Egypt men slam giving women right to divorce:
protecting men from the “tyranny of women’
Muslims, Christians and Jews share values
Eighty per cent of Pakistanis fear stepping out of homes
Fighting terrorism is our own war: Taseer
FBI investigates 'US arrests' in Pakistan
Islamic extremists convicted over mid-air transatlantic bomb plot
Peshawar residents live in fear of bombs
Bangla terror outfit eyeing Mumbai?
Afghan and Pakistani doubts over Obama plan
Muslim PM only if community backs Ram temple: Bal Thackeray
Headley plotted attacks on Jewish centres in 5 cities
Taliban used ceasefire to expand operations
Terror training comes from Pak: US
Setback for Zardari, PPP
Swamy challenges order for setting up an Islamic finance company
Love Jihad is real, says Kerala High Court
Musharraf bullied into supporting war on terror
Pakistan makes strides in fighting terror: Gates
Rah-e-Niajat eliminates 589 terrorists
Iraq: Shrine rebuilt, but economy crumbling
Egyptian Human-Rights Org Slams Arab States
Hip-hop concert set to help son of Muslim leader killed by FBI
Philippine peace deal back on track
Knocking Our Heads Against a Wall in Palestine
Muslim woman 'abused' over dress by Christian hotelier
Al-Qaida says 4 European hostages in good health
Somalia: Calm Returns to Elasha Village After Large Riot
Terror charges for man in Germany over US targets
Mullen raises Balochistan fingering with India
Losses at Dubai World Unit Add to Jitters
Compiled By Akshay Kumar ojha
URL of the Page: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamicWorldNews_1.aspx?ArticleID=2206
People rejected your idea of India for ours, P. Chidambaram tells BJP
Express News Service: Wednesday, Dec 09, 2009
New Delhi: Rising above the clamour in the Lok Sabha this evening, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram launched a blistering attack on the BJP and the Sangh Parivar’s “pre-planned, conspiratorial and cold-blooded” destruction of the Babri Masjid.
Breaking off from his written reply to the Liberhan Commission debate, Chidambaram emphatically invoked the idea of India to question the appeal of the Sangh’s temple politics. It had been rejected by the “people of India,” he said, adding that this rejection was an indictment far stronger than Justice Liberhan’s.
To loud applause from the Treasury benches, he said there were “two ideas of India — one the Congress and other secular parties stood for, the other which the Sangh Parivar and its allies stood for.”
“The two ideas of India clashed in 2004,” said Chidambaram. “Forget the Justice Liberhan Commission report... The people of India voted for our idea. They rejected your idea in 2004 and again in 2009. Only our idea of India will prevail — the idea of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose. India will be inclusive and a pluralist nation.”
Chidambaram admitted that the then P V Narasimha Rao government had erred but added that this was “induced by” the lies of the BJP. “Looking back, I may say that the government of the day made a wrong political judgment. Mr Narasimha Rao paid the price for this. The Congress Party paid the price for this wrong political judgment. But it was induced by the lies and false promises of the BJP,” he said.
Earlier, the din over a biting speech by Beni Prasad Verma, a recent entrant into the Congress, and his use of a Bhojpuri pejorative to describe Atal Bihari Vajpayee, threatened to take over the evening.
The sudden decision by the Speaker not to allow anyone else to speak but only place their speeches on the record ensured that the BJP MP,s who entered the well shouting Jai Jai Atal among other slogans, were joined in the ruckus by MPs Raghuvansh Prasad (RJD), Shamsul Rahman Burq (SP) and Asaduddin Owaisi (Ittehadul Muslimeen) protesting at not being allowed to speak.
In his one-and-a-half-hour reply, Chidambaram hit out at the Sangh Parivar, the BJP and its state government. “Kalyan Singh lied to the Government of India. He lied to the Supreme Court. He lied to the National Integration Council. That is the genesis of the destruction,” he said. “The promises held out by the BJP were completely false with the sole intention of misleading the Centre... The promises were to secure inaction of the Central government, to induce the Centre in a state of optimistic slumber.”
From the BJP’s protestations, said Chidambaram, there were “two conclusions possible” — one, that the BJP participated and endorsed what happened on December 6, 1992; the other that they were mute spectators and unable to influence.
He went on to urge “L K Advani, M M Joshi and Vinay Katiyar, who had a breakfast meeting on the morning of December 6 with Vinay Katiyar, Ramachandra Paramhans and others, to share what they discussed, take the nation into confidence.”
Chidambaram had harsh words for the BJP’s wishy-washy approach to what their role was at the time. He added that he thought little of the ideas of Ramachandra Paramhans, a leading light of the VHP involved in the temple movement, but praised him for “the courage of his convictions, he admitted to the provocative slogans... but how do you deny it? Here is your man who said it.”
Quoting extensively from the commission report where it sequences the events of December 6 leading to the demolition — citing the pickaxes and ropes used to pull down the Masjid, the removal of idols and the cashbox — Chidambaram said it was a “pre-planned, conspiratorial and cold-blooded destruction of property they promised to keep safe.”
Asking the BJP leadership for an answer and “a debate,” Chidambaram slammed the Sangh Parivar for its planning, its mobilisation of men and material, including the PA system in Ayodhya which, he said, at no time asked those inside the structure to exercise restraint.
In conclusion, citing the “horrendous consequence of December 6, 1992, the resulting riots in December, January and February, which led to the death of more than 3000 people in just three months,” the Home Minister regretted that in place of a “civilised discourse,” there was din and “no remorse or shame” for the Hindus and Muslims who were killed.
Earlier, Opposition members trooped to the well to demand an apology from Verma for using the unparliamentary word about Vajpayee. Chidambaram apologised on his behalf and Verma himself expressed regret but the Opposition demanded an apology.
Egypt men slam giving women right to divorce
December 09, 2009
A group of Egyptian men have established an organization to fight for men's rights and protect them from the "tyranny" of women as the country's women take advantage of a law allowing them to divorce their husbands with no questions asked.
Men who have been unjustly left by their wives want to protect themselves and others like them from women who suddenly decide to get rid of them, Abdul-Rahman Hamed, the founder of the organization, the first of its kind, and one of its most active members, told Al Arabiya.
" The law of unconditional divorce has become a sword hanging over men's heads "
Abdul Rahman Hamed
"The law of unconditional divorce has become a sword hanging over men's heads,” he said, adding "men are the ones who now need organizations to fight for their rights," to protect themselves from the "tyranny" of women.
Hamed is talking about khol'a, or the law of unconditional divorce, which was passed in 2000 and grants women the right to get a divorce if she gives up her financial rights.
Prior to khol'a, it was extremely difficult for a woman to be granted a divorce and she had to present strong evidence supporting her wish for separation such as physical abuse or adultery.
Men losing ground
" Men are losing ground. In the past, a man had the upper hand. Now, the woman is acting as his peer. If he threatens her with divorce, she does the same. She might even divorce him without his knowledge "
The organization, named the Egyptian Organization for Divorced Men, rejects the law because it equalizes men and women and gives the woman the right to get a divorce herself, a right that was previously exclusive to men.
"Men are losing ground. In the past, a man had the upper hand. Now, the woman is acting as his peer. If he threatens her with divorce, she does the same. She might even divorce him without his knowledge."
The organization was established so that men can voice their rejection of the unconditional divorce law and prove its violation of the Sharia, or Islamic law.
The organization boasts more than 1,000 members many of whom, Hamed claims, are celebrities.
"Many of our members are public figures but I cannot disclose their names. There are also men from several professions—doctors, engineers, businessmen, rights activists and others."
Hamed noted that not all members have been necessarily divorced by their wives since many of them joined in support of the cause and in solidarity with the "victims" of unconditional divorce.
"The most striking thing is that we, in fact, have female members who voluntarily joined as they believe in the organization’s role in protecting the unity of the Egyptian family."
While the reality of extremist violence within Islam is both a real threat to human lives and a real problem for mainstream Islam, I believe the activists preaching the message that Islam is an existential threat to America are aiming at the wrong target.
True Islam has a rich history of deep and complex theological, scientific and literary and art traditions. A heritage that can enrich people of all faiths and beliefs. I personally experienced such enrichment after suspending many years of hatred after the 9/11 attacks and studying the philosophy and poetry of medieval Islam.
