DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe
on: October 02, 2006, 05:07:49 PM
Let the howl go forth:
New members of the tribe:
Dog Vitaliano Sestito- Italy
Dog Marcus Schillinger-Germany
Dog Graeme Higgins-Scotland
Dog Oli Sch?r- Switzerland
Dog Stefan Kostanjevec- Germany
Dog Tomek Jurkiewioz- Poland
"Higher Conciousness through Harder Contact." (c)
Council of Elders
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick
on: October 02, 2006, 03:32:07 PM
Mysterious elbow pains are sometimes the result of overdosing on gripping the sticks. The pain actually is not the elbow, but rather the origin of the underworked extensor muscles of the fingers. The solution is to make a "crane's beak" with your five fingers, put a rubber band around them and then work spreading them for high reps and high speed. As balance is restored between the flexors and the extensors, the pain in the elbow disappears.
This one I received from Guro Inosanto.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: September 30, 2006, 12:49:13 PM
Little Green Footballs blog follows up on the initial ruckus:
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Denmark Exports Soaring
How one of the biggest rows of modern times helped Danish exports to prosper. (Hat tip: Moonbat Media.)
While Danish milk products were dumped in the Middle East, fervent rightwing Americans started buying Bang & Olufsen stereos and Lego. In the first quarter of this year Denmark?s exports to the US soared 17%. The British writer Christopher Hitchens organised a buy-Danish campaign. Among the thousands of emails sent to Rose was one from an American soldier serving in Iraq. ?He told me he was sitting in Iraq, watching a game of football and drinking a can of Carlsberg,? Rose said.
Rose is not the only person to have prospered from the crisis. Re-elected last year, Mr Rasmussen last week became Denmark?s longest-serving Liberal prime minister. Danish troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than this, his sceptical line on immigration appears to have been vindicated as other EU countries follow suit.
This article is a good example of how twisted the discourse on this issue has become. Apparently, the Guardian?s viewpoint is that only ?fervent rightwingers? could actually support Denmark?s battle for free speech?when it would be difficult to find a more ?liberal? cause than the right to free expression.
The subheadline for the article?s another howler:
One year on, protagonists have few regrets despite deaths of more than 139 people.
As if the Danes should ?regret? violence and murder they did not perpetrate. Why do Guardian writers never seem to think the raging Muslim mobs need to regret anything?http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=22777_Denmark_Exports_Soaring&only
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 28, 2006, 12:13:03 AM
In previous posts I have been taken to task for using the term "Islamofascism". This piece addresses the issue:
Islamism and Fascism: Dare to Compare.
On Tuesday of last week, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) entered the fray over the Bush Administration's description of the enemy as "Islamic fascism." (Bush first used the phrase on August 7, and other top officials have followed suit.) Feingold:
I call on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic Fascists," a label that doesn't make any sense, and certainly doesn't help our effort to fight terrorism. Fascist ideology doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.
At the White House press briefing last Wednesday, Tony Snow came to the defense of the President, after a journalist read him a dictionary definition of fascism. "It doesn't quite seem to fit what we're talking about," said the journalist. "Well, it actually does fit," replied Snow.
I haven't used the phrase myself, and I generally prefer Islamism or jihadism, depending on the context. But I can't rise up against the use of Islamic fascism with the righteous indignation mustered by, say, Michigan professor Juan Cole, who's denounced the "lazy conflation of Muslim fundamentalist movements with fascism." My reason is that this conflation, or comparison, has had some rigorous champions within Middle Eastern studies over the years. It didn't originate in the Bush White House; it has a long pedigree including some pioneering social scientists. These scholars, who knew rather more than Senator Feingold about both Islamism and fascism, did think the comparison made sense. I'll let them explain why.
Any student of my generation first would have encountered the comparison in the work of the late Manfred Halpern, who spent nearly forty years as a politics professor at Princeton. Halpern grew up with fascism: born in Germany in 1924, he and his parents fled the Nazis in 1937 for America. He joined the war against the Nazis as a battalion scout in the 28th Infantry Division, and saw action in Battle of the Bulge and elsewhere. After Germany's surrender, he worked in U.S. Counterintelligence, tracking down former Nazis. In 1948 he joined the State Department, where he worked on the Middle East, and in 1958 he came to Princeton, where he did the same.
In 1963, Princeton published his Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa. For years, this book was the basic text in the field, and included the only academic treatment of Islamism, which no one much cared about at the time. Halpern labeled it "neo-Islamic totalitarianism," and this is how he described it:
The neo-Islamic totalitarian movements are essentially fascist movements. They concentrate on mobilizing passion and violence to enlarge the power of their charismatic leader and the solidarity of the movement. They view material progress primarily as a means for accumulating strength for political expansion, and entirely deny individual and social freedom. They champion the values and emotions of a heroic past, but repress all free critical analysis of either past roots or present problems.
Like fascism, neo-Islamic totalitarianism represents the institutionalization of struggle, tension, and violence. Unable to solve the basic public issues of modern life?intellectual and technological progress, the reconciliation of freedom and security, and peaceful relations among rival sovereignties?the movement is forced by its own logic and dynamics to pursue its vision through nihilistic terror, cunning, and passion. An efficient state administration is seen only as an additional powerful tool for controlling the community. The locus of power and the focus of devotion rest in the movement itself. Like fascist movements elsewhere, the movement is so organized as to make neo-Islamic totalitarianism the whole life of its members.
At the time, Halpern was a central figure in Middle Eastern studies, and his book?reprinted six times?appeared in every syllabus for the next fifteen years. His critical analysis of Islamism very much cut against the grain, at a time when Cold War strategists ardently wooed Islamists as allies against communism. In the 1970s, he walked away from the field, and his reputation within it slipped. But his rigorous treatment of Islamism stands up well, and his equating it with fascism was a serious proposition, made by someone who had seen fascism up close.
The comparison of Islamism with fascism also made sense to the late Maxime Rodinson, the preeminent French scholar of Islam, who pioneered the application of sociological method to the Middle East. As a French Jew born in 1915, Rodinson also learned about fascism from direct experience. He moved to Syria in 1940, but the Vichy regime deported his parents to Auschwitz, where they perished. Rodinson was a man of the left?in his early years, militantly so?but he took his thinking from no one.
In 1978, during Iran's revolution, enthusiasm for Islamism began to spread among his colleagues on the French left, who romanticized it as the vibrant, new anti-West. The French philosopher Michel Foucault become famously enamored of Ayatollah Khomeini. Rodinson decided to set things straight, in a long front-page article in Le Monde, targeted at those who "come fresh to the problem in an idealistic frame of mind." Rodinson admitted that trends in Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood were "hard to ascertain."
But the dominant trend is a certain type of archaic fascism (type de fascisme archa?que). By this I mean a wish to establish an authoritarian and totalitarian state whose political police would brutally enforce the moral and social order. It would at the same time impose conformity to religious tradition as interpreted in the most conservative light.
By "archaic," Rodinson referred to the religious component of the ideology, largely absent from European fascism.
I'm not sure whether Rodinson ever repeated this precise phrase, but putting it once on the front page of Le Monde was enough. He had accused his colleagues on the left of celebrating a form of fascism, from his perch at the pinnacle of Islamic scholarship. This especially sharp critic of Eurocentric distortions of Islam didn't shy from the comparison of Islamism with fascism, at a moment just as politically charged as the present one.
In 1984, Said Amir Arjomand, a prominent Iranian-American sociologist at SUNY-Stony Brook, picked up the comparison and ran with it. With a nod to Halpern, Arjomand pointed to "some striking sociological similarities between the contemporary Islamic movements and the European fascism and the American radical right.... It is above all the strength of the monistic impulse and the pronounced political moralism of the Islamic traditionalist and fundamentalist movements which makes them akin to fascism and the radical right alike."
In 1986, he took took the comparison even further, in an influential article for the journal World Politics entitled "Iran's Islamic Revolution in Comparative Perspective." Arjomand entertained a number of comparisons, but in the end settled on fascism as the best of them. Islamism (he called it "revolutionary traditionalism") and fascism "share a number of essential features," including "an identical transposition of the theme of exploitation" and a "distinct constitutive core."
Like fascism, the Islamic revolutionary movement has offered a new synthesis of the political creeds it has violently attacked. And, like the fascists, the Islamic militants are against democracy because they consider liberal democracy a foreign model that provides avenues for free expression of alien influences and ideas. (Also like the fascists, however, the Islamic militants would not necessarily accept the label of "antidemocratic.")
Arjomand's conclusion: "The emergence of an Islamic revolutionary ideology has been in the cards since the fascist era." (For much more of the comparison, go here. Arjomand later repeated the argument almost verbatim in his 1989 book The Turban for the Crown, Oxford.)
Latest word is that the State Department has persuaded the White House to stop talking about "Islamic fascism." That should make it easier for academics to revisit the comparison as a serious analytical proposition. It's necessary because self-styled campus progressives are repeating Foucault's mistake. It started in earnest last spring, when Noam Chomsky made a pilgrimage to the the lair of Hezbollah's maximum leader, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, and came out praising him for defying America. Over the summer, Hamid Dabashi, keeper of Edward Said's flame at Columbia, offered this: "Both Hamas and Hizbullah, becoming even more integral to the Palestinian and Lebanese national liberation movements, will one day succeed in helping establish a free, democratic, and cosmopolitan republic in their respective countries." Then earlier this month, celebrity philosopher and queer theorist Judith Butler told a Berkeley audience that Hamas and Hezbollah are "social movements that are part of the global left."
It's too much to expect the mandarins of Middle Eastern studies, at this advanced stage of decadence, to revisit the Islamism-fascism comparison. The Middle East Studies Association is led by Juan Cole, who thinks such a "conflation" is "lazy," but who's quite capable of offering this more energetic one: "Saudi Arabia is an extremely conservative society; going to Saudi Arabia is kind of like going to Amish country in the United States." (The State Department presently warns Americans who go to Saudi Arabia to stay only in hotels and compounds that "apply stringent security measures including, but not limited to, the presence of an armed guard force, inspection of all vehicles, and a hardened security perimeter to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching the facility." Like in Amish country.)
It's these conflations of Hamas with the "global left" or Wahhabis with the Amish that are truly lazy. In contrast, the Islamism-fascism comparison has ample and even distinguished academic precedents. Younger scholars and students should seize the moment to explore it further, with intellectual rigor and without fear.
Addendum: Who does meet Juan Cole's criteria for fascism?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: September 27, 2006, 07:43:20 PM
FWIW, my seat-of-the-pants impression is that the response to the Pope and now to this opera is a lot milder in some Muslim quarters see e.g. the Turkish-German leader's response in the following. Still, plenty of stupidity to go around , , ,
Opera reignites Islam row after cancelling production
By Devika Bhat and agencies
A leading German opera house has been condemned by senior politicians and security officials for its "crazy" decision to cancel a production featuring the severed head of Muhammad because of security concerns.
Deutsche Oper halted the production of Mozart's Idomeneo after Berlin officials warned of an "incalculable risk" because of scenes dealing with Islam. The move has reignited the debate about free speech which was triggered in the row over published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Kirsten Harms, director of the Deutsche Oper, told the Berliner Morgenpost that the Berlin state police had warned of a possible, although not certain, threat in regard to the production, which is scheduled for November.
She said that it would be in the best interests of the safety of the opera house, its employees and patrons to cancel the show, which will be replaced by The Marriage of Figaro and La Traviata.
After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over the scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad.
"We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures," the opera house said in a statement. "We believe that needs to be taken very seriously and hope for your support."
Ms Harms defended her decision saying that Ehrhart Koerting, Berlin's top police official, had phoned her in mid-August and warned her of grave consequences if the opera house proceeded with its plan to show Idomeneo
"If I had paid no attention and something had happened, everyone would rightly say that I had ignored the warnings," she said.
Police have said their concern was prompted by an anonymous phone call in June, but they had no evidence of a specific threat. Mr Koerting issued a statement confirming the conversation, but said that the decision to cancel had been Ms Harms's alone.
The decision comes in the wake of a speech by German-born Pope Benedict XVI which infuriated Muslims by citing a 14th century Byzantine emperor as linking the spread of Islam with violence.
This year, furious protests also erupted after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Those caricatures were then reprinted by dozens of newspapers and websites across Europe and elsewhere.
Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of Muhammad for fear it could lead to idolatry.
Wolfgang Schaeuble, Interior Minister and Germany's top security official, condemned the decision, which came ahead of a conference on Islam planned for Wednesday to discuss ways of improving dialogue and integration with the country's Muslim community.
"That is crazy," he told reporters in Washington, where he was holding meetings with US officials. "This is unacceptable."
Wolfgang Thierse, the Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, said that the decision to cancel highlighted a new threat to artistic expression in Germany.
"This is a very dangerous sign about fears of violence motivated by Islam in Germany," he told the Reuters news agency. "Has it come so far that we must limit artistic expression? What will be next?"
Peter Ramsauer, head of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) in parliament, said the move pointed to a "naked fear of violence" and called it an act of "pure cowardice".
Klaus Wowereit, Berlin's Mayor, said that "with all understanding for the concern about the security of spectators and performers, I consider the decision of the director to be wrong."
He said: "Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived out on the offensive. Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them."
Bernd Neumann, the federal government's top cultural official, added that "problems cannot be solved by keeping silent."
"When the concern over possible protests leads to self-censorship, then the democratic culture of free speech becomes endangered," he said.
However, the leader of Germany's Islamic Council welcomed the decision, saying a depiction of Muhammad with a severed head "could certainly offend Muslims."
"Nevertheless, of course I think it is horrible that one has to be afraid," Ali Kizilkaya told Berlin's Radio Multikulti. "That is not the right way to open dialogue."
Berlin Police Chief Dieter Glietsch told Germany's rbb radio that "one can find nothing wrong if, in a climate that's already tense between Islam and the Western world, people avoid heating up the situation further through a scene that can, and perhaps even must, be taken as provocative by pious Muslims."
The leader of Germany's Turkish Community said that while he could understand how the production could be seen as offensive, he also encouraged Muslims living in the West to accept certain elements of its traditions, saying that an opera production was not equivalent to a political point of view.
"I would recommend Muslims learn to accept certain things," Kenan Kolat told the online Netzeitung newspaper. "Art must remain free."
About 3.2 million Muslims live in Germany, mainly Turks who arrived after the Second World War, many of whom contributed to the nation's postwar economic boom.
Fears of Islamic radicalisation have increased recently, aggravated by a failed bomb attack on two German trains in July. Two Lebanese students have been arrested in relation to the plot.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 27, 2006, 07:29:48 PM
September 20, 2006
Bring Them Freedom, Or They Destroy Us
By Bernard Lewis
The following is adapted from a lecture delivered by Bernard Lewis on July 16, 2006, on board the Crystal Serenity, during a Hillsdale College cruise in the British Isles.
By common consent among historians, the modern history of the Middle East begins in the year 1798, when the French Revolution arrived in Egypt in the form of a small expeditionary force led by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte--who conquered and then ruled it for a while with appalling ease. General Bonaparte--he wasn't yet Emperor--proclaimed to the Egyptians that he had come to them on behalf of a French Republic built on the principles of liberty and equality. We know something about the reactions to this proclamation from the extensive literature of the Middle Eastern Arab world. The idea of equality posed no great problem. Equality is very basic in Islamic belief: All true believers are equal. Of course, that still leaves three "inferior" categories of people--slaves, unbelievers and women. But in general, the concept of equality was understood. Islam never developed anything like the caste system of India to the east or the privileged aristocracies of Christian Europe to the west. Equality was something they knew, respected, and in large measure practiced. But liberty was something else.
As used in Arabic at that time, liberty was not a political but a legal term: You were free if you were not a slave. The word liberty was not used as we use it in the Western world, as a metaphor for good government. So the idea of a republic founded on principles of freedom caused some puzzlement. Some years later an Egyptian sheikh--Sheikh Rifa'a Rafi' al-Tahtawi, who went to Paris as chaplain to the first group of Egyptian students sent to Europe--wrote a book about his adventures and explained his discovery of the meaning of freedom. He wrote that when the French talk about freedom they mean what Muslims mean when they talk about justice. By equating freedom with justice, he opened a whole new phase in the political and public discourse of the Arab world, and then, more broadly, the Islamic world.
Is Western-Style Freedom Transferable?
What is the possibility of freedom in the Islamic world, in the Western sense of the word? If you look at the current literature, you will find two views common in the United States and Europe. One of them holds that Islamic peoples are incapable of decent, civilized government. Whatever the West does, Muslims will be ruled by corrupt tyrants. Therefore the aim of our foreign policy should be to insure that they are our tyrants rather than someone else's--friendly rather than hostile tyrants. This point of view is very much favored in departments of state and foreign offices and is generally known, rather surprisingly, as the "pro-Arab" view. It is, of course, in no sense pro-Arab. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and unconcern for the Arab future. The second common view is that Arab ways are different from our ways. They must be allowed to develop in accordance with their cultural principles, but it is possible for them--as for anyone else, anywhere in the world, with discreet help from outside and most specifically from the United States--to develop democratic institutions of a kind. This view is known as the "imperialist" view and has been vigorously denounced and condemned as such.
