Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lessons From Denmark

by Ann Snyder

Molly Norris was right, initially at least. The original idea behind "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" was simple. It was a message about the importance of solidarity in defense of something of great value—the cornerstone of our individual liberties—freedom of expression.

Comedy Central, Norris charged, had "cooperated with terrorists" when it censored an episode of South Park. If instead, everyone drew an image of Mohammed, Islamists couldn't possibly silence all of us. Her message echoed Benjamin Franklin's statement at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Recent news reminds us that capitulation is a failed strategy. We need to stand together with those who value individual rights (Muslims and non-Muslims, alike) against the onslaught of Islamists who would destroy those very freedoms.

On December 29, 2010 police arrested five suspects in a terror plot apparently targeting the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Over five years ago, the Jyllands-Posten published cartoons depicting Islam's prophet, Mohammed. The newspaper and the cartoonists have been the targets of numerous threats and thwarted attacks ever since. Interestingly, the worst violence actually followed an apology by Jyllands-Posten. An attempt to appease had failed. (Norris learned the same lesson after attempting to apologize. Radical cleric Al-Awlaki still called for her murder, and she was forced to "go ghost" when authorities were unable to protect her.) The death toll from the anger fomented over the cartoons is estimated at over 200 with many more injured.

But why, after five years, has this controversy not gone away? Perhaps the reason is that the cartoons are merely an excuse being exploited by Islamists as a justification for their actions.

According to Jakob Scharf, head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, in a press conference following the foiled plot, "Obviously, the cartoons have been used very efficiently by militant Islamist groups worldwide in targeting Denmark, specifically, and trying to explain why the violent extremism is necessary." Egyptian-born, Muslim journalist, Mona Eltahawy, agrees that the cartoons have been exploited for political ends. In an article criticizing Yale University Press' cowardly decision to pull images of the cartoons from what was supposed to be a scholarly exploration of the cartoon controversy, Eltahawy asserts that the cartoons were used by some to stir anti-immigrant sentiments and by "right wing" Muslims to "silence [other] Muslims and fuel anti-Western rhetoric."

It is precisely because the cartoons are simply today's excuse for an Islamist tantrum that appeasement cannot work as an effective strategy to stop future violence. You won't halt attacks by prosecuting politicians and journalists for saying things that might offend the Islamists or by settling absurd lawsuits. Islamists will simply trump up a new pretext tomorrow. Further, the strategy of appeasement has grave consequences beyond being merely ineffectual. By appeasing, we are, as Norris suggested, cooperating with terrorists.

By silencing critics or those who might offend, we weaken the resistance to Islamists and each time, hand them a mini-victory. By giving in to the demands of extremists, we give credence to the faulty idea that there is a monolithic voice of the "Muslim world," and that the Islamists speak for it. (This is the idea the OIC would like you to buy into. This self-appointed Muslim-Lorax audaciously claims to speak for the entire "ummah." If we are interested in hearing the voices--note the plural--of Muslims perhaps we should start by talking to a few of these individuals who signed a petition in support of Norris, South Park, and freedom of expression. ) Finally, by capitulating in the face of every threat or whimper, we show Islamists that their approach works. And, like a schoolyard bully or petulant child, they will use the same strategy tomorrow.

This is why standing together with all lovers of individual liberty and resisting Islamist pressure is the first step in diffusing the threat. Capitulation has failed. We need to recognize that now, or assuredly we will all lose our heads.

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Ann Snyder

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

Column One: Hizbullah and the Info War

by Caroline B. Glick

On January 15 the UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon is scheduled to issue indictments against a number of Hizbullah operatives for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. All of Lebanon and much of the region is waiting in suspense that grows with each passing day.

The news that Hizbullah would be fingered by the prosecutors was first made public in July.

Since then, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened repeatedly to set fire to Lebanon and perhaps Israel if Daniel Bellemare, the chief prosecutor, dares to go forward. Given Hizbullah’s track record of war, murder and intimidation, no one doubts that the Iranian-proxy force will keep its promise if it comes to that.

Almost immediately after Hizbullah was named as the central suspect in Hariri’s assassination, Hizbullah’s ally Syria began negotiating a deal with Saudi Arabia, which serves as the patron of Lebanon’s Sunni community. The goal of these talks is to get Hizbullah off the hook, “in order to preserve stability.”

Bellemare made clear this week that he will not be influenced by politics in dispatching his duties to the law. If he is true to his word, then Hizbullah members will certainly be indicted next month for assassinating Hariri.

What this means is that the most attractive option for Hizbullah and its allies right now is to discredit the tribunal. To this end, Hizbullah has repeatedly characterized the UN tribunal as an Israeli and American plot. Syria has insisted that the Lebanese who testified before the tribunal gave false testimony.

While these allegations may have convinced their supporters, both Syria and Hizbullah know that the only effective way to discredit the tribunal is to coerce Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to disavow the tribunal and withdraw Lebanese governmental support for its proceedings.

While such a move would probably have little impact on the tribunal’s ultimate judgment, it might reduce the political impact of the indictments for Hizbullah in Lebanon.

And so according to Haaretz, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah reached a deal in which Hariri Jr. will disavow the tribunal.

In exchange, Hizbullah will agree not to murder him.

Hizbullah has not surprisingly announced its support for the deal. Hariri has given a series of contradictory statements that lend to the sense that he is trying to run out the clock. This week he met with Abdullah in New York where the Saudi despot is undergoing medical treatment.

On Wednesday he travelled to Saudi Arabia for further talks.

In the meantime, just to underline its willingness to make good on its threats, last week Hizbullah had its affiliated trade union, the National Union for Labor Syndicates, stage a protest against the government. As Hanin Ghadar at the NOW Lebanon news portal noted, in the days leading up to the terror group’s coup in May 2008, it had its labor affiliates stage similar protests.

AND THAT brings us to the basic question of why is Hizbullah taking the tribunal so seriously? What does it care if its members are indicted for murdering Hariri? This is a terror group that has always been perfectly willing to kill in order to get its way. And everyone knows it.

Hizbullah operatives killed Hariri because he was irritating Nasrallah and Assad with all his talk about Lebanese sovereignty. Then they killed parliamentarian after parliamentarian to deny Hariri Jr.’s legislative majority the power to form a government or do anything else without Hizbullah agreement. When even that was insufficient to force the government to slavishly do its bidding, Hizbullah carried out its bloody coup in May 2008 in order to take over effective control of the government and the Lebanese Army. So, too, after the June 2009 elections, Hizbullah coerced members of Hariri’s coalition to change sides and so prevented him from forming a coalition without Hizbullah receiving veto power over all government decisions.

And even if Hizbullah did care about what its fellow Lebanese think of it, the fact is that Hizbullah is not an independent actor. It is an Iranian proxy. And the Iranians have made clear that they do not care what the tribunal does.

Iran’s supreme dictator Ali Khamenei announced earlier this month that as far as Iran is concerned, the tribunal’s judgments are null and void. In his words, “This court is a kangaroo court and every verdict it issues is rejected.”

So again, why is Hizbullah so concerned about this tribunal? Hizbullah is concerned because it understands the power of symbols. No, its operatives will probably never be jailed for their crimes. But the tribunal is a symbol. If Bellmare dares to defy Hizbullah, then others might consider doing so.

On the other hand, if Hizbullah is able to coerce Hariri to withdraw the Lebanese government’s support for the tribunal and disavow its work, it will have demonstrated its strength and authority in a way that will deter others from challenging it.

