from the Daily Times
President Musharraf seems to be “diversifying” his reliance on the US — worth billions in handouts for military incursions into Waziristan alone — by reviving old links in the Gulf. He has been indulging in shuttle diplomacy on behalf of Saudi Arabia, and his prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, has been issuing statements of “cooperation” with the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ... Even as the news from America is becoming negative, the UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan was in Islamabad recently, calling Musharraf’s Pakistan “an anchor of peace in the region” and promising more investment because of Pakistan’s “unique geo-strategic location”. Before him, Pakistan was host to the Imam of Kaaba from Saudi Arabia who stayed in Pakistan for a significantly long period because of the crowds he drew to his “buttressing” pro-government speeches.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
from the Daily Times
by Habib Shaikh from Khaleej Times Online
Recently a Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) delegation visited the United States offering investment opportunities worth more than $500 billion to American investors. Saudi Arabia has launched four mega-economic cities in Rabigh, Hail, Madinah and Jizan during the past two years and the four are expected to attract SR300 billion in domestic and foreign investments and also to create more than a million jobs ... Business performance reports 2006-07 issued by the World Bank show Saudi Arabia occupying fifth position regarding taxes and fourth in property registration costs. According to a study published by Forbes Arabia magazine assessing the performance of 1,616 joint stock companies in the Arab world last year, the first three positions were held by Saudi companies and among the top 50 companies, 22 were Saudi. Saudi Arabia has made rapid strides in banking services and Saudi banks figure on the list of the world's biggest 1,000 banks. The three biggest banks in the Arab world are Saudi.
by Michael Djordjevich from The Washington Times
Kosovo is rather far from the democratic and multicultural model that the U.S. foreign policy establishment professes to support. Obviously these are not credentials for independence. Equally serious is the undeniable rise of the puritanical strain of Wahabbi Islam and real potential for increased interacting between heroin trafficking and crime with terrorists in Kosovo, Southern Serbia, Bosnia and Northern Macedonia. Where is the quid pro quo for rendering such significant aid to the Islamist agenda in the Balkans? ... Among terrorists directly involved in the September 11 attack on America and on terrorist attacks in Spain and the UK were jihadists who had come from the Balkans. Al Qaeda's links and dormant cells in the region are indisputable. Hopefully, the United States will pragmatically consider and reassess the impact of Kosovo independence on her long-term geostrategic interests.
Friday, June 29, 2007
by Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report from ABS News
British police have a "crystal clear" picture of the man who drove the bomb-rigged silver Mercedes outside a London nightclub, and officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com he bears "a close resemblance" to a man arrested by police in connection with another bomb plot but released for lack of evidence. Officials say the suspect had been taken into custody in connection with the case of al Qaeda operative Dhiren Barot, who was convicted of orchestrating a vehicle bomb plot involving targets in London, New York, Newark, N.J. and Washington, D.C.
Al-Qaeda's Caucasian Foot Soldiers
from the Jamestown Foundation
Recent arrests in Britain involving at least five converts (of Afro-Caribbean origin) training to become suicide bombers — as well as the arrest of Dhiren Barot, a convert plotting a dirty bomb attack in the United States—indicate that this trend is on the upswing, reflecting both the globalization and growing appeal of Salafi-Jihadism and a tactical adjustment to Western security and profiling measures on the part of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It also underscores the truly transnational and cross-cultural nature of the threat, against which profiling may not provide an adequate defense.
by Irfan Yusuf from ON LINE opinion
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata in many Muslim circles. Fiercely independent and with little concern for the sensibilities of others, she is not afraid to take Muslims out of their comfort zone. The writer, award-winning human rights activist and former politician openly states that she is an ex-Muslim, and that she does not believe in any divine figure ... Ayaan’s most unusual claim is that the dominant strand of Islam in Indonesia is wahhabism, and that Saudi Arabia funds the majority of Indonesian religious schools ... She then claimed that Muslim extremists in Indonesia are calling for Syariah law to be implemented. I asked whether she had any evidence of this in terms of Indonesia’s electoral politics. She had no idea. I advised her of a speech delivered to conservative Sydney think-tank The Centre for Independent Studies by legal academic and Nahdatul Ulama leader Mohammad Fajrul Falaakh. He said that in each successive Indonesian election since independence, the number of seats held by pro-Syariah parties has actually reduced.
by David J. Jonsson from The American Daily
“Six Persian Gulf States now have almost $1.6 trillion in foreign assets, dwarfing even China’s mammoth $1.1 trillion of foreign reserves, according to a new report from the Institute of International Finance” according to the Financial Times. These Gulf States are all members of the so-called Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. There are massive piles of wealth growing in the GCC.” “Along with China and other countries, the GCC is increasingly setting aside more and more of these funds to invest abroad -- in stocks, real estate and private businesses. What they buy could have a huge impact on market prices -- and your investments.”... It appears strange that politicians would suggest that the US fund a Marshall Plan to support the Islamic countries when the Islamic Countries of the Gulf are accumulating hordes of US dollars. It is in the Islamic countries that we are seeing the growth of terrorism.
by Drew Brown from Stars and Stripes
Once inside, the troops began searching for anything that might link the mosque to al-Qaida fighters or other insurgent groups ... “This is exactly what we’re looking for,” said Capt. Stuart Chapman, 25, of Richmond, Va. Other documents found at the site included identity cards, ration cards and piece of notebook paper with a sketch of an AK-47 rifle and a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq drawn in a childish hand. Other documents identified the mosque as Wahabbi, a fundamentalist branch of Islam that is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and one to which many Sunni insurgents adhere ... Col. Steve Townsend, commander of 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, said about half of the estimated 300 to 500 fighters thought to be in Baqouba at the beginning of the operation had either fled the city or gone into hiding. But according to local residents, most insurgents fled Baqouba two days before the offensive started, tipped off by reports on Iraqi television that U.S. and Iraqi government forces were set to begin a massive sweep of the city.
by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online
Meanwhile, the recent joint US/Badr Corps offensive against Salafi-jihadis in Baquba turned out to be another farce. Salafi-jihadis relocated and counterattacked ... in Baghdad. Dozens of thousands of Baquba's 300,000-plus population - a Sunni majority - became refugees for nothing. The powerful Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars denounced this mini-surge as "barbaric acts". But these "barbaric acts" are just snapshots of what the Bush administration - helped by faithful Blair - managed to create: the world's second-biggest failed state, only behind Sudan, according to the 2007 Failed States Index compiled by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace.
by Yoginder Sikand from Countercurrents.org
Much has been written about Hizbullah, 'The Party of God', the Lebanon-based resistance movement. Yet, as the editor of this book, Abdar Rahman Koya, points out, most of this has been by Western writers, who represent a distinctly Western and, therefore, biased, perspective ... In his editorial note, Koya focuses on Hizbullah's consistent opposition to Zionist aggression and Western imperialist designs in the Middle East ... He berates Saudi mullahs for issuing fatwas, at the behest of the Saudi rulers, denouncing Hizbullah as 'wrongdoers'and 'Satans'. Panic-stricken by Hizbullah's growing popularity as a resistance movement and the threat that it poses to pro-American Arab regimes, Koya says in this regard that 'the Wahhabi fatwa-factory seems to be working overtime, much to the delight of the Zionists and of their Western backers'.
