Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Saudis Seek Sniper ATP Supplementation for F-15S

from Defense Industry Daily (US: Vermont)

On December 7, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Saudi Arabia's request for 40 of Lockheed Martin's AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER Advanced Targeting Pods, which would replace the older LANTIRN twin-pod systems installed on Saudi F-15S Strike Eagles. Sniper ATP pods significantly enhance an aircraft's strike capability by adding stabilized long-range laser tracking and targeting illumination, high performance day/night surveillance, GPS targeting capabilities, and even some air-air target detection and tracking abilities to aircraft using them ... To date, Sniper ATPs have been ordered by the USAF and by Belgium, Britain (Harriers only), Canada, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, and Singapore. The estimated contract value would be $220 million with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Company in Dallas, TX being the prime contractor ... Most DSCA announcements attract little attention, but Saudi sales are face some political hurdles in Congress these days, where opposition to sales of JDAM GPS-guided smart bombs to Saudi Arabia is rising.

Malaysian Indians

by Sam Rajappa from The Statesman (India)

Many of Malaysia's Indian origin Muslims, in fact, have adopted the Wahabi form of Islam and merged with the Malays. They are known as Mamaks. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was in power from 1981 to 2003, wrote in his book titled Islam and the Muslim Ummah: “Today Islam has become different from the religion of peace and tolerance that was brought by Prophet Muhammad,” and that “Islam has become a rigid, intolerant and seemingly an unjust religion to the faithful and to others because of the fanaticism and misplaced orthodoxy of people with vested interest.” ... The present Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, makes no bones about Islam being the official religion of Malaysia and Bhumiputra the state policy. For Muslims, marriage, divorce and property are governed by Sharia courts. They are prohibited from converting to any other religion. But what is disturbing to India is news emanating from Malaysia in recent times. A Hindu was forcibly given a Muslim burial amidst protests by his family. A child was snatched from its Hindu mother for refusing to bring it up as a Muslim. Just before last Dipavali, the Sharia Department of the Malaysian government issued instructions to Muslims not to greet Hindus on the occasion of the festival of lights.

Israel Settlement Move Against Annapolis: Saud

by Javid Hassan from Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal blasted the Israeli government’s decision to expand settlements in East Jerusalem. He said it was contrary to the principles of the Annapolis Peace Conference and added that the Kingdom took part in the conference only after being assured that such settlements would stop. Referring to the upcoming donors’ conference, the foreign minister stressed the Kingdom’s position that the aid should be extended to all Palestinian territories without exception. Furthermore, Israel should help overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the Palestinian people, alleviate their sufferings, and “most importantly, lift all blockades imposed by Israel and (help secure the) release of all Palestinian financial entitlements with Israel.” The Kingdom said “normalization” of ties with Israel would only come with a final peace settlement that includes the return of all occupied Arab land. The foreign minister called on the Palestinian government led by the Fatah faction and Islamist opposition group Hamas to set aside their differences.

South Hero Librarian Travels to Saudi Arabia

by Sharon Hayes from The Vermont Islander (US: Vermont)

I and 23 other U.S. educators’ won grants to travel to Saudi Arabia. Sponsored by The Institute of International Education and Aramco, the aim was to break down stereotypes and better our appreciation for the country. We met highly educated men and women who spoke impeccable English. They were the crème de la crème. We did not meet poor Saudis. The maids and waiters were from Pakistan, the Philippines and other countries ... As a woman, I could not venture from either of my hotels without a male escort. Saudi women may not drive, nor vote, and require their husband's permission to work or travel. Amr Khashoggi, chairman and CEO of the Amkest Group, chairman of the International Relations Committee, and an active member of the national Committee of International Trade who spoke to us during our Jeddah visit, said, "Women in my country get a raw deal." ... Khashoggi shared his fears about Saudi children becoming terrorists. With a "youth quake" occurring in Saudi – 50% of the population younger than 20 years old – he emphasized the importance of providing education and creating jobs for this sector of Saudis ... I did not speak with a single Saudi who supported Israel. Many Saudis do not understand why the United States supports Israel. For some, the vitriol would flow at its mere mention. One educator who has developed a series of E-Learning courses told me that "Israeli soldiers kill children." When I countered, "Sir, in the issue of fairness, there is violence on both sides," to his credit he did concur. "Yes, you are correct." ... I ended up leaving Saudi with more questions than answers. I’m not sure that it’s possible to unravel the truths of any country in 10 days.

