Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bronx Martial Arts Instructor To Be Sentenced On Terror Charges

from WNBC (US: New York, NY)

Prosecutors said Tariq Shah offered to help train extremists and in recorded conversations, Shah pledged an oath, referred to as bayat, to al-Qaeda and its leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Shah pleaded guilty back on April 4. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. From 2003 to 2005, Shah had multiple meetings with an undercover FBI Agent posing as an al-Qaeda operative and recruiter. Three others also attended these meetings including a Florida doctor, Rafiq Sabir, also attended these meetings. Dr. Sabir was convicted on terror related charges for traveling to secretly provide medical assistance to wounded jihadists in Saudi Arabia. A third man, Mahmud Faruq Brent, a paramedic from Washington, also pleaded guilty earlier this year. Brent received training from Shah and also traveled to a terror training camp in Pakistan. The two met at a Mosque in Beacon New York. A fourth suspect, Abdulrahman Farhane, pleaded guilty to trying to send weapons to Afghanistan to help radicals target U.S. troops stationed there.

Militants seize third town

from Agence France-Presse (France)

The town of Madyan was the third to come under the effective control of followers of a firebrand religious leader, Maulana Fazlullah, who is demanding Islamic sharia law in the one-time tourist resort of Swat. "They seized Madyan town today, they have already overrun Matta and Khawazakhela towns" in their earlier push, a police official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity. At least 37 police and paramilitary soldiers left the main police station without a fight after militants surrounded the town and assured them that they would not be harmed, residents said. A militant source said police turned over 35 Kalashnikov assault rifles. The militants held negotiations with police and security forces, which agreed to withdraw, police and witnesses said. Police also retreated from two more police posts in nearby villages. The government moved 2,500 troops into Swat last week to counter Fazlullah. Officially, more than 150 militants have been killed in clashes with security forces in the past week.

Democracy on pause

by Radha Kumar from The Hindustan Times (India)

The Bush administration has demanded that Musharraf adhere to his pre-Emergency commitments to step down as army chief and hold elections, warning of an aid review and postponing military cooperation talks. Britain has echoed the US's demands, but taken no other steps; and China and Saudi Arabia have expressed little more than grave concern. By contrast, the European Parliament was prompt in condemnation and the Netherlands suspended aid. But the US has limited leverage because the Pakistani army knows that without it, the US will lose the 'war against terrorism' in South Asia ... Pre-Emergency, the US-British-Pakistan army-Benazir gameplan was to usher in the limited reform ("phase 3 of my democracy", as Musharraf said in his embarrassing address of November 3) of a troika, in which the military would make up two members, and the civil party, the PPP, would be more than a ragtag bundle (the PML-Q). But the public mood appears to be against a new military-civil partnership. Unfortunately, as long as Pakistan is involved in counter-insurgency, the military will remain dominant. And as long as the public mood is against the military, the present collision course will continue.

Azerbaijan's leaders fear spread of radical Islam, especially in military

by Fariz Ismailzade from The Jamestown Foundation (US)

Ilgar Ibrahimoglu a prominent Islam scholar and imam of the Juma mosque in Baku, told on October 29, that Wahhabism has been a problem at least since the beginning of this year. Ibrahimoglu believes that it is impossible to fight Wahhabism in the country by forceful administrative measures, such as arresting members of the sect and shaving their beards, which recently occurred in the Zagatali and Balakan regions of Azerbaijan, but rather the government should invest in massive educational and awareness campaigns ... Terror threats in Baku will be investigated more carefully in the future, with the help of special agents from the FBI and MI-6, but what remains the biggest, yet poorly understood, concern is the emergence of radical Islam within the army. Immediately after the incident with Lieutenant Asadov, APA news agency reported that 10 officers and cadets from the military academies in Baku had been arrested on charges related to Wahhabism When asked about the spread of Wahhabism, Orujev replied, “There is no worry about the massive spread of Wahhabism in the army, but just one fact already shows the trend”.

Virginia Is for Radicals?

by Stephen Spruiell from National Review Online

Let’s just accept the premise that a foreign government should not be exposing students in America to a religious curriculum that even a panel of Saudi royal advisers has concluded “encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the ‘other.’” How do we verify that such a curriculum is not being taught in schools operated by that foreign government? One way to do it would be to ask the foreign government to provide unaltered copies of all its teaching materials for public review or else close down its school. The State Department is the only government agency with the authority to enforce such a policy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem interested in this solution, and the only alternative it’s offering is more assurances that Saudi Arabia will get around to removing the hate from its textbooks — eventually.

Feeling Kinky?

by Nzingha from Nzingha's Soap Box (Saudi Arabia)

When you actually live here and know what is going on, in secret and in open, you find out that people living in Saudi aren't necessarily that conservative. This ranges from the expatriates and their swinger parties, or the gay weddings and beauty pageants with cross dressers displaying their moves. Some of these events are cracked down upon by the police but for the most part it goes on and people whisper ... Being kinky doesn't have to be to these extremes a little fun and excitement in the bedroom can fit into the kinky mold. But, again, being in the conservative society of Saudi Arabia with veiled laden ladies one would think the kinky side couldn't be easily entertained. Think again! As I went out with Sister C the other day to a local 'families' mall we stopped in a shop called "Oh La La." There in the shop, protected by the single male employee, hung kinky bedroom get ups. I didn't make any purchases, but I laughed and took pictures while the employee just stared. I don't know if he thought we were totally insane or simply unable to make up our minds and had to have pictures so that our men could choose.

More to Middle East than just oil

by Song Hongmei from China Daily (China)

China's fast growing economy matches the Middle East's thirst for cross-border investments, economists and officials said. Bilateral trade between China and the Arab countries has developed quickly over the past few years, said Long Yongtu, secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia, at the 11th annual Business Week CEO Forum in Beijing. In 2006, China's trade volume with Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), soared more than 10 times to $62 billion, from $5 billion in 1995, said Long. As China and the Middle East continue to intensify their economic links, both these strategically important regions have come closer, said Long. He added the two sides have enormous potential to cooperate with each other.

Indo-GCC trade likely to be US$40bn by 2010

from India Infoline News Service (India)

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has emerged as the third largest trade partners for India after the EU and the US, and its total trade with GCC is likely to go up to US $28bn by March 2008 and exceed US $40bn by 2010, provided Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two regions is sealed fast, says the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). In a paper on Indo-GCC FTA, brought out by ASSOCHAM, it is stressed that India's total trade with GCC countries, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE has already gone up to US$22.5bn, in the fiscal year ending March 2007 from US $5.6bn in the fiscal 2001 ... In addition, the ASSOCHAM is also of the view that except for UAE, India’s trade value with other GCC countries is way below potential and can increase substantially once the FTA is operationalised. Products which have large potential include machinery and mechanical appliances (besides automobiles) in all GCC markets.