Tuesday, February 28, 2006

President Bush en route to India, Pakistan

Leaving his political troubles over `Portgate' behind for the moment, President Bush will make an historic trip to the Indian subcontinent, meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

"The United States has not always enjoyed close relations with Pakistan and India," Bush said. "In the past, the Cold War and regional tensions kept us apart. But, today our interests and values are bringing us closer together."

In India, the president will probably be trying to work out the final details and perhaps even signing a nuclear cooperation deal with India. The idea is to seperate India's civilian and military nuclear program. India would be able to obtain help for its civilian energy program, if it agrees to IAEA safeguards.

Other topics Bush is likely to discuss with PM Singh in India are trade and investment, joint strategies for dealing with Iran and security cooperation.

Bush will likewise probably discuss these topics with Pakistan's President Musharref.

Lots of special `festivities' are scheduled for President Bush arrival in Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities have banned demonstrations in several major cities, and rounded up dozens of likely troublemakers and hard line Islamist imams. A nationwide strike is reportedly being scheduled while the president is in the region.

Iran to give $250M to Hamas

Iran's Ahmadinejad and Hamas' Khalid Mashaal press the flesh

According to the London-based al-Hayat, Iran has pledged $250M in aid to the new Hamas government. Added to what they're getting from the EU, the UN, the US and the Saudis plus what they already have on hand, Hamas should be set quite nicely for awhile.

Ynetnews - News - Iran promises Hamas USD 250 million

Dubai Ports World participates in Arab boycott against Israel

The parent company of Dubai Ports World, the Dubai-based company now attempting to purchase American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, contrary to US law.Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over 21 US ports(not 6 as commonly reported), including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It's entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), made up of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.

"If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem," he said.

A-Din said that while the main office for the anti-Israel boycott sits in Damascus, he and his fellow staff members are paid employees of the Dubai Customs Department, which is a division of the PCZC, the same Dubai government-owned entity that runs Dubai Ports World.

Moreover, the Post also found that the website for Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone Area, part of the PCZC, advises importers that they will need to comply with the terms of the boycott.

In a section entitled "Frequently Asked Questions", the site lists six documents that are required in order to clear an item through the Dubai Customs Department. One of them, called a "Certificate of Origin," "is used by customs to confirm the country of origin and needs to be seen by the office which ensures any trade boycotts are enforced," according to the website.

A-Din at the Israel boycott office confirmed that his office examines certificates of origin as a means of verifying whether a product originated in the Jewish state.

On at least three separate occasions last year, according to the Jerusalem Post, companies were fined by the US government's Office of Anti-boycott Compliance, an arm of the Commerce Department, on charges connected to boycott-related requests they had received from the Government of Dubai.

US law makes it illegal for firms to comply with such requests or to cooperate with attempts by Arab governments to boycott Israel.

In one instance, according to a Commerce Department press release, a New York-based exporter agreed to pay a fine for having "failed to report in a timely manner its receipts of requests from Dubai" to provide certification that its products had not been made in Israel.

Dubai is the same country that hosts the government funded Zayed Center, known for funding some of the most outrageous Jew hatred, Holocaust denial, anti-American conspiracy theories and hate speech to be found anywhere on the planet, as I reported

For instance, the Zayed Center has hosted Thierry Meyssan, the French author of "The Appalling Fraud," which claims that the U.S. military staged the 9/11 attacks. The center translated Mr. Meyssan's book into Arabic, hailed its publication and widely advertised and distributed the book all over the Arab World.

Is the Bush Administration prepared to turn over our ports management to a company owned by a country that proudly boycotts Israel, breaks American law and makes a fetish of government funded anti-Semitism?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Destroy a mosque, and there is international condemnation and outrage. Destroy a synagogue and the world is silent.

Decent people of the world were horrified by the destruction of the gold domed mosque in Samrra, Iraq last week.Statements of condemnation came from around the world.

President Bush stated, "I extend my deepest condolences to the people of Iraq for the brutal bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra....The American people pledge to work with the people of Iraq to rebuild and restore the Golden Mosque of Samarra to its former glory. He added: "The United States stands ready to do all in its power to assist the Government of Iraq to identify and bring to justice those responsible for this terrible act."

On the same day the mosque was bombed, the government of Tajikistan destroyed the country's only synagogue and Jewish center to make way for a presidential palace, and not a single word was uttered against it.

Indeed, it has hardly been mentioned. Google reports 2,930 news articles about the mosque destruction today, as opposed to only six exist on the synagogue destruction and those six are really just one brief mention that has been repeated through syndication in American newspapers.SignOnSanDiego.com > News > World -- Authorities in Tajikistan begin demolishing country's only synagogue

Tajikistan is 85% Muslim, a country situated north of Afghanistan and south of Russia, but it has an active community of 250 Bukharian Jews. The Jewish community has been in the area surrounding Tajikistan for 2000 years.The only synagogue in the country was destroyed so the government can build a grand palace for its president. "If the Jews want to have [rebuild] a synagogue, let them pay for it out of their own funds," said Shamsuddin Nuriddinov, head of the City of Dushanbe, Religious Affairs Department.

When news of the destruction of the Tajikistan synagogue reached the Bukharian community in the United States, the news was met with shock; people whose children were brought up in that synagogue reacted in tears. Members of the Bukharian community in Atlanta, Georgia stated they worry about the Jewish cemeteries that are near the synagogue. No one knows what will happen to them.

Not one statement was made by any government of any country around the world condemning this wanton destruction and anti-Semitic bigotry.

Thanks to my long time friend and correspondant Joyce C. for bringing this to my attention.

Well, it's official; The EU ponies up $143M for the new Hamas government

PA Chair Mahmoud Abbas and EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana.

The European Union agreed today to gift the new Palestinian Hamas government with $143 million in 'urgent aid'. The funds were required to avoid "economic chaos" from paralyzing the Palestinian Authority, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.

Officials said the aid package comprises $48 million to pay for the Palestinian Authority's energy and other utility bills, $76 million for health and education projects and $21 million to help the authority pay its employees. Apparently al Aksa and the Tanzim won't kill Jews as a hobby.

The rationalization on this is that the money is for humanitarian purposes, and to be given to the Palestinians before the Hamas government takes power. Of course, since the money is being given directly to Abbas, the same person who padded the PA payroll with 37,000 `jobs' for positions that didn't exist and considering that there is little or no oversight possible as to where the funds end up, this ends up being the grossest hypocrisy on the EU's part, funding a government headed by an organization the EU itself labels as terrorists.

"The concept is to be able to help the Palestinian people, to be able to help the Palestinian Authority during this transition period," said EU spokeswoman Cristina Gallach.

"Later on we will evaluate what is the government doing, what the composition of the government is," Gallach said. "What we want is to help as much as possible the Palestinian president, the key interlocutor and somebody we have dealt with for a long time."

"We will continue to support the Palestinian Authority until the new government is formed and we have tried to find the necessary resources to do that," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after a telephone conference call that included UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"We hope that we will have enough money to sustain the Palestinian Authority at least until the new government is established," Solana told reporters.

Some terrorists are apparently more worthy than others of aid and support from the West.

Deadline on Jill Carroll passes; no news on her fate

The latest deadline set by the terrorists who kidnapped reporter Jill Carroll has passed with no news on her fate.

Today, on ABC news Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabur al Zubaidi said he knew who had abducted the 28-year-old journalist.

"We know his name and address, and we are following up on him as well as the Americans," Zubaidi said. "I think she is still alive."

The recent turmoil in Iraq following the bombing of the Shiite shrine at Samarra has impeded any major efforts to locate Carroll.

Zubaidi said the problem was that authorities don't know where Carroll was being held, and that the original kidnappers may have sold her to another group. The demands could be upped for her release. This is a common tactic with Islamic terrorists.

"They want to get more and more," he said. "The release of women, the release of some bad guys from the terrorists and maybe at the end they will need money."

On Sunday, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said an extensive search was under way for Carroll.

