Tuesday, February 28, 2006


If you're not reading Iraq the Model, you don't know what's going on in Iraq.

Life is coming back to normal in Baghdad and marketplaces and offices are open again after being shut for 4 days. Although there were a few security incidents today people are mostly looking at these as part of the usual daily situation and not related to the latest shrine crisis.

But, what can we learn from this lesson and how can we make benefit from it in avoiding similar problems in the future.

It's not a secret who was behind the attack on the shrine and I am sure that who did it were the Salafi/Wahabis whether Iraqi or foreigners and with external support from parties planning to disrupt the political process in Iraq.

The reason I believe it's the Salafis who did it comes from their own ideology which considers all mosques built upon tombs as places of polytheism and infidelity and thus must be destroyed. This also applies to Sunni shrines like Abu Haneefa and al-Gailani; Salafis consider the Shia and the Sufis their worst enemies and they commonly refer to them in their speech with the term "tomb worshippers" or Mushrikoon Quborioon in Arabic.[snip]

Now that we have outlined the identity of the perpetrators depending on motives, interests and ideology we can move on to talk a little about the reactions to the atrocity which has a lot in common with the reactions to the Danish cartoons (I'm comparing the reactions here, not the actions that triggered them). The two reactions are similar in two aspects a) Overreaction and b) Exploiting the atrocity to serve political causes.

Two years ago the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf was attacked and although this is the holiest shrine for Shia Muslims the incident wasn't met with that much angry reactions instead we heard soothing statements like "these are mere stones and we can rebuild them and make them even better than before".
This time things were different because the political situation is different; the Ayatollah called for nationwide protests (and not to attack Sunni mosques) and a week of mourning.[snip]

The reactions and protests were far from spontaneous like clerics claim they were. The protests were organized and under supervision of commanders who have clear goals and those commanders were intent on provoking a reaction that carries clear signs to the Sunni, secular and moderate parties that succeeded in applying substantial pressure on the UIA and won the US on their side.

There's alot of information that is very helpful in explaining the situation. Read this post:


And then scroll down to check out the other posts on the situation at IRAQ THE MODEL

Female Pilots Get Their Shot in the Iraqi Skies

TALL AFAR, Iraq -- Buzzing over this northern Iraqi city in her Kiowa scout helicopter, a .50-caliber machine gun and rockets at the ready, Capt. Sarah Piro has proved so skillful in combat missions to support U.S. ground troops that she's earned the nickname "Saint."

In recent months of fighting in Tall Afar, Piro, 26, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., has quietly sleuthed out targets, laid down suppressive fire for GIs in battle and chased insurgents through the narrow alleys of this medieval city -- maneuvering all the while to avoid being shot out of the sky. In one incident, she limped back to base in a bullet-riddled helicopter, ran to another aircraft and returned to the fight 10 minutes later.[snip]

"They call her 'Saint Piro' -- she's just that good," said her co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Todd Buckhouse, a 19-year Army veteran who has worked with Piro on two tours with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq.

"There was no one I wanted to hear more on a raid than her. She's a spectacular Army aviator," said Maj. Chris Kennedy, executive officer of the regiment, which is returning home this month.

But it's not all kudos and salutes:

Soldiers who didn't know the women would slight them over the radio, or defer to male aviators in mission briefings rather than the higher-ranking women, Buckhouse said. "If she had any emotion in her voice or even a crack, the guys [ground troops] would say, 'Say again, you're coming in soft.' No one would ever tell that to a guy," he said.

As an officer, Piro said, she walks a fine line between leading from the front and not offending male soldiers who want to pay her courtesies -- by opening doors for her, for example.[snip]

Over dinner in a noisy chow hall, Strye agreed that despite their skill as combat pilots, women face restrictions that make it challenging for them to integrate themselves in mostly male units. One rule bars female and male aviators from entering each other's quarters, while another policy requires escorts for women on base. While aimed at maintaining discipline, the segregation can be isolating, Strye said.

This must be a base specific situation. I have not heard that for every base. I wonder if this is due to segregation of the sexes and safety from their male counterparts or if it is because they are in a far forward operating base and they are higher targets for possible kidnapping or killing by any infiltrators? I seem to recall at the end of 2004 that intelligence indicated the insurgents were desperate to get their hands on female soldiers because of the significant political fallout. However, many female soldiers have been in fire fights, wounded and killed by both direct and indirect fire, so this seems like we have passed that necessity. Is it possible that their commander is being overly cautious?

One of the pilots seems to imply that it is a matter of limiting fraternization. I wonder how many women are on base that this is a concern?

Implicit in the separation, Strye said, is a mistrust that grates on her as a professional. "You trust me to make combat decisions to defeat the enemy," she said, "but don't trust what I do when I go into another person's 'CHU,' " -- a containerized housing unit.

Still, I think the rest of the story is great. These ladies take names and kick butt.

You know...go read the rest.

Female Pilots Get Their Shot in the Iraqi Skies

Cross posted at the Castle

Iraqi leaders sidestep all-out civil war | csmonitor.com

BAGHDAD – After a weekend of sleepless nights, emergency meetings, and an unprecedented three-day curfew, Iraq has managed to stave off its worst fear after last week's destruction of a major Shiite shrine: That the country's small-scale civil conflict was about to bloom into a bloody and wide-ranging war between its sects.

But disturbing signs are emerging that Iraq's sectarian powder-keg is still highly volatile.

I understand the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front says that it has a list of 24 demands which it insists must be met before they will rejoin talks to form the government which is supposed to be formed by March 15 or else the parliament is dissolved and new elections will have to be done in order to form a new assembly.

A list of 24 demands is pretty much a death knell for the formation of a government. Any time anyone puts out that many demands they are expecting that not all of them will be met. Often it's a form of negotiation: start with the highest demands and work down to acceptable demands, but, in the face of the current situation, it seems more like "mission impossible" in order to insist that the others, the Shia parties, are to blame for any disaster because they would not negotiate.

We'll see which one it is within the next week.

Iraq's dominant Shiite parties, led by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Dawa, as well as clerics like Ayatollah Sistani have long nurtured a vision of a unified Iraq dominated by its Shiite majority, replacing the Sunni-minority governments that have dominated Iraq throughout its history. Sunni Arabs, adrift in a country in which sectarian death squads have operated against them out of the Shiite-controlled interior ministry and hoping to regain their past position, are unlikely to stand down.

"All these things are necessary and none of them are likely,'' says Pat Lang, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency's Middle East bureau and a retired colonel with a counter insurgency background. Shiites and Sunnis "are contestants for the loot.... it's not about being Iraqis in an idealized Iraq but the real one. These are groups that are contesting power and they'll continue to do so."

I think that sums up the situation precisely. The Shia have been extremely patient with the Sunni insurgent situation. They have been attacked the most with bombs and bullets. For the most part, they turned the other cheek. I believe that the Sunni insurgents and political parties may have taken too long to decide to play politics instead of bullets. There is a delicate balance between guerrilla warfare and guerrilla politics. Too much of one or the other can weaken a groups position and that is what we've seen here.

Even if these groups had little to do with the shrine bombing, the fact that they harbored and assisted AQAM (Al Qaida Affiliated Movements) in Iraq, makes them partly responsible for the disaster.

Which may be why certain people are being given up. This morning on Fox, reports indicated that Abu al-Farouq, an AQAM financier related to Zarqawi's group AQI (Al Qaida in Iraq), and at least four other members of the group were captured about 100 miles west of Baghdad. We may see more of this in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Al Sadr tries to consolidate his position of power from the center, believe it or not, as he prays with Sunni members of the Muslim Clerics Association. This is interesting since it it widely known that the MCA has ties to the Sunni insurgency and has been known to be the middle men in negotiating release of kidnap victims. Al Sadr is associated with the Shia militias who have also been implicated in sectarian murders of Sunnis.

It would behoove us to keep a watch on that situation as well as keep pushing for AQAM info in the midst of a very poorly decided attack on a religious symbol that may as yet prove to be the final reversal for AQI.

Iraqi leaders sidestep all-out civil war | csmonitor.com

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saudi Arabia: reality check, by Alain Gresh

I cannot recommend this article enough for a quick view inside Saudi Arabia, it's struggles with change, modernity, Islam and the infiltration and effect of international culture.

Saudi Arabia: reality check, by Alain Gresh

For most who pay attention, this is the one of the three main pillars of war with Al Qaida and it's affiliates. It may, in fact, be the primary issue. Qutb wrote that western culture and values would destroy Islam. Zawahiri was a student of Qutb and bin Laden took his cue from Zawahiri. The problem is not necessarily military hegemony nor an issue with Israel/Palestine. These are the face of the problem along with the major claim that:

since Allah made it flat, created its desert, and encircled it with seas -- been stormed by any forces like the crusader armies spreading in it like locusts, eating its riches and wiping out its plantations.

