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Friday, May 30, 2008

Kerry: On Sept. 11 We Were at Peace

Courtesy of The Hill Briefing Room

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) believes that on September 11 "we were basically
at peace."

Asked to clarify his remarks, specifically asking about the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole during Barack Obama campaign conference call, Kerry said, "well, we hadn't declared war," The Hill's Sam Youngman reports.

Asked if al Qaeda was a threat at the time, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee said, "well yes, obviously they were a threat. But, fundamentally we were not at war at that point in time."

Kerry also called John McCain "out of step with history and facts."

UPDATE: Responding to Kerry's claim, RNC spokesman Danny Diaz said: "It’s absolutely critical that the next Commander in Chief understands the challenges America faces. Yet it’s clear that Barack Obama has a thin understanding of history and fails to grasp the threat of terrorism."

"After a week’s worth of examples demonstrating Obama’s lack of preparedness to serve as president, his campaign is understandably desperate to shift the focus. Considering it’s now been 873 days since Obama visited Iraq, any suggestion that he even understands what’s happening on the ground is laughable."

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

demise of bin Laden would not end al-Qaida’s menace

CIA chief says demise of bin Laden would not end al-Qaida’s menace

Courtesy of AP and Buffalo News — The United States is making “a big and continual push” to capture or kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but his demise won’t end the terrorist organization’s menace, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday in an Associated Press interview.

The CIA is equally interested in those jockeying to replace bin Laden in what Hayden predicted will be a “succession crisis.”

“It will be really interesting to see how that plays out. The organization is a lot more networked than it is ruthlessly hierarchical,” Hayden said of the group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. “How do you pick the next overall leader?”

Link to the article, CIA chief says demise of bin Laden would not end al-Qaida’s menace

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Al Qaeda not the biggest Terror Threat

'Hezbollah Makes Al Qaeda Look Like Minor Leagues'

Courtesy of Fox News:  Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff warns that radical Islamic group in Lebanon is more disciplined, better armed to carry out terror attacks than Al Qaeda.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Two Thinks Happened Last Week


Two things happened in Iraq last week.  A US soldier shot a discarded copy of the Qur’an, and al-Qaeda strapped explosives to an 8-year-old girl, killing more Iraqis in the name of Allah.  Only one of these acts enraged Muslims.  Do you know Islam well enough to know which?   The Religion of Peace.Com

"Don't judge the Muslims that you know by Islam and don't judge Islam by the Muslims that you know. " Islam is an ideology.  No ideology is above critique, particularly one that explicitly seeks political and social dominance over every person on the planet. Muslims are individuals.  No Muslim should be harmed, harassed, stereotyped or treated any differently anywhere in the world solely on account of their status as a Muslim.  The fight is against radical Islam and the ideology that turns moderates to fanatics.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dirty Bomb Warning For Olympics

Courtesy of National Terror Alert

The Beijing Olympics in August could be a target for terrorists using radioactive materials, the UN nuclear watchdog has told the BBC.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says a group might try to release radioactivity at an Olympic venue, possibly using a “dirty bomb”.

However, the IAEA says there is no specific information suggesting an imminent attack on the Beijing games.

The IAEA warning comes as it conducts a training exercise in China’s capital.

London Threat

The agency says intelligence shows that terrorists are trying to obtain nuclear materials.

Its concern is that they might try to use a “dirty bomb” with conventional explosives in Beijing.

“There is a threat at some level that these [radioactive] materials could be used,” said Dr Anita Nilsson, the IAEA’s head of nuclear security.

Source - Read More

Similar and/or Related Posts from National Terror Alert 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where is Adam Gadahn?

Courtesy of Counter Terrorism

This afternoon, Al-Qaida's As-Sahab Media Foundation has released the second audio recording of Usama Bin Laden in the space of only three days--this time, openly addressed "to the Islamic nation." But, perhaps what is most interesting about Bin Laden's latest set of audio recordings is not what they contain--but rather, what they inexplicably lack: the English-language subtitles and matching transcript that have, until recently, been a customary feature of professional-quality As-Sahab videos. An analysis of the history of As-Sahab recordings and their evolution over time would seem to indicate that the responsibility for creating these English-language products fell largely on the shoulders of one man alone: Adam Gadahn (a.k.a. "Azzam al-Amriki"), the California native who was recruited by Al-Qaida computer specialists living in Garden Grove in the late 1990s, and who later traveled on to Pakistan seeking to join his new hero Usama Bin Laden. Gadahn's voice and, more recently, his face have been an integral part of As-Sahab releases since their first video production in 2001, "The Destruction of the U.S.S. Cole" (a.k.a. "State of the Ummah"). He has frequently appeared as a freely identified commentator in As-Sahab videos, with clips of him speaking in English juxtaposed amid footage of Usama Bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri.


For Gadahn, it has been a long journey and a strange ideological transformation from his younger days in California spent promoting recycling and environmental conservation. If ultimately proven, his death will serve as a lesson for what happens to naive individuals lured into believing there is honor in playing foolish games with guns and bombs. Full article:  Where's the Beef? Mystery Grows Surrounding Whereabouts of Adam Gadahn

Unfortunately, there are other red blooded American jihadists and Jihadi sympathizers stepping up to the plate to support the insanity the caravan raider and radical islam. 

The site founder of a US based website, The Ignored Pieces of Knowledge, appears to be a red blooded America Jihadi sympathizer currently living comfortably in Charlotte,N.C.  One could assume that the sympathizer of the Jihadi cause is enjoying the good life in America, and posting Jihadi news as it happens.

According to a Fox News article, North Carolina Web Site Said to Be 'Gateway Drug' To Terror, the author of the Charlotte based website appears to be is a defender of Usaamah bin Laadin, members of al-Qaa’idah, the Taliban, and those who wish to establish a world wide Caliphate. 

I would not breath a sigh of relieve as of yet on the hope that Adam Yahiye Gadahn ( آدم يحيى غدن ) is resting in hell with his moon worshiping buddies when I read about others in this country praising Usaamah bin Laadin.

To the author of The Ignored Pieces of Knowledge, perhaps you should go the Pakistan at take the place of Adam Yahiye Gadahn.  There may be a job vacancy there for an Islamic translator. 

Adam, if you are still out there, drop us a line and let us know how we can get in touch with you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bin Laden Calls on Muslims to Confront Arab Regimes, Wage Jihad to Liberate Palestine

Courtesy of MEMRI

On May 19, 2008, Al-Qaeda's Al-Sahab Media Company posted on Islamist websites, including Al-Ikhlas, a message by Osama bin Laden titled "[An Address] to the Islamic Umma."(1) The message is a desperate call to Muslim youth to assist the Palestinians in Gaza and to confront the "treacherous" Arab regimes and leaders that stand in the way of the goals of the mujahideen.

The following are the main points discussed in the message.

Arab Leaders Who Collaborate with the West Are "Wolves [Preying on] Sheep"

Following a general message to all Muslims, bin Laden addresses the Egyptian people, saying: "Our heroic brothers in Egypt must strive to lift the siege [on Gaza], because only they live next to [Gaza's] borders. They [must also] depose this cruel... and arrogant hard-hearted [ruler, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak]... who is like Pharaoh and Haman."

In the message, bin Laden urges young Muslims "to study the reasons for the [Arab countries'] failure to liberate Palestine until now and to learn their lessons." According to him, this failure is rooted in the treacherous nature of the Arab regimes. "The Ottoman Empire," he says, "protected the umma from the Western Crusader wolf. But Great Britain collaborated with Arab leaders – first and foremost Sharif Hussein and his children, and King 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Sa'ud – to fight and destroy the Ottoman Empire.

"Great Britain then appointed [Arab] agents to carry out its policy and protect its interests at our expense. It is stupidity to think that the agents of the Crusader-Zionist alliance will cease attacking our religion and [plundering] our wealth. They are like wolves which will never stop [preying on] sheep."

Saladin Battled Those Arab Emirs Who Fought With the Crusaders Against the Muslims

To highlight what he considers to be the Arab regimes' moral corruption and disloyalty to Islam, bin Laden cites Saladin as an example, saying that unlike Arab leaders, Saladin "understood that the way to stop the damage inflicted by the infidels is to fight [them] for the sake of Allah...

"Saladin associated with the divinely guided ulema, pursued religious knowledge even in the arenas of jihad... and supported their spurring people to wage jihad against the Crusaders... He battled those [Arab] emirs and their helpers who fought side by side with the Crusaders against Muslims, even if those [emirs] proclaimed [the first shahada:] 'There is no god but Allah...'"