"Our forces raided some suspected places, but she was not there," Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi said. "We are watching the situation closely."

Also unheard from is Canadian hostage, James Loney of Canada.Loney was one of four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams seized Nov. 26 in Baghdad by the previously unknown group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade. The other three are a Canadian, an American and a Briton.

Things are not looking good for any of these people, considering what value Islamists place on the lives of unbelievers, however innocent. We can only hope and pray for the best.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How NOT to answer a question: The Washington Post interviews new Hamas Pm Haniyeh

An example of how slippery Ismail Haniyeh can be! This is a transcript of an interview with the Washington Post. Notice how she had to ask Haniyeh the same basic question repeatedly...without getting a straight answer!Needless to say, the WAPO ran this under the title of `We Do Not Wish to Throw Them Into the Sea'! The PR makeover of Hamas has already begun...

Sunday, February 26, 2006; B02

Since Hamas won control of parliament in the recent Palestinian elections, policymakers in Washington and Jerusalem have been faced with a dilemma: how to deal with a democratically elected government that is also on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Last week, Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth interviewed Hamas's new prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, by phone in his home in the refugee camp where he lives with his wife and 12 children in Gaza.

Were you surprised by the size of the Hamas victory?

Hamas entered the elections planning to be victorious.

Was the victory due to corruption in Fatah, the social services you provided or the general agreement of most Palestinians with the Hamas program of armed resistance?

The victory of Hamas is not only based on the corruption of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has a vision and a program, and this is the reason why the Palestinian people chose Hamas. However, there is no doubt that the corruption helped Hamas's victory.

What percent of the people voted for Hamas because of your call for armed resistance?

Resistance is one of the reasons for Hamas's victory, but Hamas works [also] in the political, educational and charitable fields. All these activities helped it win.

Palestinian President Abu Mazen and the international community have put forward conditions for dealing with Hamas: 1) recognize Israel; 2) recognize existing agreements with Israel made by the Palestinian Liberation Organization; 3) renounce violence. Will you agree to these conditions?

We are surprised that such conditions are imposed on us. Why don't they direct such conditions and questions to Israel? Has Israel respected agreements? Israel has bypassed practically all agreements. We say: Let Israel recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinians first and then we will have a position regarding this. Which Israel should we recognize? The Israel of 1917; the Israel of 1936; the Israel of 1948; the Israel of 1956; or the Israel of 1967? Which borders and which Israel? Israel has to recognize first the Palestinian state and its borders and then we will know what we are talking about.

Israel has agreed to a two-state solution, signed agreements with the PLO and withdrawn from Gaza. So will Hamas accept any of the agreements that the PLO -- starting with [Yasser] Arafat and continuing with Abu Mazen -- made with Israel?

Number one, the withdrawal from Gaza was based on a unilateral decision and a unilateral plan. It was not [done] out of the generosity of Israel. Has Israel committed itself to all these agreements? We are not war seekers nor are we war initiators.

We are not lovers of blood. We are not interested in a vicious cycle of violence. We are oppressed people with rights. If peace brings us our rights, then this is good.

Do you accept the Oslo agreement signed by Yasser Arafat?

Israel has stopped completely committing itself to Oslo.

I am not asking about Israel. Are you, as the new Palestinian prime minister, committed to Oslo?

How do you want me not to pay attention or care about what Israel says? Oslo stated that a Palestinian state would be established by 1999. Where is this Palestinian state? Has Oslo given the right to Israel to reoccupy the West Bank, to build the wall and expand the settlements, and to Judaize Jerusalem and make it totally Jewish?

Has Israel been given the right to disrupt the work on the port and airport in Gaza? Has Oslo given them the right to besiege Gaza and to stop all tax refunds from the Palestinian Authority?

So you will not abide by past agreements made by the Palestinians and Israel?

I have not said that. I have said that Israel . . .

But you are not the prime minister of Israel. Will you abide by past agreements made by the Palestinian governments and Israel?

We will review all agreements and abide by those that are in the interest of the Palestinian people.

What agreements will you honor?

The ones that will guarantee the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital with 1967 borders -- as well as agreements that would release prisoners.

Would Hamas recognize Israel if it were to withdraw to the '67 borders?

If Israel withdraws to the '67 borders, then we will establish a peace in stages.

What does that mean?

Number one: We will establish a situation of stability and calm which will bring safety for our people -- what Sheikh [Ahmed] Yassin [a Hamas founder] called a long-term hudna .

Does a peace in stages means the ultimate obliteration of the Jewish people?

We do not have any feelings of animosity toward Jews. We do not wish to throw them into the sea. All we seek is to be given our land back, not to harm anybody.

Do you recognize Israel's right to exist?

The answer is to let Israel say it will recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, release the prisoners and recognize the rights of the refugees to return to Israel. Hamas will have a position if this occurs.

So will you extend the present ceasefire?

I will not say yes or no. The problem is with Israel. If Israel gives us a quiet period and stops its incursions and the assassinations, then we will be able to convince our people to continue with a state of quiet.

How is Hamas going to run its government with the United States cutting back funds and the Palestinian government having a deficit of $700 million? Will Iran make up the difference?

We have an economic plan for self-sufficiency based on rationing and protection of public money. Number two: Our relationship with the Islamic and Arab world has shown indications that these people will support us. Number three: The liberals and free people of the world will not like to see the Palestinian people living under siege. We have received indications from the international community that they will not stop their aid.

I ask the American administration not to participate in any resolution that will double the suffering of the Palestinian people. I am convinced that the American people would not want to see the Palestinians suffer the way they do.

You must offer Americans some kind of assurance that you agree with President Bush's two-state solution, that you oppose violence and suicide bombings, that you favor peace. Can you?

All the Palestinian people would like to stop the bloodshed and take the civilians away from this vicious cycle of violence. The problem is not with us but with the Israelis.

Will you recognize Israel?

If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognize them.

Israel does not have a charter calling for the destruction of the Palestinian state.

Our only position will be declared once Israel recognizes our right to exist.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accepted a two-state solution as did President Bush. What do you say about the two-state solution?

It all starts with Israel.

The new Russia/Iran nukes deal..and what's behind it

Iran and Russia agreed `in principle' on a joint uranium enrichment venture on Russian soil. Not that sanctions would have been forthcoming or effective even if voted for, but Russia has rescued Tehran from any UN Security Council oversight or penalties. Referral of Iran’s nuclear breaches of the NPT was to have taken place after the critical IAEA board session in Vienna March 6.

I expected an agreement of some sort at this juncture..simply because the Iranians have absolutely nothing to lose.J O S H U A P U N D I T: Connecting a few dots on Iran

The deal was announced today by Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, and the Head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency Sergei Kiriyenko at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor.

The Russians will be able to ask for time to work on the details of the Moscow-Tehran accord and continue finishing Iran's nuclear facilities...and their defenses. The Iranians will buy several precious months to continue to process uranium on their own soil – their main objective in the first place. Washington, the EU and the UN are meanwhile restrained from any further action `so diplomacy can have a chance to work'.

Thanks to the Russians, there is little chance of united action by the West to derail Iran's nuclear weapons program. Iran is now free to continue to enrich uranium up to weapons grade.

This represents a development on the scale of the Comintern Pact between Hitler and Stalin on the eve of WWII, which removed the threat on Germany's Eastern border and freed up Hitler's forces to attack the West. There is a significant factor in the Kremlin (which Kiriyenko belongs to, reportedly) who favor a Moscow-Teheran alliance
to share power in the region and counteract the power of the US and the Western Democracies.

Like Stalin, who continued selling oil and other raw materials to the Nazis up to the very day he was attacked by them, Putin and Russia may be in for a very rude awakening in the not too distant future.

Mark Steyn: `Needing to wake up, the west just closes its eyes..'

"In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France?.....radical young Muslim men are changing the realities of daily life for Jews and gays and women in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond. If you don't care for the Yids, big deal; look out for yourself. The Jews are playing their traditional role of the canaries in history's coal mine....

Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well:

''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''

Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law: Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. Four decades ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it's in the grip of sharia, and the other half's feeling the squeeze, as the death toll from the cartoon jihad indicates. But just as telling is how swiftly the developed world has internalized an essentially Islamic perspective. In their pitiful coverage of the low-level intifada that's been going on in France for five years, the European press has been barely any less loopy than the Middle Eastern media."

Read the whole thing here.

Dubai Ports — Strategic Implications

A fascinating and far reaching discussion of the strategic implications of the Dubai Ports takeover by scholar, sharia expert and top notch economist David J. Jonsson.
Definately worth the read:Dubai Ports — Strategic Implications

Say it ain't so, Dubbya: US to fund Hamas government

The right half of Arafat's forked tongue, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat sat in on a meeting with in Ramallah with visiting deputy US Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs David Welsh and Arafat 2 Abbas and cam out all smiles, saying the U.S. pledged to continue financial support for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Hamas Palestinian government.

The meeting was the first high-level U.S.-Palestinian contact since Hamas, whose charter calls for destruction of Israel, scored a landslide victory in Palestinian Parliamentary elections last month.

Welsh is also supposed to meet with Israeli officials today, to brief them and give `em the good news.

I imagine that after Condi Rice visited our `eternal friends' the Saudis. she was told in no uncertain terms that not only would they not cease funding the Palestinian terrorist group but that the US had better fork over the usual funding as well.

Welch was then sent scuttling over to kiss Abbas' ring, tell him that all of Dubbya's rhetoric about not dealing with Hamas was a misunderstanding and that the US taxpayers could be relied on to continue financing terrorists...so long as they concentrate on Israeli targets and issue suitable hints about a 'ceasefire' now and then.


Congress has legislation pending that would mandate a halt to aid for the Palestinian Authority, regardless of how a President might want to weasel around it. It needs to be passed.

UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports

In yet another example of how the Bush Administration is dissembling over the UAE ports deal, today it was revealed that the takeover involves 21 ports..not 6 as previously reported.United Press International - Security & Terrorism - UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports

According to P&O Ports North America's website, the UAE owned Dubai Ports management takeover involves 11 ports on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas.

The deal is set to go through March 2 unless Congress intervenes.

Dubai Ports has offered to delay the deal because of the publicity to allow Congress to be briefed..and to allow it's high powered and high priced lobbyists, including ex-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschelle, ex-Secreatry of State Madeline Albright and ex-Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole to work the phones and press the flesh.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. said after the briefing she expects swift, bi-partisan approval for a bill to require a national security review before it is allowed to go forward. She will have lots of help on the other side of the aisle, including Republican majority leader Bill Frist.

President George W. Bush on Tuesday threatened to veto any legislation designed to stall the handover. This is shaping up into a major showdown.

There is a 1992 amendment to a law that requires a 45-day review if the foreign takeover of a U.S. company "could affect national security." Many members of Congress see that review as mandatory in this case.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, comprised of officials from 12 government departments and agencies, approved the deal unanimously on January 17...just like they've approved every deal but one out of about 1580 or so.

The same day, the White House appointed a DP World executive, David C. Sanborn, to be the administrator for the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation. Sanborn had been serving as director of operations for Europe and Latin America at DP World.

"The structure of the deal led us to believe there were no national security concerns," said Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson.
That little tidbit above should reveal how seriously the Committee vetted this deal!

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R- Va., said he will request from both the U.S. attorney general and the Senate committee's legal counsel a finding on the administration's interpretation of the 1992 amendment.

Congress is also not happy about the way the were not notified as the Administration tried to slip this through the cracks.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley stated in a letter to Bush on Feb. 21 that he specifically requested to be kept abreast of foreign investments that may have national security implications. He made the request in the wake of a controversial Chinese proposal to purchase an oil company last year.

"Obviously, my request fell on deaf ears. I am disappointed that I was neither briefed nor informed of this sale prior to its approval. Instead, I read about it in the media," he wrote.

The Associated Press broke the story Feb. 11, Joshuapundit wrote about it Feb. 12 and the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank, wrote about it Feb. 13. CSP posited the sale as the Treasury Department putting commerce interests above national security.

Gee, you think?

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England is worried about alienating countries in the Middle East the United States is trying to court as allies in the war on terrorism.

"It's very important we strengthen bonds ... especially with friends and allies in the Arab world. It's important that we treat friends and allies equally around the world without discrimination," he said.


Does that mean the the UAE is on the same footing with America as Australia, Great Britain and Israel? That doesn't seem to pass muster with me.

Real and long standing alliances, Mr. Deputy Secretary come from shared values and not from relationships of convenience. If the US errs on the side of caution and stops this takeover of our ports, does that mean that our loyal allies at the UAE are going to start supporting al Qaeda again?

Port Security is a major issue in the USA. Since the Homeland Security merger, Customs and Immigration have been merged into one organization, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE, and customs enforcement has been pushed to the curb, given the USA's problem with illegal immigration, and the ICE is already stretched to the limit, as I wrote here.

Port facility operators have a major security responsibility, and one that could be exploited by terrorists if they infiltrate the company, said Joe Muldoon III. Muldoon is an attorney representing Eller & Co., a port facility operator in Florida partnered with M&O in Miami. Eller opposes the Dubai takeover for security reasons.

"The Coast Guard oversees security, and they have the authority to inspect containers if they want and they can look at manifests, but they are really dependent on facility operators to carry out security issues," Muldoon said.

The Marine Transportation Security Act of 2002 requires vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security plans including passenger, vehicle and baggage screening procedures; security patrols; establishing restricted areas; personnel identification procedures; access control measures; and/or installation of surveillance equipment.

Under the same law, port facility operators may have access to Coast Guard security incident response plans -- in other words, they know exactly where the weak points and loopholes in the system are.

"The concern is that the UAE may be our friend now ... but who's to say that couldn't change, or they couldn't be infiltrated. Iran was our big buddy," said Muldoon.

In a January report, the Council on Foreign Relations pointed out the vulnerability of the shipping security system to terrorist exploitation.

CFR suggests a terrorist event is likely to be a one-time operation on a trusted carrier "precisely because they can count on these shipments entering the U.S. with negligible or no inspection."

"All a terrorist organization needs to do is find a single weak link within a 'trusted' shipper's complex supply chain, such as a poorly paid truck driver taking a container from a remote factory to a port. They can then gain access to the container in one of the half-dozen ways well known to experienced smugglers," CFR wrote.

Still want our friends at the UAE watching the store?

Australia's `Jihad Jack' found guilty

When it comes to Islamic terrorism, our cousins down in Oz mean business.

An Australian man known as "Jihad Jack" has been convicted of receiving funds from al-Qaeda.

Jack Thomas, a Muslim convert, was found guilty of accepting $3,500 (£2,000) and a plane ticket home from an al-Qaeda agent in Pakistan.

A Melbourne court also heard evidence that Thomas had visited al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan shortly before the 9/11 attacks.

`Jihad Jack' is the first Australian to be charged and convicted under the stiff terrorism laws passed in 2002.

The former taxi driver could face up to 25 years in jail when he is sentenced by the Supreme Court in the next few days.

He was also found guilty of possessing a false passport, but he was found not guilty of intentionally providing resources for al-Qaeda.

Thomas trained in al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan before moving to Pakistan. He was arrested in November 2004 upon his return to Australia. Jack's defence was that he accepted the money and plane ticket because he wanted to return home and had no intention of becoming an al-Qaeda operative.

Yeah, I believe that one, all right.

Jack Thomas is one of 24 men charged under anti-terror legislation introduced in Australia in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Iraq settling down, but still simmering

Baghdad remained quiet as the security clampdown was extended, with a traffic ban extended until Monday to reduce the threat of further violence.Jerusalem Post |Embattled Baghdad hopes worst of sectarian fury has passed

Defence Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi warned on Saturday of the risk of endless "civil war" as sectarian violence flared again, killing more than 40, and Sunni and Shi'ite leaders pleaded for a halt to four days of bloodshed.