In thinking about these two views, it is helpful to step back and consider what Arab and Islamic society was like once and how it has been transformed in the modern age. The idea that how that society is now is how it has always been is totally false. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq or the Assad family in Syria or the more friendly dictatorship of Mubarak in Egypt--all of these have no roots whatsoever in the Arab or in the Islamic past. Let me quote to you from a letter written in 1786--three years before the French Revolution--by Mssr. Count de Choiseul-Gouffier, the French ambassador in Istanbul, in which he is trying to explain why he is making rather slow progress with the tasks entrusted to him by his government in dealing with the Ottoman government. "Here," he says, "things are not as in France where the king is sole master and does as he pleases." "Here," he says, "the sultan has to consult." He has to consult with the former holders of high offices, with the leaders of various groups and so on. And this is a slow process. This scenario is something radically different than the common image of Middle Eastern government today. And it is a description that ceased to be true because of a number of changes that occurred.
Modernization and Nazi and Soviet Influence
The first of these changes is what one might call modernization. This was undertaken not by imperialists, for the most part, but by Middle Eastern rulers who had become painfully aware that their societies were undeveloped compared with the advanced Western world. These rulers decided that what they had to do was to modernize or Westernize. Their intentions were good, but the consequences were often disastrous. What they did was to increase the power of the state and the ruler enormously by placing at his disposal the whole modern apparatus of control, repression and indoctrination. At the same time, which was even worse, they limited or destroyed those forces in the traditional society that had previously limited the autocracy of the ruler. In the traditional society there were established orders-the bazaar merchants, the scribes, the guilds, the country gentry, the military establishment, the religious establishment, and so on. These were powerful groups in society, whose heads were not appointed by the ruler but arose from within the groups. And no sultan, however powerful, could do much without maintaining some relationship with these different orders in society. This is not democracy as we currently use that word, but it is certainly limited, responsible government. And the system worked. Modernization ended that. A new ruling class emerged, ruling from the center and using the apparatus of the state for its purposes.
That was the first stage in the destruction of the old order. The second stage we can date with precision. In the year 1940, the government of France surrendered to the Axis and formed a collaborationist government in a place called Vichy. The French colonial empire was, for the most part, beyond the reach of the Nazis, which meant that the governors of the French colonies had a free choice: To stay with Vichy or to join Charles de Gaulle, who had set up a Free French Committee in London. The overwhelming majority chose Vichy, which meant that Syria-Lebanon--a French-mandated territory in the heart of the Arab East--was now wide open to the Nazis. The governor and his high officials in the administration in Syria-Lebanon took their orders from Vichy, which in turn took orders from Berlin. The Nazis moved in, made a tremendous propaganda effort, and were even able to move from Syria eastwards into Iraq and for a while set up a pro-Nazi, fascist regime. It was in this period that political parties were formed that were the nucleus of what later became the Baath Party. The Western Allies eventually drove the Nazis out of the Middle East and suppressed these organizations. But the war ended in 1945, and the Allies left. A few years later the Soviets moved in, established an immensely powerful presence in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and various other countries, and introduced Soviet-style political practice. The adaptation from the Nazi model to the communist model was very simple and easy, requiring only a few minor adjustments, and it proceeded pretty well. That is the origin of the Baath Party and of the kind of governments that we have been confronting in the Middle East in recent years. That, as I would again repeat and emphasize, has nothing whatever to do with the traditional Arab or Islamic past.
Wahhabism and Oil
That there has been a break with the past is a fact of which Arabs and Muslims themselves are keenly and painfully aware, and they have tried to do something about it. It is in this context that we observe a series of movements that could be described as an Islamic revival or reawakening. The first of these--founded by a theologian called Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who lived in a remote area of Najd in desert Arabia--is known as Wahhabi. Its argument is that the root of Arab-Islamic troubles lies in following the ways of the infidel. The Islamic world, it holds, has abandoned the true faith that God gave it through His prophet and His holy book, and the remedy is a return to pure, original Islam. This pure, original Islam is, of course--as is usual in such situations--a new invention with little connection to Islam as it existed in its earlier stages.
Wahhabism was dealt with fairly easily in its early years, but it acquired a new importance in the mid-1920s when two things happened: The local tribal chiefs of the House of Saud--who had been converted since the 18th century to the Wahhabi version of Islam--conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This was of immense importance, giving them huge prestige and influence in the whole Islamic world. It also gave them control of the pilgrimage, which brings millions of Muslims from the Islamic world together to the same place at the same time every year.
The other important thing that happened--also in the mid-20s--was the discovery of oil. With that, this extremist sect found itself not only in possession of Mecca and Medina, but also of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. As a result, what would otherwise have been a lunatic fringe in a marginal country became a major force in the world of Islam. And it has continued as a major force to the present day, operating through the Saudi government and through a whole series of non-governmental organizations. What is worse, its influence spreads far beyond the region. When Muslims living in Chicago or Los Angeles or Birmingham or Hamburg want to give their children some grounding in their faith and culture--a very natural, very normal thing--they turn to the traditional resources for such purposes: evening classes, weekend schools, holiday camps and the like. The problem is that these are now overwhelmingly funded and therefore controlled by the Wahhabis, and the version of Islam that they teach is the Wahhabi version, which has thus become a major force in Muslim immigrant communities.
Let me illustrate the significance of this with one example: Germany has constitutional separation of church and state, but in the German school system they provide time for religious instruction. The state, however, does not provide teachers or textbooks. They allow time in the school curriculum for the various churches and other religious communities--if they wish--to provide religious instruction to their children, which is entirely optional. The Muslims in Germany are mostly Turks. When they reached sufficient numbers, they applied to the German government for permission to teach Islam in German schools. The German authorities agreed, but said they--the Muslims--had to provide the teachers and the textbooks. The Turks said that they had excellent textbooks, which are used in Turkey and Turkish schools, but the German authorities said no, those are government-produced textbooks; under the principle of separation of church and state, these Muslims had to produce their own. As a result, whereas in Turkish schools in Turkey, students get a modern, moderate version of Islam, in German schools, in general, they get the full Wahhabi blast. The last time I looked, twelve Turks have been arrested as members of Al-Qaeda--all twelve of them born and educated in Germany.
The Iranian Revolution and Al-Qaeda
In addition to the rising spread of Wahhabism, I would draw your attention to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The word "revolution" is much misused in the Middle East; it is used for virtually every change of government. But the Iranian Revolution was a real revolution, in the sense that the French and Russian revolutions were real revolutions. It was a massive change in the country, a massive shift of power--socially, economically, and ideologically. And like the French and Russian revolutions in their prime, it also had a tremendous impact in the world with which the Iranians shared a common universe of discourse--the world of Islam. I remember not long after the Iranian Revolution I was visiting Indonesia and for some mysterious reason I had been invited to lecture in religious universities. I noticed in the student dorms they had pictures of Khomeini all over the place, although Khomeini--like the Iranians in general--is a Shiite, and the Indonesians are Sunnis. Indonesians generally showed little interest in what was happening in the Middle East. But this was something important. And the Iranian Revolution has gone through various familiar phases--familiar from the French and Russian revolutions--such as the conflicts between the moderates and the extremists. I would say that the Iranian Revolution is now entering the Stalinist phase, and its impact all over the Islamic world has been enormous.
The third and most recent phase of the Islamic revival is that associated with the name Al-Qaeda--the organization headed by Osama bin Laden. Here I would remind you of the events toward the end of the 20th century: the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the defeated armies into Russia, the collapse and breakdown of the Soviet Union. We are accustomed to regard that as a Western, or more specifically, an American, victory in the Cold War. In the Islamic world, it was nothing of the kind. It was Muslim victory in a Jihad. And, if we are fair about it, we must admit that this interpretation of what happened does not lack plausibility. In the mountains of Afghanistan, which the Soviets had conquered and had been trying to rule, the Taliban were able to inflict one defeat after another on the Soviet forces, eventually driving the Red Army out of the country to defeat and collapse.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: September 27, 2006, 09:00:35 AM
Opera Canceled Over a Depiction of Muhammad
Claudia Esch-Kenkel/European Pressphoto Agency, 2003
A scene added to ?Idomeneo,? shown in a 2003 rehearsal, includes Muhammad and other religious figures.
? ? ?
By JUDY DEMPSEY and MARK LANDLER
Published: September 27, 2006
BERLIN, Sept. 26 ? A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about what many see as the surrender of artistic freedom.
In the scene that offended Muslims and led to security fears, a king places the severed heads of religious leaders on chairs.
The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled ?Idomeneo? from its fall schedule after the police warned of an ?incalculable risk? to the performers and the audience.
The company?s director, Kirsten Harms, said she regretted the decision but felt she had no choice. She said she was told in August that the police had received an anonymous threat, but she acted only after extensive deliberations.
Political and cultural figures throughout Germany condemned the cancellation. Some said it recalled the decision of European newspapers not to reprint satirical cartoons about Muhammad, after their publication in Denmark generated a furor among Muslims.
Wolfgang B?rnsen, a culture spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservative bloc in Parliament, accused the opera house of ?falling on its knees before the terrorists.?
?It is a signal to other stages in Germany, or even elsewhere in Europe, to put no works on their programs that criticize Islam,? he said.
The disputed scene is not part of Mozart?s opera, but was added by the director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon on to the stage, placing each on a stool.
?Idomeneo,? first performed in 1781, tells a mythical story of Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea, who toys with men?s lives and demands spiteful sacrifice.
The cancellation of the performances fanned a debate in Europe about whether the West is compromising values like free expression to avoid stoking anger in the Muslim world.
Already in Germany, there is growing sentiment that Pope Benedict XVI may have overdone his contrition for a recent speech in Bavaria, in which he cited a historical reference to Islam as ?evil and inhuman.? The speech set off waves of protests in Muslim countries.
The interior minister, Wolfgang Sch?uble, who has defended the pope and called for more dialogue with Muslims in Europe, said canceling the opera was unacceptable and ?crazy.?
Michael Naumann, a former German culture minister, said, ?It?s a slap in the face of artistic freedom, by the artists themselves.? Mr. Naumann, now the publisher of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, added, ?The pope showed the way by being so extraordinarily apologetic.?
The sulfurous public reaction prompted some people to speculate that the decision might eventually be reversed.
Ms. Harms said the ?Idomeneo? production, which was first staged by the Deutsche Oper in 2003, would remain on the opera?s program. It could be performed later, she said, though she would have to consider the political and diplomatic aspects of ?this complex issue.?
The scene with the severed heads aroused controversy among Muslims and Christians when the Deutsche Oper first staged it. But the company was not the target of any organized protests, and the Deutsche Oper put four performances on its calendar for this November.
Then, in August, came the anonymous threat.
?All this came in light of the cartoon controversy,? said a police spokesman, Uwe Kozelnik. ?We started to investigate and finally concluded that disturbances could not be ruled out.?
While the police said they did not pressure the Deutsche Oper to cancel the opera, they supported the decision.
Berlin?s chief security official, Ehrhart K?rting, drew a parallel between the decision and that of German newspapers earlier this year to resist reprinting the cartoons depicting Muhammad.
?Even the German journalists? association criticized the reprinting of the cartoons because their publication could hurt the religious feelings of one group of people,? Mr. K?rting said in a statement.
Muslim leaders in Germany reacted cautiously. Several planned to participate in a conference on Wednesday organized by the government to foster a better dialogue with Germany?s 3.2 million Muslims.
The leader of the Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, told a radio station in Berlin that he welcomed the cancellation, saying a depiction of decapitated Muhammad ?could certainly offend Muslims.?
?Nevertheless, of course, I think it is horrible that one has to be afraid,? Mr. Kizilkaya said, according to The Associated Press. ?That is not the right way to open dialogue.?
The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Ayyub Axel K?hler, declined to comment on the decision, saying he wanted to learn more about the circumstances.
Those circumstances appear to be in some dispute.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Ms. Harms said she broached the possibility of removing the offending scene with Mr. Neuenfels. When he resisted, she let the matter drop.
However, a lawyer for Mr. Neuenfels, Peter Raue, said Ms. Harms telephoned the director on Sept. 9 to tell him she planned to cancel the performances. The issue of tinkering with the ending never came up, Mr. Raue said, and in any event, ?you couldn?t change it; it is part of the story.?
The scene devised by Mr. Neuenfels puts a sanguinary ending on an opera that, in the way Mozart wrote it, ends with King Idomeneo giving up his throne to appease the god of the sea, and blessing the romantic union of his son Idamante with the Greek princess Ilia.
The severed heads of the religious figures, Mr. Raue said, was meant by Mr. Neuenfels to make a point that ?all the founders of religions were figures that didn?t bring peace to the world.?
Andr? Kraft, spokesman for Komische Oper, a more adventurous opera house where Mr. Neuenfels is engaged in another Mozart production, described the 65-year-old director as ?a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world.?
For the Deutsche Oper, the cancellation is a major crisis for a prestigious opera company that has been in transition. Founded in 1912 as the Deutsches Opernhaus, the company moved to its present building in western Berlin in 1961, opening with a production of Mozart?s ?Don Giovanni.?
Ms. Harms was appointed director in 2004, coming from a less prominent opera house in the northern German city of Kiel. While there, she said, she faced a bomb threat to the opera house. Ms. Harms plans to present her first production, a little-known work by Alberto Franchetti called ?Germania,? on Oct. 15.
Some critics of the decision to cancel said it revealed the weaknesses of Berlin?s generously supported cultural institutions.
?Because they are subsidized by the German state, there is a great deal of artistic independence, but also a lack of accountability and intellectual rigor,? said Gary Smith, the director of the American Academy in Berlin.
The practice of updating classical operas ? often with current political or social themes ? is common in Germany. But the cancellation of ?Idomeneo? could make this production a landmark of another kind.
?I?ve never heard of something like this, or even similar to it,? said Nikolaus Lehnhoff, a prominent German opera director. ?I have seen many politically incorrect performances in Berlin. I think the reaction to the pope?s speech has sensitized the cultural scene.?
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica
on: September 25, 2006, 08:29:09 PM
By ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA
September 25, 2006; Page A14
It would have been more appropriate for Hugo Ch?vez to brandish Dante's "Divine Comedy" than Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival" during his sulfuric broadside at the U.N. last week. In the first part of the Italian masterpiece, the author undertakes a journey through the nine concentric circles of the Inferno, each representing a type of evil. Dante's description reads like a script of present-day Venezuela.
Dante's first circle is for those who lack faith. In Ch?vez's Inferno, the first circle is made up of those who lack food. Cendas, a research center, maintains that 80% of Venezuelans cannot meet the cost of a basic daily diet. According to an official statistic the government inadvertently made public on the Web site of the Instituto Nacional de Estad?stica, between 1999, the year in which Ch?vez took office, and 2004, poverty rose to 53% from 43% of the population. The authorities attributed the figures to an outdated methodology and now claim the rate of poverty is 42%. If it were true, that would be embarrassing enough, because it would mean that poverty has remained at nearly the same level for eight years.
Dante's second circle is for those unable to control lust. Ch?vez's second circle is for those unable to control homicidal instincts. His government has degraded social coexistence so much that there have been more homicides in Venezuela during his seven-and-a-half years in office than there have been deaths in any single armed conflict around the world in recent years. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of homicides in Venezuela has been three times the number of victims in Afghanistan.
Dante's third circle is for gluttons who leave us with no food. Ch?vez's third is reserved for corrupt authorities who leave Venezuelans with no wealth. The major sources of corruption have been Plan Bol?var 2000, the state-owned oil company, and social programs known as "missions." Under Plan Bol?var 2000, the army took over development programs from the local governments. In the case of PDVSA, the energy giant, no one but Ch?vez and his cronies have access to detailed financial records. The budget for social programs, personally controlled by Ch?vez, is not included in any government ministry.
Dante's fourth circle is for misers. In Ch?vez's Inferno, the fourth circle is made up of bureaucrats who claim to provide social services but use funds to pay people to attend rallies or bust up opposition gatherings. Marino Gonz?lez, from Universidad Sim?n Bol?var, says that the "Barrio Adentro" program that purports to tend to all the pregnant women in the country only serves 2,000 expectant mothers out of a total of half a million each year. No country ever became prosperous through socialism, but for a government that claims to be able to tend to the needy, not being able to meet even 1% of the commitment is a particularly hellish sin.
Dante's fifth circle is for those who succumb to wrath. Ch?vez's fifth is for political persecution. Venezuela's human rights record is atrocious. Two violent incidents involving Chavista henchmen with many fatalities have gone unpunished, including the killing in April 2002 of 12 people who were protesting near the government palace. There are political prisoners such as Francisco Us?n, former minister of finance in Ch?vez's government, who received a six-year sentence for saying he thought an incident in which a few soldiers died at Fort Mara in 2004 was no accident. Henrique Capriles, the mayor of Baruta, was jailed in 2004, accused of organizing a violent protest against the Cuban embassy which he had actually helped diffuse.
Dante's sixth circle is for heretics. Ch?vez's sixth circle is for heretic journalists who try to tell the truth. In December 2004, a "gag law" was imposed making it easy to prosecute journalists. The president continually threatens to withdraw TV and radio licenses -- the reason why there are no opinion programs on network TV. Government-controlled mobs called Bolivarian Circles, formed with the help of the Cuban intelligence apparatus, harass journalists.