Hizbullah’s response to the specter of the Special Tribunal is not only interesting for what it tells us about prospects for Lebanon’s future and for regional stability and peace. Hizbullah’s response to the threat that its members will be exposed as Hariri’s assassins teaches us interesting lessons about the nature of information warfare.

Information warfare is not simply a question of competing narratives, as it is often characterized in the West. Information war is a form of warfare whose aim is to use words, symbols and images to force people to take real action.

These actions can involve everything from war to terrorism to surrender.

In closed societies, information warfare is used to cause people to rally around the group conducting the information operation and to mobilize supporters to act against the chosen enemy. For instance, when its leadership is interested in inspiring terror attacks against Israel, the Palestinian Authority broadcasts around the clock incitement against Israel.

On May 8, 2001, a group of Palestinians from a village adjacent to the Israeli community of Tekoa in Gush Etzion got their hands on two Jewish children, Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran, from Tekoa. The two boys were bludgeoned to death with stones. The details of the butchery are unspeakable.

The question is, what can make human beings butcher children? How can a person hurt a child the way that their killers hurt them? The answer is Palestinian television.

In the weeks before the murder, PATV (funded by foreign donors) broadcast doctored footage around the clock of what they claimed were atrocities carried out by Israel. They showed doctored images of mutilated corpses and claimed that Israel had mutilated and abused them. Israel and Jews were so demonized by these false images that after awhile, the Palestinians watching these shows believed that Jews, including Jewish children, were all monsters who must be destroyed and made to pay for their imaginary crimes.

This was an act of information warfare that in the event, led Palestinians to butcher Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran.

As for information warfare aimed at Westerners, here, too, the Palestinian Authority, like Hizbullah, has a long track record of success.

Journalists know that the PA has no compunction about kidnapping, arresting and beating up reporters. They do it to Palestinian reporters routinely. Western reporters who come in to the PA recognize that if they want to be safe, they have to report stories that will make the PA happy.

For instance, after a television crew from Italy’s Mediaset network broadcast footage of the PA police-supported lynch mob murdering and dismembering IDF reservists Vadim Nozhitz and Yosef Avrahami in Ramallah in October 2000, Ricardo Cristiani, deputy chief of Italy’s RAI television network’s Jerusalem bureau, published an apology in the PA’s newspaper Al- Hayat al-Jadida.

Among other things, Cristiani wrote, “We [RAI] emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect [will continue to respect] the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for [journalistic] work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.”

Fearing Palestinian revenge attacks, Mediaset was forced to shut down its offices.

This week, Swedish and Danish police announced the arrest of four Muslim terrorists who were en route to carrying out a massacre at the Jyllands Posten newspaper. The attack was supposed to avenge the newspaper’s publication of cartoons of Muhammad in 2005.

A US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks and published Monday by Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper reported that Syria’s Assad himself directed the information operation in 2006 that led to rioting against Denmark and Jyllands Posten throughout the Muslim world in 2006. Assad reportedly ordered Syria’s grand mufti to incite his fellow imams to attack Denmark for publishing the pictures.

The Arab world’s response to WikiLeaks shows just how powerful the incitement against Israel and Jews on the Arab psyche is. According to Hazem Saghiyah from the NOW Lebanon news portal, the Arab world was beset by confusion because Israel was not exposed as demonic by the WikiLeaks documents.

As Saghiyeh put it, for Arabs who have come to believe that Israel controls the world through its satanic power, “these documents should have provided the decisive argument” against Israel.

The fact that it is the Arab leadership, rather than Israel that has been exposed as lying and two-faced, makes the Arab world writ large view the WikiLeaks operation as a huge Zionist conspiracy.

WHAT ALL of this shows is that information wars are not just about getting out the facts.

Like kinetic warfare, they involve power plays, intimidation and the use of subconscious and visceral manipulation.

Israel has recently awoken to one aspect of information warfare. It has recognized the consequences of years of demonization of Israel in Europe and international organizations. But Israel has yet to awaken to the fact that it is a type of warfare and has to be countered with counter-information warfare.

Obviously this doesn’t mean that Israel should begin acting like its enemies. But what it does mean is that Israel must begin using more hard-knuckle techniques to defend itself. It must begin targeting people’s emotions as well has their minds.

For instance, when Israel is confronted by threats of lawsuits for acts of self-defense, it responds with defense attorneys. When the US was threatened with lawfare by Belgian courts, then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld responded by threatening to remove NATO headquarters from Belgium.

When Israel is accused of targeting Palestinian civilians, it responds by attaching legal advisers to combat units. What it should be doing instead is providing video footage of Palestinian children being trained as terrorists and exploited as human shields.

War is a dirty business. Information warfare is a dirty form of war. And if we don’t want to lose, we’d better start fighting.

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Caroline B. Glick

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

Venezuela: Church Warns of Chavez Dictatorship Grab

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Hugo Chavez's eighteen months of special ruling powers and the new package of laws that dramatically expand his rule in the country created a strong debate inside Venezuela against the government. The Catholic Church has also expressed its fears, affirming that the new Enabling Law moves the country towards a dictatorship, similar to Cuba's with Fidel Castro.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, warned Chavez on TV to behave in a responsible way towards Venezuela, in case Chavez wants "to impose a totalitarian dictatorship that would certainly mean something terrible for Venezuela,"

This is not the first time that Cardinal Urosa courageously expressed his opinions: last summer, the Archbishop declared that Chavez and his government are disregarding the Constitution and "want to impose a Socialist-Marxist system in the country to control all sectors. This system is totalitarian and is leading to dictatorship; not to proletarian dictatorship but to dictatorship led by the elite who are ruling the country."

From the press:

  • Cardinal Urosa: "We are moving towards a dictatorship"
  • Archbishop Luckert: Chavez's emergency power "is an abuse and a violation of the Constitution"
  • Archbishop Luckert: "We are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years"
  • Venezuelan archbishop Porras denies WikiLeaks report, claiming that he requested the U.S. government to make known its criticism of Chavez
  • Porras denies allegation on offering the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church
  • Archbishop Porras: Emergency powers would endanger the cause of freedom

December 26, 2010

Cardinal Urosa: "We are moving towards a dictatorship"

The new package of laws which was approved by the National Assembly presents, according to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, an unprecedented situation. "This is something that demands some reflection, and I am saying this to government officials, since they are creating an intolerable situation and [they are displaying] lack of respect for human rights and for the will of the people."

Urosa calls for a change in the name of social peace. "The enabling laws, as well as the reform of the internal and debates regulations in the National Assembly, are all aimed at cancelling the legislative powers and to concentrate all legislative capacities upon the person of the President of the Republic" says Urosa. "And this, for sure, is not democratic, because it cancels and does not recognize the will of the people, as expressed on September 26th and it represents an attack against peace in the country."

Cardinal [Urosa] is afraid that the enabling [law] will put an end to the figure of members of parliament as we know it today: "Elected people, whether in government or in the opposition, will be simply annihilated by such a law and because of the changes concerning the internal and debates regulations."

Urosa had already expressed, during his interview with [the media outlet] Globovisión on December 24th, his views on the package of laws that were approved during the course of this month by the National Assembly. "We are moving towards a dictatorship, without the slightest doubt," he said on Christmas Eve. "My call to those who guide the destiny of the nation is that they should realize the very high responsibility that they will carry before History and before God, in case they want to impose a totalitarian dictatorship that would certainly mean something terrible for Venezuela."