-Declaration of War

Whenever Al Qaida mentions "riches" or "wealth" of Muslims, they are not simply speaking of oil, though they recognize this as a material representation. In fact, the "wealth" of the Muslims is the Ummah, it's oneness and it's adherence to Islam, which has given the people of the middle east their strength for centuries and allowed them to conquer large swaths of the earth under various Caliphas.

The problem is culture. Ours infiltrating theirs and effecting the practice of Islam which is not simply a religion, but an entire way of life for most people of the region, governing everything from marriage, to clothing, to food, to children, to inheritance, to commercial and criminal law.

So, please, read this article because it highlights a number of changes that are occuring in Saudi Arabia that continues to spur the Islamist civil war.

Saudi Arabia: reality check, by Alain Gresh

Saudi Arabia, Al Qaida and Oil

Al-Qaida Threatens to Hit More Saudi Sites - Yahoo! News

MANAMA, Bahrain - Al-Qaida suicide bombers will attack more Saudi oil facilities, the terror group purportedly threatened Saturday in an Internet statement that claimed responsibility for the foiled attack on the Abiqaiq plant in eastern Saudi Arabia.[snip]

Two suicide bombers tried to drive cars packed with explosives into Abiqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, on Friday afternoon, but security guards opened fire and the vehicles exploded outside the gates, killing the bombers and fatally wounding two guards.[snip]

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi quickly said the attack "did not affect operations" and that exports continued to flow. But the blast made the price of crude oil jump by more than $2 a barrel on the world markets.

I highly suggest, if you drive an SUV you may want to look for a second, cheap car that gets better gas mileage. This, along with Iraq's impending civil war and the volatile Phillipine situation is going to have gas prices shooting through the roof even if the Saudis try to give reassurances that the oil flow will not be interrupted:

Naimi met U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez in Riyadh on Saturday and assured him the kingdom would "ensure the flow of oil despite the terrorist threats,"[snip]

A statement appeared on a militant Web site saying that Friday's attack was "part of a series of operations that al-Qaida is carrying out against the crusaders and the Jews to stop their plundering of Muslim wealth." It was signed "al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula" — the name of the Saudi branch of the terror network.

The statement did not acknowledge that the attack was foiled. In fact, it claimed that the two "heroic holy warriors" managed to enter Abiqaiq.

"There are more like them who are racing toward martyrdom and eager to fight the enemies of god, the Jews, the crusaders and their stooges, the renegade rulers" of Arab countries, the posting said.

"You will see things that will make you happy, god willing," concluded the statement.

Bin Laden has been threatening attacks against the US, the West in general and Saudi Arabia. What is interesting about this statement is that, as usual, it's directed at their followers more than at the US or Saudi Arabia. The end phrase "you will see things that will make you happy" has appeared in similar videos, audios and written statements preceeding major attacks, but the statements usually get released after the attacks. In otherwords, the followers had the message before we did and that last statement was intended to let them know about the impending attack on the oil refineries. A quick reminder from AP about the AQ/Saudi status:

Al-Qaida is led by the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, who has long sought to replace the Saudi monarchy with an Islamic government, accusing the royal family of selling out to American "infidels." In late 2004, bin Laden released a video in which he called for attacks on oil facilities to hurt the West.

The posting said Friday's attack was dubbed "Operation Bin Laden Conquest."

This was Saudi Arabia's main refinery:

The huge Abqaiq facility processes about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's oil for export, removing hydrogen sulfide and reducing the vapor to make the crude safe for shipping. It lies 25 miles inland from the Gulf coast.[snip]

Saudi Arabia holds over 260 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, a quarter of the world's total. It currently produce about 9.5 million barrels per day, or 11 percent of global consumption. Abqaiq processes at least 5 million barrels a day.

Some folks continue to talk about the US at war for oil. In some respects it's true however it is not necessarily the US that declared the war in the region for this reason. Zawahiri and bin Laden have made numerous statements in the past, including their 1998 declaration of war from the World Islamic Jihad Front, in which they accuse the "infidels" of "plundering Muslim wealth".

There is more to the implication of the word "infidels" than targeting US interests, though we are the world's largest consumer of oil. China and Saudi Arabia recently cut a new deal and according to the Washington Post, that makes China Saudi Arabia's number one buyer.

The Saudi kingdom's new largest customer is China.

"Saudi sales to the U.S. have fallen off the table," James Placke, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates and former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said Thursday.

Saudi oil sales to the United States peaked in 2002 at 1.7 million barrels per day but had fallen to 1.1 million barrels per day in May, the last month for which U.S. Department of Energy figures are available, Placke said at a Washington forum.[snip]

"I think, while there was what has generally been described as a sufficient degree of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States, (the invasion of Iraq) clearly was not in tune with Saudi Arabia or really anyone else in the Arab world for that matter," Placke said.

"I think what we're seeing is not punishment or retribution, but I think it's a slow recognition by the Saudi side that the 'special relationship' isn't so special anymore," he added.

The fact that we ignored their angst over Iraq also means that we may not view them as "special" anymore, though, it would be foolish to think that we would not be concerned over the status of Saudi Arabia. According to the Washington Post article, Canada and Mexico now vie for the number one position as supplier of oil to the US, though we are still relatively diversified, as are almost all countries, because oil is sold on the open market which means that it's bought as it is available from whom it is available from. Specific deals are largely made through corporations. It's the corporations that make decisions about where to get oil for refining into gas and other products. They make these decisions based on stability of the region, potential for interruption of product, cost of shipping, etc.

In the war on Islamist terrorists, this has certain implications, vaguely alluded to in the Post:

"The only consequence of this is I think a political consequence," Placke said. "This may color how the two parties look at each other as we go down the road."

But they still remain very important on the world oil market:

the details of Saudi oil sales are much less important than Saudi production capacity, which the country often uses to smooth jolts to world oil prices like the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Iraq War or strikes in Venezuela.

"The Saudis have basically played the role of the central bank," Gause said. "We're at a point where there's precious little surplus capacity."

A large source of the reduction in the world's excess capacity has been China's burgeoning appetite for oil.

Placke said China recently surpassed Japan in its oil consumption and is currently the world's second-largest oil market behind the United States.

So, while we may shift our main sources from the Middle East to other nations, such as Canada and Mexico, as has been the call from many on the left and others who do not comprehend how the oil market works, the effect on the oil market remains the same: supply and demand = rising prices.

Thus, the US still sees the stability of Saudi Arabia and the longevity of its rulers strategically important to our long term survival. Further, this "supply and demand" of oil has precipitated at least one world war (WWII), though it is widely ignored in history books which favor more simplistic concepts of Nazi and Japanese empire without the underlying cause being mentioned. In fact, most people look at the rise of Nazi power in Germany to be precipitated by the severe reparations imposed after WWI. This is true to a point, but Nazi expansionism included attempts to gain control of major ports, shipping routes and specifically oil fields in the Balkans, Caucuses and the Middle East.

The Japanese were already heading towards war with the US over control of oil and shipping lanes.

This doesn't mean that world war for oil is imminent, but it does mean that every diplomatic, military and economic move in regards to oil producing and consuming countries has a serious effect that may not be seen for several decades. For instance, WWII and Japan again, US expansion into the Philipines and South East Asia at the end of the 19th century largely referred to as the "Banana Wars", along with the growing Japanese economy from newly opened trade with the west (precipitating it's growing military), was an important factor in the world war that began some forty years later.

The same could be said about Nazi Germany and the spread of Communism as well as British and French hegemony in the post WWI Middle East.

A comprehensive energy plan for the US has to include more than simply "disengaging" from the Middle East or diversifying our oil buying to other nations. It does need to include new innovative technologies that will help take some pressure off the supply and demand of oil. This problem is compounded by growing populations and even immigration which means that, not only do we need to replace existing oil consumption with some sort of technology, it has to be able to keep up with the expansion of the need from both expanding individual homes and businesses created through or expanded in the growing economy.

The President's recent tour and subsequent speeches regarding energy technology signal a renewed attention to this part of the long term plan.

Some technologies that are gaining attention or renewed attention:

Windmills, ethanol from corn and biodiesal fuel from soy beans.



And even dog poop.

Unfortunately, the US is currently a long way from being able to replace a significant part of it's oil consumption with any or all of these technologies so the US must be able to remain vigilant and continue to protect strategic interests around the globe as well as maintain the viability of our allies. Which means, whether we buy oil directly form the Middle East or not, "disengagement" is a catchy political slogan, but doesn't have anything to do with reality.