The people spreading the message that Islam is only a violent and oppressive ideology should instead teach the truth that Muslims, Christians and Jews share the same values and essential beliefs in the face of a Western culture that is increasingly hostile to the ideals enshrined in the forms of these great faiths.
Our Western civilization has been co-opted by a more insidious ideology of even the most violent of fundamentalists. Secular liberalism, which seeks to actively undermine the values and institutions these traditions hold dear in order to bring about a new world order, is the common enemy of all faith and indeed any belief in transcendent truth.
Instead of alleged secret training camps in rural Tennessee, the children of all families of faith are exposed on a daily basis in schools and popular culture to the idea that human freedom can only be reached through science and moral relativism.
It is past time for people of all faiths to unite and share their values with a culture that is increasingly hostile and subversive to truth.
Eighty per cent of Pakistanis fear stepping out of their homes
December 10th, 2009
Eighty per cent of Pakistanis fear stepping out of their homes o visit public places like markets and hotels, accord ng to findings of a poll released on Wednesday.
Asked to what extent the ncreasing security threat had affected their visits to places such as markets and hotels, 36 per cent said recent incidents of terrorism had affected them "a lot" while 44 per cent said they had been affected "somewhat."
Nineteen per cent said the terrorist incidents had not affected their visits to markets, hotels or other places while remaining one per cent gave no response.
The survey was carried out by Gallup Pakistan for Gilani Research Foundation.
While the daily hustle and bustle in Pakistani neighbourhoods continues as feeling of insecurity at a perceptual level, the survey said. The findings of the survey revealed no significant difference in opinion of people from across various demographics except that incidents of terrorism seemed to have affected movements of rural dwellers the most.
Eighty-three per cent of people in rural areas said they had been affected to a great extent or somewhat by incidents of terrorism, compared to 75 per cent of urbanites. The survey covered nearly 3,000 men and women in rural and urban areas of all four provinces of Pakistan during November.
Cities across Pakistan have been hit by a deadly wave of bombings and suicide attacks since the Army launched an operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan in October. Most of the attacks have targeted security forces. A suicide attack on an office of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency in Multan on Tuesday killed a dozen people while 54 people died when two suicide bombers struck a crowded market in Lahore on Monday. Militants have also targeted the Army's fortified General Headquarters and a mosque frequented by military personnel in Rawalpindi, ISI offices in Peshawar and Multan and police stations across the northwest.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer said Wednesday that terrorists wanted to frighten the Pakistani nation that was not scared at all.
Speaking to newsmen after enquiring the health of Moon blast’s victims at Jinnah Hospital here, Governor Taseer said that war against terrorism was our own war.
When asked to comment who was involved in terror activities, he said that the only federal government could reply in this regard.
To another question, he said if the Prime Minister had apprised PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif of Indian interference in Pakistan, then it would be correct.
About his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, the governor said that law and order situation came under discussion. “Law and order is the responsibility of provincial government, he said, adding he doesn’t not consider it as security failure.”
9 December 2009
The FBI is probing if the men are those missing from Virginia
The FBI is investigating the arrest in Pakistan of five suspected US nationals for possible extremist links.
The men were held in a raid on a house in Sarghoda in eastern Punjab province, Pakistan's US embassy told the BBC.
The FBI said it was trying to determine whether they were the same men reported missing from their homes in the US state of Virginia late last month.
Relatives reportedly found a farewell video message, showing scenes of war and saying Muslims must be defended.
The US state department is also seeking information on the men.
Pakistani police told the BBC that the passports of the five were all American, but they are being checked to make sure they are not forged.
Three of the men are reported to be of Pakistani descent, one of Egyptian heritage and the other of Yemeni background.
The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that while it is not unusual for foreigners with suspected hard-line Islamic links to be arrested in Pakistan, it is unusual for Americans who may be wanted by the FBI to be detained.
"If they are American citizens, we of course are going to be very interested in the charges that they've been detained on and in what sort of circumstances they're being held," said state department spokesman Ian Kelly.
FBI spokeswoman Katherine Schweit said the agency was aware of the arrests and was in contact with the families of the missing students.
"We are working with Pakistan authorities to determine their identities and the nature of their business there, if indeed these are the students who had gone missing," she said.
The Pakistani embassy in Washington said the men were arrested in a house belonging to an uncle of one of them.
He said the house was already of interest to local police and that no charges had yet been filed against the arrested men.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment on the arrests, reported the Reuters news agency, but said the US had to "work more closely with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to root out the infrastructure of terrorism that continues to recruit and train people".
The five students were reported missing from their homes in northern Virginia by their families in late November.
The families reportedly passed on a video to members of the US Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Nihad Awad, the leader of CAIR, said it appeared to be "like a farewell".
"One person appeared in that video and they made references to the ongoing conflict in the world, and that young Muslims have to do something," Mr Awad told Associated Press news agency.
He said the video had made him "uncomfortable" and he had advised the men's families to contact the FBI.
December 09, 2009
LONDON — Three Islamic extremists were found guilty in London Wednesday of involvement in a foiled 2006 plot to blow up passenger airliners flying between Britain and North America.
The plot aimed to kill thousands of people by bombing at least seven transatlantic airliners flying between London Heathrow airport and the US and Canada using liquid explosives hidden in soft drinks bottles.
Its discovery led to strict new rules about carrying liquids on commercial planes.
Adam Khatib, 22, was convicted of conspiracy to murder by plotting with ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali in the run-up to the attempted plot, after a trial at the high security Woolwich Crown Court in London.
Nabeel Hussain, 25, was found guilty of preparing for terrorism by meeting Ali twice and of possessing several items for use in terrorism, including a will and mobile phones.
Mohammed Shamin Uddin, 39, was convicted of possessing a CD likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
He was cleared of preparing for terrorism and possessing a CD which could be used for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.
The three men, who are all from London, will be sentenced Thursday.
Ringleader Ali was jailed for at least 40 years in September for conspiracy to murder. Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, were also convicted at the same time.
The counter-terrorism operation to prevent the plot was the biggest ever in Britain, costing 35 million pounds.
The plan was to smuggle explosives made of hydrogen peroxide onto the planes in soft drink bottles. Refilled batteries would carry the chemical detonator, with the bombs set off using a charge from a light bulb filament.
They would have been assembled and detonated in mid-air by a team of suicide bombers, causing untold damage.
Police believe the design was thought up by a bombmaker with links to the Al-Qaeda network, who has never been identified.
Peshawar, near the Afghan border in north-west Pakistan, is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It is on the front line of the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan - regular suicide bomb attacks have killed hundreds of civilians in recent weeks.
The latest attack killed at least five people outside a court on Monday.
Two residents spoke to the BBC World Service's Newshour programme about what it is like to live in the city.
REHANA SAMAN, teacher
Rehana Saman, like many in Peshawar, says she cannot leave
People who have been living here for the past century are not leaving.
But those who are financially strong enough are migrating from here. I am staying because I have to. I am unmarried and I depend on my brothers.
I worry about the violence.
Once, on a Friday, I was walking to the bus stop on my own. I heard the noise of a blast and that sound was terrible.
I almost fell down and I was scared. I went home and I asked my brother to accompany me to the bus stop.
While we were waiting for the bus, we heard news that there was another blast so we had to go back home.
Now, I avoid going out.
We cannot plan to visit our relatives because there are so many uncertainties all around us.
I do not know how it will all end.
MOHAMED ARIF AFRIDI, student
Mohamed Arif Afredi
Mohamed Arif Afridi says he has been to the scene of many blasts
We have all changed our way of life in Peshawar.
Everyone is trying to avoid going to the bazaars.
If any of my family go out, they will inform us whether they are safe and after every blast, we will inform our relatives that we are OK.
It is a risky type of life here in Peshawar. I have witnessed many blasts.
I have often been there a few minutes after the blast, just to help the people, to pick them up and carry them to hospital.
Once, I was studying in my room at about midday. I heard a huge blast. I went to the spot and the military had cornered off the whole area.
looked around and there were many casualties there. After that, I went to the hospital to donate blood.