President Bush asked Iraqi leaders to work together to end the violence that followed the al Qaeda bombing of a Shi'ite shrine at Samarra on Wednesday.

Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, together with Kurdish and Arab Sunni leaders, called on all Iraqis to unite, end the sectarian bloodshed and fight terrorism. Over 200 people have died in the fighting since Wednesday.

In one particularly horrible incident today,Cindy Sheehan's brave `Freedom Fighters' opened fire on a crowd of teenage boys playing soccer in the Iraqi town of Baquba, killing two of them and wounding five.

According to police, three terrorists in a car drove up to the area where the boys were gathered and opened fire. They were playing soccer in a mixed Shi'ite and Sunni neighbourhood in Baquba.

It takes a special kind of human being (and I use the term loosely)to open fire on a bunch of innocent kids playing soccer.

On the plus side, As I predicted, the Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people have taken a deep breath, pulled together and realized that a civil war only helps the terrorists and is to no one's benefit.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, President Jalal Talabani and a host of Shiite and Sunni leaders met at Mr Jaafari's house yesterday for the first time since the violence started on Wednesday.

"All the leaders felt a need to accelerate the political process and proposed to sign a national pact between all the different political factions," Mr Jaafari said later.

"If I have any good news it is that Iraq is far away from a civil war. There is no Shiite against a Sunni or a Muslim against a non-Muslim . . . the name of Iraq is above everything."

The talks came after US President George Bush phoned seven Iraqi political leaders encouraging them to work together.

Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been a major force in calming the waters and helping to end the violence. He even brought the rabble rousing Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr around, forcing him to make peace and appear in public with Sunni leaders.

Friday, February 24, 2006

`Live here - be Australian' says Australia's John Howard

Seems simple and fair to me! Let's call it the Quote O' The Day.

In an interview marking his 10th anniversary in power, Austalian Prime Minister John Howard defended as "fundamentally accurate" a speech by his Treasurer, Peter Costello, on core Australian values.Live here, be Australian - National - smh.com.au

Howard urged that migrants have an obligation to embrace Australian values and social integration must be pushed harder.

Howard told the Herald, "when you come to this country, you become Australian".

Mr Howard also said Australian Muslims overwhelmingly were committed to Australia, and terrorism was based "upon an evil, distorted interpretation of Islam … But that doesn't mean you can't identify areas of concern, and I think the reaction of some in the Islamic community … is quite unreasonable."

No wonder they like him in Oz. If he gets tired of Australia, I think we could use him here in the USA!

Similarly, Peter Costello had said: "Before becoming an Australian, you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objections to those values, don't come to Australia."

Costello also condemned "confused, mushy, misguided multiculturalism" and advocated stripping citizenship from people who advocate Islamic law (Sharia) over Australian law.

There was a predictable amount of protest at Costello's speech but New South Wale's Left of center Labor Premier, Morris Iemma, called it reasonable and practical and said immigrants should "leave the disputes, leave the extremism and leave the fights behind". This endorsement is a sure sign that Labor polling identifies this as a major issue among average Australians.

Business as usual with the Palestinian Authority for the EU and the UN

When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group? When they're focused on killing Israelis seems to be the answer for the UN and EU.

Hamas my be a terrorist group according to the EU and the US, but only the US is prepared to act on it by ceasing to fund the Palestinian Authority.

The EU is set to give the Palestinians a fresh cash injection in spite of the Palestinians’ failure to meet any conditions for a resumption in aid.FT.com / Middle East & Africa / Arab-Israel conflict - EU set to give cash lifeline to Palestinian authority

As reported here earlier, Sweden, Britain and France are more than happy to continue business as usual with the Hamas government, and will now be joined by the other EU member states.

The new funding, which could be around $119M (€100m or £68m) would supoposedly include money for “basic needs”, such as maintaining electricity services as well as money given directly to the Palastinian Authority.

At least we won't have to listen to any more pious blather from the EU about how it doesn't fund Palestinian terrorism.

The UN is also in the game, with the U.N.'s special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, lobbying donors to provide funds to `keep the Palestinian Authority running.'

"We are advocating that the (Palestinian Authority) institutions should not be starved of funds to the point where they collapse."

As we also have seen, US Secretary of State Condi Rice was also unsuccessful in getting our `allies' the Saudis to stop funding Hamas.

During a visit to the region this week, urged Arab countries to deny aid to a Palestinian government led by Hamas if it refused to recognise Israel and meet other international demands.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt rejected U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's appeals, and Iran also said it would help fund the new government.

Interestingly enough, only the Saudis insisted on some real accountability from Hamas..something the UN and the EU has never done.

They were required to present a plan to the Saudi royal advisers for running the PA on a shoestring budget and eliminating graft. The Hamas plan called for the elimination of 37,000 totally fictitious jobs in the security services and government apparatus that could be cut without any firing of PA employees, for a saving of approximately $400 million a year. This would pare the PA’s annual budget from $1.2 billion to $800 million.

I wonder in who's pocket the `salaries' for those phony 37,000 jobs ended up?

Russia has also offered to provide assistance and even sell arms to the Palestinians, and has invited Hamas leaders to Moscow for talks expected to take place as early as March 3.

New Gallup poll: 68% of Americans view Israel favorably

This is up from 59% about a week or so ago.Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Almost seven in 10 - or 68% - of Americans view Israel in a "very favorable" or "most favorable" light.Only 11% hold similar views toward the Palestinian Authority, and Iran is now overwhelmingly perceived "worst enemy" of the United States.

Israel continues cleanup of terrorist cells in Nablus

The IDF took out three Tanzim members today in Nablus in a continuing operation to root out and destroy terrorist cells in the area.

Today's bag of terrorists included Muhammed Shatiwi, the head of the Tanzim group in the Balata refugee camp who was responsible for several attacks in the area.

The IDF said soldiers began the operation in Nablus five days ago after intel came in that Tanzim and Islamic Jihad cells in Nablus were preparing terrorist attacks.

Hamas, of course, was livid over this and called on the international community to intervene to stop what it called a ``massacre'. No surprise there.

In other news, Hamas had a bit of provocation of its own to offer by vowing to release the assasins of former Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi. Hamas Leader Khaled Mashaal said on Friday that the new Hamas-led Palestinian parliament would release the assassins of the former tourism minister from the Jerico jail where they have been incarcerated for the past four years.Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

The five prisoners are being held under an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under Palestinian supervision, along with American and British jailers.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz made a point of warning Hamas against any moves to release the murderers. Mashaal said, "Israel always threatens and makes assurances, but it does not scare us. We will do what our people need whether it angers Israel or not."

Rehavam Ze'evi was assassinated at Jerusalem's Hyatt Hotel by Palestinian terrorists on October 17, 2001. It was the first Arab assassination of an Israeli minister. The assassins had found sanctuary in Yasser Arafat's Mukata compound in Ramallah, but were transferred to Jericho as part of the deal that called off an IDF siege of the compound.

Early elections called in Thailand

CBS News | Early Election Set in Thailand:

Thailand's prime minister dissolved parliament and called for early elections today.

'I have decided to dissolve the parliament,' Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters after meeting with the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej and winning the monarch's consent for elections. The ballot for a new National Assembly will be held on April 2, according to a royal decree released late Friday.

This is significant because Thaksin has been a major hardline foe of the Muslim insurgency in Thailand's three Southern provinces.He has come under fire for allegedly mishandling the insurgency where more than 1,100 have died over the past two years.

Part of the opposition to his leadership comes from the press which feels that he has unduly restricted them. He is also accused of corruption and of allowing his business and political cronies to reap enormous gains from his policies.

Saudis foil terorrist attack on major oil refinery

Saudi security foiled a major atack by two suicide bombers at the huge Abqaiq oil facility today. Top News | Reuters.co.ca

The two cars exploded at the gates. This is the first major attack since al-Qaeda launched attacks aimed at toppling Saudi Arabia's monarchy in 2003.