Chicago Tribune | The tipping point

The bombing of the al-Askari shrine is likely to be the tipping point for Iraq.

We will remember it as the moment when Iraq was doomed to be a failed state riven by sectarian violence, if not civil war. Or we will remember it as the moment when Iraq proved it could rise above the greatest outrage, could resist the natural impulse to meet violence with greater violence, could show its resilience against those who sought to destroy it by exploiting ethnic and religious tensions.

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. So, if you're waiting breathlessly for total destruction and chaos, breath into a paper bag and try not to pass out.

Chicago Tribune | The tipping point

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey, If You're Reading Here, You Should..

Be checking out Castle Arrggh's Hi-Fires posts and other great posts from John and the rest of Johah's military guys.

I recommend "It's an Odd War" and this one regarding the port issue.

Oil refinery attack foiled, Saudis say - Mideast/N. Africa - MSNBC.com

Al Qaida is busy this week.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Suicide bombers tried but failed to storm a major oil refinery in Saudi Arabia on Friday, according to officials and TV reports.

Oil refinery attack foiled, Saudis say - Mideast/N. Africa - MSNBC.com

In the name of Islam

Until now, Iraq’s neighbours have pretended the turmoil on their doorstep was none of their concern, while giving covert and deadly support to some of the extremists leading the insurgency. Now all can see where such irresponsible meddling leads: to polarisation, desecration and the brink of civil war. The reaction has been as depressing as it is familiar. Most of the Arab world, so angrily denunciatory of the insult perceived in the Danish cartoons, has remained silent.

They are silent because this is a proxy war now. This is the war between Saudi Arabian Sunni Wahabism and Iranian Shia Islamic Revolution for who will control the Muslim world, the new Caliphate. Seeing that AQ was defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iranians realized they had an opportunity to step into a strange power void. With nukes and a large army, they see themselves as the de facto power in the region. While they consistantly denounce "Zionism" and American "hegemony" in the region, it is exactly that power that they are trying to reach.

No one should be more aware of this danger than Saudi Arabia, a country still struggling with a terrorist challenge inspired by the same religious fanaticism that drives al-Qaeda and the Samarra bombers. The Saudis have a long and shameful record in the treatment of their own Shia minority; and there are still elements within the powerful Sunni clerical establishment that would welcome a continuing crackdown on “heretics”. [snip]

Iraq’s resilience is being tested as never before. It is, however, ominous that religious leaders have begun moving into the trenches with mutual denunciations. The terrorists want a religious war; it is up to Iraq’s spiritual leaders, with the necessary support from the country’s neighbours, to thwart such a dire outcome.

In the name of Islam - Comment - Times Online

Of course, the Pakistani Times indicates that it's a plot by the occupying forces:

So now we can see who has benefited from the sectarian violence in Iraq: Al Qaeda and its surrogates, Shias, Sunnis or the occupying forces? It would be far fetched to say that the perpetrators of sectarian violence in Iraq are agents of the occupying forces. But the fact is they are helping the occupation.

One may have heard about

The “El Salvador Option” for Iraq (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6802629/site/newsweek/), a plan allegedly by Pentagon, talked of targeted killing of ‘insurgents’ using people from rival groups such as Shias and Kurds to the dirty job. But who knows if such operations actually targeted insurgents. And who knows if the recruits were only from among Shias and Kurds. (An analysis of the ‘option’ is available on a rightwing American organisation’s website: http://www.cfr.org/publication/7988/salvador_in_iraq.html).

The cycle of violence, which started with attacks against the occupying forces, has turned into sectarian violence. This shift of target has definitely benefited the occupying forces that now appear to be the accepted arbiter of power in the formation of new government.

In the last elections in Iraq, the Shias had won a dominant majority of seats in the Iraqi parliament. Sunnis feared that they would be marginalised politically and economically. But this paled into insignificance compared to the occupying forces’ fear that Shias could form a truly ‘sovereign’ regime.

al-Qaida in Iraq Chief Said Killed in Raid - Yahoo! News

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Al-Qaida in Iraq's leader in northern Baghdad was killed in a raid Friday, the U.S. military said.

The military identified Abu Asma, also known as Abu Anas and Akram Mahmud al-Mushhadani, as an explosives expert with close ties to important car bomb manufacturers in Baghdad.

He died in a northern Baghdad raid conducted by coalition forces with the help of Iraqi police, a military statement said.

In the midst of insanity, good news, but possibly too late. Although, after all this time and the many deaths, if it hasn't gone to civil war, I'm not sure even the demolition of the 12th Imam's Shrine is going to force it. The powers that be, such as Sistani, the Dawa and Sciri parties know that they have the country by the horns. They are going to run it, one way or the other. If they allow civil war, it will torn apart, they will have no access to money, they will be relegated to rebel leaders who might even feel compelled to fight against each other for power, completely destroying the base of power the Shi'ites now currently enjoy.

For my money, while the tensions are higher, I'm betting Sistani and the other leaders will prevail. If the Sunni leadership doesn't get to twisted about demanding apologies for reprisal attacks against Sunni Mosques, which seem to have limited damage, if any, can get ahead of this, show they have the power, bring their people into the political process completely, deny involvement, condemn it extensively, and, as one might have heard, offer to help pay for the dome in the spirit of Islamic brotherhood.

As a matter of fact, it would have been very helpful if the Sunni leaders had gotten out front and went on TV, condemning the act and starting a pledge drive for ordinary citizens to contribute. It might not be too late for that idea.

I say this whole thing smacks of AQAM because it is very specific in it's attack on a Shi'ite specific structure. While it may be that many Shi'ite have been killed by bombs, Sunni and other groups in Iraq have suffered as well so that was not enough to draw a sectarian battle. This is. It's an AQAM because other reports indicate that men dressed as officers had went into the Mosque prior to the explosion and are largely considered to be imposters (though, just as likely infiltrators, which goes to my next point). The officers who were on guard apparently left their posts or simply stayed home that day, which means that they were threatened sufficiently not to do their duty. I understand that they were arrested.

In order for that to occur in a largely Shi'ite neighborhood surrounding the Mosque, I imagine that the perpetrators included Iraqis since most folks can spot or hear a foreigner in their midst by their dialect or accent. So, while no one is claiming the deed, I'd guess it was an Iraqi AQAM like Ansar al-Islam or Ansar al-Sunnah.

al-Qaida in Iraq Chief Said Killed in Raid - Yahoo! News

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do You Know How Many?

While we've heard about some high profile cases such as the Lakawana Six and the men from Lodi, according to this report, there are some figures you may not be aware of:

Since Sept. 11, 417 people have been charged in federal terrorism-related cases, resulting in 228 convictions or guilty pleas, according to the most recent Justice Department data. Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra said the department does not categorize arrests by ethnicity or religion.

Immigration data underscores the extra attention the government has paid to immigrants from predominantly Arab and Muslim nations since the attacks.

Between October 1, 2000, and September 30, 2001, the U.S. deported 589 immigrants to 20 nations around the Middle East and Central Asia. In the next 12-month period, beginning weeks after Sept. 11, deportations to those nations rose to 1,674 and peaked at 1,759 in 2003.

By last year, the number of deported immigrants to the nations had fallen to 1,167, according to Homeland Security Department data.

As I once noted, the people that have the most to lose in the face of another terrorist attack by Islamists, are the American Muslim population.

Also, I would be little surprised if the details of the convictions noted above and the deportations were connected to Hamas and Hezballah support, though, it's clear there have been other cases of people trying to insert themselves into the general "jihad" movement. It's just that the Palestinian "cause" has been around much longer and actively working the Muslim community as well as campuses around the US.

I just wonder how many people knew there have been over 200 convictions for terrorist related activities in the US?

As can be seen by the graph above, the highest number of deportations have been to Pakistan. I think this is an important number because it recognizes Pakistanis as the highest risk immigrants to the US. This should be no surprise to anyone since the Lodi men and the Lawana Six, along with the London 7/7 - 7/21 bombers were Pakistani ex-pats or second generation. Iyman Faris (Brooklyn Bridge would be bomber) was from Kashmir, the war torn disputed country between Pakistan and India. It's also widely believed that Zawahiri and possibly Osama bin Laden are held up in the Pakistan region of Waziristan. Khalid Sheikh Hohammed and several other known terrorists have been captured there. Pakistan has one of the most conservative Muslim populations in Central Asia. It's ISI (Pakistan Intelligence Agency) was involved insupporting the Taliban prior to the US invasion.

All in all, it might not be Saudi's that we need to worry about, but Pakistani's and the government appears to have the same impression by these numbers.