Dante's seventh circle is for the violent. Ch?vez's seventh circle is another name for imperialism. His government has bought (or is buying) 100,000 AK-47s, 53 Mi-35 assault helicopters, fighter jets, transport planes, patrol boats, speedboats and Tucano jets from Russia, Spain and Brazil. Ch?vez is a long-time supporter of FARC, Colombia's terrorist group. He granted Venezuelan citizenship and protection to Rodrigo Granda, its "foreign minister," until Alvaro Uribe's government hired bounty hunters to bring him back to Colombia in 2005. The Venezuelan leader has given financial and political support to movements from Mexico to Bolivia. (His support for Ollanta Humala in Peru and Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador in Mexico was a major factor in both men's recent defeats.)
Ch?vez buys influence through oil. It is a form of blackmail: At OPEC, Ch?vez fights for increasing prices, making life hard for poor countries that import oil, and then offers those very nations oil subsidies they have no choice but to accept. That is what happened with the 14 Caribbean countries that make up the Caricom group. He also sends 100,000 barrels of oil to Cuba daily; and 200,000 barrels to Bolivia every month in exchange for soy, poultry and political subservience. And he has bought $3 billion worth of Argentine bonds to entice President Kirchner's loyalty. Ch?vez is denying his nation its wealth from oil, somewhere between $40 billion and $50 billion a year. His annual "aid" budget totals more than $2 billion. He sponsors 30 countries, including some in Africa, in order to buy their vote for a seat at the U.N. Security Council.
Dante's eighth circle is for those who commit fraud. Ch?vez's eighth is fraudulent anti-Americanism. Ch?vez exports 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S. Since oil makes up half the government's revenue and the U.S. is the principal destination of Venezuelan oil, he pays daily homage to U.S. capitalism. Moreover, Venezuela imported $18 billion worth of goods and services from the U.S. in 2005. He may have signed 20 trade deals with Iran's Ahmadinejad, but what he really lusts for is U.S. capitalism. (Another type of fraud involves the electoral system. Ch?vez has manipulated the voter registration rolls, adding two million phantom voters, including 30,000 who are 100 years old and citizens named "Superman." Four out of five members in the Electoral Council are Ch?vez lackeys.)
Dante's final circle is for traitors. Ch?vez's ninth is for traitors, too -- and the place is getting crowded. Army officers betray Ch?vez every day. Labor leader Carlos Ortega recently fled with three officers from a high-security prison controlled by the army. They evaded security controls thanks to help from army personnel.
At the end of Dante's Inferno is the center of the earth, where Satan is held captive in the frozen lake of Cocytus. In Venezuela's Inferno, Satan is frozen in oil-rich Lake Maracaibo, a metaphor for astronomical wealth squandered by tyrannical populism. The journey through hell is now complete.
Mr. Vargas Llosa, author of "Liberty for Latin America" (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005), is director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru
on: September 25, 2006, 10:59:36 AM
Mummified dogs uncovered in Peru
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima
The animals are in a remarkable state of preservation
Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered the mummified remains of more than 40 dogs buried with blankets and food alongside their human masters.
The discovery was made during the excavation of two of the ancient Chiribaya people who lived in southern Peru between AD 900 and AD 1350.
Experts say the dogs' treatment in death indicated the belief that the animals had an afterlife.
Such a status for pets has only previously been seen in ancient Egypt.
Hundreds of years before the European conquest of South America, the Chiribaya civilisation valued its dogs so highly that when one died, it was buried alongside family members.
The dogs, which have been called Chiribaya shepherds for their llama-herding abilities, were not sacrificed as in other ancient cultures, but buried with blankets and food in human cemeteries.
Biological archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 40 dogs which were naturally mummified in the desert sand of Peru's southern Ilo Valley. Now they have teamed up with Peru's Kennel Club to try to establish if the dogs represent a new distinct breed indigenous to South America.
The country is full of breeds which arrived in the last few centuries, but they believe some dogs living today in southern Peru share the characteristics of their ancestors.
The Chiribaya dog looked rather like a small golden retriever with a medium-sized snout, beige colouring, and long hair.
The only other indigenous Peruvian canine is the hairless dog, which evolved over more than 2,000 years ago from Asian ancestors brought across the Bering Straits.
It was recognised as a distinct breed just 20 years ago.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad
on: September 25, 2006, 06:40:23 AM
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon
on: September 25, 2006, 06:17:53 AM
From today's NY Times:
U.N. Force Is Treading Lightly on Lebanese Soil
Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
Italian soldiers in Lebanon say that for now, they cannot even set up a checkpoint. Instead, they alert the Lebanese Army of any suspicious cars.
E-MailPrint Single Page Reprints Save
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: September 25, 2006
TIBNIN, Lebanon, Sept. 24 ? One month after a United Nations Security Council resolution ended a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon?s Hezbollah militia, members of the international force sent to help keep the peace say their mission is defined more by what they cannot do than by what they can.
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United Nations officials in Tibnin say part of their job is to stay neutral.
They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army.
The job of the United Nations force, and commanders in the field repeat this like a mantra, is to respect Lebanese sovereignty by supporting the Lebanese Army. They will only do what the Lebanese authorities ask.
The Security Council resolution, known as 1701, was seen at the time as the best way to halt the war, partly by giving Israel assurances that Lebanon?s southern border would be policed by a robust international force to prevent Hezbollah militants from attacking. When the resolution was approved, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of its principal architects, said the force?s deployment would help ?protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area.?
But the resolution?s diplomatic language skirted a fundamental question: what kind of policing power would be given to the international force? The resolution leaves open the possibility that the Lebanese Army would grant such policing power, but the force?s commanders say that so far, at least, that has not happened.
?There?s a lot of misunderstanding what we are doing here,? said Lt. Col. Stefano Cappellaro, an Italian commander with the San Marco Regiment.
The force, known as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, now has 5,000 troops on the ground, including 1,000 from Italy, and is stepping gently as it tries to carve out a role in a country that is feeling its way through the postwar period. It is early in the United Nations mission, but officials say that their most difficult task, and one they are adamant about achieving, is not being drawn into any power struggles between the religious and political factions in Lebanon. ?We will not get involved in any domestic or regional politics,?? said Milos Strugar, senior adviser to the force.
The force is larger and better equipped than an earlier Unifil contingent, which has been on the border with Israel for years. But at the moment, the Lebanese government and the United Nations have a similar agenda in trying to win the trust of the Lebanese people and not have the force become a tool of political factions looking to incite domestic conflict. The goal is to be viewed as a peacekeeping force, not an occupier.
So while there may have been some expectation that the international force would disarm or restrain Hezbollah, or search for hidden weapons caches, the commanders on the ground say very clearly that those tasks are not their job for now. ?We will advise, help and assist the Lebanese forces,? said Col. Rosario Walter Guerrisi, commander of the San Marco Regiment, referring to the Lebanese Army.
But the challenges facing their determined neutrality are significant and often beyond their control. In Syria, for example, President Bashar al-Assad was reported in the Lebanese news media to have told a visiting Lebanese delegation that the strengthened United Nations force, with its heavy European contingent, resembled a force from NATO. In Lebanon, the United Nations force found its credibility questioned when German officials said that their country would contribute to the naval patrols off the coast of Lebanon as a means to protect Israel.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has also questioned the purpose of the expanded force.
?Thus far, I have not heard any country participating in the Unifil say that it sent its sons and soldiers to defend Lebanon and the Lebanese,? he said in a speech Friday before hundreds of thousands of his supporters. ?They are ashamed of us, brothers and sisters. They are ashamed of saying they came to defend us, but they talk about defending Israel.?
Hezbollah has so far acted in accordance with the cease-fire terms of 1701, which prohibits the deployment of weapons south of the Litani River, close to the Israeli border.
When the United Nations Security Council passed 1701, which set up the cease-fire, it outlined basic principles with few specifics. One of those principles was that militias were to be disarmed in compliance with earlier agreements and resolutions. It did not say, though, that the United Nations force would carry that out.
Hezbollah, the only militia that did not lay down its weapons after the Lebanese civil war ended, has made it clear that it is not going to surrender those weapons now. And Sheik Nasrallah made it clear that the international forces had better not even think about trying.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Israel, skepticism about the effectiveness of the enlarged United Nations force has always been high, particularly about disarming Hezbollah or enforcing the arms embargo on it. Israeli military officials have said that if they find evidence that trucks from Syria are resupplying rockets and launchers to Hezbollah, Israel will be justified in bombing those trucks. Israel also notes that Unifil is barely 5,000 troops now, just 3,000 more than the old Unifil, still a long way from the 15,000 foreseen in the U.N. resolution.
The United Nations officials here say their primary duty, and the one that carries the most long-term benefits for both sides, is to help strengthen the Lebanese Army. At the moment, officials say the first priority is to make sure that all of the Israeli Defense Forces withdraw from land occupied during the war. United Nations officials said the process should be completed by the end of the month. The process involves weekly meetings along the border to set up a schedule that allows Israel to withdraw and the United Nations forces to move in, followed by the Lebanese forces. So far 85 percent of Israel?s forces have withdrawn, the United Nations said.
The formula for ending the war was also contingent on the state?s asserting its authority in the south, primarily by dispatching 15,000 Lebanese troops to the area. The resolution called for the Lebanese Army to be supplemented by up to 15,000 foreign troops. Officials say that the ultimate size of the foreign force will be determined based on need ? and one United Nations adviser said that meant it was unlikely the number of troops would ever exceed 10,000.
But however large the force, its officers said it would never be large enough if the population began to view it as an occupying force. The United Nations first set up an international force here in 1976, and so the people of the region are accustomed to seeing foreign troops in the blue berets of the United Nations.
But the new troops have stepped into Lebanon at a particularly tense time, as Hezbollah and the American-supported government are jockeying for position and power. If the Lebanese government did decide to expand the responsibilities of the troops now, they would risk turning them into targets of attack. These forces are much better equipped than past forces, and that has people a bit nervous about their mission.
?If these troops are going to clash with the resistance, they are going to clash with the people,? said Abu Rowda Noureddin, 64, as he collected free blankets and food supplies from the Red Crescent Society. He lives in the village of Burj Qalawiyah, a community of just 1,000 year-round residents in southern Lebanon that took heavy fire from Israeli jets.
The village is about 70 miles from Beirut and a short drive from a base staffed by Italian forces. Like most residents of neighboring villages, the people were essentially ignored by their government for many years. There is one school, no high school and few jobs. Villagers said that five times since 1972 the Israeli military had invaded their village, and so even those who said they did not count themselves as Hezbollah members said they counted themselves as Hezbollah supporters.
?The people here will fight against anybody who tries with force to take Hezbollah?s weapons away,?? said Ibrahim Noureddin, another villager.
Up the hill, past houses pocked by shrapnel, the mukhtar, a kind of village administrator, was busy taking an inventory of the damage to crops and olive and fruit trees. He said that the Italian forces recently gave his community $3,000 to buy aluminum and glass to repair the school, which was damaged in an Israeli raid. ?It was a very nice gesture on the part of the Italians,? he said.
But like everyone else, he said that for the forces to remain welcome they must demonstrate they are there to protect the Lebanese from Israel ? not to police the Lebanese on behalf of Israel.
Not far away, on a busy road heading toward Beirut, Colonel Cappellaro stood beside two armored personnel carriers and 11 of his soldiers as cars sped by. He said that they were conducting a ?static point,? as opposed to a checkpoint. If they saw anything suspicious they would notify the Lebanese Army. But the Lebanese Army was a good way up the road. At this point, he said, it would be impossible for the two forces to actually staff a check point together.
?When you don?t know each other?s procedures, you can not overlap,? he said before climbing into his jeep and driving off.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 23, 2006, 09:37:58 AM
Sep 2, 2006
The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats
beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an
8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of
leading religious and political figures.
A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended
the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and
politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on
Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events
loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South
Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern
and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on terror"
and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as
The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans
as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing
havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for
enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the
strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.
The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures,
and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself
between the antagonists.
Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing
with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff
General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite
Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid
of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a
Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit
of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a
clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile
and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on
Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in
response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In
fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes
through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only
practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of
enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.
On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a
ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever
gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a
manifestation of the broader current now flowing through the tribal areas -
the imminent arrival of the US military.
The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started
in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the
Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other.
Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani
opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working
in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who
call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the
rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the
government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the
status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent
US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.
The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to
restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly
intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by
the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.
The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the
Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of
the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the
JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be
shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a
manifestation of this new strategy.
At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and
a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North
Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council),
were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the
speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F,
"Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the
back benches on the stage."
The gathering presaged the future setup in the
Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the
non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the
JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani
authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than
allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters
including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan
have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the
central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into
ordinary tribal society.
Certainly, there is no overt connection between the
Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the
Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself
behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was
precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial
integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.
Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the
Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans.
Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and
military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders
of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.
Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two
Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem
unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards
and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights
reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
Why it's not working in Afghanistan (Aug 30, '06)
The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan (Feb 8, '06)
A friend comments:
I can comment on "At the same time, what if it is understood that the US can send into Pakistan tribal areas, Spec Ops soldiers and support to root out the problems? Too wild an idea? It is "rumored" among some sources in a position to know that this is exactly what has occurred." (As a sidebar: Mush thinks the US is not winning in Afghanistan, and he has chose to side with the Taliban to try and maintain his dictatorship)."
I believe this "rumor" is true. The US has wanted to do this for a long time, but Mush has opposed it for political reasons. I believe the agreement states that the Taliban have immunity only so long as they live peacefully, but no immunity against US retaliation in the instance of a quick cross border raid to Afghanistan. This is confirmed by Bush's recent comment that we will bomb Pak if OBL is there.
As to my second point, Mush does not think Bush is winning in Afghanistan. For Bush to win, the Taliban/AQ in Afghanistan have to be rendered impotent. This has clearly not happened, infact there is a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and their sanctuary is based in Waziristan. Mush has tried very hard to control the NWFP/Balochistan/Waziristan taliban/AQ areas without any success. Apparently 80,000 Pak troops are present in that region and still could not do it. As you know some of this is disputed territory with Afghanistan and Mush would love to have full control over it (annex it). Mush sees the ground realities and knows that if he continues on the present course, he will be fighting the Taliban as well as opposition parties demanding that he relinquish his uniform. On the other hand, making peace with the Taliban is a win-win for all. Mush can concentrate on the opposition parties and let Bush do the dirty work of cleaning out the Taliban, the Taliban can choose to live freely or at war with the Americans, Bush is happy because US soldiers will now be able to enter Waziristan with impunity ("hot pursuit")..atleast this is what I am understanding of the situation...Yash
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Pakistan
on: September 23, 2006, 09:36:47 AM
And one more article which suggests that the US is going into Waziristan. Note also the similarities with the Hizb strategy in Lebanon...
Sep 2, 2006 ?
?The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an 8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of leading religious and political figures.
A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events
loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on ?terror" and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as Afghanistan itself.
The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.
The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures, and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself between the antagonists.
Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a blueprint.
Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on terror".
Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.
On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a manifestation of the broader current now ?flowing through the tribal areas - the imminent arrival of the US military.
The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other. Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.
The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.
The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a manifestation of this new strategy.
At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council), were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F, "Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the back benches on the stage."
The gathering presaged the future setup in the Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into ordinary tribal society.
Certainly, there is no overt connection between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.
Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans. Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.
Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief.
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
From a Feb 06 article in asia times..Some ghastly pictures below...not for
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?By Syed Saleem Shahzad
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? KARACHI - By taking control of virtually all of
Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, the
Taliban have gained a significant base from which to wage their resistance
against US-led forces in Afghanistan. At the same time, the development
solidifies the anti-US resistance groups in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan,
which will now fight under a single strategy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban recently declared the establishment of
an "Islamic state" in North Waziristan, and they now, through the brutal
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?elimination of the criminal elements who previously
held sway, in effect rule in the rugged territory.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?As a tribal area, North Waziristan has always
enjoyed significant ?independence from Islamabad, and even on the occasions
when the Pakistani army has ventured into the area to root out foreign
fighters or Afghan resistance figures, it has received fierce opposition,
and in effect been forced to back off.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban and their supporters plant ?roadside
bombs on the routes used by the Pakistani paramilitary forces, and virtually
every day one or two vehicles are blown up. This measure is aimed to keep
the security forces away from the actual tribal areas of Waziristan. In
short, the writ of the Pakistani political agent (the central government's
representative) barely extends beyond Miramshah Bazaar and Wana Bazaar (the
official headquarters). Everywhere else, the Taliban are calling the shots.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Asia Times Online has viewed a video disc released
by the ?Taliban that illustrates their control in North Waziristan. The
footage includes their bases, where thousands of youths are present,
preparations for an attack into Afghanistan, and shots of criminals executed
at a public rally staged by the Taliban.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government of Pakistan has termed the executions
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video opens with pictures of the headless bodies
of criminals strung up in Miramshah Bazaar, executed by the Taliban.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The next segment showcases the establishment of
strong bases in which thousands of turban-clad youths can be seen with guns.
