Monday, November 12, 2007

Protest Greets Police Plan to Map Muslim Angelenos

by Neil MacFarquhar from The New York Times (US)

The objections started after Michael P. Downing, a deputy Los Angeles police chief who heads the counterterrorism bureau, testified before a United States Senate committee on Oct. 30 that the Police Department was combining forces with an unidentified academic institution and looking for a Muslim partner to carry out the mapping project. He emphasized that he wanted the process to be transparent. The idea, Mr. Downing said in an interview yesterday, would be to determine which communities might be having problems integrating into the larger society and thus might have members susceptible to carrying out attacks, much like domestic cells in England and elsewhere in Europe ... The groups were particularly angered that in his Senate testimony, Mr. Downing, discussing the possibility of Muslims’ radicalization, seemed to suggest looking at factors like exposure to the puritanical teachings of the Wahhabi sect, instability in countries of origin and where they get their news. He also suggested that the study would result in helping amplify the voice of Muslim moderates who could counter fanatics. “Who is going to decide who are the moderates?” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR for the Los Angeles area, who also signed the letter. “Are Muslims who criticize the war in Iraq moderate?”

Seda stays in lockup another 24 hours

by Mark Freeman from the Mail Tribune (US: Oregon)

Should Pirouz Sedaghaty, also known as Pete Seda, win release awaiting his April trial on money-laundering and tax-cheat charges stemming from activities of his defunct Ashland Islamic charity, it likely would be under a series of conditions that would be monitored by federal agents ... The government's February 2005 indictment charges that Seda helped his Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter partner, a Saudi Arabian national named Soliman Al-Buthi, smuggle $150,000 from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to help Chechen Muslims the government later tied to international terrorism. The tax charge stems from Seda's alleged attempt to hide the smuggling on the chapter's 2000 tax return. While the FBI was investigating Seda in 2004, he went to the Middle East and remained in countries without extradition agreements with the United States. Al-Buthi, who also faces conspiracy charges, is in Saudi Arabia, which has no extradition agreement with the United States. Al-Buthi and the Al-Haramain chapter have been designated by U.S. officials as supporters of international terrorism. Seda has not.

Medal for Saudi King raises doubts over gov't

by Fulya Özerkan from The Turkish Daily News

The written notice published yesterday in the Official Gazette said King Abdullah would be honored with the state medal for his contributions to bilateral ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and his personal efforts for peace and stability in the region. “Unfortunately this situation is a clear indicator of the government's efforts to turn Turkey into an Islamic republic,” Onur Öymen, Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy, told the Turkish Daily News ... He said the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government aimed at bringing Turkey closer to the Islamic countries and was pursuing its religion-based agenda in all political, economic and culture spheres. İnal Batu, a veteran diplomat, warned that the government should avoid discrimination when presenting state medals. “There are question marks hanging over this [AKP] government regarding whether it is sticking to the secularism principle. Delivery of such merits only to the representatives of Islamic regimes would not be correct,” he said.

'Apocalyptic scenario' if Egypt, Saudi go nuclear: Israel minister

from AFP (France)

"If Egypt and Saudi Arabia begin nuclear programmes, this can bring an apocalyptic scenario upon us," Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Jerusalem Post. "Their intentions should be taken seriously and the declarations being made now are to prepare the world for when they decide to actually do it," said the minister, responsible for coordinating Israeli efforts against a nuclear Iran. Jordan, one of only two Arab countries with Egypt to have signed peace deals with Israel, as well as Algeria, Libya, Yemen and all six pro-Western Gulf states including Saudi Arabia have also announced peaceful nuclear ambitions. Lieberman, heads the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, also said that Pakistan could pose a major threat to Israel. "If the Taliban or (Al-Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden get control (of Pakistan), they will have nuclear weapons for terror use and they don't hide their opinions about Israel." Lieberman also joined the chorus of Israeli criticism against the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, over comments from the Egyptian that Iran's nuclear acitivites pose no immediate danger. "He is part of the problem, not part of the solution," said Lieberman, who is also a deputy prime minister.

OPEC's oil exports seen at record $658 billion

by Tom Doggett from Reuters

OPEC member nations are expected to rake in a record $658 billion this year from their oil exports and then see their business grow by $104 billion next year, the U.S. government's top energy forecasting agency said on Friday. High prices will lift OPEC's net oil export revenues by $53 billion, or 9%, for 2007, compared with last year, based on new estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The oil producer group is set to ship a record $762 billion in oil during 2008, 16% more than this year, according to EIA projections provided to Reuters. Of OPEC's 12 members, Saudi Arabia represents almost a third of the group's total oil export revenue, bringing in $190 billion this year. Saudi's No. 1 ranking is not surprising, given that the kingdom is the world's biggest oil producer, has the most surplus output capacity and holds the largest crude reserves. For 2008, the EIA expects Saudi Arabia to raise $213 billion from oil exports, up 12%.

China seeks 30% increase in Saudi oil imports

from Reuters

Sinopec Corp, Asia's top refiner, wants to increase Saudi crude imports to 600,000 barrels per day for next year, up from this year's 460,000 bpd, a trading source close to the supply talks told Reuters. Pending Saudi confirmation, the supply pact would foster closer energy ties between Beijing and Riyadh, while maintaining the kingdom as China's top oil supplier. China, the world's second-largest oil user, is keen to secure more long-term fuel supplies. Due for completion next year are the Fujian refinery in the southeast coast in which state-run Saudi Aramco owns 25%, and the Shandong province plant designed to process Saudi oil. After Saudi Arabia and Angola, Iran is the third-largest crude oil supplier (12%) to China.

GAIL scouting for Indian partner for projects in Saudi

by Richa Mishra from The Hindu Business Line (India)

GAIL Ltd plans to rope in another Indian company as partner for its likely business venture with Russian oil firm Lukoil. The possible Indian partner in the project could be private sector major Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The state-owned gas transmission and marketing company has been in talks with Lukoil for building a petrochemical plant and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Saudi Arabia. During a recent meeting with the board members of Lukoil, GAIL’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr U.D. Choubey, had envisaged interest in picking up stake in Lukoil’s onland gas rich block A in EmptyQuarter, near Ghawarin in Saudi Arabia. Besides, acquiring stake, GAIL has also proposed to jointly set up a LNG terminal and a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia along with Lukoil and an Indian partner. Lukoil has 80% stake in the block, while the remaining is with Saudi Aramco. Lukoil has two blocks in Saudi Arabia.

Islamic banks demand sukuk bonds

from The News (Pakistan)

Financial sector stakeholders have urged the Ministry of Finance to expedite efforts for the issuance of Islamic Sukuk bonds or Sharia-compliant treasury bills in the shape of Baitul Maal (bank) certificates to provide the Islamic banks an opportunity to invest in government securities. These views were expressed by Islamic banking stakeholders while speaking on the second day of the 3rd World Asia Islamic Capital Conference on Thursday. They said Islamic banks were facing difficulty in managing liquidity in the absence of such instruments and Islamic banks were at a disadvantage compared to conventional banks in terms of optimising returns on excess liquidity ... Speaking at a session on emergence of ‘takaful’ (Islamic Insurance) in the country, the experts said that 63% Islamic banking and takaful consumers in Malaysia were non-Muslims, which showed the benefits for consumers available in Islamic mode of finance. Pak-Qatar Family Takaful CEO Pervaiz Ahmad emphasized the need of synergy in Islamic banks and takaful companies and underlined low insurance penetration in Pakistan as compared to India.