Everybody knows that there are no certainties that you will be safe. Once when I was sleeping there was a blast near my house at about 0630. The blast opened my windows and doors.
I do not sleep well now.
We cannot leave - I am studying here. Business - and everything here - is related to Peshawar.
Every person living in Peshawar is psychologically in depression.
10 December 2009
MUMBAI: Intelligence agencies are working on inputs that members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (Bangladesh) may be in Mumbai and Hyderabad to work
on terror plots in these two cities.
The Indian Mujahideen and the Deccan Mujahideen have been on the local security agencies' radar for some time, but this is the first time that the Bangladesh-based outfit has emerged as a possible player in Mumbai.
The JMB, officials said, had been facing problems ever since the change of government in Bangladesh. ''The Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League has shown much greater sensitivity to India's concerns than the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Begum Khaleda Zia. Reports here indicate that the JMB is trying to expand operations to western and southern India because it is under intense pressure in its homeland,'' a senior home department official said.
The organisation was banned in Bangladesh in 2005 (after it was found to be responsible for 500 blasts all over Bangladesh in one day), before the Hasina regime came to power, but an ''all-out crackdown'' came only after a change in government.
Security agencies have also received intelligence inputs that some JMB cadres have been pushed to Sri Lanka, from where they plan to enter India by sea. ''Increased surveillance and cooperation by Indian and Bangladeshi forces along the border is forcing them to look for other routes to enter India,'' an official said.
The Intelligence Bureau, in an alert, has said at least 30 suspected JMB cadres had reached the Negombo area in Sri Lanka and were being assisted by narco-peddler Jaleel alias Ravi.
US President Barack Obama declared a clear-cut strategy with a three-pronged focus when he outlined his plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
However, he has given his generals only 18 months to implement the plan before US troops start pulling out of Afghanistan, and an improvement in such a short space of time will be difficult to achieve, writes guest columnist Ahmed Rashid in Lahore.
An Afghan man reads a newspaper featuring an image of Mr Obama in Kabul. Photo: 2 December 2009
Were Afghans left impressed by President Obama's speech?
"There are three core elements of our strategy - a military effort to create the conditions for a transition, a civilian surge that reinforces positive action, and an effective partnership with Pakistan,'' Mr Obama said.
The 30,000 US troops, enhanced by another 5,000 to 10,000 Nato troops, will arrive early next year in Afghanistan and stay until July 2011, when some US forces will start withdrawing after handing over to the Afghan security forces.
Mr Obama has given Gen Stanley McCrystal, the US and Nato commander in Kabul, more or less the numbers he wanted to beat back the Taliban from major population centres.
However, Mr Obama has given the general only 18 months to do the job - a Herculean if not impossible task when one considers the gains the Taliban have made in the past few years, and the feeble state of the Afghan government and army.
Many Afghans and Pakistanis will doubt Mr Obama's promise of a long-term commitment to Pakistan and Afghanistan post-2011
Send your views on this column
What Mr Obama could have said - instead of offering a date certain for withdrawal - was that in parallel with an improvement on the battlefield, a better performance by the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and greater co-operation from Pakistan, US forces could start withdrawing from 2011.
Instead, the US president has presumed that the situation will manifestly improve in the next 18 months - something that few in the region believe can happen.
An Afghan government soldier in Herat, west of Kabul. File photo
Not a single Afghan army brigade is combat-ready
America's hopes rest on the Afghan National Army (ANA), which today numbers some 90,000 soldiers, taking charge.
However, after eight years not a single brigade is self-sufficient or combat-ready. The only charge the ANA has is of Kabul city, where thousands of Western troops are available for back-up.
Some 70% of current ANA recruits are illiterate and cannot read the simplest orders or be tasked with anything remotely sophisticated. The 93,000 police recruits are in even worse shape.
The US civilian surge will depend on how effective President Hamid Karzai's government will be in partnering international development aid.
After a fraudulent election, the dismal performance of the previous Karzai-led government and the short timeframe now available, it may be difficult to make Mr Karzai into an effective partner in the next 18 months.
Moreover, the Taliban may well be thinking that Mr Obama has given them just one more full fighting season - the spring and summer of 2010 - before the Americans start withdrawing. They may calculate to sit it out, keep their powder dry and try to capture power once the Americans start to leave.
Unfortunately, many Afghans and Pakistanis will doubt Mr Obama's promise of a long-term commitment to Pakistan and Afghanistan post-2011.
After all, the Americans have made similar commitments several times to both countries before - and instead people will only read the cut-out date.
Mr Obama's speech was short on detail.
There was no mention of what strategy the new US troops would implement - and no mention of the regional strategy, much promoted in Mr Obama's March speech, which would bring together Afghanistan's neighbours into a compact to help stabilise Afghanistan.
There was little on to what degree the US would help in development and rebuilding, while there was a marked silence on any mention of nation-building.
And even though British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has loudly proclaimed a list of benchmarks that the West would set for the Afghan government to fulfil, there was no mention of it by Mr Obama.
Mr Obama clearly spelt out to the Pakistanis that ''a safe haven for those high-level terrorists, whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear, cannot be tolerated''.
Pakistani soldiers. File photo
Mr Obama is trying to change the strategic calcuations
This is a tough statement that will be echoed in European capitals in coming days, and Pakistan's attempts to fudge this issue are clearly no longer acceptable or believable.
One key factor in prolonging the Taliban insurgency has been the attitude of the Pakistan military, which is accused of allowing the Taliban sanctuary in the border regions of Pakistan-Afghanistan since 2002.
Does it suit the interests of some in Pakistan to abandon the Afghan Taliban now, when the worst-case scenario for Islamabad could be a future civil war in Afghanistan and massive border unrest for Pakistan?
The answer is presently unclear, even to the Americans.
Mr Obama is trying to change the strategic calculations for the Pakistan military by promising a package of desperately needed aid and development for Islamabad and a long-term commitment for Pakistan's security.
On the other hand, there is also a package of unstated threats.
The key to changing the Pakistan military's attitude is if the US is willing to bring pressure to bear on India to restart the stalled dialogue with Pakistan and ease tensions between the two arch-enemies.
When Mr Obama took office less than a year ago, there were only 32,000 US troops in Afghanistan. By next spring there will be 100,000.
Those troops will have to eliminate al-Qaeda, degrade the Taliban, stand up the ANA and police, provide the space and security for development and delivery of services to the Afghan people - and then get out.
It's a tall order and it may not all be achievable within the given time frame.
Ahmed Rashid is the author of the best-selling book Taliban and, most recently, of Descent into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
MUMBAI: Joining issue with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his remark that a Muslim can become the prime minister provided he is the most
capable person for it, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Wednesday said to qualify for the top job the community will first have to support the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
"Rahul is not the owner of the country. He should ensure that Muslims follow a common civil code, family planning, support Ram temple at Ayodhya and Vande Mataram is made compulsory for them. Only then a Muslim can become the PM," Thackeray said in an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamna.
"The way Muslims are being appeased, it is clear that India is no longer secular but an undeclared Islamic state," he said.
Asked how much time it will take for India to get its first Muslim prime minister, Gandhi had said during an interaction with students of the Aligarh Muslim University two days back that, "it is not about what religion or community you come from, it is what you bring to the table, what capability you have."
"Today, Manmohan Singh is not the Prime Minister of India because he is a Sikh. He is the Prime Minister because he is the most capable person to do the job," Rahul had said.
NEW DELHI: Determined to spark an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Toiba plotted a series of strikes on Jewish prayer halls in no less than five Indian cities, a plan which if it had succeeded, would have severely tested India's restraint over going to war.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had firmly ruled out use of armed force by way of retaliation after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the LeT plot involving David Coleman Headley has revealed the Pakistani-American jihadi had recced five targets, including a little known Chabad House in Delhi's Paharganj area.
The targets were tucked away in nooks and bylanes very much like the Chabad House at Nariman Point in Mumbai which two members of the Lashkar squad attacked. He was planning synchronized terror strikes at Jewish houses in five cities including Pushkar, Goa, Pune and Mumbai. Apart from the National Defence College located in the Capital, Headley went to Pushkar, famous for its annual fair, and stayed for three days in a room opposite a Jewish prayer house.