by Pinchas Landau from the Jerusalem Post
We are left with the consistent, prosaic and boring of the many reasons that have been put forward over recent years to explain the ongoing strength in the oil price. Demand is growing fast, supply is tight and new sources are expensive to develop and take a long time to "come on stream." There are nasties in Nigeria ... and then there are the "nutters." The Arabs are not nuts. The Saudis, for instance, have managed to get their domestic terrorism under control while continuing to actively export Wahhabi Muslim fanaticism to every corner of the globe, converting, training and financing new and ever-larger cadres of jihadists. The Saudis' neighbors along the West Bank of the Persian Gulf are much more focused on Mammon than on God, with Abu Dhabi using its oil wealth to buy corporations and real estate around the globe and Dubai remaking itself into a vast leisure and business oasis.
by Thomas Lifson from the American Thinker
As the gasoline riots continue in Tehran (and who knows where else in Iran?), popular discontent with the mullahs' regime increases as economic hardships multiply. Kenneth Timmerman, writing in Front Page Magazine, discusses both the economic roots of unrest and the prospects for heightening it. Among several interesting bits of information is the role of HSBC Bank (one of the world's biggest, a British institution that grew out of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) as a key link in Iran's ability to do financial business with the rest of the world. One fascinating aspect to this report is that a Saudi investor, Maan Abdulwahed Al-Sanea, reportedly the second richest man in the Kingdom, has purchased a $6.5 billion stake in HSBC. The Wahhabi rulers of Saudi perceive a mortal threat from the Shiite rulers of Iran, and may well be "encouraging" HSBC and the UK to make life difficult for the Iranians as a means of removing the mullahs from power.
by Jason Tedjasukmana from Time
Ahmad Dhani (also known as Dhani Dewa), may have a way to go before reaching the musician-statesman stature of Bono, but he is talking the talk. Dhani first has to win over his homeland, however. After notching up seven platinum albums in Indonesia with his own band, Dewa 19, he announced his intention to wean millions of his countrymen away from extremist Islamic views. "What happens depends on how we deal with the radicals and teach people about Islam," explains Dhani, who says he quit a religious school as a child because he was put off by its conservative Wahhabi teachings. "It's time to come together, even if we have to do it one song at a time." ... Last October, Dhani spoke at a Defense Department-sponsored conference at NORAD in Colorado Springs, explaining to military and government officials why he rejected the path of his father, a former member of the hard-line body Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia, as well as that of his grandfather, a member of the outlawed Darul Islam, which once fought for an Islamic state in the archipelago.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
by Martin Chulov and Richard Kerbaj from The Australian
A Tripoli car dealer who rents a shop next to a shed owned by Australian man Omar Hadba - where almost 500kg of military weapons were allegedly found hidden ... Mr Chawk said his neighbour, who had moved from Sydney eight years ago, was a committed follower of the Salafi strand of Islam who kept a low profile in Tripoli with his wife and five children ... As revealed in The Australian yesterday, weapons in the workshop were allegedly seized by the Lebanese army on Saturday night, hours before soldiers stormed a nearby apartment building, killing six alleged terrorists who were believed to be members of a Fatah al-Islam cell.
by Mohamed Jibrell from Garowe Online
What is more striking about the cyber Transitional Federal Government (TFG) bashers is how nearly all ignore the reality of the courts introducing an autocratic rule of terror based on a foreign Islamic Salafi ideology compounded by criminal acts of suicide bombs, roadside explosions, and dragging of dead bodies in the streets of Mogadishu. Those evil deeds never cross the TFG bashers’ editorial desks. For the last 17 years they have changed colors many times: clan rights supporters; nationalists; and religious purists defending the faithful, among others. What make their arguments inane are the multiple portraits they provide as critics adrift from moral bearings.
by Don Rogers from the Vail Trail
The United States gives Saudi Arabia aid in the billions of dollars atop buying enough oil to help make their princes the richest people on Earth. This mystified all the speakers at the seminar. Ken Jowitt, a Berkeley political science professor, called Saudi Arabia “the largest family gas station in the world. We genuflect to the Saudis ... We protect this family,” he said, shaking his head. “We could lay the law down.” Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in San Diego, said the U.S. should just ask the Saudis to stop funding Wahhabi evangelism. “We don’t have to stop driving SUVs to talk tough to the Saudi Arabia,” he said.
by Robert J. Avrech from the Jewish Press
Iran has been financing Hamas in Gaza. Most of the Hamas leadership has gone to the mattresses in Tehran, terrified of being kidnapped, tortured horribly and then maybe put out of their misery by the “moderate” Fatah – or assassinated by an Israeli drone. Make no mistake about it – Gaza is now a proxy Iranian state. The Shia Persians want to be big players in the region, push out the hated Sunni/Wahhabi Saudis and humble the big boys on the block, the Egyptians.
by Philip Smucker from Asia Times Online
While the Islamabad government has promised to preserve Chitral as a model of religious and ethnic tolerance, radical - often Salafist and Wahhabi-funded schools - are making rapid inroads in the remote valleys of the region. "We have already seen what little has happened in the last several years of President [General Pervez] Musharraf's rule to stop these groups," said Dr Fazal Marwat, a professor at the Pakistan Study Center of Peshawar University. "If he cannot even implement minimal madrassa reform, what can be expected to stop further radicalization?" Officials in Chitral said they closed down several radical madrassas recently, though, they admit, many more remain active.
by Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe
The Islamic Society of Boston abandoned the sweeping defamation lawsuit it had filed in 2005 against 17 defendants who had expressed concerns about the Islamic Society's leaders, some of whom had ties to jihadist extremism, and about the land the city of Boston sold it at a cut-rate price in order to build a mosque ... Documents acquired during discovery revealed that some $4.2 million had been wired to an Islamic Society bank account in New Hampshire between April 2004 and May 2005 -- nearly all of it from Saudi Arabia. Another $1 million came from the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank in late 2005 ... But in its lawsuit, the Islamic Society had denied any Saudi connection to the mosque it was building in Boston. Repeatedly, the Islamic Society sought court orders blocking the release of such evidence.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
by Rym Ghazal and Hani M. Bathish from the Daily Star
Sniper fire from Fatah al-Islam militants killed two Lebanese soldiers on Monday at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, as sporadic fighting continued in the southern part of the camp, where militants have been cornered by the army ... During the past two months, security forces have been taking the offensive across Lebanon against groups said to be pursuing plans to set up an Islamic mujahideen base in North Lebanon. The army has called for "assistance" from citizens to inform them of any "suspects or suspicious behavior." The Latest raided building was reported as belonging to "al-Shahal" an attribution denied by the man in question the Sunni Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahal and founder of Salafi movement in the north.
from Nieuws uit Amsterdam
Last Sunday, Fatih Dag of Milli Görüs (MGT) told the Reporter TV programme that he is considering asking Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum from Dubai for money to build the Westermoskee. “Our first choice is to work with Dutch partners, but if that fails, we don’t rule out going to the Emirates”. Chances that the Westermoskee will really be funded by petrodollars seem remote. For now, housing corporation Het Oosten is trying to buy MGT out of the project. However, Laroui claimed that 11 out of 12 mosques in the Netherlands are funded by sheikhs, who want to spread their version of Islam. Especially Wahhabism, an orthodox branch of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia, would be active here.
from the BBC News
A Shia cleric known for his stance against Wahhabism, a strict version of Sunni Islam, has been killed in the south-western Iranian city of Ahwaz. Reports said Hojjat ol-Eslam Hesham Seymari was shot dead in his home at night by two men claiming to know him. Wahhabism is practised throughout the Arabian Peninsula, most notably by the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. Ahwaz, home to a large community of ethnic minority Arabs, has seen much anti-government tension since 2005 ... The representative of Iran's Supreme Leader in Khuzestan Province said the cleric had been martyred "at the hands of the mercenaries of Satan".