Despite his perception of political reality, Cardinal [Urosa] rejected the idea that violence should be used "because this would not be the right path and would be totally harmful for the people who intend to practice it;" and indicated [the adoption] of peaceful resistance, which does not necessarily mean passive. "It is not up to me to say how this peaceful resistance should be articulated, because I am not a political agent," he explained. El Universal (Venezuela)

December 21, 2010

Archbishop Luckert: Chavez's emergency power "is an abuse and a violation of the Constitution"

Venezuela's National Assembly approved President Chavez's request to rule by decree for 18 months. The additional power, the president argued, would help him address the damaging floods within the country.

The law comes just weeks before the new National Assembly, elected earlier this year, takes office. During the elections on Sept. 26, Chavez's ruling party only won 95 of the 165 seats in the Assembly, which is not enough to maintain a majority. Although three Assembly members from other parties are expected to vote with the ruling party, with just 98 votes, Chavez would still fall short of a two-thirds majority needed to get his measures passed.

The new law gives Chavez the power to enact laws on land use, the military and police forces, transportation and public services. He will also have greater control over the treasury and the tax code, urban and rural development, international relations and the emergency response to the flooding.

Archbishop Luckert […] [said] that the measure is "an abuse and a violation of the Constitution," as Chavez already has "many ways in which he can do what he wants" to address the crisis caused by flooding. The new law has turned the National Assembly into "a congress of political eunuchs who will not be able to do what they are supposed to do," he stated.

The tasks of lawmakers are "to pass laws, to legislate - not to sit on their hands and act like useless fools or mute dogs in a congress in which they won't be able to do anything," the archbishop continued.

Archbishop Luckert: "We are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years"

"Personally I think they want to turn this new Legislative Assembly - which the ruling party will not have the majority - into a pack of dogs with no bark. They won't be able to speak up when they should and they won't be able to pass laws that will truly benefit the country. "Why do we want lawmakers who will have their hands tied?" he asked.

Archbishop Luckert said the new law has turned the country into "a constitutional democratic dictatorship" that is being set up under the cover of law. Venezuela is following the lead of Cuba, he warned.

"All of these laws or norms are part of the Cuban package and the Cuban advisors are trying to impose them on Venezuela," he said. "We are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years," the archbishop warned. Catholic News Agency

December 17, 2010

Archbishop Porras: Emergency powers would endanger the cause of freedom

A Venezuelan prelate has expressed concern that the new extraordinary powers sought by President Hugo Chavez could aggravate the severe divisions within the country.

Archbishop Baltazar Porras, the vice-president of the Venezuelan Episcopal conference, said that the emergency powers that Chavez has requested would endanger the cause of freedom, encourage corruption in government, and exacerbate political tensions between the Chavez government and its critics. Catholic Culture

December 16, 2010

Venezuelan archbishop Porras denies WikiLeaks report, claiming that he requested the U.S. government to make known its criticism of Chavez

The vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference has characterized the information in a recently released WikiLeaks cable as "a science fiction movie script."

The report, released Dec. 13, accused Archbishop Baltazar Porras of seeking help from the United States to contain the "regional aspirations" of Venezuelan President Chavez.

WikiLeaks published an excerpt of a 2005 cable from the U.S. embassy in Caracas, Venezuela according to which Archbishop Porras allegedly requested that the U.S. government make known its criticism of Hugo Chavez. The archbishop purportedly warned that the Venezuelan president was intending to dismantle democratic civil society, organized employment, the business sector and the Church.

Archbishop Porras explained […] that the WikiLeaks cable which was reprinted by the Venezuelan News Agency read like "a science-fiction movie script that has absolutely no basis."

Porras denies allegation of offering the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church

He said allegations that he offered the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church are not in keeping with "the actions of the Church" or with his actions as then-president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference. "None of these things took place," he said.

Archbishop Porras expressed regret that the Venezuelan News Agency decided to reprint the allegations along with negative comments about the bishops. The government-run media has been engaged in an "orchestrated" campaign against numerous Church leaders in the country, he said, including Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas and Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro.

Such actions are intended to merely undermine the credibility of the Church among Venezuelans, he added. Church leaders in the country only seek "to serve and to simply be a voice crying out in the wilderness to make the commandment to love God and neighbor a reality," the archbishop concluded. Catholic News Agency

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Anna Mahjar-Barducci

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Middle East, 2011: Not a Very Happy New Year

by Khaled Abu Toameh

For many Arab and Islamic countries and the Palestinians, it does not look as if it is going to be a Happy New Year.

Instead, 2011 looks as if it is going to bring instability and uncertainty to some of these countries and the Palestinians.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iran and Sudan will undoubtedly witness dramatic developments in the coming weeks and months.

For the Palestinians, the future does not seem to be too promising in light of the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah.

In Iran, the situation remains as dangerous as ever as Tehran continues to pursue its plan to develop nuclear capabilities. Iran also appears to be more determined than ever to continue meddling in the internal affairs of others, especially the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

Together with the Syrians, Hamas and Hizbullah, Iran appears set to step up its efforts to export its radical ideology to as many Middle Eastern countries as it can, and undermine moderate Arabs and Muslims.

In Saudi Arabia, the 86-year-old monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, has just undergone back surgery in New York, and his condition does not seem to be good. His brother, the crown-prince, is also sick and no one knows if he will ever become king.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 82, is also reported to be in bad health. His refusal to name a successor has already created tensions in Egypt. Opposition groups in Egypt are now warning that the uncertainty could lead to chaos and plunge the country into anarchy and lawlessness. Worse, the talk about the president's son, Gamal, as a possible successor, has enraged many Egyptians.

Sudan also seems to be headed toward an unclear future as the people of South Sudan prepare to vote on whether to secede from the North and become an independent nation, or to continue within a united federal Sudan.

Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, has been charged by the International Court of backing Arab Janjaweed militias accused of war crimes against the region's black African communities.

Lebanon also seems to be headed toward the abyss as Hizbullah threatens to stage a coup against the government in Beirut if an international tribunal rules that the armed Shiite organization was behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese believe that their country could be headed toward another civil war if Hizbullah is found guilty.

As for the Palestinians, it looks as if they may end up more than the two states they already have in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority is currently facing a severe crisis in light of reports of a possible coup against President Mahmoud Abbas. Mohammed Dahlan and a group of top Fatah officials are suspected of conspiring to topple Abbas's regime.

The tensions in Fatah have divided the ruling faction into two camps: one led by Abbas, and another headed by Dahlan, who apparently regards himself as a "natural successor" to the president.

The Arab world and the Palestinian territories are evidently headed toward turmoil and a great degree of uncertainty, especially with the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism; it has become a tsunami that could sweep the whole Arab and Islamic world.

The new few weeks and months are going to bring many changes to the Arab countries and the Palestinians -- most changes seem extremely negative, with serious repercussions for the entire Middle East.

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Khaled Abu Toameh

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Writer: Vatican Appeases Islamists, Slams Israel

by IPT News

Christians are being massacred by jihadists in Baghdad, but the Vatican has been largely silent, writes Evelyn Gordon at Commentary magazine's Contentions blog. Instead of speaking out forcefully against the terrorists who commit these crimes against Christians, the Church has focused its indignation on Israel, blaming the Jewish State for the lack of peace in the Middle East.

For example, in mid-October the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, called for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, calling it "an evil for both Palestinians and Israelis." If it proved impossible to establish a Palestinian state next to Israel, Twal said that he would favor creation of "one, single democratic state" in Palestine. Given substantially higher Palestinian Arab birthrates, Israelis regard this as a formula for the destruction of their country.