"[Hizbullah Leader] Nasrallah Refused to Accept [Assistance from Sunni] Mujahideen"

"In Egypt, [in contrast], the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood makes sending 10,000 mujahideen to fight the Jews conditional... upon the consent of the American agent [i.e. Mubarak]..." In Lebanon, "[Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah claims that he does not need [more] money [to assist him in fighting Israel]... and that he is not in need of [more] people [i.e. soldiers]... If he does indeed possess what he needs, why does he not persist in the fight to liberate Palestine and rescue our people from the hands of the Jews?
"On the contrary: He welcomed the Crusader forces which came to protect the Jews. By doing do, he confirmed the claim by Sabih Tufayli, former Hizbullah secretary-general, that Kofi Annan came to Lebanon [to facilitate] an agreement between Hizbullah and the Zionists, and this is why [Nasrallah] refused to accept [the assistance of Sunni] mujahideen."

"The Only Way to Reach Palestine Is to Fight the [Arab] Regimes and Parties That [Share a] Border with the Jews"

Bin Laden makes the following prognosis for the current predicament of the Islamic nation: "Today the umma... must do everything in its power to confront the Crusaders' agents [in order] to eliminate the danger they pose. [In fact,] upon realizing that the [Arab] regimes follow America, many righteous sons of the umma... joined Islamic groups that call [to restore] the rule of Islam, to revive the Caliphate, and [to liberate] Palestine...

"The only way to reach Palestine is by fighting the [Arab] regimes and parties [i.e., Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood in countries] that [share a] border with the Jews and stand between us and them..."

(1) Al-Ikhlas Islamist forum, May 19, 2008.

For comments or assistance, please contact MEMRI at

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

Monday, May 12, 2008

Iranian Government Newspapers Back Hizbullah

**** is getting worse as the days go on:

Courtesy of MEMRI:

Iran's government newspapers have expressed absolute backing for Hizbullah in the current events in Lebanon, standing behind the organization's demand that Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Al-Siniora rescind his decision to dismantle Hizbullah's communications network and fire the security chief at Beirut's international airport. Calling Hizbullah "one of the regional arms of Iran [in the Middle East]," the newspapers claimed that a Hizbullah victory in Lebanon will be an Iranian victory over the U.S. in the Middle East power struggle, and will directly impact Iraq and Afghanistan, ending in the expulsion of the U.S. and its allies from the Middle East.

The papers also warned against interference by foreign states in the region, which they said would lead to a regional, or even global, conflagration. Furthermore, the Javan daily, which is identified with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), stated that what Hizbullah had done was to take a preventive action against a possible coup by the March 14 Forces.
The following are excerpts from articles in the Iranian government press.

For MEMRI's previous report on the events in Lebanon, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 436, "A Clean Sweep: Amal, Hizbullah Take Much of Beirut in Redux of Hamas' Gaza Takeover," May 9, 2008.

Kayhan: Iran Will Be the Victor in the Power Struggle with the U.S. in the Middle East

In its May 11, 2008 editorial, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stated that in the power struggle between Iran and the U.S. in the Middle East, Iran had the upper hand. It added that the U.S.'s efforts to "amputate [Iran's] regional arms" in the Middle East had failed. Following are the main points of the editorial (1)

"In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S. Throughout the past year or two, efforts have been evident, particularly on the part of the U.S., to involve other [players] in this game, and to turn regional issues into multi-side issues - that is, to shift the balance of power against Iran and in favor of the U.S. by using the Arab card and the Sunni card..."

The paper called the U.S. operations against Iran in the region "an effort to amputate the regional arms of Iran by means of direct intervention." It continued, "The developments in the region in the past month in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and even Syria must be understood as such...

"The Americans had promised their allies in the region that before Bush leaves office, and before the U.S. is forced to leave the region, Iran would be significantly weakened... [But] now Hizbullah... whose links with Iran are [those of] strategic convergence, and political and spiritual connections, has completely disrupted the game [being played by] the U.S. and Israel."

Jomhouri-e Eslami: A Hizbullah Victory in Lebanon Will Stop U.S. Influence in the Region and Lead to Replacement of the Regimes Identified With It

In a May 10, 2008 editorial titled "Fateful Days in Lebanon," the Iranian daily Jomhouri-e Eslami wrote that the expected Hizbullah victory in the events currently taking place in Lebanon would start a process of change in the balance of power in the Middle East - that is, it would stop the influence of the U.S. in the Middle East and bring about the fall of the regimes identified with it: (2)

"[Hizbullah leader] Hassan Nasrallah's courageous and wise decision-making ability undoubtedly closes the path of the great scheme being woven against Lebanon's independence, and he will be the final victor...

Now, the U.S. and Israel are in the worst possible situation, and everything is ready for another defeat for them, which will be fateful for the [Middle East] region...

"Following this defeat, the Zionist regime will begin its slide down the slope. The U.S.'s influence in the [Middle East] region will stop, and the regimes identified with it will be replaced. The fate of Iraq and Afghanistan will pass into the hands of their peoples, and the political balances in the region will change... These are fateful days in Lebanon."

Tehran Times: Al-Siniora's Demands are Likely to Lead to Regional or Even International Conflagration

In an editorial in the Iranian Foreign Ministry organ Tehran Times, editorial writer Hassan Hanizadeh warned that if Al-Siniora did not back down from his demands, "a new crisis, which will eventually drag regional and extra-regional powers into Lebanon's conflict." Following are the main points of the article (3)

"…Prime Minister Siniora's order to shut down Hizbullah's telecoms network shows that the United States and some other extra-regional powers have formulated a new plot to start an internecine conflict in Lebanon.
"Siniora made the decision in order to make it easier for Mossad and CIA operatives to enter Lebanon in order to assassinate figures allied with the Lebanese resistance movement...

"The Lebanese people view Hizbullah's telecoms network as one of the main factors which contributed to the movement's victory in the 33-day war, since it was used as a tool to neutralize the Zionist military's electronic warfare activities during the conflict…

"If the clashes in Beirut are not ended immediately, and [if] the Siniora government doesn't rescind its order to shut down Hizbullah's telecoms network, the situation will degenerate into a new crisis, which will eventually drag regional and extra-regional powers into Lebanon's conflict." (4)

Javan: Hizbullah Took Preventive Action

The Iranian daily Javan, which is identified with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), backed up Hizbullah's launch of an armed political struggle in Lebanon, saying, "The measure taken by Hizbullah is a kind of preventive action against a possible coup by the March 14 Forces."

(1) Kayhan (Iran), May 11, 2008.
(2) Jomhouri-e Eslami (Iran), May 10, 2008.
(3) Tehran Times (Iran), May 11, 2008.
(4) Javan (Iran), May 11, 2008.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

State Department's Jihad Exchange Program; What the Heck???

A good friend emailed me this from PajamasMedia. Interesting read and if it even remotely true, we are our own worst enemy. We do not need al Qaeda because we are imploding with political correctness.

Sounds like the State Department has chosen sides. G_d help us from ourselves.

State Department’s Jihadist Exchange Program

In yet another startling case of incompetence, the State Department is sponsoring international delegations for an Islamic group being investigated for terrorist support.

May 12, 2008 - by Patrick Poole  State Department diplomats are taking full advantage of their new rules prohibiting the use of “jihad,” “jihadist,” and “mujahedeen” to describe Islamic extremists and terrorists, which they apparently have taken to mean that there are no jihadists in light of the exchange programs they have recently sponsored for the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) — an organization currently under active federal grand jury investigation for terrorist support activities. [HT: Global MB Daily Report]

The IIIT exchange programs have been conducted under the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program. According to reports published on IIIT’s website, the State Department sponsored a March 7 visit to IIIT by a group of Chinese scholars and, more recently, an April 17-18 session with a large delegation of Islamic scholars from the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.

The State Department has sponsored these IIIT activities at the very same time that a federal grand jury continues to look into IIIT’s multiple ties to terrorism as part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing Operation Green Quest investigation. A March 24 article in the New York Sun, “A Court Sheds New Light on Terror Probe,” identifies IIIT as the “group at the center of the probe.”   For the rest of the story:

PajamasMedia: State Department’s Jihadist Exchange Program

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ahmadinejad - The Mahdi (hidden imam) is directing Iran

Courtesy of
Link to Breitbart

Clerics have told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stick to more worldly issues after he was quoted as saying the "hidden imam" of Shiite Islam was directing Iran.

