9.14.06 Iraq says its forces killed senior Qaeda figure
BAGHDAD (Reuters) September 14 Iraq's Interior Ministry said on Thursday its forces had killed a senior figure of the al Qaeda militant group in Baghdad. The ministry described the slain militant, Abu Jaafar al-Liby, as the number-two leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, behind Abu Ayyub al-Masri who succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by US forces this year. Interior Ministry director of operations Brigadier Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraqi forces had killed Liby along with four militants and captured two others alive, in an operation carried out in the past few days. The authorities seized a tonne of explosives in the raid, he said. [More>>thestar.com.my]
9.14.06 Turkey's top Muslim leader slams Pope over Islam criticism
ANKARA, September 14 Turkey's top Muslim religious leader on Thursday slammed Pope Benedict XVI as "full of enmity and grudge" against Islam and opposed the pontiff's planned visit to Turkey in November. Ali Bardakoglu, head of the state-run religious affairs directorate, also asked that the pope immediately retract and issue an apology for his remarks criticising Islam and its concept of Holy War. The pontiff's remarks "reflect the hatred in his heart. It is a statement full of enmity and grudge," Bardakoglu told the NTV news channel. "It is a prejudiced and biased approach," he added. During a six-day visit to his native Germany this week, the pope hit out at Islam and its concept of "jihad" or holy war, citing a 14th-century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things. [More>>turkishpress.com ; See also aljazeera.net, September 14, "Pope criticized over Islam remarks."]
9.13.06 Amnesty International report: Hezbollah guilty of war crimes
September 14 Amnesty International has accused Hezbollah of "serious violations of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes" during the recent Lebanese war. In a report published in London Thursday, the human rights group condemned the "deliberate targeting" of Israeli civilians by Hezbollah. The report states that 43 civilians, including seven children, were killed in these Hezbollah attacks. In meetings with Amnesty International, Hezbollah had argued that its rocket attacks on northern Israel were a reprisal for Israeli attacks on civilians in Lebanon and were aimed at stopping such attacks. In its report Amnesty rejects the Hezbollah claim by pointing out that international law forbids the targeting of civilians and reprisals. [More>>haaretz.com]
9.13.06 Annan: Iraq war a disaster for region
September 14 (an article appearing throughout international, Middle-Eastern and Asian media September 14, am) Most Middle East leaders view the US-led invasion of Iraq as a disaster for the region, the UN secretary-general has said. Kofi Annan, fresh from a two-week tour of the region, told a news conference on Wednesday that most of the leaders he had spoken to felt the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath had been a "real disaster for them."
"They believe it has destabilised the region," he said. However, Annan said that leaders in the region were split over whether the US-led force in Iraq should now pull out or stay. "Many leaders think the US has to stay in Iraq until things improve, and that, having created the problem, they cannot walk away," he said. Annan went on to explain the other school of thought: "Iran believes the presence of the US is a problem and that the US should leave. And if the US were to decide to leave, they would help them leave." [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.13.06 New Democract election strategy: "We pay for your peace bus"
September 13 David Swanson, of campdemocracy.org, released this unusual announcement: "Want a free trip to DC for peace and impeachment events this coming weekend? Want to make a difference? Any group or groups that want to send a bus, large or small, full of people to Camp Democracy on the National Mall in DC such as for the weekend of the 16th and 17th Camp Democracy will pay for your bus.
...On September 5th, we launched a non-partisan camp for peace, democracy, and the restoration of the rule of law. Camp Casey moved from Crawford, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to create a larger camp focused not only on ending the war but also on righting injustices here at home and on holding accountable the Bush Administration and Congress. [More>>campdemocracy.org]
9.13.06 Iran: US pullout key to Iraq stability
(AP) September 13 Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in talks Wednesday that the way to end instability in Iraq was for US forces to withdraw, Iran's state-run television reported. Al-Maliki was making his first visit to Iran since he came to office in May, looking to a close ally of his Shi'ite-led government for help in calming the violence tearing apart Iraq and in developing Iraq's troubled oil industry.
In the latest sign of increasing cooperation, the two countries have reached a deal for developing joint oil fields that straddle their borders, and eventually Iraq will send crude to refineries in Iran for processing, Iraq's Oil Ministry said Wednesday. The deals and al-Maliki's visit reflect the steadily strengthening ties between the US-backed Iraqi government and Iran, a bitter enemy of the United States. [More>>Jerusalem Post ; See also mehrnews.ir, September 13, "End of occupation would resolve most of Iraq's problems: Leader."]
9.13.06 Israel confesses over 1.2 million cluster bombs dropped on Lebanon
TEL AVIV, September 13 Israel's army dropped more than 1.2 million cluster bombs into Lebanon during the month-long conflict, the liberal Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday citing an Israeli army officer. The unnamed officer described his unit's use of the controversial bomblets during Israel's 34-day offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas as "crazy and monstrous."
"We covered entire villages with cluster bombs," the newspaper quoted the commander as saying.