Commanders scan the ranks and select a squad to launch a ?guerrilla attack
on a US base in Khost province in Afghanistan. They put on headbands with
the wording "There is no God but the one God; Mohammed is the messenger of
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The fighters emerge from their base at night and
head for Khost. After a 30-minute battle, flames can be seen rising from
within the US base. The squad returns before dawn.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video also includes the "official" announcement
of the establishment of an Islamic state in Waziristan (which includes ?the
tribal area of South Waziristan) and a declaration of the Taliban's rule in
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This development confirms an Asia Times Online
article describing how al-Qaeda and its allies - in this case the Taliban -
would establish bases from which to coordinate and strengthen its global war
against the United States ( Al-Qaeda goes back to base, November 4, 2005).
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This announcement of an Islamic state is interpreted
as a prelude ?to the Taliban's summer offensive, precisely at a time when
Iran's nuclear dossier will be submitted to the United Nations Security
Council, and both Europe and the US will be mounting pressure on Tehran to
abandon its nuclear program.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The US and Iran being at loggerheads sits very well
with al-Qaeda's plans to establish bases and a unified command system of
anti-US resistance from Iraq to Afghanistan. Iran is at present the only
missing link in this strategy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Despite little love being lost between the Taliban
and Iran, al- Qaeda's Egyptian camp has retained its traditional decades-old
ties with the Iranian regime. The real ideologue of the Iranian revolution
of 1979 was Dr Ali Shariati, who was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood's
Syed Qutub. Similarly, the Islamic Jihad of Palestine officially claims its
inspiration from the Shi'ite Iranian revolution, despite being a completely
Sunni Islamic group.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda's link with Iran, although at a very low
level, could prove critical in the coming months. Should Iran find itself
sanctioned, or even attacked by the US, few states would dare to support
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda, however, would seize the opportunity,
asking in return that it be given its desperately needed corridor through
Iran to link Afghanistan and Pakistan with Iraq and the Arab world.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?A silent revolution
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban video disc, which is a mixture of Pashtu
and Urdu, maintained that criminals had been calling the shots in North
Waziristan. They routinely abducted children and sodomized them, and they
charged protection money from shopkeepers, from transport operators, and
even for marriage ceremonies. The gangs were headed by an Afghan, Hakeem
Khan Zadran. They had various sanctuaries where drugs, women and alcohol
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government, too, was claimed to have paid the
criminals so that they would not interfere with official business.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?But a turning point came last December. A group of
Taliban fighters were heading to Khost to launch an operation in Afghanistan
when they were stopped by some criminals demanding money for safe passage.
The Taliban refused, and were allowed to pass. However, a few kilometers
further down the ?road the criminals fired a rocket and blew up the vehicle.
Four Taliban belonging to the Wazir tribe were killed.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The incident outraged local supporters of the
Taliban, who converged near Miramshah and warned people to leave their homes
if they lived near criminals. A raid was then conducted on one criminal
sanctuary. In a fierce 15-minute gun battle, several gangsters were killed,
some were seized and many fled.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Over the next three days, according to the video,
the Taliban smoked out numerous criminals from their hideouts all over North
Waziristan. Many were executed at mass rallies in Miramshah Bazaar.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban movement
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?In a similar manner, the Taliban emerged as a
reformist movement against criminals and warlords in Zabul and Kandahar in
Afghanistan about 16 years ago.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have shown their muscles so powerfully
in North Waziristan that Pakistani forces have just stepped away. It has now
become a popular movement with the complete support of local tribes.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have attracted thousands of foot
soldiers from all over, including Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, Afghans,
Uzbeks and local tribals. North Waziristan is now their "Islamic state" and
base from which to launch a summer offensive in Afghanistan.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?According to Asia Times Online investigations, more
than 100 suicide squads have been lined up for the summer assault. These
squads have precise targets all over Afghanistan. The Taliban leadership is
also encouraged by the strong representation of Islamists in the new Afghan
parliament as potential supporters.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have already disseminated warnings to
all the governors in the south and southeast of Afghanistan not to mobilize
forces in search of the Taliban - or else they will face the music in the
form of suicide attacks. (On Tuesday in the southern city of Kandahar, a
suicide bomber attacked a guard post outside the police headquarters,
killing 13 people and wounding 11.)
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Local Taliban commanders such as Mullah Dadullah are
already in the field to sway Afghan tribes in the Pashtun heartlands of
Afghanistan to be prepared for the offensive.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Contacts in the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan - a major
resistance group - in Kabul maintain that the long absence of commander
Kashmir Khan had led many to believe that he had been arrested by US forces.
However, he recently emerged from hiding and has become the main engine of
the resistance in the Kunar Valley, where he is cultivating local tribes for
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?"If this military strategy is implemented it would
have serious consequences for the allied forces in Afghanistan, especially
at a time when they are mounting pressure on Iran," commented an
intelligence analyst. "However, the Taliban made tall claims about winter
suicide attacks, but barring a few events they failed to inflict major
losses on allied forces."
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?That was before the Taliban secured a base in North
Waziristan, though. This time around could see a very different outcome.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Next: The resistance route from southern to
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 22, 2006, 11:51:58 PM
This article out of India gives what seems to be a well-informed breakdown of the dynamics of Pakistan.
The so-called land of the pure, Pakistan, on its creation in 1947 had approximately 13 percent minorities residing within an Islamic population of 76 million. In its unholy fervour to achieve physical instead of the spiritual purity, the minorities were reduced to 2.5 percent even as the country's population soared to 156 millions by the year 2000. In any society, it is the minorities that play the crucial role of moderation. Their existence is a safeguard against extreme tendencies. Pakistan lost the benefit of this natural societal instrument of balance early in its history. Once the minorities, more or less, were out of the way, Pakistan's Punjabi Sunni population which not only constituted the majority but also controlled the instruments of power in the state, turned to ? killing Shias, expelling Ahmadiyas from Islam, denying basic rights to the Balochis, depriving Sind of water resources, and suppressing populations in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including Northern Areas. Under the clouds of Talibanisation, this became further skewed when the women who constitute nearly half the population were denied education and practically incarcerated in their homes ? thus further impairing the societal balance. Simultaneously, Pakistan Army and the ISI persisted with their destructive spree by exporting terrorism to India, SE Asia, Central Asia, EU and America ? all in the name of religion! In the comity of nations, one can hardly find a parallel to this inherent self-destructive proclivity.
Pakistan 's Punjabi dominated army in search of the elusive purity and to perpetuate its hold on power structures encourages the majority Punjabi Sunni population in its misadventures. In pursuit of power, the bogey of threat from India was conjured. In schools children were indoctrinated to hate Indians. Therefore, the genesis of the Pakistan's present Fault Line lies in the diabolically engineered mindset that has created multiple fault lines and which have now coalesced into one deep and divisive fault line running right across the length of the country, threatening its virtual vivisection into two halves.
The first major setback to Pakistan occurred 24 years after inception when it lost 55% of its population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and almost half of its territory. Religion could not act as effective glue due to the insatiable avarice the Pakistan's Punjabi Army displayed in its refusal to share legitimate power with the eastern wing. Islamabad conveniently blames New Delhi for this separation but a closer scrutiny of facts reveals otherwise. Between 1947 and 1970, whenever Pakistan chose to attack India, the strategically simple option available to India could have been to annex East Pakistan, which Islamabad was never in a position to defend effectively due to the vast geographical distances and consequently the enormous military logistics involved. Nevertheless, New Delhi absorbed Pakistan's attacks and localised it to its Western front, never extending the war to the eastern theatre. With millions of refugees pouring into India in 1971, Islamabad made its position in East Pakistan untenable, and India was compelled to initiate positive action. Since occupation of territory was not the motive, Indian Army promptly withdrew after liberating Pakistan's eastern wing from the miseries and atrocities being perpetrated by the western wing on its own people.
In 1950s, Hans J. Morgenthau, the then Director of Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy at University of Chicago, in his book The New Republic had observed, "Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification, ethnic origin, language, civilisation or the consciousness of those who make up its population. They have no interest in common except one: fear of Hindu domination. It is to that fear and nothing else that Pakistan poses its existence and thus for survival as an independent state." During the same period, another American scholar Keith Callard in his book Pakistan - a Political Study commented, "the force behind the establishment of Pakistan was largely the feeling of insecurity." Both these scholars missed out on some vital aspects that can be attributed to the "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity". First, creation of Pakistan was an Anglo-Saxon mischief to protect their vested strategic interests. Second, the land bestowed to create Pakistan was separated amicably without war. Third, the Western powers, (and China that uses Pakistan as a proxy against India) fuelled these imagined fears that only created the effect of exacerbating latter's psychological fault line. Therefore, explanations like "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity" and other excuses as justification are used as psywar tool to disguise Islamabad's treachery against New Delhi since 1947. Indian political right does not indulge in 'export of terrorism' or 'suicide bombers' as an instrument of foreign policy!
After the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, West Pakistan should have emerged as a more cohesive unit - geographically, politically, economically and in orientation. However 33 years hence, nearly 55% of Pakistan's area is witnessing vicious insurgencies, which if not controlled, could lead to further vivisection of the country. Most of the population in these areas i.e. Waziristan, Balochistan, NWFP, and Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in POK has been historically difficult to control and administer. This notwithstanding, ever since Musharraf's ascension to power, these areas have slipped from peripheral disquiet to intense insurgencies. Normal governance in these areas has collapsed and is being held only by military force. These multiple fault lines as explained subsequently, if not adequately addressed can lead to internal strife and break up of Pakistan.
WAZIRISTAN (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The population of this area is 3,138,000 that are 2% of Pakistan's total population. Socio-economic development has been totally lagging in Waziristan. The literacy rate is 17% and only 10% population has access to sanitation. With an area of 27,220 sq km, it constitutes 3% of Pakistan's total landmass. The area is inhabited by Wazirs (Pathan Tribe). The Taliban and Al-Qaeda has significant presence and influence in this area. Post 9/11, after reported death of Namangani (Head of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), the second-in-command Yuldeshev crossed over with surviving members of IMU into South Waziristan, where he and his Uzbek and Chechen instructors set up training camp for Jihadi terrorists. The Jihadi and Kalishkinov culture in this area is a legacy of the region's intense involvement in the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 80's. Post 9/11, consequent to jettisoning of Taliban by the Pakistan dispensation, the population in Waziristan has been subjected to ground and aerial attacks to flush-out Al-Qaeda and Taliban carders. There are 80,000 Pak Army personnel deployed in the 13 areas / agencies that make up Waziristan or FATA. The area known for its fiercely independent tribes and Islamic terrorists vehemently resent presence of the Army and its coordinated operations with US troops based in Afghanistan. The enormity of the growing strife in Waziristan can be gauged from the casualty figures. In 2005, 300 civilians and 250 troops were killed, and another 1400 were wounded; while up to March 2006, 121 civilians, 475 terrorists and 71 soldiers have been killed. Reportedly nearly 80% of pro-government tribal leaders have also been eliminated. The Pakistan government has also been using money to buy the allegiance of tribal leaders. Recently, the corps commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain has publicly admitted to having paid Rs.32 million (US $ 5,40,000) to some tribal leaders for severing their links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
BALOCHISTAN. The Balochistan province constitutes 44% (347,190 sq km) of Pakistan's landmass and has a population of 6.5 million i.e. 4% of Pakistan's population. Only 70% of Baloch are in Pakistan, the reminder being in Iran and Afghanistan. The Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis and a strong group of Zikri Baloch, having a population of about 7,00,000 inhabit the Makran area, who believe in the 15th century teachings of Madhi ? an Islamic Messiah ? Nur Pak, have their own prayers and do not fast during Ramzan. Baloch nationalism has been a factor in Pakistan since its existence. The Baloch, who in general had supported the overthrow of Bhutto by Zia-ul-Haq, are up in arms against the central authority under Musharraf. In addition to 1,00,000 Para-military forces, there are nearly 23,000 Pak Army personnel deployed to quell the growing insurgency in Balochistan under the leadership of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti (ex Provincial Governor). The Baloch have been demanding greater autonomy, more public sector jobs and higher share of revenues. The extremely inhospitable landmass of Balochistan, where subsistence is difficult, is critical for Pakistan's energy supplies, and its maritime security and trade by way of Gwadar port. Balochistan meets 45 percent of Pakistan's energy needs. The Baloch people lament that the Gwadar area has been appropriated by Generals of Pakistan Army, who in turn have sold it to Karachi and Punjabi business magnets at astronomical prices. All the 22 districts of Balochistan are currently impacted by insurgency incurring an estimated cost of Rs. 6 million every month to the Pak establishment, and also resulting in severe gas and power shortages in the country, especially in Punjab. Gas supplies from Sui, Loti and Pir Koh gas fields have been disrupted. Surface transport has been crippled. Three naval boats have so far been destroyed in Gwadar port. Railways have been compelled to operate only at night. So far, on at least a dozen occasions, railway tracks have been blown and on more than two dozens occasions gas pipelines have been targeted.
NWFP. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) with an area of 74,521 sq km and a population of approximately 24 million in addition to 3 million Afghan refugees, is a problem in perpetuity because of the Pashtuns, who straddle the Durand Line (2450 Km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border). The relations between the NWFP and the central government are increasingly becoming tenuous, as the majority of the population is averse to Pakistan's cooperation with the US against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The area continues to be infested with fundamentalists and the Jihadis. In fact, it is the fundamentalist Islamic parties, who call shots in the province and lend all kinds of support to the remnants of Taliban.
POK (NORTHERN AREAS). The Northern Areas comprising Gilgit and Baltistan have an area of 72,496 sq km and a population of 1.5 million, is governed directly by the Central Government in Pakistan. In fact the Northern Areas, which are actually a part of POK, but incorporated in Pakistan, are five times of the area designated as Azad Kashmir. This area, culturally and linguistically much different from other parts of Pakistan, has been subjected to state backed Sunni terrorism. The composition of the Northern Light Infantry Units is being re-engineered by the central government to make it Sunni dominant. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which witnessed devastating earthquake in which more than 70,000 people lost their lives, demonstrated the administrative apathy of the Central Government in Pakistan with regard to the region. The Pakistan Army unlike the Indian Army was unable to respond to the needs of the people ? thus leaving much of the rescue and rehabilitation to 1000 NATO personnel and fundamentalist organisations like JuD.
PUNJAB & SIND . The situation in the heartland of Pakistan i.e. Punjab and Sind is rapidly deteriorating, given the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist ideology and their mushrooming activities. Organisations like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the parent organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is fast occupying the political space due to absence of legitimate political parties. The reach of the Islamic terrorists in Pakistan's heartland was evidenced by the car bomb attack near the US Consulate in Karachi before the recent visit of President Bush to the country. The degeneration of law and order situation in the heartland can also be gauged by the fact that for security reasons, President Musharraf was asked by the US authorities not to receive President Bush at the Chaklala airport.
Predicated on the situation in Pakistan, it can be averred that more than half the country has slipped into anarchy and the remaining may also follow if Islamabad does not carryout a drastic reassessment of its nationhood and statehood. In fact, Pakistan Army is getting over- stretched owing to its commitments in internal security duties and deployment on its borders with India and Afghanistan. Internally, the anti-India catalyst that sustained Pakistan Army is no longer effective. Even on the Afghanistan border the ISAF and Karzai are fiercely determined to defeat any attempt by Islamabad's to re-export Taliban. Today the internal instability within Pakistan is fast acquiring proportions which could lead to further break up of the country ? all due to sheer myopic policies pursued by its military junta. An external power today does not need to wage a war. It can simply exploit the precarious internal situation by using its intelligence agencies to attain the same objectives by fuelling the dissent through psywar and financial means. Fortunately, Pakistan has to contend with a benign power like India, which in the first instance created the former by magnanimously donating its land. Therefore Islamabad instead of exporting hatred and destruction, should seek positive parity with India and others in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens in an inclusive manner. Towards this Pakistan must:
Seek positive parity with India i.e. with regard to human development. Negative parity will bleed Pakistan in human and economic terms.
Realise that Pakistani statehood has remained vulnerable due to flawed nation building policies e.g. Punjabi domination that constitute 58% of the total population.
Realise that Army can be a symbol of nationhood and an instrument and not the state itself.
Realise that jihadis are a double-edged weapon and can never get Pakistan its illusive nationhood and statehood.
Realise that by attempting to engineer history, the future is rendered in jeopardy.
Realise that Pakistan has the potential to be a positive role model for other Islamic countries.
It is a well-known fact that a large number of Islamic countries are bestowed with extraordinary oil wealth that drives the world economy. If the jehad factory of Pakistan and other Islamic fundamentalist institutions had used this wealth to educate, modernise their societies and improved the quality of human resources in the early eighties, at the dawn of the 21 st century, it would have emerged as a modern, powerful and positive entity in the world arena without firing a single shot! Pakistan's establishment therefore must realise that its possible vivisection, due to its flawed policies, may deal a fatal blow to the very Islamic cause, that it purports to countenance and guide.
The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review. The article first appeared in Indian Defence Review Vol 20(4).