Ahmadinejad has always been a devotee of the Mahdi, the twelfth imam of Shiite Islam, who Shiites believe disappeared more than a thousand years ago and who will return one day to usher in a new era of peace and harmony. But in a speech to theology students broadcast by state television on Monday, Ahmadinejad went further than ever before in emphasising his belief that the Mahdi is playing a critical role in Iran's day-to-day politics. "The Imam Mahdi is in charge of the world and we see his hand directing all the affairs of the country," he said in the speech, which appears to date from last month but has only now been broadcast. "We must solve Iran's internal problems as quickly as possible. Time is lacking. A movement has started for us to occupy ourselves with our global responsibilities, which are arriving with great speed." Since becoming president in 2005, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly stated that his government is paving the way for the return of the Mahdi and chided his foes for not believing that his return is imminent..........

read more

Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran, and The Revolt of Islam

The the birth of Islam by its founder Mohammad and for 1,200 year, Islam grew to reign over the civilized world around the Mediterranean.  Then about 300 years ago through concern of the Kuffars (Infidels and unbelievers) history documents an Islamic decline starting with the Crusades.  Islam opened the door to further humiliation when some leaders sided with the Germany dictator during world war 2.   In 1948 there occurred a humiliation from non-Muslims with the reintroduction of a Jewish state.

Islam's historic trials and tribulations with Jews, and its relationship with non-believers, help illustrate an Islamic world view - all through the eyes of Muslims.  It is imperative for us to understand Islam's past and how it views itself so that we can understand what Islam desires for the future.

Today  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Iranian strategic agenda for acquiring weapons of mass destruction to eliminate Israel comes clearly into focus and should not be ignored.

At the direction of Ahmadinejad, radicalized Islamists are preparing for a fateful coming war for fundamentalist inspired Islam - and Israel is the number one target and obstacle in the path of Islamic revival. Only with the return of Jews to their historic status as Dhimmi or Tributaries, tolerated and protected within fundamentalist inspired Islamic society, can fundamentalist inspired Islamic revival succeed - resulting in Islamic Peace, in the Middle East.

It is strangely Biblically prophetic that this appears to be where we are heading.  It would seem Israel has no choice but to make peace in order to survive - yet this peace based on fundamentalist inspired Islamic justice - is misunderstood by Israel and many in the West.

Stand by for heavy rolls my friend.  I am not sure it will get better before it gets much worse.

PS, you may want to check out this link and the  DVD   Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran, and The Revolt of Islam

Iraqis misidentify the wrong guy

DARN, according to news reports out of Iraq, a United States military official denied claims that Iraqi security forces arrested Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri in Mosul.  Maj. Peggy Kageleiry, a U.S. military spokeswoman in northern Iraq.  Major Kageleriy indicated that a man with a similar name was arrested in the northern city of Mosul. 

Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said the confusion arose because the commander of Iraqi forces in northern Ninevah province was convinced that he had arrested al-Masri — also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

In mid April, a man claiming to be al-Masri vowed  to launch a month long offensive against U.S. troops.

“We call on our beloved ones … that each unit should present the head of an American as a gift to the charlatan Bush … in addition to one of the apostate servants and slaves of the awakening (councils) during a one-month period,” he said in the tape, posted on an Internet site known for its militant contents.

According the coalition troops in the field Iraqi Security Forces sacrifice daily and are conducting independent operations around Iraq riding their country of foreign and domestic insurgents. Although this latest news was a let down, it should be noted that there have been other successes by Iraqi security forces in the past several days.  I obtained the following news briefs from Operation Enduring Freedom, the official website for Multi-National Forces Iraq.

  • ISF detain criminal cell leader, three al-Qaeda in Iraq (Baghdad)
  • ISF, MND-B find several weapons caches across Baghdad
  • SOIs repel AQI attacks and identify cache (Diyala)
  • Iraqi Army soldiers, policemen seize IEDs in East Mansour
  • Iraqi Security Forces capture three wanted insurgents in Baghdad
  • SoI repels attack 4 insurgents killed, large cache discovered
  • Iraqi Special Operations Forces detain seven Special Groups criminals in Sadr City
  • Iraqi Army detains mid-level al-Qaeda in Iraq leader in Kirkuk province; detain six other suspected  
  • Sunday, May 04, 2008

    FBI investigating early-morning courthouse explosion

    Courtesy of KFMB, San Diego: FBI investigating early-morning courthouse explosion

    Were they gangbangers, criminals, pissed off illegal aliens, drug runners, or terrorists? Who knows?

    SAN DIEGO -- Hearings scheduled for Monday at the federal courthouse downtown have been postponed due to the early-morning explosion that damaged the entrance to the building.

    FBI field offices and federal courthouses nationwide have been alerted about the blast, which may have been caused by a pipe bomb timed to go off at a time when no one would be hurt, an FBI spokesman said.

    The loud blast at the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Courthouse, 940 Front St., occurred at about 1:40 a.m., said the FBI's April Langwell.

    By noon, no claims of responsibility had been received, Langwell said.

    For the rest of the story: Early-morning courthouse explosion

    Also reporting:

    * * * PUBLIC NOTICE * * *

    May 4, 2008 - The United States federal courthouse in the Southern District of California, located in downtown San Diego, will be closed to the public on Monday, May 5th, 2008 due to damage caused by a bomb explosion at the courthouse entrance. All federal court activity in San Diego has been cancelled. The U.S Courthouse in El Centro, California will remain open. The Clerk’s Office for the federal court will be open for business on Monday.

    Jurors that are scheduled for federal court jury duty on Monday, May 5th are asked not to report as required. Jurors should call 800-998-9035 after 6:00 PM on Monday evening to check the status of their jury duty for Tuesday, May 6th, 2008.

    All federal court employees are required to report to work as usual. All employees must use the Federal Building entrance at 880 Front Street.

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    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    A Policy Shift in "War on Terror" Lexicon

    With less than a year left in office, the Bush administration is rewriting its "war on terror" lexicon. Officials in federal agencies have been asked not to use the terms jihadists and mujahideen, describe al-Qaida as a movement, or refer to Islamo-fascism.

    Staff of the state department, homeland security department and national counterterrorism center, as well as diplomats and other officials, have been told that various words in common use may actually boost support for extremists among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or causing offence to moderates. Source: Hannity Forum, Terrorism and Language: A Policy Shift

    It appears to me that changing the language that one uses as directed by federal agencies fantasy-based policymaking.

    I wonder who the consultants were who advised the Bush Administration to change the names to protect the innocents? The usual suspects come to mind. It appears to me that the real losers are those most affected by "hard" Jihad and terrorism.

    Islam is divided into two camps, Dar al Harb (The abode of war), and Dar al Islam (The abode of Islam). Dar al Harb is the up front and in your face violent extremists, "Hard Jihad."

    Dar al Islam in locked in an internal struggle with the west for identity and professes the Pillars of Islam: "Soft" Jihad

    Dar al Islam struggles internally in a secular world striving to live a moral and virtuous life, spreading and defending Islam as well as fighting injustice and oppression.

    The end result for both extremist fundamentalists and moderates are to encourage non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

    The basic creed of Islam is known as The Shahadah: "'Ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh", or "I testify that there is no god (ilah) but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah". The Qur'an and Hadith instructs the Muslims life and also encourages him (and her) to promulgate for the faith and encourage non believes to submit to the will of allah.

    Infidels beware. By limiting how Infidels talks about and identifies the idiosyncrasies of Islam, it will be difficult to identify and defeat an enemy (radical Islamist) we refuse to know and understand.

    To sum it up, I would like to quote a very good friend

    Cancer goes away if you call it a head cold.

    Be Ever Vigilant,


    Drug Smuggling Submarines

    Drug Subs :

    In the last 6 months the U.S. Coast Guard along with the U.S. Navy have found 42 submersibles headed north towards the United States and off the coast of Central America. That is double the number found in the previous 5 years combined. These subs can carry as much as 10 tons of drugs or even weapons and some of the latest models can move 15 knots.

    Sophisticated submarine-like boats are the latest tool drug runners are using to bring cocaine north from Colombia, it was reported on March 20, 2008. Although the vessels were once viewed as a quirky sideshow in the drug war, they are becoming faster, more seaworthy, and capable of carrying bigger loads of drugs than earlier models, according to those charged with catching them.

    Comment from my friend Lord Dreadmore:

    These little bastards come here all the time....its easy to speculate about the myriad of uses these subs can have.... Hannity Forum

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    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    The Taliban Stand to Gain

    Courtesy of MEMRI

    The Taliban Stand to Gain Most From the New Pakistani Policy of Dialogue
    By: Tufail Ahmad *


    On April 21, 2008, the government of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani released the top Islamist leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad from a prison in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), signaling the beginning of the new government's controversial policy of dialogue and accommodation with the Taliban. This has led to speculation that Pakistan is about to release hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in its custody in order to buy peace in the Taliban-controlled border region.