The investigations reveal Headley followed the same subterfuge as he did when he visited the Mumbai Chabad house, posing to be a Jew. It is remarkable that despite his close involvement in the Mumbai terror plot, he still chose to visit India with impunity and staked out Jewish establishments as he had in Denmark where his target was the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten.
The planning again underlines the determination of Lashkar to carry out strikes in India which are intended to grab international attention and snap the fragile India-Pakistan engagement. The PM had ruled out options like air strikes on terror camps in PoK despite the former Air Force chief favouring such a course of action. But another big strike will bring the government under intense political pressure.
Headley's teaming up with Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani of Canadian citizenship, his frequent interaction with Lashkar handlers and a "retired" Pakistani army major point to the freedom with which LeT operates in Pakistan even after its so-called arrest of some important figures charged with planning 26/11.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has found that Headley did recce of the Chabad House in delhi which is barely 300 metres from the two hotels - De Holiday Inn and Anand - where he stayed from March 7 to March 10 before leaving for Pushkar to scout another Jewish center.
The Chabad House in Paharganj is located in narrow lanes and is frequented generally by backpackers from Israel while either going to Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh or to western parts of the country.
Sources in the agency said Headley, who had then been aleady under surveillance of US agencies, also visited the house and posed as Jew while carrying out his reconnaissance mission for terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The NIA has recorded statement of a few residents who verified Headley's visit to the Jewish center, they added.
The new findings also solved the puzzle as to why Headley had chosen to stay in a budget hotel in Paharganj instead of staying in any posh hotels like he did during his Mumbai stay. It now appears that he used to stay in the area where he was supposed to carry out his mission.
Investigators, therefore, believe that his visit to Paharganj was under a design. It could certainly be easier for him to recce the place which would be a potential targets of the LeT jihadis in due course.
As a part of the same design, Headley subsequently travelled to Pushkar in the outskirts of Ajmer in Rajasthan where he insisted on a room opposite a Jewish prayer centre claiming he was a Jew and wanted "holy sight".
The hotel staff, in their statements to the NIA, said that 49-year-old Headley had insisted on the room view which was right opposite to the prayer hall of the Jew centre in Pushkar.
After staying there for three days, Headley moved to Goa where he stayed at a guest house located in Anjuna village along the coast of Arabian sea before proceeding towards Pune where he visited the area around Koregaon Park.
Though initially it was believed that he wanted to target foreigners at Osho Ashram, it was found later that he had scouted the area for targeting the Jewish prayer centre in the area.
Headley then left for Mumbai where he went to the Cuffe Prade area and scouted for Israel Airways office before flying to Pakistan from the Chatrapati Shivaji airport.
Taliban used ceasefire to expand operations
Syed Saleem Shahzad
Dec. 9: Taliban militants have used a ceasefire agreement between the Pakistani security forces and North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur to remobilise and expand their operations.
As the military began its offensive against militants in South Waziristan in mid-October, those aligned with Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Taliban began launching terror attacks in Peshawar, capital of North West Frontier Province. But this week’s suicide attacks in the heart of eastern Punjab province are the latest wave in a daring campaign driven by Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud to destabilise the government and outmanoeuvre the military.
Working with the Islamist militant group Laskhar-i-Jhangvi, the Taliban has launched several recent attacks. On Tuesday, militants targeted Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence services in a car bomb attack in Multan area that killed 12 people, including security personnel. Several houses collapsed because of the high intensity of the blast.
Late on Monday, militants targeted the busy Moon Market in Lahore and at least 49 civilians were killed, while last Friday, armed militants bombed a high profile target, a military mosque situated in the garrison town of Rawalpindi where senior military officials gathered for Friday prayers.
The Taliban was quick to accept responsibility for the Rawalpindi massacre. Mufti Waliur Rahman Mehsud, chief of the Taliban in South Waziristan, told the media that military officers in the mosque were the "primary targets" of the bombing. Waliur Rahman warned that the Taliban would continue to target the Army and his grim prediction has been realised in the past 24 hours.
According to militant sources, they claimed to have outmanoeuvred the armed forces when they struck the peace deal with two Taliban groups including commander Gul Bahadur and commander Mullah Nazir from the Shakai region of South Waziristan. Before he was killed in a drone attack in August, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud had urged Gul Bahadur to retain the long running agreement with the military as he believed it would help militants escape through the region in the case of a military operation. Baitullah Mehsud was killed but his strategy worked when the Pakistan Army came with full force to destroy the sanctuaries of the Taliban. Most of the militants had already left the area and settled in North Waziristan.
From there they regrouped and made their base in the Orakzai tribal region from where they carried out attacks in Peshawar. Once they had consolidated their positions around Peshawar, the TTP gave the green light to its Punjab cells who carried out the attacks in Rawalpindi, Lahore and now in Multan.
Tags: Pakistan, terror attacks, terror training, US
Expressing concern over series of arrests of US nationals as terror suspects, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said much of the training and direction for terrorists comes from Pakistan and the border area with Afghanistan.
"We know that much of the training and the direction for terrorists comes from Pakistan and the border area with Afghanistan," Clinton told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
It has always been a concern, Clinton said when asked about several cases of home grown terrorists in the country.
"We know we've got to work more closely with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to root out the infrastructure of terrorism that continues to recruit and train people who are willing to do what is alleged with Zazi, David Headley, and others in the recent cases that have come to light," Clinton said.
Headley, a US national of Pakistani origin was arrested by the FBI in October on charges of planning terrorist attacks in India and Mumbai.
Hearings on National Reconciliation Ordinance
Court zeroes in on cases against President
ISLAMABAD: It was a bad day for President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan People’s Party in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The full court hearing petitions against the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance has in three days of hearings made it plain that it is not favourably disposed towards this 2007 decree, under which nearly 8,000 people had cases against them in civil and criminal matters terminated.
But on Wednesday, the court also zeroed in on cases against the most high-profile beneficiary of the NRO, Mr. Zardari, though, strictly speaking, this is outside the scope of the petitions before it, which only ask that the law be struck down as unconstitutional.
Without mentioning his name once, the judges made it clear they were not pleased with the manner in which these cases were terminated, particularly the government’s withdrawal from the cases involving Mr. Zardari in the Swiss courts. In all, six cases of corruption against Mr. Zardari in Pakistan, and two in Swiss courts, were terminated under the NRO. The termination of the cases cleared the way for him to contest the presidential elections of 2008.
On Tuesday, the anti-corruption National Accountability Bureau submitted a document listing 248 NRO beneficiaries. The list showed that of the six cases against Mr. Zardari in Pakistan, one related to having assets beyond means to the tune of $1.5 billion outside the country and Rs. 22 billion in Pakistan.
At Wednesday’s hearing, after NAB submitted details of the Swiss case to the court to complete the previous day’s list, Mr. Zardari was the principal subject of the proceedings, though his name was not uttered once.
The judges were insistent on knowing what had happened to the $ 60 million frozen by the Swiss court when the case was being heard, and if the Pakistan government had dropped its claim to this money after withdrawing from the case. “Where is this money now?” the judges repeatedly asked.
The full court summoned the chairman of NAB to the court, and hauled him over coals about recent revelations in the media that the anti-corruption watchdog had shipped the records of the Swiss case from Geneva to the Pakistan High Commission in London, where a Zardari-loyalist, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, is the High Commissioner. The court also accused NAB of squandering public money by fighting the case all these years in the Swiss courts, only to suddenly withdraw from it.
As the government is not defending the NRO, there was no one to speak for Mr. Zardari. But the President’s spokesman has in a press release described the charges against the President as a “regurgitation” of old, unproven charges.
The acting Attorney-General, Shah Khawar, assured the court that he would present all details of the Swiss case to the court when it meets again on Thursday.
The PPP also came in for a rough time. Hafiiz Peerzada, counsel for the petitioners, read out passages from Benazir Bhutto’s posthumously published book Truth, Reconciliation and Islam, where she details the talks with former President, Pervez Musharraf, that led to the promulgation of the NRO, and the PPP’s quid pro quo of not opposing his election in the 2007 presidential election.