from International Relations and Security Network (ISN)
Bosnian security forces recently arrested the newly self-appointed leader of the country's radical Muslim Wahhabi movement for his involvement in a shooting in a village near the central Bosnian city of Zenica. Tunisian-born Karray Kamel bin Ali, alias Abu Hamza, was arrested on 9 June, several hours after he and possibly three or four others attacked a house owned by Zijad Kovac and wounded three of his family members ... In the car Abu Hamza was driving when he was arrested, police found a Kalashnikov used in the attack and a hand grenade. Of Abu Hamza's co-conspirators - who were also arrested and then released from custody pending a hearing - some were members of the local Wahhabi movement while others were common criminals, with prior convictions.
by Ed O'Loughlin and Jamie Pandaram from The Age
Syrian Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed — who issued prepared statements allegedly from bin Laden after the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa — witnessed the raids in Tripoli in which four Australians were arrested on suspicion of militant activity, including boxing champion Ahmed Elomar. The nephew of Mohamed Ali Elomar (awaiting trial in Sydney on terror charges) Ahmed fought on the undercard of the Anthony Mundine-Danny Green bout last year. Boxing identity Hussein Hussein, who helps train Elomar, 24, said he was surprised to learn Elomar had left the country. "He went to Mecca to do his pilgrimage, and since then he hasn't come back to the gym ... I will be shocked if he is involved in anything like what they are saying."
by Brian Katulis, Lawrence J. Korb, and Peter Juul from the Center for American Progress
The core problem in Iraq's internal conflicts involves vicious internal struggles for power. Yet several of Iraq's neighbors are linked to the Iraqi groups engaged in these battles. Iran, for example, offers support to some Shi'a militia while elements in Syria and Saudi Arabia offer financial and logistical support to some Sunni groups in Iraq. In many ways, Iraq's multiple conflicts are mini-regional proxy wars, with neighboring countries supporting one group versus another.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
by Habib Shaikh from Khaleej Times
Statistics by the Interior Ministry show that drug abuse increases by 17% every year. The study said that broken families as well as poor education are also reasons why many people in the kingdom turn to drugs ... “Some 90,000 people go to these hospitals on a yearly basis for treatment. I believe that three hospitals are not enough,” said Dr Abdul Aziz Al Ghuraib, a speaker at the Second Symposium for Reforms and Rehabilitation in Correctional Institutions.
from the Gulf Times
China's concern about increasing extremism in Sinkiang and the kidnapping of its nationals by a madrassa students in Islamabad will dominate the four-day Pak-Chinese talks that begin in Beijing shortly, official sources said yesterday ... Sources said the two countries would also discuss the preparation of fake travel documents for Chinese pilgrims. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Religious Affairs Minister Ejazul Haq will visit Saudi Arabia to make arrangements for the Chinese pilgrims if China accepted Pakistan's offer, according to sources.
by Tom Petrie and Steve Andrews from Energy Bulletin
Energy will be one of the two or three defining issues we’ll face over the next decade. Since post-1999, we’ve essentially been in a crisis mode. That’s the result of an accumulation of factors ... The case for Iraq to produce 4 or 5 or even 6 million barrels a day is technically sound but is not imminent. The Saudi-US “special relationship” has been significantly altered and impaired by 9/11. Our relationship with them is now one of many. China will become of coequal importance to the US relationship.
by Nick Gier from New West
Once again the North African country Morocco is in the news. In late May, 2007, Spanish police arrested 16 men in Barcelona, 14 of whom were Moroccans ... Spanish police have been closely watching radical Muslims from North Africa for many years. Saudi national Mohammed Atta, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, visited these terrorist cells twice and most of their funding comes from Saudi Arabia. In May of 2003, three Saudis were given ten-year sentences for starting an Al Qaeda cell in Morocco and planning to blow up ships in the Straits of Gibraltar. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has also proscribed the teaching of the fundamentalist Wahabi theology from Saudi Arabia.
from Editor & Publisher
Nearly six years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., better than 4 in 10 Americans still wrongly believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in planning or carrying out the actions. Surprisingly, that number has even risen in the past two years, according to a Newsweek poll ... In a separate question, 20% said that "most" of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. The correct answer, Saudi Arabia, was chosen by 43%.
from the Muslim Weekly
The presence of Saudi, Jordanian and Yemeni volunteers in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon, as well as arrests in Jordan and Saudi Arabia of Jihadists coming from Iraq illustrate this. "The Iraqi resistance doesn't need people inside, they have more than they need, freeing up foreign fighters to fight elsewhere," said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert in radical movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman. "They are in contact with each other because Salafi ideology (true Islam) is spread all over Arab and Islamic countries," he said.
Monday, June 25, 2007
by VOA News
The ban is contained in an amendment slipped into a foreign aid funding bill for next year that has not yet been debated in the Senate. Congress has passed bills in the past to stop the relatively small amount of U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia. But the Bush administration has found a way around the restrictions. The main backer of the amendment, Democratic Party representative Anthony Weiner from New York State, says cutting off aid sends "a clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that they must be a true ally in advancing peace in the Middle East."
by Kathy Gannon from Associated Press
Al-Qaida is bringing back fighters it sent home after the post-9/11 invasion, he said. Al-Qaida leaders have written that "it would take three or four years to get the insurgency restarted. They seem to be pretty much on schedule and are bringing more fighters back into the theater," he said. Seth Jones, counterinsurgency expert at the U.S.-based Rand Corporation, said the influx is in the dozens or low hundreds, but is increasing, along with a fervor reminiscent of the 1980s, when Arabs such as the Saudi-born bin Laden flocked to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.
by Yahya Birt from the Brunei Times
Among British Muslims, there are two main views of radicalisation. The first pins the blame squarely upon extreme Salafi Muslims, who developed a doctrine of attacking the west in the wake of the 1980s Afghan-Soviet war. Throughout the 1990s, their propagandists were allowed to spread their ideas in Britain unimpeded by the police and intelligence services. Most ordinary Salafis, committed, like the Amish, to austere apolitical piety, either ignored this trend or argued against it.
by Clancy Chassay from The Guardian
Timur Goksel, a former Unifil senior adviser, said he doubted whether, after 36 days of fierce bombardment, the militants in Nahr al-Bared had the capability for such an operation, and believed the attack was likely to have been a jihadist group sympathetic to Fatah al-Islam. "This is very likely to be a solidarity action by any one of the Salafi groups." ... In the north of Lebanon, a midnight raid on a house in Tripoli on Saturday led to a night-long gun battle between the Lebanese army and Sunni militants which left 10 people dead, including a 10-year-old girl. Residents in the district of Abi Samra, considered the hub of Lebanon's Salafi community, told of a 10-hour siege as the army pounded the building with artillery and rocket-propelled grenades.
by Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta from Desicritics.org
One might quibble about the philosophical and theological substance of looking at Islam as a literal transcription of rules, regulations and rituals based upon the clear word of God rather than say the more mystical approach of the Sufis. But Abdel Wahhab was a reformer, he wanted to reform, he managed to convince people of the need for reform. He got the people and tribal leaders to follow him and you can see the end result in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, USA, UK and other places where Saudi money has propagated the Wahhabi creed.