One car was carrying gunmen and two others, packed with explosives, rammed into the gates.

Oil prices shot up $2 a barrel on news of the attack. Dubai-based Al Arabiya television said the attackers used cars carrying the logo of Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco.

Violence in Iraq begins to ebb

Cooler heads appear to be prevailing in Iraq, thank goodness. A number of my sources have e-mailed me regarding the goodwill efforts of Sunni and Shia clergy in this regard, including Grand Ayatollah Sistani, of course (a proper Nobel peace prize candidate if ever there was one). The bottom line, of course, is that both the Sunni and the Shia realize that the destruction of the shrine was an attempt to ignite a civil war that would further devastate an already devastated country, and that only al Qaeda would benefit.

Here is a well written piece on the matter:

NRO Al Qaeda Blows It | February 24, 2006�11:35:15

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More on `Portgate'; Ties between the Bush family and the UAE begin emerging

Congress and the Bush Administration have apparently agreed to a delay in the Dubai Port takeover of 6 busy ports,pending a review. I received a slew of disturbing new information today.

First of all, according to the London Times, US Secretary of State Condi Rice, who is enroute to Abu Dhabi in the Emirates today revealed that the UAE and the US have been in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement, and Condi was quoted as saying that the ports deal "had been vetted by the Bush Administration for three months". America, United States, Times Online, The Times, Sunday TimesSo much for President Bush being unaware of this until it was already a done deal!

Also of interest was the fact that The United Arab Emirates has long-standing ties to the Bush family. Records show the UAE and one of its sheikhs contributed at least $1 million before 1995 to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

Another interesting bit concerns the President's brother Neil Bush, who last surfaced as a defendant in the Silverado Trust Savings and Loan scandal.

Neil Bush is a frequent visitor and paid speaker in Dubai, and a friend of Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. He was there right after 9/11 trying to get investors for an educational software company he owned that later went under. Arab-American BusinessBush was a frequent vistor to Dubai and actually e-mailed his wife of his desire for a divorce from his Dubai hotel room!

Bush's relationship with the Saudi and UAE royals was also bolstered by his employment by his Syrian-American multimillionaire boss, Jamal Daniel, who is well connected to the royal families. Daniel reportedly paid Neil Bush a $60,000 a year salary for only a few hours work. Bush's marriage to his second wife was held at Daniel's palatial Houston mansion.

At onespeech in Saudi Arabia, Neil Bush encouraged conferees to expand lobbying and PR efforts to change "perceptions" about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Aside from Neil Bush's paid speaking engagement engagements throughDubai's Datamatrix, he's prominently displayed on the company's website (and listed as "Brother of US President George Bush"), as are Al Gore and Sandy Berger. Datamatix - The Power of Trust

Neil Bush has also made paid speeches to the Zayed Center, which was funded by UAE's President, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who recently died. Some of you may recall that the Zayed Center is known for funding some of the most outrageous Jew hatred, Holocaust denial, anti-American conspiracy theories and hate speech to be found anywhere on the planet.

In August 2002, the Los Angeles Times quoted Mohammed Murar, the executive director of the Zayed Center, saying about Jews that "the truth is they are the enemies of all nations." His comment came on the heels of a Zayed Center report stating that "the Zionists are the people who killed the Jews in Europe."

Sheik Zayed also funded the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a prominent think tank of the Arab League, founded in 1999. The Zayed Center, described on its Web site "as the fulfillment of the vision of Sheikh Zayed," promotes Holocaust denial, anti-American conspiracy theories and hate speech in its lectures, symposiums and publications. In August 2002, the Los Angeles Times quoted Mohammed Murar, the executive director of the Zayed Center, saying about Jews that "the truth is they are the enemies of all nations." His comment came on the heels of a Zayed Center report stating that "the Zionists are the people who killed the Jews in Europe."

The Zayed Center has a history of giving Holocaust deniers like David Irving a forum to promulgate their ideas. In 1998, Sheik Zayed's wife donated $50,000 to finance the defense of infamous Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy in a French court.

In April 2002, the Zayed Center hosted Thierry Meyssan, the French author of "The Appalling Fraud," which claims that the U.S. military staged the 9/11 attacks. The center translated Mr. Meyssan's book into Arabic, hailed its publication and widely advertised the work.

The Center has also proudly hosted Umayma Jalahma, a professor of Islamic Studies at King Faisal University, who declared: "The Jewish people must obtain human blood so that their clerics can prepare for holiday pastries."OpinionJournal - Taste

It's one thing for the President's brother to take money and cozy up to people like this. But are these the sort of people we want managing our ports in a post 9/11 atmosphere?

Even more disturbing is the security problems associated with the reorganization of the former INS and U.S. Customs Service into ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency is already stretched to the limit, given the problem with illegal immigration in the US. Since Immigration is now the main focus of the ICE, investigations into smuggling from foreign countries and monitoring port security has fallen by the way-side.

While Customs and Border Protection does inspections, the investigations are still supposed to be conducted by ICE, who agents are already overloaded and who's budget for this year already spent. ICE is also burdened with a political appointee,Julie L. Myers,running ICE who has no law enforcement experience or Customs experience.

One of the Administrations' selling points on this deal is that he security is `taken care of'. Let's just say I have my doubts and need a lot more reassurance.

A shout out to Debbie Shlussel who provided some of the info on this post.

Muslims killed in Nigeria in Revenge attacks

At least 20 people were killed in revenge attacks on Muslims in Nigeria yesterday as religious riots intensified after the country's leading Anglican archbishop warned Muslims that they did not have a "monopoly on violence".Top News | Reuters.co.ca

Mobs with machetes and guns roamed the streets of the mainly Christian city of Onitsha, in the south-east, in retaliation for Muslim violence in the north earlier this week which killed dozens of people, destroyed churches and left thousands homeless.

Nigeria is one of those countries on the border of jihad, with the Northern half of the country mainly Hausa and Muslim and the South Christian.

The Christian retaliation came after a widely publicised statement by the powerful Anglican primate, Peter Akinola, who warned that community leaders may not be able to contain "restive youth".

"May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly on violence in this nation," he said.

He said the Muslim riots, which broke out at the weekend in response to the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have generated fury across the Muslim world, were part of a plot to make Nigeria an Islamic country.

"It is no longer a hidden fact that a long-standing agenda to make this Nigeria an Islamic nation is being surreptitiously pursued," he said.

I don't agree with sectarian violence no matter who generates it, but the Archbishop is correct that there is a jihad agenda towards making Nigeria an Islamist country.

The northern provinces were the site of the `Beauty Queen' riots sparked by a casual mention in a local newspaper that `the prophet Mohammed would have been proud' to marry one of the women in the Miss Universe pageant, scheduled to take place in Nigeria. The subsequent riots killed hundreds of Christians and burned churches, caused the relocation of the pageant, resulted in a death sentence fatwa for the writer of the article and were widely seen in Nigeria as an excuse to impose Sharia law on the Muslim majority provinces in the north.

The latest outbreak erupted after Islamic prayers in the northern city of Maiduguri. Thirty Christian churches were razed and 18 people were killed, mostly Christians. There was also violence on Monday and Tuesday in the northern city of Bauchi, where witnesses and Red Cross officials said 25 people were killed when Muslim mobs attacked Christians.

Mr Akinola blamed "influential Muslims" for supporting the religious extremists behind the attacks.

Interestingly, the press almost uniformly refers to `Christian mobs' in articles about this....as opposed to the unidentified `disaffected youths' responsible for le Jihad Francais!

Nigeria, the 8th biggest oil exporter in the world is already in turmoil because of attacks by Muslim seperatists on oil company personnel and oil rigs, as regular Joshuapundit readers know.