?Security Research Review Volume 2(2) 2006
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brian ''Porn Star'' Jung
on: September 21, 2006, 05:40:16 PM
Thailand: A Possible Respite in Southern Violence
Three days before the Sept. 19 military coup that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, six bombs exploded in the city of Hat Yai, in southern Thailand's Songkhla province, killing four people. Among the dead was a Canadian schoolteacher, the first Westerner known to have died as a result of the ongoing violence in Thailand's Muslim-dominated south. Although the coup has raised hopes that the country's new military leader, a Muslim, will be able to ease the level of violence in the south, only a temporary respite can be expected.
The bombs, which exploded at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time, targeted a bar, a massage parlor, a hotel and two department stores. In addition to the four deaths, about 60 other people were injured, including at least nine foreigners. Although it is a commercial center rather than a cultural or historic location, Hat Yai has a thriving tourist industry based largely on visitors from Muslim counties such as Malaysia or Indonesia who are attracted to Thailand's less-conservative culture.
Thai authorities were quick to blame the bombings on Muslim militants who have been known to attack tourist locations that provide sex and alcohol to Muslim tourists. The attacks, however, could be linked to business or organized crime. In April 2005, two improvised explosive devices detonated nearly simultaneously at the Hat Yai International Airport and a supermarket. The airport attack killed one person.
The causes of the violence in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla provinces are varied and complex. In addition to ethnic strife between predominantly Muslim Malays and Buddhist Thais, there also is violent competition between rival criminal elements and corrupt security forces. Thai military leaders have been known to take their political battles to the region as well, manipulating problems in the south to gain a political edge in Bangkok.
In the days since the Royal Thai Army seized control in a bloodless coup, speculation has mounted that the country's new leaders will be able to ease the tensions in the south, thus reducing the level of violence. One of the reasons for this thinking is that Thailand's army commander and now acting Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin is a Thai Muslim who presumably will have more influence with the Muslim militants blamed for most of the violence.
Indeed, Sonthi was put in charge of the army largely because it was thought that, as a Muslim, he would be more effective in dealing with the militants than were previous commanders. Another reason for the high hopes is the belief that any government will do a better job addressing the problems than did Thaksin's. Although the bombings in Hat Yai certainly did not help Thaksin on the domestic front, they were not a significant factor in causing the coup.
Sonthi's Muslim background could give him an advantage in dealing with the south's religious strife -- especially since he favors dialogue rather than a heavy-handed military approach. However, even with Sonthi in power, a significant overall reduction in violence is unlikely. Even if he could stop the Muslim militants from attacking without having to resort to a massive army crackdown, other sources of violence would remain.
The coup has been popular in southern Thailand, where many citizens believed Thaksin's policies made the situation worse, not better. Thai officials, businesspeople and Muslim leaders are encouraged by the change in government, and believe in Sonthi's ability to deal with the problem. In the short term, violence probably will decline as criminals and corrupt officials adopt a wait-and-see attitude to gauge the new government's policy in the south. The honeymoon period, however, is likely to be short-lived. Once the criminal element figures out how to adjust to the changing policies and determines which newly appointed officials to bribe, there will be a return to business as usual.
Muslim militants, who mainly hit schools, government offices and other targets associated with Bangkok's control over the region, also could hold off on attacks to see how well Sonthi can deal with the problems affecting them. If their grievances are not addressed quickly and effectively, they could resume attacks. If Sonthi responds with a larger military presence in the region, or a more serious crackdown, they could counter with more violence. After a while, a return to nearly the same level of violence as before is quite possible.www.stratfor.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic
on: September 21, 2006, 05:02:34 PM
Much to report. The Spike Webisode deal appears to be moving forward nicely. I am supposed to receive a contract today or tomorrow and will then show it to my attorney. Spike is considering sending a film crew to the Bern Gathering in Europe on Oct 1 as well as the Fall Gathering here in LA on 11/19.
It also appears that National Gegraphic will be doing a one hour documentary on us, which Original Productions may bump up to a 90 minute piece for theatrical release. Most likely is that they will shoot the June 07 Gathering.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 21, 2006, 02:06:43 PM
The Pope's Divisions
Benedict XVI promotes "interfaith" dialogue. Muslims and Christians need it.
BY REUEL MARC GERECHT
Thursday, September 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Although many Muslims have apparently found Pope Benedict XVI's recent oration at the University of Regensburg deeply offensive, it is a welcome change from the pabulum that passes for "interfaith" dialogue. Since 9/11, his lecture is one of the few by a major Western figure to highlight the spiritual and cultural troubles that beset the Muslim world. Think of the awfulness that we've observed in the last years: the suicide terrorism in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but especially the holy-warrior carnage in Iraq, where Sunni diehard believers have tirelessly slaughtered Shiite women and children. Then think of the tepid, not always condemnatory, discussions these atrocities have provoked among devout, especially fundamentalist, Muslims. We should have seen many more Westerners and Muslims posing painful questions about the well-being of Islamic culture and faith. With the exception of President Bush's remarks about "Islamofascism," which provoked dyspeptic reactions inside the U.S. government and out, the administration has generally avoided using powerful language connecting Islam to terrorism.
Let us be frank: There is absolutely nothing in the pope's speech that isn't appropriate or pertinent to a civilized discussion of revealed religions and ethics. Even if one is not a believer in any revealed faith, or has some memory of the conflict, daily cruelty and forced conversion meted out by representatives of Rome's bishops, or has some skepticism about the church's commitment to defending the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment, one can be thankful that the pope sees Christianity as a vehicle of peace and tries to explain why he thinks this is so. And by extension why Islam is so often today the loudly proclaimed faith of men who define their relationship to God through violence. Joseph Ratzinger's explanation, as befits a former professor of theology and philosophy, is an abstract one, but it is in the broadest sense undeniably true.
Popes ought to help clarify--not camouflage--the great troubling issues, as Shiite Islam's most senior ayatollahs try to illuminate the most perplexing questions that confront their followers and Muslims in general. The odds are good that few of the pope's most vociferous Muslim critics read his highly philosophical disquisition, which affirms a position on a needed harmony between reason and faith that many of Islam's great jurists and philosophers would quickly recognize. Benedict is trying to tackle many of the very same subjects that Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, approached in his book, "From the City World to the World City"--but with considerably more erudition and tact. Mr. Khatami's language, thought and historiography are often an intellectual mess and egregiously insulting to Christians, Jews and, most of all, Western atheists and agnostics. Yet Mr. Khatami is esteemed by many of those who scold the pope.
Is the pope wrong to imply--in a rather roundabout way--that there is today something amiss inside Islam, as a community of believers sharing one faith and a long, common cultural tradition? There probably isn't a single liberal editor at a major American or European paper who doesn't think that there is something a little dysfunctional--a disposition that tolerates, if not encourages and admires, violence as expression of religious outrage--among young Muslim males from Northern Europe to Indonesia. We might not be able to put our finger precisely on it--the problems of a radicalized British Muslim of Pakistani ancestry are not the same as a Sunni Iraqi suicide bomber who blows up Jordanian and Palestinian women and children--but we know there is something wrong within Islam's global house, something that cannot be blamed exclusively on Western prejudice, bigotry, military actions or colonialism.
Many Muslims know it too, even if they are not inclined to say so publicly--it's often dangerous and always enormously difficult for believing and nonbelieving Muslims to aggressively critique their own when they know non-Muslims are listening. Self-described Muslim intellectuals (often meaning the traditionally devout, clerics) really have a hard time engaging in self-criticism that fortifies non-Muslim critiques of Islamic society. The notion of "us" and "them" is very powerful in Islam, even though Muslims have often aligned themselves with infidels against their religious brethren. The truly hard-core, radical Muslims of the West--the most frightful of the jihadists--have much more in common temperamentally and culturally with militant European left-wingers than they do with the devout farther east, yet they ferociously separate the world into two camps like the most primitive Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia.
And self-confidence is a huge problem. Militarily triumphant in the past, traditional Muslims had an easier time being tolerant toward the minorities in their midst; they certainly were unperturbed by the theological arguments and invective put forth by practitioners of a superseded faith. As many believing Muslims have become less self-confident--and the world around them has become ever more incongruent with the imagined, pure world of early Islam, when the faithful were unceasingly victorious because they were more perfect in their submission to God's will--they have become more acutely conscious and aggressive about their Muslim identity. Clerics in London, Copenhagen, Cairo or Tehran dictating terms about the appropriate comportment of non-Muslims toward believers has naturally followed.
Pope Benedict nailed two facts about Islam that are contributing factors to the faith's very rough entry into modernity. The prophet Muhammad, the model for all Muslims, established the faith through war and conquest. His immediate successors, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, whom traditional and radical Muslims cherish, reinforced Islam's identity as a victorious faith through the rapid creation of a world empire. Christianity was also at times spread by "the sword," and its use of that sword against nonbelievers and heretics was more savage than any Muslim imperialist's. But Christianity was not born to power. Jesus is not a conqueror. The doctrine of the "two swords" always existed in Christian lands--the division of the world between church and state--and created enormous tension. It helped produce Western civic society. And the image of God in Islam, which the pope underscores by talking about the Muslim philosopher Ibn Hazm, is a cleaner expression of unlimited, almighty Will than it is in Christianity. Islam is akin to biblical Judaism in accentuating the unnuanced, transcendent awe of God. When radical Muslims take a hold of this divine fearsomeness, it can untether itself quickly from "conventional" morality, thereby allowing young men to believe that the slaughter of women and children isn't an abomination. In that sense, Muslim jihadism, like fascism, rewrites our ethical DNA, turning sin into virtue.
The pope doesn't tell us how we should proceed to counter the defects he sees in Islam. He should, since that would begin a real, painful but meaningful dialogue, which will surely cut both ways between the West and Islam. But what is most disturbing in the Western reaction to the pope's speech--and one sees the same reaction among those who are uncomfortable with President Bush's use of the term "Islamofascism"--is the often well-intentioned refusal to talk openly about the other side. No one wants to offend, so we assume a public position of liberal tolerance, hoping that good-willed, nonconfrontational dialogue, which criticizes "our" possibly offensive behavior while downplaying "theirs," will somehow lead to a more peaceful, ecumenical world.
We won't talk about the history of jihad in Islam. We would rather emphasize that jihad can mean an internal moral struggle for believers, even though the most progressive, revisionist Muslim (unless he has been completely secularized in the West) knows perfectly well that when Muslims hear the word "jihad," they proudly remember holy warriors, from the prophet Muhammad forward. We won't probe too deeply, and certainly not critically, into how the Quran and the prophet's traditions, as well as classical Islamic history, have given all believing Muslims certain common sentiments, passions and reflexes. We don't even talk about how the post-Christian West's great causes--nationalism, socialism, communism and fascism--entered Islam's bloodstream and altered Muslim ethics, often catastrophically. Many in the West, on both right and left, prefer to see Osama bin Laden's terrorism as a violent reaction to Western, particularly American, behavior. It is thus something that could be avoided. (Israel usually enters the discussion here.) We shy away from the more existential arguments that suggest that bin Laden's popularity in Islamic lands is the product of an enormous religious and philosophical distemper that derives from the world being the reverse of what God had ordained: Muslims on top, non-Muslims down below.
But we need to talk and argue about these things. We need to stop treating Muslims like children, and viewing our public diplomacy with Islamic countries as popularity contests. Given what's happened since 9/11, a dialogue of civilizations is certainly in order. To his credit, Benedict has at least tried to approach the invidious issues that will define any helpful discussion. For 200 years, the West has, for better and worse, helped create the intellectual framework within which all Muslims think. Muslim saints, like the Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim, or Muslim devils, like Ayatollah Khomeini, have Western ideas profoundly within them. If we withdraw from this civilizational debate, the decent men and women of the Middle East, most of whom are faithful Muslims, will have a very hard time defeating those who have brutalized and coarsened their culture and religion. Westerners are doing Muslims an enormous disservice--a lethal bigotry of low expectations--by telling the pontiff to be more diplomatic. This isn't how anti-Western Islamic theocrats, holy warriors and ordinary teachers in much of the Muslim world act. They're having a real, vibrant discussion. We should turn it into a debate.
Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 20, 2006, 12:22:14 PM
Study: U.S. Prisons Can't Combat Islamic Terror Recruiting
Updated: September 19th, 2006 12:14 PM EDThttp://www.officer.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=8&id=32697
By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer
Jailed Islamic extremists with violent interpretations of the Quran are taking advantage of scarce religious monitoring programs to breed terrorists in U.S. prisons, a study released Tuesday shows.
State and local prison officials struggle to track radicalized behavior by inmates or religious counselors, the joint study by George Washington University and the University of Virginia found.
Many prisons can't afford preventive programs; in California, for example, officials reported "that every investigation into radical groups in their prisons uncovers new leads, but they simply do not have enough investigators to follow every case of radicalization."
"Radicalized prisoners are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups," concluded the study, released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "homegrown" terrorists. "The U.S., with its large prison population, is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries."
An estimated 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States; 6 percent of them are Muslim, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism consultant, told senators that "chilling" interpretations of the Quran were given to prison inmates when he worked for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity that served as a major al-Qaida financier.
The readings urged Muslims "to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule," Gartenstein-Ross said in prepared testimony to the Senate panel.
"I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute - and it was never because of the literature's radicalism," said Gartenstein-Ross, who has since left the charity and converted to Christianity.
Prisons have long been considered recruiting stations for gangs and, more recently, terrorists, but little has been done throughout government to combat them. The Senate hearing came as law enforcement and intelligence officials focus on finding out how and why extremist homegrown sympathizers cross a line to become operational terrorists.
The panel's chair, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the matter "an emerging threat to our national security." Added Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., "While homegrown Islamic terrorism might not be as much of a threat as in say, Europe or some other places, we ignore the threat that does exist at our peril."
The report cited several high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized while incarcerated, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid. It also noted what authorities call a foiled plot of a potential shooting rampage against California military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles by followers of Kevin James, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS, as an inmate at California State Prison in Sacramento.
Researchers interviewed federal, state and local prison officials, religious counselors and counterterror authorities in four states - California, New York, South Carolina and Ohio - and the District of Columbia. They concluded that federal prison authorities have made significant strides in collecting and sharing information to help monitor whether inmates are becoming radicalized.
But state and local prison officials have largely relied on contractors and volunteers to lead Islamic services because of a lack of well-trained Muslim chaplains, the report found. In New York, that led to several cases of "imams espousing violent views," it said.
The report noted a 2004 study that found that about half of 193 prisons surveyed supervised religious services or monitored them with video or audio recorders. "In the absence of monitoring by authoritative Islamic chaplains, materials that advocate violence have infiltrated the prison system undetected," it found.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 20, 2006, 07:40:31 AM
CHICAGO ? So here?s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.
James Estrin/The New York Times
Many American Muslims ? or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions ? equate anything labeled ?dating? with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the ?matrimonial banquet.?
?If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,? said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.
Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called ?Dating,? promised attendees helpful hints for ?Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.?
The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: ?Don?t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don?t ever bring one home.?
?These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,? Imam Magid said in an interview. ?So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.?
The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.
Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. ?All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,? said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.
Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.
One panelist, Yasmeen Qadri, suggested that Muslim mothers across the continent band together in an organization called ?Mothers Against Dating,? modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the term ?arranged marriage? is too distasteful to the next generation, she said, then perhaps the practice could be Americanized simply by renaming it ?assisted marriage,? just like assisted living for the elderly.
?In the United States we can play with words however we want, but we are not trying to set aside our cultural values,? said Mrs. Qadri, a professor of education.
Basically, for conservative Muslims, dating is a euphemism for premarital sex. Anyone who partakes risks being considered morally louche, with their marriage prospects dimming accordingly, particularly young women.
Mrs. Qadri and other panelists see a kind of hybrid version emerging in the United States, where the young do choose their own mates, but the parents are at least partly involved in the process in something like half the cases.
Having the families involved can help reduce the divorce rate, Imam Majid said, citing a recent informal study that indicated that one third of Muslim marriages in the United States end in divorce. It was still far too high, he noted, but lower than the overall American average. Intermarriages outside Islam occur, but remain relatively rare, he said.
Scores of parents showed up at the marriage banquet to chaperone their children. Many had gone through arranged marriages ? meeting the bride or groom chosen by their parents sometimes as late as their wedding day and hoping for the best. They recognize that the tradition is untenable in the United States, but still want to influence the process.
The banquet is considered one preferable alternative to going online, although that too is becoming more common. The event was unquestionably one of the big draws at the Islamic Society of North America?s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, with many participants bemoaning the relatively small pool of eligible candidates even in large cities.
At a ?matrimonial banquet,? single Muslim American men spent seven minutes at each table, including the one at which Alia Abbas sat before moving on.
There were two banquets, with a maximum 150 men and 150 women participating each day for $55 apiece. They sat 10 per table and the men rotated every seven minutes.
At the end there was an hourlong social hour that allowed participants time to collect e-mail addresses and telephone numbers over a pasta dinner with sodas. (Given the Muslim ban on alcohol, no one could soothe jumpy nerves with a drink.) Organizers said many of the women still asked men to approach their families first. Some families accept that the couple can then meet in public, some do not.
A few years ago the organizers were forced to establish a limit of one parent per participant and bar them from the tables until the social hour because so many interfered. Parents are now corralled along one edge of the reception hall, where they alternate between craning their necks to see who their adult children are meeting or horse-trading bios, photographs and telephone numbers among themselves.