    Sufi Muhammad is the founder of the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TSNM, or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Shari'a). He was arrested in 2002 while returning from the fighting in Afghanistan, on charges of sending thousands of jihadists across the border to fight against U.S. forces after 9/11. During his detention, his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah led the banned outfit, and his fighters came to occupy most of the Swat district in the NWFP from July through November 2007, before being repelled by the Pakistani military.

    The Taliban-controlled region covers some parts of the North West Frontier Province such as Swat and Malakand districts, where Sufi Muhammad's TSNM has been campaigning for the implementation of shari'a, and also the tribal districts bordered by Afghanistan and NWFP on two sides. Pakistan has nominal presence in the tribal districts, or Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs), which do not come under the ambit of the Pakistani constitution - thus giving the Taliban autonomy of sorts.

    After Sufi Muhammad's release following a deal between the Taliban and the governments of Pakistan and the NWFP, where the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party recently came to power, negotiations have been underway for establishing peace in the region. The talks are taking place at several levels, sometimes with a single Taliban group on a specific issue but mostly with the tribal elders acting for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Movement of Pakistani Taliban) - an umbrella organization of local jihadist groups, led by Baitullah Mehsud.

    The talks are focused on the following interrelated areas:

    1. The release of Sufi Muhammad
    2. The release of kidnapped Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin
    3. Legal cases against Red Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz
    4. Baitullah Mehsud's control of tribal districts.

    Before Gilani took over as prime minister, Pakistan was rocked by a series of bomb blasts and suicide bombings, over a period of several years. Leaders of his Pakistan People's Party and key coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League (N) had vowed to adopt a policy of reconciliation with the Taliban to eliminate violence from Pakistan - in a move opposed to President Pervez Musharraf's policy of fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in cooperation with the West.

    On March 29, 2008, the prime minister announced a policy of reconciliation with the Taliban during an address to the National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistani parliament. He stated: "Terrorism and extremism have put our national security in danger. This is our serious problem. Our first priority, therefore, will be the restoration of law and order in the country and total elimination of terrorism…. My appeal to all those who are on the path of violence is to reject the way of violence and join us on this journey of democracy. We are ready to talk to all those who are willing to reject weapons and adopt the path of peace."[1]

    The Pakistani government's policy of dialogue with the Taliban is aimed ending the attacks and suicide bombings that nearly destabilized Pakistan. A policy of reconciliation also suits both sides for now, as they hold each other's hundreds of captives. There is a concern, however, that this policy, instead of eliminating extremism, may strengthen the Taliban.

    The Release of Sufi Muhammad - First Mini-Shari'a State Inside Pakistan In Exchange For Releasing Militants

    Sufi Muhammad was freed following a deal with the government, the details of which appeared in bits and pieces in the media. According to NWFP senior minister Raheem Dad Khan, the agreement with the outlawed TSNM will result in positive developments for the province. The minister noted two key points: first, Sufi Muhammad has agreed not to pursue a path of violence; and second, it is possible for the NWFP government to implement shari'a in Malakand and Swat region, a long-standing demand of the TSNM.[2]

    The minister confirmed that as part of the deal, the NWFP government is preparing a shari'a package for the Malakand region. Justifying that there was nothing wrong in acceding to Sufi Muhammad's demand for implementing shari'a, Khan went on to say: "We want to implement the Islamic system not in a limited area [Malakand] but in the entire country."[3]

    According to another report, Raheem Dad Khan said that on the advice of the provincial government, the government of Pakistan withdrew all the cases registered against Sufi Muhammad for his role in jihad in Afghanistan after 9/11. The federal government also dropped the cases against 40 of his fighters filed for their role in the Swat district, ensuring their release from jails.[4]

    Last year when the fighters of Sufi Muhammad's son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah captured most of the Swat district, the government had to send troops to end their four-month occupation. However, the government also acceded to their key demand for implementation of shari'a in the district. The TSNM retained some control and later the then provincial government prepared a development package, the key feature of which was "the real implementation of a shari'a system of justice."[5]

    It has been confirmed by the NWFP Law Minister Arshad Abdullah that an updated shari'a package for both the districts of Malakand and Swat is under the consideration of the provincial government and will be sent to President Musharraf for his approval. [6]

    It is evident that the government is agreeing to a shari'a system of administration and justice for one region of the state, which will be different from the one prevalent in the rest of the NWFP. Though the specific details of the package are not known, it appears that the package will cover a region, roughly one-third of the province. This could also be the beginning of a Taliban mini-state within the North West Frontier Province.

    This has raised concerns as to whether the government will be able to hold Sufi Muhammad, Maulana Fazlullah and their fighters to account and if yes, then for how long. The TSNM was controlled by Maulana Fazlullah in the absence of his father-in-law Sufi Muhammad over the past six years, during which fighters from Taliban and Al Qaeda groups also joined. It remains to be seen how long Maulana Fazlullah will keep a low profile. On the day Sufi Muhammad was released, Maulana Fazlullah announced on his pirate FM radio that his talks to establish peace in the region have failed. [7]

    Head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Senator Maulana Sami ul-Haq noted that the previous government in the province led by Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, the Alliance of Religious Parties, had turned down such a request. He said that the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, a key constituent of the religious coalition, would often ask: Who will keep Sufi Muhammad under control in case he was released?[8]

    The deal with the outlawed TSNM has attained legitimacy, permitting it also to work for implementation of shari'a through peaceful means.[9]

    The Release of Kidnapped Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan - In Exchange for Freeing Islamist Leaders

    On February 11, 2008, Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin went missing, along with his guard and driver, in the tribal district of Khyber Agency while travelling from Peshawar to Kabul. He is the most high-profile captive taken by the Taliban. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi has denied any link between efforts to secure the release of Tariq Azizuddin and those to obtain the release of Sufi Muhammad.[10]

    The Taliban have also sought to deny any role in the kidnapping of the diplomat. However, the facts prove otherwise. It was reported that the Pakistani government is engaged in negotiations with the kidnappers through the mediation of Sufi Muhammad. The Urdu newspaper Roznama Khabrain reported that during the talks, the Taliban put forward many demands, including one for the release of several militants.[11]

    On April 19, 2008, a video confirming that Tariq Azizuddin was in Taliban custody was aired on television channels. After the release of the video, a spokesman of the Foreign Office in Islamabad confirmed that the government "is using all possible sources to secure his release, and talks are ongoing."[12]

    Against this backdrop, the diplomat may be released any time now. The Pakistani government has not disclosed the names, ranks, and affiliation of militants whose release is being bartered for the freedom of Tariq Azizuddin and for peace in the Taliban-controlled region on the border with Afghanistan.

    Significantly, Azizuddin went missing within a few days of the capture of Taliban commander Mansoor Dadullah in a military operation in Pakistan. A day after the kidnapping, the website of Pakistan's popular GEO Television Network quoted an unnamed Arab journalist based in Islamabad as saying that in exchange for freeing the Azizuddin, the Taliban were seeking the release of Mansoor Dadullah, brother of slain Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah.[13]

    Legal Cases against Red Mosque ClericMaulana Abdul Aziz

    The talks were always focused on specific issues, for example, the release of diplomat Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistani soldiers held by the Taliban, or Islamist leaders in Pakistani jails. What expanded the scope of these talks was the victory of secular political parties in the February elections. The victorious parties, which blamed the violence in Pakistan on President Musharraf's policy of fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in cooperation with the West, had advocated a policy of reconciliation with extremists. Since coming to power, these parties initiated a policy of dialogue with all Taliban groups.

    A day before the release of Sufi Muhammad, reports appeared in the media saying that Tariq Azizuddin's kidnappers had demanded the release of 12 top Islamist leaders, including Maulana Abdul Aziz, the cleric arrested while fleeing in a burqa during the 2007 military operation on his Red Mosque and the Jamia Hafsa madrassa in Islamadab; Taliban commander Mansoor Dadullah; Sufi Muhammad; five fighters of the Afghan Taliban; and others. According to a report, most of the militants proposed for release by the Taliban in exchange for their freeing of Tariq Azizuddin are supporters of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud.[14]

    Currently, there is speculation over when Azizuddin will be freed and whether or not the Pakistani government will release Mansoor Dadullah and Maulana Abdul Aziz in exchange, and whether the timing of the two militants' release will be modulated in a way to distract the public attention from the exchanged deal. There are indications, however, that the government is moving in the direction of releasing Maulana Abdul Aziz.