At a Vatican synod convened by the pope that same month, bishops issued a communique telling Israel it should not use the Bible to justify "injustices" against the Palestinians. Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, archbishop of Our Lady of the Annunciation church in Boston, suggested that Israel is illegitimate.

"The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands," Bustros said. He stated that "the Palestinian refugees will eventually come back" - another demographic formula for Israel's destruction.

The Catholic bishops, Gordon argues, are ignoring the real threat to embattled Christians in the Middle East: terrorist violence perpetrated by Islamist radicals. In Iraq, for example, hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled the country since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that many fleeing Iraqi Christians "evoked the mass departure of Iraq's Jews after the establishment of Israel in 1948."

"It's exactly what happened to the Jews," said Nasser Sharhoom, who fled last month from Baghdad to the Kurdish capital Erbil. "They want us all to go."

The Vatican synod statement is evidence that the Catholic Church "isn't merely remaining silent; it's actively speaking out against the Jews - and thereby collaborating with its own enemies, the radical Islamists," Gordon writes. "It evidently hopes to thereby turn the Islamists' wrath away from Christians. But as the recent attacks show, appeasement hasn't worked."

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IPT News

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Jasser: America Will Benefit from Muslim Radicalization Hearings

by IPT News

U.S. Islamist groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) have reacted hyperbolically to news that the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), plans to hold hearings on American Muslim radicalization.

But Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, writes in the New York Post that critics of the hearings like MPAC, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) are attempting "to deny and obfuscate the connection between 'political Islam' or Islamism, and terror."

Political correctness dominates public discussion of incidents involving Islamists, Jasser writes. One example was the Pentagon report on Nidal Hasan, currently charged in last year's Fort Hood massacre.

"The report was intended to convey to military commanders whatever lessons were learned from the incident, so as to prevent similar attacks in the future," Jasser writes. "Yet it never mentioned the word Islam or Muslim. Nowhere to be found was any dissection of Hasan's slide into militant Islamism or of his relationship with his homegrown jihadist mentor, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki."

Major American Muslim groups like CAIR, ISNA and MPAC were built on the ideology of political Islam. But "knowing where most American Muslims fall in the spectrum of Islamism-vs.- liberalism, as King hopes to find out in his hearings, would be a key step toward counterradicalization," Jasser writes.

Congressional hearings are just one step in crafting a strategy against political Islam.

"Only liberty-minded Muslims working from within Muslim communities can counter the narrative of Muslim victimization. But America needs to be unashamed of taking the side of those Muslims who advocate reform against political Islam," Jasser adds. "In 2011, more Americans need to understand that jihadism is a natural by-product of a political Islam that is incompatible with Western secular democracies based in liberty. America is at war with theocratic Muslim despots who seek the imposition of sharia and don't believe in the equality of all before the law, blind to faith. They detest the association of religious freedom with liberty."

Original URL:

IPT News

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UNRWA Official Calls on Palestinians to Accept Reality

by Daniel Pipes

Here's a man-bites-dog story: The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's New York Representative Office, Andrew Whitley, told a conference in Washington that Palestinians should accept that they will never return to Israel and, rather than continue to dream of this, they should work to improve their current circumstances.

Andrew Whitley of UNRWA.

If one doesn't start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be—for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes—then we are storing up trouble for ourselves. …

We recognize, as I think most do, although it's not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent. It's not a politically palatable issue, it's not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it's a known contour to the issue.

Whitley concluded these startling remarks by suggesting that UNRWA should resettle its clients rather than continue to perpetuate their refugee status.

Comment: How refreshing to hear such words. As I put it in 2009, were Palestinians to give up on their irredentist dream of eliminating Israel, this "would liberate them to focus on their own polity, economy, society, and culture" and "become a normal people." (October 23, 2010)

Nov. 3, 2010 update: After complaints from the Palestinian Authority, the Jordanian government, and many others, Whitley abjectly apologized for his remarks in a letter to the UNRWA spokesman:

I am writing following my realisation – from media reports, statements and letters from individuals, organisations and governments – that part of the remarks I delivered at a conference in Washington hosted by the National Council on US – Arab Relations, on 22 October, 2010, were inappropriate and wrong. Those remarks did not represent UNRWA's views.

I express my sincere regrets and apologies over any harm that my words may have done to the cause of the Palestine refugees and for any offence I may have caused. I have spent much of my long career workinxxg for the Palestinian people, and defending their rights, in different professional capacities. It is definitely not my belief that the refugees should give up on their basic rights, including the right of return.

I wish to put this letter on the public record out of concern that what I said in Washington could be interpreted in ways that negatively affect the reputation and work of UNRWA, an organisation I have been proud to serve since July 2002. The Agency is at liberty to use my statement in whatever ways it sees fit. There is no need for a reply.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Whitley

Comment: That UNRWA might contemplate going out of business and helping end the Arab-Israeli conflict – it was too good to be true.

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Daniel Pipes

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Ham and Other Troublesome Topics in Class

by David J. Rusin

Muslims are free not to eat pork products, but must they be protected from hearing about them? Yes, according to one high school student in Spain who was distressed by a geography lesson:

The teacher was lecturing normally on the different climates of the planet and used the Granada town of Trevélez as an example of a cold, dry climate. As an anecdote, the teacher recounted that just such a climate was conducive to the curing of hams. Then the student asked the teacher not to speak of hams since the subject offended him as a Muslim.

In a bizarre video, the student explains how talk of ham so traumatized him that he cannot get out of bed. He also accuses the teacher of telling him to leave Spain, which the educator denies. The family went so far as to lodge a complaint with police, but a clear-minded prosecutor quickly shelved it. "There is not even the minimal indication of any type of crime," he said, describing the teen's attitude as "abusive, sectarian, capricious, and inadmissible."

Regardless, one can add ham to the list of topics known to upset some Muslims in Western classrooms, sparking demands either to change the syllabus or to exempt adherents of Islam from certain academic requirements. Among the subjects causing strife through mere discussion:

  • The Holocaust. Muslim resistance has led to capitulations. In the Netherlands, "a fifth of history teachers in the four major Dutch cities have had to deal with not being able to or rarely bringing up the Holocaust because Muslim students in particular have difficulties with it." In Germany, "out of fear of the students' reactions, many of the teachers avoid teaching this chapter of history." Similar claims have emerged from the UK.

  • Mideast history. A new study has found that teachers in French public schools face pressure from students and parents who object to lessons on France's war in Algeria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Evolution. While Darwin inspires objections in French classrooms, British teachers have been accused of "bending over backwards" to placate Muslim pupils.

  • Select medical topics. A 2007 article reports that in the UK, "some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs."

Of course, these problems are only compounded in "un-Islamic" classes such as music and swimming, which move beyond discourse and mandate the active participation of students.

The prescription? Enforce equal rights and responsibilities for all, but grant no group special privileges. José Reyes Fernández, the Spanish boy's teacher, puts it this way: if "there are 30 students … one of them must adapt to the 29 others, and not the 29 others to the one."

