Saturday, November 20, 2010

Muslim and Non-Muslim Thinkers Call for a Human Rights Revolution

by Phyllis Chesler

Yesterday I had the enormous privilege of delivering a lecture at Yale University’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism. In a few days, a video will be posted on their Web site. It was also a pleasure to be hosted by the very suave yet exceedingly sober Dr. Charles Small, the director, and to engage in dialogue with so many thoughtful, well-spoken faculty, retired faculty, students, and community members.

I had the additional pleasure of sharing the ride there and back with Professor David Menashri, one of Israel’s leading experts on Iran and the Chair of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. Professor Menashri was born in Iran, left as a child, and returned to gather data there for his thesis in the 1970s, before Khomeini’s revolution.

My speech was titled: “How Scapegoating Israel Diminishes the Rights of Women in the Middle East.” One among many important questions concerned whether Western thinkers and activists are—or are not—connecting, influencing, being influenced by our counterparts in the Arab and Islamic world.

I responded at length. In essence, I said that this exchange was the most important bridge-building exchange imaginable, one that was being severely hobbled by our inability to read each other in our native languages. What is written in Arabic, Persian, and Kurdish is not being translated into European languages and what is being written in English is rarely being translated into Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, etc. I have desperately been seeking translators, funding, and distribution channels. I have been talking about this ever since a group of enterprising Iranians beamed my Senate Press Briefing speech via satellite right into Iran and had it simultaneously translated into Persian. That was back in 2005. I immediately saw enormous potential in such an exchange.

In 2009, in Rome, at a G8 meeting, I had the honor of bonding with a group of Muslim feminists, both religious and secular, over our shared concerns. They told me that they had felt abandoned by Western feminists who refused to take a stand on issues such as honor killing, forced veiling, the subordination of women—lest they be considered “racists” or ‘Islamophobes.” Many of these women were wearing hijab (headscarves) and they were all intellectually honest, brave, and fabulously feminist.

Yesterday, at Yale, I asked the group whether anyone had ever heard of the October 2010 Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights? No one had. Actually, my dear friend Ibn Warraq had only just called it to my attention a few days ago. He had not heard about it either until someone sent him an email which led to his November 18 piece in The National Review. Hundreds of signatories from many Arab countries including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Kurdistan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, and from all over Europe and North America, signed a Call for “profound reforms that respect the rule of law…for the separation of powers…[and] respect for human rights and freedoms.” They demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and an end to political trials which involve both kidnapping and torture, the protection of an independent judiciary, the empowerment of women, a guarantee of freedom of expression, and the achievement of democracy.

No one was demanding the right to wear the burqa, the right to child marriage, the right to stone women to death, the right to Sharia law, or the right to practice polygamy.

Most important, the Call is “appealing to democratic forces in the entire world to put pressure on their own governments to refrain from supporting non-democratic regimes in the Arab world, and from adopting double standards in their relations with Arab regimes.”

President Obama: Are you listening?

No, they may not want our military intervention but they do want us to take moral stands, to apply international pressure, to dialogue with their governments—if only to give heart and hope to the dissidents within and at the mercy of tyrants.

This is an interesting progression. In 2007, in St Petersburg, Florida, I was privileged to chair the opening panel of the first-ever Secular Islamic Dissident Conference, which also yielded a declaration which stated, in part, as follows:

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to

* reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;

* eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;

* protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;

* reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;

* and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

The signatories included Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Magdi Allam, Mithal Al-Alusi, Shaker Al-Nabulski, Nonie Darwish, Afshin Ellian, Tawfik Hamid, Shahriar Kabir, Hasan Mahmud, Wafa Sultan, Amir Taheri, Ibn Warraq, Manda Zand Ervin, and Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi.

My talk at Yale, which I may publish separately, concerned the ways in which demonizing and scapegoating Israel made it very easy for the world to disappear Muslim-on-Muslim tyranny, torture, and religious and gender apartheid, and to render invisible Islamic imperialism and colonialism.

I need to have access—we all do—to books such as Zeyno Baran’s wonderful anthology The Other Muslims: Moderate and Secular in which anti-Islamist Muslims, both secular and religious, speak their diverse truths. More important: Those who read only Arabic, Persian, or Indonesian need access to this work even more.

We have the technology for such a spirited and vital exchange of ideas. We only lack the political will—and the funding.

No, I do not expect or desire Muslim countries to become exactly like Western countries. I hope that religious Muslims will be allowed to interpret and re-interpret the Qu’ran just as Jews and Christians have evolved our traditions and adjusted some ancient barbaric practices to more modern and humane ones. But yes, I do believe that the same wide world that is ready for cellphones and television is more than ready for a revolution in terms of individual human and women’s rights.

I wish to acknowledge the generosity of Abigail and Jerry Martin who subsidized the research and writing of the speech I delivered at Yale.

Phyllis Chesler

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

America's Surprisingly Rich History of Hizballah Prosecutions

by IPT News

(Part three of three) While the United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is expected to indict members of Hizballah, the terrorist organization has had a surprisingly deep history with the American judicial system. In fact, Hizballah's interaction with the American criminal justice system pre-dates its 1997 designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

While the organization operates out of the suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon, it has established a network of cells stretching across Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and North America. Discussing the scope of Hizballah's reach, a recently declassified FBI memorandum from 1997 reported:

"Although Hizballah's operational headquarters are currently located in Lebanon, it has established a number of terrorist "cells" in other locations in the Middle East and throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, and a significant number of the leaders of Hizballah reside outside the United States."

Despite the vast network of supporters it has in place, court records show that Hizballah has come to rely upon its American support structure for all manner of aid, from white collar crimes committed for terrorist financing, to the procurement of weapons and other tactical equipment.

Hizballah's White Collar Terrorists

"There are two things a brother must always have for jihad: the self and money." So explained a captured al-Qaida operative. Hizballah is no different—before it carries out its murderous acts, the group must have the financial resources to do so. The United States is a prime location for Hizballah fundraising, according to a declassified threat assessment prepared by the FBI.

"Wealthy donors and sympathetic Lebanese merchants are solicited for funds," the FBI report said. "Individual Hizballah members are also known to engage in criminal enterprise. The profits from these endeavors are, for the most part, for personal gain; however, an unknown percentage appears earmarked for Hizballah activities."

Once the United States recognized that one front in the war on terror would be financial, the Departments of Justice and Treasury began cracking down on terrorist financing. One of the first such cases to be heard by a federal jury involved Hizballah, and a complex cigarette smuggling scheme that raised millions of dollars for the terrorist group.

In the mid-1990s Mohamad Youssef Hammoud—who had entered the United States on fraudulent immigration documents—moved to Charlotte, N.C., and set up a scheme that would funnel millions of dollars to Hizballah. Hammoud and a number of relatives purchased large quantities of cigarettes in North Carolina, smuggled them to Michigan, and then sold them without paying taxes on the cigarettes in Michigan. The cigarette smuggling operation took advantage of the fact that Michigan imposed a significantly higher tax on cigarettes, and the scheme cost the state an estimated $3 million in tax revenue.

During the same period, Hammoud was leading weekly prayer services for Shia Muslims at his home in Charlotte. At the services, Hammoud reportedly urged attendees to donate money to Hizballah, raising at least $3,500 for the terrorist organization.

In July 2000, Hammoud and 17 co-conspirators were charged with money laundering, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, immigration violations, and bribery.

Evidence at the trial revealed links between Hammoud and senior members of Hizballah, including Hassan Nasrallah, Sheikh Fadlallah, and Sheikh Abbas Harake. Prosecutors played excerpts from videotapes seized from Hammoud's home, including speeches by Hizballah leaders praising men who had martyred themselves and crowds shouting "Death to America," and "Death to Israel."