Vatican to Muslims `Practice what you preach'

The Vatican is now calling for Islamic countries to reciprocate for
the Vatican's call for tolerance and respect for Islam with tolerance for Christians.My Way News

"If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome, referring to the Vatican's stance on the Mohammed cartoons.

"We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts," Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Christians in many Muslim countries are subject to harsh restrictions under Sharia law. Saudi Arabia, for instance, bans all public and private observance of any non-Muslim religion, and non-Muslims can be arrested even for possesion of a Bible.

Christians are not even allowed to testify in a court of law and have virtually no rights in much of the Muslim world. Muslims who attempt to leave Islam under Sharia are apostates and can be subject to a death sentence.

"Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves," Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's supreme court, thundered in the daily La Stampa.

"The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century, mostly for oil, and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights," he said.

Bishop Rino Fisichella, head of one of the Roman universities that train young priests from around the world, told Corriere della Sera the Vatican should speak out more.

"Let's drop this diplomatic silence," said the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. "We should put pressure on international organizations to make the societies and states in majority Muslim countries face up to their responsibilities."

The latest on the ports deal

President Bush struggled to convince congressional sceptics today that letting a state-owned Dubai Ports take over management at six major US seaports did not represent a security risk.

Senior administration officials from the Departments of Defence, State, Treasury and Homeland Security appeared before a hastily called Senate committee briefing to offer assurances over the deal.

Dubai Ports is also not sitting back quietly on this. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire high profile lobbyists to push the deal through Congress, including ex-US senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, ex-senate minority leader Tom Daschele and ex- US Secretary of State Madeline Albright!

Another aspect that bothers me, frankly, is President Bush insuting my intelligence. On the one hand, the White House stated that neither President Bush nor Treasury Secretary Snow knew about this until it was a `done deal'. Yet President Bush, three days later is threatening to veto this and saying that a deal he supposedly knew nothing about is interfering with his ability to conduct foreign policy? I don't expect or even demand truthfulness from the president on every occasion, but this is a bit much.

There are some good arguments on letting this deal go through; apparently Dubai has indeed been helpful in some aspects of the war, and one airforce man I correspond with who ought to know wrote me that without the use of the Al Dhafra air base, the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan would have been extremely problematical.

The United Arab Emirates is certainly the most Western of Persian Gulf nations.Its ruling emirs permit Navy warships to dock and refit in the bustling port of Dubai. It also hosts U.S. Air Force warplanes, refueling jets and spy planes at the Al Dhafra air base near Abu Dhabi. And that base sits right across the Persian Gulf from Iran,which may very well be a decisive factor.

The arguments against this weigh heavily as well; First aside from Dubai's past association with Islamic terrorism, there is the fact that even though the administration is claiming that nothing is changing and that the present employees would remain in place, no guarantee exists that things won't change in the future.

Even more to the point, if this goes through, the US will have a foreign entity with the knowledge of all of Homeland Securities' criteria for port security...and knowledge of the loopholes and blind areas in the system.

I also am extremely suspicious of the high powered lobbying that's going on, the `Islamophobia' card that's being played and what I consider to be the Bush Administration dissembling on this from the beginning. Not to mention that ex-president Jimmy Carter favors this deal!

The President needs to sit down with Congress and make the necessary changes needed to reassure them that this deal is necessary and more important, completely vetted as far as our security goes. The President needs to make a case for this action.That aspect was handled poorly from the very beginning, and as I said, doesn't pass the smell test.

If President Bush is unable and/or unwilling to do that, then it needs to be opposed and if necessary killed by appropriate Congressional action.

Violence continues in Iraq after bombing of Samarra shrine; Sunnis pull out of Iraqi government talks

Sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites continues to escalate.

47 Sunni civilians were shot by Shias and their bodies left in a ditch near Baghdad as militia battles, mosque attacks and reprisals continued in Iraq following the ed the bombing of the sacred Shiite shrine at Samarra. Sunni Arabs have suspended their participation in talks on a new government.

Bodies are being found all over Iraq, many of them shot execution-style.

The Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars said 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked, 10 imams killed and 15 abducted since the shrine attack. The Interior Ministry said it could only confirm figures for Baghdad, where 90 mosques were attacked, one cleric was killed and one kidnapped.

Three journalists working for Al-Arabiya television were found murdered in Samarra, site of Wednesday's Askariya mosque attack.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, summoned political leaders to a meeting Thursday. B The biggest Sunni faction in the new parliament, the Iraqi Accordance Front, refused to attend.

"We want a clear condemnation from the government which didn't do enough yesterday to curb those angry mobs," said Dr. Salman al-Jumaili, a member of the Front. "There was even a kind of co-operation with the government security forces in some places in attacking the Sunni mosques."


Another player, our old friend Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accused the Iraqi government and U.S. forces of failing to protect the Samarra shrine and ordered his militia to defend Shiite holy sites across Iraq.

"If the government had real sovereignty, then nothing like this would have happened," al-Sadr said a statement. "Brothers in the Mahdi Army must protect all Shiite shrines and mosques, especially in Samara."

So much for the Bush Administration's demand that the Interior and Defence Ministries go to non-sectarian appointees not associated with the militias...

The language coming from both Shiite and Sunni clerics is increasingly warlike in tone. An exception has been the chief Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sistani, who called for peace and seven days of mourning by Shiites.

Of course, Sistani got no credit for that from the Sunnis. Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi, Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars spokesman, blamed the violence on the Ayatollah Sistani, and other Shiite religious leaders.

Al-Kubaisi also said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad enflamed the situation when he warned Monday that the United States would not continue to support institutions run by sectarian groups with links to armed militias.

"Without doubt, these statements mobilized all the Shiites," al-Kubaisi said. "It made them ready to go down to the street at any moment."

After the Sunni massacre of Shiite worshippers at Karballa last year and given Iraq's previous history, it is somewhat unrealistic for the US or the Sunnis to expect the Shiite militias to simply disarm overnight.

The Iraqis themselves are going to have to make a decision to halt the violence if the country is to avoid splintering into civil war. I get the feeling that the US is already preparing a fall back position.

`We were brought up to hate - and we do'

A fascinating piece by Muslim writer Nonie Darwish up how Muslims are indoctrinated with hatred:

"In school in Gaza, I learned hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option, as it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. At school we sang songs with verses calling Jews "dogs" (in Arab culture, dogs are considered unclean).

Criticism and questioning were forbidden. When I did either of these, I was told: "Muslims cannot love the enemies of God, and those who do will get no mercy in hell." As a young woman, I visited a Christian friend in Cairo during Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. They said: "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We heard worshippers respond "Amen".

My friend looked scared; I was ashamed. That was when I first realised that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practised. Sadly, the way I was raised was not unique. Hundreds of millions of other Muslims also have been raised with the same hatred of the West and Israel as a way to distract from the failings of their leaders. Things have not changed since I was a little girl in the 1950s.."

Read the whole piece here:

We were brought up to hate - and we do - Persian Journal Article Latest Iran news & Iranian newspaper articles

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Saudis join Egypt in rebuffing Rice on Hamas

Sorry, Condi..what's the Arabic for `no sale'?

Our eternal friends the Saudis joined our other `ally' Egypt in rebuffing US Secretry of State Condi Rice's efforts to isolate the new Hamas government.

Saudi Arabia refused Wednesday to join an American effort to deny foreign aid to a Palestinian government led by Hamas, the second Arab ally in two days to rebuff Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Prince Saud al-Faisal told the United States on Wednesday that the Saudis plan to continue sending approximately $15 million a month to the Palestinian government.

The Egyptians were even blunter about it, as Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the world should not prejudge Hamas and voiced support for the new Islamist government.

Rice is in the region attempting to drum up support for U.N. Security Council actions against Iran over its nuclear programs. Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia wanted to free the region of nuclear weapons but "there is no proof yet that they are producing atomic weapons. They deny this. They've denied it many times to us."

I guess that's the official line from Riyadh.

Interesting though, considering that the Saudis themselves possess IBCM's bought from China, and were specifically exempted by President Bush's influence from any IAEA oversight.