The 1.2 million cluster bombs cited by the commander only included those bomblets dropped by a Multiple Launch Rocket System. Additional cluster bombs were fired from 155 mm mortars or dropped from the air, he said. Other soldiers cited in the article said the army fired phosphorous shells to start fires in Lebanon. The Red Cross says international law prohibits the use of phosphorous against humans. Human rights organizations have long advocated a ban on cluster bombs because of their disproportionate and indiscriminate nature and because their high dud rate creates vast minefields. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
9.13.06 Ten dead in Turkish explosion
September 13 A bomb blast has killed at least 10 people, including seven children, and injured 13 in southeastern Turkey. Turkish authorities say that the bomb, which exploded late on Tuesday near a park in the city of Diyarbakir, went off as it was being transported. The Diyarbakir governor's office said: "The bomb was made by hand, placed in a thermos and went off as it was being transported."
The information adds to suspicions that the bombing may have been a mistake, and that the device was intended for a different target. The incident was seen as a relatively unusual attack because it was against civilians in a Kurdish area. There was early speculation in the Turkish press that the bomb may have been intended for a police station about 1.5km away. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.13.06 Police find 65 corpses in Iraq
BAGHDAD (AFP) September 13 The bullet-riddled corpses of at least 65 men were discovered by authorities in and around the Iraqi capital where insurgent attacks killed at least 15 people, security officials said. Police had found 64 corpses in Baghdad over the last 24 hours, a security official said. One more headless corpse was recovered in the town of Suweira, south of Baghdad, police said. The security official said most of the bodies were found in western parts of the capital and were of men killed in apparent sectarian attacks.
Baghdad is engulfed in a brutal tit-for-tat sectarian conflict with rival death squads killing people from the Shiite and Sunni communities. Thousands of people have died since the sectarian violence began surging across Iraq in February following the bombing of a Shiite shrine. [More>>turkishpress.com ; See also nytimes.com, September 13, "New wave of violence flares across Baghdad."]
9.12.06 US hopes Syria joins war on terror after embassy attack
WASHINGTON, September 12 The United States, which has long had tense relations with Syria, expressed gratitude on Tuesday to the Syrian government for going after men who attacked the US Embassy in Damascus and said it hopes Syria will join the war on terror. "Syrian officials came to the aid of the Americans, the US government is grateful for the assistance the Syrians provided in going after the attackers," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. "We are hoping they will become an ally and make the choice of fighting against terrorists." Four gunmen attacked attacked the US embassy in Damascus on Tuesday, but failed to harm any American diplomats before all four were killed, a Syrian official said.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday it was too early to say who might have been behind a failed suicide attack on the US embassy in Syria earlier in the day. Syrian state television said the attackers had tried to detonate a car bomb in front of the embassy but had failed. [More>>haaretz.dom ; See also aljazeera.net, September 12, "Deadly attack on US embassy in Syria" : Three armed men have been killed and one wounded after they attacked the US embassy in Damascus in what Syria has called a terrorist operation. The men approached the embassy compound on Tuesday morning and then attempted to blow up a car outside, according to Syrian television...
9.12.06 5,000 terrorists killed or captured since 9/11: CIA
WASHINGTON (PTI) September 12 More than 5,000 terrorists have either been killed or captured in the five years since the September 11 terror attacks in the US with al-Qaeda's 'core operational leadership decimated', according to CIA Director Michael Hayden. This disclosure was made to the employees of the nodal intelligence agency in a videotape that has been circulated worldwide, ABC News reported. Hayden described the 9/11 attacks as an 'unforgettable blow' from a 'plot we had not been able to prevent'. But the Chief of the CIA, who took over the leadership of the institution at a critical time, argued that since the terror attacks of 9/11 the 'al-Qaeda's core operational leadership has been decimated, and their successors are in hiding or on the run.' Hayden also paid tributes to four CIA employees or operatives killed in Afghanistan. [>expressindia.com]
9.12.06 Rights groups deplore Pakistan rape law compromise
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) September 12 Pakistani womenıs activists deplored on Tuesday a government decision to give in to religious conservatives opposed to the amendment of Islamic laws dealing with rape and adultery. The laws, which make a rape victim liable to prosecution for adultery if she can not produce four male witnesses, were introduced in 1979 by military ruler Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq and have drawn widespread criticism both at home and abroad.
Human rights campaigners have long pressed for the repeal of the laws, known as the Hudood Ordinances, but nevertheless welcomed government efforts to amend them, including taking rape out of the sphere of religious law. But an opposition alliance of religious parties objected to the changes, saying they were a danger to society, and threatened to withdraw from the national and provincial parliaments if they were passed.
In the face of the protests, the government said on Monday it was accepting three of the conservativesı demands, including one keeping rape under the Islamic law, although it will also be a crime under the penal code. The government also accepted adultery being made a crime under the penal code, subject to up to five years in prison. [More>>khaleejtimes.com ; See more details independent.co.uk]
9.12.06 Kurd witness mocks 'caged' Saddam
September 12 A Kurd who fled attacks by Saddam Hussein's troops in 1988 has described returning 15 years later to discover the remains of his family. Ghafour Hassan Abdullah told the trial of the former Iraqi leader how he found the identity cards of his mother and two sisters in a mass grave. He called out: "Congratulations Saddam Hussein. You are now in a cage!"
Saddam Hussein and six others are on trial for war crimes against the Kurds. The case was adjourned until Wednesday. The defendants are accused of killing up to 180,000 civilians during the so-called Anfal campaign in the late 1980s. Saddam Hussein and his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, face additional charges of genocide. Mr. Abdullah told the court that troops shelled his village near the northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya in February 1988. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
9.12.06 "Victory would be a Fata Morgana" : Spiegel interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski
September 12 Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski discusses the errors committed by the Bush administration in its war on terror, the disastrous campaign in Iraq, and the risks of a global uprising against inequality.
