Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nigerian police arrest Al-Qaeda suspects

from AFP (France)

Nigerian State Security Service spokesman Ado Muazu told AFP, "our operatives arrested the suspects in Kano, Kaduna and Yobe states in connection with the threat of terrorism," adding that the suspects had a "link to Al-Qaeda groups". He said they also had links to a group known as the Nigerian Taleban. This Islamic extremist movement first emerged in 2002 calling for a stricter implementation of Islamic Sharia law in the 12 states of northern Nigeria that apply it ... SSS Director General Afakriya Gadzama told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that 10 people were arrested in all and three of them had been found to be fully involved in a planned attack in the country. Gadzama was further quoted as saying the suspects also had links to "an Asian country, currently in turmoil". He was not more specific. The unidentified security source said two of the men at least had travelled to Algeria and to "many countries in the Middle East with a reputation for terrorism". Gadzama said the suspects were arrested with some bags of fertiliser and firearms when their hideout was raided.

Jakaya Kikwete sheds light on Kadhi Court

from The Daily News (Tunisia)

Jakaya Kikwete has urged the people to be patient as the government deals with the question to either establish the Kadhi or Islamic Sharia law court in Tanzania or not. Mr Kikwete, who was the Guest of Honour at the consecration of the new Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), said the Kadhi Court issue if not handled carefully, threatened to divide Tanzanians. But whatever decision is finally taken, the government will be guided by the need to uphold the national interest. Tanzania has enjoyed peace and tranquillity by being unwaveringly a secular state ... Invited guests came from the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC), Lutheran World Federation, Bishops from Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, USA, Canada, Germany and Sweden. From home there were representatives from Tanzania Supreme Council of Muslims (BAKWATA), the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) and other Christian denominations. Present also were retired President Benjamin Mkapa, a Catholic and Premier Edward Lowassa.

Maldives: sequel to Male explosion

by B.Raman from The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Police spokesman claimed on November 8,2007, that some of the perpetrators had received training in bomb-making in Pakistani madrasas. The suspicion is that either the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) might be recruiting young Maldivians studying in Indian educational institutions and taking them across to Pakistan or Bangladesh for training. The Saudi role in the spread of Wahabism arises from the large flow of funds from Saudi Arabia for promoting religious education ... The Saudi Government has pumped millions into the Maldives, notably building an Islamic college. And with Saudi money have come preachers of the Saudis' conservative Wahabi Islam. The Wahabis coming from Saudi Arabia have been accusing scantily-clad Western tourists of damaging the Islamic culture and way of life. Similar allegations were also made against volunteers of the humanitarian relief organisations, who had come to the Maldives after the Tsunami of December, 2004. Afterwards, a large flow of funds from Saudi institutions and Pakistani organisations such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the parent organisation of the LET, to provide humanitarian relief to the victims.

Terrorism threatens Maldives tourism

by Ravi Nessman from The Associated Press

The trauma of the 2004 tsunami also fueled an Islamic revival. Hussein Mohammed, 40, said he was among 200 displaced people originally from the island of Moondu who spent two years in an abandoned textile factory. Many in the crowded factory sought solace in the translated copies of the government provided Quran, and within months nearly all the women began wearing head scarves, he said ... The people of Gan were confronted by a small group of angry fundamentalists earlier this year. "They said they are Muslims and others are not Muslims and that others should be killed," said Daoud Ibrahim, the clean-shaven imam at the government mosque. While rows of villagers in knitted white skullcaps prayed in the spacious mosque with its green tile floors, the fundamentalists—dressed in Saudi-style white robes and headdress— took over a tiny mosque of concrete and corrugated metal meant for Bangladeshi construction workers. They pressured Maldivian women to wear head scarves, mocked clean-shaven men as unbelievers and quietly plotted to drive tourists out, officials said.

Saudi monarch woos Turkey's Islamists

by M K Bhadrakumar from Asia Times Online (Hong Kong)

Riyadh is signaling Turkey's strategic role, and a historical paradox must be noted: Saudi Arabia was the cradle of the "Arab revolt" that sounded the death knell of the Ottoman Empire. It now solicits Turkey's regional role. Turkey, too, is ready to return to the Muslim world after nearly a century's absence. Finding its European Union membership claims stalled, Turkey edges away from Europe ... A growing mutual respect for the different interpretations of Islam partly explains the new proximity (Ottoman Turks used to execute Wahhabis). Saudi Arabia is pleased that observant Muslims are becoming assertive in Turkish society. The Saudi regime feels closeness to the government led by the Islamist AKP that it never could with Turkey's staunchly secularist establishment ... An influx of what Turks call yesil sermaye or green money - from wealthy Islamist businessmen and oil-rich Arab countries - has quietly boosted the AKP's finances over the years.

Cisco Faces Human Rights Questions

by Craig Matsumoto from Light Reading (US: NY)

Cisco Systems Inc. is set to face some tricky questions about its activities in markets such as China and Saudi Arabia at its annual shareholders' meeting on November 15 ... Boston Common Asset Management LLC is asking Cisco for a report on how it could reduce the chances of its equipment being used to repress privacy or freedom of expression. Boston Common's proposals attracted support from 19% of voters at last year's meeting ... John C. Harrington, a principal at Harrington Investments Inc., will call on Cisco's board to create a Committee on Human Rights, monitoring the effects of Cisco's sales and policies worldwide at this week's shareholders' meeting. Cisco and other tech companies have argued that their efforts to spread Internet availability will, in the long run, only help the cause of freedom of expression. But Harrington says, "They said the best way to change Apartheid in South Africa was to modernize the economy and show them the way to democracy. Of course, just the opposite happened, because technology in South Africa strengthened the economy and strengthened the government."

Mideast tourism revenues to hit $51b

by Shakir Husain from The Gulf News (UAE)

Middle East tourism revenues will more than double to $51 billion and visitor arrivals are expected to grow by 66% in four years as the tourism sector continues its strong growth in the region, according to a study. The UAE will be the second biggest earner of tourism revenues after Saudi Arabia, which is aided by a strong domestic travel sector and pilgrim spending. Tourism revenue in the Middle East is expected to grow 108% to almost $51 billion and domestic tourism 82% to $24 billion in 2011, said the report on tourism trends, released on the opening day of the four-day World Travel Market exhibition in London (WTM) yesterday. It forecasts the number of inbound tourists to the Middle East will grow 66% to 55 million by 2011.

UK Treasury paves way for Islamic bonds

by George Parker, Lina Saigol and David Oakley from Financial Times (UK)

The government will step up preparations this week for the launch of sharia-compliant bonds, known as sukuk, as it seeks to turn London into the world centre of Islamic finance. Kitty Ussher, the Treasury minister, believes that the scheme will entrench London as “a global gateway to Islamic finance” and help Britain’s Muslims, who sometimes struggle to find sharia-compliant retail products such as mortgages. The bonds could be used as vehicles to allow Muslims in Britain to invest in National Savings products through banks and post offices ... British sharia-compliant bonds could act as a catalyst for big UK and western companies to launch similar securities in London, boosting the capital as a centre for Islamic finance. The competition for business is fierce, however, with the Middle East increasingly seen as an attractive location to set up operations because of its oil wealth. London’s share of Islamic funds, which invest in only sharia-compliant products, has dropped by almost a third in the past five years as more of them move to the Middle East, where they see big potential for business.