Thursday, June 21, 2007

Martyrs or traitors

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.

Swiss Internet terror trial opens

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.

Did Osama charter flight out of U.S. after 9/11?


"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."

Can Dhani Dewa Rock the Casbah?

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."

Geopolitical Diary: The Saudi Role in a Deal over Iraq

from Stratfor

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 warns clerics over militants in Iraq

from Reuters

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