Original URL:

David J. Rusin

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

Obama’s Energy Power Grab

by Rich Trzupek

The USEPA announced its intention to deliver yet another body blow to the power and petrochemical industries, piling on another layer of unneeded, unwanted and economically disastrous regulations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States. Before we consider the agency’s latest move, let’s take a moment to consider all that has been done and will be done in the name of fighting the non-existent problem of global warming. States and the feds are already moving forward with at least six major regulatory programs designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus decimate the energy sector:

  • New CAFÉ Standards – This is arguably the least bad of the bunch, because the due date for the new 35.5 miles per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard is at least a few years out (2016). Nonetheless, the new CAFÉ standard [1] will make automobiles more expensive – as even the White House admits – less safe (lighter cars don’t do as well in accidents as compared to heavier ones) and will do almost nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards – More than thirty states, encompassing about three quarters of the population of the United States, have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards [2]. These standards require using ever decreasing amounts of electricity generated by the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Regional Trading Programs – States in three parts of the country, the east coast, the west coast and the midwest, have formed partnerships to create regional cap and trade programs. The east coast cap and trade program [3] has been up and running for two years. The west coast and midwest programs will “go live” in the near future.
  • Permitting of Greenhouse GasesRecent USEPA guidance [4] directed state permitting authorities to treat greenhouse gases as regulated pollutants when considering the construction of new major sources and major modifications to existing sources. Permitting authorities are further directed to apply the Best Available Control Technology standard to the control of greenhouse gases from these sources.
  • New Ambient Air Standards – The USEPA’s new ambient air standards [5] for “traditional” air pollutants are so ridiculously low that it’s virtually impossible for any new facility to comply with them. This is thus a back-door way of ensuring that no new fossil fuel fired power facilities can be built.
  • New Hazardous Air Pollution Rules – The USEPA’s new rules limiting emissions of hazardous air pollutants from industrial boilers [6] are also draconian. Again, the net effect will be to ensure that new industrial boilers powered by fossil fuels are just about impossible to construct.

So, contrary to what environmental groups and leftist politicians would like you to believe, we’re already doing an awful lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use – far too much in my opinion – and we will continue to pay the economic price for these disastrous policies. Yet, the USEPA isn’t content. They have decided to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and that legislative framework demands the construction of even more regulatory layers. The latest will be New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which will, for the first time, create numerical limits on greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel burning power plants and oil refineries.

Despite the use of the adjective “New” in the acronym, NSPS standards apply to both new and existing sources of air pollution emissions. Typically, the agency uses a specific date in time to distinguish between new and existing sources. Sources built before the cut-off date have one emission limit to meet and sources built after have a different, more stringent limit. Given the record of Lisa Jackson’s USEPA so far, we can expect that the agency will adopt greenhouse gas emission limits on existing sources that will force some facilities to close and the rest to spend billions in retrofits. And the new source limit? Expect that to be so ridiculously low that nobody will even think of building a fossil fuel fired power plant or new oil refinery in the United States ever again. Of course, given the list of the other onerous regulatory initiatives provided above, building new energy or petrochemical infrastructure is no longer a feasible option anyway.

USEPA announced its intention to develop greenhouse gas emission limitations for the power sector and oil refineries as part of two proposed settlement agreements [7] between the agency and several states and environmental groups who filed suit against the USEPA over greenhouse gas issues. As part of the settlement agreements, USEPA promises to have greenhouse gas emission limitations in place for the power industry by May 2012 and limitations on petroleum refineries in place by November 2012. The agency describes this as a “common sense approach” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maintains that it is setting “a modest pace” in developing this massive new regulatory structure. More amazingly, USEPA administrator Lisa Jackson had this to say [8] about developing new greenhouse gas standards:

We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.

This is of course the same Lisa Jackson who believes that the Clean Air Act is solely responsible for American economic growth [9] over the last forty years. This latest statement by the delusional director shows that she’s drifted even farther into a green fantasyland. Eliminating America’s ability to use a cheap, domestically plentiful source of energy to power industrial growth isn’t going to attract a dime of private investment. Undercutting America’s ability to turn crude oil into refined products isn’t going to create one good job at home. Jackson is spinning yarns, utilizing all the right buzzwords, like threats to “health and welfare,” “attract[ing] private investment,” and “creat[ing] good jobs,” but those words are as hollow and meaningless as any ever uttered by the most cynical of professional politicians. The actions of Jackson’s USEPA and Congress’s continued unwillingness to rein her agency in guarantee that economic recovery and job creation will continue to be an impossibility as long as the Obama administration is in charge.

URLs in this post:

[1] the new CAFÉ standard:

[2] Renewable Portfolio Standards:

[3] east coast cap and trade program:

[4] Recent USEPA guidance:

[5] ambient air standards:

[6] from industrial boilers:

[7] two proposed settlement agreements:

[8] this to say:

[9] is solely responsible for American economic growth:!OpenDocument

Original URL:

Rich Trzupek

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

Al-Qaeda In-Fighting

by Ryan Mauro

The bravado of the Al-Qaeda leadership is hiding divisions within the terrorist group over the wisdom of their strategies. Despite the tough talk, key leaders are seriously questioning whether Al-Qaeda is on the winning side. This does not mean they are giving up on the cause but it shows that the War on Terror is taking a toll on their confidence.

The former spokesman of Al-Qaeda, Suleiman Abu Ghaith has been permitted to leave Iran and has written a book called “Twenty Guidelines on the Path of Jihad.” Al-Qaeda and its leaders are not mentioned by name but the criticisms are widely seen as directed towards them. He says [1] that certain jihadists have made it seem like they are part of a “culture of killing and destruction” instead of “securing a better life for all who live with Islam and in the Islamic state.” He writes that there’s been too much of an emphasis on violence instead of on building the institutions of Islamic states.

The introduction to Abu Ghaith’s book is written by Abu Hafs the Mauritarian, another high-level Al-Qaeda leader who was the head of its Sharia Committee. He opposed the 9/11 attacks and has had a public rift with Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command of Al-Qaeda. This shows that significant elements of the group are calling for a revision in strategy and are willing to publicly voice their challenges to the leadership.

This dissension first became public in 2005 when a letter [2] from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, criticized his tactics. He questioned the wisdom of Zarqawi’s attacks on Shiite civilians, beheadings and bombings of mosques. Zawahiri said this was causing a backlash and “in the absence of this popular support, the Islamic mujahed movement would be crushed in the shadows.” He also warned Zarqawi that “this matter won’t be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it.”

In October 2006, another high-level Al-Qaeda official named Attyia al-Jaza’ri that fought in Algeria wrote a letter [3] warning Zarqawi that he was leading the terrorist group to defeat. He was harshly critical of the attacks on Sunni tribal leaders, massacres of civilians and unwillingness to form partnerships with others towards the same goal. Jaza’ri said that he was in direct contact with Al-Qaeda’s central command in Pakistan, indicating they were on his side.

He said that in Algeria, “their enemy did not defeat them, but rather they defeated themselves” with their “lack of reason, delusions, their ignoring of people, their alienation of them through oppression, deviance and severity, coupled with a lack of kindness, sympathy and friendliness.” He warned Al-Qaeda was on the same path in Iraq.

The most damaging criticism for Al-Qaeda came from Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, also known as Dr. al-Fadl, who mentored Ayman al-Zawahiri and is a major spiritual leader in the jihadist world. He gave a theological rebuttal to Al-Qaeda and called Zawahiri a serial liar who acted as an agent of the Sudanese government in the 1990s. He went so far as to blame Al-Qaeda for causing more anguish for the Muslim world than the U.S. or Israel.

“Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers,” Dr. al-Fadl said. [4] He even said that Muslims following Al-Qaeda were in violation of Islam. “Let the Muslims consider who they are going to follow: Allah, or bin Laden and al-Zawahiri?” he wrote. Zawahiri responded to the condemnation by claiming that al-Fadl was being tortured in prison in Egypt and was forced to write those words.

