Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Faith, charity and the money trail to Pakistan's Islamist militants

by Declan Walsh from The Guardian

Foreign money is fuelling the tide of Islamist violence washing across northern Pakistan, according to diplomats, analysts and money laundering experts. Pakistan's notoriously lax financial system helps them to move the money into the country. Donors in petrodollar-rich Gulf countries, the US and Europe send donations - anything from a few thousand dollars to several million, said Seth Jones of the Washington-based Rand Corporation. "Without significant funding from abroad, especially the Gulf states, we would be nowhere near the current level of Islamist militancy," he said. "We're talking about tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars."

Tensions Mounting in the Elbrus Region

from Kommersant

A bomb weighing 15 kg. was found on Friday in the Elbrus area of the republic in the woods near a base belonging to Kabardino-Balkaria State University. Containing nails and metal shavings, bomb specialists successfully defused it. The next day, a policeman was killed at the Tyrnyauz mining and processing plant when the guard post was fired on at about 1:00 a.m. Seconds after police reinforcements arrived, the bridge over the Baksan River leading to the plant was destroyed by a strong blast. That was the fourth attack on the police, resulting in the second death, in the area in the past month. Local law enforcement agencies say the wave of criminal activity is due to the efforts of underground Wahhabi group hiding in the woods. They are trying to create pressure as the republic prepares to celebrate the 450th anniversary of its unification with Russia and the republic's supreme court prepares to hear the case of 59 rebels who took part in the attack on Nalchik on October 13, 2005.

Saudi government urged to release reformists

from Agence France-Presse

The petition, a copy of which was obtained by Agence France-Presse in Dubai, was signed by 67 activists and sent to the justice ministry and advisory Shura council in Riyadh, as well as to two government-sanctioned human rights watchdogs. The petition said the reformists -- accused of funding terrorism -- had been held for longer than six months without a trial and that, under Saudi law, they should, therefore, be released ... Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that has taken tentative steps toward reform, including holding male-only elections in 2005 to pick half of the members of municipal councils. Writer Mohammed Bin Hudeijan Al Harbi said in April that three of the reformists being held had, themselves, signed a petition to King Abdullah, calling for the establishment of an Islam-based constitutional monarchy. The petition demanded the introduction of a parliament "elected by all adults, men and women" in oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

No candidates, so experts debate Iraq in Nevada

by Scott Sonner from The Associated Press

About 50 people turned out for the Republican forum in Reno sponsored by the Brookings Institution and UNR. But more noticeable was the absence of all four candidates who were invited --- former New York Mayor Rudi Guiliani, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Arizona Senator John McCain and Texas Congressman Ron Paul ... Fostering democracy around the world is in the best interest of U.S. national security but Bush's missteps in Iraq have created an "impossible tactical situation," said John Scire, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Nevada who served 27 years in the military, including a combat tour in Vietnam, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army's Psychological Warfare Specialist School. He says Bush was right to get rid of Saddam Hussein but he failed to recognize that the closest U.S. allies in the region -- including Saudi Arabia -- all absolutely oppose democracy.


from the Yemen Times

According to the weekly newspaper, Media reports said on Monday that Saudi border guards at the Najran region on the Saudi-Yemeni border foiled an attempt to smuggle a consignment of weapons to the Kingdom. “The would-be smugglers, along with the consignment of weapons, fled back to Yemen,” the weekly paper quoted a Saudi official as saying. The Saudi Okadh paper reported that Assistant Commander of Border Guards positioned in Najran said the consignment contains 16 missiles, 16 armored covers, five anti-tank mines and 3,000 bullets of heavy machineguns. The military official added that the rear border guards and patrols recorded the suspicious movements of unidentified individuals and found quantities of explosives and ammunition hidden beneath rocks. The official went on to say that the traffickers fled the scene toward Yemen after they were prevented from trafficking the consignment into the Saudi territory.

Yemen to build nuclear plant for power generation

from Sana'a (dpa)

"Specialized international firms will build the strategic nuclear reactor that Yemen seeks to own for producing electricity," the official Saba news agency quoted Mustafa Bahran, Yemen's energy minister, as saying. An impoverished country located on the south-western tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen has a shortage in power production and its cities suffer from daily power outages. The entire power production capacity of the country's two main power plants is approximately 900 MW, which serves only about half of the population. In last October, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said his country was negotiating with US and Canadian firms to construct a nuclear power production plant in Yemen.

Sectarian Schools in Britain

by Dr. Norman Berdichevsky from the Global Politician

There are now more than 7,000 faith-based schools in Britain, the great majority run by the Church of England or the Catholic church, with a handful of Jewish schools and over the past twenty years more than 100 Muslim schools have been established, primarily in London and in the cities of the Northern Midlands where large numbers of Muslim immigrants settled ... Some of the still privately run independent Muslim schools are partially funded by Saudi Arabia and make use of Saudi texts (also used by Hamas in Gaza) that are blatantly biased on the Middle East conflict, anti-Semitic and reflect the ultra-conservative Wahhabi trend within Islam ... Since the terrorist attacks on the London Underground on July 7, however, Islamic schools have been criticized for their role in fostering social divisions or even worse alienating their pupils from the core values of British society. Some social scientists suggest that alienation from modern British culture might be a factor encouraging some to seek martyrdom as suicide bombers. This is strongly denied by Muhammad Mukadam, chairman of the Muslim schools' association who has called attention to the fact that none of the young men linked to the July 7 bombings had attended Muslim schools in Britain, though they might have done so elsewhere.