    Recently, the High Court in Islamabad granted bail to Maulana Abdul Aziz in four cases. With this, the radical cleric, with powerful connections inside the Pakistani military, has now been granted bail in 19 of the 27 cases filed against him. His release is expected as early as in May 2008, when the court will hear the next batch of his bail applications.[15]

    Baitullah Mehsud's Control of Tribal Districts and Pakistani Taliban Aspiration to Expel Pakistani Troops from Tribal Districts

    Baitullah Mehsud leads the militants from his Mehsud tribe in the tribal district of South Waziristan. When the Pakistani Taliban groups formed the umbrella organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud became its head. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is concentrated in the tribal districts of the Federally Administered Tribal Districts, which are beyond the purview of the Pakistani constitution. Pakistan manages the tribal districts through a representative called the Political Administrator. Administration and justice is carried out under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, a 1901 British law.

    The Gilani government has announced its plan to abolish the 1901 law so that these tribal districts could be integrated into Pakistan, possibly as a fifth province. While the Pakistani Taliban, who virtually control the region, welcomed the decision, they have made two demands: Pakistan must distance itself from the U.S. war on terror, and a system of shari'a must be implemented in the region.[16]

    The government is engaged in talks with a delegation of tribal elders nominated by Baitullah Mehsud. As a precondition for the talks, and at the time of Sufi Muhammad's release, Baitullah Mehsud asked his fighters not to engage in provocative actions that could mar peace in the FATAs as well as in parts of the North West Frontier Province.[17]

    The nature of the talks between the government and Baitullah Mehsud's representatives came to light in a 15-point draft agreement. Some of its points included:[18]

    a) The Political Administration and the Mehsud tribe will jointly monitor and report the likelihood of the presence of training camps for militants and of the preparation of terror attacks.
    b) If the Mehsud tribe fails to eliminate suspicions of militant training in the area, the government will have the right to take action as per tribal customs and traditions, and the Frontier Crimes Regulation.
    c) The exchange of prisoners of both sides will take place after the signing of this agreement. The government will release all prisoners from the Mehsud tribe.
    d) Government troops will begin phased withdrawal from the region of Mehsud tribe after the agreement is signed.

    It appears from the draft agreement that the talks are focused on Baitullah Mehsud's tribe - i.e. in the tribal districts of South and North Waziristan. It is also clear that the militants loyal to Baitullah Mehsud have wider control across the region than some of the Taliban groups in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The overall objective of the talks is to restore peace across the region, possibly through shared control as evident from the demand to jointly monitor the likely presence of terror camps in the region.

    The negotiations are seen as a bargaining process by the Taliban. During the talks the Taliban delegation sought the release 250 militants from Pakistani jails in exchange for about 80-100 government officials and soldiers. [19]

    It appear that the government, indeed, is making concessions: it was reported that it gave cash compensation worth more than 200 million Pakistani rupees to over 500 individuals for the Taliban fighters killed or wounded during the military operation begun by Pakistani troops in Waziristan in 2004. According to a report, about 150 senior Taliban commanders in Waziristan received huge undisclosed sums. [20]

    By the last week of April, there was a deadlock in the talks over the issue of withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the region, leading to the suspension of the negotiations by Taliban. According to a report, the delegation of tribal elders returned from the talks, saying that the government was not agreeing to the troops' withdrawal. [21]

    The Taliban are also demanding that they should be free to launch attacks across the border against U.S. and NATO troops deployed in Afghanistan - a demand that will transform the tribal districts into a military training base for the jihadist fighters, and all the more so if the Pakistani troops were to return to barracks. [22]

    The suspension of the talks has focused on the nature of the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the region, also highlighting in the process the Taliban ambition to control the region without the presence of Pakistani troops. However, it is not clear whether the Taliban are demanding total withdrawal of the troops, or whether they will allow some kind of Pakistani military presence. For now, NWFP Chief Minister (executive head) Ameer Haidar Hoti has said that the demand for the withdrawal of troops is not correct, pleading for "flexibility on the part of the Taliban in order to establish peace." [23]

    Even if the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistanreached a deal with the government, there are many militant groups that act as per their own agenda. For example, a group called Lashkar-e-Islam recently asserted its control in the tribal district of Khyber Agency, vowing to spread Islam across the world. [24]

    Similarly, in the tribal district of Mohmand Agency the local Emir of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has established control, recently issuing an agenda for the implementation of the Islamic shari'a. [25]

    And in late April, a significant development took place in the town of Darra Adam Khel in the NWFP, indicating the type of change that is coming in as a result of the government's policy of dialogue with the Taliban. As soon as the Pakistani troops withdrew from this area, Taliban fighters came rushing in. They parked their vehicles in front of a local politician's house, leaving a message that he should guard them until they complete setting up their control centers. The Peshawar-based Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Mashriq reported: "The tribal elders are describing this new development to be the result of the government's new policy of establishing peace in these regions." [26]

    It appears though that the Pakistani government has succeeded in halting suicide bombings, possibly as a result of the talks with the Taliban groups. It is also evident that the Taliban have the upper hand, pursuing their own agenda and achieving success in a key demand for - at an early stage in the talks - a mini-shari'a state within Pakistan.

    * Tufail Ahmad is the director of MEMRI's Urdu-Pashtu Media Project.


    [1] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), March 30, 2008.

    [2] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 23, 2008.

    [3] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 23, 2008.

    [4] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), March 23, 2008.

    [5] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), March 27, 2008.

    [6] Roznama Khabrain (Pakistan), March 25, 2008.

    [7] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), March 22, 2008.

    [8] Roznama Khabrain (Pakistan), April 23, 2008.

    [9] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 23, 2008.

    [10] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), March 23, 2008.

    [11] Roznama Khabrain (Pakistan), April 24, 2008.

    [12] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 20, 2008.

    [13] Geo TV ( ), accessed February 12, 2008.

    [14] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), February 21, 2008.

    [15] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 29, 2008.

    [16] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), March 31, 2008.

    [17] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 24, 2008.

    [18] Roznama Ausaf (London), April 24, 2008.

    [19] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 28, 2008.

    [20] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), April 30, 2008.

    [21] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 29, 2008.

    [22] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 28, 2008.

    [23] Roznama Khabrain (Pakistan), April 30, 2008.

    [24] Roznama Khabrain (Pakistan), April 18, 2008.

    [25] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 17, 2008.

    [26] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), April 23, 2008.


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    Ignorance of the Islamic Religious Establishment

      Courtesy of MEMRI

    In an extensive January 2008 interview with the Qatari Al-Raya daily, eminent Syrian philosopher Sadik Jalal Al-'Azm discussed the state of religious thought in the Muslim world, democracy in Turkey and in Arab countries, Hizbullah and the 2006 war, and the role of the intellectual in Syria and the Arab world.

    The following are excerpts from the interview: "A Comprehensive Interview with Syrian Philosopher Sadik Jalal Al-'Azm"

    The Ignorance of the Islamic Religious Establishment Has Grown Worse Since I First Wrote About It in the Late 1960s

    Q: "... To what degree have your views changed since publishing [your] book Critique of Religious Thought?"

    A: "My views have changed in the sense that I have taken new developments into account…
    "In the book Critique of Religious Thought I described the thought in those days as impoverished. The title of the first essay in the book is 'The Scientific Culture and the Impoverishment of Religious Thought.' Now I see that this impoverishment has deepened and grown worse.

    "In that period, between 1969 and 1970, there was [at least] an attempt by Islamic thinkers to deal with the problems and questions of modern science. They tended to base their discussion and argument on reason, reality, and the course of events. Now, I find that the religious thought that has emerged on Islam is in an even deeper state of impoverishment, in the sense that today we have arrived at issues like the fatwa of breast-feeding adults – and this was not issued by just any ordinary sheikh, but by the head of the Hadith Department at Al-Azhar University...
    "In the period in which I wrote Critique of Religious Thought, it was difficult to find this type of fatwa. Therefore, it is possible to say that there has been a great deterioration and that we have moved away from basing our judgments on rationality.

    "Other examples of this are [the fatwas] issued by sheikhs from Al-Azhar, like blessing oneself with the Prophet's urine, or the repeated mentioning of the hadith of the fly, and the spread of this superstitious manner of thinking in the Islamic environment. I believe that this represents an additional deterioration over and above the impoverishment that I spoke about between 1969 and 1970.

    "In that period, when I discussed the impoverishment of religious thought, I dealt with a number of Islamic thinkers and clerics, such as the Mufti of Tripoli Nadim Al-Jasser, Musa Al-Sadr, and others. At that time I saw that they wanted to deal with modern science, the scientific revolution, and applied science; however, unfortunately, they were ignorant of everything related to modern science: What is the meaning of science? What are the ways of scientific inquiry? Often their only knowledge of physics, chemistry, or anatomy since finishing elementary school came from reading the newspapers. They wanted to oppose the societal influence of scientific development and technological achievements while at the same time acting with an almost complete ignorance in these matters.