Dr. al-Fadl also says that Allah punishes Muslims by permitting their defeat on the battlefield. If Allah approves of their jihad, he will help them defeat the enemies of Islam. Therefore, the success of U.S. military efforts in places like Iraq and Afghanistan is seen as a rebuttal to the religious legitimacy of Al-Qaeda and its allies. If the U.S. military is defeated, then it is seen as vindication that Allah is on their side.

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an Al-Qaeda-allied terrorist group, has also issued [5] a “corrective studies” critiquing the group. It now says that “Islam is a pragmatic religion, which acknowledges that war is a part of human life, but it doesn’t call for the use of violence for the sake of change and reforms.” The group argues that violent jihad can be waged against enemy military forces in Muslim lands as “resistance in Islam and defending against the colonizers and invaders is a concept originally agreed upon among Muslims and non-Muslims.”

The promotion [6] of Saif al-Adel to Al-Qaeda’s military chief means that this dissenting faction will be playing a larger role in the group’s decision-making. Like Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Saif al-Adel has been released from Iran and is being embraced by the Al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan despite the criticism. He agrees with Abu Ghaith and has also written that more focus needs to be put on “the greater objective…the establishment of a state.” The Telegraph wrote [7] that al-Adel’s promotion reflects “the triumph of a minority faction within al-Qaeda who had opposed the 9/11 attacks, arguing that the inevitable U.S. retaliation against Afghanistan would cost the jihadist movement its only secure base.”

This split shows Al-Qaeda is disappointed in its own performance and its hardships are forcing it to evaluate itself. The West’s efforts against Al-Qaeda are making the terrorist group second-guess itself, but the group is quickly adapting. And as Al-Qaeda adapts, so must we.

URLs in this post:

[1] says:

[2] letter:

[3] letter:

[4] said.:

[5] issued:

[6] promotion:

[7] wrote:

Original URL:

Ryan Mauro

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

Turmoil in Lebanon

by Joseph Puder

Lebanon is in a state of turmoil. Hezbollah [1], the powerful Shiite-Muslim guerrilla terrorist organization, is threatening to take over the country if the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon [2] indicts its members in the murder of Rafik Hariri and demands their arrest. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Rafik Hariri’s son) “walked” earlier this year in submission to the proverbial Canossa [3] to bow before “Pope” Bashar Assad and asked “forgiveness” for his indirect accusations against the Assad regime, suggesting that it was responsible murdering his father. It now seems that Saad Hariri might swallow the bitter pill of truth about the murderers of his father by avoiding a confrontation with Hezbollah and “re-inviting” Syria back to Lebanon.

The confessional system in Lebanon, whereby a Christian holds the presidency, a Sunni-Muslim the prime-minister’s office, a Shiite-Muslim the speaker of parliament office, a Maronite-Christian the commander of the army post, and a Druze the army chief of staff position, is under siege.

The civil war in Lebanon has reduced the Christian majority in the country, as hundreds of thousands of Christians left the country and joined the large Lebanese-Christian Diaspora in the West.

The Sunni-Muslims led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri are seeking ways in which to enfranchise some of the 400,000 [4] Sunni-Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to gain greater power in the country. The Shiite-Lebanese, in the meantime, have grown to become the largest confessional group in Lebanon, and are demanding the reshuffling of the National Pact [5] of 1943.

Demographic changes alone, however, do not explain the turmoil in the Land of the Cedars. Neighboring Syria has reasserted its influence on Lebanon from whence it was ejected following massive demonstrations and international pressure in the aftermath of the assassination of Hariri. Iran, which supports Syria both militarily and financially, is also the singular force training, arming, and funding Hezbollah, and has become the major foreign power asserting its influence.

The perceived weakness of the Obama administration for having chosen to appease Iran and Syria rather than counter their growing influence over Lebanon, has undermined the emerging Lebanese democracy and the Cedar Revolution in particular. It has enabled Hezbollah to become the strongest military force in Lebanon, capable of intimidating the government and superseding the strength of the Lebanese army.

Revealed diplomatic dispatches via WikiLeaks support the assertion that the Obama administration’s pandering to Syria was an unrealistic fantasy. Obama sought to engage Syria and reactivate the Syrian peace track in order to distance Damascus from Tehran, and he did so against the advice from regional allies such as the Emirates Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed [6], who cautioned the Obama administration against wasting time on trying to pry Syria away from Iran.

Egypt’s President Mubarak [7] shared with the Obama administration his view that the Syrians (and the Qataris) were “sycophants to Tehran” and “liars.” What is shocking is that the Obama administration ignored the advice of not only Mubarak and Prince bin Zayed, but also that of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. Instead, Obama chose to rely on the (Islamist) Turkish government and the Qataris.

According to Maariv [8], an Israeli daily, the WikiLeaks dispatches exposed the fact that during Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Defense Minister Elias Murr guided Israel’s Air Force on where to attack Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and ordered the Lebanese Army not to interfere. Murr had hoped that by weakening Hezbollah, the Lebanese Army would be able to become the dominant force in Lebanon. Other leaks included Hezbollah’s warning that if implicated in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri, it would commit a coup d’état and take over power in Lebanon.

In November of this year, sources close to the Special Tribunal on Lebanon, the committee charged with investigating Hariri’s murder, suggested that the tribunal might point to leading members of Hezbollah as being responsible for the murder. Hezbollah’s General Secretary Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah responded by threatening that “he will cut off the hands of anyone trying to arrest his men.”

In a recent visit to Beirut, Bashar Assad, the Syrian dictator, made it clear to Saad Hariri that he could not guarantee the future of the Lebanese government or the stability of the political situation until the indictment issue is resolved. This is a clear indication of Syrian control over Hezbollah, at least on the ground.

This reporter asked Joseph Hakim, a Lebanese native and Vice President of the International Christian Union, to comment on the current turmoil. Hakim, who is closely connected to the leadership of the Cedar Revolution, had this to say about the situation:

Lebanon is at this time in imminent danger of Hezbollah taking over Lebanon with the collusion of Michel Aoun and the entire March 8 movement. This would be followed in a couple of years by Hezbollah’s systematic liquidation of all the March 8 movement groups including Michel Aoun, and other operatives.

Hakim further pointed out:

The Hezbollah leadership is wise enough to know that it is being watched by the international community, and therefore would seek to open fire on Israel in order to drag the entire Lebanese government, people, army and the opposition into war. This would weaken the Lebanese government, and enable Hezbollah to assert further its power grip on Lebanon. Incidentally, the Hezbollah used the same tactics during its 2006 war with Israel, when it hailed itself as the victor over Israel.

When questioned on how the Lebanese Christian community would react to Hezbollah’s takeover of its country, Hakim responded by saying:

If Hezbollah takes over the country it would cause a bloody war inside Lebanon. I believe that the Christians will fight to the end, and they will stand united for the most part. I do not anticipate a serious fight with the Aoun’s [Christians who are allied with Hezbollah at the moment] group. It will however be “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and I believe that it may result in a likely end to the Christian’s existence in Lebanon.

Hakim cautioned that if the international community remained passive and failed to react to a Hezbollah takeover, Lebanon would become, within two years, a radical Muslim state. He added, that “the Saudi support of the Sunni-Muslims and Palestinians in Lebanon is also endangering Lebanon’s democracy, the Christians, and other minorities.”

The turmoil in Lebanon is, in part, a consequence of the Obama administration’s weakness and lack of resolve to block the machinations of Iran and Syria with Hezbollah as their blunt instrument. The U.S. administration must show strength if the Middle East is to avoid a major conflagration triggered by the radical takeover of Lebanon.