According to the Macedonian intelligence officers, the CIA has, over the past 9 months, dramatically increased the frequency of requests for information on the growing fundamentalist Wahhabi community in Macedonia. This new focus has been mirrored by allied services, such as the British, French and Italian, not only in Macedonia but in Bosnia and, as Balkanalysis.com recently reported, in Albania as well. Nevertheless, the disconnect between ‘mission accomplished’-type rhetoric and the reality is still wide. A less than discreet operational protocol is occasionally revealed in the details. A veteran European intelligence officer with long experience of the Balkans mocked an alleged American “intelligence-gathering” procedure in Skopje. “Once a week, without fail, they send someone from the embassy down to an Islamic bookstore in the Carsija (old town) of Skopje ... and they buy all of the new Islamist literature, if there is any, bid them good day and go back.”
Friday, June 22, 2007
by Cliff May from National Review Online
America is at war with al Qaeda [Al-Qaeda's Saudi Origins by Uriya Shavit from Middle East Quarterly] — on that surely we can agree — and we know that al Qaeda has bases in Pakistan. In fact, it is probable that Osama bin Laden resides at one of those bases. But we can’t fight al Qaeda in Pakistan [Al Qaeda Strikes Back by Bruce Riedel from Foreign Affairs] because Pakistan is an ally, and America does not violate the territorial integrity of its allies. Al Qaeda is active in Gaza ... but we’re not about to invade Gaza in pursuit of al Qaeda. Even Israel, which withdrew from Gaza two years ago, is not eager to return there. In Lebanon, Fatah al-Islam, which is fighting the Lebanese government, is believed to be linked to al Qaeda. There is no way the U.S. is going to send troops into Lebanon again. Groups linked to al Qaeda are in Somalia. But a serious effort by Americans against al Qaeda in Somalia seems unlikely ... Almost a decade ago, Osama bin Laden said that Americans were “unprepared to fight long wars.” Secure in his Pakistani redoubt, he must be pleased that his analysis is proving so uncannily accurate.
by P.K. Abdul Ghafour from Arab News
“Do you want people in your society who call you, your state and your leaders infidels,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Interior Minister Prince Naif as asking. He said the Kingdom ran its affairs on the basis of Shariah. “Do you know that your children who go to Iraq are used only for blowing themselves up? Iraqi officials themselves have told me that,” the prince said. “They are brought there in order to put on explosive belts and blow themselves up, causing the deaths of innocents. Are you happy for your children to become instruments of murder?”
by Faiza Saleh Ambah from the Washington Post
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is the enforcement arm of Saudi Arabia's official religious establishment, which imposes the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, named after its 18th-century founder, Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab. The commission's mandate is based on the Koranic verse, "And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and these it is that shall be successful." The commission has about 500 offices across the kingdom and employs about 10,000 people.
by Liz Sidoti at Associated Press
Mitt Romney called for the United States to establish a "Special Partnership Force" - made up of Army special forces and intelligence personnel - to work with foreign governments to root out terrorists from their populations. "Their goal is to build national institutions of stability and freedom, and to promote the rule of law and human rights." He proposed holding a summit of nations with the goal of a new type of Marshall Plan, which he dubbed a "Partnership for Prosperity and Progress." The objective: ensuring that "threatened Islamic states had public schools, not Wahhabi madrassas, micro-credit and banking, the rule of law, human rights, basic health care and competitive economic policies," he said.
by Mohamed El-Sayed from Al-Ahram Weekly
Nabil Abdel-Fattah, assistant director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and the editor of the annual State of Religion in Egypt report, sees the growing number of clashes as evidence of a "significant increase in the number of Muslims who embrace the Wahhabi doctrine, be they clerics or ordinary citizens". Many clergymen, he says, have adopted "this anti-Christian doctrine in an attempt to court popularity among Muslims. Sheikhs might go as far as scorning Copts."
Thursday, June 21, 2007
from The Economist
Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, needs to keep his distance from America to fend off accusations that he is a puppet of the occupation. And, of course, the assumption of many Muslims that a pro-American leader must in some way be a traitor to the cause extends beyond the Arab world: in Pakistan and Afghanistan Presidents Musharraf and Karzai have constantly to face down the cry that by allying with the superpower they have sold out their countries—or, worse, their religion. America's allies cannot stop the martyrs from calling them traitors. America has made itself deeply unpopular in the Islamic world by invading Iraq and standing by Israel. This is bound to taint any Muslim leader who looks as if he owes his position to American military or economic power. But guilt by association is only one half of the reason for the growing popularity of the martyrs and the spreading idea that America's allies must be traitors. The other half is that, by comparison with the traitors, the martyrs look clean.
by Gabriella Broggi from Associated Press
Moez Garsallaoui is accused of running Internet discussion forums used by terror groups to share information and to publicize claims of responsibility for attacks and threats against Westerners. Swiss media reported two years ago that the 2004 beheading of American engineer Paul M. Johnson, Jr. in Saudi Arabia was one of a number of executions aired on the sites. Malika El Aroud is accused of operating an Islamist Web site. She is the widow of one of the suicide attackers who killed the anti-Taliban Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to Swiss police.
"Eight days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Osama bin Laden possibly charters a flight to whisk his family out of the country, and it's not worth more than a luggage search and a few brief interviews?" asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton ... A spokesman for the FBI, who asked that his name not be used, said the claims were investigated earlier, and found to be without grounds. But Judicial Watch said the FBI discovered, "incredibly," that not a single Saudi national nor any of the bin Laden family members possessed any information of investigation value. "Moreover, the documents contain numerous errors and inconsistencies which call to question the thoroughness of the FBI's investigation of the Saudi flights."
by Jason Tedjasukmana from TIME
"Islam in Indonesia has the potential to go extreme," says the rock star, who quit a religious school as a child because of its intolerant Wahhabi teachings. "What happens depends on how we deal with the radicals and teach people about Islam." Ahmad Dhani may, however, struggle to cast himself as a champion of those seeking a more progressive interpretation of Islam. Muslim academics and students question his credibility to pronounce on religious matters. "The fact that he is a Sufi is already going to be controversial with most Indonesian Muslims," explains Hamid Basyaib, director of the Liberal Islam Network. "We appreciate his message, but don't think mixing art and preaching will work, because it hasn't in the past."
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef on Wednesday pressed the country's powerful religious establishment to dissuade Saudi youth from fighting in Iraq. Nayef indirectly criticized the religious community for not doing enough to prevent the country's youth from becoming suicide bombers. Nayef's remarks represent Riyadh's first major push to prevent Saudi jihadists from going to Iraq. Thus far, the Saudi government has only been worried about fighting jihadists operating within the kingdom. In fact, there is evidence to suggest the Saudis have been redirecting jihadists toward Iraq as part of domestic counterterrorism efforts ... Similarly, jihadist traffic flows back and forth between Saudi Arabia and Iraq due to the common Wahhabi sect shared by the jihadists and many Saudis.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister has warned the conservative Islamic state's clergy that they should discourage Saudis, including their own children, from going to fight in Iraq. In a speech before hundreds of clerics, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz appeared to suggest that some members of Saudi Arabia's powerful religious establishment had not doing enough in the fight against militants who are warring against Western influence in the region ... The minister, who maintains close links with the religious establishment, reminded the preachers of the historic alliance between the royal family and Saudi Arabia's austere Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam. Saudi Arabia imposes strict Islamic law, overseen by clerics with wide influence in society. Clerics back the royal family as absolute rulers
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
by Cal Thomas from Tribune Media Services
Whatever their names -- groups such as Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida, or states such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran -- their objectives are identical: the annihilation of the democratic Jewish state and the elimination of all Jews, either by death or displacement, from the land. It is to be in extreme denial to argue otherwise, and to continue believing the fiction that "infidel" diplomats from the State Department or European Union can magically transform people commanded to hate Jews and Israel based on a twisted mandate from their corrupt notion of God.