    "In my estimation this has grown even worse today. There is greater ignorance. There are opinions, especially in fundamentalist Islam, that completely reject modern science, the West, and all that it produces. If you take their thinking to its logical conclusion, they will become [like] the Taliban on this issue."

    The Only Interest Khomeini Took in Outer Space Is How a Muslim Should Bow and Pray and How He Should Fast When He Stays There for a Long Period of Time

    "They relate to problems with complete stupidity. For example, I read some of Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini's fatwas. In one of them, he presents the matter of a Muslim going into space in a space capsule. He discussed how he should pray, and how he should figure out in which direction to pray in outer space. Of course in space there is no north or south, and space capsules orbit at high speed along a fixed course. Likewise, when a Muslim reaches space, he will get there in a Russian or American space capsule, since there are no Arab or Muslim space capsules at all.

    "The problem is that Khomeini is not familiar with any of the achievements, the attainments, the sciences, or the technological knowledge relating to space. All that interests him is how a Muslim should bow and pray, and how he should fast when he stays there for a long period of time. After this discussion, Khomeini arrives at the conclusion to permit a Muslim to pray in any of the four directions. Obviously, this way of thinking betrays [his] complete ignorance, as the directions are a matter of convention; there are no four directions in nature...

    "They are opposed to matters like test-tube babies, or innovations, for example, in the area of the genetic code (DNA) and genetic reproduction as well as other scientific breakthroughs and discoveries. They have no knowledge of the nature of these sciences, how the scientists arrived at them, and what were the experiments that preceded them. They are not in possession of a culture of science and they are radical in this matter. This is regarding the Shi'ites, but [there are examples] also among the Sunnis, [like] Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz ibn Baz, the senior religious scholar in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

    Saudi Mufti 'Abd Al-'Aziz Ibn Baz Declared All Those Who Say the Earth Orbits the Sun To Be Apostates

    Q: "Excuse me, but I don't know if we can mention names. Perhaps this is a sensitive issue for some people."

    A: "If talking about this subject is a sensitive matter then that is additional evidence of how disastrous our situation has become. Anyway, I will give my opinion, and you can do what you wish.

    "In Ibn Baz's book, published in 1985, he completely rejected the idea that the earth is round. He discussed the question on the basis that the earth is flat. He completely rejected the idea that the earth orbits the sun. I own the book and you can verify what I am saying.
    "And so, the earth does not orbit the sun, rather it is the sun that goes around the earth. He brought [us] back to ancient astronomy, to the pre-Copernican period. Of course, in this book Ibn Baz declares that all those who say that the earth is round and orbits the sun are apostates. At any rate, he is free to think what he wants. But the great disaster is that not one of the religious scholars or institutions in the Muslim world, from the East to the West, from Al-Azhar to Al-Zaytouna, from Al-Qaradhawi to Al-Turabi and [Sheikh Ahmad] Kaftaro, and the departments for shari'a study – no one dared to tell Ibn Baz what nonsense he clings to in the name of the Islamic religion.

    "The fact that you tell me that this is a sensitive matter – this means that I cannot reply to the words of Ibn Baz when he says that the Earth is flat and does not go around the sun, but rises and sets, in the ancient manner. This is a disaster. The greatest disaster is that we cannot even answer them.

    "... The official religious institutions, first and foremost Al-Azhar, the faculties of shari'a , the departments of religious rulings, and so on are in a state of complete intellectual barrenness. They produce nothing but rulings like adult breastfeeding, the hadith of the fly, blessing oneself with the Prophet's urine, and flogging journalists. The field has been abandoned to the jihadist-fundamentalist ideology, as it is the only one that raises thoughts that are worthy of being discussed and rejected. This is because of the barrenness of the major official institutions which are considered to be exemplary.

    "They are filled with repetitiveness, ossification, regression, protecting [particular] interests, perpetuating the status quo, and submission to the ruling authority. If the state is socialist, the Mufti becomes a socialist; if the rulers are at war, the clerics are pro-war; if the governments pursue peace, the [religious authorities] follow them. This is part of the barrenness of these institutions. This [forms a] vacuum in religious thought that is filled by the [intellectual] descendants and followers of Sayyid Qutb, for example, and that type of violent fundamentalist Islam..."

    Jihadi Movements Are More Interested in Islamist World Rule than in Resisting Western Military Presence

    Q: "To what extent are the jihadi and Islamist movements in the Arab world influenced by foreign military presence in occupied Arab areas, whether Israeli or American?"

    A: "Western military presence in the Arab world has been uninterrupted. It has always existed in one way or another. During the Cold War there were Islamist movements allied with the West to confront Communist expansion and the Soviet Union. In general, these movements, with some exceptions, are not known to have devoted efforts to rid the Arab lands of any foreign presence. This was, rather, something associated with the Arab liberation movements and the popular pan-Arab program under the leadership of Abdel Nasser.

    "We lived through this in the 60s and 70s. In that period there was a partial victory by the pan-Arabists, though I do not think it was a total victory. The foreign presence remained in a number of Arab states.

    "In the case of Afghanistan, for example, there was a direct and friendly Western-Islamic military alliance with the goal of fighting the former Soviet Union. Therefore, I do not believe the foreign military presence is a direct cause of the outbreak of the Intifada, the operations carried out by jihadi movements, or what occurred in Algeria, Sudan, Syria, and Egypt during that period.

    "I believe that the Islamic jihadi organizations were deluded that they were capable of defeating the Soviet empire. They forgot or intentionally ignored the fact that this goal would have been impossible [to achieve] without the alliance with the United States and the West. They believe they actually brought down [the USSR], that Allah gave them the ability to do so and assisted them in carrying this out. If we assume for the sake of argument that this is true, then why are they incapable of defeating the American empire?
    "Ideology plays an important role in the belief and behavior of these movements. They believe that it is necessary to return the rule of Islam to the Arab and Muslim states, like it was in the beginning. After this, [they want] to extend [Islamic] rule over the world. I believe that this motivation is stronger for them than the existence of American or English military bases here and there in the Arab world."

    Q: "But isn't there a connection between the emergence of Islamic jihadi movements like Hamas and Hizbullah and the growing role of Al-Qaeda in the world, on one hand, and the two occupations – the Israeli and the American – on the other?"

    A: "I do not deny that this factor had a role in the emergence of these movements and their increase in popularity, especially after the failure of the pan-Arab movement that had secularist leanings, though without adopting secularism as one of its principle slogans, as occurred in Turkey, for example. [The pan-Arab failure] increased the feelings of humiliation, marginalization, and a sense of failure that formed a sudden and unexpected vacuum, which was filled by the Islamist movements. A number of critics – myself included – grasped this phenomenon after the defeat in June 1967..."

    "I Think the Caliphate Could Return when the Bourbons or Louis XVI Return to Rule in France"

    Q: "To what extent do slogans used by Islamist movements – 'Islam is the solution' for example – play a role in recruiting people and winning their sympathies?"

    A: "There is no doubt that in Muslim countries the slogan 'Islam is the solution' is attractive and brings people in. However I believe that this enlistment is superficial and sentimental, since when people deeply examine the substance of these slogans and the platforms it includes, they will begin to examine and discuss it anew.

    "Likewise, they will raise pressing questions, for example: Is the meaning of 'Islam is the solution' the reestablishment of the Caliphate? And is the reestablishment of the Caliphate a realistic program? And so on.

    "I think that the Caliphate could return when the Bourbons or Louis XVI return to rule in France, or the czars return to rule in Russia. In Russia there is a Czarist party that wants to establish constitutional czarist rule. If it succeeds, then perhaps the Islamists will succeed in reestablishing the Caliphate."

    "The Islamists' Conception of Implementing Shari'a is [Really] Martial Law"

    "As for these movements' understanding of implementation of the shari'a, it could be summed up in the penal code, that is, flogging, stoning, cutting off hands, feet, heads, and so on. But what would happen if [one of the Islamists], for example, or his son or relative, was sentenced to flogging, to having his hands cut off, or whatever. In this situation he would reject this penal code. Perhaps they would agree to a fine, jail, or some other punishment, but he would not agree to flogging, stoning, or the cutting off of a hand. Therein lies the problem.

    "When the Islamists reach power, as they did in Sudan, for example, they are wary of implementing these punishments. When you carefully examine the slogan 'Islam is the solution,' you discover that the people are already apprehensive and have second thoughts about implementation of this slogan.