Talking to the mothers ? and participants with a parent usually take a mother ? is like surveying members of the varsity suddenly confined to the bleachers.
?To know someone for seven minutes is not enough,? scoffed Awila Siddique, 46, convinced she was making better contacts via the other mothers.
Mrs. Siddique said her shy, 20-year-old daughter spent the hours leading up to the banquet crying that her father was forcing her to do something weird. ?Back home in Pakistan, the families meet first,?? she said. ?You are not marrying the guy only, but his whole family.?
Samia Abbas, 59 and originally from Alexandria, Egypt, bustled out to the tables as soon as social hour was called to see whom her daughter Alia, 29, had met.
?I?m her mother so of course I?m looking for her husband,? said Mrs. Abbas, ticking off the qualities she was looking for, including a good heart, handsome, as highly educated as her daughter and a good Muslim.
Did he have to be Egyptian?
?She?s desperate for anyone!? laughed Alia, a vivacious technology manager for a New York firm, noting that the ?Made in Egypt? stipulation had long since been cast overboard.
?Her cousin who is younger has babies now!? exclaimed the mother, dialing relatives on her cellphone to handicap potential candidates.
For doubters, organizers produced a success story, a strikingly good-looking pair of Chicago doctors who met at the banquet two years ago. Organizers boast of at least 25 marriages over the past six years.
Fatima Alim, 50, was disappointed when her son Suehaib, a 26-year-old pharmacist, did not meet anyone special on the first day. They had flown up from Houston especially for the event, and she figured chances were 50-50 that he would find a bride.
When she arrived in Texas as a 23-year-old in an arranged marriage, Mrs. Alim envied the girls around her, enthralled by their discussions about all the fun they were having with their boyfriends, she said, even if she was eventually shocked to learn how quickly they moved from one to the next and how easily they divorced. Still, she was determined that her children would chose their own spouses.
?We want a good, moderate Muslim girl, not a very, very modern girl,? she said. ?The family values are the one thing I like better back home. Divorces are high here because of the corruption, the intermingling with other men and other women.?
For his part, Mr. Alim was resisting the strong suggestion from his parents that they switch tactics and start looking for a nice girl back in Pakistan. Many of the participants reject that approach, describing themselves as too Americanized ? plus the visas required are far harder to obtain in the post-Sept. 11 world.
Mr. Alim said he still believed what he had been taught as a child, that sex outside marriage was among the gravest sins, but he wants to marry a fellow American Muslim no matter how hard she is to find.
?I think I can hold out a couple more years,? he said in his soft Texas drawl with a boyish smile. ?The sooner the better, but I think I can wait. By 30, hopefully, even if that is kind of late.?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Attacking Blocks - a training neccessity
on: September 20, 2006, 04:03:44 AM
Woof Pappy Dog et al:
I've been meaning to respond to this one for some time now, but waited with a sense that to do so needed a substantial and thoughtful post. Now that I finally find a moment to focus (I fell asleep too early and now in the middle of the night I am awake
) I find that all I really have to say is "Tail wags for the kind words"!
The Adventure continues!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 19, 2006, 08:15:01 PM
Note the source of the following:http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=86776&d=19&m=9&y=2006
Editorial: Chasm of Ignorance
19 September 2006
WHATEVER views people may have about Pope Benedict?s controversial speech at Regensburg University last week, it underlines the urgent need for greater dialogue between people of different faiths. There is a dangerous chasm of ignorance about other faiths and it affects Muslims, Christians, Jews and practitioners of other religions equally; it is dangerous because it is so easily exploited by bigots and opportunists for their own political ends.
But, many will assert, there is a dialogue that has been going on for years. They can point to organizations such as C100, set up by the World Economic Forum to promote interfaith cooperation between the West and the Muslim world or to the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions. There is the Vatican-Muslim Committee set up by the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar, the Anglican Al-Azhar Dialogue Committee and a number of other organizations in countries around the world. There is even a day ? Muslim Catholic Dialogue Day on Feb. 24 each year ? adopted by Al-Azhar and the Vatican.
Commendable as all this is, it is not enough. If they were, there would not have been a Danish cartoons row earlier this year or a row now. The committees and organizations are not producing the results because the knowledge and understanding is not getting down to the grass roots where the prejudices and ignorance exist. What is the point of dialogue if it excludes the vast majority who do not fully understand all that is involved? It is at the grass roots that riots take place, where passions turn to prejudice, and mosques, churches and innocent believers are attacked and killed. That is where dialogue has to be planted and nurtured. And what is the point of dialogue if it excludes bigots? If they are left on the outside, they will continue to stir up hatred and plant their bombs. Dialogue desperately needs a wider arena, one that will draw in the uninformed on all sides, not least the bigots. That means using the mass media. Sadly, not everyone appears to understand that.
This paper has tried to publish a series of articles on interfaith dialogue. It is a perfect vehicle ? an English language daily in a Muslim country with a readership of different faiths and nationalities. We asked major religious and political figures from around the world to contribute. The feedback was extremely positive: ?Great idea,? we were told. But after months of reminders, not a single article has been submitted. It is profoundly disappointing. Never has the need for dialogue been so acute. Clearly dialogue cannot be left to well-intentioned experts. If the world were full of them there would not be a problem. But it is not like that. Dialogue must involve the largest possible number of people.
The Danish cartoon row should have provided the stimulus to intensify efforts. It did not. Maybe now, in the full fury of the papal row, the message will get through. It has to. In today?s global village, we cannot afford to be ignorant of each other?s faiths. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate ? and hate is scarcely a step away from war and conflict.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 18, 2006, 04:05:54 PM
I'm not quite sure where to put this piece. "Dialog with Muslims" and "Free Speech vs. Islamo Fascism" are close, but not quite right. In that the views herein are strong and passionate I'm putting it here, even though here too it does not quite fit.
Regardless, what one thinks of the conclusions, a strong erudite piece of writing.
Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life
Jihad injures reason, for it honors a god who suffers no constraints on his caprice, unlike the Judeo-Christian god, who is limited by love. That is the nub of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12 address in Regensburg, Germany. It promises to be the Vatican's most controversial utterance in living memory.
When a German-language volume appeared in 2003 quoting the same analysis by a long-dead Jewish theologian, I wrote of "oil on the flames of civilizational war".  Now the same ban has been
preached from St Peter's chair, and it is a defining moment comparable to Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. Earlier this year, Benedict's elliptical remarks to former students at a private seminar in 2005, mentioned in passing by an American Jesuit and reported in this space, created a scandal.  I wrote at the time that even the pope must whisper when it comes to Islam. We have entered a different stage of civilizational war.
The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, and with reason. Jihad is not merely the whim of a despotic divinity, as the pope implied. It is much more: jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the individual believer communes with the Transcendent. To denounce jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims.
Just before then-cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope last year, I wrote, "Now that everyone is talking about Europe's demographic death, it is time to point out that there exists a way out: convert European Muslims to Christianity. The reported front-runner at the Vatican conclave ... Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is one of the few Church leaders unafraid to raise the subject."  The Regensburg address oversteps the bounds of dialogue and verges upon the missionary. A great deal has changed since John Paul II kissed the Koran before news cameras in 1999. The boys and girls of the Catholic youth organization Communione e Liberazione that Ratzinger nurtured for a generation will have a great deal to talk to their Muslim school-fellows about.
No more can one assume now that Europe will slide meekly into dhimmitude.
In that respect [I wrote during the conclave] John Paul II recalled the sad position of Pius XII, afraid to denounce publicly the murder of Polish priests by Nazi occupiers - let alone the murder of Polish Jews - for fear that the Nazis would react by killing even more. It is hard to second-guess the actions of Pius XII given his terrible predicament, but at some point one must ask when the Gates of Hell can be said to have prevailed over St Peter.
Specifically, Benedict stated that jihad, the propagation of Islam by force, is irrational, because it is against the Reason of God. Citing a 14th-century Byzantine emperor to the effect that Mohammed's "decree that the faith he preached should be spread with the sword" as "evil and inhumane" provoked headlines. But of greater weight is the pope's observation that Allah is a god whose "absolute transcendence" allows no constraint, to the point that Allah is free if he chooses to promote evil. The great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig explained the matter more colorfully than did the pope, as I reported three years ago in the cited review:
The god of Mohammed is a creator who well might not have bothered to create. He displays his power like an Oriental potentate who rules by violence, not by acting according to necessity, not by authorizing the enactment of the law, but rather in his freedom to act arbitrarily ... Providence thus is shattered into infinitely many individual acts of creation, with no connection to each other, each of which has the importance of the entire creation. That has been the doctrine of the ruling orthodox philosophy in Islam. Every individual thing is created from scratch at every moment. Islam cannot be salvaged from this frightful providence of Allah ... despite its vehement, haughty insistence upon the idea of the god's unity, Islam slips back into a kind of monistic paganism, if you will permit the expression. God competes with God at every moment, as if it were the colorfully contending heavenful of gods of polytheism.
It is amusing to see liberal Jewish commentators in the United States, eg, the editorial page of the September 16 New York Times, deplore the pope's remarks, considering that Rosenzweig said it all the more sharply in 1920.
Benedict's comments regarding Islam served as a preamble to a longer discourse on the unity of faith and reason. "Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?" Benedict asked, and answered his own question: "I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God." It is not, however, the reasoned side of Benedict's remarks to which Muslims responded, but rather the existential.
Rather than rail at the pope's characterization of Islam, Muslims might have responded as follows: "Excuse me, Your Holiness, but did we hear you say that you represent a religion of reason, whereas Allah is a god of unreason? Do you not personally eat the body and blood of your god - at least things that you insist really are his flesh and blood - every day at Mass? And you accuse us of unreason!" That is a fair rebuttal, but it opens up Islam's can of worms.
True, we are not pottering about in this pilgrim existence to be rational. Today's Germans are irrational, and know that their time has past, and therefore desist from bearing children. What mankind - Christian, Muslim and Jew, and all - demand of God is irrational. We want eternal life! Christians do not want what the Greeks wanted - Socrates' transmigration of souls, nor the shadow existence of Homer's dead heroes in Hades. That is an unreasonable demand if ever there was one.
Before the Bible was written, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh learned that his quest for immortality was futile. The demigods of Greece, mortals favored by Olympians, suffered a tedious sort of immortal life as stars, trees or rivers. The gods of the heathens are not in any case eternal, only immortal. They were born and they will die, like the Norse gods at the Ragnorak, and their vulnerability projects the people's presentiment of its own death. To whom, precisely, have the gods offered eternal life prior to the appearance of revealed religion? Eternal life and a deathless mortality are quite different things.
But what is it that God demands of us in response to our demand for eternal life? We know the answer ourselves. To partake of life in another world we first must detach ourselves from this world in order to desire the next. In plain language, we must sacrifice ourselves. There is no concept of immortality without some concept of sacrifice, not in any culture or in any religion. That is a demand shared by the Catholic bishops and the Kalahari Bushmen.
God's covenant with Abraham is unique and singular in world history. A single universal and eternal god makes an eternal pact with a mortal that can be fulfilled only if Abraham's tribe becomes an eternal people. But the price of this pact is self-sacrifice. That is an existential mortal act beyond all ethics, as Soren Kierkegaard tells us in Fear and Trembling. The sacraments of revealed religion are sublimated human sacrifice, for the revealed god in his love for humankind spares the victim, just as God provided a ram in place of the bound Isaac on Mount Moriah. Among Jews the covenant must be renewed in each male child through a substitute form of human sacrifice, namely circumcision.  Christians believe that a single human sacrifice spared the rest of humankind.
Jihad also is a form of human sacrifice. He who serves Allah so faithfully as to die in the violent propagation of Islam goes straight to paradise, there to enjoy virgins or raisins, depending on the translation. But Allah is not the revealed god of loving kindness, or agape, but - pace Benedict - a god of reason, that is, of cold calculation. Islam admits no expiatory sacrifice. Everyone must carry his own spear.
We are too comfortable, too clean, too squeamish, too modern to descend into the terrible space where birth, death and immortality are decided. We forget that we cannot have eternal life unless we are ready to give up this one - and this the Muslim knows only through what we should call the sacrament of jihad. Through jihad, the Muslim does almost precisely what the Christian does at the Lord's Supper. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that grants immortal life to all Christians, that is, those who become one with Jesus by eating his flesh and drinking his blood so that the sacrifice also is theirs, at least in Catholic terms. Protestants substitute empathy identification with the crucified Christ for the trans-substantiated blood and flesh of Jesus.
Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to give all men eternal life, on condition that they take part in his sacrifice, either through the physical communion of the Catholic Church or the empathetic Communion of Protestantism. From a Muslim vantage point, the extreme of divine humility embodied in Jesus' sacrifice is beyond reason. Allah, by contrast, deals with those who submit to him after the calculation of an earthly despot. He demands that all Muslims sacrifice themselves by becoming warriors and, if necessary, laying their lives down in the perpetual war against the enemies of Islam.
These are parallel acts, in which different peoples do different things, in the service of different deities, but for the same reason: for eternal life.
Why is self-sacrifice always and everywhere the cost of eternal life? It is not because a vengeful and sanguineous God demands his due before issuing us a visa to heaven. Quite the contrary: we must sacrifice our earthly self, our attachment to the pleasures and petty victories of our short mortal life if we really are to gain the eternal life that we desire. The animal led to the altar, indeed Jesus on the cross, is ourselves: we die along with the sacrifice and yet live, by the grace of God. YHWH did not want Isaac to die, but without taking Abraham to Mount Moriah, Abraham himself could not have been transformed into the man desirous and deserving of immortal life. Jesus died and took upon him the sins of the world, in Christian terms, precisely so that a vicarious sacrifice would redeem those who come to him.
What distinguishes Allah from YHWH and (in Christian belief) his son Jesus is love. God gives Jews and Christians a path that their foot can tread, one that is not too hard for mortals, to secure the unobtainable, namely immortal life, as if by miracle. Out of love God gives the Torah to the Jews, not because God is a stickler for the execution of 613 commandments, but because it is a path upon which the Jew may sacrifice and yet live, and receive his portion of the World to Come. The most important sacrifice in Judaism is the Sabbath - "our offering of rest", says the congregation in the Sabbath prayers - a day of inactivity that acknowledges that the Earth is the Lord's. It is a sacrifice, as it were, of ego. In this framework, incidentally, it is pointless to distinguish Judaism as a "religion of works" as opposed to Christianity as a "religion of faith".
To Christians, God offers the vicarious participation in his sacrifice of himself through his only son.
That is Grace: a free gift by God to men such that they may obtain eternal life. By a miracle, the human soul responds to the offer of Grace with a leap, a leap away from the attachments that hold us to this world, and a foretaste of the World to Come.
There is no Grace in Islam, no miracle, no expiatory sacrifice, no expression of love for mankind such that each Muslim need not be a sacrifice. On the contrary, the concept of jihad, in which the congregation of Islam is also the army, states that every single Muslim must sacrifice himself personally. Jihad is the precise equivalent of the Lord's Supper in Christianity and the Jewish Sabbath, the defining expression of sacrifice that opens the prospect of eternity to the mortal believer. To ask Islam to become moderate, to reform, to become a peaceful religion of personal conscience is the precise equivalent of asking Catholics to abolish Mass.
Islam, I have argued for years, faces an existential crisis in the modern world, which has ripped its adherents out of their traditional existence and thrust them into deadly conflicts. What was always latent in Islam has now come to the surface: the practice of Islam now expresses itself uniquely in jihad. Benedict XVI has had the courage to call things by their true names. Everything else is hypocrisy and self-delusion.
Regarding Benedict XVI's statement that the characterization of the Prophet Mohammed did not reflect his "personal opinion": In 1938, at the peak of Stalin's terror, a Muscovite called the KGB to report that his parrot had escaped. The KGB officer said, "Why are you calling us?" The Muscovite averred, "I want to state for the record that I do not share the parrot's political opinions."
1. See Oil on the flames of civilizational war, December 2, 2003.
2. See When even the pope has to whisper, January 10, 2006.
3. The crescent and the conclave, April 19, 2005.
4. See The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity, by Jon D Levinson (Harvard; Cambridge 1993).
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 18, 2006, 02:41:34 PM
El Shukrijumah and the 'Dirty Bomb' Threat
Certain bloggers are circulating rumors on the Internet that alleged al Qaeda militant Adnan El Shukrijumah has been sighted recently in Central America and Texas, saying this indicates al Qaeda is close to conducting a "dirty bomb" attack against the United States.
According to the rumors, El Shukrijumah is in possession of dirty bombs -- devices intended to disperse radiation -- and is waiting for a "go" signal or a taped statement from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Still other rumors have circulated about an "American Hiroshima," or an al Qaeda nuclear attack against the United States. Although there is little chance that a dirty bomb attack is imminent, the U.S. government has good reason to believe that El Shukrijumah poses a significant threat.
Although the U.S. government says El Shukrijumah is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in 1975 in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis say El Shukrijumah's father was an expatriate worker in Saudi Arabia and that neither the father nor the son was ever a Saudi citizen. The family also reportedly spent time in Guyana, where his father, Sheikh Gulshair El Shukrijumah, worked as a missionary for the Saudi government. In the early 1990s, the family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where the father took a job at the Al Farouq Mosque. Some members of the mosque were subsequently linked to the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center and a plot to bomb targets in New York, including the Holland Tunnel and U.N. Headquarters. In 1995, the El Shukrijumah family moved to Miramar, Fla., where Adnan studied computer science at Broward Community College.