Jurors convicted Hammoud and his accomplices of 14 counts, including providing material support to a designated Foreign Terorist Organization. During sentencing, Hammoud admitted to the cigarette smuggling and related frauds, but argued that he was not a terrorist and had not been raising funds for Hizballah. Rejecting pleas for leniency, Hammoud was sentenced in 2004 to 155 years in prison.

While the massive cigarette smuggling scheme was the first major case of Americans attempting to surreptitiously funnel money to Hizballah, it would not be the last. Since breaking up Hammoud's ring, the Justice Department has charged dozens of individuals with transferring millions of dollars—often the proceeds of criminal activity—to Hizballah.

"Within the United States, Hizballah associates and sympathizers have engaged in a wide range of criminal activities to include money laundering, credit card fraud, immigration fraud, food stamp fraud, bank fraud and narcotics trafficking," FBI official John G. Kavanagh told a House subcommittee on Sept. 28, 2006.

In 2002, Mohammad Shabib was rounded up along with 36 other defendants as part of an international investigation into drug smuggling. Prosecutors would later charge that Shabib, a gas station owner, shipped nearly 3 tons of pseudoephedrine from Canada to California, sold it to Mexican drug cartels, and funneled the profits to Hizballah. The case ended with a plea bargain and sentencing filed under seal.

Most recently, authorities uncovered a plot to purchase stolen merchandise, including Sony PlayStation 2 systems, laptop computers, and cellular telephones worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and funnel the proceeds of their re-sale to Hizballah. According to an indictment, charging Sadek Koumaiha seven others, the group also purchased thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit goods.

The case has yet to go to trial.

Hizballah's American Arms Dealers

While those examples show the extent to which Hizballah's American support network has gone to move money to the terrorist group, some Americans have actively procured weapons and other tactical equipment.

"Hizballah leaders in Lebanon have shown interest in acquiring night vision and laser sighting equipment from the United States," the FBI's 1994 threat assessment said. The FBI said it did not know why Hizballah wanted the equipment, but "it is logical to assume that this equipment may be utilized in the group's military actions against the Israeli armed forces."

The first material support prosecution in U.S. history involved Hizballah and stemmed from an encounter between Fawzi Assi and customs agents on July 13, 1998, when Assi was preparing to board an international flight departing from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Acting upon wiretaps which suggested that Assi was planning to transport tactical equipment to Hizballah in Lebanon, customs agents approached him at the airport and asked to see his passport. An ensuing search of Assi's luggage revealed two Boeing global positioning satellite modules, night vision goggles, and a thermal imaging camera. He was charged with attempting to provide material support to Hizballah.

After being released on bond, Assi fled to Lebanon where he remained a fugitive until surrendering to U.S. authorities in May 2004. He pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

The 1998 indictment of Assi for attempting to provide tactical equipment to Hizballah was the first in a long string of busts carried out by U.S. law enforcement officials against Hizballah's American arms dealers.

In September 2001, Ali Boumelhem of Dearborn, Mich., was convicted of attempting to smuggle two shotguns, 750 bullets, and assault weapon parts to Hizballah. He was sentenced to 44 months in prison.

More recently, federal officials uncovered a Hizballah support cell in Philadelphia. Two federal indictments (here and here) charged almost two dozen men in November 2009 with providing weapons, communications equipment, and money to Hizballah.

The investigation reportedly began in 2007 when an undercover FBI agent began transferring stolen cell phones and other electronic devices to Hasan Mahmoud Koumaiha and seven of his co-conspirators. From Feb. 1, 2007 to Nov. 1, 2008, the FBI provided the suspects with close to 30,000 stolen cell phones, PlayStation 2 game systems, and laptop computers—all destined for Lebanon, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates.

Over time, as the men came to trust the undercover agent, they attempted to acquire weapons for transfer to Lebanon. In March 2009, Dani Nemr Tarraf requested that the undercover agent procure guided missiles for the purposes of "shooting down airplanes or helicopters." The suspects also sought night vision goggles, thermal imagining devises, military compasses, and military radios. Speaking after the announcement of the arrest, federal prosecutor Michael L. Levy explained, "these cases show the breadth of the criminal activity engaged in by those who oppose us."

To read the first two installments of our series on Hizballah's support in America, click here for part one and here for part two.

IPT News

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israel to Syria

by David Green

We never wanted anything from you but good neighborly relations when we established our state in accordance with a U.N. majority decision.

Instead, we were obliged to fight three wars, two started by you (1948 and 1973) and one provoked by you (1967). In all these, you were soundly defeated. In the first, you failed in your objective of preventing the establishment of the Jewish State. You succeeded only in preventing the establishment of the Palestinian state - a dubious success. This succession of your defeats was compounded by the defeat in the cold war of the Soviet Union, leaving you with no patron or protector and a legacy of hate and fear with the free world.

We did not take advantage of this, as we might have done, because we still want nothing but good relations with our northern neighbors. So we responded gladly - under previous prime ministers and the present one - to suggestions for a "peace of the brave".

What you have given us is not a peace of the brave but a war of cowards, waged by proxies, while you sit safely at home, trusting our decency and moderation. Your Hezbollah proxies wage hit-and-run warfare, using innocent Palestinian and Lebanese civilians both as shields and as sacrificial victims.

Your logic is no better that your strategy or your morality. One may, or one may not, acquire territory by conquest. If one may not, your claim to the eastern shore-line of the Sea of Galilee is illegal; if one may, then your claim, after three defeats, is absurd. It is becoming painfully clear that, like other dictators, you are incapable of understanding the political processes of a democracy: of understanding -- still less of making -- a generous and humane gesture. You have demonstrated this in the surly bad manners of your diplomatic representatives, in the vicious and neurotic calumnies that fill your state-controlled press, and in your political behavior at home and abroad. When we approached you with courtesy, you responded with insults.

The same qualities appear in your treatment of your Lebanese neighbors, whose lands you have occupied, tyrannized, exploited, without a shadow of justification, and -- perhaps worst of all -- in your treatment of your own people, resulting in poverty and intellectual stagnation that you have inflicted on a once great and still gifted nation.

Through its long and glorious history, the Syrian nation has esteemed courage and honor, courtesy and intelligence. You have made your country - or rather your regime - a by-word for cowardice and trickery, boorishness and stupidity.

All this obligates us to undertake a thorough and painful reappraisal of our policies towards you, and notably of the methods which we must use to convey our meaning to you.

David Green

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israel's Wise Move, and the Next It Should Consider

by Khaled Abu Toameh

One of the good things Israel has done is to allow its Arab citizens to enter Palestinian Authority-controlled cities in the West Bank freely.

All Israeli citizens are banned by law, for security reasons, from entering these areas..

Although the armed intifada has stopped, it actually remains unsafe for Jewish citizens to eat hummus in downtown Ramallah or visit a dentist in Nablus.

But this does not apply to Arab citizens of Israel, many of whom have families and relatives in the West Bank.

Therefore it was wise of Israeli security authorities to permit Israeli Arabs to enter the cities controlled by the Palestinian Authority. There is no reason why Israel should ban its Arab citizens from going to these areas.

The decision has been particularly helpful not only because it allows Arabs living on both sides of the border to see each other, but mainly because of its huge contribution to the West Bank economy.

The next move the Israeli authorities should consider is permitting as many Palestinians as possible to work in Israel, as was the case in the good old days before the peace process -- of course without compromising Israel's security.