    "Does it mean that you will go to the Christians and impose the poll tax (jizya) on them? In our countries, Egypt and Syria for example, there are Christians who were martyred in our wars against Israel, and now they are treated as martyrs, and their children are treated as the children of martyrs. What would happen to them if we implemented the shari'a? Would they be considered martyrs or not? Are they not martyrs who died for the homeland in the battles for the Sinai and the Golan Heights? How many Muslims in Egypt or Syria would agree to this? Incidentally, the previous supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt explicitly called for excluding Christians from the Egyptian army on the grounds that they are dhimmis.

    "I believe that the Islamists' conception of implementing the Muslim shari'a is [really] martial law. When military officers take over the government they declare a state of emergency and martial law. When Islamists come to power they declare the implementation of the shari'a – and in this way they are no different from each other. In my opinion, their most important role is to terrorize people."

    "Forming Parties on a Sectarian Basis… Is No Less Dangerous than Forming a Party on a Racial Basis… This Means a Return to Nazism"

    Q: "Is it possible to say that the religious movements are a product or a reaction to the inability of the Arab regimes, in the past and in the present, to establish a state based on citizenship? And, likewise, is it possible that these movements will establish such a state when they come to power?"

    A: "First of all, a state based on citizenship is a long-term historical process. We cannot say that this regime or another failed in building it; however, it is possible to say that a given regime contributed to improving the general atmosphere towards establishing a state based on citizenship, or that another regime regressed or failed.

    "Second, I believe the Islamists do not want a state based on citizenship where dhimmis would be equal to Sunni Muslims in the Arab states, or equal to Shi'ite Muslims in Iran, where you have to be Shi'ite to be considered a first-class citizen.

    "In general, I believe that the contention that the inability of the regimes to establish a state based on citizenship contributed to the prominence of the Islamists is partially true. In any case, the question of citizenship is not important to the Islamist movements. Today, they talk about citizenship, but I am very doubtful regarding their seriousness, particularly because their parties are on a sectarian basis and so are limited by being Sunni, Shi'ite, and so on.

    "When the Sunni majority establishes a party on a religious-sectarian basis, it becomes an example and encourages the rest of the sects to form their own special parties. Consequently, the idea of forming parties on a sectarian or religious basis advances the collapse of the idea of citizenship. I believe this is no less dangerous than forming a party on a racial basis, like in Germany for example, since this means a return to Nazism."

    "If It Were Not for Turkey's Secularism, the Idea of Islamists Alternating in Power Would Be Impossible"

    Q: "Is this true regarding Islamist movements that believe in participating in political activities and peaceful negotiations to arrive in power, like the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, for example?"

    A: "The Turkish experience is a very important example. However, outside of Turkey, parties with a religious character consider their task to be re-Islamizing society. And if they came to power – whether through elections or a coup – they would cling to it in order to complete this task. I believe their words about the [peaceful and regular] transfer of power are tactical and hypocritical, and I don't ascribe any importance to them at all.

    "Turkey is the only Muslim country based on secularism as an ideology and a belief. At the beginning of the Turkish Republic, it declared that it was a secular republic, meaning that it was religiously neutral. It is also the only country that created a party with Islamic foundations, but that is [at the same time] democratic and capable of reaching power through fair elections, and of ruling without bringing disaster to the state.

    "If it were not for Turkey's secularism, the idea of Islamists alternating in power [with others] would be impossible. The precondition that allowed Turkey to produce the Justice and Development Party is its being a state that is secular at its root. This does not exist in any other country. Therein lies the importance of the Turkish experience."

    Q: "What would happen if there was a similar party in the Arab world?"

    A: "There is currently a debate over Turkish political Islam and the development that the Justice and Development Party underwent that allowed it to win power democratically. If it will lose in elections, it is prepared to step down and enter the opposition, and then perhaps return [to power] again. I believe that this model of political Islam does not exist in the Arab world."

    Q: "Is this because the Justice and Development Party accepts the ground rules of democracy?"

    A: "Yes, but this was achieved after lengthy birth pangs and through historical development until the party was convinced that its role in political life was conditional upon accepting the ground rules of democracy. The paradox is that the Islamists, who are in power in Turkey today, favor joining the Christian European Union, and the army, the principle defender of secularism, has reservations about this idea and works to thwart it."

    The Intellectual's Role as the Conscience of His Society

    Q: "Based on your contact with Syrian and Arab intellectuals and thinkers, are you confident about the future of culture in Syria and the Arab world?"

    A: "I am very cautiously confident. On this question, I am pessimistic about Arab culture in general. Regarding Syria, there is substantial activity both in Syria and in the Syrian diaspora, despite the fact that the agents of cultural transmission and the means at their disposal are still very modest.

    "I have sensed this cultural activity since the period known as the Damascus Spring. After many years of supervision and repression, the Syrian intellectuals felt they had an opportunity to express their views and take part in cultural and political activities, and it became evident that they were learned, up to date, and possessed a modern style of writing and presenting their ideas. Syrian intellectuals have a prominent and brilliant presence compared to the size of Syria's population and the conditions [under which they live]."

    Q: "Given the political developments in Syria in recent years – the closing of forums and the arrest of a number of members of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration – is it time to announce the death of the honeymoon between the regime and the intellectuals, and say that the Damascus Spring has been revealed to be an eternal autumn?"

    A: "There was a long honeymoon between the intellectuals and the regime. This connection was always mixed with problems and tensions. By the nature of things, serious intellectuals tend to criticize the authorities, and the authorities, for their part, do not like criticism – and especially not in the period of compliant populism that our country went through, where everyone was one single bloc [supposedly] marching in the right direction under one single leadership.

    "There are times when the intellectual marches in this same direction, but he always has his position and his specificity. So one could say that this honeymoon was something unusual and difficult for our country, given that the intellectuals are very exacting on these issues. The question is not one of wanton hostility to the regime, nor of blind support [for the regime] or of blindly jumping on the bandwagon. Therefore I believe that a principled critical stand is the most important aspect of the intellectual's role as the conscience of his society."

    "There Is a Kind of Obsequiousness and Deference to Traditions and Customs, Whether They Are Backwards or Not"

    Q: "There are those who say the crises that we have gone through – whether on the level of the regimes or the [Arab] societies – are nothing but the product of our prevailing culture. To what extent is this true?"

    A: "I think that sometimes when we speak in this way we attribute more responsibility to culture than is its due. Culture is not the primary mover [that determines] the life of society or what policies are followed. It is not the primary mover in the historic orientation of one Arab country or another. There are those who think this, but there are crises on another level [that are only] reflected in the prevailing culture in [these] societies."

    Q: "Do you think that the crisis has to do with the rulers more than its being a socio-cultural crisis, and that this in turn is reflected in the Arab situation?"

    A: "It may be that there a crisis of the rulers, or the economy, or a crisis of the elites, or some other type of crisis. But one cannot say that it is because of our culture that we suffer from all these problems."

    Q: "Is the current crisis a product of the rulers or of culture and social tradition?"

    A: "Both. That is to say, there are many impediments [to progress] to be found in [various] peoples' cultures and traditions. At the same time – especially in the current period – there is a reluctance to investigate these impediments, define them, examine them closely, and criticize them in order to overcome them and remove them. The tendency to do so has grown weaker at present, and there is a kind of obsequiousness and deference to traditions and customs, whether they are backward or not.

    "When we simply look at the Arab world, we see that it consumes everything but that it produces nothing apart from raw materials. What can we expect from the Arabs? Look at the Arab world from one end to the other; there is no true added value to anything. There is a structure that seems not to encourage production and to not be for it. What do we produce? What do we export?

    "[This is true] whether you are talking about material, economic, scientific, or intellectual production, or any other kind. Look at oil production, for example. What is the Arabs' relation to the oil industry? They own the oil, but they have nothing to do with its extraction, refinement, marketing, or transport. Look at the huge installations for prospecting oil, extracting it, and refining it. Look at the Arab satellite, what in it is Arab? I doubt the ability of the Arabs to produce a telephone without importing the parts and the technologies it requires, and perhaps even the technicians..."(1)

    "No Society Is Fundamentally Endowed with a Natural Readiness for Democracy – Democracy Is a Cumulative Historical Process"

    Q: "There are some in government circles, and even among the intellectuals and the regular people, who claim that Arab society in general is not equipped for democratic activity. As evidence for this they put forward some experiences that are not encouraging: Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, and others. Moreover, [this occurs also] on the level of associations, parties, and human rights organizations, that have long experienced fissures and divisions, the most recent of which was in the Damascus Declaration coalition in the Syrian opposition. Can our Arab societies – with their current constellations and structure – produce true democracy that will persist without bringing divisions, political crises, security unrest, conflicts, and civil wars?"

