Friday, November 2, 2007

Darth Vader arrives

posted by jasper10623 on YouTube

A seven minute video of King Abdullah's arrival in London -- including Buckingham Palace's infamous military band playing Darth Vader's imperial march.

Sandy Mitchell: Secrets of a kingdom which tortured me to hide the truth

by Sandy Mitchell from The Yorkshire Post

I am one of six British nationals tortured and falsely imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for 32 months between 2000 and 2003. I was accused of being a British spy and a terrorist, and forced under torture to confess to carrying out a series of bombings in Riyadh that killed and injured other Britons, which turned out to be the work of the Saudis' own domestic terrorists who were targeting Westerners. ... The Saudis knew we were innocent because the bombings continued after they extracted and televised our edited confessions to the world. I was sentenced to death, but Saudi terrorists bombed a Western compound in 2003 that killed 32 people, and injured hundreds more, while we were in custody. Saudi Arabia eventually conceded they had a problem with Islamic militants killing foreigners. Yet, rather than release us straight away, they insisted on striking a deal in which we were exchanged for five Saudi militants arrested in Afghanistan who were being held in Guantanamo Bay.

A Paladin Gears Up for War

by Nibras Kazimi from The New York Sun

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, America and its Western allies have been busily hacking away at the serpents of Al Qaeda but collectively have been reluctant to go after the head of the Wahhabi Medusa. The Wahhabis and the Shiites are sworn opponents, and America has unlocked and released Shiite power in Iraq. In a decade's time, the Shiites of Iraq may be tasked with taking out the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia on behalf of the world's economies, a task the Iraqis will relish ... I am quite aware that this column will be dismissed as yet another round of Saudi-bashing, alarmism, Shiite triumphalism, or neoconservative warmongering. The detractors may ridicule the solution, but they cannot discount the problem: what to do about the Wahhabi Medusa? "Washington is not structured to look that far ahead in the Middle East," one Persian Gulf expert told me.

US Embassy Targeted by Azerbaijan Terror Cell

by Aida Sultanova from The Associated Press

A group of militant Islamists planned to attack the U.S. Embassy and other government buildings in Azerbaijan with stolen military grenades and assault rifles but were thwarted by security forces, officials said Monday. The National Security Ministry said the group had planned a "large-scale, horrifying terror attack" but did not provide details or say if any other weapons had been involved. It described the plotters as adherents of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam, which counts Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida members among its adherents ... Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, the head of the Center for Protection of Freedom of Conscience, an Azeri human rights group, said it was not yet clear if the government was exaggerating the threat to show the West its determination to battle militant groups. "The Wahhabi virus has been around here for a few years, but it's necessary to prove their involvement in these events," Ibrahimoglu said. Hidayat Orujev, the head of Azerbaijan's state agency in charge of dealing with religious groups, hinted at possible foreign involvement in the plot.

Militancy spirals as court keeps Musharraf in limbo

by Simon Cameron-Moore from Reuters

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is going through a period of intense uncertainty in the run up to a vote due in January that is supposed to transform the country into a civilian-led democracy. "With reference to extremists and terrorists, it's a bad situation," said Javed Iqbal Cheema, head of the Interior Ministry's Crisis Management Cell ... Troops killed up to 70 militants as fighting flared in Swat valley in North West Frontier Province, where more than 180 people have died since last week as the military battles a pro-Taliban movement seeking to impose strict Islamic law. The latest violence coincided with a visit by Admiral William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, for talks with the Pakistani military leadership. Nearly 800 people have been killed in militant-linked violence and there have been more than 22 suicide attacks in the four months since Pakistani commandos stormed the Red Mosque in the capital, Islamabad, to crush a Taliban-style movement. Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, in audio and video tapes released in September, exhorted followers to wage war on Musharraf and Pakistan's security forces.

In God's name

from The Economist

Nigeria, evenly split between Christians and Muslims, is a country where people identify themselves by their religion first and as Nigerians second. Around 20,000 have been killed in God's name since 1990, estimates Shehu Sani, a local chronicler of religious violence. Kano, the centre of the Islamic north, introduced sharia law seven years ago. Many of the Christians who fled ended up in Jos, the capital of Plateau state, where the Christian south begins. The road between the two towns is dotted with competing churches and mosques. This is one of many religious battlefields in this part of Africa. Evangelical Christians, backed by American collection-plate money, are surging northwards, clashing with Islamic fundamentalists, backed by Saudi petrodollars, surging southwards. And the Christian-Muslim split is only one form of religious competition in northern Nigeria. Events in Iraq have set Sunnis, who make up most of Nigeria's Muslims, against the better-organised Shias; about 50 people have died in intra-Muslim violence, reckons Mr Sani.

Recasting Jihad in the Maghreb

by Andrew Black from The Jamestown Foundation

Although it must be plainly stated that the perceived threat from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to the United States is low, there are indications that North African groups continue to maintain networks in North America and that there is a potential, albeit remote, for these networks to become operational ... It appears the reformation process Abu Musab Abd al-Wadoud enacted has fundamentally recast the Maghrebi jihad by altering both the character of his Algerian movement and the structure of the regional jihad at large. As evident from the high number of attacks and casualties in September, AQIM is becoming increasingly active and lethal, and the group has demonstrated a willingness to perpetrate large-scale, suicide bombings in urban environments.

Gulf states suggest Iran nuclear compromise

from AFP

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) in London that the plan would mean Tehran could continue developing nuclear energy while removing fears that the project was a cover for an atomic weapons drive ... Under the reported GCC plan, its members -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- would establish a uranium enrichment plant in a neutral country outside the Middle East. Faisal told MEED he believed the new plant "should be in a neutral country -- Switzerland, for instance. Any plant in the Middle East that needs enriched uranium would get its quota. I don't think other Arab states would refuse. In fact, since the decision of the GCC to enter into this industry, the other Arab countries have expressed a desire to be part of the proposal." He added that Iran was considering the GCC offer. Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Yemen as well as the six GCC states have all said that they want to pursue peaceful nuclear projects.

Credit Suisse to expand Islamic banking products

by Shakir Husain from Gulf News

"I have not witnessed a banking activity that has shown such sustained growth for two decades," said Fares Murad, global head of Credit Suisse Islamic investments. "There are many socio-political factors that are driving this growth. To say that Islamic finance is growing because of petro-dollars is simplistic." He even sees the possibility of the Islamic banking sector overtaking conventional banks in terms of assets in the region in the coming years ... Industry sources estimate the Islamic finance sector to be around $400 billion globally. Half of the assets are located in the Gulf, 25% in Southeast Asia and the rest distributed in other parts of the world. Murad said his bank is responding to demands from clients for Sharia-compliant products that would exclude investment in interest-based assets or in businesses that produce or deal in alcohol, pork, gambling, weapons and entertainment.