Palestinians who are not involved in terrorism -- and there are many like that -- should be granted permits to work in Israel. Israeli authorities have the means and tools to check the background of every single Palestinian. For example, there's no reason why women from villages in the West Bank should not be permitted to enter Jerusalem's Old City to sell fresh vegetables and fruits - a tradition that has exited [sic] for decades.

Again, it would be better for Israel if its Palestinian neighbors, and not Thai, Turkish and Chinese workers, could earn a decent living and return at the end of the day to their homes in the West Bank.

Israeli Arabs are considered a strong purchasing power. Almost every day, thousands of them converge on Palestinian cities to do their shopping and hang out in restaurants and shopping malls.

Some Israeli Arabs have even started opening their own businesses in the West Bank - a move that has further improved the economy and created an atmosphere of normalcy. Over weekends, most of the Palestinian hotels in the West Bank are filled with Israeli Arab families.

By allowing its Arab citizens to enter the Palestinian cities, Israel is hitting two birds with one stone. First, it is improving its relations with the Arab minority inside Israel. Second, it is helping boost the Palestinian economy in the West Bank.

Both steps are good for Israel's security. Of course this decision will not solve all the problems in the Middle East. Nor will it deter the enemies of peace from continuing to search for ways to destroy Israel and foil any attempt to make peace between Jews and Arabs.

But the decision will certainly ease tensions between Jews and Arabs inside Israel on the one hand and Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank on the other hand.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Venezuela and Libya: "Nothing Will Stop Us from Building Our First Nuclear Reactor"

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Despite the United States, having suspended arms sales to Venezuela out of concerns for Venezuela's lack of support for counterterrorism efforts, and despite having removed Libya from the list of nations the U.S. considers to be state sponsors of terrorism -- both in 2006 -- during Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's visit to Libya on October 22, the two leaders declared that Libya and Venezuela "will come out as steel tigers to face the empire" – namely, the United States.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Tripoli last month as part of an international tour that took him to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Iran, Syria, Algeria and Portugal. During his official visit to Tripoli, he was received by the leader of the Libyan Revolution, Muammar Al Kadhafi; they discussed energy issues, geopolitics and South-South integration.

As reported by the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), energy sovereignty was one of the main issue of his tour. Venezuela reached new oil agreements with Belarus, Iran and Libya to diversify its oil industry and strengthen the strategic alliance with Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Regarding the economic area, Venezuela came to agreements with Iran, Syria and Libya, and discussed the creation of sea partnerships aimed at strengthening the exports and transportation of oil and other goods. Accords were also signed in Libya destined for Venezuela's agro-industrial development and the creation of an investment fund for $1 billion for joint projects, the starting capital to be placed in equal parts by both countries.

Chavez and Kadhafi also addressed details of the organization of the 3rd South America-Africa Summit to be held in 2011 in Libya. The previous summit, in 2009, was held on the Venezuelan island of Margarita.

From the Libyan and Venezuelan Press:

  • Venezuela creates a $1 billion joint fund with Libya
  • Libyan university awards Chavez "for his contributions to the fight against capitalism and for a better social justice"
  • The Foundation of Afro-Latin American Supporters of Kadhafi
  • Venezuela: Nothing will stop us to build our first nuclear energy reactor; "Venezuela is an independent country that does not obey any empire."
  • Libya and Venezuela will come out as steel tigers to face the empire
  • "Capitalism is the evil that beheads humanity"
  • Chavez honored for his fight in favor of the Palestinian people

November 6, 2010

Venezuela creates a $1 billion joint fund with Libya

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government is creating a $1 billion joint fund with Libya to pay for projects that the two countries will pursue together.

Chavez announced that plan, in addition to a $100 million joint fund being set up with Syria, as he reviewed results of his latest seven-nation tour in a marathon speech.

Chavez did not give details of how the funds would be spent, but said projects with Syria range from helping to build an oil refinery in the country to setting up a plant for processing olive oil. […] Libyan Investment (Libya)

October 24, 2010

Libyan university awards Chavez "for his contributions to the fight against capitalism and for a better social justice"

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, was Saturday awarded the degree of Doctor of Economics, Honoris Causa, by the Libyan Academy of Higher Studies, in Janzour, a western suburb of Tripoli, the Libyan capital. The distinction was bestowed on Chavez on the second day of his visit to Libya, "for his contributions to the fight against capitalism and for a better social justice in Venezuela, in Latin America and in the world."

The academy also awarded President Chavez the medal of SATO (the South Atlantic Treaty Organization), a project meant to cement the South-South relationship. […]

Receiving the award, President Chavez said the world was currently experiencing an economic and moral crisis, adding that capitalism was collapsing and that only socialism could save humanity.

Hailing Fidel Castro, the aging former Cuban leader, Che Guevara, Mao Tse Tung, Gamal Abdel Naser and Simon Bolivar -- whom he called models -- Chavez expressed his admiration for the leader Kadhafi and his Green Book (the Third Universal Theory) as well as for direct democracy exerted by the people to solve the political and economic problems faced by humanity.

President Chavez also slammed US President Barack Obama for expressing worry over a deal signed by Venezuela and Russia for the construction of a nuclear station in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. "This is an act of sovereignty and nobody can prevent my country from endowing itself of high-tech facilities," he said.

Turning to the university which had just honored him, Chavez said the Libyan Academy of Higher Studies was one of the few institutions in the world which could serve in promoting new ideas and saving humanity.

He said that Libya's hosting of the next Africa-South America Summit in 2011 would afford him the opportunity to meet Kadhafi a second time during which, he said, the two countries could seal deals in areas such as energy, industry, culture and information. […] Libya Online (Libya)

October 24, 2010

The Foundation of Afro-Latin American Supporters of Kadhafi

The first meeting of youth and women from Africa and Latin America, organized by the Foundation of Afro-Latin American Supporters of Kadhafi in Libya, began […] in Tripoli. The meeting, the theme of which theme is "Towards the establishment of a South-South partnership," is being attended by participants from Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Eritrea, Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Djibouti, Guinea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Niger, Senegal, Ivory Cost, Chad, DR Congo, South Africa, Angola, Gambia, Mali, Sudan and Mauritania. […] Libya Online (Libya)

October 23, 2010

Venezuela: Nothing will stop us from building our first nuclear energy reactor; "Venezuela is an independent country that does not obey any empire."

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, reaffirmed that "nothing will stop us in the path to step forward the building of our first nuclear energy reactor because it is a right of the Venezuelan people to science and development." President Chavez said the statement at the Academy of Graduate Studies of Tripoli, in Libya, where he received the Honorary Doctorate, mention Science in Humanistic Economics.

Concerning the creation of the first nuclear power station in the country, in alliance with Russia, Chavez reaffirmed that "Venezuela is an independent country that does not obey any empire."

In this connection, he rejected the critics of the United States President, Barack Obama, who said that his Administration will be observing very closely Venezuela's acting.

About the matter, Chavez affirmed: "Venezuela obeys the order of the Venezuelan people, not any empire's."

Libya and Venezuela will come out as steel tigers to face the empire

Also, he stressed that as Libya as Venezuela will come out as steel tigers to face the empire. The Venezuelan President stressed that "insurgent movements and of change do not come from the North to the South anymore. They now come from the South to the North. From the South come out trends that will save the world."

Thus, he referred to humanist economics, basis of the socialism that boosts a social and moral value to settle the needs of the majorities, without discrimination.

"Capitalism is the evil that beheads humanity"

The President reminded [everyone] that capitalism is the evil that beheads humanity "and here is the world today, beheaded. There we have Europe, with a galloping crisis. Europe is obliged to change. There are the FAO figures, which report more than a billion hungry people on the planet, and Haiti endures an epidemic of cholera," he lamented.

