Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Six arrested in French investigation of alleged Iraq recruitment network

from The Associated Press

The six were aged 25 to 45 and were close to six people arrested in February, two of whom were arrested in Syria and expelled to France, the officials said. They have all since been placed under investigation in the case. According to a scenario described by the prosecutor's office at the time, the recruits were initially sent to Egypt to learn Arabic and teachings of Salafists "in the most radical schools." Via a cell implanted in Saudi Arabia and linked to al-Qaida, the recruits then were put in touch with a network in Syria that took them to Iraq "to commit terrorist acts, notably suicide attacks."

Export democracy with care

by Lee Hamiltion from the Indianapolis Star

Calls for democratic reform often conflict with defending other national interests. Pro-democracy rhetoric is seen as threatening by many of our autocratic allies. Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), and King Abdullah (Saudi Arabia) are undemocratic leaders and partners, and our unwavering support for them undermines our commitment to advancing liberty and exposes us to charges of hypocrisy. The U.S. may need to maintain these alliances while simultaneously encouraging gradual and pragmatic reform. Thus, we must improve our efforts to promote democracy.

Talking with Terrorists: Part 2

Aaron Klein interviewed by Gerald Korson from Catholic Online

Q: You mention in your book the terrorists have described to you what life in the United States would be like if their brand of Islam takes over. What did they say?

Klein: They explain how women would have to have their heads covered, and they couldn't hold certain kinds of jobs. Thet would not allow new churches or synagogues to be built under Islamic sharia law. Existing churches and synagogues can do no new construction and they can't be loud. No alcohol will be served in the Islamic states. Non-Muslims – and obviously there are a lot of non-Muslims in America – would have to pay a special "protection tax," called jisyah, just to live in the Muslim state of America. By the way, that "protection tax" is not something they just made up. They also told me about American music, culture, movies – these will all be shut down ... They think Britney Spears represents American women. They basically see Britney as our daughters.

Cairo's Litigious Cleric

by Mariam Fam from The Wall Street Journal

Yusuf El-Badry -- religious scholar, former parliamentarian and onetime mosque preacher in Patterson, New Jersey -- is using Egypt's courts to promote his strict interpretation of Islam. He has become a courtroom celebrity, appearing regularly on Egyptian and Arabic satellite TV shows, and some see him as a defender of Islam ... He is currently seeking to reverse Egypt's ban on on female circumcision that came after the high-profile death of a 14-year-old girl undergoing the procedure. "The decision to criminalize circumcision means criminalizing something from Islam," he bellowed in court. Mr. El-Badry won international fame when he spearheaded a case against Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, a university professor he accused of heresy and apostasy. The judge ruled in his favor and ordered the professor to divorce his non-Muslim wife, but Mr. Abu Zeid and his wife fled to the Netherlands.

Egyptian Actor Attacked for Film With Israeli as Saddam Hussein

by Daniel Williams from Bloomberg

A made-for-TV Saddam Hussein film, being produced by the BBC and HBO, features an Israeli in the role of Saddam Hussein. Consequently, Egyptian actor Amr Waked (who plays Hussein Kamel) will be investigated, claimed actors union head Ashraf Zaki. "The union opposes normalization with Israel." Waked said, "I understand their political statement, but this is not an Israeli movie. I don't think this is about being anti-Jewish. It's politics." He said he opposes Israel's policies toward the Palestinians ... The actors union also sidelined a proposed showing of the Israeli movie, The Band's Visit, at next month's Cairo International Film Festival. Palestinians are in the cast, but the union threatened to boycott the festival. "It's out of the question that an Israeli film plays here," said Soheir Abdel Kader, the event's vice president.

Moussa: No more Arab concessions in talks for Mideast peace

from Mathaba and Xinhua

Arab League (AL) Secretary General Amr Moussa said Sunday that Arabs have made enough concessions and there will be no more Arab concessions in talks for Mideast peace, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported. He explained that the Arab stance has been made clear through its peace initiative, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, the international Quartet and all other parties concerned. "Arabs have made enough concessions. The door to concessions has been closed," he stressed ... Meanwhile, he criticized Israel for having no specific position on the Mideast peace, which has led to an imbalance and the present ambiguity over the conference.

Time for Britain to speak up

by Christoph Wilcke from The Guardian

Saudi Arabia's strategic and commercial importance to the UK has until now silenced criticism the kingdom's internal affairs by British leaders. Earlier this year the UK government dropped its enquiry into fraud in the al-Yamamah arms sale to Saudi Arabia by BAE citing potential damage to the UK's "national security and our highest priority foreign policy objectives in the Middle East." ... When pressed, UK officials say there has been progress on political reform in Saudi Arabia over recent years. However, reform has been more cosmetic than real. The media is more outspoken, but no law or court protects journalists fired or imprisoned for their work. Women are more visible in public life, but still carry a yellow card with their male guardian's permission for travel. The government even allowed Human Rights Watch researchers into the country last year for the first time, but then blocked access to prisons and courts.

The African front

by Melanie Phillips from The Spectator

Viewing world conflict through a Middle East-centric prism which means it concludes falsely that Israel is the cause of Islamic rage and the reason why the west is under attack, Britain seems to know nothing about the march of the Islamists across south east Asia and Africa which are steadily being radicalised to the cause of holy war. From time to time, Britain wakes from its stupor and waxes indignant from its armchair about Darfur where it dimly perceives a lot of people are being killed. It does not register the fact that a desperate and losing struggle is being waged across Africa against Islamists who are cutting a murderous and enslaving swathe across that continent, persecuting and murdering Christians and other faiths, converting them to Islam at gunpoint and threatening to turn much of Africa into an enormous troop carrier for the armies of the jihad against the free world.