Thursday, October 11, 2007

Treasury blocks assets of 3 Saudis

from The Associated Press

The Treasury department accused Abdul Rahim Al Talhi, Muhammad Abdallah Salih Sughayr and Fahd Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khashiban of providing support to the Abu Sayyaf Group, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, and serving as "significant sources of financial and other support" to terrorists in Southeast Asia. "These three terrorist financiers were instrumental in raising money to fund terrorism outside of Saudi Arabia. In order to deter other would-be donors, it is important to hold these terrorists publicly accountable," said Stuart Levey, the department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Any assets belonging to the men found in the United States must be frozen. Americans also are forbidden from doing business with them ... Al-Talhi was described by Treasury as an al-Qaeda-affililated financier, loyal colleague of Osama bin Laden and a member of a Saudi-based network funding terrorists.

Krirkkiat gets another 20-year jail term


The Criminal Court on Wednesday handed down another 20-year jail sentence to Bangkok Bank of Commerce (BBC) former president Krirkkiat Jalichandra for embezzlement. He is also fined for 16 million baht ($508,000 US) for colluding with two other bank executives in approving fund worth of more than 2 billion baht ($63,500,000 US) to Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi without asking for the board's consideration, which broke the rule of the central bank.

US forces free 1,400 detainees in Iraq for Ramadan

from Reuters

The U.S. military has released about 1,400 Iraqi detainees so far to mark the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, after first making each take a pledge not to attack U.S. or Iraqi forces, a U.S. general said on Wednesday. The vast majority of the 25,000 detainees held by U.S. forces are Sunni Arabs accused of involvement in the insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government and American troops. Major-General Douglas Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad the programme of releasing about 50 detainees a day would likely continue after Ramadan ended this week ... The treatment of the detainees is an emotional issue for Sunni Arabs, and Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, has long called for their release. The U.S. military reached a deal with Hashemi in August to conduct special Ramadan releases.

Paris Ramadan radio raps Muslim ignorance of Islam

from Reuters

France has Europe's largest Muslim minority, and thanks to a long tradition of relations with the Arab world, it is home to many Muslim intellectuals. But in the poor areas where many of the country's 5 million Muslims live, illiterate elders follow a sketchy folk Islam and many young people construct a do-it-yourself religion. Most of the 1,200 imams in France have no formal training and one-third do not speak French ... Tarik Bengarai, imam of a Sufi association, told Beur FM listeners that excessive concern about how to perform Islamic rituals was being whipped up by ultra-orthodox preachers known as salafis who spread a message of tout haram (everything is forbidden). "There is a massive presence of Salafis here," explained one guest of Ahmed el Keiy's radio program. "This growing movement is trying to make the Scriptures say what they don't actually say." A listener called in to say her teenage brother had fallen under the influence of a Salafi preacher and begun telling their uneducated father he was saying his prayers the wrong way.

Muslim Barbie doll unveiled

from Independent Television News

Indonesian mom Sukmawati Suryaman has unveiled the world-famous Barbie doll in her latest guise - Muslim Barbie. Entitled Salma after the Arabic word salamah, which means peace, the toy has been a massive success. The wardrobe ranges from traditional costumes, casual clothes and white prayer dresses but all of them come with matching headscarves. Salma is set to be exported to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Brunei by next year. The western Barbie is deemed so unacceptable in Saudi Arabia she has been banned - meaning Salma may become even more popular than her Western rival in Muslim countries.

When US-made 'censorware' ends up in iron fists

by Ben Arnoldy from The Christian Science Monitor

Absence of federal regulation has allowed so-called censorware of at least four California companies to end up in the hands of foreign governments shown to block citizens' access to political, religious, and other websites. The software companies involved sell this technology primarily to private companies in the US and abroad that use these tools to keep employees from accessing pornography sites and websites infected with viruses ... In 2005 The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) found that Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates use SmartFilter. The company wouldn't confirm or deny. "We are a US organization that adheres to US rules. We only do business with organizations and countries we are approved to do business with," says Mr. Chatterjee. That position is echoed by Blue Coat Systems Inc., whose sales materials have boasted that Internet access across Saudi Arabia is "monitored and controlled" by its technology.

Unblocking the Web in Iran, UAE, China and Saudi Arabia

Internet censorship in countries like Iran, UAE, China and Saudi Arabia is inevitable. The state controls Internet traffic and bans most sites like YouTube, Flickr, Orkut, Hi5 etc. ... Hamed Saber is one such Flickr fan from Iran who has developed a Firefox extension called Access Flickr to help you bypass the Flickr ban in your country. This way you will be able to access Flickr normally without any restrictions or limitations and you won’t have to search anymore for proxies too. Access Flickr will let you upload and share photos on Flickr even if you live in a country like Iran, UAE, China, Saudi Arabia etc where normally Flickr is banned. Make sure you have the latest version of the Firefox Browser to get this addon working.

Saudi Prince & Rick Keating Announce KeatingF6, a PR and Strategic Marketing Firm

from Business Wire

Keating & Co., a New York City headquartered strategic communications firm, has announced a joint venture with F6, a Saudi Arabia-based marketing and investment company. Together, they have formed KeatingF6, a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) public relations firm. KeatingF6 has been established as a boutique strategic communications firm that is retained to provide communications counsel as well as counsel on highly sensitive domestic, international, personal and corporate issues that involve crisis communications, media relations, corporate culture change, marketing strategies and C-level coaching in the MENA region. Rick Keating, CEO & Chief Strategist of Keating & Co., will serve as Managing Partner of the new entity and His Highness Prince Faisal bin Fahad bin Abdullah Al-Saud will serve as Chairman.