Swamy challenges order for setting up an Islamic finance company by KSIDC
Kerala High Court adjourns hearing on petition to January 5
Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday adjourned to January 5, the hearing on a public interest petition filed by Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy challenging the State government order according sanction for registration of an Islamic finance serving company by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC).
When the petition came up before the Bench comprising Chief Justice S.R. Bannurmath and Justice A.K. Basheer, Dr. Swamy at the outset argued that the question whether public fund could be appropriated for favouring a particular religion in a secular country required judicial determination.
He submitted that the setting up of a financial service company with government participation, which would follow the canon of law of a particular religion, was a clear instance of the state favouring a particular religion. He said that it was clear from the order that the company was to be set up strictly in accordance with Sharia, the canon law of Muslims. It also implied the setting up of a Sharia Advisory Board. The government order had provided that the Chief Executive Officer of the proposed company was required to report to this board. The order had made it clear that the board would have some measure of supervision over the proposed company. As per the order, 11 per cent of the equity would be held by the KSIDC. It showed the identification of the KSIDC with Islam.
In reply to a query from the Bench, he submitted that he would produce the memorandum of association of the KSIDC to prove that the corporation was a State government undertaking. He submitted that it was apparent from the government order that it was a state-owned undertaking.
In his petition, he pointed out that the need for equal treatment of people of different faiths was reiterated by the Supreme Court and High Courts.
The setting up of a company with co-ownership of the State was “antithetical” to the equal treatment of all religions.
Dr. Swamy said the government action, in compliance with the law of a particular religion, would violate Articles 14 (equality before law) and 25 (right to freedom of religion) guaranteed under the Constitution.
Wants law to stop forced conversions
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday stated that forced conversions, termed as Love Jihad or Romeo Jihad, and efforts for that were a reality in the State despite the arguments by the Kerala Director General of Police, and Union Home Department to the contrary.
Stating that the State Government had the responsibility to check forced conversions, the court asked it to formulate legislation on the lines of the other States.
Rejecting a petition for anticipatory bail in a Love Jihad case filed by Shehenshah, a Muslim youth, who had allegedly forced a non-Muslim MBA girl student of a Pathanamthitta college in the name of love, the court said that campuses should not be turned into venues for forced conversions through false love affairs.
Justice KT Sankaran also rejected another petition seeking a ban on the use of the terms Love Jihad and Romeo Jihad.
Earlier, Kerala DGP Jacob Punnoose had submitted in the court that no evidence was available to prove the existence of an organised movement in the State, specialising in converting non-Muslim girls into Islam through treacherous love affairs. Subsequently, the Union Home Department told the court that it had no information of any movement anywhere in the country specialising in such conversion methods.
Justice Sankaran also pointed out that the reports submitted by top police officials in the State were of contradictory in nature. The DGP had told the court that there were no “actionable” evidences to suggest that such a conversion campaign was on in Kerala but indications of possibility of such a programme was there. The court also said that 14 out of the 18 reports from SPs on the matter, submitted by the DGP, were of no value or use.
However, police reports themselves had made it clear that forced conversions through love affairs as a movement had been going on in Kerala since 1996. The judge said that the police reports had indicated that about 4,000 conversions had taken place through love affairs in the past four years, and 2,800 girls of other religions had undergone conversion into Islam in this period.
He also said that 1,600 such conversions had taken place in four northern districts, including Malappuram, Kerala’s Muslim-majority district. It was evident from the report submitted by the DGP that outfits like Islamist Popular Front of India (earlier NDF) and its student wing, the Campus Front, were behind the organised campus-based conversion programme, said Justice Sankaran.
He added that the DGP’s report had also indicated that Muslim conversion centres had been functioning in Kozhikode district.
Though the Constitution guaranteed equal rights to all religions, the right for faith should not be used for forced conversions and conversions through treachery, the judge said. Mixed marriages could be promoted but such marriages should not be used as tools for forced or treacherous conversions, he pointed out.
He also said that several other States had formulated legislations for preventing forced conversions and the people and the Government of Kerala should consider formulation of such legislation in view of the particular context.
Wednesday, 09 Dec, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Former Chief of General staff Shahid Aziz says that Pervez Musharraf was bullied into supporting the US in the war on terror. He says the decision to support America was taken unilaterally before a crucial corps commanders meeting took place.
The former chief of general staff in an interview with Dawnnews said that the corps commanders during Pervez Musharraf's era were reluctant to support the US on the war on terror.
Aziz said that the corps commanders wanted to remain neutral in the US-Taliban war instead of actively supporting it.
During the interview, Aziz said that Pakistan's army intelligence had informed them about Indian lobbying calling for attacks on both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Shahid also accused the former army chief pervez musharraf of decieving other army offciers and corps commanders on the war on terror. -DawnNews
KABUL—US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has reaffirmed continued US support to Pakistan as it fights terrorism on its side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
"The key thing to remember about the relationship with Pakistan is, it's Pakistan's foot on the accelerator," he said. "And we are prepared to move ahead with that relationship and cooperation just as fast as they are prepared to accept it."
Gates said he's impressed by the progress Pakistani troops are making.
"The Pakistanis have done so much more than any of us would have expected or believed a year or a year and a half ago," he said.
"They are taking some serious casualties. They are in a serious fight. And they have all the support from us we can give, ," Gates told reporters traveling with him.
ISLAMABAD—A total of 589 terrorists have been killed while 79 security forces personnel have embraced shahadat in operation Rah e Nijat so far, Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) said, on Wednesday. According to a press release, huge cache of arms and ammunition have been recovered from different hideouts of fleeing terrorists, since start of Operation Rah e Nijat on October 16.
It included 49 anti aircraft machine guns of 12.7 mm caliber, 15 Machine guns of 14.5 mm caliber, 38 RPG 7, 16 heavy machine guns, 592 rifles all types, 45 small machine guns, three artillery guns of various types, one Russian made missile launcher, 32 Pistols, five recoils rifles along with these truck load of ammunition, 203886 bullets of 12.7 mm anti aircraft machine gun, 9000 rounds of 14.5 mm machine gun, 830 rockets of RPG 7, 11 Russian made missiles, 106 rockets of recoiles rifles and 140 Rockets of SPG 9.
Providing details of the last 24 hours of Operation Rah e Nijat in South Waziristan, the ISPR said that a number of IEDs were recovered and destroyed during sanitization of Aka Khel Pungai near Ahmedwam and Abdullah Noor Kaskai near Kotkai at Jandola sector.
Meanwhile, at Shakai sector, the security forces apprehended 5 suspects at Miachan Baba and Shaka. Similarly, at Razmak Sector, the forces cleared 25 compounds at Tara Tiza Alghad and Mairobi Raghzai, where huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered.
The terrorists fired 1 rocket at Razmak Camp which was effectively responded, however, no loss reported, informed the ISPR.
Security forces have also cleared Ghujre, two kilometer north of Pash Ziarat, where tunnels and underground living bunkers were discovered and destroyed.
Regarding relief activities, it said that 20,321 cash cards have been issued to displaced families of Wazirsitan so far Meanwhile, during Operation Rah e Rast in Swat Malakand, two terrorists voluntarily surrendered themselves at Salhand and
Chamtalai post. And security forces apprehended 10 suspects at Saidu Sharif, Fizaghat, Bishbanr, Mingora and Jijal Kandao near Fatehpur, the press release concluded.
Shrine rebuilt, but economy crumbling
By Aamer Madhani
SAMARRA, Iraq — When insurgents bombed the Askariya shrine nearly four years ago, Qassim Mohammed Arab saw his fortunes collapse along with the holy site's iconic golden dome.
Arab, a Sunni Muslim, doesn't pray at Askariya, one of the most revered sites in Shiite Islam, which sits in the middle of this predominantly Sunni city.
As a shopkeeper who does business near the grand, 10th-century structure, though, his livelihood depends on the thousands of religious pilgrims who come to visit it each day. He hoped his luck would improve with the reopening of the shrine last year.
Things haven't worked out that way.
"Some weeks, I have to borrow money just to feed myself and my family," Arab said.
The attack by suspected al-Qaeda terrorists on Askariya in February 2006 unleashed the worst spree of sectarian killing in the war, leaving thousands of Iraqis dead in a wave of bombings and assassinations while pushing the country to the brink of civil war.