SPIEGEL: Dr. Brzezinski, President Bush compares the dangers of terrorism with the dangers of the Cold War. He has even spoken repeatedly of a "nation at war" and will only accept "complete victory." Is he right or is he using exaggerated rhetoric?
Brzezinski: He is fundamentally wrong. Whether that is deliberate demagoguery or simply historical ignorance, I do not know. For four years I was responsible for coordinating the US response in the event of a nuclear attack. And I can assure you that a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union on a comprehensive scale would have killed 160 to 180 million people within 24 hours. No terrorist threat is comparable to that in the foreseeable future. Moreover, terrorism is essentially a technique of killing people and not the enemy as such. If one wages war on an invisible, unidentifiable phantom, one gets into a state of mind that virtually promotes dangerous exaggerations and distortions of reality.
SPIEGEL: What are these distortions?
Brzezinski: After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States was energetic and determined, and during the 40 years of the Cold War it was patient and deliberate. In neither case did any US president intentionally preach fear as the major message to the people - on the contrary. With his very loose formulations, the president is now creating a climate of fear that is destructive for American morale and distorting of American policy.
SPIEGEL: Is fear, as at the thought of a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists, not something very natural?
Brzezinski: Certainly, such a notion is not entirely unrealistic, but on the other hand we are not confronted with the Soviet nuclear weapons arsenal. I do not wish to minimize the danger of a single or even multiple terrorist acts, but their scale is simply not comparable.
SPIEGEL: Yet sometimes the discussions, in the United States but also in Europe, create the impression that radical Islam has taken the place of the former Soviet Union and that some form of Cold War is continuing.
Brzezinski: Radical Islam is such an anonymous phenomenon that has arisen in some countries and not in others. It has to be taken seriously, but it is still only a regional danger most prevalent in the Middle East and somewhat east of the Middle East. And even in those regions, Islamic fundamentalists are not in the majority.
SPIEGEL: Fear-mongering is therefore not a valid response?
Brzezinski: We have to formulate a policy for this region which helps us to mobilize our potential friends. Only if we cooperate with them can we contain and eventually eliminate this phenomenon. It is a paradox: During the Cold War, our policy was directed at uniting our friends and dividing our enemies. Unfortunately our tactics today, including occasional Islamphobic language, have the tendency of unifying our enemies and alienating our friends. [More>>spiegel.de]
9.12.06 President tries to win over a war-weary nation
September 12 President Bush's Oval Office speech last night was the culmination of two weeks of efforts to rally the nation behind his policies and presidency by summoning the memory of Sept. 11, 2001. Five years after that indelible day, however, this president's capacity to move the public is severely diminished. There were echoes of the language and logic Bush invoked five years ago when he united a stricken nation looking to him for both comfort and leadership. But he was speaking to a different nation last night. Setbacks in Iraq have soured a majority of Americans on that mission. Falsely optimistic predictions of progress have undermined the administration's credibility.
A majority of Americans question fundamental elements of the president's argument, including his contention that Iraq is the central front in the campaign against terrorism. Cumulatively, it leaves decidedly uncertain whether this week's flood of rhetoric and remembrance can alter Bush's perilous circumstances at a critical moment for the future of the Iraq mission and the president's own domestic standing 56 days before the midterm elections. [More>>washingtonpost.com ; See also turkishpress.com (AFP) September 12, "9/11 provokes grief and skepticism as Bush calls for unity" : Americans still stricken with grief but increasingly skeptical of their president's handling of the war against terror heard George W. Bush appeal Monday for unity as the world remembered the victims of the September 11 attacks. Only hours after Bush's speech, three assailants were killed Tuesday in a thwarted car-bomb attack on the US embassy in the Syrian capital Damascas, highlighting the continuing threat to US interests around the globe.
Bush wrapped up a day of solemn tributes Monday by asking Americans divided over the Iraq war to set aside their differences in the struggle against terrorist foes such as Al-Qaeda, author of the 2001 attacks. "Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country," he said in an address from the Oval Office of the White House. "America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious," he said...
9.10.06 Paintball imams spread militancy
September 10 Activity days are 'front' to recruit young Muslims. The party of youths pulled on their blue overalls, snapped shut their visors and, taking aim with their paintball guns, prepared for four hours of licensed mayhem. But the men who pursued each other last Sunday morning through the wooded grounds of Delta Forceıs paintballing park near Congleton, Cheshire, had little in common with the stag parties and company teams nearby. Instead of listening to corporate pep talks between sessions, the young Asian men were instructed by an imam dressed in fatigues on the need to unite Muslims worldwide in an international empire.