Security Programs Strain Muslim-U.S. Ties - Yahoo! News

Christian movement moving in - Yahoo! News

Christian movement moving in - Yahoo! News

Sort of funny because this is the kind of stuff that gets the Liberal left exercised about "Christian Fundamentalists". Yet, at the same time, while this guy claims "1200" people signed up on his website, only 20 have moved to South Carolina in the last year, so it seems that Christians in general are pretty smart to recognize a bad politico/cultist movement when they see it.

Not to mention it's association with the "League of the South" which is clearly a wannabe confederate movement reborn. The only difference may be that they are not intent on maintaining slavery, they just want a chance to fight the "state's rights v. federal rights" war again without slavery giving them a bad name. However, I always find these movements a little humorous anyway.

Kind of like Nader with religion.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

CLEVELAND - Three Muslim men from the Middle East were charged Tuesday with plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition troops i

CLEVELAND - Three Muslim men from the Middle East were charged Tuesday with plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and other countries.

Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, is accused of threatening in conversations to kill or injure Bush. He also is charged with distributing information about making and using bombs.

The others are Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 42, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan; and Wassim I. Mazloum, 24, who came to the United States from Lebanon in 2000.[snip]

El-Hindi is accused of trying to get a U.S. citizen with a military background to travel with him in 2004 to the Middle East as part of a plot to establish a terrorism training center. The indictment identifies the military person only as "the trainer."

The Justice Department said the trainer was working on behalf of the government.

This is what we have to be worried about in the future:

Mazloum operated a car business in Toledo with his brother. The indictment accuses him of offering to use his dealership as a cover for traveling to and from Iraq so that he could learn how to build small explosives using household materials.

I think this story is not quite right. More likely this man was planning to use the cars at his car lot and any attached garage in order to make one or many car bombs. If it happens there, it can happen here.

3 Charged With Planning Attacks in Iraq - Yahoo! News

Rueters has more:

"It was part of the conspiracy that one or more conspirators would recruit others to train for violent jihad against the United States and its allies in Iraq, and elsewhere, and would propose potential training sites for use in providing ongoing firearms, hand-to-hand combat, explosives and other paramilitary training to prospective recruits," the indictment said.

The men were arrested over the weekend and indicted in the U.S. District Court in Ohio.

Toledo has a fairly substantial Muslim population.

They worked with a U.S. citizen identified in the indictment only as "the Trainer." The indictment said the Trainer, who was not charged in the case, had a U.S. military background and was recruited by el-Hindi in 2002 to help provide security and bodyguard training.

U.S. Attorney Greg White said information about the three men came from the community. He said the Trainer was one source of the information.

In a Toledo Blade article about a radio host that said we weren't at war with "extremism" we were at war with "Islam", a Toledo community leader was quoted as saying:

Mr. Hammos denied that moderate Muslims would harbor terrorists.

"Even if somebody attends my mosque and, God forbid he's planning something against my country, I would be the first one to tell on him," he said.

Mr. Hammos said Muslim officials met recently with Department of Homeland Security officials, as well as law enforcement officials in Lucas and Wood counties and Cleveland, "to express some concerns about the area and the safety."

The Toledo Blade article was written October 2005.

Reuters continues:

As part of the conspiracy, the men researched and solicited potential funding sources for jihad training, the indictment said.

According to the AP, that "research" included attempting to get federal funding and grants, probably for religious training or education. What does not seem to be clear is whether these men had contacts in the Middle East that pushed them to take action, if they were part of a wider organization or movement or if they were individuals that simply congregated together, decided together to act and then made contacts in the Middle East to get info and coordinate personnel or travel. Left unsaid is whether they actually sent young men to the ME to fight jihad or simply "conspired" to do it. If an infiltrator was inside the group early enough, it may be that a number of young men went east and were scooped up by a sting operating from the other end.

Information on how to prepare for attacks and money were high on the list of items they were searching for:

Amawi was charged with downloading a video, "Martyrdom Operation Vest Preparation," on how to make a suicide bomb vest. He was also charged with two counts of making verbal threats against President George W. Bush.

The Toledo Blade has more about the local situation and other efforts the men made to participate in or support jihad:

The indictment spells out that the men began plotting their training in 2004. In August, Mr. Amawi and “the trainer” flew to Jordan with the alleged intent of delivering five laptop computers to “mujadieen ‘brothers.’ ”

State records show Mr. Mazloum registered two car dealerships — City Auto on North Reynolds Road and Ram Auto on Monroe Street.

Toledo is also the city where a charity, KindHearts, was recently shut down for providing funds to Hamas, the Palestinian organization that is on the US terrorist list. Though investigators say that the investigations are separate, according to the indictment against the three conspirators they had considered setting up a phony "not for profit" organization in order to collect and funnel money.

It's very likely that this operation was brought to an abrupt end due to the NSA surveillance program being outed in the NYT. According to deputy director of the FBI, Joe Pistle, "enhanced surveillance" was part of the operation. Considering that the investigation efforts appear to have gone on for over six months with the man already delivering "laptops" to the "mujihadeen brothers", which would have been plenty to take him and the others in for material support, it seems that investigators were trying to discover the other connections. The issue with warrantless wire taps may have forced them to roll up the investigation earlier than planned.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bin Laden Vows Never to Be Captured Alive - Yahoo

I'd like to see the entire message translated, but here are some thoughts:

1) Does anybody really care if we capture this guy dead or alive? People are problaby torn on this since capturing him and holding him prisoner, getting info from him would be nice. He likes the sound of his own voice so he'd be the kind of guy that would say a lot of things he thought would be confusing or lecturing, but would end up giving up info.

2) He offers a long term truce? He's not a state or nation. We wouldn't dane to recognize him as anyone legitmate to negotiate with so that's out. Why would we or he need a long term truce? I can only think of a few reasons. He's stuck in a corner and needs time to coordinate. He sees that his group has been damaged by the stupid mistakes of arbitrarily killing people of their own faith and would like to be able to back off and repair the damage, regain some of the lost support. He's worried about the continuing unrest in Iraq and the region has given his rival Islamist the Shia's an in to become the new, legitimate leaders of the pan Islamist movement, with a state, an army, money and assets. Something he doesn't have and is considerable behind in regards to creating his Sunni version. His continuing actions and our following him is giving Iran the possibility of hegemony over the region, even Saudi Arabia.

Frankly, I'd rather he just died. Martyrdom or not, as long as we got his body and put it on display. Then everyone would know that the Robinhood of the ME was dead and not a legend that could go on forever.Bin Laden Vows Never to Be Captured Alive - Yahoo! News

Also, recommend this site, the Feb 8 comment seems to be urging people to come join the cause. Pretty much a basic recruiting statement, hawking "success" of AQ in Iraq and telling people to come join them. I don't know how often these statements appear. If it was regular, then this would be nothing really except propaganda and recruiting. If this isn't a normal statement, or the statements aren't usually that direct, then I'd say they feel the need to be more direct because recruitment has fallen off which might account for the fewer VBIED/suicide bombings we've seen lately.

Check out the Jan 9 statement which seems to be lecturing people that they are either a Muslim who will commit to fighting or totally supporting jihad, without reservations or doubts, or you are with the "others" whom the comment says are the "Jews", re-enforcing the idea that America and the rest of the world is under the control of the Zionists.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Raw Politics in Iraq

Good coverage of the curret Iraq political situation if you haven't been following Iraq the model.

From an American standpoint, Iraq's elections have provided a Middle Eastern demonstration of Murphy's Law: Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Amid the resulting political disarray, the Bush administration is adopting Yogi Berra's famous counsel of patient stubbornness: It ain't over till it's over.

Iraqi politics entered a decisive phase with December's election, which voted in a parliament that will choose the new Iraq's first permanent government. As Yogi might say, this is the ballgame. So far, it hasn't gone the way the United States had hoped.

Read More

Raw Politics in Iraq

Back in the Fight

Decades removed from the conflict that molded -- and, for some, scarred -- their generation, dozens of Vietnam veterans have signed up for duty in Iraq. Some are still in uniform, graying guardsmen and reservists activated as part of the largest call-up since the last time most saw combat more than 30 years ago.

Back in the Fight

Iraq's Version of the Broken Window Theory

Laith is Laith Antwan who has been cutting glass for 24 years. Since car bombs, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and mortars are part of the daily life here, Mr. Antwan and his fellow glaziers have become unsung heroes - reconstruction's trauma surgeons working 20-hour days after large bombings.

"We are the first people who know when an explosion happens. We know before all the satellite channels," says Antwan, taking a break from work in his open-fronted glass shop on an unpaved side street in Baghdad's wealthy Karada district. Home to many of the capital's elite, Karada is a favorite target for insurgents.