"We are in a changing world, which demands many ideas, plenty of science," he said, commiting to maintain a constant communication with Libya by means of his Twitter account @chavezcandanga and by sending his Sunday article The Lines of Chavez.

Regarding the mechanisms to create a pluri-polar world, Chavez stated that in 2011 the next Africa-South America Summit will take place in Libya "because we face the need of preparing the path for the integration among the Latin American peoples with Africa. We must not get tirad, nor surrender," he affirmed. AVN (Venezuela)

October 23, 2010

Chavez honored for his fight in favor of the Palestinian people

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received on Saturday a honorary degree, mentioning science in humanistic economics, on behalf of the Academy of Graduate Studies of Tripoli, in Libya, in consideration of his work as a booster of the real economic equality in society by means of the Bolivarian Revolution.

In the event,[…] Chavez was recognized for putting into practice an economic model "specifically oriented to satisfy the needs of the poorest people."

During the ceremony in the African nation, a member of the Academy of Graduate Studies, Masas Isasi, […] highlighted the support of the Venezuelan President to the causes of freedom in the World, and his immediate answer to build the Latin area.

Moreover, Hugo Chavez was honored for having managed to eradicate illiteracy and infant mortality, for his fight in favor of the Palestinian people and for defending the Latin American rights, as well as for his constant fight with the Venezuelan people. […] AVN (Venezuela)

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Napolitano: The Ball’s in My Court Now

by Anne Coulter

After the 9/11 attacks, when 19 Muslim terrorists — 15 from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one each from Egypt and Lebanon, 14 with “al” in their names — took over commercial aircraft with box-cutters, the government banned sharp objects from planes.

Airport security began confiscating little old ladies’ knitting needles and breaking the mouse-sized nail files off of passengers’ nail clippers. Surprisingly, no decrease in the number of hijacking attempts by little old ladies and manicurists was noted.

After another Muslim terrorist, Richard Reid, AKA Tariq Raja, AKA Abdel Rahim, AKA Abdul Raheem, AKA Abu Ibrahim, AKA Sammy Cohen (which was only his eHarmony alias), tried to blow up a commercial aircraft with explosive-laden sneakers, the government prohibited more than 3 ounces of liquid from being carried on airplanes.

All passengers were required to take off their shoes for special security screening, which did not thwart a single terrorist attack, but made airport security checkpoints a lot smellier.

After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.

The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.

After explosives were inserted in two ink cartridges and placed on a plane headed to the United States from the Muslim nation of Yemen, the government banned printer cartridges from all domestic flights, resulting in no improvement in airport security, while requiring ink cartridges who traveled to take Amtrak.

So when the next Muslim terrorist, probably named Abdul Ahmed al Shehri, places explosives in his anal cavity, what is the government going to require then? (If you’re looking for a good investment opportunity, might I suggest rubber gloves?)

Last year, a Muslim attempting to murder Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia blew himself up with a bomb stuck up his anus. Fortunately, this didn’t happen near an airport, or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would now be requiring full body cavity searches to fly.

You can’t stop a terrorist attack by searching for the explosives any more than you can stop crime by taking away everyone’s guns.

In the 1970s, liberal ideas on crime swept the country. Gun owners were treated like criminals while actual criminals were coddled and released. If only we treated criminals with dignity and respect and showed them the system was fair, liberals told us, criminals would reward us with good behavior.

As is now well known, crime exploded in the ’70s. It took decades of conservative law-and-order policies to get crime back to near-1950s levels.

It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)

You have to search for the terrorists.

Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)

This would give us a major leg up — if only the country weren’t insane.

Is there any question that we’d be looking for Swedes if the 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, the diaper bomber and the printer cartridge bomber had all been Swedish? If the Irish Republican Army were bombing our planes, wouldn’t we be looking for people with Irish surnames and an Irish appearance?

Only because the terrorists are Muslims do we pretend not to notice who keeps trying to blow up our planes.

It would be harder to find Swedes or Irish boarding commercial airliners in the U.S. than Muslims. Swarthy foreigners stand out like a sore thumb in an airport. The American domestic flying population is remarkably homogenous. An airport is not a Sears department store.

Only about a third of all Americans flew even once in the last year, and only 7 percent took more than four round trips. The majority of airline passengers are middle-aged, middle-class, white businessmen with about a million frequent flier miles. I’d wager that more than 90 percent of domestic air travelers were born in the U.S.

If the government did nothing more than have a five-minute conversation with the one passenger per flight born outside the U.S., you’d need 90 percent fewer Transportation Security

Administration agents and airlines would be far safer than they are now.

Instead, Napolitano just keeps ordering more invasive searches of all passengers, without exception — except members of Congress and government officials, who get VIP treatment, so they never know what she’s doing to the rest of us.

Two weeks ago, Napolitano ordered TSA agents to start groping women’s breasts and all passengers’ genitalia — children, nuns and rape victims, everyone except government officials and members of Congress. (Which is weird because Dennis Kucinich would like it.)

“Please have your genitalia out and ready to be fondled when you approach the security checkpoint.”

This is the punishment for refusing the nude body scan for passengers who don’t want to appear nude on live video or are worried about the skin cancer risk of the machines — risks acknowledged by the very Johns Hopkins study touted by the government.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to keep the government as far away from airport security as possible, and not only because Janet Napolitano did her graduate work in North Korea.

Anne Coulter

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is the Palestinian Authority Becoming an Islamic Theocracy?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

A Palestinian blogger faces life imprisonment for criticizing Islam on Facebook. The 26-year-old blogger, Waleed al-Husseini, was arrested recently by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.

His crime: He created a Facebook account named Allah and "insulted the divine essence."

Those who fund the Palestinian Authority must put pressure on its leaders to respect freedom of speech and refrain from imposing Islamic Sharia laws in the West Bank.

Otherwise, it will be only a matter of time before Palestinians in the West Bank are beheaded or have their hands amputated or are stoned to death for adultery and theft. If the Palestinian Authority is not made to understand the repercussions of its actions, the West Bank will be turned into another radical Islamic entity like the one that already exists in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Husseni, who is a Muslim from the city of Kalkilya, is accused of posting arguments in favor of atheism and describing the God of Islam as having the attributes of a "primitive Bedouin." According to Associated Press, he also called Islam a "blind faith that grows and takes over people's minds where there is irrationality and ignorance."

One could understand if this case happened in Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. But the fact that it is happening under the Palestinian Authority, which claims to be a liberal and moderate regime, is extremely troubling.

If anything, this case shows that the Palestinian government is on its way to becoming an Islamic fundamentalist regime. The irony is that the young man was arrested for insulting Islam at a time when the Palestinian security forces are waging a massive crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in the West Bank.

The arrest of al-Husseini is seen by some Palestinians as an attempt by Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad to appease Hamas. Others see the case as an attempt by the two men to show the Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic world that they are more Hamas than Hamas when it comes to "defending" Islam.

The arrest of the blogger coincided with the revival of "reconciliation" talks between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas in Syria. The two rival parties have been under heavy pressure from Palestinians to end their conflict and form a "national unity government."

Of course it is not all right to insult any religion, and there is nothing wrong with having laws that hold offenders accountable for such crimes. But by denouncing the Palestinian blogger as an infidel and threatening to sentence him to life in prison, the secular Palestinian government in the West Bank is acting as if it is in Tehran or in the Gaza Strip.

Khaled Abu Toameh

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Britain Extends the White Flag of Surrender to Islamist Radicals

by A.Millar

"If we know anything," former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, once observed "we know that weakness is provocative." Mired in political correctness, Britain's "elites" apparently prefer to think of displays of weakness as "outreach."