One senior member of the group, who is a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), which Tony Blair has proposed should be banned, insisted that devout Muslims should refuse to vote in British elections. HT, a group that preaches against the existence of Israel, has been described as a "conveyor belt to terrorism" by critics even within the Muslim community, though it says it eschews violence. It is banned in several Arab countries, and banned by the National Union of Students from British university campuses. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
9.10.06 Full version of Al Qaeda's 9/11 Commemorative Video released
September 10 (Andrew Cochran post) Laura Mansfield has obtained all of the long Al Qaeda video released in part on September 7. You can see an excerpt here. UPDATE 9/10: You can see Part 1 of the video here and Part 2 here from her site. Here's an excerpt from her analysis:
The Bin Laden footage, although more than five years old, removes any lingering doubts that conspiracy theorists have about Al Qaedaıs responsibility for 9/11. The terror leader makes it clear that he was responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks. The 9/11 hijackers are shown in the video. Several, include Hamza al Ghamdi and Wael al Shehri, read poems, and make statements which they clearly hope will etch their memories in the hearts of future jihadis. Itıs readily apparent from this video, and from last weekıs video, that Osama Bin Laden and company are focusing their recruitment efforts for Jihad on persons in the west. The de facto appointment of California-born Adam Gadahn, who has taken the nom de guerre of Azzam the American, as the Al Qaeda spokesman for the west makes this clear.
[More>>counterterrorismblog ; See also siteinstitute.org, September 7, "Al-Qaeda's American mujahid: Azzam the American aka Adam Gadahn."]
9.10.06 62,006 the number killed in the 'war on terror'
September 10 (article by David Randall and Emily Gosden) The "war on terror" and by terrorists has directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth. If estimates of other, unquantified, deaths of insurgents, the Iraq military during the 2003 invasion, those not recorded individually by Western media, and those dying from wounds are included, then the toll could reach as high as 180,000.
The extraordinary scale of the conflict's impact, claiming lives from New York to Bali and London to Lahore, and the extent of the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged from an Independent on Sunday survey to mark the fifth anniversary of 11 September. It used new, unpublished data supplied by academics and organizations such as Iraq Body Count and Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, plus estimates given by other official studies.
The result is the first attempt to gauge the full cost in blood and money of the worldwide atrocities and military conflicts that began in September 2001. As of yesterday, the numbers of lives confirmed lost are: 4,541 to 5,308 civilians and 385 military in Afghanistan; 50,100 civilians and 2,899 military in Iraq; and 4,081 in acts of terrorism in the rest of the world.
The new figure on civilian deaths from Iraq Body Count, a group of British and US academics, is especially telling. Just two and a half years ago, its estimate of the number of civilian dead in Iraq passed 10,000. Today, it says, that figure has gone beyond the 50,000 mark a huge leap largely attributable to terrorist acts and the breakdown of civil authority. [More>.>independent.co.uk]
9.10.06 Suicide bomber kills Afghani governor
KABUL (Reuters) September 10 A suicide bomber assassinated an Afghani provincial governor, as NATO said it killed almost 100 more Taliban fighters in its biggest offensive against the resurgent Islamist group. Governor Hakim Taniwal, a former mines minister who once lectured in an Australian university, is the first provincial chief killed since the Taliban fell five years ago, although there have been many assassinations attempts around the country. His driver also died when the bomber threw himself on the governor of Paktia province, bordering Pakistan, as he was entering his car, police said. The killing came as NATO said its forces and Afghani soldiers killed 94 Taliban insurgents in a battle in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban's heartland, in its biggest offensive against the rejuvenated Islamist movement. [More>>theaustralian.news.com ; See also khaleejtimes.com]
9.10.06 Hezbollah: We could have up to 70,000 rockets left in arsenal
September 10 Hezbollah could have tens of thousands of rockets still left in its arsenal, the group's deputy leader Naim Qassam said in an interview published Sunday in a London-based Arabic-language newspaper. Qassam said that the reconstruction of Hezbollah's military wing was not a top priority as the group still had a plentiful supply of weapons. "We had the option to confront Israel for many months," he said. "The 8,000 missiles that we fired at Israel could be a quarter or even just 10 percent of the rockets we have." [More>>haaretz.com]
9.10.06 Five killed in Baghdad blast
September 10 A roadside bomb has killed at least five people and wounded 17 in central Baghdad. Brigadier-General Abdul Karim Khalaf, an interior ministry spokesman, said the attack on Sunday took place at 11.20am (0720 GMT) near Baghdad's central Tayran Square. The bomb detonated near a mobile phone shop near the square, a popular commercial area with shops specializing in electronic goods, photographers' equipment and mobile telephones.
Less than an hour later, a car bomb exploded behind a police station in the al-Alwiya district, killing a police officer and wounding five police commandos and two civilians, police official Mohammed Abbas Salman said. Also on Sunday, Iraqi police found the remains of 14 more victims of a vicious sectarian conflict, some of them with severed heads. Seven mutilated bodies were fished out of the Tigris river in the town of Suwayrah, at a spot southeast of the war-torn capital where murder victims wash up on a daily basis. The bullet-riddled corpses of three men were found under a bridge on the road north from Baghdad to Balad. Police also came upon three bodies during a raid on a warehouse in the capital, while another corpse was recovered in the southern city of Amara. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.10.06 Turkey holds four with suspected Al-Qaeda links
ISTANBUL, September 9 The Turkish police have detained four people with suspected links to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network who were allegedly planning bomb attacks, Anatolia news agency reported Saturday. The police seized papers containing instructions about making and detonating bombs in the homes of the suspects, detained in Istanbul's impoverished Bagcilar suburb, Anatolia quoted the anti-terror department as saying. A rifle, a gun, a fake ID card as well as CDs and documents with "organizational content" were also seized.