by Victor Sharpe from Israel Hasbara Committee
America’s so-called Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, itself threatened by Iran and the jihadists, continues meanwhile to send billions of dollars to spread wahhabism (another extreme version of Islam) among the Arab masses while funding the construction of mosques throughout the Moslem and non-Moslem world. Many of these mosques, especially in the West, spread radical Islam through extremist Imams. The West, reluctant as ever to confront the Saudis for fear of disrupting the flow of oil to their economies, allows the insidious spread of radical Islam within their borders. But appeasement sows evil seeds.
by Andrew Black from The Jamestown Foundation
On June 2 the U.S. military struck positions in northern Somalia (South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 3). U.S. military spokespersons have yet to identify the targets of the attack; however, a statement released by Mujahideen Youth Movement (MYM) via the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF)—an information medium strongly identified with the core elements of the Global Salafi-Jihad—claimed that none of the group's members had been killed or injured in the strikes. Although it is nearly impossible to determine whether there is a direct link between al-Libi's statement and the emergence of MYM, the near concurrence of these events at least suggests a causal relationship.
by Amer Moshen from IraqSlogger
Extremist Wahhabi groups may have religious reasons to attack Iraqi shrines, aside from their general anti-Shi'ism, and al-Qa'ida’s political motives (in terms of mobilizing and radicalizing Iraqi Sunnis by inciting sectarian strife). Wahhabism is one of the fiercest Salafi sects in its opposition to icons of all kinds. The building of shrines to commemorate dead religious figures is seen as akin to idolatry by the Wahhabi faith. Many of the homes and graves of the Muslim prophet and his companions were carelessly torn down in Mecca and Medina ... The departing kings of Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia are traditionally buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves.
by Stephen Schwartz from the Weekly Standard
The division in Iraq is primarily a consequence of a long period of domination by Arab Sunnis. As exemplified by the Iraqi Kurds, nationalist and religious-identity movements can establish stability on the territories they inhabit when the community is homogeneous, its demands are perceived as largely resolved, and the community feels itself to be "masters in its own house." It is for this reason that in Iraqi Kurdistan, as noted in the Etzioni document, "according to Major General Benjamin Mixon . . . because Kurdish areas are patrolled by Kurdish troops, 'there's no need' for an American presence in Kurdistan." I would add that Saudi-financed Wahhabi terror in Kurdistan, led by the so-called Ansar al-Islam, was handily defeated by the Kurds.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
by Benjamin Zycher from the LA Times
Financial support for terrorist activities is primarily ideological, and regimes are loath to sacrifice ideological goals just because economic conditions are declining. Saudi financing of the Wahhabi madrasas, for instance, both official and unofficial, continued during the 1990s when oil revenues were low. Similarly, during the 1990s, various terrorist groups received much of their support from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan — nations not noted for strong economic performance. The notion that we can "de-fund" terrorism by withholding our investment is particularly weak. The reality is that terrorism is relatively cheap; the 9/11 commission computed the cost of the 9/11 attacks at less than $500,000, an estimate likely to be too low, but not by enough to change this central conclusion.
The new generation of Islamist militants in Iraq are more battle-hardened than their veteran anti-Soviet counterparts from Afghanistan, and the export of their Muslim "holy war" to calmer Arab countries has become a phenomenon. The presence of Saudi, Jordanian, and Yemeni volunteers in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr Al Bared in north Lebanon, as well as arrests in Jordan and Saudi Arabia of Jihadists coming from Iraq illustrate this. "The Iraqi resistance does not need people inside, they have more than they need, freeing up foreign fighters to fight elsewhere," said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert in radical movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman. "They are in contact with each other because Salafi [strict Muslim] ideology is spread all over Arab and Islamic countries," he said.
by Jim Mullins from the Sun-Sentinel
The ongoing Afghan war is indicative of a long war for it began in the 1970's as a Cold War CIA operation designed to overthrow Afghanistan's Soviet-friendly government and lure an overextended Soviet Union into their "Vietnam". U.S. strategy was successful but the blowback—a CIA term for unforeseen consequences—led directly to Osama bin Laden and his fighters from the Arab, Muslim and Western world ... The United States walked away from the Afghan wreckage leaving the armed-to-the-teeth mujahideen to fight for control of the country. Millions of Afghan refugees left for Pakistan and beyond. Young Afghan refugees, some Pakistanis and others went to Saudi-funded madrassas. They were taught fundamentalist Salafi Islam and trained to take back their country from the guerrilla fighters that were destroying it.
by Jim Quilty of Middle East Report Online
Syrian officials and their allies in Lebanon label Fatah al-Islam as al-Qaeda operatives. It is not an imaginative accusation. Though Fatah al-Islam has denied any institutional links to al-Qaeda, the global Sunni militancy ‘Absi advocates echoes that of al-Qaeda and Fatah al-Islam’s statements have appeared on salafi websites. In a Reuters interview in March, ‘Absi said Fatah al-Islam wanted to implement shari‘a law among Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee community before confronting Israel. The Saudi-owned al-‘Arabiyya channel has advanced a theory that ‘Absi is just the front man for an even murkier cabal of multinational Islamist conspirators including one ‘Abd al-Karim al-Saadi, aka “Abu Muhjin.” This fierce-looking Palestinian bogeyman was cast as the mastermind behind the criminal activities of the Lebanese-Palestinian salafi group ‘Usbat al-Ansar before disappearing into the “security island” of ‘Ayn al-Hilwa.
by Sami Moubayed from Asia Times Onlines
The real connection between the Palestinians and al-Qaeda can be found in three figures (none of whom are members of Hamas). 1) Abdullah Azzam, who comes from a village near Jenin, was once called "the prince of mujahideen" in Afghanistan. He started out as a member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and, after studying in Saudi Arabia, moved to Afghanistan to work with bin Laden in 1984. 2) Abu Qutada went from Jordan to Afghanistan and then Britain, via Pakistan, where he was given asylum. A prolific man, he spoke, preached, and lectured on Islamic jihad and words inspired hundreds of young Muslims to join al-Qaeda. His videos were found at the Hamburg apartment of Mohammad Atta. 3) Abu Mohammad al-Makdisi was very active in preaching radical political and military Islam in Jordan -- the US once described him as more dangerous than bin Laden himself. One of the al-Qaeda members who launched a terrorist attack on Riyadh in 1996 confessed that he had been inspired into action by one of Abu Mohammad's books on Saudi Arabia.
by John Lemberger from The Northwestern
The true Axis of Evil on this planet is Saudi Arabia, more specifically Wahhabi Muslims, who instigated the Iraq war because they need more money and that means higher gas prices. If we used half the gas, they'd double the price because they're paying for an ambitious real estate development program including dairy farming in the Saudi desert! They also pay serious protection money to stop Wahhabi Muslim terrorist attacks against their corrupt regime ... the Saudis are funding the Sunnis in Iraq's civil war and are behind transferring control of Iraq's oil from Iraq's Shia government to—BIG OIL! This required privatizing Iraq's oil. Insuring that future Iraqi governments won't re-nationalize Iraq's oil will require an ongoing commitment of U.S. troops for about 50 years (the latest estimate by the Bush mis-Administration).
by Robert Spencer from Human Events
When is a moderate Muslim not a moderate Muslim? How about if he is an employee of a Saudi Wahhabi organization that has been identified by the Senate Finance Committee as one of a long list of Islamic charities that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence”? Last month, the White House appointed Talal Eid, an imam from Quincy, Massachusetts, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan panel that, according to the Boston Globe, “monitors religious freedom in countries around the world and recommends policies to the president, State Department, and Congress.” ... The Bush Administration has been determined to find moderate Muslims with whom it could work; unfortunately, however, in this quest it has sometimes been less discriminating than it should have been, and the case of Talal Eid is a prime example of this.