Iran's new call to prayer...

It's official..Iran to fund Hamas

Along with the Saudis and the Arab League, I might add...FT.com / Home UK - Iran and Hamas find common cause

Hamas Leader Khaled Mashaal met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader today and solidified arrangements for financing arms, and training for Hamas personnel by Iran.

This was a followup to the meeting held in Damascus right before the Palestinian elections with Iran's president Ahmadinejad with Mashaal and other Palestinian terrorist kingpins, which I reported on here:J O S H U A P U N D I T: Terror conclave in Syria

Hamas played it cool, playing the Mullahs off against Sunni support from the Saudis and the Arab League. In the end though, Meshaal and Hamas welcomed assistance from Iran in building a Hamas military force which can be used to train troops for use against Israel or in support of terrorism in the Iraqi guerrilla war or elsewhere. Egypt,maybe, to assist a Muslim Brotherhood takeover?

Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map rsonates just fine with Hamas...and Iran is obviously willing to fight to the last Palestinian, like Egypt and Syria before them.

Mashaal and his delegation were given head-of-state treatment during this visit to Tehran, and Hamas officials make no secret that Tehran provides some financial assistance to the organization already.

Shiite al-Askari shrine in Samarra destroyed in Iraq

One of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam was destroyed today in Iraq, its golden dome blown to bits.

The al-Askari shrine has existed since 944 CE and and was built to house the tombs of two ninth century imams, direct descendants of Mohammad.Ali al-Hadi, the tenth imam who died in 868 and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874, were buried in the shrine located at Samarra, Iraq, then newly built as the capital of the Abbasid empire.

But the intense religious importance of the site is connected to the 12th imam, the so-called "Hidden Imam" who Shias believe went into hiding in 878 under the al-Askariya shrine to prepare for his eventual return among men.

In retaliation, the Shiias burnt over a dozen Sunni mosques, and attacked many more.
Blast at Iraqi Shiite Shrine Spawns Reprisals Against Sunnis -- Newsday.com
Tens of thousands of the Shiites took to the streets in Baghdad, Samarra, Najaf and Karbala and other Iraqi cities, waving green flags and Iraq's national flag and vowing to avenge the attack on the sacred Shiite shrine.

U.S. and Iraqi forces cordoned off Samarra city, preventing people from entering or leaving.

This is a major setback in the attempt of Iraq to form a unity government, and will only harden the Shiite resistance to increasing Sunni representation in the cabinet, as demanded by U.S Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday.

The country is in danger of erupting into civil war.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe: What if Christians and Jews really did act like Muslims?

Whoever insults the one true Church deserves to be killed.'

by David Aaronovitch

“EUROPE MUST LEARN to live in and with the world, not to dominate it, nor to assume it is superior or more virtuous. Any continent that has inflicted such brutality on the world over a period of 200 years has not too much to be proud of, and much to be modest and humble about.” Martin Jacques, The Guardian, on the cartoons row.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe . . .


From a Reuters report, Rome, some time around now

The Vatican has protested in “the strongest possible terms” against the publication in paperback of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Cardinal Loopi, of the Office of the Defence of the Faith, condemned the book for defaming Catholicism and, in its suggestion that Jesus Christ was married, of heresy. “We demand that the book be destroyed and that the author be punished,” said Loopi, “otherwise we cannot be held responsible for how Catholics throughout the world may react.”

Excerpt from a speech by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor

Merkel: “The affront to the honour of the one true Church is in fact an affront to the worship of God, and to the seeking of truth and justice, and an affront to all the prophets of God. Obviously, all those who harm the honour of the one true Church . . .”

Crowd: “Death to Dan Brown.

Death to Dan Brown.

Death to Dan Brown.

Death to Dan Brown.”

From the Paris correspondent of al-Jazeera

A Lyons priest today offered half a million euros and a top-of-the-line Toyota as a reward to anyone who killed Dan Brown or any executive of the Da Vinci Code publishers, Jonathan Cape. Speaking to a 1,000-strong crowd gathered after Mass outside the church of St Marie-la-Vierge, Fr Jules Monbiot announced that the offer was “a unanimous decision by all bishops that whoever insults the one true Church deserves to be killed, and whoever will take this insulting man to his end will get this prize”.

News stories in al-Ahram (Cairo)

Bookseller shot dead in Poland, by teenager shouting: “For God, and the Pope!”

Ten killed in Lisbon Dan Brown riots, when police opened fire on mob ransacking the Canadian Embassy. “We thought he was Canadian,” says riot leader.

Violence in northwest London as Jews go on rampage against Holocaust denial in Muslim countries. Kebab restaurants and curry houses ablaze from the Finchley Road to Edgware.

Iranian and Syrian embassies and consulates attacked in 20 cities worldwide. Iranian Embassy destroyed in Canberra. Australian Government describes violence as “regrettable, but understandable”.

Speech by Angela Merkel, about the convening of an international conference in Berlin to “investigate” Islam

“We propose the following to the Muslims: if you are not lying, allow a group of neutral, honest researchers to come to Mecca, and to talk to people, examine documents and let people know the findings of their research about the Muhammad myth. You have even prevented your own scholars from researching this issue. They are allowed to study anything except for the Muhammad myth. Are these not medieval methods?”

Reuters report from Berlin

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel today caused alarm in diplomatic circles when she called for the Netherlands to be ‘wiped from the face of the earth’.” She went on, “The establishment of the Dutch regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Catholic world.”

Summary of an article in French government newspaper, Le Monde

The Netherlands may have created the avian flu virus in order to damage the economies of Europe, and cleverly planted it first in the Far East to divert attention away from the real plan.

Angela Merkel on German attempts to produce a nuclear weapon

“Those who oppose us should be grateful that our people has acted nobly towards you so far, and has been patient. We want to remain patient. Don’t make us lose our patience. The peoples have awakened. The world of Christendom has awakened. Do not make us reconsider our policies.”

Reuters reports from Munich

Fr Rudiger Schlitz, the assistant to the head of the Catholic Church in Germany, has said that it is doctrinally permissible for nuclear weapons to be used. “When the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is permissible to use these weapons as a counter-measure. According to church law, only the goal is important . . .”

Al-Jazeera News. Mark Seddon reporting . . .

These are the pictures of Our Lady’s Church in Shoreham, following the explosion in which 31 parishioners died, along with the suicide bomber, who is believed to belong to the majority Anglican community. This is the fourth such bomb attack on a Catholic church in the last two years.

Statement from Human Rights Watch . . .

Calling on the Italian authorities to order an immediate, independent investigation into the violent suppression of an apparently peaceful demonstration by Seventh Day Adventists in Naples on February 13, 2005. Hundreds of demonstrators, including women and children, were injured when police and armed militia from the Catholic Enforcement League broke up the protest, apparently using excessive force, and as many as 1,200 protesters are believed to have been arrested. A year later 200 of those detained are still being held without trial.

Report from al Quds-al-Arabi

Finland. Mr X, a local celebrity and Muslim, was exhumed after his funeral and given a Christian burial, despite his widow’s objection that he had not been to Church since he was a child, and had converted to Islam at the age of 15. A church court had considered the case following a complaint from a local Lutheran preacher, and ruled that Mr X should be treated as a Christian.

Excerpts from Amnesty International Report for 2006

In Newcastle, England, a special court sentenced a Gateshead woman to be burnt to death for witchcraft. Betty Spencer, 53, was immolated in front of a crowd that had gathered in the Newcastle United football stadium. It was the sixth such execution since the year 2000.

In Idaho a teacher was killed and three of his pupils badly injured when militia members of the “Party of Christ”, who object to girls being educated on the same premises as boys, fired into a packed schoolroom.

And finally, the good news . . .

From hiding, somewhere in Pakistan, Dan Brown apologises to the Judaeo-Christian world for the publication of The Da Vinci Code, promises to donate the proceeds from all his books to any charity nominated for the purpose by Opus Dei and undertakes to become a monk in a silent order at a monastery atop a high mountain in the Apennines.