Britain's "elites" seem not to notice Islamism, but prefer to believe that if those protesting against Islamism could be silenced, the problem of radical Islam would disappear. It was this mindset that saw parliament introducing a religious hate speech law, aimed at silencing criticism of Islam and Islamism, in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings. Britain's establishment, in other words, has busied itself clearing a very large space in which the Islamists can operate.

Last month, the British coalition government unveiled The Strategic Defense and Security Review [pdf]. The defense budget will be slashed by 8% over the next four years. Britain's flagship HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets, replacement Nimrod spy planes will be axed, as will 42,000 jobs in the armed forces and the Ministry of Defense .

The cuts are so severe that top military officers are said to be considering threatening resignation if the budget cuts go ahead as planned. US Secretary if Stare Hillary Clinton has also aired the US administration's concern over the size of the cuts.

The scrapping of the flagship aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal must surely have caused top navy brass to reflect on the decommissioning of the HMS Intrepid in 1982: only four months after decommissioning had begun, Argentina invaded the British territory of the Falklands Islands. In the ensuing 74-day war, Britain lost more than 250 servicemen, before reclaiming the territory.

Prior to the outbreak of conflict, it was almost universally believed that Britain could not defeat the Argentine forces. The HMS Intrepid had to be hurriedly brought back into commission, and sent to the Falklands to defend the islands.

Since British companies began oil exploration off the islands early in the year, Argentina has once again made clear its intention to bring them under Argentine sovereignty.

There is also the Spanish and British dispute over the British territory of Gibraltar.

Both are potentially serious situations, even if they do not rank very highly in the concerns of the British public. To them, unsurprisingly, terrorism is considered "a Tier One risk," if not the major threat to British security.

In the words of the Strategic Defense and Security Review: "The most significant terrorist threat to the UK and its interests overseas comes from the Al Qaeda senior leadership based in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and their affiliates and supporters."

The risk sounds reassuringly far away.

It was, of course, intended to.

The sense that terrorism is a distant threat, however, is not only created by invoking the hinterlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan and "Al Qaeda senior leadership," but by the complete absence of an acknowledgment of the ideology behind the threat. Nowhere in the report is Islamism, or political Islam, mentioned.

Much of Europe is now openly, if reluctantly, acknowledging the problems wrought by political multiculturalism, not least of all how it has facilitated the rise of Islamic radicalism in European states.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that multiculturalism has "utterly failed." However, Britain's "elite" – the government, media, and various protest groups – still insist on turning a blind eye to the new fascism. Rather than face down those calling for the destruction of Western civilization, their knee-jerk reaction appears to be to appease them.

Those who do speak up against Islamism are smeared. Some prominent anti-Islamist spokespeople claim also to have been threatened with arrest. With Britain's establishment afraid to mention Islamism, Islam's extremist radical adherents seem to have it easy in comparison to anti-Islamists.

Imagine what the group of Islamist radicals, calling itself Muslims Against Crusades, must have thought a few days ago. In Britain (as in Canada, New Zealand, and some other countries) it is a tradition to wear a poppy on November 11, to commemorate "Poppy Day," or what the Americans call "Armistice Day." The emblem comes from the poem In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918) of the Canadian army, when Flanders had been the site of continual warfare during World War I, and Lt. McCrae had invoked the poppies that grew wild in its fields to suggest the scale of the fatalities there. The poppy, with its red petals, and black center, is also reminiscent of a wound by a gunshot, and, as such, is worn with a certain mixture of pride and humility.

About 50 members of Muslims Against Crusades [MAC] turned up in central London carrying the black flag of Islam and banners reading "Islam will dominate," "democracy go to Hell," and "Allah is our protector; you have no protector." They had come to burn a large poppy, a couple of feet square, and to disrupt the two minutes of silence for Britain's fallen soldiers.

The members of MAC began by shouting "Allahu Akbar," and continued to chant "British soldiers burn in Hell" throughout the two minutes. Over a loudspeaker, the leader of the organized mob gibed: "your dead are in fire, and our dead are in paradise." The group later posted a video of their disturbance.

Muslims Against Crusades appears to be the latest manifestation of al-Muhajiroun, an organization that has operated under various names – most recently as Islam4UK, headed by Anjem Choudary. It was officially banned in January, although Choudary was interviewed on the BBC Daily Politics show [video] the next day to discuss the ban, free speech, and his interest in transforming the UK into a state under Islamic sharia law. Since the emergence of MAC, Choudary has been careful not to be seen as its leader, making only the occasional cameo appearance, such as at a protest at the US embassy on 9/11, 2010, where MAC burned a US flag [video].

Al-Muhajiroun has been linked to one in seven terror-related convictions [pdf]; and MAC hardly disguises its militant Islamist agenda. Only a few months ago, the organization held a demonstration in central London, in which it called for Islamic sharia law to replace democracy in Britain [video] – "Whether you like it or not," as one of their placards read.

The day after Poppy Day, apparently a Conservative Party councilor, Gareth Compton, in Birmingham was arrested for posting on Twitter what he later described as an "ill-conceived attempt at humor," asking for a Muslim journalist to be stoned: "Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing really." If his "humor" is anything to go by, the councilor is crass, reckless, and stupid, and should, at the very least, be reprimanded by his party; but did his "tweet" sink to the level of a crime?

By contrast, after their demonstration of hatred for British troops, Britain, democracy, and so on, the police escorted members of MAC to the nearest public transport, apparently to ensure their safety. While escorted, the Islamists continued to wave their black flags and banners, apparently without complaint from the police.

The job of the police is to keep the peace and to protect the right of free speech, even of an organization such as MAC. No doubt protecting it leaves many officers with a bad taste in their mouths. The problem is not guaranteeing Islamists the same right to free speech as everyone else. The problem is that everyone else, and most especially those who demonstrate against Islamism, do not -- in flagrant examples of selective application of the law, and violations of equality under the law -- appear to be afforded the same level of protection.

When MAC agitates for sharia law, it is literally agitating for stoning, for the punishment of amputating the hand of thieves, and for the killing of himosexuals, and si forth. If the Caliphate they dream of were ever to be established, this group would be capable of stoning a female Muslim to death.

Arresting a dim-witted Conservative councilor, but not members of MAC, sends a message that can only embolden the UK's unsurprisingly ever-bolder Islamist contingent.

Since his organization was banned, Choudary has ramped up his rhetoric. He has been in contact with the militant Islamist group Revolution Muslim, based in New York; he told Reuters in September that the US was about ten years behind the UK in terms of Islamization, but that he believed that US-based groups were "on the verge of something big;" and he told CNN recently [video] that there are two camps in the world, one headed by president Obama, and the other headed by Osama bin Laden. "I am in the camp of the Muslims," Choudary proclaimed. "At the current time that is headed by Sheikh Osama bin Laden." Choudary insists that he is a peaceful admirer of al-Qaeda, although he cannot say the same for all of the young men he comes into contact with.

Choudary is happy to speak to them, and to represent bin Laden's "camp" in the UK. He is advertized as a speaker at the International Islamic Revival conference to be held in London on November 27. Other listed speakers include, among other oarticipants, Abdullah el-Faisal (accused of inspiring the Christmas day bomber), Omar Bakri Muhammad (probably via video link. Bakri Muhammad was recently sentenced in absentia in the Lebanon on terrorism charges), and Abu Izzadeen (recently released from prison in the UK, where he had been sentenced for terrorist fund raising).