Monday, June 18, 2007
by Ellen Knickmeyer from the Washington Post
In Tripoli, residents say they have watched the expansion of groups dedicated to the more strident forms of Sunnism, especially since Hezbollah's war with Israel last year. This growth includes politicking by leaders of the Salafi sect, a fundamentalist stream of Sunni Islam that traditionally rejects politics as an impious Western concept ... "There's a relationship between ourselves and Sheik Saad when it's needed," Shahal said. "The biggest Sunni political power is Hariri. The biggest Sunni religious power are the Salafis. So it's natural."
by Thomas P.M. Barnett from the Scripps Howard News Service
The Bush administration's stubborn stance, continued from the Clinton years, retards the development of global case law concerning the terrorists, warlords and dictators that America routinely targets in this long war against radical extremism. Not surprisingly, our go-it-alone strategy undercuts our moral authority around the world. I mean, if our own judicial system can't stomach much of this, how can we expect to win any hearts and minds abroad by mimicking the human-rights abuses of the very same authoritarian regimes (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Egypt) targeted by our lawless enemies, the Salafi jihadists?
by Shiv Malik from Prospect
So while traditionalist mosques carry on recruiting imams from back home, keep their sermons in Urdu and other Asian languages and neglect to publish material to engage new members, the Wahhabis and the Islamists give their sermons in English and take their recruitment on to the streets of Pakistani or Bangladeshi ghettos such as Beeston Hill. They have also encouraged the schooling of British-born imams, have learned to use the internet and have generally come to understand what makes the second generation tick. The Wahhabis and Islamists win new members by contrasting their galvanising message of world Islamic justice with the inactivity and irrationality of the first-generation traditionalists. (Among those who turn to violence, such as Khan, their beliefs are often a mix of fundamentalism and Islamism.) And by arguing that the traditionalists—with their saint worship, mysticism and forced marriages—have been corrupted by weakness and Hinduism, they provide useful arguments to those Pakistani and Bangladeshi youths who want to cling on to Islam but throw off their parents' constraints.
by Will Hutton from The Observer
A golden, global thread links the militant jihadists in Britain, the Taliban-like fundamentalism of the Hamas militias who have just taken over in Gaza and the rise of Wahhabi schools everywhere. It is a complex if depressing thesis, but it is brilliantly driven home by an important article in this month's Prospect on Mohammad Sidique Khan ... Shiv Malik, who undertook months of research into the Sidique story for an aborted BBC drama documentary, explains that political jihadism occupies only one quarter of Sidique's taped message. The rest is about settling deeply personal scores that related to his identity and experience as a second generation immigrant.
by Peter Fedynsky from Voice of America
Speaking at a joint news conference in Moscow Friday, the mothers of two apparent kidnap victims say they do not know who took their sons or why. However, they claim young people are being ransomed and the price depends on whether they are dead or alive ... Svetlana Isayeva, also said authorities have kidnapped young men under the pretext of being radicals, either rebels or Wahhabi Muslims ... Russian officials were not immediately available to comment on the allegations. What is certain is that young people are disappearing and dying in Dagestan and their mothers want to know why.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
by Fred Wehrey from the Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment
The Saudi Shi'i news service al-Rasid released its second annual human rights report in late April, a survey of discriminatory practices against the Kingdom's Shi'i minority. The lack of progress has caused many Shi'a to lose faith in official channels for reform such as the National Dialogue and the municipal councils ... Shi'i activists are also continuing a long-standing practice of dialogue and partnering with Salafi reformists in the western party of the country, who serve as what one figure described as a “strike force for reform, deep within the Najd” (the central province of Saudi Arabia from which the ruling family hails, and the birthplace of Wahhabism). But by their own admission, the Shi'i cooperation with other sects in the Kingdom has remained mostly at the informal level, through e-mails, personal contacts, and the occasional publishing of joint manifestos.
By Zoran Maksimovic from Balkan Insight
Over the last two years, Sandzak Wahhabis have been involved in occasional brawls and arguments in local mosques provoked by their attempts to impose new practices on mainstream believers. Wahhabi followers were involved in a incident at a mosque last November that ended in a shoot-out, though Wahhabis were not responsible for the gunfire. Last April, Wahhabis disrupted a concert in Novi Pazar's main square by a band from Belgrade ... Zoran Dragisic, a Belgrade-based military analyst, said recent developments "indicates the existence of dangerous processes in Sandzak." Such developments "can seriously disrupt relations not only in the area but in the wider region as one extremism creates another," Dragisic told Balkan Insight. "Sandzak society and the local Islamic community, as well as the state, now must protect itself from radical movements."
Friday, June 15, 2007
by Tarek Fatah and Salma Siddiqui from the Toronto Star
If Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory has his way, this is what a school system of the future will look like in the riding of Don Valley West, where he plans to unseat Education Minister Kathleen Wynne: Imagine an intersection, say Thorncliffe Park Dr. and Overlea Blvd., with a Hindu school on one corner, a Sikh school on another, a Greek Orthodox school on a third corner and, of course, a Shia or Saudi-funded Wahhabi school on the fourth ... Let us ensure that the public education system stays as it is meant to be – a system of equal opportunity for all. Now is the time to talk of a single public school board, where all of Ontario's children would be free to meet, befriend and know children of other religions, irrespective of whether they are Catholic, Protestant, Shia, Sunni, Jewish, Hindu or even atheist.
by Spencer Ackerman from TPM Muckraker
Last week, the BBC and the Guardian reported that BAE Systems, the world's fourth-largest defense company, paid approximately $2 billion to an Saudi account in the now-defunct Riggs Bank controlled by Bandar as part of Britain's largest-ever defense deal. That purchase, known as al-Yamamah, brought Britain over $80 billion in Saudi money in return for BAE-manufactured aircrat in 1985, and has been a fruitful target for UK scandal-watchers ever since. Tony Blair personally scotched an investigation by his government's Serious Fraud Office into the alleged kickbacks in December, and he reaffirmed that decision last week when the Bandar allegations broke, saying, "I don't believe the investigation would have led to anywhere except to the complete wreckage of a vital interest to our country."