Those darkest moments of the war have passed, and Samarra, once considered among the most dangerous cities in all of Iraq, is mostly peaceful these days.
Major construction on the shrine, which holds the tombs of Shiite Islam's 10th and 11th imams, is almost complete.
In the coming weeks, workers will begin the onerous process of gilding Askariya's rebuilt dome with thousands of tiny gold-plated tiles, said Mohammed Asur al-Hashimi, the deputy manager overseeing reconstruction of the shrine.
Buffers bad for business
For all the progress, Samarra remains a symbol of Iraq's challenges. There is healing on the surface, but sectarian tensions linger underneath.
On the streets of the city, the mostly Sunni population complains that the central government has poured millions of dollars into rebuilding the shrine but that little has been done to improve the lot of residents.
The hurt feelings were exacerbated by Iraqi security forces erecting 10-foot-high concrete blast walls around Askariya, effectively cutting off the shrine from the city.
"The government has forgotten the people of Samarra," said Saleh Mahdi, who owns a women's shoe store near the shrine and has seen his sales drop by 80% since the 2006 bombing. "They've rebuilt the shrine, but they've also built a wall to isolate the people of Samarra."
These days a web of scaffolding and mounds of rubble surrounding the shrine are the only battle scars that remain. The rebuilding of Askariya, estimated to cost $16 million, was a priority of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who vowed to restore the shrine to its former glory.
Al-Hashimi said the blast walls around Askariya were erected to protect the shrine and visiting Shiites, but few pilgrims venture into the markets on the other side of the concrete barriers.
Without the pilgrims' patronage, dozens of shopkeepers have been forced to shutter their stores, and several hotels that were once filled with religious tourists have gone out of business.
Ali al-Murshadi, a government spokesman for the shrine, said the tight security comes by order from the prime minister's office, which remains vigilant against another attack.
The first attack in 2006 on Askariya collapsed the shrine's golden dome. A second attack a year later toppled its towering minarets.
"What would happen if they bombed Askariya again?" al-Murshadi said. "We would see terrible violence throughout the country once again."
While the site is under construction, hundreds of pilgrims pray daily at the shrine, and as many as 35,000 religious tourists have visited on holidays since the reopening, al-Murshadi said.
Unemployed a problem
Unemployment remains high here and the government struggles to provide such essential services as water and electricity. Of an estimated 300 men working to rebuild the shrine, only 35 are from Samarra, according to al-Hashimi, the deputy project manager.
In one neighborhood a few miles from the shrine, about 500 hundred households have been without water for at least three months, said Ismail Hassan, a neighborhood leader of the Concerned Local Citizens, a government-backed paramilitary group.
Although terrorist influence has diminished, other insurgent groups have been surfacing, Hassan said.
"We arrested a young man just the other night who was planting a (roadside) bomb," Hassan said. "We asked him why he was doing it, and he said there were no jobs for him. If nothing is done for the people of Samarra, the young men will definitely turn to the insurgency."
Last week, al-Maliki's office began distributing compensation payments to some of the shopkeepers whose businesses were affected by the bombing, said al-Murshadi, the government spokesman.
More than 1,000 business owners were offered a total of $2 million in payouts, ranging from $1,300 to $34,000 for each business, al-Murshadi said. Mahdi and other shop owners said the payments were too little and too late.
"They are going to give me about $1,500, when I lost about $40,000 of my inventory," said Mahdi, the shoe salesman, who explained that after the 2006 bombing, Iraqi troops took over his shop and forced him to hastily clear out his goods.
A few weeks ago, Samarra's mayor, Mahmoud Khalaf Ahmed, said he sent a proposal to the prime minister's office detailing a new security plan to safeguard the shrine and recommending the pulling down of the blast walls.
His plan calls for about two dozen checkpoints to encircle the neighborhood surrounding the shrine.
"We are trying to (convince) them that we can keep the shrine safe without the blast walls that are hurting Samarra's economy," he said.
"We want the pilgrims to mix with the people of Samarra," he said.
Ahmed said he is waiting for the prime minister's office to call him back.
By Adam Gonn
Human rights in the Arab world are worsening according to recent report by human rights institute.
An annual report by a Cairo based institute for human rights paints a bleak picture for the state of human rights in the Arab world.
The report, “Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform”, published by The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies reviewed the most significant developments in human rights among twelve Arab states during 2009.
“Impunity and lack of accountability is the main feature in many Arab countries,” Moataz El Ogeiry, Executive Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies told The Media Line.
“[This is the case] whether they are facing internal conflict or international conflict such as Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Somalia,” he said, “or if they are ruled by authoritarian regimes that ignore judiciary independence and apply exceptional laws such as state of emergency in Egypt and in Syria.”
The countries included in the survey are Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen.
With the exception of Lebanon and Morocco, El Ogeiry stated that none of the countries surveyed in the report were cooperative. Kuwait, Libya, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were reportedly omitted due to a lack of reliable information and resources.
The report includes a chapter dedicated to the Arab League, the regional organization of 22 Arab nations, and the performance of Arab governments in United Nations human rights institutions.
“The offensive attitudes against human rights have turned out to the regional and international institutions,” El Ogeiry said “The League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Conference in cooperation with other authoritarian regimes in the world like Cuba, China, Russia and Iran forms what is called global authoritarianism, which try to undermine the efficiency of the [United Nations] human rights intuitions.”
“The phenomenon is widely observed in the [United Nations] human rights council in Geneva,” he continued, “where these countries use concepts like traditional values or cultural relativism and religious defamation to attack the international norm on human rights and try to reformulate the international norm.”
“We have observed the League of Arab States reflect this authoritarian and offensive attitude against human rights in many areas like supporting abusers in Sudan,” he said, referring to the Arab League’s support of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes committed in Darfur.
“Governments always criticize this kind of report,” El Ogeiry said. “They do not admit that they have a real concern in human rights and they always attack human rights groups by accusing them of threatening national security.”
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
A hip-hop benefit concert featuring rappers from across the U.S. is set for Thursday night in Detroit to help the son of a Muslim leader killed in a shootout in Dearborn with FBI agents.
Mujahid Carswell, one of the sons of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, is a hip-hop MC known as Mu who was part of a group of men charged last month with conspiring to deal in stolen goods. They also are accused of being a member of what federal authorities say is a radical Sunni Muslim group that promotes extremism. Abdullah was killed by federal agents on Oct. 28 in Dearborn while they were attempting to arrest him and members of his group who were allegedly involved in stolen goods.
Family members and supporters of the group say the claims are totally false, and that Abdullah was a man who helped the needy in his neighborhood.
The concert is to raise funds for the legal defense of Carswell, who was arrested in Windsor, Canada. On his Web site, it says that a legal defense fund was set up "to help Mujahid get the best legal counsel available for his federal crime case pending & to lessen the burden of his 100,000 bond fees."
"Mu and his family appreciate any help during this already hard time of grieving for his father Imam Luqman Abdullah," the Web site reads.
Supporters of Abdullah and some advocacy groups have called for an independent investigation in the death of Abdullah.
Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office, has said that agents acted appropriately in the case. Federal officials have said Abdullah opened fire.
The concert is set for the Shelter and is called "Mu Today...U Tomorrow!" The event, which is to start at 9 p.m., is to feature Professor Griff of the hip-hop group Public Enemy, Paradise the Architect of X-Clan, and others.
Numerous Islamic separatists have been fighting the government for three decades in the south [Getty]
The Philippine government and an Islamic separatist group are on a "fast track" to signing a peace deal that would end a decades-long conflict, the Malaysian hosts of the talks have said.
Othman Abdul Razak, the Malaysian facilitator, said negotiators hope to secure a deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] by March or April.
"There are a lot of challenges ahead. It is not an easy task," Razak said on Wednesday, after two-days of talks in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
"We are trying to sign the compact by the first quarter of next year [before Gloria Arroyo, the president, steps down] so we are going on a fast-track," he said.
In a joint statement, the two sides said they had agreed to re-establish an international task force "to monitor ceasefire, humanitarian, rehabilitation, development and civilian protection agreements".