The police determined that the four suspects were among a group that chanted slogans in favor of Al-Qaeda and displayed posters of the network in Bagcilar a day after Al-Qaeda's top operative in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a US air raid near Baghdad on June 7.
A local cell of Al-Qaeda is held responsible for four suicide bombings at two synagogues, the British consulate and a British-based bank in Istanbul in November 2003, which claimed 63 lives, left hundreds injured and caused massive destruction. Seventy-three people, among them two Syrians, are currently on trial over the attacks. [>turkishpress.com]
9.10.06 Russia hardens stance on Iran's nuclear plans
September 10 Russia yesterday hardened its stance towards Iran on the nuclear issue, but still stopped short of calling for UN sanctions without further negotiations. Speaking with The Independent on Sunday at his official residence near Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had called on Iran to give up its uranium enrichment programme, and that he had personally spoken to Iran's President Ahmadinejad "in frank terms" several times. While stressing that the nuclear issue was broader than just Iran, and needed to be tackled internationally, he said Iran was a particular case. Not only was it the only country to have called for the destruction of another Israel but the whole region was volatile.
Russia wanted further consultations with the other countries in the group negotiating with Iran: the EU three Britain, France and Germany the US and China, and further talks with Iran, said Mr. Putin. Only then should any decision be taken about how to proceed. If sanctions could be avoided, "so much the better." [More>>independent.co.uk]
9.09.06 NATO forces battle Taliban in southern Afghanistan
SPIN BOLADAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) September 9 NATO forces battled Taliban holdouts in the deserts of southern Afghanistan on Saturday amid a security crackdown in the capital after at least 16 people were killed by a suicide bomber. Ali Shah Paktiwal, head of the police crime bureau, said officers were checking every main intersection in Kabul after Friday's blast near the U.S. embassy, which killed at least two American soldiers. Kabul was relatively quiet on Saturday after the worst suicide attack on the capital since the Taliban fell in 2001.
A resurgent Taliban have mounted daily attacks during the summer, primarily against foreign forces in the south where NATO took over security from the United States at the end of July. NATO says it has killed more than 300 insurgents and cornered hundreds more since it launched its biggest offensive against the Taliban a week ago. The Taliban denies the figures. [More>>thestar.com.my] ; See related story, aljazeera.net, September 9, "NATO chiefs want free hand in Afghanistan."]
9.09.06 Thirteen killed, eleven corpses found in Iraq
BAGHDAD, September 9 Insurgents killed at least 13 people across Iraq on Saturday, while police found the bodies of 11 men shot dead in apparent sectarian killings, security officials said. The US military also announced that three of its soldiers were wounded in a bomb attack in Baghdad. A string of explosions rocked the capital early Saturday killing at least four people and wounding dozens, security officials said. Most of the attacks appeared to have targeted security forces, including a large car bomb in Zayuna that went off as a US patrol passed but killed only two Iraqi bystanders, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Abdul Karim Khalaf said.
...Gunmen opened fire on two employees of the state-owned Sabah newspaper as they drove to work, killing one and wounding the other, a security official said...In the northern oil city of Kirkuk, twin blasts killed four people and wounded 16...In Tikrit the hometown of Saddam Hussein one civilian was killed by gunmen, police said. In the flashpoint province of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, four civilians were shot dead in separate attacks. Provincial police said they had also recovered a severed head from the roadside in the town of Khalis. South of Baghdad, authorities discovered the bodies of 11 people who had been shot dead, four of them in the town of Suwayrah, which has become a common dumping ground for victims of sectarian killings, and six in Mahmudiyah. [Full story>>thenews.com.pk]
9.09.06 Muslims hold anti-Pakistan demonstration
AHMEDABAD, India (PTI) September 9 Members of Muslim community held an anti-Pakistan demonstration at Kalupu locality of Ahmedabad to protest Fridayıs blasts in Malegaon town of Maharashtra, in which 38 people were killed and 189 injured. About 150 members of the minority community came out on the streets and shouted anti-Pakistan slogans, denouncing Fridayıs multiple blasts in which several members of the minority community were killed. They also urged people to maintain peace.
One of the demonstrators, Rauf Bengali said, "We Muslims can see a larger picture behind the blasts that happened in Malegaon on Friday. We strongly believe it to be a handiwork of Pakistan's ISI. First, in order to create a rift between Muslims and Hindus, elements connected with Pakistan's ISI bombed temples (like at Varanasi) and now they are exploding bombs around mosques and graveyards," he said. [More>>expressindia.com ; See background story, turkishpress.com (AFP) September 8, "37 killed, 50 wounded in blasts near Indian mosque."]
9.09.06 In change of tone, Bush interested in 'learning more' about Iran
WASHINGTON (AFP) September 9 US President George W. Bush, striking a rare conciliatory note toward a state he has included in an "axis of evil," said late Friday that he was "interested in learning more" about Iran and its government. With US diplomats trying to drum up support for new sanctions against Teheran over its nuclear program, Bush underscored the importance of channels of communication...
and disclosed that he had personally signed off on granting a US visa to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami.
