Monday, December 10, 2007

Muslim gunmen target Christian in Gaza

by Khaled Abu Toameh from The Jerusalem Post (Israel)

Sources in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post four masked gunmen tried to kidnap Nabil Fuad Ayad, who works as a guard at a local church. Nabil's cousin, Rami, was kidnapped and murdered two months ago by the same group, the sources said. The sources identified the gunmen as members of the radical Islamic Salafi movement. "They were dressed in the traditional Salafi clothes," said an eyewitness. "They were also carrying guns." ... The Salafis, who have become very active in the Gaza Strip in recent months, are totally opposed to common Western concepts like economics, constitutions and political parties. They refer to the 2,500 Christians in the Gaza Strip as Crusaders and have vowed to drive them out of the area. Hamas denied any involvement in the attack, saying its security forces had launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from the victim.

UK Guantanamo four to be released

from BBC News (UK)

The UK government requested the release of all five men in August after previously refusing to intervene as they were not British citizens. Jamil el-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdenour Samuer will come back to the UK, while Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer will return to his native Saudi Arabia ... British and US authorities have been in intensive negotiations about the men's return over the past few months despite the Pentagon insisting the men are all dangerous. The US is seeking reassurances that they will not pose any security threat. The Americans accuse Mr el-Banna of being a prominent al-Qaeda recruiter and financier, Libyan Mr Deghayes of associating with al-Qaeda, and Algerian Mr Sameur of receiving combat training in Afghanistan.

The CIA's Destroyed Interrogation Tapes and the Saudi-Pakistani 9/11 Connection

by Gerald Posner from The Huffington Post (US: New York)

When confronted by his "Saudi" interrogators [U.S. agents playing the role of Saudi intelligence officers], Abu Zubaydah showed no fear. Instead, according to the two U.S. intelligence sources that provided me the details, he seemed relieved. The man who had been reluctant to even confirm his identity to his U.S. captors, suddenly talked animatedly. He was happy to see them, he said, because he feared the Americans would kill him. He then asked his interrogators to call a senior member of the Saudi royal family. And Zubaydah provided a private home number and a cell phone number from memory. "He will tell you what to do," Zubaydah assured them. That man was Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, one of King Fahd's nephews, and the chairman of the largest Saudi publishing empire. Later, American investigators would determine that Prince Ahmed had been in the U.S. on 9/11 ... He named two other Saudi princes, and also the chief of Pakistan's air force, as his major contacts. Moreover, he stunned his interrogators, by charging that two of the men, the King's nephew, and the Pakistani Air Force chief, knew a major terror operation was planned for America on 9/11.

The Price of Abuse

by Nimah Nawwab from Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

One of the continuous trends found in the Middle East and Asia revolves around the way the female victim turns in the end to be the one who deserves the blame, while the victimizer gets away with an almost clean slate after a period of punishment. And to add insult to injury, not even the harsh punishment often mandated by laws. Society's stamp of acceptance or rejection of the victim's status plays its omnipotent role throughout the months and years of dealing with such matters ... In addition to violence, the rights of women to determine their own fate - let alone their lives - are at issue. From the essential right of being in charge of their lives, to getting educated, to the right to travel and work to eke out a living in these times of rising prices, high divorce rates and single motherhood, women are still not given the freedom to take charge of their lives and be the driving force in determining their destination. Society still labels a grown up woman a dependent in this day and age. That is her place in society and let none forget this centuries-old mandate. After all, she is the one that needs to be protected with honor.

Saudi school in U.S. threatened with closure

by Yasmina Hatem Al Arabiya (UAE)

A report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in mid-October on the private Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) -- also known as "Terror High" -- accused it of fostering "radical Islam." The USCIRF has requested the textbooks for review, but hasn't received them yet, said Dwight Bashir, Senior Policy Analyst at the USCIRF. The General Director of the school, Abdullah Al-Shabnan, said he refuses to send the textbooks to the Federal Commission, because they are "too biased." "If there is an independent professional panel that is unbiased, I would be happy for them to look through my books because there is nothing to hide," Shabnan said, adding that he has submitted the books to Fairfax County officials in Virginia, where the school is located ... The ISA held an open-house in November, inviting members of the press to visit the school. Many of the school's neighbors and American supporters also attended. "They defended the school more than we did," Shabnan said, "because they know we do a good job." But Bashir said the report is not about discriminating against Islamic education. "We traveled to Saudi Arabia this summer and we know that these textbooks promote violence and intolerance."

Are rising oil prices paying for movies?

by Ali Jaafar from Variety (US)

First among the most recent deals was Dubai Intl. Capital's acquisition of between 2% and 3% of Sony Corp. DIC, an investment company owned by Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed Al Maktoum, reputedly paid up to $1.5 billion for its Sony stake, which though undisclosed is "substantial," according to a DIC statement. Egyptian brokerage firm Borak Holding followed that by investing $550 million in U.S. shingle the Insomnia Media Group. The two firms are collaborating on a $70 million historical war epic about a 12th century Arab general, which they hope will go into production by next summer ... In October Abu Dhabi inked a multibillion-dollar, multimedia deal with Warner Bros. that includes a $500 million film fund, $500 million vidgame fund and real-estate projects. Viacom has forged a strategic partnership with the UAE-based Arab Media Group, which has seen the November launch of MTV Arabia and will be followed next year by an Arabic- language Nickelodeon channel. MBC chairman and founder Saudi Sheik Waleed Al-Ibrahim has invested heavily in Mark Gill and Neil Sacker's new production and finance shingle, the Film Dept., while rival Saudi maven Prince Waleed bin Talal will expand the film division of his multimedia titan Rotana into English-language pic production.

HSBC launches Saudi equity indexes, funds

from Reuters

Europe’s biggest bank, is launching two indexes and associated funds and products that will give international investors exposure to Saudi Arabian equities, HSBC said on Friday. The Saudi equity market is closed to investors not based in the region but the new HSBC Saudi Equity Index offers a way to gain exposure to 36 stocks ranging from banks to bookstores. The bank is also launching the HSBC Saudi Petrochemical Equity Index, with 11 shares including SABIC and SAFCO. With surging oil prices generating huge revenues, the Gulf region has seen startling economic growth. Gulf countries have seen their economies double in size in 2006 from 2002.

Korea, Saudi Arabia agree on closer defense cooperation

from the Korean Overseas Information Service (South Korea)

Saudi Arabia is considering dispatching a defense attache to its embassy in Seoul to help promote bilateral military ties, Korea’s Defense Ministry said Monday. Saudi Arabia said it would push for the establishment of a diplomatic mission to handle defense affairs in Korea," said Lt. Col. Kim Gwang-woo, an official at the ministry’s international policy team. The Korean minister also asked for closer cooperation in the defense industry so that Korea can play a role in Saudi Arabia’s push for modernizing its military. "Crown Sultan expressed interest and understanding in the proposal," Kim said. Korea hopes to export Cheonma missiles with a range of 10 kilometers to Saudi Arabia, which is said to be planning to purchase about 400 surface-to-air missiles, according to industry sources. The winner of the contract will likely be decided at the end of this month, the sources said.