"After 15 minutes you will see us at the bomb site, tape measures in hands, measuring the broken windows," he adds. "Especially now, in the winter, the people can't sleep in the cold, so they need their windows fixed immediately."

When bombs go off, Iraqi glaziers follow - Yahoo! News

Iraq Power Shift Widens a Gulf Between Sects - New York Times

An analysis provided by one family court in central Baghdad showed that mixed marriages were rare to begin with, making up 3 to 5 percent of all unions in late 2002. But by late 2005 they had virtually stopped: the court did not record any in December, and last month registered only 2 out of 742 marriages.

"For the coming 10 years you can record the biggest changes in the Iraqi community," said Ansam Abayachi, a social researcher who works with Iraqi women and families. "The Sunnis will be on one side, the Shia on the other, and there is no mixed family."

Read the rest.Iraq Power Shift Widens a Gulf Between Sects - New York Times

Friday, February 17, 2006

Iraq Waits

A little update on Iraq's political situation. Which would be good if the concern over Jafari weren't so important. The problem with Jafari is that he was not seen to build concensus and he did not have control over his ministries.

It was like round two of Saddam's cousin lite from 1976. If you don't know the history, the Ba'ath took over, Saddam's cousin was the president and Saddam ran the government from the interior ministry which he used to shut down and kill opponents of the Ba'ath; his cousin had not power and eventually was pushed aside for Saddam to take real power, that is the concern that must face Iraq now with Jafari being a weak front man for the UIA while it operates death squads, payoffs, smuggling and keeps the insurgency going.

But, if you read this, you might understand that Jafari is not a given.

Read them both and get up to date on the Iraq political situation. What happens here decides the future of our Armed Forces, our Success and the Middle East.

Iraq Waits

The Lessons of Counterinsurgency

Read this and pass it on. This is what happens when real leaders are interested in leadership, committed to the effort and understand the mission.

The Lessons of Counterinsurgency

Iraq Investigates Alleged 'Death Squads' - Yahoo! News

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry announced an investigation Thursday into claims of death squads in its ranks as police found a dozen more bodies, bringing the number of apparent victims of sectarian reprisal killings here to at least 30 this week.

The probe was announced after U.S. military officials indicated there was evidence to support the allegation of death squads. The 12 men found on Thursday had been bound and shot in the head execution-style.

Really? Steven Vincent's been dead for months now and people have just decided to investigate? The military is just now thinking that the Iraq security forces have alot of rogue elements?

But, I suppose the reality is, the government is not in control. The locals are in control and they control their own areas. Part of that control includes extra-judicial executions and arrests. They are putting into practice what they learned from the original torturous leader. They haven't learned anything about civilization and the rule of law. They've learned to be mobsters and little Saddams.

These are the days when I lose hope for Iraq.

Iraq Investigates Alleged 'Death Squads' - Yahoo! News

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A French �Serpentaire� in Afghan Skies

Who knew?

A French �Serpentaire� in Afghan Skies

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

OpinionJournal - Federation

The 2004 election left our country deeply divided over whether our country is deeply divided. For some, America is indeed a polarized nation, perhaps more so today than at any time in living memory. In this view, yesterday's split over Bill Clinton has given way to today's even more acrimonious split between Americans who detest George Bush and Americans who detest John Kerry, and similar divisions will persist as long as angry liberals and angry conservatives continue to confront each other across the political abyss. Others, however, believe that most Americans are moderate centrists, who, although disagreeing over partisan issues in 2004, harbor no deep ideological hostility. I take the former view.

By polarization I do not have in mind partisan disagreements alone. These have always been with us. Since popular voting began in the 19th century, scarcely any winning candidate has received more than 60% of the vote, and very few losers have received less than 40%.
OpinionJournal - Federation

I think somone was reading the Castle Comments

Italian minister puts Mohammad cartoon on T-shirts - Yahoo! News

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's Reform Minister Roberto Calderoli has had T-shirts made emblazoned with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a move that could embarrass Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

Italian minister puts Mohammad cartoon on T-shirts - Yahoo! News

German court scraps law on downing hijacked planes - Yahoo! News

KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - A law allowing the German air force to shoot down errant planes to prevent a suicide attack is against the constitution and must be scrapped, the country's highest court ruled on Wednesday. [snip]

But it was challenged in the Constitutional Court by critics who argued the state had no right to "sacrifice" apparently doomed passengers to try to save lives on the ground.

The court ruled that while the constitution allowed the federal government to use the army in dealing with natural disasters and serious accidents, it did not have the right to order the use of military weapons.

The law was also incompatible with human dignity and the basic right to life as the people in the hijacked aircraft would be used to save others and reduced to mere objects, it said.

German court scraps law on downing hijacked planes - Yahoo! News

Two Afghan Intelligence Agents Killed - Yahoo! News

KABUL, Afghanistan - Suspected Taliban rebels abducted two Afghan intelligence agents in a western province and killed them, dumping their nearly decapitated bodies in the desert, a top official said Wednesday.
Two Afghan Intelligence Agents Killed - Yahoo! News

Afghans arrest Taliban commander, UK troops arrive - Yahoo! News

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces arrested a Taliban district commander in the east of the country along with two of his men suspected of burning down a school, police said on Wednesday. [snip]

The Taliban commander, Mullah Nazer Shah, had been a district official during the Islamist group's rule. He was detained during a search by security forces in Ghazni province late on Tuesday.

"He had been working as a Taliban commander in Gailan district for three years. Security forces had been hunting for him," said provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang.[snip]

Also on Wednesday, the first 150 British combat troops of a deployment of about 3,300 British troops to the Afghan south arrived in the country.[snip]

British forces are playing a leading role in the expansion of a NATO peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan this year. The force will expand to about 16,000 troops from 9,000.[snip]

The new deployment of 3,300 will be based in Helmand province in the south where Taliban insurgents and drug gangs are a major problem.

Arriving in Afghanistan on Wednesday were 150 Royal Marines commandos, part of an advance party of 850 British troops deploying to Helmand this month to help prepare for the arrival of the full contingent over subsequent weeks.

Afghans arrest Taliban commander, UK troops arrive - Yahoo! News

Jordan sentences Zarqawi and 8 militants to death - Yahoo! News

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan handed down its fourth death sentence in absentia against al Qaeda's leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on Wednesday, after finding him and eight others guilty of plotting chemical attacks in the kingdom[snip]

Jordan's state security court said it had evidence that Zarqawi meticulously oversaw plans to use suicide bombers to attack U.S. and government targets. The plan was thwarted in April 2004.

Five of the nine sentenced to death are under arrest. A 10th suspect received a three-year jail term.

The plan included attacking intelligence headquarters and U.S. interests with a series of suicide bombings using trucks laden with chemical explosives in Jordan, a close ally of Washington's.

An audio tape attributed to Zarqawi, posted on a Web site shortly after the arrest of the group, claimed that his group planned an attack on the Jordanian intelligence service but not using chemical weapons as Amman has alleged.

Jordan sentences Zarqawi and 8 militants to death - Yahoo! News

USATODAY.com - U.S. role in Iraq security shifting

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military says 40% of Iraq's combat battalions are effective enough to have taken the lead role in fighting the insurgency, a key measure for determining when U.S. forces can withdraw[snip]

Currently, 40 of Iraq's 102 battalions have taken over security in the areas where they operate, Col. James Greer, chief of staff for the U.S. military command responsible for training Iraqi troops, said in an interview.

The goal is to build 110 combat battalions. A typical Iraqi battalion, the army's basic fighting unit, has 700 to 800 soldiers.

"It's an essential part of the broader strategy," said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

With American troops in more of a support role, they will be less visible and not as susceptible to attack, Cordesman said. "But you won't have a situation where Iraqi battalions come on line and U.S. troops leave the next week."

USATODAY.com - U.S. role in Iraq security shifting

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pakistani Madrasa Education System At Work

Here we see the Madrasa system of education at work in Pakistan.

LAHORE, Pakistan - More than 1,000 protesters stormed into Islamabad's diplomatic district while thousands vandalized Western businesses and torched a government building in another city Tuesday, in Pakistan's worst wave of violence against the Prophet Mohammad cartoons, officials said. At least two people were killed.

Check the picture on the side bar.

Pakistani students run away from tear gas fired by police to disperse the crowd who...

Two banks, a KFC and Norwegian mobile phone co. Telenor.

Apparently, Pakistanis like their chicken "extra crispy". No telling what was substituted in the 12 original spices recipe to make it halal.