Othman said that Malaysia would be a leading member of the new monitoring team, and that it could be deployed in as little as a month.
"It depends on how soon the contingent will be ready. Once cabinet gives approval ... we will move very quickly," he said.
The MILF has also said it is optimistic about reaching a settlement in the talks, which collapsed in August 2008 when they launched deadly attacks across the southern island of Mindanao, resulting in a mass exodus of residents.
Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief negotiator, said that the group "does not want war" but that it "will not accept an imposed or half-baked solution".
The violence in 2008 broke out after the Philippine supreme court banned a proposed deal that would have given the MILF control over large areas of the south, which the group claims as its "ancestral domain".
Over 700,000 people were displaced at the height of the fighting and nearly 400 were killed in the MILF's fight for Muslim self-rule.
International monitors were forced to pull out and more than 250,000 people remain in evacuation centres across Mindanao.
A new ceasefire was signed in September, paving the way for the resumption of the talks.
The conflict has claimed more than 150,000 lives on the island which is home to a majority of Muslims, but who form only a small minority in the largely Roman Catholic Philippines.
By Ivan Eland,
November 04, 2009
In the face of an outraged Arab world, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed off on her congratulation of Israel for merely pledging to limit settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. Previously, President Barack Obama, originally appearing to be much more friendly to the Palestinian and Arab causes than George W. Bush, told Israel, "It is time for the settlements to stop." The president’s earlier position reinforced that of the United Nations and other international bodies: such settlement by the occupier of any territory conquered in war is against international law. The U.S. waffling demonstrates that despite Obama’s youth spent in a Muslim country and greater sensitivity to Islamic concerns than his predecessor, he will likely always be forced by domestic political considerations to come home to the mother ship of the Israeli lobby.
Conflict in Palestine started in the 1920s and was caused by Jewish immigration, beginning in the late 1800s, to a land they hadn’t populated in great numbers since the Roman Empire. To win Arab support against the Turks during World War I, Britain, attempting to expand its empire, cynically promised the Arabs post-war independence, which was not granted. Then to win support for the British war effort from the United States and its Jewish minority, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which promised the Jews a homeland (not a state). After having promised the same land to two peoples, Britain planned to withdraw from Palestine. In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine, but give the Jews – who owned only 6 percent of Palestine – a whopping 56 percent of the land.
As a result, Palestinians and Jews fought, and neighboring Arab countries attacked Israel when it provocatively declared itself a state in 1948. After this rebellion and war, in which the militarily stronger Israelis brutally ethnically cleansed the Palestinians from their land, the Jews owned even more of Palestine than the UN had bestowed on them – running the amount to more than 70 percent. Then came the war of 1967, which added the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank. The Israelis have withdrawn from Gaza and the Sinai but not the Golan Heights or West Bank. Believing that possession is nine-tenths of the law, the Israelis began settling the occupied Golan Heights and West Bank. Currently, there are 280,000 Jews in 121 settlements on the West Bank and 190,000 in East Jerusalem.
In the West Bank, the Israelis have placed their settlements strategically – including along the Jordan River Valley, which forms the border of the West Bank farthest from Israel and which Israel wants to control after any settlement.
Israel will likely eventually settle the issue by giving the Palestinians some sort of state – whether by negotiated settlement or unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank (similar to the approach it took in Gaza). The reason: the Arab population within the West Bank and Israel proper is growing so fast that if Israel doesn’t cut the West Bank loose, Israel will likely lose its Jewish democratic identity by the institution of an apartheid South Africa-style system of minority rule. Yet this resolution will probably not happen for some time, because Israel wants to acquire as much strategic Palestinian land as it can through West Bank settlements before the time Jews become a minority in Israel and the West Bank.
Where does this leave the United States? The waffling by the Obama administration, betraying the overwhelming underlying domestic political forces supporting Israel, has severely undermined any perceived status the U.S. had as an honest broker in the already perpetually infuriating Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Because the United States cannot be a neutral moderator, it should turn that role over to others – Britain would be ideal, since it caused the problem in the first place – and exit the scene. After all, Palestine is hardly strategic to U.S. security.
A Muslim woman was asked by a Christian hotelier if she was a terrorist and a murderer because she was wearing Islamic dress, a court has been told.
Ericka Tazi told Liverpool magistrates she faced a tirade of abuse from Benjamin Vogelenzang and his wife Sharon, at their hotel on Merseyside.
She said it was because she was wearing a hijab head covering and gown.
Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang deny using threatening, abusive or insulting words which were religiously aggravated.
Members of campaign group The Christian Institute demonstrated in support of the couple outside the court.
Mrs Tazi, who converted to Islam 18 months ago, spent a month at The Bounty House Hotel on Church Avenue, Aintree, Liverpool, while attending a course at Aintree Hospital.
'Form of bondage'
Prosecutor Anya Horwood told the court Mr Vogelenzang, 53, called the Prophet Muhammad a "warlord" and likened him to Saddam Hussein and Hitler.
And his 54-year-old wife told Mrs Tazi her Islamic dress represented "oppression" and was a form of "bondage", the court heard.
Mrs Tazi had worn European dress during her four-week stay, but the row flared after she came down on her last day in traditional Islamic dress.
She said Mr Vogelenzang asked her "Why are you wearing those clothes?" and began laughing at her, the prosecutor told the court.
Benjamin Vogelenzang and his wife Sharon
Ms Horwood said the hotelier then began to discuss his Christian faith but became angry - at which point his wife joined in.
Mrs Tazi walked away but was followed by Mr Vogelenzang, who was acting like "a whirling dervish", repeatedly asking her if she was a "terrorist".
Giving evidence, Mrs Tazi told the bench that dressing in her hijab seemed to "trigger something" in the hotelier.
The 60-year-old, who suffers from fibromyalgia and lives with chronic pain, said: "He just couldn't accept the way I was dressed.
"He asked me if I was a murderer, if I was a terrorist. I'm a 60-year-old disabled woman, I couldn't understand where it was coming from, it was shocking to me."
Mrs Tazi said Mr Vogelenzang followed her into the dining room "flailing" his arms and "jumping up and down".
She added: "Sharon came running in, she was shouting 'you started this with your dress' and she was pointing in my face and I was frightened at this stage. I was absolutely traumatised by it all."
Later that night Mrs Tazi contacted Merseyside Police. When detectives questioned the couple they claimed they had been sharing their "faith views".
Mrs Tazi told Hugh Tomlinson QC, for the defence, that she was not trying to make a statement by wearing the hijab and denied having robust arguments about religion with other guests.
She told him she tried "many religions" before converting to Islam when she married.
Mrs Tazi said: "My journey has been a long, long journey, it was a very difficult decision to wear these clothes... I'm a normal Warrington girl who liked the Beatles."
Guests at the hotel told the court that Mrs Tazi was left distraught by the row.
Pauline Tait, 52, a committed Christian, described it as "a very upsetting and volatile exchange".
Another guest, Shirley Tait, said she was in her bedroom when she heard Mr Vogelenzang shouting the words "Nazi" and "warlord".
The case was adjourned until Wednesday.
By Maamoun Youssef
CAIRO — An al-Qaida offshoot that has claimed responsibility for kidnapping three Spaniards and a Frenchman in West Africa last month said Wednesday the four Europeans were in good health and treated according to Islamic laws.
The group's demands would be announced later, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said.
In a statement posted Wednesday on an Islamic Web site, it said Frenchman Pierre Camatte was seized in Mali on Nov. 25 and the three Spaniards — Albert Vilalta, Roque Pascual and Alicia Gamez — were taken hostage in Mauritania five days later.
"The hostages are in good health, being treated according to Islamic sharia (laws) and France and Spain will be informed later of the mujahideen legitimate demands," the statement said.
The kidnapping, it said, was in retaliation for "the Crusaders' war against Muslims and Islam everywhere and the killing of innocent people and occupying their lands."
"We tell the Crusaders that your security and that of your citizens is linked to our security and the security of our Muslim brothers," it said.
The statement's authenticity could not be immediately verified, but it was posted on an Islamic Web site that publishes statements and video footage by al-Qaida and other militant groups.