From The Economist
National security and the fight against terrorism would be imperilled if Britain's valued Middle Eastern ally were annoyed, the official version ran ... But detailed new allegations in the media have made things look even worse. Payments of more than £1 billion have allegedly been traced to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a member of the Saudi royal family. Worse still, it seems that the British government (which under Margaret Thatcher signed the agreement) was an integral part of the payments chain ... the decision to suspend the Serious Fraud Office's investigation in December looks even more pig-headed and plain wrong now than it did then. But what of the extenuating “national interest” circumstances offered by Mr Blair—the idea that further investigation would be bad for the war on terror and bad for defence jobs? And what price is it worth paying to have a defence industry?
by Caroline Glick from The Jerusalem Post
Yet like Fatah, the Saudis aren't simply vulnerable; they are culpable. In addition to being the creators of Al Qaeda and Hamas' largest fiscal backers, the Saudis themselves directly threaten Israel. The Bush administration is not just asking Israel to facilitate the arming of its enemies. It is also placing restrictions on Israel's ability to arm itself. The Pentagon recently voiced its objection to Israel's plan to install Israeli technology in the jets that are to be supplied starting in 2014. Israel's installation of its own electronic warfare systems in its F-16s, and F-15s is what has allowed the Israeli Air Force to maintain its qualitative edge over Arab states that have also purchased the aircraft.
by Tom Perry from Reuters
The Fatah al-Islam militant group is reviled by many Lebanese, but its ideas resonate with hardline Sunni Islamists, raising the possibility of more violence. Fathi Yakan, leader of the Islamic Action Front (one of the biggest Sunni Islamist groups in Lebanon), said hardliners may take up arms against the state "out of fear that their turn will come" after Fatah al-Islam. "If they find that Fatah al-Islam is in trouble now, then these might act, perhaps they will cooperate with it, or even support it," said Yakan. "For this reason, the situation is getting more serious," said Yakan, listing the full range of Sunni Islamist schools of thought in Tripoli. They include the Salafi school that is linked to the Wahhabi beliefs followed by Osama bin Laden. Salafi Muslims believe they must follow strictly the practices of the Prophet Mohammad and his closest companions.
by Edward Wong writes from The New York Times
I first met Fakhri al-Qaisi, a Sunni Arab dentist turned hard-line politician, in 2003 at a Salafi mosque in western Baghdad, when the Sunni Arab insurgency was gaining momentum. He articulated the Sunnis' simmering anger at being ousted from power. That fury has blossomed and is likely only to grow, as religious Shiite leaders and their militias become more entrenched in the government and as Kurds in the north push to expand their region and secede in all but name ... As long as I have known him, Mr. Qaisi has rejected the idea that Sunni Arabs are the minority in this country. To him and many other Sunnis, the borders of Iraq do not delineate the boundaries of the war. The conflict is set, instead, against the backdrop of the entire Islamic world, in which demography and history have always favored the Sunnis.
by Lucy Fielder from Al-Ahram Weekly
Lebanese officials have also talked about using Nahr Al-Bared, a camp north of Tripoli where the army is besieging the militant Sunni organisation, Fatah Al-Islam, as a "model", says Mohamed Ali Khalidi, a philosophy professor at the American University of Beirut and researcher for the Institute of Palestine Studies. The battle has killed at least 140 people, more than 60 of them soldiers, and shelling has destroyed parts of the camp, once home to about 40,000 refugees. An army source said the siege would continue until the militants surrendered ... Fatah Al-Islam is not considered to be a Palestinian group, with most of its members being Lebanese and other Arab nationalities, with some Palestinians. Radical Salafi ideology and Al-Qaeda inspire the group rather than Palestinian resistance.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
by Chris Toensing from The Nation
In the Arab world, many see the malign hand of Iran as well as an illegal US occupation. The Iraqi government is widely viewed as a puppet of the United States or Iran or both. Anti-Shiite sentiments have spread through virulent, Salafi-run TV channels operating in Iraq, as well as through the Iraqi refugees' tales of targeting by death squads. The most popular satellite channel, Al Jazeera, has been banned from Iraq since 2004 because of its alleged sympathies for Sunni rebels, and hundreds of Shiites recently demonstrated in Najaf against its portrayal of Ayatollah Sistani. Among Iraqi Shiites, meanwhile, the old questions of identity and relation to the state are far from settled by the Shiite revival. Notions of Arabism and Iraqi nationalism exert a powerful pull alongside Islamism and sectarian pride.
by Christopher Thompson from the New Statesman
Professor Peter Pham, a US adviser on Africa to the Pentagon told the New Statesman, America's new Africa strategy reflects its key priorities in the Middle East: oil and counter-terrorism. US military sources estimate that up to a quarter of all foreign fighters in Iraq are from Africa, mostly from Algeria and Morocco. Moreover, there is increasing alarm within the US defence establishment at the creeping "radicalisation" of Africa's Muslims, helped along by the export of hardline, Wahhabi-style clerics from the Arabian peninsula. "The terrorist challenge [has] increased in Africa in the past year - it's gotten a new lease on life," according to Pham. But it is the west's increasing dependency on African oil that gives particular urgency to these new directions in the fight against terrorism. Africa's enormous, and largely untapped, reserves are already more important to the west than most Americans recognise.
by Y. Mansharof from MEMRI
An excerpt from the Iranian newspaper Sobh-e Sadeq: "Ahmadinejad's proposal to establish diplomatic relations between Cairo and Tehran is, in effect, a clever policy aimed at preventing the emergence of a [Sunni] Arab front against Iran - a front that America wants to create... [The aspirations] of senior officials in Washington notwithstanding, Egypt - unlike Saudi Arabia - does not have the potential to lead this kind of [Sunni] Arab front, [which includes the entire] Arab world, against Iran. Saudi Arabia, however, is more willing [than Egypt] to fulfill this new role, owing to the prominence of the Wahhabi sect in that country, and in light of its history of ideological and financial support of the Taliban and of semi-religious terrorist groups in Pakistan and Iraq."
Ideas of Islamist extremism and intolerance towards other faiths are spreading today in many Russian regions, Islamic researcher Roman Silantyev maintains. 'There is a process of substituting Islam 'modernized' in the spirit Wahhabism for traditional Islam underway in Russia today. People often follow the Wahhabi ideology in the belief that what they confess is traditional Islam', Silantyev said in an interview with the Nashe Vremya weekly. In the researcher's estimation, if before there were large Wahhabi enclaves in Dagestan, Chechnya and Karachayevo-Cherkessia, now 'there is an apparent spread of the Wahhabi infection from Chechnya to the whole of North Caucasus and even to the Russian population in the Stavropol region'.
by Jeremiah Puder from The Bulletin
Islam is growing rapidly in Africa, and it is not the supposed "religion of peace" version that is experiencing the greatest growth. Saudi Arabia, among others, is pouring significant resources into Africa and, in the process, encouraging and spreading the ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Islam. Muslim Sharia law has been widely introduced into the Muslim areas of Nigeria. Islam in Nigeria has recently gained widespread media attention concerning its Sharia court's imposition of punishments such as amputation and death by stoning for infractions such as adultery. Nigeria, with its oil reserves, is perhaps the most strategically important sub-Saharan African country to the U.S., and the danger of further Muslim domination is probable.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
A reader contacted me by email to say that he too has also been keeping tabs on the Saudis at his site A Second Look At The Saudis. "This was really intended to be a book project, so it takes a slightly different approach than a blog." For background information, it's worth reading.
by Ubaidah Al-Saif from Jihad Unspun - translated from Al-Fajr Media
To the Mujahideen working in Baghdad province who made their enemies from the cross worshippers and Shiites especially the Badr corps and Dajjal al-Mahdi army taste death, know that there is a great conspiracy to expel the Sunnis from Baghdad and what you have to do today is to rely upon Allah and strike the Shiites and National Guard concentrations and bases ... They placed their hope in al-Maliki and the cross worshipper’s government and found nothing but disappointment. Oh Mujahedeen, go forward in your Jihad and cling to your pure salafi doctrine, for finishing the project is more important than beginning it.