URLs in this post:

[1] Hezbollah:

[2] Special Tribunal for Lebanon:

[3] Canossa:

[4] 400,000:

[5] National Pact:

[6] Zayed:

[7] Mubarak:

[8] Maariv:

Original URL:

Joseph Puder

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

The Mullen War Strategy

by Herbert I. London

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, recently said there are "new ways of deterrence that address those factors that make individuals vulnerable to coercion…". He noted, in a speech delivered to the Hoover Institution, that the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaida can be deterred by both the traditional method of military retaliation, and by non-traditional means of attacking extremism at its core. "Attacking the humiliation, the hopelessness, the illiteracy and abject poverty which lie at the core of the attraction to extremist thought will do more to turn the tide against terrorism than anything else," he announced.

As Admiral Mullen must surely be aware, Muslim leaders who espouse violence are often from wealthy families, such as Osama bin Laden; being able to read does not translate into understanding; and sitting on a couch with a psychologist who identifies with your agony may be comforting, but as a strategy for peace, it lacks staying power.

The admiral's recommendation has as much validity as alchemy. In fact, one wonders what happened to a military culture predicated on "kill or be killed"? No sensible person wants the bloodshed of war, but when in history the choice has been slavery or battle, some -- perhaps many -- prefer battle.

As it turns out, Admiral's Mullen's words were anyhow turned on their head. In Iran, one headline noted that Admiral Mullen wants the "U.S. to deter Qur'an followers." Hezbollah TV in Lebanon reported that U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mile Mullen says "people learning the way of the Qur'an are the subject of new American deterrence." And the Iran Broadcasting Station accused Mullen of using "insulting words against Islamic scholars."

Apparently Admiral Mullen has forgotten the incident at Fort Hood in which a Muslim physician wantonly killed fellow soldiers at the base. Was he suffering from deprivation, a lack of understanding, a low standard of living? The part of this equation Admiral Mullen does not address -- the part he intentionally ignores -- is that violence is inherent in Islamic thought, as the Qur'anic Verses of The Sword suggest.

How can one deter an enemy when there is a refusal to understand him? Even those in the Arab world are perplexed. Middle East tradition indicates you side with the "strong horse." But if you do not know how to apply your strength, you become the "weak horse." At the moment, U.S. psychologizing is having a paralyzing influence in fighting a war against radical Islam.

Can you imagine a strategy in World War II in which we argued the most effective way to deter the Nazis would be classes on Mein Kampf? Or that we should have sent psychologists to Berlin instead of Patton's army?

It stuns the mind to consider how misguided military strategists have become. From battlefield action based on lethality, we have seemingly moved to pop-psychology on the military couch. The question that remains is whether the U.S. can subdue an enemy committed to our destruction with psychological, economic and social tactics Admiral Mullen thinks we can; others of us doubt it.

Original URL:

Herbert I. London

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

Spain Goes on Mosque-Building Spree

by Soeren Kern

The city of Barcelona, widely known as a European Mecca of anti-clerical postmodernism, has agreed to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona says the objective is to increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain, as well as to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."

The Barcelona mosque project is just one of dozens of new mosques that are in various stages of construction across Spain. Overall, there are now thirteen mega-mosques in Spain, and more than 1000 smaller mosques and prayer centers scattered across the country, the majority of which are located in Catalonia in northeastern Spain.

The Muslim building spree reflects the rising influence of Islam in Spain, where the Muslim population has jumped to an estimated 1.5 million in 2010, up from just 100,000 in 1990, thanks to massive immigration. The construction of new mosques comes at a time when municipalities linked to the Socialist Party have closed dozens of Christian churches across Spain by way of new zoning laws that several courts have now ruled discriminatory and unconstitutional. It also comes at a time of growing anti-Semitism in Spain.

The Barcelona mosque project was announced during a weeklong seminar titled "Muslims and European Values," jointly sponsored by the European Council of Moroccan Ulemas [Muslim religious scholars], based in Brussels, and the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers in Catalonia, based in Barcelona. A representative of the Barcelona mayor's office who attended the conference told the Madrid-based El País newspaper that the municipality would get involved in the mosque project because "although religion pertains to the private realm, this does not mean it does not have a public role."

The idea to build a mega-mosque funded by Spanish taxpayers comes after Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam, said the construction of big mosques would be the best way to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain. "It is easier to disseminate fundamentalist ideas in small mosques set up in garages where only the members of the congregation attend, than in large mosques that are open to everyone, with prayer rooms, cafes and meeting areas," Ziani told the Spanish news agency EFE. He also said European governments should pay for the training of imams, which would be "a useful formula to avoid radical positions."

The Barcelona mosque would be that city's answer to the six-story, 12,000 square meter (130,000 square feet) Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, which opened in 1992 and is one of the biggest mosques in Europe. It was paid for by the government of Saudi Arabia, as was the €22 million ($30 million) Islamic Cultural Center in Málaga, a small city in southern Spain that is home to almost 100,000 Muslims. (The center's website includes politically correct "news," with headlines such as "Christian Palestine under Zionist Occupation" and "Julian Assange Victim of the Empire of Evil.")

Saudi Arabia, which also built the "great mosques" in the Spanish cities of Marbella and Fuengirola, has been accused of using the mosques and Islamic cultural centers in Spain to promote the Wahhabi sect of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism rejects all non-Wahhabi Islam, any dialogue with other religions and any opening up to other cultures. By definition, it also rejects the integration of Muslim immigrants into Spanish society.

Not surprisingly, the Saudi government officially supports the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative sponsored by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which borrows heavily from the Dialogue of Civilizations concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran in the 1990s -- an the initiative calls for the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists on terms set by the terrorists.

In December 2000, the Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid was expelled from the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) to "frustrate the attempts of Saudi Arabia to control Islam in Spain." Most Muslim immigrants in Spain are from the Maghreb (especially Morocco and Algeria) or Pakistan; analysts say their low standards of living and low levels of education make them particularly susceptible to the Islamist propaganda promoted by Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere in Spain, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao were recently surprised to find their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking them for money to build a 650 square meter mosque costing €550,000 ($725,000). Their website says: "We were expelled [from Spain] as Moriscos in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [ie Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]."

Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to the parts of Spain ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492. Many Muslims believe that the territories they lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.

The Moriscos, descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile in 1502, were ultimately expelled from Spain by King Philip III in 1609. Muslim leaders say Spain could right the wrong by offering Spanish citizenship to the Muslim descendants of the Moriscos as an "apology and acknowledgement of mistakes" made during the Spanish Inquisition.

In Córdoba, Muslims are demanding that the Spanish government allow them to worship in the main cathedral, which had been a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus and is now a World Heritage Site. Muslims hope to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project to turn "Córdoba into the Mecca of the West" are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.

In Granada, a city in southern Spain that was the last Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus to capitulate to the Roman Catholic kings in 1492, a muezzin now calls Muslims to prayer at the first mosque to be opened in the city since the Spanish Reconquista. The Great Mosque of Granada "is a symbol of a return to Islam among the Spanish people and among indigenous Europeans," says Abdel Haqq Salaberria, a spokesman for the mosque. "It will act as a focal point for the Islamic revival in Europe," he says. It was paid for by Libya, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

In Lleida, a town in northeastern Spain where 29,000 Muslims make up 20% of the population, the local Islamic association Watani recently asked Moroccan King Mohammad VI for money to build a mosque in the center of town. Local Muslims are incensed that the municipality gave them land to build a mosque on the outskirts of town and not in the city center. Although the municipality gave the land more than three years ago, the local Muslim community has refused to apply for a formal license: it is demanding a more "dignified location for the Muslim community to worship."