A Rape Case in Saudi Arabia Explodes into International Headlines

by Patricia Meehan Vásquez from The Women's International Perspective (US: California)

Qatif is a center of the very large Shia minority in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, near where I lived for almost eight years. Most Saudis practice the Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam. Back then, I often saw women, both Westerners and non-Saudi Arabs, pulled off the streets and hauled to jail for wearing “immodest” clothing that did not completely hide all but their faces. On one of my first ordinary shopping trips, I stood next to a Saudi woman as she was grabbed by the religious police and dragged off to the police station (she had just spanked her badly misbehaving son of about five). Her arrest was at the urging of the shop owner whose fragile merchandise was being pulled off his shelves and smashed on the floor. I learned the lesson quickly: in Saudi, you never humiliate a male, even if he is your own spoiled child! Thieves’ hands were occasionally lopped off in the public square on Fridays, the day of rest, and Scandinavian stewardesses showing their blonde hair while shopping in the souk (market) were unceremoniously escorted to the square where their tresses were hacked off publicly so all could witness the Wahhabi version of Islamic justice.

Teddy bear peer attacks fellow Muslims for 'victim culture' and failing to condemn terrorism

from The Daily Mail (UK)

In her first major speech, Conservative peer Baroness Warsi also attacked Labour's idea of multiculturalism, which she said had become a "doctrine of separate identity". Different groups were encouraged to feel that identity "requires the expression of difference to the point of hostility", she said. Lady Warsi, who helped secure the release of teddy-bear row teacher Gillian Gibbons after she was jailed in Sudan, insisted that Muslims had a responsibility not to confuse social expectations with genuine religious requirements, she said. For instance, a Muslim woman should be free to wear a veil in her private life if she chose to do so but also to wear any other dress she felt appropriate ... And she attacked "hardliners and hotheads who claim to speak for British Muslims", highlighting their claims that it was un-Islamic to vote or for women to have access to schools and jobs. She said Muslims had an "added responsibility" to tackle extremism because it was "claimed in the name of Islam". She warned of the barriers created by multiculturalism and said the Tories would "reverse the failed state multicultural approach" and ensure sufficient English language teaching for all new arrivals and proper teaching of English history for all children.

Melbourne mother investigated over Somali jihadi links

from The Australian (Australia)

The allegations are contained in an official statement given to the Australian Federal Police in relation to its investigation into Somali community figures suspected of encouraging dozens of young men to return to their homeland and join Islamic jihad ... The mother allegedly told a small gathering of Muslim women in Melbourne that she supported Islamic jihad and was a follower of the hardline Wahabi form of Islam. "We are Wahabi," the mother is quoted as saying in the sworn statement seen by The Australian and given by a Somali community member to the AFP in August. Asked at the gathering whether it was bad to be a Wahabi, she replied: "No, we are soldiers of Osama bin Laden. We take orders from him. If he tells us to go somewhere, we go." The mother rejected the claims against her and denied she was an extremist or an advocate for terrorism ... This comes after revelations last week that the AFP had widened its investigation into Somali community figures over suspicions they are encouraging dozens of young men to return to their homeland to join Islamic jihadis. It was also revealed that a second Somali Australian, Hossein Hashi Farah, was suspected by federal agents to have returned to Somalia six months ago to fight with Islamic jihadis.

Al-Qaeda Group Says It Carried Out Algeria Suicide Bomb Attacks

by Ed Johnson and Ahmed Rouaba from Bloomberg (US: New York)

The first blast in Algiers occurred at 9:40 a.m. local time yesterday and struck the Constitutional Council building, killing as many as 50 - mostly students - and injuring dozens of others. Less than 10 minutes later, the offices of the UN Development Program and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees were hit, killing 12 people, according to hospital officials. UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said at least 11 personnel were among the dead. Algeria's Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said the attacks were carried out by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in January. The Maghreb is the Arabic name for the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia ... "They are beginning to target Westerners and Western interests in Algeria more aggressively," Haim Malka, deputy Middle East program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview. "They would argue that Western nations are supporting repressive regimes in North Africa and that Western business interests are stealing the region's natural resources." Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups using parts of North Africa to "gain sanctuary, recruit, indoctrinate, train, equip, transit and mount operations," U.S. Army General are Bantz J. Craddock, supreme allied commander in Europe, said in March.