By the late 1990s, perhaps inspired by the war between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, El Shukrijumah began to favor more radical interpretations of Islam. In late 1999, according to the FBI, he began traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to attend al Qaeda training camps. By 2001, the FBI was investigating El Shukrijumah in connection with two alleged militant plots based out of south Florida.
In the months before 9/11, El Shukrijumah allegedly traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, possibly scoping out potential targets. He disappeared from south Florida shortly before 9/11, but is not believed to have been part of that plot. Based on an investigation into his activities, the FBI obtained an arrest warrant for El Shukrijumah in 2003, but by then he had dropped off the radar. The FBI believes El Shukrijumah could be anywhere, and the hunt for him has spanned into Trinidad, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan's Waziristan province.
According to the FBI, El Shukrijumah is especially dangerous because of his intelligence and because his appearance, which enables him to pass as a Latino or Indian, allows him to blend in with non-Muslims. Also, having spent a considerable amount of time in the United States, he speaks English well and is familiar with U.S. culture. The State Department, through its Rewards for Justice Program, is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to El Shukrijumah's arrest. There also is speculation outside of the government that he is well-versed in nuclear technology and is an accomplished pilot, but these claims are not supported by the FBI's investigation. His technical background, however, suggests he would be able to construct a dirty bomb.
Operationally, an "American Hiroshima" plot would be difficult to successfully carry out. Although obtaining and employing weapons of mass destruction, including dirty bombs, have long been part of al Qaeda's strategic thinking, there has been no indication that the jihadist network has been able to make any significant progress toward that goal.
Rumors of imminent attacks with dirty bombs appear in cycles and are nothing new. If al Qaeda were in the operational phase of such a plot, it doubtfully would provide warnings or allow indicators of its plan to leak out. Speculation about an attack, however, does allow the jihadist network to spread fear, forces U.S. authorities to waste resources and perhaps even serves as cover for its real actions.
The rumors about dirty bomb plots and the whereabouts of the shadowy El Shukrijumah may be unfounded, but they do add to the mystery surrounding him. If he is in fact an al Qaeda operative, he is one of the group's more technically adept and sophisticated members, which makes him dangerous. El Shukrijumah, however, is more threatening as a capable organizer of a more conventional attack inside the United States.
Send questions or comments on
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3
on: September 18, 2006, 07:18:06 AM
Most Tribes in Anbar Agree to Unite Against Insurgents
Yahya Ahmed/Associated Press
A victim of a blast Sunday in Kirkuk. More than two dozen people were killed in coordinated attacks by suicide bombers in Kirkuk and Falluja.
By KHALID AL-ANSARY and ALI ADEEB
Published: September 18, 2006
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 ? Nearly all the tribes from Iraq?s volatile Sunni-dominated Anbar Province have agreed to join forces and fight Al Qaeda insurgents and other foreign-backed ?terrorists,? an influential tribal leader said Sunday. Iraqi government leaders encouraged the movement.
Twenty-five of about 31 tribes in Anbar, a vast, mostly desert region that stretches westward from Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have united against insurgents and gangs that are ?killing people for no reason,? said the tribal leader, Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi.
?We held a meeting earlier and agreed to fight those who call themselves mujahadeen,? Mr. Rishawi said in an interview. ?We believe that there is a conspiracy against our Iraqi people. Those terrorists claimed that they are fighters working on liberating Iraq, but they turned out to be killers. Now all the people are fed up and have turned against them.?
It is unclear how quickly or forcefully the tribal fighters will confront Al Qaeda and other insurgents, who mostly operate in and around the provincial capital, Ramadi, despite recurrent American military efforts to stop them. But for American and Iraqi officials, who have tried to persuade the Sunni Arab majority in Anbar to reject the insurgency and embrace Iraqi nationalism, Mr. Rishawi?s comments are seen as an encouraging sign.
Word of the tribal agreement came on a day when coordinated suicide bombings rocked Kirkuk and Falluja, and graphic evidence of more sectarian killings surfaced in Baghdad.
In Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the north bordering the autonomous Kurdish region, suicide bombers detonated four cars and one truck laden with explosives, killing more than two dozen people and wounding more than 100, Iraqi and American officials said. In Falluja, a Sunni-controlled city in Anbar, 30 miles west of Baghdad, five suicide car bombs exploded within 15 minutes, an American military official said, killing five people and wounding 23.
The police in Baghdad reported finding 36 bodies in several neighborhoods, an Interior Ministry official said. Eight were discovered in one area with gunshot wounds to the head and bearing marks of torture. But an American military spokesman said her office was aware of only 11 bodies found.
Also Sunday, the American military said a sailor with the First Marine Logistics Group died Saturday from wounds in fighting in Anbar Province.
Mr. Rishawi said the 25 tribes counted 30,000 young men armed with assault rifles who were willing to confront and kill the insurgents and criminal gangs that he blamed for damaging tribal life in Anbar, dividing members by religious sect and driving a wave of violent crime in Ramadi.
?We are in battle with the terrorists who kill Sunnis and Shiites, and we do not respect anyone between us who talks in a sectarian sense,? said Mr. Rishawi, the leader of the Rishawi tribe, a subset of the Dulaimi tribe, the largest in Anbar. Half the Rishawi are Shiite Arabs and half are Sunni, he said.
Mr. Rishawi estimated that the insurgents had about 1,300 fighters, many of them foreigners, and are backed by other nations? intelligence services, though he declined to specify them.
On Sunday, he said the coalition of 25 tribes sent letters to the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and other top government officials to seek their support.
Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a prominent tribal leader from Ramadi, said Sheik Khalid al-Attiya, the deputy speaker of Parliament and a Shiite, met with the tribal leaders Thursday and gave them a ?positive response.?
In addition to the government?s blessing, Mr. Rishawi said, the tribes also wanted weapons, equipment and tactical help from an Iraqi Army brigade. ?The terrorists have different kinds of weapons while we have only AK-47?s,? Mr. Rishawi said. He predicted that with sufficient help, ?their force will collapse in one month.?
Ali Dabbagh, a government spokesman, said Mr. Maliki supported ?any operations that try to resist terrorism and aims to maintain security in this dear and important part from the country.?
Government officials are weighing an official response to the tribes, Mr. Dabbagh said, but there has not been any agreement to supply them. ?We are grateful to them for their desire to protect their cities,? he said, ?and we are encouraging them.?
An American military official said tribes had fought Sunni insurgents in Anbar in the past but had never formed a united front. ?This would be the first we?ve seen of tribes banding together,? said the official, who asked for anonymity because the subject was a delicate one.
Reuters quoted a man who identified himself as a senior Al Qaeda leader in northern Ramadi calling for an Islamic caliphate in Anbar and portraying tribal leaders as the enemy.
?We have the right to kill all infidels, like the police and army and all those who support them,? said the man, who called himself Abu Farouk, Reuters reported. ?This tribal system is un-Islamic. We are proud to kill tribal leaders who are helping the Americans.?
Last month, a Marine intelligence report described Al Qaeda as an ?integral part of the social fabric? of Anbar, and said the American military, with about 30,000 troops there, did not control vast reaches of the province, roughly the size of Louisiana.
In Kirkuk, Iraqi and American military officials said they could not immediately tell which groups were behind the suicide bomb attacks. Kirkuk has become a violent battleground between Iraqi Arabs ? Shiite and Sunni ? and Kurds who control Kirkuk?s police and government.
The deadliest of the Kirkuk bomb attacks, by a truck laden with explosives that blew up between the offices of two Kurdish political parties, killed at least 18 people and wounded 55, said Lt. Col. Urhan Abdullah of the Kirkuk police. Two minutes later, a car bomb, apparently intended for a private security firm, killed two people and wounded three others, said Maj. Farhad Mahmoud of the Kirkuk police.
A third suicide car bomb detonated near an Iraqi police checkpoint about 15 miles south of Kirkuk, the police said. A fourth car bomb exploded in front of the house of Sheik Wasfi al-Asi, who had recently publicly called on the government to release Saddam Hussein, who is currently being tried on genocide charges. The house was empty, the police said, but the bomb killed two people and wounded five others.
Firefighters battled flames at collapsed buildings and charred bodies lay in streets littered with twisted car parts, Reuters reported.
Reporting was contributed by Paul von Zielbauer, Omar al-Neami, Khalid W. Hassan and Qais Mizher.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Tradition and Culture Thread
on: September 17, 2006, 07:44:29 PM
Woof Nasi et al:
Another random drive-by yip:
There's another strand in the weaving of themes here-- the concepts of the society in which the Art is practiced concerning the proper uses of Aggression.
I am proud to be an American. Off the top of my head I cannot think of another country which was consciously founded upon a creed. The American creed of our Founding Fathers is a spiritual one-- the source of the rights of the people is "the Creator", and the people who bequeath the State with powers which they see fit (10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights). All other rights not enumerated remain retained by the people (9th Amendment) The term "Creator" is specifically chosen precisely because it is generic. In their wisdom, IMHO which was guided by the Creator, they made the profound decision to separate Church and State. Henceforth no religion could seek advantage over another by seizing control of the State for the State itself by definition was to be excluded from the religious realm and religions were to compete with each other with Reason and Persuasion in Peace and not the Sword swung in War. Heneforth challenges to those in power could not be conflated with being for or against God, but instead were matters to be decided by words freely spoken, whether they offended or not and we the people were trusted to sort it out by freely choosing our representatives. WE RULE OURSELVES because the Creator made us to be so.
I am reminded of the words of Guro Dan Inosanto when he speaks of the martial arts having their true foundation in Love, the belief that we ALL our children of God/the Creator-- or perhaps as some would say, we are but pieces of God and the Life Force within us is God himself-- and that as such we have the right to defend ourselves. The guiding principle becomes that Moral Force is to be used so as to lessen the overall use of Force against those who act in self-protection. Respect others as you respect yourself, do not seek to submit them to your way, to take their property by fraud or theft and in general leave them to pursue happiness as they see fit while respecting the rights of others.
This right of self-defense (found, I submit, in our 9th Amendment as a right not otherwise enumerated) is given practical meaning by our 2d Amendment, the right OF THE PEOPLE to bear arms. Whether the defense be against an overbearing State or enemies foreign or domestic, or thug elements does not matter, for we have the right to defend ourselves.
That said, the 2d Amendment empowers the Federal government to regulate the militias that will naturally arise from an armed population. Whether the Federal government exercises that power to regulate the militias or not, the unorganized militia exists. When not regulated, the militia is called "the unorganized militia" see section 311, Title 10. http://dogbrothers.com/wrapper.php?file=savedbythemilitia.htm
and see the clip "The Unorganized Militia" www.dogbrothers.com
(I would add that, speaking as the retired attorney that I am, that it is my considered opinion that the language in the statute setting an upper age limit at 45 years to have been voided by subsequent age discrimination statutes. In other words, even though I am presently 54 years old, I am still part of the Unorganized Militia!!!)
What does this have to do with the original question presented about teaching martial arts?
The answer is that in America, our society is organized around the principal of freedom and responsibility. As I tell the fighters in my ?magic words? talk at the beginning of each Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack, ?Only you are responsible for you.? A free people is a people responsible for defending its freedom. A people that cannot fight and/or lacks the means to fight is not going to stay a free people.
As the gun rights people say, ?Society is safer when criminals don?t know who is armed.? Understanding ?armed? to mean ?capable of effective action? then the logic of broad dissemination amongst the unorganized militia of fighting knowledge and skills, the logic of sharing through DVDs becomes apparent.
This is all I have the time to write at the moment. The next point I must address in this discussion is the question of what, if anything, NOT to teach, and why.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 17, 2006, 12:51:08 PM
Second post of the morning:
Defining Today's Moderate Muslim
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer
September 17, 2006
Who is a moderate Muslim?
Is it Maher Hathout, the Los Angeles Muslim leader who has promoted interfaith relations and women's equality but denounced Israel as a brutal apartheid regime? Is it Tashbih Sayyed, a journalist based in Alta Loma, Calif., who praises Israel's behavior toward Palestinians as tolerant and criticizes Muslims for corrupting Islam?
The question has come under intense debate since 9/11 as the public struggles to distinguish peaceful Muslims from Al Qaeda terrorists, and is at the heart of two Southern California skirmishes over who represents moderate Islam.
In a dinner scheduled for tonight, the American Jewish Congress plans to honor Sayyed and four others for what it sees as their friendly attitudes toward Israel and courageous efforts to reform Islam.
Gary Ratner, executive director of the Congress' Western region office in Los Angeles, said the tribute is part of the organization's global efforts to reach out to moderate Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia, Albania and elsewhere, including sponsoring a dinner in New York last year for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
"Israel is going to be a fixture in the Mideast," Ratner said. "If there is ever going to be peace, there has to be accommodation with Muslims."
The organization's choice of honorees, however, has offended some Muslims, in part because three of them no longer practice the faith.
In contrast, a different award has offended some Jewish sensibilities: the decision by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission to honor Hathout as a model of harmonious interfaith relations.
Hathout's critics argue that his controversial statements supporting Hezbollah and denouncing Israel have exposed him as an extremist. The Egyptian native and retired cardiologist, saying his opponents have twisted his record, asserts that he has long condemned terrorism, launched interfaith dialogues and promoted an American Islamic identity that celebrates pluralism, democracy and women's rights.
The commission is to vote Monday on whether to reaffirm or rescind the award.
Despite the dissent, Muslims, Christians and Jews named similar attributes when asked to define religious moderation. They included problem-solving without violence, affirmation of human rights, religious freedom and other Western values, and respectful attitudes toward women.
But on one key issue, there was sharp disagreement: attitudes toward Israel.
Ratner said his group believes support for Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is central to the definition of a moderate because it speaks to the larger qualities of tolerance and acceptance.
Others, however, reject that as a litmus test.
"It's un-American," said John Esposito, Georgetown University professor of religion and international affairs. "Your principal and only obligation in terms of loyalty as an American is to America. You can have a variety of positions regarding foreign policy."
Still others say labels and litmus tests aren't terribly useful for either side.
"The question is ? can we find points of agreement, a place from which to build trust and move forward?" asked Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. "I deal with Jews every day whom I don't consider moderate, but I don't write them off. And we can't afford to write off Muslims."
Since 9/11, Esposito and others said, the quest for moderate Muslims has become widespread as policymakers, journalists, terrorism experts and religious leaders seek to understand Islam and assess who is "safe" and who is extremist.
Often, those seeking moderate Muslims are looking for people to affirm their own values, said Reuven Firestone, a professor of medieval Jewish and Islamic studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.
When we say we want moderate Muslims, what we are really saying is that we want Westernized Muslims who have the same kinds of sensibilities we have," Firestone said. "But that's not realistic. It's a false but human assumption that moderates must agree with us on most issues."
To Firestone, moderates are those committed to settling disputes without violence and willing to hear and consider other points of view, especially those contrary to their own.
Others said that whatever yardstick is chosen must be consistently applied. If Muslims who condemn Israeli treatment of Palestinians are extremists, all Christians, Jews and atheists who feel likewise must be similarly described, said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a UCLA Islamic law professor and author of "The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists."
Many said a key criterion for Muslim moderates is that they in fact be Muslim.
Among the Jewish Congress honorees are Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie, a self-described atheist, and two women who say they left the faith years ago, Wafa Sultan and Nonie Darwish.
Darwish is a Southern California writer and founder of Arabs for Israel. Sultan is a Corona psychiatrist, writer and activist who has said she is particularly concerned about women's status in Islam.
"By honoring Muslims who are not practicing Muslims, the given message, even if unintentional, is that these people are good because they left the faith," said Firestone, who recently returned from a six-month sabbatical in Cairo. "But there are hundreds of millions of moral, deeply believing Muslims."
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Jewish groups have long tried to promote alternative Islamic leaders who may be friendly to Israel but in fact have little following among Muslims. "It's a slap in the face," he said.
But Ratner defended the selections.
"To me it's a phonetic debate," he said, referring to whether the awardees were practicing Muslims or not. "It's about the reform of Islam so that the Muslim world and the West can live in peace and tolerance with each other's values and beliefs."
Two of the honorees say they are practicing Muslims deeply concerned about their tradition's future and are unafraid to speak about it. Both Salim Mansur, a Calcutta native and Canadian political science professor, and Sayyed, the newspaper editor, said the Muslim world must stop blaming the West for its own ailments, including poverty, illiteracy, injustice or extremism.
Sayyed, 64, immigrated to the United States in 1981 to escape what he described as an increasingly radical practice of Islam in Pakistan. He said Muslims must reinvigorate their tradition with open debate even on sensitive questions. That includes, he said, whether Islam was spread by the sword or ideas, whether shariah is an outdated legal system for Muslims and whether the Prophet Muhammad's actions were all divinely inspired.
But when he wrote an article last year calling for Islam's reinterpretation, Sayyed said, he was widely condemned and threatened by fellow Muslims.