With the British authorities arresting those protesting against Islamism – the ideology of promoting installing a Muslim Caliphate under sharia law, with or without terrorism, in Britain, the US, and around the globe – perhaps they might look at this group with a s little more seriousness. The government acknowledges that terrorism is a "Tier One" threat to the UK. Yet, the general, cultural surrender to political correctness, and to the raising of the black flag of Islam, gives the impression that the nation's "elites" have raised the white one.


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'Iranian Military Officers Won't Support Ahmadinejad'

by Ben Hartman

Dissident commander tells Paris crowd regime change must be internal process, says he backs "liberation" from the Islamic regime.

PARIS – Most Iranian military officers are not loyal to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and would not fight to protect the Islamic Republic, a former Iranian pilot who defected to France said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Paris, Lieutenant Behzad Masoumi Legwan gave a speech saying: “It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of the officer corps are in no way obedient followers of the regime. On the contrary, they are looking for the first opportunity whereby they can openly display their true sentiments by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Iran.”

Legwan added, “I and a significant segment of personnel and senior officers in the armed forces are in opposition to the Islamic Republic, and will never alter direction until such time that our nation has been liberated.”

The 39-year-old Legwan arrived in Paris earlier this month, over a year after he fled to Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2009. In Kurdistan, he made contact with representatives of the Green Wave Movement for Freedom of Iran and the Kurdish Democratic Party, who arranged for him to arrive safely in France.

Legwan was given refugee status by the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, which also provided him with the necessary travel documents to make it to his new home.

Months later, he was joined in Paris by his wife, who was also given assistance by the French government.

Legwan and his wife have no children back in Iran, though the pilot did confirm that he still has many relatives in the country, whom he has not spoken to but who he assumes are in danger.

A spokesman for Green Wave said that Legwan and his wife are living under tight, round-the-clock security in Paris, though she would not comment on what, if any, role the French government plays in providing security for him.

During the press conference, the pilot related a harrowing story of repeated torture at the hands of Iranian security forces interrogators, who called him in for questioning on a number of occasions that began when he was accused of rebellion and sedition in 2001.

Before and following his eventual discharge in 2007, Legwan said he maintained contact with a network of dissenting military officers, who helped prepare him for his defection.

Though he had no clear figures on how large the network of dissident officers in Iran is, or how many support the cause, Legwan said through an interpreter that “for every official defector who makes it out, there are hundreds more back in Iran who feel the same and need our support.”

Legwan was joined on the podium by former consul of Iran in Oslo and executive director of Iranian Green Embassies Campaign Mohammed Reza Heydari, who defected to Norway in January 2010. Alongside the two dissidents was Amir Hossein Jahanchahi, the founding chairman of the Green Wave.

Jahanchahi minced no words in describing the global danger posed by the Iranian regime, whose president he likened to Hitler: “Iran is the root of all the problems in the region. All the conflicts in the region, including the Israel-Palestine conflict, Lebanese internal strife, and the Afghan and Iraqi wars all lead back to Iran.”

He added that Israel is in a lose-lose situation in regard to the Iranian nuclear program, saying “if Israel does not attack, there will be war; but if Israel does attack, it would be the biggest gift the Ahmadinejad regime could ever receive and would send the entire region into war.”

Jahanchahi accused the leaders of the West, in particular US President Barack Obama, of not understanding the severity of the situation in Iran, or the danger it poses to the entire world.

He added that the West “has no idea how many “Iranian agents are operating even just in Paris alone, and they aren’t necessarily Iranian or Shi’ite.”

Jahanchahi also said Western leaders are not doing enough to help the people of Iran bring about regime change, before adding that such change will and must be brought about internally by the Iranian people.

Ben Hartman

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U.S. Official: Israel Must Refrain From East Jerusalem Construction During Freeze

by Barak Ravid

Shas has said that it will oppose U.S. exchange offer if Jerusalem is included in the 90-day freeze; U.S. official: Whatever Netanyahu told Shas about Jerusalem is not true.

The United States will demand that Israel refrain from construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as part of a 90-day settlement freeze Secretary Hillary Clinton has requested in exchange for a package of incentives, a U.S. official told Haaretz on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scrambling to gather cabinet support for the settlement freeze. The ultra-Orthodox party Shas currently holds the balance of votes on the matter.

Eli Yishai and Benjamin Netanyahu

Eli Yishai and Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset.

Photo by: Emil Salman

Although the prime minister is unlikely to win their support, Shas ministers have said they will abstain in the vote, provided the final agreement specifically excludes East Jerusalem from the freeze.

Netanyahu met with Shas Chairman Eli Yishai and Minister Ariel Attias on Wednesday in a bid to convince them not to vote down the settlement freeze when the motion is brought to cabinet.

But the U.S. official told Haaretz that "If the moratorium deal goes through, we will continue to press for quiet throughout East Jerusalem during the 90 days, regardless of what Bibi [Netanyahu] is telling Shas now."

The official added that President Barack Obama had committed in an oral message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last April that the U.S. expects both sides to refrain from "actions that would seriously undermine trust," including in East Jerusalem, and would respond with "steps, actions, or adjustments in policy" to any such provocative actions as long as negotiations are underway.

The U.S. administration has defined "actions that would seriously undermine trust" as including major housing announcements, demolitions, or evictions in East Jerusalem.

"This policy will continue if the negotiations resume under a 90-day moratorium and the Israelis know it", said the US official. "So whatever Bibi is telling Shas to reassure them about U.S. policy on East Jerusalem is not true."

Meanwhile, an official close to the Shas party said Thursday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has promised to authorize construction of hundreds of apartments in the West Bank immediately after the U.S.-encouraged moratorium expires.

The Shas official said that party had received assurances that should it abstain from the cabinet vote, construction would take place in specifically ultra-Orthodox communities and other projects would be built in a settlement just outside Jerusalem.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially announced. The Defense Ministry couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Netanyahu said late Wednesday that he was close to reaching understandings on the agreement, and a U.S. official said that Washington was drafting a letter detailing understandings on the proposed 90-day moratorium. Netanyahu, who has said he would push hard to clinch a deal, also wants the U.S. letter to spell out that the proposed moratorium would be the last. A vote could come as early as Thursday, though officials said nothing had been scheduled by early morning. To entice the Israelis to sign on to the deal, the U.S. has proposed a package of incentives including a gift of 20 next-generation stealth fighter planes and U.S. pledges to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, Israeli officials have said.

During the 90-day freeze period, the U.S. hopes Israel and the Palestinians would make significant progress toward working out a deal on their future borders. With borders determined, Israel could then resume building on any territories it would expect to keep under a final peace deal.

Barak Ravid

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Israeli general: Iran Has Equipped Proxy's Rockets with Guidance Systems

by World Tribune

Officials and analysts said Iran and its allies in the Middle East have converted their unguided rockets into guided weapons. They said the conversion has transformed the rocket arsenals of Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria from what was termed a terror threat to a military threat.

"We are facing a significant leap in the projectile capability," Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, chief of the Air Defense Command, said.

At an aerospace conference on Nov. 15, Gavish and leading defense executives and analysts asserted that Iran was converting its Scud-based missile and rocket arsenal into precision weapons, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the effort was facilitated by the availability of navigation and guidance systems based on the U.S.-based Global Positioning System and Glonass, the Russian acronym for GLObal NAvigation Satellite System.

"The enemy has achieved aerial supremacy without even having aircraft," Uzi Rubin, former head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, said.

Rubin, regarded as a leading consultant on ballistic missiles, cited Iran's new rockets, which have been exported to Hizbullah and Syria. He said Iran's Fateh-110 rocket, with an enhanced range of 300 kilometers, has become fully-guided.

