the two convicts had their sentences reduced from five years to three on appeal (AFP, May 7).