One can see that Madrasa classes for the fall semester included:

Speech: Chanting 101 - Better Slogans through Allah
Social Studies: How to organize a protest
Psychology: Instigating "Mob Mentality"
Economics: How to turn your country's economy from crap into petrified dog dookie in 7 days
Poly/Sci: Three proven methods to cut off diplomacy and all foreign aid so your people can starve yet live under the laws of Sharia
Science: Playing with fire
Biology: Tear Gas and Your Respiratory System
Physical Ed: Preparing for the Lahore Marathon - Dodging bullets, batons and tear gas.
Qur'an Studies: It's in the Koran.

thanks John for the free link space

Monday, February 13, 2006

Islamic Protesters and Counter Protesters Meet

Go here to see a video of what the French Islamic Protests on 2/11 looked like from the ground view.

No Pasaran notes:

"An eye for an eye! A tooth for a tooth!" Echoing protests around the world and wearing all kinds of costumes from the Middle East and the Muslim world, 4,000 Islamic demonstrators march through Paris denouncing the cartoons and the alleged (and convenient) lack of respect towards Islam.

When they arrive at La Nation, they are met with two figures wearing slightly different costumes and slightly different signs.[snip]

One, in red and white, is (silently) wearing a sign with the Danish flag saying "Support Denmark, Support free speech". Besides (silently) wearing a sign reading "Free Cartoonist" on it, the other, the founder of the BAF protest warrior-type organisation, is holding a (fake) severed hand, a pen among its fingers.

Voices start to ring out. "It's provocation!" "You tread on 1.5 million Muslims!" "Connards!" "Rat faces!"

And that is just for starters. Get the rest here.

H/T Dissident Frongman

No Pasaran continues with photos showing Carrefour, the french version of Walmart, has taken down their Danish goods and put up a sign vowing support for their Muslim citizens. And this nifty cartoon, lampooning Chirac.

A commenter at the Gates of Vienna:

I did not escape Communism to live under Sharia.

Sadly, it seems that we may have defeated Communist Russia and are now faced with an even deadlier group of folks seeking Utopia. When will man give up on Utopia? Or, at least, when will man give up killing for Utopia?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Discussions Around the Web: Islam v. World

I've had many discussions around the web the last three days with Muslims of many different ideas. I think that these discussions are extremely helpful in getting an idea of the many voices and concepts that we see on a daily basis.

I would like to point you to some of these discussions if you have not already read from these sites on a regular basis. Some of them will, no doubt, raise ire in my Western friends for Islam because the comments do represent some of the fears that we have regarding the conservative brands of both Shia and Sunni Islam. Some of the words may give you hope when you see we have a discussion as humans about common ground and ideas. Others will give you hope because the commenters are just as disgusted or worried about the fate of their nations and the fate of Islam under its current struggle for domination by one sect or the other.

When you see the contrasts I hope it will provide an education into what is the problem between us and what we may do to resolve it.

When you read the comments, I hope you will also see that we have some problems too. One of which is that many have such an extreme dislike (can I say "hate") for Islam that they can appear as troubling as some of the Muslim commenters.

The truth is, if we are to avoid war, it is not necessarily that we must become more Islamic or deferrential to Islam nor that Islam must be destroyed or necessarily become more liberal (though, that would be nice). What I read and spoke about with people leads me to believe that the primary problem with Islam is that many adherents don't just see it as a matter of faith. Islam is, as one of the more conservative people put it, "a way of life". For many, it controls every aspect of their lives, from food, to dress, to prayer, to politics, to viewing others that are not like them either in religion or political view.

For many, the idea of Islam and the conversion of people to the belief is similar to the ideas that some Christian sects see as their responsibility to spread the faith, but in Islam, it must be the immersion and conversion to an entire way of life, not just a matter of saving the soul or turning a man away from evil deeds.

In some ways, Islam as it exists today for many as "a way of life" does resemble a cult though I would hesitate to deem every Muslim a cultist. Yet, because it is more than a concept or idea of saving the soul, but is "a way of life" and that way includes the control of every aspect of life from washing, to eating, to praying, to marriage, to family life, to outside relations and even to treating those who leave the religion as "dead" or even actually killing them as well as the belief that dying for the religion in the process of spreading it or protecting it with violence is acceptable, it has the veneer of cultism.

Before we congratulate ourselves on any recognition, nodding our heads to the idea as if we finally understand what is completely wrong with Islam and that it should go, we should understand that religious cults are not just products of Islam or some strange hindu sect or something separate from our own base religion of Christianity (though many an atheist or agnostic may consider Christianity a cult as well). Christianity has had its cults pop up in the name of Christianity far too often, though it is usually small enclaves led by individual leaders all with differing ideas on the purpose and processes of their Cults. Nothing so successful as the ingraining ideas of Islam. However, one would not forget such notables as Jim Jones or David Koresh, just to name two, who were able to convince different people to commit to and live their lives as these men had set down as a way to salvation.

Interestingly, one of the websites I visited about cultism was a Christian website and it did not simply speak about cults as if it were outside of Christianity, but in fact reflected the idea that cult like behavior could occur at any church, large or small, part of a larger sect or one that saw itself as completley independent. The website talked about what to look for inside their church including demands for the adherents to give more and more of their time to the church, the organization of "shame" monitors who would watch if the person came to church or who were in their local community and would keep tabs on the person, then the entire church or designated people may approach the individual and shame them about missing church or drinking liquor or whatever it is.

There were many pointers. In speaking with some of my Islamic acquaintances the last few days, I had an eery feeling that I was speaking to a member of a cult, not just a political, religio political or geographical opponent. One of the interesting aspects was the idea of the "absolute". There are somethings that are simply "absolute" that some people could not be moved on. Of course, occassional interjections from other commenters that were, shall we say, less than rational or reasonable from the opposition, sometimes threw up the proverbial brick wall and reasonable, rational discussion would come to a screeching halt. I understand sometimes the desire to scream, screech and generally lash out when you read someone's words and they seem to be the plodding, insistent, irrational, conspiracy laden comments that we always see.

Of course, with most conspiracy theories, there is always some truth to whatever is being said, but it is often blown out of proportion to its reality or capability to actually effect the world. And, if I may further the opinion of the cultist behavior of many of the adherents of Islam that we see being expressed, I believe that it is these irrational fears that are used to keep the people of these nations, the followers of Islam toeing the line, inside the Ummah, the Muslim enclave, insisting on its protection as the whole, thus making any action against individuals an action against the whole of Islam, re-enforcing the idea that Islam is under attack and that the only protection is to be had within Islam. Even further, the modern Islamist has taken that a step further to include the need to attack anyone outside the enclave that is perceived as threatening the enclave, whether that is through non-physical infiltration of ideas, fashion, food, products or anything else that may lead a man or woman not to follow the tenets of Islam as they would have it, as "a way of life".

It reminds me, not long ago, when Prince Turki al Faisel of Saudi Arabia called the Islamists like bin Laden "cultists". I remember dismissing that as an excuse to mitigate their culpability in spreading Wahhabism, but as I go on and speak to many, from Iran to Saudi Arabia, the more I feel that the breaking of Islamism is not the destruction of Islam (we didn't destroy Christianity after Jones Town, we will not destroy Islam), it is the breaking of a cult and the only way that you break a cult member from these ideas is to isolate them and then insist on the reasonable and the rational, presenting them with evidence that contradicts their "brainwashing".

Let me be clear that Islam itself is not a "cult". It is a religion and it has its faithful. It is a particular practice of Islam that is "cultist". Islam as a faith has many things to recommend it, just as Christianity as a faith has many tenets which can help guide someone to live a better and more fulfilling life. The concept of praying five times a day, giving charity or making a pilgrimage (all similar concepts in Christianity) as basic tenets are admirable traits. The call of the muezzin for prayer is as beautiful as the ringing of church bells and the ritual prayers with their singsong nature reflect similar practices in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduims, Buddhism and many others. The idea that humility is preferable to arrogance, again, similar and acceptable.

But, the idea that leaving the faith is death, both figuratively and literal, is cultist. The idea that dying for that faith, not as a persecuted martyr but in the act of killing the enemy, is cultist. The idea that killing the unbeliever or enemy, even if they have not commited an act of violence against them, in order to protect the "faith", is cultist. The idea that each Muslim is responsible for the behavior of the others and must act to re-enforce the faith in violent and non-violent ways against these "backsliders" is cultist. These are the tenets that are not only dangerous to us, the unbelievers, but to the faith of Islam. In this, Islam becomes something more than personal faith and engenders the cult.

If we can understand that, we can understand one of the ways forward.