What's really behind the port deal controversy.

Stranger and stranger.....

Let's do some serious analysis, shall we?

I think it pays to ask the question: why is President Bush so exercised about a simple comercial transaction? Especially one opposed by both the Senate and House Majority leaders in his own party? What is so important that he is threatening a veto of any legislation blocking this, when he hasn't vetoed anything in five years?

I think I know, or at least have an idea.

You have to start with two logical premises: one,that President Bush is NOT an idiot(though certainly capable of mistakes) and two, that he is not an evil meglomaniac bent on America's destruction, and would not DELIBERATELY do anything to harm the country's security.

(I think a couple of `liberals' just peeled off into the ozone)

Let's look again at what he said:

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly.'"

"They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They'll look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do," he said. "But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it with a veto."

Bush addressed this again immediately upon his return to the White House, to make sure his soundbite would make the evening news. "This is a company that has played by the rules, has been cooperative with the United States, from a country that's an ally on the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."

Well, Mr. President, I can think of a number of reasons to hold a UAE company to a different standard. For starters, there's the little matter of Dubai and the UAE being a major funding source for al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base and the fact that the UAE was the main transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuke components and data sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by Pakistani scientist Dr. Aly Khan.

It's obvious that Bush made a personal committment to someone, based on a quid-pro-quo and if you examine what he said, it's obvious that he feels his personal word is on the line.

So whom did he promise and what WAS that deal? I have a feeling the operative words are Saudi Arabia and Iran.

While some of you were fixating on a hunting accident, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was finalizing improved relations with India and China.
J O S H U A P U N D I T: Connecting the dots on Iran, funding for the Palestinians...and the Saudis

Obviously part of that was a Saudi committment to make up the oil shortfall to these countries in the event of trouble with Iran, and to lean on the other OPEC nations to go along, including the UAE.

A strike against Iran may be in the advanced planning stages even as I write this.

Bush may just be putting together a bloc of Arab countries aimed at ultimately isolating the Islamist/terrorist supporting or near Islamist nations in the region.

This bloc appears to consist of Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Bahrein and Qatar. Notice that with the exception of Iraq, all of them are Arab autocracies..and all surround Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. Another point to note is that except for Iraq, all of them are predominantly Sunni.

Egypt, which Bush has pretty much cut off from any US aid, is no longer a player. Egypt will be an Islamist state as soon as the elderly Mubarek dies.

In spite of all the lip service about `Arab democracy' Bush and Condi Rice appear to be playing the conservative, Sunni autocracies against the more radical states in the region, especially Iran and Syria.

Now, the price for this cooperation could very well be a hands off attitude towards the Saudi export of jihad to America via Saudi funded mosques, madrassahs and university chairs, US help with bringing Saudi Arabia into the world's commercial mainstream (Bush sponsored the Saudi's entry into the WTO) and just maybe, increased entry of Arab companies into the USA, including government contracts.

Do I agree with that? Not at all, on the face of it. But I think it's necessary to see where the pieces on the board go. And there may obviously be some information or issues that I lack knowledge of.

Could Bush be playing a classic game of divide and conquer, planning to deal with the Saudis after Iran and Syria? Maybe.

Either he is three steps ahead of the game, or merely playing what he feels is the best hand he has with what he has to work with.

In any event, he is going to need to make nice to Congress and spend some time briefing the House and Senate intelligence committees, like he did with the NSA controversy.

As we've noticed, the tone on the NSA wiretaps has changed considerably since Congress received an Intel briefing on the subject, even among Democrats.

President Bush will have to make his case on turning over management of 6 of our busiest harbors over to Dubai Ports. I have major doubts on the matter, but he deserves the opportunity.

Bush plays the `race card' on port deal

This is getting crazier and crazier. President Bush said today that he would veto any congressional attempts to stop a deal allowing an Arab company to take over six major U.S. seaports.

This puts him in conflict with the senate and house leaders of his own party, aong with most Democrats. I can't imagine what Dubbyah is thinking.

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Bush told reporters who had traveled with him on Air Force One to Washington. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly.'"

Well, for starters, Mr. President,there's the little matter of Dubai and the UAE being a major funding source for al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base and the fact that the UAE was the main transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuke components and data sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by Pakistani scientist Dr. Aly Khan.

Perhaps the administration considers this insignificant. I don't think most of Congress or the American people agree.

Bush called reporters his conference room on Air Force One after returning from a speech in Colorado. He obviously wanted to be on record on this controversy. He said the seaports arrangement had been extensively examined by the administration and was "a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country."

Bush, who has yet to veto a bill in more than five years in office, said sternly he would not back down.

"They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They'll look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do," he said. "But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it with a veto."

Bush adressed this again immediately upon his return to the White House, to make sure his position would be on camera and make the evening news. "This is a company that has played by the rules, has been cooperative with the United States, from a country that's an ally on the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through," the president said after emerging from his helicopter on the South Lawn.

Now, I wonder why Bush is so exercised personally about this. Whom did he make promises to and on what basis? And what is the US getting in return? This is obviously more than a simple commercial transaction.

Nuke Nightmare-how vulnerable are we?

A sober, factual analysis of the threat to America from islamic nuclear terrorism. Not for the easily upset..

On Sept. 12, 2001, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote that New Yorkers still alive should be thankful to be so, thankful that "for some reason, and we don't even know what it was, the terrorists didn't use a small nuclear weapon floated into New York on a barge in the East River."

She suspected that "the next time the bad guys hit" it will be nuclear, but "for now we have been spared. And now, chastened and shaken, we are given another chance, maybe the last chance, to commit ourselves seriously and at some cost to protecting our country."

read the rest here:WORLD Magazine | Nuclear Nightmare

`Portgate' continues..the latest on the controversy over the Dubai Ports deal

I continue to follow this story with absolutely jaw-dropping disbelief that this would even be considered, in an era of Islamic terrorism and attacks on our nation. And especially by an administration that prides itself as strong on national security.

The Bush Administration continues to draw heavy fire on the proposed deal permitting a United Arab Emirates company to take over six major U.S. seaports..as well it should.
J O S H U A P U N D I T: Should the Arabs control American ports?

This ill-advised proposal is facing bi-partisan criticism in Congress. The latest prominent Republican to weigh in is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist(r-TN).

He called Tuesday for the Bush administration to stop the deal.

"The decision to finalize this deal should be put on hold until the administration conducts a more extensive review of this matter," said Frist. "If the administration cannot delay this process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review."

Frist spoke as other lawmakers, including Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said they would offer emergency legislation next week to block the deal ahead of a planned March 2 takeover.

Two Republican governors, New York's George Pataki and Maryland's Robert Ehrlich, likewise expressed outrage over the proposed Arab takeover.

Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover.

"Ensuring the security of New York's port operations is paramount and I am very concerned with the purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam by Dubai Ports World," Pataki said in a statement. "I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them."

Ehrlich, concerned about security at the Port of Baltimore, said Monday he was "very troubled" that Maryland officials got no advance notice before the Bush administration approved the Arab company's takeover of the operations at the six ports.

"We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security," Ehrlich told reporters in the State House rotunda in Annapolis.

Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that the administration approval was "unbelievably tone deaf politically," and at least one Senate oversight hearing was planned for later this month.

The administration is claiming that the security aspects of this have been `handled', and Nicholas Chertoff, head of Homeland Security even voiced the facile sentiment that `all of the same employees would remain in place, nothing is changing.' What nobody asked him, and what he did not address is what guarantee exists that things won't change in the future? Even more to the point, if this goes through, the US will have a foreign entity with the knowledge of all of Homeland Securities' criteria for port security...and knowledge of the loopholes and blind areas in the system.

As I wrote onsite previously, you might remember that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base. And that the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, Dr. Aly Khan.

The Bush Administration needs to cancel this deal on America's ports....now.

Keep contacting your congressmen!