"There is guidance from launch, maybe throughout the entire flight," Rubin said.

As a result, officials and analysts said, Iran's new rockets could have a circle error of probability of up to 200 meters at a range of 90 kilometers. They said this would enable Hizbullah and Syria to strike Israeli critical facilities with dozens rather than hundreds of rockets.

Syria was also said to have been enhancing its Scud-D ballistic missile, tipped with a chemical warhead. Rubin said Syria, with technology from Iran and its allies, was believed to have reduced the Scud-D's circle error of probability from several kilometers to several hundred meters.

Rubin said Hizbullah and Syria have accumulated 13,000 missiles and rockets that could hit targets from Israel's northern border to the southern city of Beersheba

. Of those weapons, he said, 1,500 warheads could strike the Tel Aviv area. Hamas has also acquired rockets with a range to hit Tel Aviv.

"This is a revolution," Rubin said.

Officials said the new Iranian capability would force Israel to revise its missile defense doctrine. They said Israel was expected to deploy its multi-layered system by 2015.

"The new missile threat requires a revision of doctrine, and IMDO and the defense industries are working on this," Capt. Guy Aviram, a senior official in IMDO, said.

World Tribune

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Harper and Obama on Israel

by Isi Leibler

Having recently visited the US and Canada, I was left with a feeling of profound disquiet concerning the starkly contrasting attitudes toward Israel displayed by the leaders of these two neighboring countries.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unquestionably emerged as Israel's greatest friend in the world, effectively assuming the role previously occupied by former Australian prime minister John Howard.

Harper's principled approach to Israel was demonstrated in an extraordinary address he gave in Ottawa to an interparliamentary conference for combating anti-Semitism. Courageously dismissing the traditional political correctness expressed by many liberals, who feel obliged to distance themselves from the Jewish state, Harper made it clear that under his leadership Canada would not "pretend" to be impartial on Israel even if that meant facing negative repercussions at the UN and other international organizations.

He said that the persecution of Jews had become a global phenomenon in which anti-Semitic ideologies targeted the Jewish people in their "homeland" and perversely exploited the "language of human rights to do so." He stressed that "while Israel is the only country in the world under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.

"I know this because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the UN or any other international forum, the correct thing to do is simply to just go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just about being evenhanded, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker'... There are after all, a lot more votes in being anti- Israel than taking a stand.

"But as long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the UN or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost. Not just because it is the right thing to do but because history shows us that the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to us all."

Canada was in fact "punished" for its support of Israel when it was ignominiously defeated by Portugal, an almost bankrupt country, in its attempt to obtain a seat at the UN Security Council. All 57 seats of the Organization of the Islamic Conference opposed the Canadian nomination.

For some, Canada's defeat under such circumstances will be viewed as a badge of honor. But what made Canada's defeat even more outrageous was the role of the US. According to Richard Grenfell, a former press officer with the US mission to the UN, "US State Department insiders say that US Ambassador Susan Rice not only didn't campaign for Canada's election but instructed American diplomats to not get involved in the weekend leading up to the heated contest."

David Frum, a speechwriter to former president George W. Bush, also noted that "the US government has kept awfully quite about the suggestion that it went missing during the Security Council vote."

The US betrayal of its neighbor and long-standing ally is a chilling indication of the depths to which the Obama administration has stooped in its efforts to "engage" and appease Islamic and Third World rogue states.

Having joined the appallingly misnamed UN Human Rights Council dominated by dictatorships and Islamic nations, the US is now beginning to reap the harvest from this flawed policy. This was exemplified this month during the council's first "universal periodic review of human rights." In a session where US representative Esther Brimmer told the group that "it is an honor to be in the chamber," Cuba described the US blockade of Cuba as a "crime of genocide"; Iran, a country which stones women for adultery, urged the US "to combat violence against women"; and Libya complained about US "racism, racial discrimination and intolerance."

IN THE midst of this and despite repeated assurances concerning the "unbreakable bond of friendship" between the US and Israel, Obama is continuing to flex his muscles by beating up on Israel. Yet, his Middle East policies, which run counter to American public opinion, have failed disastrously, with US approval levels in the Muslim world even plummeting below 2008 levels.

Obama's most recent assault on Israel was conveyed from his childhood home, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world, which he praised as a model of tolerance worthy of global emulation.

While compared to Arab standards, Islamic Indonesia may be relatively tolerant, the president overlooked the recent opinion polls, in which 25 percent of the population expressed confidence in the leadership of Osama bin Laden, and that between 2004 and 2007, 110 Christian churches were closed due to pressure from local governments. In January of this year, 1,000 Muslims burned down two churches in Sumatra.

Needless to say, Indonesia does not recognize Israel, bans Israeli aircraft from flying over Indonesian territory and denies entry visas to Israeli citizens. It is especially galling that from such a country, Obama again saw fit to distance the US from Israel and aggressively condemn the Jewish state for building homes in the exclusively Jewish suburbs of its capital Jerusalem.

We must ask ourselves what endgame the US administration is pursuing. Obama knows that former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians everything and that they still refused to reach an accommodation because their ultimate objective remains the delegitimization of Jewish sovereignty. What they now seek is a non-demilitarized state based on the 1949 armistice lines to provide them or other Arab states with a launching pad to attack and destabilize Israel. Not surprisingly, the Europeans are more than happy to accept such a state of affairs. It would thus be catastrophic for the Obama administration to stand aside and enable this process to eventuate.

Yet, all indicators suggest that the Obama administration is determined to capitalize on Israel's international vulnerability. Despite the absence of any response from the Palestinians or the Arab world to Israel's 10-month settlement freeze, the US has literally bludgeoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to breach his undertaking to the people of Israel and renew a settlement freeze, including areas that will undoubtedly remain in Israel.

Although on the surface the US appears to be offering incentives to Israel to persuade it to accede to its requests, anyone reading between the lines recognizes that nothing new is being offered. The exercise of the veto in the face of UN resolutions demonizing Israel and offering to maintain Israel's security needs have been fundamental tenets of the relationship between Israel and the US. In reality, Obama issued an ultimatum to Netanyahu by threatening to abandon Israel unless it capitulates to his demands.

Many of us today yearn for an American president who would be more considerate of our needs than the present incumbent. It would perhaps be an impossible dream to have someone of the caliber of Stephen Harper leading the US, but alas, today, we are becoming increasingly reconciled to the reality that the US president is no friend of Israel and is paving the way for an imposed settlement with potentially disastrous long-term repercussions on the security of our nation.

Isi Leibler

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Hizballah's Brash U.S. Supporters

by IPT News

(Part two of three) Green and yellow flags bearing an emblem of a hand grasping an assault rifle waved at a September rally in Washington. The flags of Hizballah, the Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization, flying in the nation's capital, are a sign of defiance.

For a group responsible for more American deaths than any terrorist group other than al-Qaida, whose leaders continue to view America as the enemy, Hizballah enjoys surprisingly open support within pockets inside the United States.

From rallies like September's Al Quds Day protest featuring Hizballah flags and images of its leaders, to speeches endorsing its activity by national Islamist leaders, to a radical student movement that gives voice to its dogma, the Lebanese-based terrorist group that is considered an Iranian proxy is cast as a legitimate political player and heroic resistance movement.

In fact, the rally's purpose – honoring Al Quds Day – continues a legacy established 30 years ago by the late Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, a continuing source of inspiration to Hizballah.