One of the biggest issues that we must confront is the conspiracies that surround and enable the cultists to maintain their hold whether from a religious or state practice. It is no more or less than the same propaganda that was used in order to keep Soviet citizens in thrall to the state and fear of Western democracy. Islamism and Communism are not the same, but have similar traits in engendering the Utopia, though, in one of my conversations, the idea of Utopia was rejected by an admitted Islamist from Iran. I hope and wish that to be correct. Yet, it seems that when a group will insist that the only perfection can be had within a state of pure Islam and that if the whole eschews the outside influences, clings closely to ideology and its rules, it can shut off temptations to be "different", this is the search for Utopia.

When I discussed with my friend that Utopia can never happen because man can never be perfect, while denying the search for utopia within the establishment of an "Islamic Nation", she said that I had lost hope in mankind because I did not believe it could improve itself, that I was hopeless and that she was afraid for the world if it was me the "hopeless" that was creating the ideas for the new world. We had talked about faith making people stronger in body and mind and I agreed, as long as it was faith of an individual freely chosen because without that free choice, it was not really faith, but simply rules one was forced to live by. My response to the "hopeless" comment was that I did not see mankind as hopeless. It is just that I see the hope of mankind in the unchained mind, where faith may give him guidance and discipline, but that he must be free to go beyond the bounds.

It is the unchained mind that created machines so that we can fly, developed vacines, created skin grafts, improved agriculture where we can feed billions. It will be the unchained mind that flies us to distant galaxies.

We had a very long conversation about things like "hegemony", "freedom" and a few other narrow subjects but it was most instructive. I would hope, unlike some of the commenters there, even if you find Islamic Nations comments offensive or they seem "stupid" to you, that you would approach the conversation with the idea that you are creating an open conduit of discussion and dialogue. One of the basis of free speech is that we can say what we want and often do, largely by shouting over one another to see who's idea can get the most support. But diplomacy and dialogue are based on not just speaking, but listening and responding to the specifics.

Please read Big Pharoah and comments here to get the feel of the situation.

I did not get to finish answering Islamic Nation certain questions about secret service intervention in the protests (I was not sure if that was in reference to CIA or the secret services of these nations), the comments about the Shah, giving chemical weapons to Saddam and, finally, the big question, why we are opposed to the establishment of an Islamic Nation. These and many other comments and answers are there, so read and get an idea what its like from the otherside.

Also read 7 Questions that Sandmonkey received from fellow Muslims and Egyptians about his non-support of the boycott and protests. I suggest that you scroll down in comments because it includes both secular and Islamic commenters that will provide even more color.

One of my favorites:

You say your mother is a muslim and your father too,I think for people like you Islam is something you inherited, exactly like being Egyptian, I won't be surprised though if Islam to you is just a punch of rituals. i'm not amazed because people think you are a christian or a jew, these are the people where most of Islam enemies came from, not much are aware of modern seculars who look at islam the same way non muslims look.

Don't you realize that Islam has two majors of speech, one for the non beleivers, and one for the beleivers, they are not contradicting but they are addressing differant issues.

For Example, when i talk to a non believer about the cartoons issue I my point should be mutual respect, while if i talk to you about the cartoon issue I should remind you that our Prophet is the best human that ever walked on earth and he should be dearer to us than our families, our people our money and our ownselves.

I can't use the same logic with you as I would use with a non believer, cause we - as muslims- should have established some common basis, and constants, like We only live our lives to worship Allah ,don't we ?

And, here

Ahamad - May peace and Allah mercy and blessings be upon you, Mocking a "dead" man (not to mention a prophet) does NOT equal mocking a living man.

Mocking from a prophet sent as mercy to mankind, and who represents a religion AND its followers, is equal mocking the religion AND its followers, WAKE UP

Sandmonkey Responds:


One cartoonist, one man, out of 5 million danes, made a cartoon that depicted the prophet of having a bomb-shaped turban.

Another man, Editor in chief, agrees to let the cartoon get published.

2 men's choice, just 2 men, led to all of this talk about how "the west mocks Islam and the prophet" and all the other shit that followed.

I don't know about you, but 2 men mocking me or my religion, prophet or god- while reprehensible- doesn't equate the whole west "mocking Islam and muslims". That's just not fair ya Ahmad. It's not fair to punish 5 million people cause 2 men mocked the prophet. And it's not fair to lump the whole west in that category. And it's also not fair to ignore our responsbility towards curbing the assholes that do the shit that invite such mocking in the first place. I am sure that the Prophet and his sense of justice would see the unfairness in that as well. But as you said, he is dead, and now his followers are making sure his reputation gets and stays tarnished.

However,let's ignore all that, and think about something for a second. One of the basic concepts in Islam is "el A3mal belneyat", right? As in, judge the action by the motive.

Now, if we believe the newspaper's side of the story, the point behind this "exercise of free speech" by them aimed at testing whether or not they exercise self-censorship in regards to Islam, whether the whole world is afraid of insulting muslims cause no one wants to die. Taking that into consideration, their inetntion of drawing the said cartoon wasn;t to mock the prophet or to insult Islam, as much as it was an experiment to see if their style of living is comrpromised by those so called islamists today and a crtique of what the Prophet and his ideas (and by extension the islamic religion) are being viewed in the west in the light of the actions of his followers. What, you thought that they made the turban, which is placed over his head into a bomb for no reason? You don;t think that's suppsoed to signify that they view that his views and beliefs are both dangerous and explosive? And why would they think that ya Ahmad? Is it because they took the time to learn his views and beliefs? Or is it because they see the violence and the mayhem caused by those who call themselves the Mujahedeen and profess doing what they do in the name of allah, Islam and the prophet and no one challenging them or stopping them?

Shown in that light ya basha, one could argue that the intentions behind the cartoons were not to mock the prophet, Islam or muslims, but rather highlight a growing image problem that the whole religion is having because of the actions of its followers as being violent, intolerant and explosive. Sure, the artist could've taken a much lesser controversial route in showing that problem, but he didn't in order to showcase the gravity of the issue: The symbol of Islam is portrayed as explosive because of what Muslims nowadays do. And instead or realizing that, or maybe because it's easier not to take on that issue, we instead chose to attack those who made the cartoon as an offense against every muslims and a mockery of muslims and Islam everywhere, and proceed to go crazy, killing poepole, burning embassies and bombing churches, thus proving the point of the artist to be right and enforcing that stereotype of the prophet thanks to the actions of those muslims worldwide.[snip]

I liked your solution because it acknoweldged the flaw in the design: We are not engaged in the war of ideas, and we are not engaging in enough dialogue with those who view us in that way. Your solution said to me : We say that the prophet is sent as a mercy to mankind, well, let's show them how and why. Let's take control of the debate. And I encourage that and stand with you behind that 100%. You don't seem to get that, and I am less and less concerned that you do with every passing minute!

And then, another favorite:

Ayya - Be ashamed of your Hijab

I look at you with utter pity
Simply because you’re far from witty
For I know what goes inside:
Mythical fears- deprived your mind
A surreal shape is enough to attest
That your brains is under arrest
At your will you are enslaved
To a dogma your group engraved
Your voice under the layers of attire
Replicates your diction- a satire
"O ye women, wrap close your cloak,
So you won't be bothered by ignorant folk",
God doesn't tell you to dress this way,
it’s the beardoos to whom you pray
Oppression for you is a sanctuary
Liberation- a blasphemy
Yes it was given years ago
Check when! If you care to know
Check the sources in history
Not the man-made wana-be
Sure you can climb mountains, cross seas
With a mind loaded trivialities-
You loop in darkness under your gown
“Can I pray with nail polish on?”
God had given us liberty
But man deprived its faculty
For you’re using identity cover
Of lost faith that’s gone forever
Right after the prophet’s death
How could you know that
When you’re deaf!

Btw; just in case your minds wander; I am a Muslim by birth

Read the rest

I also suggest that you read this or the comments from this section (over 315 including right wing western and Muslim commenters as well as voices of reason; but educational for both I think).

And, if you have not caught up on the Iraq political scene, I suggest that you jump over to ITM and get some reading done.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

WHAT'S BEHIND MUSLIM CARTOON OUTRAGE / Muhammad's image: Revered prophet of Islam has been depicted in art for hundreds of years

As enraged Muslims take to the streets to protest cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, few seem to be aware that representations of Islam's last messenger have existed throughout history without causing alarm.

"There is nothing in the Quran that forbids imagery the way it is condemned in the Hebrew Bible," said John L. Esposito, university professor of religion and international studies at Georgetown University.

Although rare in the 1,400 years of Islamic art, visual representations of Muhammad were acceptable in certain periods. Today, his likenesses grace collections around the world, at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Edinburgh University Library, the British Museum and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris.