In Zaragoza, the fifth-largest city in Spain, the 22,000-strong Islamic community has been negotiating the purchase of an abandoned Roman Catholic grade school for €3 million. In September, however, a group of 200 teenage anarchist squatters took over the property (a seemingly normal occurrence in Spain), but a local judge has refused to remove them for "security" reasons. The local imam is now demanding a "big and visible location" for a mosque: many Muslims view the city as "theirs" and they want a way to show it.

Meanwhile, the Madrid-based ABC newspaper reports that more than 100 mosques in Spain have radical imams preaching to the faithful each Friday. The newspaper says some imams have established religious police that harass and attack those who do not comply with Islamic law. ABC also reports that during 2010, more than 10 Salafist conferences were held in Spain, compared to only one in 2008.

Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by re-establishing an Islamic empire across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe. Salafists view Spain as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.

At the same time, Noureddine Ziani, the Moroccan imam, says it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values. He also says that from now on, Europeans should replace the term "Judeo-Christian" with term "Islamo-Christian" when describing Western Civilization.

Original URL:

Soeren Kern

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

Conferences Make AMP's Destructive Ambition Clear

by IPT News

They call themselves American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), but their rhetoric indicates their true goal is the elimination of the state of Israel. In speeches last weekend at the Islamic Circle of North America-Muslim American Society 9th Annual Convention in Chicago, and a month earlier at their own conference, AMP officials repeatedly called for a grassroots effort in America to delegitimize Israel.

During a session featuring AMP speakers, board member Osama Abu Irshaid told the ICNA-MAS audience Sunday "to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel," and "to try to keep this debate alive."

Last month in New Brunswick, N.J., at AMP's 3rd annual conference, panelist Abdelhamid Abu Siyam ended his speech on a similar vein by calling in Arabic for "[the] right of return and rejection of Zionism, and rejection of the legitimacy of this state [Israel]."

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) was formed in 2006 as a nonprofit organization based in Chicago with chapters around the country. Its message omits any mention of peaceful coexistence with the state of Israel, and routinely includes calls for an end for U.S. aid to the Jewish state.

During the opening of the AMP conference, Vice Chairman Munjed Ahmed welcomed the audience by threatening Israel. "You occupiers of Palestine will be out. That's a promise. You will be out," Ahmed said. "And we will work every single day as an organization until that day where we truly say that Palestine is free."

Calls for the destruction of the State of Israel were reinforced by promoting "resistance."

"The first element [in changing the balance of powers] is resistance," former Palestinian Minister of Information Mustafa al Barghouthi told the audience in Arabic. "The wonderful national Palestinian resistance taking place in reality should be encouraged and increased."

Conference speaker Othman Atta condemned "attacks by Palestinians against innocent civilians," while adding, "absolutely it's within the right of an occupied people to resist their occupiers." Atta is a lawyer and the former president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. Some mosque members "are involved in raising money … that is actually for HAMAS," according to a November 2001 FBI memo.

During an AMP session on U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East at the ICNA-MAS conference, Atta rejected peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. "Palestinians, through Oslo and other negotiating processes accepted the absurdist notion that to obtain the legitimate rights that are guaranteed by God and guaranteed by international laws that we must sit with our occupiers and oppressors, with thieves and murderers, and come to an agreement," he said. "Now imagine that this was applied to US law here in the United States. Why the hell would we need to have a court system?"

He added sarcastically, "Were you raped? Hey, no problem, sit down with your rapist and see if you can come to some kind of accommodation."

AMP founder and chairman Hatem Bazian, a senior lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, has a history of incendiary statements. At an April 10, 2004 anti-war rally in San Francisco, Bazian called for Americans to create a violent uprising at home similar to the Palestinian intifada.

"Are you angry? …Well, we've been watching intifada in Palestine, we've been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don't have an intifada in this country," Bazian said. "It's about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know every – They're gonna say some Palestinian [is] being too radical – well, you haven't seen radicalism yet."

During an AMP conference session on "Islamopohobia and American Muslims," Bazian, who also directs the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at UC Berkeley, claimed that "pro-Israel activists" in the United States have a "massive infrastructure that is spending 24/7 to demonize Islam and Muslims around the clock for their own strategic purposes."

During the same session, Bazian said Israel and its allies want to "demonize Islam," and "criminalize Islam to link to terrorism." Islamophobia, he argued, causes "Muslims in our own communities to actually go into the margin and think that they are gonna be revolutionary and engage in violence because they have been pushed to the margins."

Beyond its own conferences, AMP has sponsored numerous events for the UK-based pro-Hamas group Viva Palestina, as well as provided a platform for its leader, George Galloway, to speak. In May, Galloway was the headlined speaker for AMP's "Nakba" campaign around the country. Through four land convoys, Galloway and Viva Palestina have delivered millions of dollars to the Hamas regime in Gaza. AMP also hosted a Viva Palestina fundraiser in January, raising more than $130,000.

AMP's leaders include at least two men tied to a fundraising front for Hamas – the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), which was shut down by the government in 2001. HLF and five former officials were convicted in 2008 of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.

One AMP board member, Salah Sarsour, is named in law enforcement documents as helping raise money for Hamas.

Sarsour's ties with HLF are detailed in U.S. and Israeli law enforcement documents. His brother, Jamil Sarsour, was arrested by Israeli authorities in 1998 for providing military support to Hamas. When Jamil Sarsour was arrested by Israel, he "described his brother Salah Sarsour's involvement with HAMAS and fund-raising activities by the [HLF] in Richardson, Texas on behalf of HAMAS," a November 2001 FBI memo said. "His brothers Salah and Imad are involved in raising money in the name of the HLFRD that is actually for HAMAS."

In a February 1998 confession given during an interview with an Israeli police officer, Jamil Sarsour said he and Salah Sarsour provided money to senior Hamas military commander Adel Awdallah, wanted and killed by Israel in September 1998. The money came from the business account of a furniture store in Milwaukee owned by the two brothers.

"There is another Palestinian organization called Islamic Association for Palestine. It is connected to the H.L.F.," Jamil Sarsour said during questioning. "My brother Salah works for this organization also. He collected funds for this organization." Salah Sarsour is also the contact for the Muslim American Society's (MAS) Milwaukee chapter. MAS was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members in the U.S.

Like Sarsour, AMP's Osama Abu Irshaid was previously involved with a Hamas-support effort. He was an editor of Al-Zaytounah, an Arabic newspaper that was published by the now-defunct Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). The IAP, along with the HLF, was part of a group called the Palestine Committee, court records show. The committee was created by the Muslim Brotherhood to help Hamas politically and financially, court exhibits show.

In August 2002, a federal judge ruled that there was evidence that the "Islamic Association for Palestine has acted in support of Hamas."

AMP's efforts continue with a rally that has been rescheduled for January, marking the 2nd anniversary of the Israel-Gaza War. AMP's press release for the rally says that the "repression" of anti-Israel activists, "from harassment by campus officials to raids and grand jury subpoenas by the FBI… is a sign that the Zionists and their sponsors in Washington are worried – not only that further crimes will be met with equally fierce resistance, but also because they know Palestinians are more determined than ever to fight on until total liberation, until every refugee can return, until the land of Palestine is free from the river to the sea!"

Such a vision leaves no room for the state of Israel's continued existence.

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