The former moderate Iranian leader, known for his diplomatic entreaties to the Bill Clinton administration, has been on a speaking tour of the United States this week. "I was interested to hear what he had to say," Bush told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. "Iım interested in learning more about the Iranian government, how they think, what people think within the government." The US president reiterated his conviction that the present government in Tehran, which denies Israelıs right to exist and gives support to radical Islamic movements, should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon. But he expressed the hope that Iranians could be persuaded to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions through diplomatic means. [More>>khaleejtimes.com ; See related story, haaretz.com, September 9, "Khatami: Suicide bombings are an injustice and hurt Islam" : Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami on Friday condemned the September 11 attacks against the United States as an atrocity and said suicide bombers did Islam an injustice and would not go to heaven. Three days before the fifth anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the Shi'ite cleric urged Muslims to work against "Islamaphobia," which he said had grown since the attacks.
Two crimes were committed on September 11 first, civilians were killed and second, it was done in the name of Islam, Khatami told the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a human rights group. "We Muslims should condemn these atrocities even more strongly," he said. "[A] terrorist, which means killing of civilians, is a human being that lacks morality ... (and) will not go to heaven" and those who do it in the name of Islam "are lying," he said...
9.09.06 Islam opposes nukes, senior Iranian cleric says
LISBON (AFP) September 8 The development of nuclear weapons goes against the teachings of the Islamic faith, a senior Iranian cleric said Friday in an interview with Portugal's Lusa news agency. "The nuclear bomb goes against Islam. Including producing and storing it. To use it would be much worse," Grand Ayatollah Yusuf Saanei, 79, told the agency at his seminary at Qom, Iran's clerical capital just south of Tehran. "If the government wants to produce this type of weapons it is going against Islam," he added.
Iran failed to meet an August 31 deadline set out by the United Nations Security Council to stop enriching uranium, which Washington says is aimed at producing nuclear weapons but which Tehran says is to fulfill civilian energy needs. Saanei, one of five senior clerics in Qom, Iran's spiritual nerve center, is known for his pro-reform positions. He has called for dialogue with the West and has issued rulings banning workplace discrimination against women. [>metimes.com]
9.09.06 Merkel hits out at CIA prisons
BERLIN, September 9 German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday hit out at the use of secret prisons by the CIA, admitted for the first time the day before by US President George W. Bush. "The existence of such prisons is incompatible with my idea of the rule of law. Even in the fight against terrorism... the ends do not justify the means," Merkel declared. "In this area we should find ways to fight terrorism without calling into question our principles and fundamental values."
She praised the US president, however, with whom she has enjoyed warm relations since succeeding Gerhard Schroeder last year, for having addressed the issue. Bush admitted on Friday for the first time that the US Central Intelligence Agency covertly held prisoners in overseas camps, reports of which had been publicly denied by many of the countries involved. [More>>turkishpress.com]
9.09.06 Iraq's alleged Al-Qaeda ties were disputed before war
September 9 A declassified report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that US intelligence analysts were strongly disputing the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda while senior Bush administration officials were publicly asserting those links to justify invading Iraq. Far from aligning himself with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hussein repeatedly rebuffed al-Qaeda's overtures and tried to capture Zarqawi, the report said. Tariq Aziz, the detained former deputy prime minister, has told the FBI that Hussein "only expressed negative sentiments about [Osama] bin Laden."
The report also said exiles from the Iraqi National Congress (INC) tried to influence US policy by providing, through defectors, false information on Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities. After skeptical analysts warned that the group had been penetrated by hostile intelligence services, including Iran's, a 2002 White House directive ordered that US funding for the INC be continued.
The newly declassified intelligence report provided administration critics with fresh ammunition, less than two months before midterm elections and in the middle of President Bush's campaign to refocus the public's attention away from Iraq and toward the threat of terrorism. Senior Senate Democrats immediately seized on the findings, using some of their strongest language yet to say the president continues to willfully and falsely connect Hussein to al-Qaeda.
As recently as Aug. 21, Bush suggested a link between Hussein and Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed by US forces this summer. But a CIA assessment in October 2005 concluded that Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates," according to the report. [More>>washingtonpost.com ; See also aljazeera.net, September 9, "US Senate: No Saddam, al-Qaeda link." (contains download pdf file of Senate report)]
9.09.06 More Muslims arrive in US, after 9/11 dip
September 9 Americaıs newest Muslims arrive in the afternoon crunch at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Their planes land from Dubai, Casablanca and Karachi. They stand in line, clasping documents. They emerge, sometimes hours later, steering their carts toward a flock of relatives, a stream of cabs, a new life. This was the path for Nur Fatima, a Pakistani woman who moved to Brooklyn six months ago and promptly shed her hijab. Through the same doors walked Nora Elhainy, a Moroccan who sells electronics in Queens, and Ahmed Youssef, an Egyptian who settled in Jersey City, where he gives the call to prayer at a palatial mosque. "I got freedom in this country," said Ms. Fatima, 25. "Freedom of everything. Freedom of thought."
The events of Sept. 11 transformed life for Muslims in the United States, and the flow of immigrants from countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco thinned dramatically. But five years later, as the United States wrestles with questions of terrorism, civil liberties and immigration control, Muslims appear to be moving here again in surprising numbers, according to statistics compiled by the Department of Homeland Security and the Census Bureau. [More>>nytimes.com]
9.09.06 Saudi Arabia's religious police ban sale of pet cats and dogs
JIDDAH (AP) September 9 Saudi Arabiaıs religious police, normally tasked with chiding women to cover themselves and ensuring men attend mosque prayers, are turning to a new target: cats and dogs. The police have issued a decree banning the sale of the pets, seen as a sign of Western influence. The prohibition on dogs may be less of a surprise, since conservative Muslims despise dogs as unclean. But the cat ban befuddled many, since Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats even in one instance letting a cat drink from his ablutions water before washing himself for prayers.