"To say that Islam is anti-imagery is to have a very limited understanding of the religion," said Linda Komaroff, curator of Islamic art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Islam isn't just one flavor or one interpretation"

The museum has an unusual depiction of him -- a verbal portrait. Called a hilyeler, meaning adornment, the verbal portrait was common during the Ottoman period and often could be found hanging in Muslim homes.

"They were the equivalent of the paintings of Jesus Christ or Virgin Mary one finds in Christian homes today," Komaroff said.

WHAT'S BEHIND MUSLIM CARTOON OUTRAGE / Muhammad's image: Revered prophet of Islam has been depicted in art for hundreds of years

Denmark withdraws more diplomats

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Denmark withdraws more diplomats

In fear of their lives from the adherents of the religion of peace.

Who are the persecutors, now?

I saw a photo yesterday that I wish I had grabbed. It was a giant poster in a Cairo window: No Danes Allowed.

The reprinting of the Cartoons are viewed in Europe by many as "pre-holocaust" Germany, but in Egypt and the rest of the ME: Dane Verboten, Christain Vorboten, athiest vorboten and gays should just die.

Does this sound familiar?

The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany.

The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany.

Imagine if someone dared to put up a sign saying that Muslims were forbiden, or Saudis, or Pakistanis, or Egyptians. They'd be screaming persecution.

But, the recent fake protests over the cartoons reminds me of something else. Like Kristallnacht, it was deliberate, pre-planned and organized to put the fear of God in Jews.

Yes, it is all too familiar. We even got to see signes that blamed the Joooos.

Sorry I Dressed Like A Suicide Bomber

Well, if the egregious protest signs threatening another 9/11 or 7/7 or butchering infidels weren't enough, some joker on parole decided that he would dress up like a suicide bomber.

A demonstrator who imitated a suicide bomber in a Muslim protest over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad has been recalled to prison.
Omar Khayam, 22, of Bedford, is a convicted drug dealer who was jailed in 2002 and released on licence last year after serving half his sentence.

He was arrested and recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his licence.

Khayam apologised for his "insensitive" protest on Monday but said he had been offended by the cartoons. [snip]

The MP for Bedford, Patrick Hall, who was there as Khayam read the apology on Monday, said earlier he was unaware he was out on licence but that he still took the apology at face value.

"He acted on impulse - couple of friends, they got on the train and got to London, and I believe this was a impulsive, foolish reaction to what he saw was the offence of the publication of those cartoons."

Don't look here. Move along now. Just boys being boys.

Mr. Blair, though, takes the moment to remind the population what the problem really is:

Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was pleased that "leading members of the Muslim community have expressed their abhorrence along with everyone else in the country" to placards held during the London protest, some calling for beheadings.

"In my view, there is a real issue about how the sensible, moderate, Muslim leaders go into their community and confront this type of extremism and that's something we discuss with them continually," Mr Blair told a select committee.

In the meantime, free speech for me, but not for thee:

Meanwhile, one man has said he and a second man were arrested during the London demonstration as he attempted to mount a counter-demonstration.

The man, named only as John, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he was arrested as he handed out leaflets with the cartoons printed on them.

The Metropolitan Police said two men were arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace, but no further action was taken.

Probably did it to protect him from being beaten to a bloody pulp by the "peaceful" demonstrators.

Our leaders have forgotten the legacy of Lawrence of Arabia

Read this Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Our leaders have forgotten the legacy of Lawrence of Arabia and return for commentary.

First, my take is that it is a bit of a backhand compliment that America is not seeking empire. I'm sure that anyone reading this in the first place will not be convinced, but it is in the Guardian. Thus, there is no surprise when he starts wondering into the "Rumsfeld the mad bomber" commentary. What may be surprising is that he seems to be advocating the old detente policy of installing our own "SOB". To quote:

It defied the west's strategic interest in a Sunni/Shia balance in the Middle East. It defied the rule that nothing should enhance the status of Iran or galvanise Kurdish revanchism. As for Saddam, at least he should have been replaced with a leader who was secular and strong enough to hold Iraq together.

Which completely flies in the face of the original stated plan to install REAL democracy which includes getting different factions to compromise and work with each other. That was the stated plan. The question was whether to stand back and let people do whatever, duke it out, kill each other or work towards democracy.

He proceeds to talk about history of T E Lawrence and his dash to Damascus then proceeds to imply that the same techniques that worked for Lawrence should have been undertaken in Baghdad:

The British aide Colonel Stirling wrote of that weekend that "a thousand and one things had to be thought of, but never once was Lawrence at a loss". He met any breaches of order with a bullet. He also knew that this might be no passing glory. He wanted Emir Feisal to rule a new Arabia, but when an Arab asked him if Allenby's troops were coming, he answered: "Certainly, but the sorrow is that afterwards they may not go."

None of Lawrence's "thousand and one things" have been achieved in Baghdad in almost three years, let alone three days. The initial errors, the tolerance of looting and the mass sackings of soldiers and Ba'ath party officials have been analysed by authors as varied as Bob Woodward, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, George Packer and Larry Diamond, and now David Phillips in Losing Iraq

Damned if you do and damned if you don't. Had the soldiers proceeded to shoot looters, they would have been accused of war crimes. Had Bremmer re-installed the Ba'athists, he would have been accused of doing just what Jenkins suggests and that is installing a puppet regime. In fact, that did and is happening despite the on-going struggles between different factions to come up with a government (obviously, if we had, we would have just picked somebody with some serious power and let them duke it out).

No, he isn't saying the Brits would have done it better simply because the government in Downing Street is wimpy bend with the Washington Wind. Of course, while he points to Lawrence of Arabia and then points to the problems in Iraq, this fellow completely disregards the point in front of his face (if not his head) and that is, this is not 1917. While T E had media attention, it was largely a single guy, following him around, lauding all his exploits. He didn't have 24 hour critical news programs up his rear, taking apart his every action. People didn't care if he killed a bunch of "filthy Turks". I mean, he did massacre a retreating force, right? Yes, they had just raped, pillaged, murdered and burned everything in a village, but in modern times, T E would have been crucified as a war criminal. He'd be on par with Sharon and Bush in most of the modern world's opinion.

Recall Saddam's retreating forces from Kuwait and the "highway of death". The Iraqi Army had just been driven out of Kuwait after raping, pillaging, murdering, torturing and burning, but world opinion, watching live on TV and confronted in their faces with the ongoing act couldn't stomach it, so they were let go, only to turn their power on the Shia and massacre them. So, T E has a nice lesson in the Seven Pillars about letting armies go intact, but I am certain his decision making processes would have been drastically changed in the face of modern media and world opinion.

Fallujah would be another good example.

No, T E Lawrence would have been sent home, court martialed and imprisoned or rotting away in his own personal obscurity if he had to live and make war in the modern world.

People saw Arabs as "noble savages", but they didn't respect them. And the Europeans screwed them over royally, leading to our current mess with Israel/Palestine and the rest of the post colonial Arab world. Which are two points that serve some serious notice about listening to history:

1) History is only right because you can't go back and change it even if you keep trying to re-write it.
2) Keep the Europeans out of policy decisions because, for all their professed modern love for the poor oppressed Arab, they are still the Europe of WWI: they see Arabs as this man does, "noble savages" that we should just run rough shod over. The also believe they should do whatever it takes to get what they want, even if it screws the Arab man on the street. The UN Oil For Food Scandal comes to mind.
3) Setting up strongmen eventually leads to the future where they decide they are the new Mahdi, Sal Ah Din, Nebuchadnezzar or Moses that will lead their people out of their current problems by fighting the very people that brought them to power in the first place. The best unifying enemy being the outside unknown. The future of strongmen we prop up is the future of revolutions. It's the future of mass murder on a state scale. It's the future where we have to go to war with a crazy bastard trying to get his hands on nukes.

Here's the truth: History is a Bitch. She's always reminding you of past glories and acting like she has all the answers for the future. The only problem is, being locked in her house baking glory days cookies all the time, she's constantly looking backwards and inwards without a clue in the world about the realities of current day she's living in.

Kind of like Mr. Jenkins.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Follow Up Off Broadway Hit: Taqiyya

If you enjoyed the hit song from Johhny Jihad, It's In the Koran, then you'll enjoy the newest song to be released from the Johnny Jihad soundtrack, Taqiyya.

Danish Imam's give it two thumbs up: It's Islam's best kept secret!

Syrian President, Bashar says, "People will be rioting..er..dancing in the streets"

Iranian President, Ahminejad says, "It makes you think that you are free even when you are chained to the dungeon wall."

The Arab street says, "We haven't had this much fun since the Qur'an flushing taqiyya."

Watch buildings burn and flaming flags fly.

Ululating beyond your wildest dreams.