Al-Qaida supporters, commenting on the statement, urged the group to swap the four hostages with mujahideen prisoners convicted in the March 2004 Madrid train bombings.
The same Web site on Tuesday posted an audiotape by the group's spokesman, Saleh Abu Mohammad, announcing responsibility for the kidnapping of the Europeans.
Following the release of the audiotape, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said that Spain's National Intelligence Center was studying it but that the government was treating the claim as genuine.
Last week, a Mauritanian official said the three Spaniards were taken by their captors to a camp run by the group in neighboring Mali.
Camatte was kidnapped in his hotel in Menaka, northern Mali, near the border with Niger.
After the kidnapping, France's Foreign Ministry urged French citizens to avoid areas of the Sahel desert, particularly northern and eastern Mali and northern Niger.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb operates mainly in Algeria but is suspected of crossing the country's porous desert borders to spread violence in the rest of northwestern Africa.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Somalia — Calm has returned to Elasha Biyaha village out of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, just after large riot against the Islamic organization of Hizbul Islam.
The large demonstration started on Tuesday afternoon as the Islamist forces of Hizbul Islam put down the national Somali flag from on e of the schools in the village and changed to a black flag which caused to disagree with the administration of the schools and resulted in all students and residents to started large demonstration against them injuring several people during riot.
All the business centers in the village were reopened on Wednesday and the movement of traffic and people restarted as the calm retuned.
The reason was unclear and there was no comment from the Islamic administration.
We had tried to contact with the Islamic administration of Hizbul Islam, but was too difficult to get them through the telephone.
It was the first such demonstration against the Islamic administration of Hizbyul Islam happen in the village which is under their control and it came as the fighters removed the national blue flag with five stars of Somalis which is the national flag for the Somali nation.
On the other hand calm has also returned to areas which yesterday's shelling affected in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
8 people had lost their lives more than 20 others wounded as the heavy shelling started in more parts of the capital on Tuesday afternoon according to the emergency traffic officials.
BERLIN — AP., Germany has filed terrorism charges against a Turkish-German dual citizen allegedly linked to a member of a cell that plotted to attack U.S. targets, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The 24-year-old, identified only as Kadir T. in line with German privacy laws, was charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organization and violating export laws, federal prosecutors said.
The suspect, who was arrested in August, regularly attended meetings of a group centering around Adem Yilmaz, who used them to recruit candidates for the radical Islamic Jihad Union, prosecutors said.
In 2007, authorities foiled alleged plans by the Islamic Jihad Union to attack U.S. targets in Germany. Yilmaz, a Turk living in Germany, is on trial over the plans. Kadir T. was not charged in that plot.
Prosecutors said that in July 2007, Kadir T. bought a video camera and a night-vision device for the Islamic Jihad Union on orders from Yilmaz, who had them sent to members of the group in the Waziristan region, in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.
There was no immediate word on when a trial might start. The charges were filed Nov. 20 at a Frankfurt court. (The Associated Press)
ISLAMABAD—Chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said he has raised the issue of interference into Balochistan with the Indian leadership. Talking to Geo News, the US Army Chief said he held talks over the reservations of Pakistan with his Indian counterparts both former and the present one Gen Deepak in addition to the Indian political leadership.
He said he had meeting over the issue with Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is involved in the killings of the US citizens, on which US has concerns, Mullen said adding Al-Qaeda and Taliban are aiding each other in the Pak-Afghan border area, which has spurred the violent incidents in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The US Army chief said Pak Army has taken up vital measures to cope with the extremists and clinched successes, adding the relations between Pakistan and the US are based on mutual interests Mullen said the new strategy of US President Obama is also for other countries of the region in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He also said if Indo-Pak tension is terminated and headway towards the resolution of Kashmir issue is achieved, then the issue regarding the regional stability to a large extent would be resolved, adding the resolution of this issue would have a wholesome impact on the region.
On a query regarding relations between Pentagon and the GHQ, Mullen said there is no communication gap between the two.
Taliban groups seem impressed from Al-Qaeda ideology; while, new emerging Taliban have no theory at all, he said responding a question.
Al-Qaeda, African Taliban and Pakistani Taliban have connections with each other, which have posed threat to the world, he said.
December 9, 2009
DUBAI — Concern over the debts of Dubai’s utility provider and losses at Nakheel, the builder of the emirate’s palm-shaped housing development, affected markets Wednesday, drowning out assurances by top officials that Arab economies in the Gulf were sound.
The Dubai debt saga has shaken global investors since the emirate’s Nov. 25 announcement that it wanted a standstill on $26 billion in debt owed by Dubai World as it restructured the government-owned company, which builds and operates everything from ports to luxury apartments.
Nakheel, the property developer owned by Dubai World, added to the already battered sentiment Wednesday after its financial statements showed liabilities increasing 7.2 percent to 73.3 billion dirhams, or $20 billion, in the first half of this year.
Nakheel said it had a first-half loss of 13.4 billion dirhams.
The Dubai stock index tumbled 5.9 percent to a 32-week low in midday trade, with construction and real estate companies all down by the daily limit.
The British bank Standard Chartered, which is one of Dubai World’s creditors, said any losses that it suffered in Dubai were unlikely to be material.
Its shares have fallen 12 percent since Dubai World’s announcement.
While Dubai has tried to separate its profitable companies from the debt restructuring, the exercise has led to credit downgrades for all government-linked companies amid investor fears that state aid would not be forthcoming if these companies ran into trouble.
Ratings agencies said such downgrades could lead to an accelerated payment clause for the $2 billion debt of Dubai’s power and water provider, Dewa, though an official there dismissed the report as speculation.
Adding to confusion among investors, Dubai’s finance chief said Tuesday that the emirate would need at least six months to restructure Dubai World.
According to a banker who is close to discussions between Dubai World and its creditors but not authorized to speak to the media, Dubai World had yet to show creditors a proposal.
Underscoring the grim mood, a group representing a minority of those who hold Nakheel bonds has written to Dubai World rejecting a standstill on payments, a person familiar with the matter, but not authorized to speak to the media, said Tuesday.
“Investors, especially foreign institutions, want a strong statement from Dubai officials that they’ve found a clear way to help these companies,” said Samer al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage. “There’s no reason to buy back into the market without having a clear picture on what’s going on. Confidence has been lost.”
Nakheel’s Islamic bond maturing on Dec. 14 fell three basis points to 47 cents on the dollar Wednesday, compared with 110 cents to the dollar just before Dubai World’s announcement.
“This does not really enhance Nakheel’s ability to meet near-term obligations,” said Roy Cherry, vice president research, real estate and construction at Shuaa Capital.
Dubai’s government has said that its assets, including Emirates airlines, would not be involved in any sale aimed at plugging Dubai World’s debt, though some assets belonging to Dubai World could be sold. Dubai World has already said assets from Istithmar World, including Barneys New York, a luxury retail chain; DP World, a profitable port operator; and the Jebel Ali economic zone, would not be part of the wider $26 billion debt restructuring program.
On Tuesday, it added its ship-building unit, Dubai Drydocks World, to the list of businesses not for sale.
Dubai’s predicament stands in stark contrast to the boom years when it bought assets around the world, lured celebrities with luxury villas and exclusive hotels and courted the media with projects like the world’s tallest building.
But while neighbors funded their economic growth with proceeds from soaring oil prices, Dubai borrowed heavily to transform itself into a trade and tourism hub for the region. Creditors apparently lent to Dubai companies on the understanding that they would be backed by the central government of the oil-exporting United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part.
President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates sought to reassure markets again Wednesday, saying the country was determined to contain the effect of the global economic crisis on its “solid” economy.
The Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, echoed those remarks in a speech in Dubai, saying that the Gulf economies were strong despite anxieties over financial strains in the region.
In a sign of the struggles Dubai World could face to keep its prized assets, Istithmar World lost its W Hotel in New York in a foreclosure auction Tuesday. The hotel was sold for $2 million. Istithmar World bought the property for $282 million in 2006.
Company officials said the loss was unconnected to Dubai World’s debt talks.
“We are disappointed that the lender has chosen this route as we felt that real progress was being made in negotiations with the various lenders to restructure the debt” of the hotel, a spokesman at Istithmar World said.
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