The religious police, known as the Muttawa, have the role of enforcing Saudi Arabiaıs strict Islamic code. Its members prowl streets and malls, ensuring unmarried men and women do not mix, confronting women they feel are not properly covered or urging men to go to prayers. But the government also gives the Muttawa wide leeway to enforce any rules they deem necessary to uphold the social order. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
Editorial note: In May 2006 I received an email from Kamal Nawash, Free Muslims Coalition Against Terrorism. The article, May 23, 2006, "Understanding Saudi Arabia, is it a friend or foe?" expressed concerns about the Wahabi sect of Islam which Saudi Arabia has been exporting. After reading his article I did a yellowpages.com search of wahabi mosques nationwide, arriving at 307 results, with names and contact information. The link is provided for your use, to determine for yourself what precisely is being taught in American Wahabi institutions.
In watching trends around the world and recording some of them of Moslem attempts to reconcile Islam with western cultures, I have seen a strong focus on women's rights. In several countries of the Middle East women have been allowed to engage in the political process in varying degrees and in Iran, during the International Soccer playoffs the president of Iran announced that women would be allowed, for the first time, to enter the soccer stadiums. All attempts to give rights to women in the Islamic world are met with controversy and resistance by the male-dominated world of Islam.
The Nawash article expressed concerns relating to the Wahabi sects becoming rooted in the US. The argument is that American-Islamic society is more liberal and tolerant of other beliefs and practices, thus explaining how it is that Islamic, Christian and Jewish peoples can live together in peace. Long ago, in the 80s, I wrote about the curious fact that Palestinians and Jews can live side-by-side in peace in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania but not so in Bethlehem, Israel. This was not an original perception on my part, for the Mayor of Bethlehem at that time had expressed the complaint that the Palestinians could live in peace in the US but not in Israel. In 1985, when I spent some time in Israel, there still was some sense of peaceful living with one another between the Jews and Palestinians. Palestinians regularly worked in Jewish areas, moving relatively freely in Israel. And it was relatively safe for me, an American, to move about in Israel There was only one place that was considered unsafe in Israel at that time, which was Hebron, where Abraham and the patriarchs are buried in the cave of Machpelah. Bethlehem, which is six miles south of Jerusalem and just north of Hebron, was not recommended as a place for an American traveling alone to visit ("Go on a tour," I was advised), but I took an Arabic bus from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, nevertheless, and made my journey without incident. I did not go to Hebron, however.
After my tours of Israel in 1985, Palestinian suicide bombings changed the atmosphere and dampened any hopes of reconciliation between the Palestinians and Jews. And a barrier wall was erected by Israel, hoping to stop the bombings. But the wall only changed the nature of the conflict, by caging in the Palestinians in Gaza, with the Palestinians responding by launching rockets from Gaza over the wall.
The conflict between the Palestinians and Israel has grown, directly affecting the entire world. Spurring on the conflict has been Osama bin Laden and his extreme precepts of Islam, all of which came from Wahabi-practicing Saudi Arabia, notably centered upon the desire of destroying Israel and those who support Israel. The world reaction against the Al-Qaeda suicide murder mentality is being reflected in a trend against Islam as a whole. This trend is also splitting Islamic society between those in favor of a reconciliation with other faiths and those against any reconciliation. The latest broadcast from Al-Qaeda, in fact, addressed what appears to be a new tactic of Al Qaeda and other Islamists who now offer this warning: "Convert to Islam or be killed." The message seems to have mutated from one that was localized, against the US and Israel and western influence in the Islamic world, to the forced conversion of all peoples in the world to Islam.
With this in mind I quote a portion of the Nawash article:
Free Muslims Coalition Against Terrorism, article, May 23, 2006, "Understanding Saudi Arabia, is it a friend or foe?"
Since it was discovered that 15 out of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis, every aspect of Saudi Arabia has come under scrutiny by members of the US government, advocacy organizations and members of the media. Ironically, the increased scrutiny of Saudi Arabia has not brought America any closer to understanding Saudi Arabia.
The confusion about Saudi Arabia is in part due to the credibility of the parties who have made irreconcilable conclusions about whether Saudi Arabia is an ally in the war on terror. On one hand, President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz have argued that Saudi Arabia is a strong ally in the war on terror and a great friend to the United States. On the other hand, certain members of congress, various think tanks and other non-profit organizations have argued passionately that Saudi Arabia is no friend of the United States and a major supporter of extremist ideologies and groups.