    A: "We need to take as our starting point the fact that no society is fundamentally endowed with a natural readiness for democracy. Democracy is a cumulative historical process. It would be a mistake to adopt the opinion that [this is] impossible, and that since we are tribal and sectarian we need to do away entirely with the idea of democracy, say that it is not appropriate for us, and close the door before it. In China they say a thousand-mile journey starts with a single step.

    "I am in favor of attempts and experiments. There are previous experiences from which we can benefit. I do not despair or throw my up my hands, despite being aware of the difficulty of this issue and the complications it entails. No [society] had a structure that was fundamentally appropriate and fit for democracy.

    "We, like other people, can learn, and accomplish 20 percent, then 30 percent, then 40, 50, and more. It is a cumulative process that depends on the steps taken to educate people in schools and educational institutions and train them gradually for the practice of democracy.

    "If we don't do this, we will be governed by the saying: as you are, so will you be ruled. If you are tribal, you will be ruled by tribes; if you are backward, you will be ruled by the backward; if you are clannish, you will be ruled by clans; and if you are sectarian, you will be ruled by sects, and so on. This is to fall into a cycle from which there is no escape.

    "Or else there is [another] Arabic saying that would apply to us: the people are of the religion of their rulers. If the ruler is democratic, all of us will become democratic, and if the leader is a dictator, all of us become pro-dictatorship. As though we are condemning ourselves to a position of quiescence from which there is no escape. I reject this."

    Q: "There are those who doubt the ability of the Arab mentality today to produce a stable and lasting democracy. Do you think the Arab mentality has the ability to create a democracy that will survive, last, and become a norm and an accustomed behavior in our countries?"

    A: "It is difficult for the Arab mentality in its current structure to produce democracy, but I do not believe that this mentality is an eternal fixed [attribute]. I [would] accept a model that is 30 percent successful, though up to now we have not been able to accomplish this.
    "There is sectarian democracy in Lebanon, it is a regime of quotas, and not a democracy based on citizenship. The political regime in Lebanon prevents a dictatorship through sectarian balances, but [it] has not achieved true democracy based on citizenship. Likewise, Iraq is going in the same direction."

    Q: "What is missing from the Arab mind that would enable it to accept the other, or the compatriot, as he is? What is needed to solve this equation that is currently unsolvable?"

    A: "The individual learns the answers to these questions by studying the difficulty involved in the [other] alternatives in the course of history. In this context we could cite the example of Iraq. In my opinion, if the Iraqis want to maintain the unity of their country and avoid a grinding civil war, they must learn historical lessons from what they are going through today.

    "The Shi'ite majority cannot say that the meaning of democracy is majority rule and that's the end of it. They must say that it means majority rule with protection for the rights of minorities, and by this I mean political minorities, and not necessarily numerical, ethnic, or religious minorities.

    "They say, We are the majority and therefore we will rule, and democracy is majority rule. But this is to stray from the truth. Democracy is rule by the majority with the protection of minority rights. Otherwise the state will face division, civil war, and ruin.
    "This is an issue that the Arab mind needs to study: that it must accept the other, and it must accept the possibility of the minority reaching [power] if its alliances make it into the majority – [but this] without [the minority] discriminating against the majority or taking revenge on it after reaching power.

    "In Iraq there are also many Islamic parties and movements from various schools [of jurisprudence]. Are they capable of implementing the shari'a in accordance with Sunni or Shi'ite belief? Not unless they are prepared to sink into a grinding civil war. What can you learn from this if you are not interested in a civil war or the disintegration of the state? You learn to be wise and build neither a Shi'ite nor Sunni state, but rather a state based on citizenship, truth, law, and social justice.

    "This belief comes as a result of historical lessons, but there are those who learn quickly and others who never learn. In Lebanon, for example, they didn't learn, and they experienced a grinding 16-year civil war; but considering what is happening there now, one feels they learned nothing from it, especially regarding the sectarian issue."

    Hizbullah's Victory in 2006 Was Pyrrhic; Today, Instead of Fighting Israel, They Fight Jumblatt and Al-Hariri

    Q:"... You described Hizbullah's victory as a non-victory, both at the conference organized in the Al-Assad library at the last book fair, and in an interview you gave to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. Do you still hold this opinion?"

    A: "Nothing has happened that would make me change my opinion, and especially not after I heard Hassan Nasrallah admit that had he known the kidnapping operation of the two soldiers would have led to this outcome, he would not have approved it. The expression 'Pyrrhic victory' [fits here] – that is, the price of the victory is so high that you feel that your situation after the victory is not better than before. Of course Nasrallah had enough courage and candor to admit this."

    Q: "What about the description of the victory as a divine victory?"

    A: "There are many considerations that stand behind this description, related to recruitment, beliefs, and so on. However, I think that in this way we deny something of the qualifications, capability, and intelligence of the heroes that fought and remained steadfast.
    "Perhaps Hizbullah is stronger now – militarily and logistically – than it was in the past. But I believe that this faction is in an unenviable position, considering the diversion from the struggle against Israel to internal Lebanese games, and the wasting of the party's energy in the obscurity of insignificant politics in Lebanon. Today, instead of fighting Israel and its generals, they fight Walid Jumblatt, Al-Hariri, and other Lebanese politicians."

    Q: "Perhaps [Hizbullah] is doing this because it feels threatened by the possibility of the president of Lebanon and the government trying to disarm Hizbullah?"

    A: "I would avoid the word 'threatened.' This word is greater than the reality of the situation. When I am in Lebanon, I sense that others are very threatened by the Hizbullah's high level of weapons procurement, strength, organization, and training."

    Q: "In your opinion, does Iran have final authority over Hizbullah?"

    A: "There is no doubt that they [Hizbullah] take Iran and Syria into account. But I am not convinced about the question of them being completely loyal [to Iran and Syria]. I believe they have their own factional and national considerations. Saying that they are loyal to Iran is similar to what [they] say about the divine victory.

    "There is no doubt that the one who finances, arms, and extends aid has weight, that their opinion [is taken into account], and that they have influence. This is only natural. It is like in the past when Fatah was influenced by Nasser's orientation, or like how the leadership in Syria influences the Palestinian organizations. This is part of the natural dynamic of political relations and alliances and the fractures that sometimes accompany them. At times Arafat would clash with Syria, and at other times he would say that Syria was the lung of the resistance."

    After 1967, the Intellectuals Could No Longer Remain Silent

    Q: "Why and for whom did Sadik Jalal Al-'Azm write?"

    A: "I believe that for a university lecturer, writing is, fundamentally, part of scientific research. At first what I wrote was related to my studies in modern European philosophy. However, what drove me to write about politics and public affairs was the defeat in June 1967. If someone had brought up the subject of writing before and told me that in the future I would write some of the books that I ended up writing later, I would have told them they were crazy and said that under no circumstance would I engage in these issues. Perhaps I would have expressed my opinion as one who follows and takes an interest in public affairs, but I would not have engaged these issues were it not for the shock caused by the defeat in the 1967 war. 

    "Before the defeat in 1967, I wrote for those interested in philosophy. I used to write for intellectuals ready to adopt enlightened and progressive positions and to develop ideas, positions, and cultures on the basis of the Arab enlightenment movement (the nahda). But after 1967 my orientation was towards the active elements in our societies.

    "At that stage all of us were struck with shock and frustration. So I began to write for the public, since all of us intellectuals wanted to say something. This was because it was not possible that a disaster on this level could occur without saying something as an intellectual..."

    Q: "Are you really an atheist or a 'Damascene heretic' as some people have described you?"

    A: (laughs) "Can you imagine a serious, learned intellectual in our Arab countries not being seduced by ideas like a critical attitude towards traditional religious beliefs, doubt and non- determinism, and the idea of using a scientific approach to understand religious phenomena? From the time of Qasim Amin to the present, there have been those who promulgate and publicize their reactions to subjects like these.

    "Naturally the religious institutions and clerics look at this matter in terms of atheism, heresy, and so on. But at the end of the day, there remains something that is a matter of the conscience, and this is part of the freedom of conscience of every man."

    Q: "There are a number of people whose approaches intersect or are close to yours, like Muhammad Shahrur, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, Gamal Al-Banna, and others. To what degree do you agree or disagree with them?"

    A: "As far as the general contours, we agree on many things; however, concerning the particulars of opinions on specific subjects, it is possible that there are differences and sometime even criticism and competition. But the general contours are the same, and I consider this to be a critical, enlightened approach. We are badly in need of this..."(2)

    (1) Al-Raya (Qatar), January 12, 2008.
    (2) Al-Raya (Qatar), January 13, 2008.

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