by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad from The Guardian
I walk towards the area where the clashes between the Lebanese army and the Islamists took place, a sort of a no-man's land between the edge of the camp and the Lebanese army checkpoints. "Tameer" is the Islamists' turf, where most of the men on the streets have long beards and some wear shalwar kameez and black prayer-caps, the signature dress for the Salafi-jihadi Islamists in the region. The area has also become a safe haven not only for jihadis fresh from Iraq but also for wanted criminals such as arms dealers. "Long live the leader Zarqawi," is written on a wall, referring to the al-Qaida commander in Iraq who was killed last year.
by Abdul Hameed Bakier from The Jamestown Foundation
In response to an article posted in an Islamist internet forum entitled "Bin Laden...The Puzzling Disappearance," forum users spent a week discussing the possible reasons ... The participants in the forum postings agreed that the disappearance of bin Laden only frustrates al-Qaeda's enemies because Salafi-Jihadi leaders use the media only as needed and do not use it for political propaganda like the Muslim Brotherhood movement and moderate sheikhs in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Furthermore, they insisted that, whether bin Laden is dead or alive, the jihad will persist until doomsday.
from International Crisis Group
The Western Sahara conflict is both one of the world’s oldest and one of its most neglected. More than 30 years after the war began, the displacement of large numbers of people and a ceasefire in 1991 that froze military positions, its end remains remote ... Hundreds of Moroccan troops have been captured and tortured by the Polisario. Most have remained in prison for a long time. Moroccans also have to shoulder an exorbitant financial cost (military budget, investment in the “Southern provinces”, tax breaks and higher salaries for civil servants) that has hampered national development – a situation all the more serious since poverty in the country’s slums is generating momentum for a Salafi Islamist movement.
by Tom Fitton from The Conservative Voice
As we describe in our special report, the Islamic Society of North America specializes in infiltrating Muslim mosques in the United States and replacing moderate leaders with those who subscribe to Wahhabi theology (extreme Islamism). According to Daniel Pipes, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Islamic terrorism, the Islamic Society of North America also appears to be a key player in the channeling Saudi Wahhabist money into the United States through its affiliation with the North American Islamic Trust, an Islamic financial clearinghouse with terrorist ties.
by Ioannis Gatsiounis from Asia Times
Many of the region's top terror suspects linked to Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terrorist network, including Abu Bakar Bashir and Hambali, were stationed in Malaysia before settling elsewhere in the region. No investigations that I know of have been carried out to see what impact they had here on local minds. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian money is helping fund Islamic education in Malaysia, with the puritanical Wahhabi strain of the faith said to have attracted some adherents in the northern state of Perlis.
by Patrick Goodenough from CNSNews
Another noteworthy development reported by the Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) was the $29 billion spent by Saudi Arabia - up from $25bn in 2005 and $13bn in 1996. The Wahhabi-ruled kingdom is now the ninth biggest arms spender in the world, and the biggest in the Middle East. Elsewhere in that region, Israel spent $11.3bn and Iran $9.8bn in 2006.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
by Kathryn Haahr from The Jamestown Foundation
Once seemingly disparate Salafi Islamist groups and neophyte militant Muslim grassroots networks have coalesced into radicalized Islamist collectives throughout Catalonia to pose a national threat to Spain, as well as to Western interests in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. According to Spanish counter-terrorism officials, the Spanish Confederation of Police and various terrorism experts, Catalonia has become the "principle focus" of the development of jihadi terrorism in Spain and, more specifically, the largest jihadi recruitment center in Europe (La Vanguardia, June 3).
by Josh Gerstein from The New York Sun
Both the Jewish and the Indian community share a concern about Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. While Jews fear attacks on Israel, Indian-Americans, most of whom are Hindu, worry about attacks on India perpetrated by Islamists and about the threat of fundamentalism in Pakistan. When Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley hosted a $200,000 fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton last month, she was pressed about why America counts Saudi Arabia as an ally, despite its record of fomenting extreme, "Wahhabi" Islam through religious schools in its country and elsewhere.
from the Claremont Institute
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, where he also directs their Project on Religion, Politics, and Radicalism. From 1998 to 1999, Mr. Gartenstein-Ross worked for the U.S. Headquarters of the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international Wahhabi charity. The office he worked for was later named a specially designated global terrorist entity by the Treasury Department, and Gartenstein-Ross worked as a confidential informant in the FBI’s investigation, an experience detailed in his recently published book, My Year Inside Radical Islam.
by A. Craig Copetas from Bloomberg
Prince Fahd bin Sultan will begin construction this year on what is intended as a showcase for a new Saudi Arabia: a $300 billion multicultural metropolis designed to lure 700,000 inhabitants from around the globe. The construction of this and 5 other megacities scheduled for completion by 2020 will be funded by oil revenue ... en route to a meeting with Prince Fahd, is Lebanese construction mogul and New Tabouk architect Bahaa Hariri, the son of assassinated Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
from B92 (Serbia)
Interior Minister Dragan Jočić says weapons were found in several locations in Novi Pazar, Tutin and Sjenica. Police discovered some 10,000 bullet rounds and 15 kilograms of suspected explosives ... Jočić told the agency the weapons in question came from Kosovo. “We believe they were bought in Vučitrn and Peć. This is the information police obtained from the three Wahhabis arrested recently.”
by David Harrison from The Age
Saudi Arabia is a country run by a curious coalition of the wealthy, nepotistic House of Saud and the fundamentalist Wahhabi religious leaders. The royal family has ruled the desert kingdom - which has 25% of the world's oil reserves - since 1932 when King Abdul Aziz al-Saud united warring tribes under Sharia law. It has an historic connection with the Wahhabis, a branch of Islam linked to September 11, 2001, but King Abdullah's desire to modernise the country - he succeeded King Fahd who died two years ago - has created tension with the clerics who are resisting his attempts to liberalise education and give women more freedom.
Monday, June 11, 2007
by Patrick Cockburn from the Independent
Iraq has become the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with Sunni insurgents routinely targeting journalists, twelve of whom were killed in May alone. The great majority of those murdered or kidnapped are Iraqis, while non-Iraqi journalists find it increasingly difficult and dangerous to operate there. The Ansar al-Sunna fundamentalist group claimed responsibility for killing Mrs al-Haideri, saying she "distorted the reputation of the mujahedin [fighters]." They had put her name on a death list, that included nine journalists, issued by the Islamic State of Iraq, the umbrella organisation of extreme Jihadi and Salafi groups. The list was posted in several mosques in Mosul.
from Agence France-Presse
Iraq's parliament on Sunday sent its Sunni speaker Mahmud Mashhadani on indefinite leave after he allegedly ordered his bodyguards to beat up a fellow MP, a lawmaker said. Mashhadani, is known for his loud rhetoric in parliament ... Mashhadani is a religious fundamentalist of the Salafi school whose death sentence under Saddam Hussein's regime was commuted to a 15-year prison term in 2000 after he bribed the judge. A doctor by trade, the Baghdad native helped create the National Dialogue Front, one of the Sunni parties that belong to the 44-seat Sunni National Concord Front coalition.
from the Associated Press
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist group, has more lawmakers elected from Alexandria than from any other city. The city of 5 million people also has a large Salafi movement, a brand of Islam more extreme than the Brotherhood – its followers are recognized by their long beards and shorter than usual robes. They preach a ban on contacts between Muslims and Christians and residents blame them for violent clashes with Christians in recent years. The city’s move toward fundamentalism has driven away the wealthy and secular middle-class Egyptians who once flocked to Alexandria in the summer for its beaches and nightlife.