Monday, November 5, 2007

Saudi Arabia is hub of world terror

by Nick Fielding and Sarah Baxter from The Sunday Times

Wealthy Saudis remain the chief financiers of worldwide terror networks. “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,” said Stuart Levey, the US Treasury official in charge of tracking terror financing. Extremist clerics provide a stream of recruits to some of the world’s nastiest trouble spots. An analysis by NBC News suggested that the Saudis make up 55% of foreign fighters in Iraq. They are also among the most uncompromising and militant. Half the foreign fighters held by the US at Camp Cropper near Baghdad are Saudis. They are kept in yellow jumpsuits in a separate, windowless compound after they attempted to impose sharia on the other detainees and preached an extreme form of Wahhabist Islam. In recent months, Saudi religious scholars have caused consternation in Iraq and Iran by issuing fatwas calling for the destruction of the great Shi’ite shrines in Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, some of which have already been bombed. And while prominent members of the ruling al-Saud dynasty regularly express their abhorrence of terrorism, leading figures within the kingdom who advocate extremism are tolerated.

New Arab-English Reform Website on ‘The Arab Rosa Parks’

from Aafaq via MEMRI

"On August 4, 2006, the first anniversary of King Abdullah’s accession to the throne, Ms. Wajeha Al-Huwaidar demonstrated on the causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, carrying a sign demanding rights for women. For her actions, she was arrested and interrogated by Saudi security forces ... Recently, Ms. Al-Huwaidar has become more widely known outside Saudi Arabia, for leading the movement to abolish the Saudi ban on women driving." ... "The Saudi ban on women driving is supported by the leading officials of Wahhabi Islam, including Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh, who declared in a fatwa that 'a woman driving a car is in contradiction to the behavior of true Islam.' "The Wahhabi school of Islam - in most respects the strictest and most conservative of Islam's religious and legal trends - has deep roots in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi royal family (Al Sa’ud) has been closely allied with the founding family of Wahhabism (Al Aal-Sheikh) for over two centuries, when the first Saudi rulers came to power in eastern Arabia more than 100 years before the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, times are changing, and Saudis are increasingly chafing under old prohibitions. Even King Abdullah is reported to have expressed the view that women driving is a social issue, not a religious one.

When Is a Saudi Woman Considered an Adult?

by Maha Akeel from Arab News

We cannot claim that a Saudi woman has all her Islamic and civil rights when the system insists on considering her immature, irresponsible and dependent on her male guardian no matter how old she is, how highly educated and intelligent she might be or what she has achieved in her professional career. At what age and under what circumstances is a woman in Saudi Arabia considered an independent, sane, responsible adult? ...Why is it that the system and society do not raise objections to a father marrying his 13-year-old daughter to a 70-year-old man but objects to a 40-year-old woman deciding to marry someone suitable against her father’s wishes because he would like to continue benefiting from her teacher salary? ... A woman, even a 70-year-old woman, cannot travel abroad without the written, signed and notarized permission of her male guardian, who might be her son or nephew. Is this the respect we give our mothers, and we know how highly respected mothers are in Islam?

“Caste” away

by Juley Harvey from The Estes Park Trail-Gazette

What would you do if you were consigned to a life as a dead-animal skinner or a Temple prostitute, and lived near the dump, as dictated by the town? Not much, if you’re a Dalit in India. The country’s 300-million outcast sector serves as slaves, and the 3,500-year-old caste system presents a “ticking time bomb,” says Neil Woodley, an elder at Rocky Mountain Church ... “Can the world stand 300 million more radical Muslims? You don’t have to be an Evangelical Christian to see the logic of getting involved (here),” Woodley said. “Aggressive ideological petro-dollars are used to buy AK47s, funneled to promote their radical plan. “The game plan of Saudi Arabia is to take the children and train them to hate. We’re trying to prevent that by having (Indian) educational centers and teaching them to love ... “The Dalits choices are basically to stay in Hinduism (but they’re not really in it, anyway, because they’re outcasts), or turn to Buddhism, Islam (radical, so far) or Christianity.

Exiled Somali Islamist leader backs insurgents

from Reuters

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a top official of the Somali Islamic Courts Council who took refuge in Eritrea after Ethiopian forces and Somalia's interim government routed his movement, said the capital's rebels had a duty to liberate their country ... In the latest twist in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi resigned on Monday after a long feud with the president that frustrated their Western backers. Sharif -- who was seen as a relative moderate when his sharia courts ruled Mogadishu and much of south Somalia for six months last year -- was scathing in his assessment of Gedi. "When the coloniser used him and finished with him, he was forced to resign," Sharif said during the telephone interview, referring to Ethiopia ... He declined to divulge the location of the other main leader of Somalia's Islamists, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. Aweys is on U.S. and U.N. lists of al Qaeda suspects and last surfaced at a Somali opposition conference in the Eritrean capital Asmara in September.

Arab League to assist Darfur people

from AngolaPress

The Arab Ministers took their turns in pledging assistance to the people with Saudi Arabia making a huge, but undisclosed, cash donation, in addition to building houses, schools, and providing safe drinking water. Donations also came from Sudanese charity orgnisations and labour unions which have asked their members to donate part of their monthly salaries. All the Sudanese Ministers have each pledged to donate one month`s salary towards the cause. Responding, Sudanese President Omar Bechir, thanked the donors for their pledges which he said would go a long way in helping the victims of the war. An international meeting aimed at a finding a final solution to the Darfur problem is currently going on in Libya but two major rebels are boycotting the meeting.

Mounties aid Swiss terror investigation

by Stewart Bell from The National Post

Canada and Switzerland have been co-operating on a terrorism financing investigation of Yasin Al Kadi, a Saudi businessman who once had business holdings in Vancouver and whose assets are frozen in Canada under anti-terrorism legislation, accused of funding Osama bin Laden. The investigation is one of several that, six years after the 9/11 attacks, are attempting to unravel the global web of charities and companies that bankrolled bin Laden as he built the al-Qaeda terrorist network ... On June 23, 2006, Swiss Judge Judge Marie-Antonella Bino formally asked Canada for the results of an RCMP investigation into Ibrahim Afandi, owner of the Gang Ranch in B.C. Mr. Afandi is also a former director of the International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi charity whose assets have been frozen by Canada for their alleged links to terror financing. Judge Bino's letter to the Justice Department said she needed the RCMP's file in order to assess "links and/or interesting similarities between some financial set-ups performed by Mr. Yasin Al Kadi and Mr. Ibrahim Afandi."

Got $500,000? The U.S. Awaits

by Miriam Jordan from The Wall Street Journal

An obscure immigration program is pumping millions of dollars from foreign investors into dilapidated inner cities and employment-starved rural areas across the U.S. These investors aren't focused on financial returns, however: They're in it to get green cards. In recent years, a growing list of enterprises -- in agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, education and transportation -- have benefited from a little-known federal program known as EB-5, or the immigrant-investor visa. It offers a tantalizing trade-off for foreigners who want to establish residency in the U.S.: For a $500,000 investment in a distressed area, a foreigner and his immediate family become eligible for conditional green cards ... The US program lately has become popular among investors from South Korea, China, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia desperate to bypass the uncertainty and years-long wait to gain residency through traditional means ... Around the U.S., 17 regional centers under the EB-5 program have attracted about $500 million in foreign funds. Projects include dairy farms in Iowa, nut farms in California, schools and health-care facilities in Alabama, ethanol plants in Texas, and a film and TV production studio in Pennsylvania.