Mansur, too, said he was ostracized after writing columns for the Toronto Sun five years ago condemning the Taliban's destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan and comparing it to the murderous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. The backlash prompted him to stop going to his local mosque.
Both men, however, said they have no intention of falling silent.
"Because I love my faith, I have to raise my voice and challenge it from within," Sayyed said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes
on: September 17, 2006, 10:12:56 AM
The View From Guant?namo
By ABU BAKKER QASSIM
Published: September 17, 2006
I HAVE been greatly saddened to hear that the Congress of the United States, a country I deeply admire, is considering new laws that would deny prisoners at Guant?namo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.
I learned my respect for American institutions the hard way. When I was growing up as a Uighur in China, there were no independent courts to review the imprisonment and oppression of people who, like me, peacefully opposed the Communists. But I learned my hardest lesson from the United States: I spent four long years behind the razor wire of its prison in Cuba.
I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America?s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guant?namo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.
It was only the country?s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right ? or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guant?namo today. Will they be stranded there forever?
Without my American lawyers and habeas corpus, my situation and that of the other Uighurs would still be a secret. I would be sitting in a metal cage today. Habeas corpus helped me to tell the world that Uighurs are not a threat to the United States or the West, but an ally. Habeas corpus cleared my name ? and most important, it let my family know that I was still alive.
Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guant?namo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well.
I am from East Turkestan on the northwest edge of China. Communist China cynically calls my homeland ?Xinjiang,? which means ?new dominion? or ?new frontier.? My people want only to be treated with respect and dignity. But China uses the American war on terrorism as a pretext to punish those who peacefully dissent from its oppressive policies. They brand as ?terrorism? all political opposition from the Uighurs.
Amnesty International reports that East Turkistan is the only province in China where people may face the death penalty for political offenses. Chinese leaders brag about the number of Uighur political prisoners shot in the head. I was punished for speaking against China?s unjust policies, and I left because of the threat to my life. My search for work and refuge took me from Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I heard about the Sept. 11 attacks for the first time in Guant?namo. I was not aware of their magnitude until after my release, when a reporter showed me images online at an Internet cafe in Tirana. It was a terrible thing. But I too was its victim. I would never have experienced the ordeal and humiliation of Guant?namo if this horrific event had not taken place.
I feel great sadness for the families who lost their loved ones on that horrible day five years ago. And I would be sadder still to see the freedom-loving American people walk away from their respect for the rule of law. I want America to be a strong and respected nation in the world. Only then can it continue to be the source of hope for the hopeless ? like my people.
Abu Bakker Qassim was imprisoned at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 to May. This article was translated from the Uighur by Nury Turael.
from today's NY Times
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 17, 2006, 09:32:36 AM
CRADLE OF HATE
By RALPH PETERS
September 15, 2006 -- ISLAMIST terror is a deadly threat we have barely
begun to address. Yet religion-fueled fanaticism in the Middle East
shouldn't surprise us: The tradition pre-dates the Prophet's birth by
thousands of years.
Terrorists just have better tools these days.
What should amaze us isn't the terrorists' strength, which has limits, but
the comprehensive failure of Middle Eastern civilization. Given all the
wealth that's poured into the region, its vast human resources and all of
its opportunities for change, the mess the Middle East has made of itself is
Beyond Israel, the region hasn't produced a single first-rate government,
army, economy, university or industry. It hasn't even produced convincing
Culturally, the region is utterly noncompetitive. Societies stagnate as
populations seethe. To the extent it exists, development benefits the
wealthy and powerful. The common people are either ignored or miserably
oppressed - and not just the women.
Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't so much an invasion as a last-minute rescue
mission - an attempt to give one major Middle Eastern state a
two-minutes-to-midnight chance to develop a humane, democratic government.
It may not work. But we'd better hope it does.
The Middle East's failure on every front enabled the rise of the
terrorists - as well as the empowerment of other religious extremists,
secular dictators and political parties willing to poison electorates with
The popular culprit for the mess is Islam. And there can be no doubt that
the faith's local degeneration has been catastrophic for the region. By far
the most numerous victims of "Islam Gone Wild" have been Middle Eastern
But we can't be content with a single explanation for a civilization's
failure, as powerful as the answer may appear. Yes, Islamist governments
fail miserably. But so do secular Arab, Persian and Pakistani governments
(whose leaders belatedly play the Islamic card).
Yes, the culture is Islamic, even in nominally secular states. But we have
to ask some very politically incorrect questions that cut even deeper.
Many of the social, governmental and psychological structures at the core of
Middle Eastern societies pre-date Islam. Authoritarian government; a
slave-like status for women; pervasive corruption; labor viewed as an evil
to be avoided; the relegation of learning to narrow castes; economies that
rely on trade rather than productivity to generate wealth, even the
grandiose rhetoric - all were in place long before Islam appeared.
The repeated failures we've witnessed go far beyond a religion on its
sickbed. Instead of Islam being the Middle East's problem, what if Islam's
problem is the Middle East?
Were Christianity and Judaism "saved" because they escaped the Middle East?
Were these other two great monotheist religions able to master the power of
knowledge and human potential because they were driven from their
stultifying cultural and geographic origins? Did the Diaspora and the
subsequent Muslim destruction of the cradle of Christianity ultimately save
these two faiths?
The Middle East is a straitjacket that turns religions mad. We got away.
A dozen years ago, I wrote that "culture is fate." And culture is tied to
soil. My travels over the intervening years have only deepened that
conviction. Regions have distinct cultures that endure long beyond the
shelf-life predicted for them by academics.
The stunning conquests Islam made in its early centuries may have been its
undoing - a faith secure in its heartlands never had to worry about its
survival thereafter. Despite gruesome invasions, Islam remained safely
rooted in its native earth.
As "refugee religions," Christianity and Judaism had to struggle to
survive - the latter still struggles today. For all of the pop theories
blaming the Rise of the West on germs, dumb luck or sheer nastiness, the
truth is that Judeo-Christian civilization was hardened by mortal threats -
including horrendous internal conflicts.
We got tough. And the tough got going.
It isn't an accident that the industrial revolution took off in
resource-poor Britain, or that the poverty-ridden contin- ent of Europe
invented new means of exerting power.
In exile, the Judeo-Christian civilization grew up on the global mean
streets. MiddleEastern Islam suffered from easy wealth, luxury and a
narcotic regional heritage.
We changed, they froze. An Assyrian tyrant, such as the murderous
Ashurbanipal - who reigned over 1,200 years before Mohammed's birth -would
understand the governments, societies and disciplinarian religion of today's
Middle East. The West would baffle him.
Since the Renaissance, the West fixed its gaze on the future. Islamic
civilization sought to freeze time, to cling to a dream of a lost paradise,
part Islamic Baghdad, part Babylon.
Shocked awake over the past few centuries, some Middle Easterners realized
they had to change. But they didn't know how. Modernization sputtered out.
Pan-Arabism foundered on greed and corruption.
The shah tried to buy the "good parts" of Western civilization, but the
pieces didn't work on their own. Next, Iran tried theocracy - government by
bigots. Didn't work either.
"Oil-rich" Saudi Arabia has a per capita GDP half that of Israel's (whose
sole resource is people). Dubai has shopping malls - selling designer goods
with Western labels.
Today's fanatics can hurt us, but can't destroy us. Their fatal ability is
to drag their civilization down to an even lower level.
The problem is that the Middle East hasn't been able to escape the Middle
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims
on: September 17, 2006, 09:28:26 AM
There certainly is a certain humor, unintended as it may be, to a group responding to the Pope's statement on doctrinal violence in Islam by saying "We will punish you for saying we are violent by sending death squads".
That said, it would not surprise me if the complete text of the Pope's statement was often missing from the reportage of it in much of the Muslim world. Certainly the mirror equivalent in our world is capable of sensationalizing too.
Still, responses to the larger question presented by the Pope's speech seem utterly to be missing in action.
Report: Rome tightens pope's security after fury over Islam remarks
By Haaretz Service News Agencies
The Vatican has increased the security provisions for the Pope, Army Radio reported Sunday, a day after an Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the pope's remarks on Islam.
Muslims around the world have reacted furiously to the comments Tuesday by Benedict XVI, in which he quoted from an obscure Medieval text referred to some of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad as "evil and inhuman."
The statement, posted online Saturday in the group's name, does not state the seat of the Holy See directly, but is addressed to "you dog of Rome" and threatens to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."
"We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life," said the message posted in the name of the Mujahedeen Army on a Web site frequently used by militant groups.
The message, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, also contained links to video recordings of what the group claimed were rocket attacks on U.S. bases.
The Mujahedeen Army's statement vowed, "our minds will not rest until we shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."
The same group has claimed responsibility for scores of attacks in Iraq, including the April 2005 downing of a helicopter carrying 11 civilians, including six Americans.
It was among 11 Sunni insurgent groups that offered in June to halt all attacks if the United States agrees to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years.
Pope 'sorry' Muslims offended by his speech on Mohammed
The Vatican said on Saturday Pope Benedict XVI was sorry Muslims had been offended by a speech whose meaning had been misconstrued, as anger and protest grew throughout the Muslim world.
In a statement issued by the Vatican, the pope said he respects believers in Islam and hopes they will understand the true meaning of his speech.
In a speech on Tuesday the Pope repeated criticism of the Prophet Mohammad by the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything the Prophet brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said.
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,"' Benedict quoted the emperor as saying.
The remarks sparked outrage across the Islamic world.
The new Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said that the pope's position on Islam is unmistakably in line with Vatican teaching that the Church "esteems Muslims, who adore the only God."
"The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers," Bertone said in a statement.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said the Vatican statement saying the Pope was sorry did not go far enough.
"We want a personal apology [from the Pope]. We feel that he has committed a grave error against us and that this mistake will only be removed through a personal apology," Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Leader Mohammed Habib told Reuters.
"Has he presented a personal apology for statements by which he clearly is convinced? No," he said.
Morocco recalled its ambassador to the Holy See in protest over the Pope's remarks, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
Ambassador Ali Achour will be recalled as of Sunday for consultation "following remarks offensive with regard to Islam and Muslims by Pope Benedict XVI," the ministry said in a statement released by Morocco's state news agency.
Assailants attack five churches in West Bank, Gaza
Assailants hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, causing no injuries, but sparking fears of a rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
The attacks on four of the 10 churches in the West Bank town of Nablus, and on the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City unsettled a relatively peaceful coexistence in the city.
The assaults began with fire bombings of Nablus' Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches, which left trails of black scorch marks in their wake. At least five firebombs were hurled at the Anglican church, whose door was later set ablaze in a separate attack. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames
In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were meant to protest the pope's remarks about Islam.
Hours later, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them ablaze. They also opened fire on the buildings, pocking their outer walls with bullet holes.
In Gaza City, militants opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, hitting the facade. A policeman at the scene said he saw a car escape with armed men inside. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage.
There were no claims of responsibility for the last three attacks. Said Siyam, the interior minister from Hamas, ordered extra protection for churches across the West Bank and Gaza.
"The atmosphere is charged already, and the wise should not accept such acts," said Father Yousef Saada, a Greek Catholic priest in Nablus.
Ayman Daraghmeh, a Hamas legislator, denounced the attacks, and urged Palestinian police to do more to protect Christian sites.
Growing chorus of criticism in Muslim world against Pope
Iran condemned Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday for making what it called "a big mistake" in his comments on Islam and demanded an apology, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"The pope's expression contradicted his own leadership of a divine religion. Promotion of incorrect beliefs (about Islam) is considered a big mistake," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying.
Hosseini said the pope should "revise and correct" his remarks in order to prevent Muslims' indignation.
In the first reaction from a top Christian leader, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church said in remarks published Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI's comments on Islam were "against the teachings of Christ."
Coptic Pope Shenouda III told the pro-government Al-Ahram newspaper that he didn't hear the pope's exact words, but that "any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against the teachings of Christ."
"Christianity and Christ's teachings instruct us not to hurt others, either in their convictions or their ideas, or any of their symbols - religious symbols," Shenouda was quoted as saying.
Egypt's Copts, whose liturgy follows Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions rather than the Vatican, account for an estimated 10 percent of Egypt's 73 million people.
Also on Saturday, Indonesians gathered outside of the Palestinian Embassy in Jakarta in protest over the pope's remarks.
On Friday night, some 2,000 Palestinians angrily protested against the pope in Gaza City, accusing him of leading a new Crusade against the Muslim world.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Friday joined the growing chorus of criticism in the Muslim world against Pope Benedict XVI, saying he had offended Muslims everywhere.
Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric on Friday denounced Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks about Muslim holy war, and demanded the Pope personally apologize for insulting Islam.
"We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [Benedict] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials - to Muslims for this false reading [of Islam]," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah told worshippers in his Friday prayers sermon.
Fadlallah's words were some of the strongest yet in response to the pontiff's remarks on Islam's prophet Mohammed and holy war, during a speech this week in Germany, which angered many in the Muslim world.
"We call on the Pope to carry out a scientific and fastidious reading of Islam. We do not want him to succumb to the propaganda of the enemy led by Judaism and imperialism against Islam," Fadlallah said.
On Friday, Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Benedict for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology. Hours later, its Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican's ambassador to express regret over the remarks.
About 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque, the Sunni Arab world's most prominent institution, chanting "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the Pope!"
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Friday Pope Benedict XVI must explain himself after insulting the Muslim world with "unfortunate" remarks about Islam and jihad.
"He has to explain himself, and tell us what exactly did he mean," Gheit told The Associated Press. "It can't just be left like that."
Many attributed the Pope's comments to a larger political bias against Muslims. "This is part of the whole war against Islam. Whenever we close a door on evil, they open another door," said an Egyptian man who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
"These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn't he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?" another worshipper said.One of the protest's organizers, a Muslim Brotherhood figure, shouted into a microphone, demanding an official apology from the Vatican.
Hundreds of Egyptian riot police wearing black helmets and carrying heavy
shields surrounded the mosque, preventing protesters from spilling over into the streets.
Fadlallah said he condemns "and protests in the strongest terms" the Pope's comments, "particularly his quoting without any occasion of the words of the emperor in which he insults Prophet Mohammed."
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora instructed Lebanon's ambassador to the Vatican, Naji Abi Assi, to visit the Vatican Foreign Ministry to seek
clarifications on the pontiff's remarks, a Lebanese government official said Friday.
In neighboring Syria, the grand mufti, the country's top Sunni Muslim
religious authority, sent a letter to the pope saying he feared the pontiff's comments on Islam would worsen interfaith relations. Sheik Ahmad Badereddine Hassoun, a moderate cleric, said the comments "raise intellectual, cultural and religious problems between followers of religious faiths."
The letter, addressed to the Pope and delivered to the Vatican embassy in
Damascus, avoided sharp criticism however, reflecting tight control by Syria's secular regime.
"We expect that what has been attributed to your holiness is not true and hope we can all work together on spreading divine values that call for harmony, accord and cooperation," Hassoun wrote.
Notably, the most violent denunciation so far has come from Turkey - a
moderate democracy seeking EU membership, which Benedict plans to visit in November.
Salih Kapusuz, deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted party, said Friday that Benedict's remarks were either "the result of pitiful ignorance" about Islam and its prophet, or worse, a deliberate distortion of the truths.
"He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world," Kapusuz told Turkish state media. "It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades."
"Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words," he said. "He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."
Even Turkey's staunchly pro-secular opposition party demanded that the Pope apologize to Muslims before his visit. Another party led a demonstration outside Ankara's largest mosque, and a group of about 50 people left a black wreath outside the Vatican's diplomatic mission.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi has tried to defuse anger, saying the Pope had not intended to offend Muslim sensibilities and insisting that Benedict respected Islam. In Pakistan, the Vatican envoy regretted "the hurt caused to Muslims."
But Muslim leaders said outreach efforts by papal emissaries were not enough. "We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [Benedict] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah - Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric - told worshippers Friday in Beirut, Lebanon.
Rashwan feared the official condemnations could be the precursor for widespread popular protests. Already there have been scattered demonstrations in several Muslim countries.
"What we have right now are public reactions to the Pope's comments from political and religious figures, but I'm not optimistic concerning the reaction from the general public, especially since we have no correction from the Vatican," Rashwan said
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog (Canine) Training
on: September 17, 2006, 09:21:15 AM
"The mention of the hip check reminds me that dominant dogs or people will try to occupy the space you're in, so for the non dog people that dog that always trys to lean on you is trying to dominate you in his mind."
When someone knocked at the door and I opened it, Zapata would stick his head out and announce himself with a low rumble. (When any of the Machado brothers came to visit, they would already be waiting with their hands cupped around their privates. The fact that he liked them all and would wag his tail upon seeing them did not change their protective posture while waiting for the door to be opened) This was fine with me, my front door at the time was in a narrow passageway with virtaully no visibility from the street. When all was well I would give him the all clear signal (a brief moment on touch with the index finger on his muzzle) and Z. would go lean against the person's leg and demand to have his chest be scratched. It having been established that he was on duty on his turf and was respected as such, he then would turn and come back into the house and completely ignore the people in question, unless they were buds of mine/his.
I had always thought of this lean/"Scratch my chest please" thing as his way of saying "Sorry I rumbled at you, its just my job and we're cool now" but now that you mention it as a dominance thing, I can see it that way too.