Al Quds is an Arabic reference to Jerusalem and protests oppose Israel's control of the city. In addition to support for Hizballah, Al Quds rallies routinely feature incendiary rhetoric and call for Israel's destruction. The most recent event in Washington's Dupont Circle included a claim that the 9/11 attacks were a Zionist plot "in order to justify to occupy the land of the Muslims such as Afghanistan, such as Iraq, such as Pakistan, now moving on to the rest of the areas."

The Hizballah flag and images of the group's leaders, like Hasan Nasrallah, are ubiquitous at anti-Israel rallies throughout the country. A 2006 protest outside the Los Angeles Israeli consulate featured chants of "Long Live Hizballah." A 2000 rally in Lafayette Park featured the nation's most prominent Muslim political activist at the time garnering enthusiastic cheers when he asked the crowd if they supported the organization.

Ideological support for Hizballah in the United States, however, is not limited to flag waving and chanting.

U.S. government officials have accused one U.S. Muslim student group of providing intelligence to Hizballah's biggest financial and political supporter, Iran.

In 1987, a group of Persian speaking Muslims publicly pledged allegiance to the Iranian government and handed out literature written by the then- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini during a conference in Dallas.

The group, the Muslim Students Association, Persian Speaking Group (MSA-PSG), is also known by its Farsi name, Anjoman Islamie.

Federal officials have repeatedly linked the group to Hizballah and the Iranian government. A 1994 FBI report on Hizballah activities in the U.S. obtained via the Freedom of Information Act said "Hizballah also is known to be in contact with the Anjoman Islamic [sic], an Iranian student group active in the United States."

In 1998 testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, then-Chief of the International Terrorism Section of the FBI Dale Watson said that members of the Anjoman Islamie are heavily relied upon by the Iranian government "for low-level intelligence and technical expertise." Watson added that, "the Anjoman Islamie also provides a significant resource base which allows the government of Iran to maintain the capability to mount operations against the United States."

FBI Director Louis Freeh echoed Watson in testimony before the U.S. Senate in February of the following year. Freeh explained that American cells of Hizballah and other terrorist organizations revolve around collecting low-level intelligence and that Iran "relies heavily upon" students living in the United States for this type of information.

At a February 2009 event in California entitled "The 1979 Iranian Revolution and its Impact on the World," frequent MSA-PSG conference speaker Abdul Alim Musa, imam at Masjid al-Islam in Washington and founder of the As-Sabiqun movement, said Hizballah accomplished "the greatest, one of the greatest events of unity because it's a Shi'a organization, a movement that withstands all the pressure of bombing and killing and everything in Lebanon."

At a 1996 event in Johannesburg, South Africa, Musa defended Hizballah violence. "The minute the believers, the Hizballah, defend themselves after these crushing blows they are called terrorists, Musa said. "I think what happens a lot of times is they have a misnomer. They call the peace keepers, terrorists and the terrorist, peace keepers."

Hizballah has expressed its desire to export a Khomeini-style Islamic Revolution to Lebanon. According to the U.S. State Department, Iran continues to provide weapons, training and funding to Hizballah. The State Department website details that Hizballah is "closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran" and also receives political, diplomatic and organizational aid from Iran.

A 1985 Hizballah statement pledged loyalty to Iranian leadership. "We view the Iranian regime as the vanguard and new nucleus of the leading Islamic State in the world," the statement said. "We abide by the orders of one single wise and just leadership, represented by 'Wali Faqih' [rule of the jurisprudent] and personified by [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah] Khomeini."

MSA-PSG convention rhetoric backs up Watson's assessment about the group's support for Iran. At the 2009 convention, Musa called the "survival of the Islamic Republic of Iran" the "greatest epic in modern, even ancient history." Musa added, "United States is going down. We're on the rise."

For the MSA-PSG's 2008 conference, Musa distributed a flyer calling for the importation of an Islamic revolution. "At this current stage, our quest is to emulate the life of our hero in contemporary times, Imam Khomeini, as we strive to establish the Islamic State of North America. His story is a story of ultimate success against unbelievable odds."

The flyer featured a quote from Khomeini, which in reads in part, "resolve to establish an Islamic government."

The MSA-PSG isn't the only student group hearing praise for Hizballah. At a 2008 Muslim Student Union event at the University of California, Irvine, Abdel Malik Ali, imam of Masjid al-Islam in California, called Hizballah "people with honor and respect. They're not going to allow themselves to be occupied, to be degraded, to be oppressed."

The most common argument for Hizballah support in the United States is summed up in the last part of Ali's statement. A campaign to cast the group as a legitimate political movement and as a "resistance movement" against Israeli threats runs throughout organized American Islamist organizations.

At the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)'s 2009 conference, guest speaker author Cathy Sultan was not challenged when she said "Hizballah still serves a role. I think that Lebanon is still under constant threat from its southern neighbor. And I see nothing wrong, as long as Hizballah abides by certain rules and regulations. I see no reason why Hizballah should not remain armed."

It's an argument advocates have been making for more than a decade.

Salam al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) executive director, said in a 2006 radio interview that Hizballah is "basically part of a resistance movement against Israeli aggression."

He made a similar argument on PBS' Newshour in 1999. "If the Lebanese people are resisting Israeli intransigence on Lebanese soil, then that is the right of resistance and they have the right to target Israeli soldiers in this conflict," he said. "That is not terrorism. That is a legitimate resistance."

In 1998, MPAC Senior Advisor Maher Hathout staunchly defended the militant group at the National Press Club. Hizballah, he said, "is fighting only for freedom, an organized army, limiting its operations against military people, this is a legitimate target against occupation."

In a 2003 policy paper, MPAC challenged whether the United States was correct in designating Hizballah as a terrorist group.

In a similar paper four years earlier, the defense of Hizballah as a liberation movement was taken further, with MPAC legitimizing the group's violent actions and kidnappings. For example, the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 241 U.S. Marines was not terrorism, the 1999 MPAC policy paper asserted.

"Yet this attack, for all the pain it caused, was not in a strict sense, a terrorist operation. It was a military operation, producing no civilian casualties -- exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington's enemies," the report said.

Other supporters argue that Hizballah is a legitimate political party in Lebanon. Despite its ugly side, they say, Hizballah is a multi-faceted organization that also provides social services. "You may think of Hizballah as a terrorist organization, and certainly they have engaged in terrorist acts, but they are also the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon," writer and Muslim scholar Reza Aslan explained in a 2009 speech.

Likewise, CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid emphasized earlier this year to an audience at Washentenaw County Community College in Ann Arbor, that there are "different wings" of Hizballah. "They run schools, hospitals, humanitarian aid, and they have a military wing," he said. "But the whole organization has been lumped as a terrorism organization."

The U.S. Supreme Court specifically rejected the legitimacy of this argument in its opinion which recently upheld a federal statute which prohibits material support of any part of a designated terror organization:

"'[F]oreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct.' ... 'Material support meant to 'promot[e] peaceable, lawful conduct,' ... can further terrorism by foreign groups in multiple ways.... Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends. It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks. 'Terrorist organizations do not maintain organizational 'firewalls' that would prevent or deter . . . sharing and commingling of support and benefits.' ... '[I]nvestigators have revealed how terrorist groups systematically conceal their activities behind charitable, social, and political fronts.' ... 'Indeed, some designated foreign terrorist organizations use social and political components to recruit personnel to carry out terrorist operations, and to provide support to criminal terrorists and their families in aid of such operations.'"

Holder et al. v. Humanitarian Law Project at al, 561 U.S. , ___, 130 S. Ct. 2705, 2725 (2010), (citations omitted).

See part one of our series here. In part three, we examine prosecutions of Hizballah supporters in the United States, from criminal operations to raise money to attempts to procure weapons and other tactical equipment.

IPT News

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