Thursday, September 6, 2007

Radical books in London libraries

by Richard Watson from BBC Newsnight

Douglas Murray, author of the report by the right-leaning think tank, Centre for Social Cohesion, told BBC2 Newsnight, "This is a collection that is warped towards one particular extreme interpretation of Islam." The Tower Hamlets collections also include multiple works by the founders of modern political Islam, Sayed Qutb and Syed Maududi, and a large number of texts from Saudi scholars, promoting the Wahhabi fundamentalist school of thought. These, the report says, refer to "incredible hatred of women, incredible hatred of non-Muslims... and of Muslims who are not part of the Wahhabi tradition" ... Most controversially, several books written by two of Britain's most notorious terrorist sympathisers were found in public libraries. Two books by Abu Hamza, who used to preach at Finsbury Park mosque, are in the collection, as is one book by Sheikh Faisal, whose lectures inspired two of the London bombers ... Tower Hamlets Council said their Islamic collections had been imbalanced, but they were improving.

Cases of abuse rise for Saudi foreign help

by Rasheed Abou-Alsamh from The Christian Science Monitor

An indication of how bad things can get for domestic workers are the shelters for runaway maids run by both the Philippine and Indonesian diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah. "There are around 300 maids now at our shelter in Riyadh, which is down from around 560 maids a few months ago, and there are around 45 maids at the shelter in Jeddah," says Eddy Zulfuat, vice consul at the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh. The Indonesian Embassy has been so swamped with cases of abused workers that it has hired a full-time Saudi lawyer to deal with all of the criminal cases. "We continue to hear of abuses being committed against migrant domestic workers as employers do not change that much in terms of negative attitudes toward domestic helpers," says Ellene Sana, the head of the Center for Migrant Advocacy in Manila. "Domestic workers are considered virtual slaves by employers who feel that they can ill-treat them as they please, without the slightest remorse."

Grading U.S. Performance against Terrorism Financing

by Michael Jacobson from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

A recent Wall Street Journal article illustrated the challenges facing the UN. In November 2001, the UN designated Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi as a terrorist for his ties to al-Qaeda ... Although Persian Gulf countries have taken some steps, the region is still an important source of funds for terrorists. In a March 2007 report, the State Department urged the Saudi government to establish a commission to supervise its charitable sector and to subject international charities to the same oversight as domestic ones. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson added recently that despite being "very effective at dealing with terrorists within the kingdom," the Saudis "need to do a better job holding people accountable who finance terrorism around the world." ... Terrorists are also increasingly using cash couriers and bulk cash smuggling to transfer funds. Although less efficient, this method is more difficult for law enforcement to track. Putting regulations in place to govern cash couriers in Gulf countries has been an uphill struggle because carrying bulk cash is a common practice there.

US Subprime Mortgage Crisis Affects Kingdom

by Khalil Hanware from Arab News

According to Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment’s September Monthly Bulletin released yesterday, higher credit spreads would increase the cost of borrowing, even after taking into consideration any reduction in the Fed funds rate ... This presents an opportunity for large Saudi investors who are not reliant on new or foreign borrowing and therefore better positioned to acquire foreign assets, generally at cheaper prices than prior to the recent market moves. Brad Bourland, chief economist and head of research at Jadwa Investment, told Arab News, “Another possible winner from the turmoil in global markets is the Saudi stock market. There is speculation in the market that Saudi investors have repatriated funds owing to concerns about further falls in international markets, although data to confirm this are not yet available ... With the Saudi market not open widely to foreign investors, it can be considered something of a safe haven during times of global financial market uncertainty.”

Bush’s Baffling Policy Towards Saudi Arabia

by Youssef Ibrahim from The New York Sun

Sulaiman Al-Rajhi has a personal fortune of $12 billion, his own Islamic bank with 500 branches in Saudi Arabia, and according to the CIA, his organizations have supported Islamic terror groups — from Al Qaeda to Hamas — for about 20 years. Their nefarious activities were detailed in a landmark investigation by the Wall Street Journal. The next day, the New York Times quoted senior American officials expressing "frustration with the Saudi government" and accusing it of both "significant efforts to undermine the Iraqi government" and "obstructing a number of other American foreign policy initiatives." Then, lo and behold, the Bush administration decided to sell billions of dollars of "advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters, and new naval vessels" to that very same Saudi Arabia. Incoherent Middle East policy is an established hallmark of this administration, but continuing to coddle the very same guys who are arming jihadist Islam against the West and around the globe is over the top.

In the name of Oil

by Reza Zarabi from The Jerusalem Post

The same parallels can also be found in the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Saudi Arabia. For decades, the self-appointed rulers that comprise the House of Saud have lived out their playboy fantasies while their population chafed under the Wahabbist socialism that is imposed upon them. Except for the "tourism" profits that come from all and anything associated with the yearly Hajj ritual, the primary source of Saudi income is also petroleum. As they've watched their treasury be filled with the profits of oil mongering while they yearly receive both political and economic support from the West, they have failed to invest into the capabilities of their population. An economically empowered middle class and the subsequent political self-determination that it most always accompanies is an internal threat to the House of Saud. Therefore, as in the Islamic Republic of Iran, only the oligarchs manage the nations most profitable export.

It was wrong to join US war on terror, says ex-ISI chief

by Rabin Gupta from The Peninsula of Qatar

Lieutenant-General (Retd) Asad Durrani, the former head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and his country's one-time ambassador to Germany and Saudi Arabia, is disappointed at the path being followed in Pakistan. A spate of internal bomb attacks, going on for four or five years, are all a result of what started in Afghanistan following 9/11. “It is obvious the fallout would be in Pakistan. It was wrong on our part to join. This is their war but Pakistan came under pressure. When Pakistan joined, it should not have been to the extent of doing their bidding, which hurt our people. That could have been prevented.” The gung-ho manner in which Musharraf responded to the US' battle cry meant that many groups in Pakistan felt isolated, the Baluchis and the Pashtuns, for example ... He said civilian governments should stick to civilian matters such as the state of the economy and allied non-military matters. The armed forces should naturally control all issues related to the military.

Pakistan proves dictators make lousy allies

from The Age of Australia

General Musharraf's always shaky credentials as an effective ally have been laid bare with this week's admission that about 300 soldiers have been taken hostage by pro-Taliban militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border without a shot being fired ... In 2002, The Age urged that the general be held to his undertaking to restore civilian rule that year and warned against delusions of the sort that propped up many a dictator during the Cold War at the expense of longer-term stability and security. A consistent element in the rise of extremism is deep grievances at the denial of political and civil rights: the trails of many terrorists lead back to states such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Extremism is best delegitimised by free elections, which might enable Pakistan's growing middle class to end its political exclusion and exert a moderating influence, as is the case in India.