Most recently a Washington Post article written by Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House revealed language from Saudi text books that encourage an ideology of hatred towards Christians, Jews and Muslims who donıt follow the Saudi version of Islam (Wahabism). Nina Shea argued that the disturbing material found in Select Saudi text books ³are shaping the views of the next generation of Saudis and Muslims world wide. Unchanged, they will only harden and deepen hatred, intolerance and violence toward other faiths ad cultures.²
...Nevertheless, while we recognize that the Saudi Arabian government has taken steps to fight extremism and terrorism, it is not yet doing enough. Last year, the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism criticized the Saudi Islamic Academy, a Saudi funded elementary school in Virginia, for using textbooks that taught first grade students that Christianity and Judaism are false religions. We were particularly outraged by that text book because it was published after Saudi Arabia vetted its curriculum for intolerant material. Despite our harsh criticism of Saudi practices, we recognize that they are sincerely trying to reform. However, for the sake of long term stability, Saudi Arabia feels that change must be gradual. Truth be told, we recognize the enormous challenges the Saudi government has in correcting more than 30 years of unconditional appeasement.
In the mean time, neither the United States nor any other country has to wait on Saudi Arabia to figure out how to reform 30 years of shortsighted policies. The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism makes the following recommendations to protect the United States and American Muslims from the propagation of intolerant material from radical elements in Saudi Arabia:
1. THAT US government officials reach an unofficial secret agreement with the Saudi government so that neither the Saudi government nor individual Saudis may build Islamic schools or mosques in the United States.
2. THAT the Saudi government immediately stop the distributing of religious books to American Muslims and American Muslim institutions.
3. THAT The Saudi government terminate the payment of salaries for Imams and other religious figures in the United States.
4. THAT the Saudi government prevent Saudi charities and religious organizations from sending books, building mosques, schools or paying the salaries of Imams in the United States or otherwise operate in the United States.
5. THAT the United States impress upon other nations to implement the steps mentioned above.
In conclusion, the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism believes that the building of mosques, Islamic schools and production of religious books must be financed exclusively by American Muslims. By funding their own religious institutions, American Muslims can better protect themselves from the influences of radical groups from abroad.
Nawash's article last May draws our particular attention at this time of remembrance of 9/11: That the root of Islamic terrorism is in certain teachings, many of which are continuing across the US in certain Islamic institutions. The degree to which Islamic institutions are attacking the roots of American culture is probably something worth further investigation, keeping in mind that many Islamists who have terrorized the US lived and got their college in the US. Though they enjoyed the benefits of American culture they adopted an ideology committed to destroying it.
When ideas argue for the violent destruction of one society or another, those ideas need to be examined and probably opposed. Iran comes to mind here, since its president has so vociferously advocated the destruction of Israel, and there is still the lingering notion that its president may have been among the students that took over and held captive our embassy during the Carter administration. The fear that Iran may acquire nuclear weapons and other WMD capabilities, matched with a zealousness to destroy others, does warrant concern. And how Iran's leadership arrived at its zealous ideology against the US warrants further study. Whereas there was a time when we felt the world was getting smaller and the promise of peaceful coexistence was on the horizon, a conflict in cultures has been growing, producing a crusade President Bush so naively vocalized.
9.09.06 The clandestine life of America's top Al-Qaeda source
September 9 (Jane Mayer) For nearly a decade, a former Al Qaeda operative named Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl has been living in the United States governmentıs witness-protection program, under an assumed identity. A Sudanese citizen and a onetime confidant of Osama bin Ladenıs, Fadl is expected to serve as a central witness in the prosecutions of at least two suspected terrorists being held at the US detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Fadl, a dark-skinned man with close-cropped hair and a mischievous smile, entered government custody in 1996, after walking into the US Embassy in Eritrea and confessing to membership in Al Qaeda. Since then, he has lived in at least half a dozen American towns. (He spent the first eighteen months in a Residence Inn in New Jersey, guarded by several armed F.B.I. agents; subsequently, his wife and children joined him in America, and the family was transferred to a series of undisclosed locations.)
Fadl, who is now in his forties, is arguably the United Statesı most valuable informant on Al Qaeda; he has provided crucial intelligence about the groupıs operations and has made positive identifications of suspected members. At the same time, Fadl an incessant troublemaker who is known to a small group of F.B.I. agents simply as Junior has tried the patience of the officials in whose care he resides...According to Fadl, he met bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he had gone in his early twenties to fight against the Soviet Union. He testified that he was one of the first people to join Al Qaeda, in 1989; soon afterward, he moved back to Sudan, where he helped bin Laden acquire properties and front companies.
...In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Fadl proved disappointingly unable to shed light on the plot. He had been out of Al Qaeda for too long, and knew none of the hijackers. But, a few months later, when the F.B.I. showed him photographs of prisoners who had been captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan and transferred to Guantánamo, "he went right to work," Anticev told me. Fadl was shown photographs of between sixty and seventy detainees. F.B.I. sources say that he recognized two men as longtime Al Qaeda figures.
...Anticev, Cloonan, and Coleman three men who have spent countless hours debriefing Al Qaeda operatives all take issue with the kinds of rough interrogations that have characterized the Bush Administrationıs approach since September 11th. Anticev says, ³Just building a relationship with a person, and knowing your subject matter, is what works.²
Coleman, for his part, believes that "people donıt do anything unless theyıre rewarded." He says that if the F.B.I. had beaten a confession out of Fadl with what he calls "all that alpha-male shit," it would never be able to talk to him now. Brutality may yield a timely scrap of information, he conceded. But in the longer fight against terrorism such an approach is "completely insufficient," he says. "You need to talk to people for weeks. Years." [Full story>>newyorker.com]